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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Pleasanton CA USA

    Default Buying my Seashell XC70 T6 a continent away

    Last year, we replaced my wife's P2 S60 with a Flamenco Red 2013 T6 XC70 -- the preceding thread regales flying from CA to Salt Lake City to make the buy, and the 12 hour drive home. The "T6" turned out to be the dream luxury wagon, a ride others have described as "riding on a cloud", a vibration-free engine that quietly punches 0 --> 60 mph in under 7 seconds. On vacations, we love driving at night with the Active Bending Light tech, headlights that curve with the road. It came with only one hidden defect -- the radiator fins had been flattened over wide areas, but the front bumper came off with the assistance of "volvosweden"'s You Tube, and I spent 5 hours with an awl opening up these fragile aluminum fins -- just on time for the hot CA summer. I got the coolant temp from a risky 99C down to a normal 88C by restoring the airflow.

    This chapter has a simple theme: If your spouse's car is the one you prefer to drive, there's only one way to preserve marital harmony -- buy another one just like it for yourself.

    But, not same color! -- that would be verging on neurosis. My choices for exterior color are largely dictated by the desert climate -- ice white and seashell metallic being the only other non-hot-box alternatives, and having grown bored with ice white over several station wags, I set my sights on seashell. It's actually platinum and changes color slightly towards faint gold in the sun. The interior needs to be sandstone beige in our baking hot sun. I was looking in the 2013-16 year-band. I test drove a 2016 with the Drive-E 4-cyl. engine and 8-speed tranny, but felt it was a step down from the driving experience of the T6 + 6-speed.

    I scoured the West Coast for several months looking for something under 60K mi., but it just wasn't producing leads. So, I opened up my search to the entire USA excluding the northeast rust belt. After about another month, one came up in GA with 55K, but sold too fast to snatch it. A day later, one came up in Maryland, a 2015 with 27K mi -- the proverbial retired couple traded it in just as it was going off the 4-year warranty -- in excellent condition, no pets, clear glass, clean Carfax. It was traded in to a Suburu dealership in Catonsville. A text to their internet sales staff got a fast response, and by the next morning, I was remotely test-driving the car with a millennial salesman who has done many out-of-state sales. I had him take a pix of the Emission Control badge under the hood to make sure I could register it in CA. The car passed the remote with flying colors, and within an hour I had emailed him my first offer.

    I offered verbally to pay asking if it would include transport shipment to CA. I had underestimated transport cost based on the "teasers" advertised online, and thus the offer was rejected. I put in several hours on the phone trying to fathom the opaque auto transport biz -- not just over prices, but over details of transport such as covered / open-air, and the means of tying down the wheels.
    You don't get to talk to the driver, you only get a broker, and he can't guarantee details since the job is bid out to drivers only after you commit with your credit card. Ugh!

    Does the phrase "road trip" perk up at this point?

    I quickly re-jiggered my offer to no transport and $750 below asking. Bingo. I emailed a 1-page offer sheet, with the words added above my signature "contingent on personal inspection of vehicle".

    Being a few days before a holiday weekend and all cheap plane seats sold out, I had to put off the trip about a week. The dealer had no problem with taking the car off the market for a week. There were people coming to look at the car every day -- these P3 XC70s always sell fast, and a 4-year old T6 with 27K is in high demand. I got a Southwest direct flight to Baltimore for $300, and budgeted about $500 in gas for the trip back. Getting the offer accepted in writing is essential, as well as making sure they won't be showing the car.

    A cross-country trip has social opportunities, and I arranged 2-day rest stops with friends in Minnesota and Colorado. My Minnesota friend offered to share the 1000 mile drive to Boulder CO.

    On the day of the flight, I packed lightly but remembered how important was having my OBD-II scanner tool on last year's Salt Lake City paper towels to check fluids, and a plastic dropcloth and lamp to inspect the underside.

    The salesman delighted by picking me up at the Baltimore airport in THE CAR. I drove it about 20 minutes back to the dealership. The interior was blonder than my wife's 2013....almost a straw color. When we arrived at the Suburu dealer, it was about 5 pm, and the temperature was about 95F humidity 90%....I did look at the underside, and found a slight amount of white aluminum rust...all the cover panels were intact. The fluids all checked out. It felt good to get indoors into the A/C -- the paperwork close took about an hour. I was able to defer sales tax for 60 days, which I knew in advance. The deal included a 12-month / 12,000 mi. powertrain warranty at no extra cost, which I felt lowered my risk of getting the car home (3600 mi.).

    The first night of driving was according to plan just an hour up the interstate (I-70) to Hagerstown MD. About 15 minutes before getting to my motel, a dash light came on for "tire pressure low". Well, I guess if you're going to be hit with a DTC after just plunking down a fortune on a used car, a TPMS is good news.

    In the morning, I found a Firestone Tire Center. The tech checked all 4, and guess what?....the 2 tires on the passenger side were overinflated to 48 psi! Wow. Come to find out that "wheel speed" TPMS can only sense differences, and reports over-pressure as low-pressure. As I drove off from Firestone, the console invited me to recalibrate the TPMS with a few button presses -- and that was that. Day 1 (see photo) took me through about a dozen thunderstorms -- it would be an understatement to say that I got mother nature's premium carwash. This was mid-summer, and extreme weather was visiting the Ohio Valley...we're talking tornados and hailstorms. I made a tactical decision to veer north from Harper's Ferry (western Maryland) towards Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The worst I got was drenching rains.
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    I made it to St. Charles IL, a little west of Chicago by 8 pm.

    The bluetooth phone feature is very handy, and made it easy to book a cheap motel while driving the last 30 minutes. It also came with the NAV feature, which is so-so. The mapping app on your cellphone is far superior with its touch gesture user-interface and advanced search features.

    Day 2 was a straight shot to my friend's house in Minnesota with perfect weather. It having been 40 years since I last drove cross-country, it was a surprise how major sections of Interstate 80 are now toll roads. During the last hour, however, I got hit with a new console message: "ABS System Service Needed". Now what? Am I vexed? The car was running fine, so just kept on going and pulled in on time for a home-cooked dinner.

    A relaxed weekend with perfect weather of boating, bowling, hiking, art gallery and home cooking kept my mind off the ABS error. I did hook up my OBD-II (iCarSoft i906), but it only reads out ECM ABS codes can be retrieved.

    We shoved off for Colorado at the break of day, planning to pack in all 1030 miles during daylight hours (summer solstice being a few weeks off). We both like listening to NPR radio, and I found it very easy to hop NPR local stations as they come in and out of range, always low on the FM band. The ABS light came back on somewhere in Iowa but with no symptoms -- my understanding of ABS is that it's only deployed in an emergency braking situation.
    When we stopped for lunch, and were leaving the parking lot, something entirely unexpected happened!

    We were rolling along at only 5 mph when we felt these rhythmic thumps coming from the front of the car. I was behind the wheel, and we looked at each other in disbelief. WTF? It felt like the left front wheel were suddenly square-shaped! That's the image that sprang to mind. A square wheel thumping as it awkwardly rolled forward!

    We shut down the engine and restarted again. Once again, we couldn't get out of the parking lot....thump...thump...thump. We traded ideas for a good 5 minutes. ABS?....OK....when ABS kicks in during an emergency-stop, it takes rhythmic "bites" of braking pressure to keep the wheel from locking up and going into a skid. Maybe the thumps were the ABS firing off emergency braking?......but at 5 mph? OK, but only if the ABS were seriously confused about how fast we were moving. The Hall Effect wheel sensor monitors tiny magnetic pulses as the wheel turns to measure axle speed....what if the wheel sensor were bad? That's the best we could come up with (which turned out to be correct).

    Meanwhile, what to do? We decided to try restarting and getting out on the road again without applying the brake, on the hunch that the ABS malfunction might only occur while braking at slow speeds. That turned out to work. In fact, there wasn't another glitch all day. But, with another 1200 miles to drive alone after Boulder, I took to the bluetooth phone and called Swedish Motors in Boulder and made an appt. for the next day.

    As we got near Omaha on the Iowa side, local flooding of the Missouri River forced a 30 mile detour. When we finally made it to the I-80 bridge crossing,
    a biblical downpour broke open...visibility was barely 25', which is tricky moving at 60 mph. Midwest drivers are used to these things, and slide into a very orderly 50 mph. where everyone stays in lane and nobody attempts passing. The downpour made for 20 minutes of very intense city-interstate driving....and another premium carwash.

    We had been watching the forecast for extreme weather since morning....northeastern Colorado was forecasting tornadic waterspouts, 60 mph winds and hailstones just about the time we'd be passing through. There's a major problem. The last thing I want to run into is a hailstorm denting my new car. Yet, there is no cover for hundreds of high prairie miles, no nearby bridge to take cover under. We had detailed doppler maps on the cellphone as we came up to the CO border. What we saw was rather amazing. The storm had split into two storms, with a narrow passage tunnel between them perfectly aligned with I-76! Also, the storms were racing toward us at 80 mph, and we were approaching them going 80 mph, so according to Einstein's Relativity, we and the storm would pass each other at 160 mph, meaning it would be somewhat brief. We decided to go for it.

    That next 2 hours provided some of the most otherworldly atmospherics I've ever witnessed. It was biblical. We literally passed through a magical tunnel with demonic thunderstorms boxing us in on the left and right. But, straight ahead it was clear and we could see 100 miles down the passageway. We played some Doors music ("Riders on the Storm"). All the big rigs were pulled off to the side, unable to steer thru 60 mph cross-winds, and tumbleweeds were flying across our visual field. Just as we were clearing the righthand storm, we were listening to the Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" when all of a sudden, the brightest sun I've ever seen poked out to our right and bathed us in its orange intensity. This turned into an hourlong lightshow as the sun slowly set over the Rockies. We saw a Matisse painting of vivid reds, yellows, oranges and grays gradually fade toward the center of the color wheel and encroaching darkness. The storms were behind us, the ABS was behaving, and we had just experienced one of the most visually exciting 2 hours I can recall. Better than a solar eclipse, better than northern lights.

    We pulled up to my friend's girlfriend's Boulder house at 10pm, as the last shards of dusk were vanishing in the west. What a day! 1030 miles. 17.5 hours.

    The XC70 was dropped off to Swedish Motors around opening. We were told that their VIDA diagnostics system would get to the heart of the ABS problem lickity split. An hour later the call of the wheel sensors was no good, and it was a simple $200 repair, the sensor harness coming over from Denver. I had the car back by 4 pm. ( It was the left rear wheel sensor. )

    The following day, we took the car up into the Rockies and put the AWD and Geartronic transmission through a thorough workout. The drivetrain on this car is a superb piece of engineering, evolved over the years to perfection. Also, the engine control system adapts automatically to barometric pressure -- you aren't aware of it -- you're at 11,000 ft. elevation, and the O2 partial pressure is down about 25% from sea level, but the car just adapts perfectly.

    Day 4, I was back to solo driving, started at dawn and made it to Elko NV by 7 pm. During the night, it drizzled slightly, and in the morning the car was covered with this slimy film, which I took to be a strange form of pollution formed over the desert....a mixture of dust and agricultural chaff....chust! Where was nature's carwash when it was needed? I resigned myself to arriving back home with my car caked with chust....a badge of honor.

    Day 5, the final day of driving began very early, and took me through very barren, scenic Nevada desert terrain. You can easily see 100 miles in all small you feel. The interstate is a toothpaste thread that snakes off to infinity. The car felt great handling the Sierra Nevada crossing.
    Altho, it's very disturbing to see the poor condition of I-80's Lane #1...the surface has been completely chewed off by chains and cleats, exposing an abrasive texture of pebbles. If you want to eat up a set of tires quickly, drive in Lane 1. Amazing, when you get down closer to Sacramento, within commute distance of the State Capitol, the road is smooth as silk...a demonstration of how road repair priorities work in CA.

    Speaking of interstate road quality:
    A+: Utah, Nevada, Indiana
    A: Wyoming
    B: Maryland, Colorado, Minnesota
    C: Pennsylvania, Iowa, Illinois
    F: California

    I rolled into the driveway around 1 pm, but then decided that it would make a better first impression for my wife to go to the carwash -- we spent
    more on this car than any previously. This is our 13th Volvo...hers is our 12th.

    My experience going "all the way" XC for this purchase is one I'll always remember. It gave me a sense of the immensity of our American continent.
    It gave me a close brush with the extreme weather of summer 2019. And, it bore out my risk taking that paid off -- a comparable car sold in CA would have gone for about $3K more, and might have taken a full year of waiting to come on the market. I spent a total of $1200 on plane, motels and gas.

    Here's where the story ends. It may be years before this picture changes:
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    Last edited by pbierre; 03-16-2021 at 08:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Landenberg, PA


    Congrats on your new car and thanks for sharing your awesome experience! I felt like I was reading a good book! I live on the PA/MD border and agree about the road differences between the 2 states. I was just on I-70 about 2 weeks ago near Hagerstown, it's beautiful.

    2005 XC70 - 50/35 Tint, Yakima Rack

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Pleasanton CA USA


    The "low tire pressure" message came on, and it's only been 3 months since getting nitrogen fills done at Big O Tires. The lowest tire was 32 psi. I'm wondering what the TPMS considers "low"? Also, when I buy new tires this winter, should I re-use the 5 year old TPMS stems? Or, put in new ones?
    2013 XC70 T6 Flamenco Red (hers)
    2015 XC70 T6 Seashell Metallic (his)
    past: 13 Volvos going back to '74 242 sedan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Calgary, Alberta


    It is likely that doesn't come on at a set lower pressure point but that if the system sees a large enough pressure difference between tires it will turn the warning on.

    I don't know how the Volvo TPMS system is set up (my car does not have it)but the Mercedes product that I work on that has the TPMS sensors is set up so that the system can be reset/restarted for the current tire pressure to be the correct pressure and it is monitored for that pressure.

    The batteries for the TPMS sensors from what I have heard/seen are supposed to be good for about ten years.

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