Volvo Advice & Volvo Mechanics

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Mechanics & Service for a Volvo Advice about owning a Volvo

2009 - 2012 Recommendations

Reasonably priced auto mechanic for Volvo wagon

May 2011

Could anyone recommend a good....inexpensive or at least very reasonable auto mechanic? I have a volvo station wagon whose list of needs cost more than the car is worth but I am not ready to give it up. It has seen Model garage for the last number of years but I find them too expensive and actually the last couple of times the work has been a bit shoddy- including one time, when they overtightened something on the front wheel and the axel snapped as I was driving home. Please let me know of any experience with a good, reasonably priced, honest auto mechanic. thankyou, 150k+volvo owner



  • Berkeley Bob's W. Berkeley
  • Don's Auto Clinic College in Berkeley
  • Henry's Service Gilman

    Non-dealer Mechanic for Volvo

    Jan 2010

    Help! I need a fair, honest, reputable, reliable mechanic to work on a 2005 Volvo. I've been using the dealer but they are crazy expensive. I'm looking for a shop that can take care of regular maintenance issues as well as surprise repairs. All recommendations appreciated. Thank you. Janne

    The Model Garage on Shattuck in Berkeley. maria
    I can't recommend Bay Auto Center enough. They are located right next to Laney College, at 610 Oak Street. Check out their reviews on Yelp, I promise people are not making them up. My husband and I bought a Volvo from Craigslist that turned into a money pit, including needing a new engine. BAC was thorough with their assessment and installed a new engine within a week. It has been running great ever since. I love that they do a detailed printed estimate and always call with the results of their inspection. The guys are honest and their prices are MUCH cheaper than any dealership. AND the last time we picked up the car (new oxygen sensor) they had washed and vacuumed it. happy customer
    I've been going to bob sanchez at Arlington auto shop for 10+ years. He just moved his shop to Albany on San Pablo ave. He is good at what he does, reasonably priced and most importantly honest. Love my mechanic
    RC Imports 6501 Fairmount El Cerrito 510 526 8084 Honest, dependable, capable shop. Highly recommended! anon
    I recommend Walsh Brothers on Harrison (near Gilman) in Berkeley. They've been working on Volvos for decades and they are extremely honest and reasonable. Kimberly
    hi, we have a 1988 volvo and have been extremely happy with Model Garage on Telegraph. they are a great staff, they do really good work, have been around many, many years. i know other volvo owners who use them and have been very pleased. hope you'll give them a try! sally

    Volvo mechanic/shop needed

    Dec 2009

    We are looking for a good mechanic shop in Lamorinda for our 2004 Volvo. The car is starting to have some issues beside the regular maintenance. We have been taking it to the dealer in Berkeley but they are expensive and not doing a very good job of getting the problems fixed. If you have a Volvo and good experience with a non-dealer mechanic, we would appreciate your recommendation and referral. Please reply to my email address. Thank you. lt

    Try Montclair Volvo. Montclair Auto Tech , 5427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, REasonably priced and they have done great with my 1990 240dl. volvo lover
    We've been very satisfied with Ackerman's Volvo on San Pablo in Berkeley. They are honest, fast, and reasonably priced. Owner of a '97 Volvo.
    Try the Model Garage in Berkeley. They are well known for being outstanding Volvo mechanics. Jamie

    Volvo mechanic for ELECTRICAL system

    March 2009

    I need a Volvo mechanic who is great at trouble-shooting and fixing electrical problems on my 1990 Volvo 760 sedan. Ever since we had to remove the interior panels to fix a leak due to a replaced windshield it hasn't been right! Interior dash lights don't work, car seat adjusts itself on a whim, sometimes windows and signals don't work. Anyone have a great Volvo electrical person? Desperate

    I know a great mechanic for electrical issues and he specializes on Volvos and German make cars. His name is Eric and he runs Precision Motors at 3068 Broadway in Oakland. He is very straightforward and will tell you what you NEED to take care of and what you can wait on. He has always taken the time to explain what is going on with my car and I have never felt taken advantage of there. Their number is 510-444-5353. Clara
    I highly recommend Walsh Bros. Volvo Repair , near Gilman and San Pablo in N. Berkeley (510) 525-3302. Jon, the owner, is very honest, gives explanations with whatever level of detail you need, and does a great job. They specialize in Volvos, but also repair other types of cars... they got certified to repair Toyota Prius a few years back and we take our Prius to Jon as well. These are great guys! Julie

    2005 - 2008 Recommendations

    Volvo mechanic closer to San Leandro

    June 2008

    My husband has a volvo and is in need of a new mechanic. Its been under warranty so he's been going to the dealer but that ends soon. We are in San Leandro so Berkeley is not really an option. Know of anyone trusty/affordable in San Leandro/Castro Valley area? Thanks! anon

    I highly recommend Roger's Autoworks on Broadway in Oakland. He specializes in Volvo's, only recommends the necessary repairs and service. He's been in business a long time, may not have the most dynamic personality, but he'll take good care of your Volvo and do it at a fair price. (Good reveiws on Yelp, too) Also, you are supporting an independent, small business, an added plus.
    3022 Broadway (between 30th St & Brook St) Oakland, CA 94611 (510) 465-1705

    Repairs for old Volvo station wagon

    April 2008

    My old Volvo station wagon needs repair. I usually take it to McKevitt Volvo and they do a good job--but I would love to find other, more offordable, options. Thanks, tb

    No question, go to Ackerman's Volvo repair on San Pablo in Berkeley. They are great - a small shop that works exclusively on Volvos. I used to go to McKevitt, too, but Ackerman's is much less expensive, and I think they are more meticulous. Plus, it's a certified Green Business and they will donate 5% of your bill to a school or nonprofit organization. - 510-549-9330. Kim
    We went to McKevitt for service until our warranty expired on our 1998 S-70 . . . and then we switched (based on recommendations) to a well-recommended garage on San Pablo in El Cerrito. But we had problems there, the main one being that the ''Service Engine'' light went on, M hooked it up to his diagnostic computer, learned that the gas cap wasn't screwed on tight enough (the main cause, we learned, of engine lights) . . . and then charged us $130 for the ''diagnosis'' plus tightening the cap. We asked around, and learned that other mechanics don't do this: they either check the gas cap first thing (and no charge), or charge a modest sum for computer use.

    OK, I'll stop being grumpy. Five years ago, we switched very happily to Walsh Brothers in Berkeley, based on recommendations here, and other write-ups. They are friendly, competent, have so far been affordable . . . and, I think importantly, they only work on Volvos, which they know and love. Good luck. John

    I highly recommend Model Garage on Shattuck - very close to Berkeley Bowl. We have taken our 1991 Volvo there for years. They are fair, knowledgeable, and have great customer service. They never try to sell you something you don't need. And they will prioritize work and send you reminders if you can't/don't want to get everything done in one visit. In fact, when we found out we were having twins and had to find a car to hold three car seats, we tried really hard to find a Volvo or Toyota that would work for us so that we wouldn't have to change mechanics. Model Garage Fan
    I would highly recommend Henry Chin's Auto Repair on Dwight, near Shattuck. They have worked with our three different cars and treated each one of them well, even our old Fiat! The guys there are honest and excellent mechanics. Ask for Dan Chin. Good luck! 843-2700 Cindy

    Good Volvo mechanic in Berkeley

    April 2007

    Can anyone recommend a service shop for Volvos in Berkeley or nearby? Please let me know your experience with the shop. Thanks. - S70-Owner



  • Ackerman's Volvo (2)
  • The Model Garage
  • Montclair Auto Tech
  • Walsh Brothers (2)
  • D.H. Walsh Solano Av.

    2005 - 2006 Recommendations

    Tuneup for a Volvo

    June 2006

    Hi there, We own a 91 Volvo which we got off of Craigs List last September. The car seems to be in pretty good shape given that it's got over 170,000 miles on it. We've yet to get a tune up and are wondering if anyone knows of a reliable place to do this. We don't want any work done necessarily. Thanks, Carrie



  • Ackerman's Volvo (2)
  • Montclair Auto Tech (2)
  • Walsh Bros

    Super-competant Volvo repair service?

    April 2005

    I am looking for a recommendation for a super-competent, honest Volvo repair service in Berkeley. We have been taking our 10 year old station wagon to a place on Ashby for the last 2 repairs, and are very disappointed with their diagnostic ability and honesty re: certain work, which never seems to be done right. Can anyone recommend another? Karen



  • Ackerman's Volvo (4)
  • Bobs Volvo Specialists
  • McKevitt Volvo
  • The Model Garage
  • Rob's Automotive

    Good Volvo mechanic in Berkeley

    Feb 2005

    I am looking for a good, reasonable, honest Volvo mechanic in Berkeley, and did not see any recent posts on the subject. Thanks. Ty



  • Ackerman's Volvo (2)
  • Auto Alpina
  • Bobs Volvo Specialists
  • The Model Garage (2)
  • Montclair Auto Tech

    2004 and Earlier Recommendations

    Mechanic to assess used Volvo

    Nov 2003

    Hi -- I am about to buy a 1993 Volvo 240 station wagon which seems to be in great shape. Can any of you recommend reliable, wonderful Volvo mechanics, who charge less than the dealerships, who can also do a car assessment for me? Can you also recommend who can do reliable, quality body work on this car? (Minor bodywork I may have done if the price is right.) I live in Berkeley so am looking primarily in the East Bay. Also looking for inexpensive insurance recommendations as I have not owned a car in several years and this was out of state, so I expect I will pay premium rates for at least 6 months. Thanks! Grace



  • Ackerman's Volvo (3)
  • Bobs Volvo Specialists
  • The Model Garage (2)
  • Montclair Auto Tech
  • Walsh Bros

    Anyone have a Volvo XC90 or Acura MDX?

    Nov 2006

    We're considering buying a 1-3 year old SUV. Anyone out there have experience with the Volvo XC90 or Acura MDX? We've kind of narrowed it down to those two. I'm concerned about the Consumer Reports negative reviews on the XC90. Is it really that unreliable? I can't believe that after seeing my parents drive their volvo station wagon for years and years with few problems. We like the volve because of the safey feature (and I like rubber bumpers as opposed to the painted ones-ugh). I currently drive an old acura and like it, so that's why the MDX is on our list too. I'm already aware of the poor gas mileage of each (so please don't go there). Any advice/opinions about these cars would be appreciated. Thanks!
    Never thought I'd get an SUV

    Hi, I looked at both the Volvo and the MDX. We bought the MDX, because you can't beat Honda for quality. My husband owned two other Acuras and was very satisfied. With regular maintenance (which was always reasonable), they ran perfectly. I heard from several friends and my brother that Volvos tend to have little things go wrong. I just didn't want the hassle. We absolutely love the MDX. My only very small complaint is that sometimes it sounds like an old sofa when I go over bumps. The dealer has not been able to determine what it is. It's not a big deal, just a little irritating for a new car. It started happening within a few months of our buying the car. We've had it for almost a year and are otherwise thrilled. anon
    i have an xc90 v8 and love it - with a couple of wishes. i miss the change drawer and sunglass holder in my old car. that being said, my car rocks. i take mine in the mountains in the snow and have taken it offroading - and it handles beautifully. i feel safe. the 2005 v8 had the anti-roll computer thing that bmw and mercedes has, so on that front it is safer than the mdx and the other xc90. but i don't know what the new models have. its fun to drive. i think the 3rd row compromises the leg room of the second row, but all of the space is smartly designed for maximum use - once i figured it out. car seats are not easy in the third row, and i think i did it without the bench seats. it has a built in toddler seat that can kind of move forward which can be cool. and the middle console can be removed to provide more legroom for a middle passenger in the second row. one bummer is i need to pay for running boards after paying HOW MUCH?!?!?! so my daughter could climb in and out. and i was bummed to have to pay volvo for their cross bars so i could attach my ski rack. i hear the back-up camera is nice on the MDX, the sensors are fine on the volvo. i would probably buy it again. julia
    Hi. I have a 2005 XC90 and considered an MDX as well. I think the MDX is a slightly better value (i.e. what you pay and what you get for that), but the XC90's 7-passenger seating really came in handy for me when I had to shuttle around in-laws this summer, plus you can't beat Volvo safety. On the minus side, my XC90 has had 4 recalls in the time I've owned it, the rubber cover on the parking brake pedal came off and refuses to stay on when I try put it back on, and just recently the driver's side mirror won't fold all the the way out after being retracted. Still, I'm satisified with the XC90, just not jumping-up-and-down-this-car-rocks satisfied XC90 owner
    We had the Lexus 330 only one year, and sold it because it was too small. We bought the MDX, after several people who owned one, recommended it with high reviews! We love it and couldn't be happier. We thought about the Volvo, back before we bought the small and pricy Lexus, but 2 seperate people complained about mechanical problems and that's the last thing a mom of two wants to deal with. Go for the MDX Happy customer
    I've had my MDX for over four years now and I love, love, love it! I have absolutely no complaints about it. It's comfortable to drive, roomy without being obnoxiously large, and the cargo area is bigger than on other mid-sized SUVs. The only mechanical problem I've had involved the transmission, which went out just after I went over 50,000 miles. I've taken all of my Acuras (the MDX is my 4th) to the Oakland dealership for maintenance, and they replaced the transmission for free, even though the car was out of warranty. I would not hesitate to buy an MDX (or any Acura for that matter). Trixie

    Purchasing and owning a new Volvo

    April 2005

    I was wondering what kind of experience anyone has had with the purchase of a Volvo at McKevitt in Berkeley and owning a volvo in general. Thank you in advance for sharing. dj

    I haven't shopped at McKevitt, so can't comment on that. I can say that their service department is very friendly and customer-oriented (though not he cheapest). R.K.
    We did ''pick up at the factory'' thing in 1997 and loved it. The McKevitt salesman was familiar with all the nuances, including how to save big on sales tax and customs. Free shipping home. We saved about 20% and had the car for a month of driving around Europe first. When I stopped by six months later, the salesman had no idea who I was, but that's OK; we weren't looking for new friends. We had it serviced at McKevitt until the warranty expired, then switched to someone closer to our home in El Cerrito. The car is 8 years old and running well. If it ever dies, we'd do the same thing again. John
    We purchased our used Volvo wagon at McKevitt. The overall purchase was OK, but we discovered that the salespeople (2) we dealt with in the used car area didn't know a heck of a lot about these cars. We discovered a number of discrepencies in what we were told when looking through the owner's manual once we took the car home.

    As far as owning a Volvo, we weren't very happy. It is a luxury car, and there are some features we miss, such as turbo and seat memory. But you pay the price for that luxury. Services are far more expensive (even if you go to an independent Volvo service place, which I recommend) than for Japanese cars. Also, the model we had, a '98 V70 turbo wagon, just wasn't very reliable. Every time the ''check engine'' light went on, which was often, my husband would say ''Well, there goes another Thousand Dollars.'' If you go to the snow, the model we had did not use regular tire chains, you have to buy a $500. ''spikes spyder'' traction control system. It consists of a hub you put on your front wheels (or have a mechanic do it) that stays there through the winter months. Then there is a plastic ''wheel'' that fits onto the hub when you're in chain conditions. They are easier to put on than regular chains, but more of a hassle getting set up for them, plus they cost far more than conventional chains.

    We live in the Berkeley hills, so there is lots of wear and tear on our brakes in any car we own. On this Volvo, we not only had to replace brake pads and rotors often, the car went through tires like crazy. We had to purchase new tires every year! Also, this car (unlike our Japanese cars) stranded me 3x in 3+ years of ownership. If you're accustomed to a reliable Japanese vehichle, watch out and make sure you can afford not only the purchase price of the Volvo, but also the high cost of maintaining it. (And the associated towing fees!) Will never buy another Volvo

    Volvo X90 A good thing?

    April 2005

    We are considering getting a VolvoX90, the SUV. If you have one please let me know how you like it. We would like to do the factory pick up in Sweden if you have advice on that also.

    You should think twice about a Volvo XC. Consumer Reports considers some years' models among the worst used cars. We have the 98 version, and it's the most unreliable car I've ever had. I keep it because it's safe, and we don't really want to car shop right now, but it's in constant need of repairs (has 55,000 miles and is on its FOURTH battery) and gets only 12-14 miles/gallon (mostly city driving). Before you consider a third row seat, be aware that Volvo recommends that passengers in the third row be within specific weight and height limits - which coincides with the range that should be using a booster seat. Since booster seats must face forward, the third row ends up being a non-usable seat (if you follow safety recommendations). R.K.

    Buying an old Volvo

    August 1999

    You know you're a mommy when you decide it's time for a Volvo. I'm interested in finding a 240 DL 2 door sedan, circa 1982-on. But before I start looking to buy, I'd like to do a little research. Can anyone tell me if there's an enthusiast's manual or a website (searches have turned up nothing but sales boards -- no pictures), or even a book out there that I can buy to bone up on what to look for, what's a fair price for a 20-year-car that (ideally) has been well kept up? I even have to pin down what year I want to look for. C'mon guys, I know you old Volvo drivers are out there! Thanks for any advice you can give. Cheers, Julie

    Check out the Model Garage web site. They have recommendations for years and models that I found very useful when researching used Volvos. In fact, they have specific caveats about 1982 DLs, and other cars in your search range. Jerome
    The Model Garage keeps Berkeley's old volvos running. See Phil
    mommys don't drive 2 doors! ;-) anyway, my experience when deciding to buy a volvo (because of a new family member) was: I called various local volvo shops, and talked to mechanics asking what year is best & why. what to look out for problem wise etc. I usually start the conversation out with do you do per-purchase inspections & how much is it then proceed to ask them a bunch of questions. they think you will take it to them for the inspection (which you might indeed do) so they will spend a little time on the phone with you. sometimes these shops will even have what you are looking for for sale, or they can hook you up with someone of their customers.

    I ended up with an '87 240 wagon new enough to have the cool headlights, but old enough not to have the computer crap or power windows. I was told that '87 up they started putting more & more computer stuff in the cars & they at first were unreliable. and also early ones were less reliable mechanically. So I think '85 - '87 was the sweet spot

    Maybe you could get one of those cool 2 door chop-top versions, forget what they are called, Bertone or something . . . . black vinyl low top - cool, breaks thar conservative volvo mold a little and it sounds like you are a little more sportif since you want a 2 door. (here's a photo of one)

    Here's a parts site, which you will need with a 15 year old car:

    some other volvo pages:
    Good luck, let me know what you find/buy/decide on & why Larry

    Check out for auto information on all types of vehicles. You can also link to auto-by-tel for purchase information for new cars. We've bought three cars this way and have had hassle free transactions at below invoice prices that were negotiated before we even set foot in a dealership.
    A two door car with a kids car seat is incredibly annoying, in my experience. I have a very reliable '85 DL four door, which is kept running by Montclair Auto Tech. Ali, the mechanic there, tells me that when I am ready to buy a new one he can hook me up with someone who is selling one he has taken care of. You might check with mechanics to see if they have a list of cars, or on the bulletin boards in Volvo Shops of which in Berkeley there are a plethora.

    Volvos in Berkeley come at a premium, so expect to pay more for a fifteen year old than for most other vehicles.

    A great source for used cars is This is a bay area only list, which has individuals selling their cars. We got a great deal on our new (well, '95 and new to us) car through them. Myr

    One more thing, whatever the general recommendation is about years and models, individual cars vary significantly. Check it out or have someone you trust check it out. Phil

    Carseats in a Volvo

    1987 Volvo sedan without tether anchor

    My daughter is just about ready for a bigger car seat (she's in the infant carrier kind right now.) I'm looking for feedback about the Britax roundabout or the Alpha Omega by Cosco, specifically with regards to safety, ease of use, installation etc... Also - we have a 1987 Volvo sedan and I've been told in order to use new car seats we will have to have anchors installed so we can use the tethers that come with the new car seats. Any thoughts on where to have this done? how much it will cost? Thanks Gabrieal

    We also have a 1987 Volvo (but ours is a wagon) and we had car seat anchors installed about 8 months ago by the folks at McKevitt Volvo/Nissan. They were very knowledgable telling us a couple different options for how they could install them. We chose one and they did a good, quick, and fairly inexpensive job (I think it was $40 for installing two - we have twins). We did call around to a few other Volvo mechanics and generally they didn't have much experience with installing teather anchors. Michael
    See Ali at the Volvo place across Telegraph Ave from Casper's in Oakland (maybe about 55th Street?); he can retrofit any Volvo to anchor a Britax. Essentially he juryrigs them using a web strap loop you can get from Britax (and should have gotten with the seat if it's newer than 2 years), or he uses a kit that sells for $15 or so from Volvo. Once you've seen it done, it's very easy to do yourself. Laura and Stewart Note from Myriam: Ali owns Montclair Auto Tech. His phone number is 510/654-3888.
    I drive an '88 volvo--the Britax Roundabout works fine, and is easy to install. Rockridge Kids can direct you to a guy who installs the tethers (I forgot his name & #). Elizabeth
    Where to put the infant seat in a 1980 2-door Volvo 240 DL We have an old (pre-airbags) 1980 2-door Volvo 240 DL and I'm having a hard time figuring out where to put the infant car seat: The back seat has in its middle a pull down armrest. I have heard that it is NOT safe to put the infant car seat in front of this but it should be buckled into the side seat area on either side of the middle. Can anybody confirm this? I'm hesitant to put it next to a side wall instead of putting it in the middle as I have always heard where they should be installed. Furthermore, somebody told me that since there were no airbags, that I could put it in the front passenger seat (rear facing, of course) but that makes me too nervous. Any advice would be appreciated, especially if anybody has had to deal with this same car type and scenario. Also, does anybody know of any places you can go to have the car seat checked to make sure it is installed correctly? Thank you. Liz
    We also have a 1987 Volvo (but ours is a wagon) and we had car seat anchors installed about 8 months ago by the folks at McKevitt Volvo/Nissan. They were very knowledgable telling us a couple different options for how they could install them. We chose one and they did a good, quick, and fairly inexpensive job (I think it was $40 for installing two - we have twins). We did call around to a few other Volvo mechanics and generally they didn't have much experience with installing teather anchors. Michael
    See Ali at the Volvo place across Telegraph Ave from Casper's in Oakland (maybe about 55th Street?); he can retrofit any Volvo to anchor a Britax. Essentially he juryrigs them using a web strap loop you can get from Britax (and should have gotten with the seat if it's newer than 2 years), or he uses a kit that sells for $15 or so from Volvo. Once you've seen it done, it's very easy to do yourself. Laura and Stewart Note from Myriam: Ali owns Montclair Auto Tech. His phone number is 510/654-3888.
    I drive an '88 volvo--the Britax Roundabout works fine, and is easy to install. Rockridge Kids can direct you to a guy who installs the tethers (I forgot his name & #). Elizabeth

    More Volvo Advice


    I did a search for a Volvo mechanic when we moved to the East Bay in '98. I called and spoke with The Model Garage, Walsh Bros., DH Walsh Automotive, Grandma's Garage and Ackerman Volvo--among others. I asked all the same list of questions of each and included an estimate for a repair. I ended up getting service at three of the shops I interviewed. I got my doors worked on ($473 and never fixed) by Grandma, my waterpump changed by Walsh Bros., and my doors fixed by Ackerman's. I liked Ackerman best and have gotten all work done by them ever since.

    Walsh Bros did fine work. They have a big shop and clearly do lots of Volvos--but they are hard to get into quickly (because they are so busy). They are too rushed to explain what they want to do or have just done. Bruce Ackerman is my choice. His rates are pretty much the same as Walsh Bros and the other specialists. Bruce no longer works on cars--he runs the shop and spends his time with customers. Unlike Walsh Bros, his shop is still small enough that he isn't rushed and frenetic. After my telephone interviews Bruce was my first choice, but I wanted to give a woman mechanic the benefit of the doubt. Then, I went to Walsh because their volume is so high I figured they get plenty of practice. I was uneasy about Ackerman's because they seemed so competent but had so little work--I thought they must have a bad reputation.

    I started out by having Ackerman's check my ailing battery. They did fine work and seemed honest, so I had them look at the doors Grandma had worked on. The mechanic took about five minutes to diagnose the problem (remember I had already spent almost $500 on these doors). When I looked skeptical about such an easy mechanical fix they took me outside and showed me exactly what they planned to do and why. Oh. Not only that, if the mechanic had been wrong and the work had not fixed the problem--I would not have been charged! I think they call it a guarantee. Finally, I took my car back for a major tune-up and a look see. They identified all the big stuff I already suspected and a few little things I didn't. In the last year-and-a-half my 16-year-old car has run perfectly and my maintenance costs have been easonable (not low). Bruce and his mechanics are great!