an open letter to my Volvo

Dear Volvo:

Here we are.
At the end of the month I will be surrendering you.
And I don't plan on going home with any of your siblings, Volvo, you've sort of sabotaged that.

To be fair: you are my second Volvo and I was nothing but pleased with your predecessor.
Tiny and black, he kept us humming around town pretty well for three years.
But that hasn't been the case with you, has it?
In the shop for days and weeks at a time, you betrayed us every time something strange happened and one of those little lights lit.
You filled with water.
Your tires went flat.
Your computer system died. Twice.
Your electrical system failed. Twice.
There is an oddity within your transmission.
Your engine mounts were loose.
Your tie-rods recalled.
I've received 'campaign' letters about you half a dozen times.
I'm sure there's more - I can't remember it all. Remember the time your heat AND cooling system had to be replaced? Good times.

I remember how I chose you, Mr. XC 90, after months of research and test drives and thought.
You seemed to fill a niche perfectly.
I perceived you as European without being over the top, with some nice interior touches -
easy to drive and maneuver, safe and durable.
I had compared you to several other mid-size SUV's and was almost smug in my satisfaction with my choice.

I continued to live with hope, XC, right up until last fall, when I received the first letter asking if I'd like to terminate our relationship early.
Of course, the only way to terminate our relationship at that time without financial hardship would be to choose another Volvo.
And I just didn't feel like I could do that and feel good about us.
People don't realize that "lemoning out" a leased car is expensive and litigious. We both know I'm not that kind of person.

I looked at some wagons. The Audi is nice, as is the BMW. Neither of them have the cargo space of an XC70 though, and I have a child going to college in 18 months.
And though I love the guys at my dealership (shout outs to C and S and D who made my life much much easier whilst living with a lemon) I'm afraid I'm moving on.
Even though there's no way TWO Volvos would need $50,000 worth of warranteed repairs in their first two years I can't take the chance AND pay a steep car payment.

I am sorry to see you go but I'll be ordering a Jeep Liberty later today. I like the utilitarian styling it's got going on and we can drive it off road on the Cape.
My love for you, XC 90, moved quickly to disdain, and now I just have a little hollow place in my heart where you used to live.

Not that I grow emotionally attached to my vehicles or anything.
Just ask my Chevy Suburban, which I made K return to the dealership after three glorious years, because I kept crying.

The inspector was good. He only found $67 worth of excessive wear and tear on you. I didn't have the heart to tell him that your airbag sensor is broken, your transmission slips and you need an alignment. The dealer tells me that you will be shipped directly to an auction lot for quick re-sale.
I'm very tempted to hide a note somewhere in your interior, for your future owners, warning of all that has gone wrong with you.
You are the perfect example of why K and I can never buy a used car, and I wish you all the best.

All best,


PS: I would have washed you more frequently, I'm not so uncaring, but every time you broke the dealership washed you for free.


islaygirl said…
i would totally hide a note. maybe just a pictogram of a lemon somewhere by the seat adjustment?
Caro said…
Was your Volvo related to my Chrysler Town & Country minivan? We paid fifteen thousand for it, paid ten thousand more in repairs in the three years we owned it and sold if for three-thousand. Ugh.

Good luck with your new vehicle.
Anonymous said…
Oh no! The XC90 was my "dream" car...until today. [sigh]

When is your Jeep Liberty going to arrive?
Anonymous said…
I think you gave it your best shot. No regrets.
Best wishes to you and Jeep Liberty. I hope you have many happy years together.
Grandma Cebe said…
Oh, I'm so sorry you got an XC90 that was a lemon.

I drive a 2003 XC90. We bought it "previously owned" about 2 years ago with over 85,000 miles on it. Except for routine service, I've had no problems. My dream car now has almost 120,000 miles on it and still humming along.
Anonymous said…
Slow down! The Jeep Liberty was just rated as one of the worst cars by Consumer Reports! Check it out before you buy!
Badger said…
Sigh. This letter comes as my badass minivan is experiencing YET ANOTHER mystery illness, and we are deciding whether to repair or replace. My next vehicle will be a hybrid. I think.

And I predict you will get many interesting google hits on this post from people who do not know how to spell. Just sayin'.
Anonymous said…
I do wonder what's up with newer Volvos. My 89 drove like a champ for 15 years straight. My "new" 95 Jeep has only been in the shop once in 3 years - brake pads.

I have a different perspective - I'll never make a car payment again. The one I paid diligently on for 5 years fully and completely died the day after I paid it off. Gahhh! Now I'm jaded.
Shelly Kang said…
Good riddance, then! And, um, I think you may have slipped in an unintended name up there.
mckie2 said…
Oh, bb - please tell me you aren't going to get a Jeep Liberty. My friend has one. The wheels fell off. The air conditioner stinks. It rattles but doesn't hum. It's been in so many times for service. I so want you to be happy. Jeep won't do that for you. Really.
blackbird said…
Consumer Reports, eh?

We leased it. Everything's covered for the three years we'll drive it and it can't be worse than no electrical system
Or, maybe it can and I will be spending $100 less per month to drive it.
I will tell you what is up with the newer Volvo's-FORD took them over, to those of you who are unfamiliar with the horridness that is FORD, it stands for Fix Or Repair Daily. Ford really took a wonderful product with Volvo and just killed it! It really does break your heart what happened to a great product once the Ford idiots got their grubby paws on it.
Also before you take delivery of that Jeep, be sure you sit in the back seat. They have no leg room!
Divorce can be so painful. I hope the Trophy Car will treat you better.
TheOneTrueSue said…
In a few weeks I'll be writing a similar letter to our Chevy Tahoe. Except it will be filled with far more venom. DIE, Chevy Tahoe, DIE!

We had issues.
Mary said…
Oh dear.

I have to say my little black volvo is treating me very kindly.

Although I have just touched wood!
KitchenKiki said…
Lemon Laws are there for a reason, and it doesn't cost you anything to file except your time. Really, don't let Volvo get away with it!
My VW broke my heart when it broke down by the side of the road 857 miles out of warranty and VW didn't care. I went back and described the issues (that had been covered) to the lemon law people and they said sure, we'll help ya.
It takes a little of your time and excellent records as to the issues you had, the legal fees are paid by the car company regardless of outcome as long as you return the requested information to your lawyer.
I encourage people to follow through. To find a lawyer in your area go to, they represent some East Coast states, but have a list of the rest of the country.
I'm sorry, I'll put away my soapbox now.
Anonymous said…
You so need to post this letter at "open letters" at McSweeney's. you can read them at
blackbird said…
Gosh - car posts seem to get a rise out of people.
I would like to add:
Lemon laws for leased vehicles are somewhat different...and my dealership delivered and picked up brand new cars from my driveway on
several occasions. They also made lease payments, brought us bottles of wine and my service rep made himself available to us on saturdays and
sundays. It was an exciting three years but Volvo went to great lengths to keep us happy and safe.
If a dealership, for a leased vehicle, makes a commitment to repair a vehicle, under warranty, and supplies loaners AND makes payments for the customer there's not a lot one can do to switch out a leased car, with the exception of a lawsuit. And suing the dealership/Volvo is not free and not covered by the car company.
We were very rarely inconvenienced - always had a new car at our disposal and never had to pick or drop off a loaner...
and we are done now.
alice c said…
I am checking out buggies and paired Greys on the next tab. Do you think I should go for the leather seats?
Anonymous said…
Sometimes it is just better to be done. (I have a good understanding of that concept)
Enjoy your new car, and good luck!
(Sorry for the earlier rant, it struck a nerve)
Unknown said…
That's sad. I'm actually searching, reading, and asking people about the Volvo. I consider to rely on used car dealerships (Indianapolis area) because of a tight budget. My husband and I fell in love with the 2008 Volvo XC90 being offered for less than $35,000. Do you think it's worth it? There are other used cars (Indianapolis) for additional options, anyway. We're just hoping that the Volvo would be great! Anyway, how's your Jeep?
blackbird said…

I'd get a vehicle history report if you can and have a mechanic check it out. I have no idea what used Volvos are worth but I can tell you that mine was not worth much.
We're on our second Jeep now and still happy - a good value and fun car.
Unknown said…
I'll do that. Thanks!