Volvo: The Good and The Bad

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Finally got in here (Goodwin’s Volvo, Topsham, ME) for my pre-return trip service and what do I find? That their waiting room has wireless enabled. I realize this is common in many locales, but I certainly did not expect it here in Maine. Three cheers for Goodwin’s.

On a less happy note, let me state for the record that while I’m very happy with my S40 so far – it’s a terrific car, and getting a stick was one of the better decisions I’ve made recently – the maintenance situation is very suboptimal. As someone who actually enjoys doing light maintenance on their car, I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that given the technical complexity of today’s vehicles there’s very little work you or non-dealership personnel can actually do on the car. I don’t like it, but I accept it.

But oil changes? That’s just absurd. Unfortunately, as a couple of folks warned me, the S40 is a pain in the ass to service. Not only is the oil filter of a type that’s difficult to work with (internal), no one but the dealership has them. Prompto and Jiffy Lube turned me away, and efforts to acquire a filter at Napa, VIP Auto, and Wal-Mart also failed. [1]

For the technical folks that don’t grok car talk, it’s simple: this is vendor lock-in, and I really don’t appreciate it. The car is good enough that i can’t say at this point that it would stop me from buying this one again or another Volvo, but it’s a huge strike against them. Dealerships are not only expensive, they’re tremendously overbooked and difficult to get an appointment at.

[1] Fram apparently makes one, but it’s sufficiently rare that no one stocks it.


  1. You can buy the filters at the dealer’s parts counter and then DIY or take it somewhere. That’s what I did for years with my Mercedes – the after market filters were nothing like the OEM ones… Just buy like 3 of them and you’re set for a while.

  2. that pretty much sums up my same experience..one of many reasons i switched, even though i liked everything else about my volvo, especially driving it and feeling safe while doing so.

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