KdL Automotive Volvo onderhoud voor youngtimers en klassiekers Middelbeers Brabant

Buying tips PV / Duett

Buying a “new” (old) car is easy, but how are you sure you’ll buy a good one? With this tips and buyers guide we will help you with the purchase of a Volvo PV 444, 544 or Duett.

It’s a long buyers guide, but you can find a summary at the end (also very useful when you’re going to check a car).

The Volvo PV & Duett as a daily driver

Many people ask me if a Volvo PV 444 or 544 is suitable as a daily driver. I think both cars can be used as a daily driver but if you want to drive it every day some models are less suited for that role or some modificitations should be made. First of all: the maintenance interval of the Volvo PV 444 is pretty tight (so if you use it on a daily base you’ll have to service it often) and the seats are not really comfortable. A better choice for a daily driver is the PV 544 (or Duett P210-series) with B18-engine (lasts longer than the B16-engines) with 12V electrical system and you should consider to mount better seats in the car.  All PV and Duett cars have the single brake system, be sure the brake system is working fine. Please remember: the car handles very different compared with conventional brake systems with discs (or discs and drums). The PV and Duett always have a drum-brakesystem which means the car will pulled to one side when you’ll brake for the first time during a trip. Some people prefer to convert the brake system to a Amazon-brakesystem with brake discs and calipers. Also a servo can be mounted.

Note for the UK/AUS/Asia/etc-drivers: the Volvo PV and Duett are only made as a left-hand drive, so you won’t find a right-hand drive PV or Duett (maybe some hobbyists made a RHD-version themselves).

Volvo PV 444 CS special daily driver Louwman Museum
Hard to believe, but before going to the Louwman Museum this Volvo PV 444 C Special was a daily driver

Because the power range of the PV is from 40bhp to 95bhp there are many options to buy. When you’re planning to use the car as daily driver the 40bhp and 44bhp cars are too slow for hills and daily traffic. If you’re patient enough it can work, but I think the B16 and B18-engines (with more power) are the better choice. The 12v-system is also the best option for daily use, so the best buy would be a PV 544 with B18 or a Duett with B18. It’s also possible to tune up or replace a B4B, B14A or B16-engine for a B18-version but it’s quite expensive and not very easy (you’ll need to change the gearbox and clutch as well and rebuilt the entire electrical system to a 12V-version).

If you don’t use the car as a daily driver (please drive every week with the car to avoid problems, see the general maintenance & service pages): all models are suitable as a collector car but some minor parts of the older versions are more rare and hard to find.

The goal of your classic Volvo car

Before starting your journey for a classic car you’ll need to ask yourself what the intention of your purchase will be: do you want it to use it as a daily driver, do you want to restore a car, are you planning to buy a spotless car that won beauty contests or do you want a car that isn’t perfect but needs a bit work? All these factors will give you the idea for the car you are looking for and also determines the budget. You won’t find a car that is in a showroom condition and only costs $ 1000,– and a rustless tuned rally PV Sport isn’t available for $ 1500,– (unless you’re extremely lucky).

Volvo PV 544 rally trial car with B18-engine
A Volvo PV 544 in rally-trim. With nice Minilite-wheels, sun visor and sport seats but a lot of modifications at the engine were made. The car is very fast and still in use for rallies and time trials

Please keep in mind the tips below are a indication for a car that is in a good state. A perfect car is hard to find but they are available (but they won’t be cheap). So don’t try to get a bargain for a car that has the price for a car that needs a little work. Decide for yourself what budget you’ve got and how many work a car is allowed to have.

Volvo PV & Duett bodywork 

The biggest enemy of all veteran and oldtimer cars: rust! Unfortunately the Volvo PV and Duett both have some serious weak spots on the chassis and bodywork. All replacement-parts for the bodywork are very good available, but complete front- and rear fenders are very expensive. When you’re going to have a look on a Volvo PV or Duett please make sure the following bodyparts and parts of the chassis aren’t rusty:

  • the chassis legs (or: chassis beams) and subframe are susceptible for rust, especially the part where the subframe bolts on the chassis legs. When it’s rotten a lot the engine mounts can fail so the engine will fall out.
  • Check the sills for rust, especially the jack supports (outriggers).
  • under the hood: please check the inside of the engine compartment and the radiator support.
  • The bottom of the Volvo PV is also susceptible for rust, so check both front- and rear floor panels. Also check the front pieces where the floor is going up (at the pedals and right side).
  • The doors can also be rusty at the bottom of the doors.
  • The rear wings can have some rot spots at the leading edges on the top of it (at the captive nuts).
  • Please check also the wheel arches and the front part of the rear fender (the cowl section).
  • At the trunk: be sure the floor part and sparewheel container are free of rust.
  • Also be sure the fuel tank won’t have a leak.
  • Check the inside bodywork at the windows for rust, caused by leaks.

If everything of the list above is looking fine, the condition of the bodywork shouldn’t be a problem! If you have any doubts about the bodywork (for example: the owner uses putty to cover hidden rust on the bodywork) please bring some small magnets (to check the bodywork: if putty is used the magnet won’t stick to the car) and a sharp object (like a screwdriver, to test the bodywork when too much undercoating is used).

Volvo PV 445 Duett P110 P210 spare wheel container rust
The spare wheel container of the Volvo P110/P210 Duett, check it for any rust

The chrome bumpers are also very sensitive: dents and rust can damage the bumpers seriously. Chromizing the bumpers isn’t cheap, you should consider replacing the bumpers with stainless steel bumpers if they need a replacement.

Please note the costs for welding a car are very expensive (unless you can do it yourself). If you can’t weld yourself (or you don’t know a cheap welder): welding bodywork is much more expensive than engine problems or replacing brakes and suspension-parts.

Volvo PV & Duett engine

The engines of the PV and Duett are pretty reliable, the newer and bigger it gets the better it is! The B4B is the “less” reliable engine: the low gearing stands for hard working for the engine and when it’s worn you should hear a hard knock from the cilinder head (so it needs to be replaced). The B14A is better and the B16 is also better than the B14A but the best engine is the B18A. With more bearings and a 4-speed gearbox the car was better protected against engine wear. A B18 shouldn’t run “too smooth” (or: like a charm) because it means it will be worn out also. When a B18 is running idle it should have sometimes a “dip” in revolution.

Volvo PV Duett P210 B16-engine with 6V electrical system
A B16-engine in a 1960 Volvo Duett (P210) with 6V electrical system. The engine was rebuild and repainted, like the rest of the car: the car is as good as new. I drove it myself to the Dutch Road & Traffic Serviced (RDW) for a Dutch licence registration (the car is imported from Sweden)

Be sure you don’t see any oil leakages caused by broken seals or filt gaskets. A seal or gasket isn’t expensive but it can be a hell of a job to replace one. Also check the oil level and the condition of the oil.

Replacement parts are very easy to get for the B18-engine, but the B4B, B14A and B16-engine parts are becoming more rare these days. Due the rareness prices of some items (like pistons, some bearings, con rod and cogwheel sets) for the B4B, B14A and B16-engines are rising.

The B18-engines can handle high mileage, so don’t be scared to buy a car which already drove 250.000km (or 125.000 miles). The B4B-, B14A- and B16-engines also won’t have problems with those mileages but can’t handle high speed for a long time (it will increase engine wear for the B4B, B14A and B16).

Check the exhaust system for its color: when it’s completely black in the inside the car has a serious problem with the oil consumption. If it’s gray it will be OK. Another great test is to check the color of the gasses when the engine is running: step on the gas a few times and check the color. If it’s gray there is no problem, blue gasses from the exhaust means the pistons are worn out, water in the engine (due a broken head gasket) or the car consumes too much oil (but it can also be the valve seal rubbers, which aren’t a big cost to replace) and black gasses means the engine or carburator isn’t adjusted well.

Also be sure the cam gear set is replaced (in case it’s made of steel and fiber) or a steel version is mounted. The steel camgears will make some more noise but they will last forever!

The best indication of the condition of the engine is a compression test. A engine in a good condition will have a high compression. All cilinders shouldn’t be below 10 bar. A revised B18-engine will have about 13 bar (or above) compression.

Another simple test: when you take out the car for a testdrive, speed up to about 60mph (90kmh) and release the gas pedal. When the car is dropping to about 35-40mph (60kmh) put the pedal to the metal and look in the rear view mirror: if black or dark blue smoke is visible you’re certain the car is consuming a lot of oil. It can be caused by valve seal rubbers or in worst case: broken pisten rings. In case of the last option: the engine needs to be rebuild and that’s expensive.

The carburators are pretty easy to maintain. The SU- and Zenith Stromberg-carburators were used for a long time and also on other brands than Volvo, meaning parts are pretty easy to get. Also check the ignition: be sure the car starts and runs well.


Volvo PV & Duett transmission and power train

The Volvo PV and Duett can have 8 types of transmissions: the M3, H3, H4, H5 and H6 (a 3-speed manual gearbox used in the PV 444 and H6 for the  PV 544 Favorit from 1958 until 1960), the M30 (3-speed manual transmission) or the M4 and M40 gearbox (a 4-speed manual transmission).  It’s also possible to install a M41-gearbox (with overdrive) but you should add some wires and a new part of the drive shaft to make it work.

The transmissions are very reliable but you should listen carefully for some noise: a high/whooping noise means the needle bearings can be broken. If the top gear is quieter than the other ratios it means the gearbox is worn out. Replacing a gearbox will take about half a day (plus the costs of a new or used gearbox).

Gearboxes of old Volvo-cars always sweat some oil, so don’t panic if the gearbox is a bit wet. But if you see oil traces from the bearings or propshaft there are some worries. Fixing it means the gearbox should be disassembled, fixed and reinstalled again (again: the costs of replacing the parts aren’t expensive but it will take a few hours).

One of the weaknesses of the Volvo PV and Duett is its clutch. The clutches of the older type gearboxes (H3/4/5/6, M3 and M4) can wear down very quickly to the metal. The M30 and M40 are better, but there is good news for the older type transmissions: it is pretty easy to use the newer type clutch (please use the Sachs clutch set (plate and pressure plate) and a SKF (F&S) or Sachs release bearing as replacement for the old type clutch set. You’ll have to modify the flywheel for the late type (diaphragm) clutch set. It isn’t a hard job and it’s a lot more reliable.

To test the clutch: put the transmission in the thirth gear and release the clutch slowly. When the car stalls  the clutch is fine. If it keeps running the clutch is worn out. Please be aware that not all car sellers like this test so ask them if you’re allowed to perform this test. If the gearbox and clutch produces a screeching / rattling noise or doesn’t t fully engage the release bearing and/or the pressure plate is worn out. Note: please also notice the gasses from the exhaust when you test the clutch: if big black smoke is coming out of the exhaust (coloring the street or pavement entirely black) the engine can be worn as well!

When you drive the car and you’re switching gears the revs of the engine should drop immediately when the lever is in the higher gear. When the revs are rising for a moment it means the clutch is slipping. Replacing the clutch will take about 4 hours of work plus the costs of the new clutch set (clutch plate, pressure plate and always replace the release bearing as well). In most cases it will be about $ 675,– / € 500,– (including parts, wages and VAT) if you can’t do it yourself.

Also check the driveshaft for noises and shocks. In most cases of noise and shocks the universal joints of the prop shaft are worn out. If you hear a screaming noise it means the bearing of the propeller shaft is worn and needs to be replaced. Please replace the rubber (bearing support) as well. Replacing these parts are easy and pretty cheap.

Volvo PV & Duett cooling and heater system

Check the condition of the radiator and all hoses. If you see any traces of coolant (or anti-freeze) it means there are some small leaks. Also check the radiator of the heating system because it’s more expensive to overhaul than the radiator for the engine.

When the engine temperature is high enough (the thermostat should be opened) check the heating system at the interior of the car. Use the heating controls and fan to check if they’re working fine and the car is getting hot and cold air blown in. When the heater controls don’t respond well (only warm or cold air is available, no matter the controls stands at warm or cold temperature) it means there is a problem with the heater valve (or maybe with the links to it) or heater radiator. Both aren’t a cheap fix.

Volvo PV & Duett brake system

The brake system of the Volvo PV and Duett are very reliable but not very easy to maintain: the technique is simple but getting the brake drums disassembled is a tough job (the most easy way is to get the brake drum puller of Volvo, part number 252423 or 9991791, but the puller is pretty expensive for a “simple” tool). Also adjusting the brake system when put together again isn’t very easy. Since the brake system is a simplex brake system you’ll have to be sure it’s working well.

Volvo PV P210 Duett brake drum
A PV & Duett brake drum

When you’re taking a trip with a PV or Duett the first time you’ll step on the brake pedal the car will be pulled in a certain direction (left or right). This is caused by dirt and/or  grit in the brake drums. Cleaning won’t help: a day later there will be new brake dust in the drum. And also notice the PV and Duett will have it everytime at a new trip when you’re driving with the car. So no need for worries but if the car keeps being pulled to one side (after several braking actions) you can be sure there is a brake difference. It can be caused by a brake cilinder, brake shoes that are sticking or the brake drum itself. If the car brakes well there are no need for any worries.

Also check the state of the brake hoses, brake pipes and brake cilinders for any leakages or defects. Fortunately these parts aren’t very expensive and pretty easy to replace. To test the brake system for any leaks: press the brake pedal for a longer time. The brake pressure should be the same. If the pedal is lowering you’re sure something is wrong.

Parts of the brake system are very good available and not very expensive (except for the brake drums: they are pretty expensive). Working on the brake system is pretty easy as well but you’ll really have to be sure what you’re doing because making a mistake can give some serious troubles! When you’re taking a PV or Duett to a workshop or garage to fix the brake system you’ll have to be aware for some big bills: working on the brake drums and making the right adjustments are a time-consuming job and these days a lot of garages don’t even know how to exactly work on such old brake systems!

Volvo PV & Duett steering & suspension

The steering- and suspension system of the PV and Duett are very reliable. For both cars the weakest spot are the king pins and ball joints. Because it’s a complete part it should be rebuild completely and that isn’t easy. You can buy a refurbished set (expensive) or a repair set (which is cheap but it’s a hard job to do if you’re not that skillful).

The steering system of the PV and Duett don’t cause many problems, but check the steering box for any leaks. Also check the condition of the tie rods and wishbones (the big triangles) and the rubber bushings (silent blocs).

To test the shock absorbers and suspension: lean on the car and push it down. After releasing the car should stand still immediately after it’s coming up. When the car is still shaking the shock absorbers have to be replaced. The condition of the springs can be assessed during a testdrive: if the car is too jumpy and can’t handle big shocks the springs needs to be replaced. Springs and shock absorbers are pretty cheap and not difficult to replace.

Volvo PV 444 544 Duett front axle suspension
The front suspension of the Volvo PV and Duett

The Duett has leaf springs at the back and are in most cases trouble-free. But when a leaf spring is broken or completely worn it’s very hard to get replacement parts. The leaf spring set is out of production but the U-bolts, brackets, bushings and mounting sets are easily available and not expensive.

Volvo PV & Duett wheels and tires

Tires are the most important parts of the car: it’s the only way of contact with the road. In my opinion you must never save money on tires because a cheap Chinese tire is $ 10,- cheaper than a good brand like Goodyear, Bridgestone, Pirelli or Vredestein.  Make sure the tread is deep enough and there are no cracks caused by drought. The radial tires are the best choice for a PV or Duett: it provides a better road handling and are safer than bias plys (radials are stronger, stiffer and handles a lot better). Look after the tirewear:

  • Over inflation: the center part of the tire has excessive wear, caused by a too high air pressure. In this case the tire is riding on the middle of the tread and wearing out prematurely.
  • Under inflation: the outer parts of the tread are more worn than the center part. It isn’t caused by a too low tire pressure but caused by a bad wheel alignment (which may indicate a worn tie rod or ball joint).
  • One side wear: a inner or outer rib of the tire is worn more than the rest of the tread. Caused by bad wheel alignment, worn kingpins or ball joints or bad bushings/silent blocs of the control arms.
  • Cupping: damage on the sides (cups or scalloped dips) means worn suspension parts (mostly shock absorbers, kingpins, ball joints or springs). If you see a brake spot on the middle of the tread it means the car has made a emergency stop. It will cause a noisy tire (rolling noise) when you drive the car. Cupped tires needs to be replaced as soon as possible: tire trimming is a bad option (the tire is trimmed in cold condition but when the tire is warm again the noise can appear again).
  • Feathering: the edge of each tread rib has a rounded edge on one side and is sharp on the other side. You’ll need to feel it because it isn’t always visible. If you have a closer look you’ll see every rib is pushed aside. It is caused by a bad wheel alignment due worn bushings


Volvotips Volvo tire wear indication chart
The tire wear indication chart (click on the image for a larger version)


Please note tires only last for about 6 years. After 6 years the rubber lost its best of its compound. In most cases the production date is found on the tire: the week and year is mentioned on the tire and is called the DOT age-code. For example: 2607 means the tire is produced in week 26 of 2007. If you see a 3-digit number it means the tire is made before 2000 (for example: 187 means: week 17 of 1997). Needless to say but such old tires needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Check also the spare tire!

The wheels needs to be rustless and have no visible damage like bumps or dents. Some curb damage isn’t nice but it doesn’t effect the safety of the car.  Some people put custom-made widened rims under their PV or Duett but if it isn’t done professionally it can be a big risk for your safety. I’m not a big fan of widened rims and in my opinion it’s much better to buy original GT-wheels, like Kronprinz, Lemmerz or the TUV-approved replica wheels sold by Scandcar (the Chineses replicas sold by some companies and webshops like Nordicar are pretty poor and could be dangerous due its weak material). Other nice options are the Wolfrace-wheels (or Ansen Sprint, almost the same design), Minilites (again: do not buy the imitation-versions), GB wheels or Panasport wheels. Most of the wheels of the Amazon also fits on the PV and Duetts (except the PV 444 A and 444 B since those cars had the 4-hole wheels instead of 5 holes).

If you hear any rolling sounds when you take the car for a testdrive please check the tires and the bearings of the wheels.

Volvo PV & Duett interior

During the years it’s most likely the interior and upholstery has had its day. Sun and aging will cause cracks and tears in the dashboard padding, the cardboard kickpanels are abound and worn and rubbers are as dry as the Sahara. Also moisture is a big enemy for the upholstery and interior. The PV and Duett can get very wet inside if door rubbers, window rubbers (like guide channels, windowbrushes, scrape rubbers, etc etc) and grommet or rubber plugs are worn out or are too dry.  Check the windscreen rubbers for any damages or leaks, because a broken windscreen rubber can cause rust to the chassis. Broken side window rubbers will lead to rust inside the doors, so those rubbers needs to be in good condition as well.

Custom-made interior Volvo PV Duett 1960 B16 P210
A custom-made interior of a 1960 Duett (P210) with B16-engine and 6V electrical system. The previous owner of the car had the Duett for many years (about 35 years) and was a furnisher. He made a very nice interior for the car and I think the upholstery really looks nice! It’s not original Volvo but it suits the car very well

Replacing rubbers isn’t very hard (except the windscreen- and rear window rubbers, it can be a hell of a job) but if many rubbers needs to be replaced it’s expensive. Dashboard paddings are still new available and also covers for the paddings are available (which can be placed over the broken padding).

Lift up the flooring (or rubber mat) to check for any rust at the bottom of the car. Especially check the sides (sills) and at the pedals and kickpanels: if there is any rust it means there could be a leak at the windscreen.

When you have a look at the doors: check for rust at the bottom of the doors, check the rubberised strip (with Volvo-logo) between the sill and interior and check the condition of the door panels. Open and close the side window and feel how smooth it goes (if it’s hard: the cable of the door window can have a problem but it’s pretty easy to replace). Check the hinges of the doors: if the door falls a bit down when you open it the hinges are worn.

The upholstery is now available again if you want to replace it. But it isn’t cheap and for the first series of the PV 444 it’s hard to get the right upholstery. It’s possible to let a furnisher make a custom-made interior but that isn’t cheap as well. Check the seat spring set of the car for its condition. If you want to use the car for longer trips or as a daily driver you should consider to install newer seats (the seats of a Volvo 240- and 340-series will fit into the car but you’ll have to make a special frame for mounting it into the car). The headlining of the car won’t suffer a lot so in most cases it is in good condition. If it needs to be replaced it isn’t expensive but it’s not a very easy job.

Volvo PV & Duett electrical system

Check all wire harnesses for any cracks or rusty plugs and connections. Check all lamps of the car if the lights are matching with their light output (differences may indicate earth-problems or rust at the housings of the lights).  Test the indicator lights (if there is a problem with it: in most cases the relay is defect). Also test the horn of the car: if it won’t work there can be a problem with the horns or breakage in the cable in the steering wheel.

Volvo 6V battery for PV 444 544 and Duett with 6 volt electrical system
If you buy a PV 444, 544 or Duett with 6V electrical system you should consider to replace the battery with a Optima-battery: the engine will start much better!

The electric system of the PV and Duett is very easy and cheap to maintain but you’ll have to be sure everything is working fine.

Volvo PV & Duett paperwork & VIN

Please check if  the licence plates and papers are complete. Check if the chassis number (VIN) on the registration papers matches the VIN-number on the car. The VIN-plate is located under the hood at the firewall on the passenger side, but the VIN is also stamped on a other location: check the registration papers where it should be located. Also check if the owner has a service history. Most PV’s and Duetts are maintained by the owner itself: check if the seller has any copies of invoices.

Volvo PV & Duett parts

The parts of the PV and Duett are very good available. Most parts can be bought as brand new product at many webshops, most of them aren’t original Volvo-parts but they’re good enough as replacement (in some cases: a lot better than the original). When you buy a PV or Duett please don’t try to fix it with only second-hand parts because some day you’ll be punished for that. Some parts are out of production and aren’t being produced by other suppliers but that kind of parts can be refurbished at specialists (like radiators or old types alternators). All bodywork parts and rubbers are also very good available.

Some parts are difficult to get, like the upholstery of the first PV 444’s and PV 445’s. Also the first PV’s uses Autolite generators: parts for it are harder to find than the later Bosch-types. Also the wiper mechanism is a part that’s hard to find (depending of the type: Autolite or Electrolux). But good news: it can be rebuild. The engine parts for the B4B, B14A and B16 are harder to get than the parts for the B18-engine (especially pistons, piston rings and the steel air filter). If you’re planning to buy a PV or Duett with B4B, B14A or B16: the engine should be in good condition!

What to pay for a PV or Duett

It’s hard to say what the right price is for a classic car like the PV or Duett. One thing is for sure: they are cars that aren’t sold in just one day. Younger car lovers prefer “newer” classic car like the 140- and 240-series. The group of PV-enthousiasts isn’t very big (you have to be honest: when you look at the PV club meetings the average age is 60 years or older, but I think the PV is a amazing and nice car and I’m half the age of the average PV-owner), so the right asking price is difficult to determine.

Also the demographics have a big influence in the purchase price: PV’s in The Netherlands are more expensive than the Belgian PV’s but if you go to the bigger cities in The Netherlands the price is lower due parking licences (in Amsterdam they’re hard to get and the city works with a unwritten policy to ban classic cars out of the city) so people at those places want to sell the car as quickly as possible.

The biggest factor for the price is the condition of the car: a PV 544 that needs work and doesn’t have a MOT (due too much rust or brakes that won’t work) the price should be about EUR 1000,– (US Dollars: 1350,–), a car that is suitable as daily driver (with a little rust but nothing big) should be around EUR 2500,- ($ 3350,–) and a PV 544 in perfect condition should be around EUR 7500,– ($ 10.000,–). These prices may vary per country and of course the exact condition of the car determines its price. Also extra accessories can rise the price a bit. A Duett is in most cases about EUR 1.500,– ($ 2.000,–) more expensive than a PV 544. Prices of the PV 444 may vary due its condition: most sellers ask something more than a PV 544 with the same condition, but the 6V-system and engines are items that actually put the price downwards. It all depends on the market.

Summary buying tips Volvo PV and Duett

As you can see the buyers guide for the PV and Duett is very long. Of course you can read it completely but when you arrive at the car for a closer look you’ll forget the most of all the tips above.

Always be realistic with the price the seller is asking for his PV or Duett: you can’t expect a showroom-condition at a PV which should cost $1000,–. Keep in mind what your intention with the car is (daily driver, hobby-car, to restore it completely or partial, or you want a car that is actually in a brand-new mint condition) and also think what you want to spend.

And always make a testdrive with the car!

Please use this summary and take a print of it with you when you’re going to have a look:

  • Bodywork: check for rust, especially the sills, doors, front- and rear fenders and floor panels.
  • Engine: check for oil usage during the testdrive (go to 60mph/90kmh, let the car drop down to 35mph/55kmh and put the pedal to the metal: if you see black smoke leaving the exhaust the car has a oil consuming problem). If possible: perform a compression test.
  • Transmission and driveshaft: check for noises and test the clutch (ask for permission) by putting the car in thirth gear and engage the clutch pedal. If the car stalls the clutch is fine, if it keeps running the clutch needs replacement. Listen carefully for noises during a testdrive: a constant screaming sound and banging means there is something wrong with the driveshaft (but not expensive to repair).
  • Cooling system: check the hoses, radiator and when the engine is hot enough test the heating system in the car.
  • Braking system: check for any leaks and test during a testdrive if the cars is pulling to one side when braking (except the first time: PV’s and Duetts always pull to one side when you’re braking for the first time due brakedust and dirt inside the brake drum that needs to be cleared of the shoes).
  • Steering & suspension: test the shock absorbers and springs by pulling down the car. After release the car should get up and stop shaking immediately. If it keeps shaking the shock absorbers needs to be replaced. Check for any play and noise from the front axle during the testdrive.
  • Wheels & tires: check for any damage at the wheels or rims and tires. The condition of the tire can tell you a lot about the wheel alignment and condition of kingpins, ball joints and tie rods. Check the tread and the age of tires (DOT-code, tires shouldn’t be older than 6 years). Check for rolling sounds (caused by bad tires or bearings).
  • Interior: check for rust at the inside and the condition of the upholstery. Take a close look at the rubbers (especially the rubbers of the windows and windscreen).
  • Electrical system: check all lights and have a look all lamps are shining at the same strength (if not: the car can have some troubles with its negative/mass). Also check the condition of all cable harnesses and electrical wires.
  • Paperwork: check if all registration papers and service history (if possible) are complete.

If you have any doubts (in the car or yourself) you should consider a purchase inspection. If the seller don’t want to co-operate with a inspection you know there is something wrong with the car. A purchase inspection will cost some money but can prevent you spending money on big repair costs, and the defects that will appear can be a good reason for negotiating on the price.

Good luck with finding the right Volvo PV or Duett for you!

Any questions or comments? Please feel free to mail me at info@volvotips.com!

© Volvotips 2011

3 Responses to “Buying tips PV / Duett”

  1. bryan.pullan says:

    I am a UK member and enjoy your site very much. The feature for workshop manuals has been particularly useful.
    I am currently restoring a PV444, which is a very rare bird in the UK, never being officially imported here, and I am looking at a motor upgrade, replacing the tired B4B with a livelier B16B with SU carbs (which have good spares availability over here).
    The car was a barn find from Sweden and was imported at the beginning of the year. Some spares are almost unobtainable now. B4B engine parts are difficult, carburettor parts a nightmare and the brakes are a particular issue with spares for the complex self adjusters fitted to earlier 444’s being apparently unobtainable. I may have to try and find something from a later model to substitute.
    I’d strongly advise any UK owners to consider joining either the Volvo Owners Club or the Volvo Enthusiasts Club, both of which offer excellent support to what is an unusual car on the UK Classic car scene. There is also a very good forum run by (I think) VOC, but not dependant on membership of same, which has a very international membership with loads of useful information on all generations of Volvo.

    Keep up the good work with this site.

  2. harshbutfair51 says:

    A very useful guide, thank you.

    I fit the age profile of a PV owner (!) and am just looking at a PV544 with a view to buying. Your guide will be invaluable.

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