The Volvo 440 comes with a variety of engines: 1.6, 1.8 , 2 litre and a diesel version of course. I owned a 1.8 for 7 years; they're pocket-rockets capable of returning 35mpg without batting an eyelid.
Build quality on earlier models isn't too good though like all models in the range, look out for rust around the rear pillars and wheel arches. Reliability isn't a problem though there are of course a couple of niggles, as with any car.
On the single point injection system on the 1.8, two small 3 inch long hoses at the rear of the injection system can perish and draw in air. When this happens the car splutters and stalls at roundabouts, tends to overheat a bit when in slow moving traffic and leads the owner think that there may be a cylinder head/radiator/injection problem. It costs less than £3 to replace those two small bore hoses and takes a whole 2 minutes to do the job. Before you fork out for a replacement injection unit, check and change those 2 air hoses.
The other niggle is the electrics. It's not unknown for the 440 owner to find that his car just won't start one day. The fault usually comes down to one of the relays which are situated on the offside within the engine bay. A new relay costs around £25, though the wise 440 owner will visit a scrapyard and pay around 50 pence each for a relay and carry it in his glove compartment as a precaution.
These cars are relatively straight forward to work on for the home mechanic. There's nothing too difficult to service or repair/change.
The beauty of the 440 is that it never was a popular car as such and as a consequence, second hand prices are very low. £400 at 2009 prices should get you a superb, low mileage, well maintained and rust-free car that has a service history and long mot. An asking price of more than this is just 'silly money'. Not more than £200 (or less!) should buy a usable every day but reliable hack. At a car auction these cars tend to be sold from between £50 (scrap value) for a scruffy and down-at-heel but driveable example, to £150 for a very decent model indeed. Naturally, they command slightly higher prices in private sales; such is life.
At present there are second hand spares available from the scrapyards, but expect the situation to change in the not too distant future as these cars disappear from the roads.
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