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New guy here with a sitting 850

Old 11-13-2018, 11:43 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 1
Default New guy here with a sitting 850

Short backstory: I've got a '96 850 with an automatic, that's been sitting for about 2 years, its been in the family since new, being passed around a couple times, hood latch is borked and and the battery is dead. I want to restore it for a couple reasons, one of which being that 90's aesthetic. I'm not sure what to look out for when going about this though. I looked underneath didn't notice much rust but it was hard to see as tires are now flat. also not sure of the engine displacement but I'm pretty sure its not a diesel. I is a NY car (so I expect the rust to be pretty bad) but I still want to attempt the project as at least a learning experience. Any help/advice appreciated.
Old 11-14-2018, 09:33 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Ridgefield, CT
Posts: 4,687

1. fixing the hood latch - search the forum for posts on how to open up an 850 when the hood release cable breaks.
2. Battery is dead because it hasn't been running, but expect to need to replace it. A trickle charger can keep you going while your are restoring it.
3. Diesels in the 850 never came to the US. Most likely you have the NA (naturally aspirated) 2.4L 5 cylinder = when you open the hood, if you don't have a tube running over the top of the cylinder head, its an NA. Or you can use the VIN or find the B code on the timing belt cover (should be a B5254S) to find the exact engine model.

As for things like body rust, the only spot I'd look at is the "delta link" bushing on the rear suspension. This is the point where the rear trailing arms bolts to the car body in front of the rear tires. that should be solid to keep the trailing arm in place - otherwise you'd need some restorative welding. You can also inspect the exhaust system for rust but the factory systems last a very, very long time.

What I'd do: 1) look for any history on when the timing belt was last done. If its been more than 90K miles, replace the belt, tensioner and pulley. The car doesn't have VVT so just mark the cams and crank and it should be straight forward (note removing the serpentine belt takes a special tool with a 5/8 inch square plug to release the tension)
2) do a full tune up - plugs, wires, rotor, cap. Getting the distributor cap off is a PITA unless you remove the airbox but can be done. Also inspect and fix any torn vacuum lines and hoses.
3) don't be surprised if it fires right up. From there, you can change fluids - coolant is a drain, deionized water flush then a fill with your basic aluminum friendly green coolant. Avoid dexcool orange. Check the brakes - flush out the lines. New pads/rotors if needed. The brakes on this car as about as easy as they come - unless you need to replace the emergency brake shoes, which are inside the rear hub assembly. Always use new pins when doing the rear pads, always use teflon brake pad shims. Check the transmission fluid level and color. If you decide to do a drain/fill, you will need to use JWS3309 fluid.
4) after the car is running and you have brakes, time to go after the suspension. If the car thumps going over speed bumps/railroad ties, then it likely needs new spring seats in the front struts. Other odd noises can come from the sway bar end links or sway bar bushings. If the car doesn't drive true - ie wanders, then you need to check for tie rod ends, control arm bushings and possibly the trailing arm "delta link" bushing. If you do any work, get a four point alignment.
5) You will likely need to put new tires on it if they've been allowed to sit flat. 195/60-15s are pretty cheap. I always ran snows on my 850T - which reminds me I need to post them for sale (sold the car, still have the steelies with snows in the garage).
6) Check all the electricals - bulbs, brake lights, dash lights, odometer.
7) once you are all up and running the last thing I'd check is the PCV system by doing a rubber glove test. If the PCV tubes and flame trap gets clogged, then you'll turn the engine into a bleeder... If it turns out you need to replace the PCV system, you will want to rod out all the engine ports and should consider dropping the oil pan to really clean all the gunk out of the bottom end.

Post up your decision and results! Good luck, the 850 is a good car to work on as a project.
Old 11-15-2018, 12:18 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Kingsport, TN
Posts: 1,508

Sounds great! They are very reliable and easy to work on, once you learn a couple of things. There is a very good "new owner''s thread stickied here, but you are going to need some info before that. They come in only two varieties in the USA, turbo and not. If you are outside the USA, then of course it could be a diesel and there are several other engine options.

If it ran when it was parked, it is relatively likely to start up and drive with essentially no needs. Gasoline is a problem, because it's hard to get it out. Oil and water, no problem. Brakes are super easy to work on with any car. Sitting could cause one or more of the calipers to have a stuck piston.
Old 11-15-2018, 12:22 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Kingsport, TN
Posts: 1,508

Very good service information here:

Based on observation, I think these were all scanned from a 1995 manual.

Being a 96, your car (in the USA) would not have the old Volvo telephone switchboard under the hood that you could use to talk to the computers. This was very useful, as it would talk to all the computers on board. You'll want to use an OBDII scan tool to talk to the engine on your 96 if it's in the USA. It'll give you live data, which is an upgrade, but you may only be able to talk to the engine or at best engine and transmission in generic (non-volvo) language which is a downgrade.
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