Volvo V 780 Dark Blue - Driver's Side
VOLVO -`07 VN 780


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All my life, in North America, `on' has been up and `off' has been down.
Every light switch in every home, or office, and every control in every truck, or car; Ford, Mack, Chev., Kenworth.
But the big Swede is opposite.
I can't tell you, since I bought a Volvo, how many times I have turned something off when I was trying to turn it on, or vice versa.

In every truck I have ever driven, and I have driven virtually every brand out there, from GMC to Freightliner, there is a lever on the right hand side of the steering column, just below the steering wheel, much like the shift lever on a car.
This lever is to supply air to the brakes on the trailer. Connected to the lever, in the air system, is a gauge, on the dash, to tell you how much pressure you are applying.
When coming down a hill, particularly in winter, a driver applies 5 or 10 pounds of pressure to the trailer, before he takes his foot off the throttle.
When you take your foot off the throttle the engine brakes, commonly called Jacobs, or Jake, brakes, come on. If the engine brakes come on before the trailer brakes the engine slows down the driving tires but not the trailer. Therefore the trailer is pushing the tractor. You don't notice it in the summer but the tractor tires are actually scuffing the pavement. If you slow the trailer first, you avoid this and extend the life of the tires on the tractor.

Just as importantly, in winter, you prevent the trailer from pushing the tractor on ice. A little snub to the trailer brakes and then let the jakes come on and the tractor controls the trailer. If you don't, the trailer controls the tractor and you can kiss your ass goodbye.

In Canada, particularly in logging, we do a lot of driving on steep hills with very tight corners, many switchbacks, and hairpin turns. In these cases we set the trailer lever for 5 or 10 pounds of air pressure and leave it there until we have reached the bottom.
However, on the Volvo the lever is spring loaded and when you let go of it, instead of staying where you put it, it springs back to the off position. If you have to keep one hand on the trailer lever you don't have that hand free to be shifting gears.
It is one of the reasons you won't find Volvos in the logging industry.

Another problem with the lever, in a Volvo, is, it is not where it should be. Instead of being on the steering column, it is on the dash. In its place there is a lever that operates the windshield wipers. This is a very dangerous situation.

I can't begin to tell you, especial after dark, how many times I have reached for the trailer lever and turned on, or off, my wipers. Then I have to fumble around, frantically, for the trailer lever,
Several times I have come close to having an accident and sooner or later I am going to miss that dash mounted brake lever at a crucial moment.
However, I suppose, I can rest in peace (pieces), with the consolation, that when I go through the windshield it will be clean.


Many Other Reasons


  • AERODYNAMICS - The design is such that the wiper throws the stuff off the windshield and the wind throws it onto the face of the mirrors.

  • AIR DRYER COMPRESSOR - On the top of the air compressor there is an elbow that connects to the air intake for the truck. I lost a half day of work while I got it replaced. It turned out that it didn't need replacing. It only needed to be re seated and re clamped. When the factory installed it they didn't hold the clamp in tight against the elbow while they tightened down the clamp and it let the elbow pop out. Lord only knows how long my compressor has been sucking un filtered air. Now I suppose the compressor will pack it in.

  • AIR DRYER EXHAUST - The air dryer exhausts with a very strong force, straight down, directly under the driver's seat. Dust and gravel completely engulf the cab. If it has just been washed it needs to be washed again. If the cab doors or windows are open the inside is now filthy. If you or a passenger happen to be standing outside, getting in, you or they are now filthy. There is no reason why this exhaust could not be aimed to the rear, instead of down.

  • AIR HORN - The air horn does not sound like any truck I have ever driven. The control for the air horn is where the electrical horn control should be and there is no chain or cord from the roof to operate the air horn. It's embarrassing when children, standing along side the road, pump their fists for you to blow the air horn and you have no cord to pull. When I do honk they are disappointed with the strange noise.

    Volvo V 780 Interior - bunk

  • BED LADDER - The fold away ladder for the bed in a 780 is useless unless your legs are five feet long. The steps are much too far apart and much too narrow. (they are hard on a bare foot.)

  • BUGS GET IN - When I am reading at night, with all the windows closed, bugs get in, attracted by the light. Some where there are holes that are not screened.

  • COLD ON THE FEET IN WINTER - There is a draft coming in from under the fridge and main closet. It is really noticeable when you are parked and the temperature is 30 below.

  • CRUISE CONTROL - The cruise control should be a keypad in the center of the steering wheel so you don't have to spend a lot of time with your eyes off the road. just key in the speed you want to travel at. Also, the cruise should be able to hold the truck at speeds as slow as 10 MPH for construction zones. (This is true of all cruise controls, no matter the size of the vehicle.)

  • CURTAIN RESTRAINTS - There are only three curtains but there is no consistency in how they are held in place when folded back.

  • CURTAIN SLIDES - The little plastic glides on the front, and over head, curtains are too small for the track and they fall out or they jam and rip out of the curtain. Also they are not replaceable and you have to buy a whole new curtain.

  • DELPHI RADIO AND CD PAYER - This amazing piece of electronic gadgetry won't release or eject, my CD. I am told I have to buy an entire new unit because with the cost of labour it is more expensive to repair than to replace.

  • DIPSTICK COLOUR - The dipstick is the same colour as the oil. How are you supposed to tell what the oil level is.

  • DOOR FOB - When I first bought the truck the remote fob would open the door from 20 feet. Within a few weeks it was down to standing right beside the door. I put a new battery in which gave me a few feet of range, for a little while, but shortly I was down to 2 feet. I have had more than one Volvo dealer look at it and the fob will not work unless you hold it against the hood. Now I can't trust it. I can't use it in case I get locked out. Yet no Volvo dealer can explain why.

    Volvo V 780 Interior - Lower bunk as table - refrigerator

  • FRIDGE DOOR LATCH - I realize this is not made by Volvo but it is an inconvenient system, a peg through two loops, is that so you can use a padlock to save your Tuborg?

  • FRIDGE DRAIN - The fridge has no drain. If you are parked for a few days and the batteries go low the fridge defrosts and you come back to your truck to find water all over the floor.

  • FLOOR INSULATION - What kind of weird stuff is under the carper? When you step on it it takes an imprint of your foot and the floor is no longer smooth.

  • FRESH AIR VENT - If you turn the switch from recirculation to fresh all you get is hot air from the engine compartment. It is summer and I want fresh air on my feet.

  • GLOVE BOX CATCH - Twice now I have put foam padding under the hinge of the glove box but it keeps shrinking and then the catch doesn't catch and the glove box falls open.

  • HEATER EXHAUST - The exhaust for the heater is directly over the fill cap on the fuel tank. There is a label on the tank saying that you should not open the tank if the heater is running. Is there some reason the exhaust couldn't be twisted so it exhausts over the drive shaft?

  • JOCKEY BOX DOOR CATCH - I am tall and have fairly long arms but I really have to stretch to release and open the doors on the jockey boxes. I don't know how short people manage it.

  • OVERHEAD LIGHT SWITCH UNDER STEERING WHEEL - The main switch for the main interior light is where you can't reach it, if you are not sitting at the wheel. It should be near the center of the cab.

  • POWER STEERING DIP STICK - Trying to remove this little rubber capped stick is beyond my abilities. I simply unscrew the large fill cap.

  • ROOF LEAK - Three times I have had to take the truck to a Volvo dealer and have the roof resealed. The truck is barley 2 years old and only has 500,000 Km on it. yet 3 times I have gotten wet while driving. Actually only twice. The third time I was parked and the rain came in from somewhere. Make that three times, while driving. The other day I went through a small rain squall and my knee got wet. I took it into Volvo when I got back and they said the rain had come through the sun roof but they couldn't fix it. They told me to take it to a window shop. I took it to Brocco Auto Glass, they replaced the seal. They said it had been improperly installed at the factory, the sealant wasn't consistent around the window and hadn't adhered properly.

  • SHOULDER STRAP HOLDER - I am fairly tall and if I wear the shoulder strap it cuts into my shoulder because I can't adjust the bracket on the wall to a higher position.

  • STAIRS TO ACCESS WINDSHIELD - There is no place to put your feet or hands to climb up to clean the windshield or to change the wiper blades. Did you know there are vibrators for windshield wiper blades. To knock the snow off. A company in Canada makes them and distributes them through Ford. It worked fairly well until I accidentally left the switch on overnight and burned out the little motor that mounts on the wiper blade. The unit comes with a push switch that won't stay on but the previous owner of the truck connected it to one of the auxiliary switches on the dash. Here is the URL if you want to learn more. They work not too bad. You can't buy them on line but they should be available at your nearest FORD dealer.

  • SUN VISOR - EXTERIOR - I think it is called a sun visor. It is outside, above the windshield but it is not solid to the cab sand therefore snow and rain still gets on the windshield. Also it is too low and I am unable to see the signal lights at an intersection. or the stars at night.

  • TRANS SPLITTER NOT COVERED BY WARRANTY - NOT WATER PROOF -This winter I had to have the splitter replaced under the transmission. Recently I received a bill saying the splitter was destroyed by ice and or salt. and therefore wasn't under warranty. If someone designed a splitter to sit under a transmission and didn't design it to be salt, and ice, proof they should be fired.

  • TRANSMISSION SCREAMS AT HIGH RPM - I have an automatic transmission. The truck apparently has two stages in the engine brakes. They tell me there is not a third position but when I reach 2,200 RPM, going down a steep hill with a heavy load the transmission screams like the main fan on a freightliner and holds the truck at that speed???

  • TV AREA SHELVES - The space to put a TV or microwave is of good size but if it is not used for that purposes it is a lot of wasted space. In both compartments I ran metal straps down from above and fashioned wooden shelves. Adjustable shelving in all the cupboards would be handy.

  • WATER LINE - The cheap rubber that is used by their supplier is crap. It Cost me $800 to have a service man come out and replace a small water line on the side of the block. The side of the line was such poor quality that I could put my thumb through it. The thing is only 2 years old how can it be worn out already.'

    Volvo V 780 Exterior Dark Blue Rt Frt. corner
    Volvo V 780 Looking under hood - passenger side

    More Reasons


    I bought this unit in November of `08, when it was barely 2 years old.

  • I noticed that the steering tires were worn on the outer edges so I requested a wheel alignment as part of the purchase. This took a few days as they had to order parts. It required the replacement of trunions, and the steering box. The truck only had 425,000 Km on it. When they put it all back together the steering wheel was not in line. So I would drive with the wheel as if I was always turning, slightly, to the left.

  • It had a small oil leak on the side of the motor near the front. This took them several hours as the bolts were rusted in and some had to be drilled out. It cost me $1,700 and the leak was still there, though considerably smaller.

    I put plates on it on December 1.

  • In the middle of Dec. I had to have some injector work, this was precluded by at $500 tow bill in South central Saskatchewan during a 30 below snow storm. After they had repaired the injector my oil leak was worse. Plus I had a fuel leak that they said wasn't their fault and I had to wait, over night, until they could get at it in the morning.

    Though they claimed it wasn't their mistake their was no paper work and no bill for the repair.


  • January - They had to reseal the roof as it was leaking. The check valve on the air dryer and the drain valve on the turbo had to be replaced.
    2 batteries had to be replaces as did the transmission solenoid, mounted under the tranny, because it had been corrupted by road salt and ice.

  • February - The bearing in the alternator went so it and the drive belt for it had to be replaced.
    The dip stick and the dip stick tube had to be replaced as the seals were worn out.
    I had to trim the ends of the hoses to the power steering pump and replace the hose clamps as the hoses were leaking.

  • March - Remember when you could change the end of the electric cable to the trailer, now you have to replace the entire cable.
    If you get mad and slam the door you have to crawl out the far door, take it to a shop, have them remove the door panel and realigned it.

  • April - The idler, for the fan belt, bearing went and also the bearing in the tension arm, only one of which was covered by warranty. (That's weird, you would think that either both or none.)
    Isolator on the fuel tank needed changing. (What ever that is?)

  • May - The shocks and the air bag under the back of the cab were worn out, less than 500,000 Km.

  • June - the valve in the dash for the trailer brakes had to be replaced, the tail lights quit working and the roof was leaking again.

  • July - The splitter on the transmission had to be replaced.
    At this time I learned that when these trucks are built, in Mexico, they are designed for the USA and the computer in the transmission is set for 3% grade hills. However when the trucks are shipped to Canada they are supposed to be reprogrammed for 6%. This truck hadn't been and it was done at this time. Plus the software had never been up graded so it was also done at this time (Who knew there was a computer in the transmission.).
    The roof was leaking again and had to be resealed. They sent me to Brocco as it was the sunroof but the problem stemmed from the date of manufacture as they hadn't sealed the glass evenly all the way around at the factory.
    A small water line on the sided of the block burst as the wall of the tube was too thin at the point of the elbow.

  • August - I had new tires put on one axel. Though Kal tire assured me this would not be a problem with worn tires on the other axle the differential kept trying to kick out of lock up which meant I couldn't use lock up in slippery conditions.

  • September - I put new tires on the other axle to clear up the lock-out problem. Then I parked the truck and put it up for sale.

  • At this time I wrote a letter to Staffan Jufors, the president of Volvo, in Sweden, complain about all the problems, and down time, I had had with his product.
    I received a reply from Debbie Smith, Customer Service North America, which basically says, since you have put it up for sale, too bad - so sad. Since no one was dumb enough to buy the Big Blue Lemon I replated it for Dec. 1 and put it back on the road.

  • November - All new snow tires.
    2 new batteries

  • December - The solenoid on the fan and the wiring harness had to be replaced.
    To pass the MVI I had to have a new universal on the steering column and a new torque rod on the rear axle, plus all new shocks on the steering axle. While they had the steering apart I had them straighten the steering wheel. They corrected it to about half of what it was so now it would drive with the wheel only slightly to the left when going straight ahead.


  • January - The XY shifter on the transmission wouldn't work and they replaced the entire top of the transmission, Not Volvo, but Eaton's covered that under warranty.

  • February - One of the batteries that had been replace in November crapped out and left me stranded in the middle of nowhere at 20 below.

  • March - I parked the damn thing. And put it up for sale again.
    Many times I told the salesman it needed to be repainted, `Lemon's aren't blue'. I wasn't joking.

    back of Blue Volvo Tractor

  • June - Though it had not been used for 3 months it wouldn't shift into gear. I had to have a tow truck take it to Volvo where they found a faulty speed sensor. $35 dollars for the solenoid, $35 dollars for the nut that holds it in place, and 7 hours labour, plus $300 for the tow truck.

  • October - At the request of the purchaser I had oil leaks repaired, a new latch put on the table, and an MVI.
    During the time that I had owned this vehicle I had never lowered the table to make a bed. When the customer tried it the lever broke.
    Volvo motors have a peculiarity that the injector wiring harness weeps where it comes out of the block encasement. This is a slow weep and looks bad but doesn't use any oil, to speak of. During the time I owned this rig I never needed to add oil, between changes.
    To correct the weep they have to take the block housing apart and reseal it. 10 hours labour.
    They can only do this once. If it weeps a second time they have to replace the harness - $1000 for a new harness.

  • December - At the request of the purchaser I had the frame painted and the steering wheel brought into line with the dash. Volvo found that the steering sensor needed to be recalibrated.


    I know, to some people, the above list doesn't look that long but take into account that during those two years the `Big Blue Lemon' sat on a sales lot for 9 months. Plus there were times that the truck was in for diagnosis where the problem was not found.
    Each and every time it was in the shop it cost me the loss of a trip. In any business, loss of revenue will cost you more than repairs. And there is always a cost of repairs even if there is no repair.
    Such as the time, when I had first bought the truck, I could hear a hissing noise from the gear shift selector. It cost me $200 for the mechanic to tell me he couldn't find the problem and I should monitor the situation in case it got worse.
    It never got worse but eventually I met a fellow trucker who had had the same problem. He took his rig to a dealer in Calif. who told him, for free, there were no airlines in the control panel. The noise is simply 60 cycle static from the speaker that emits the beep when you change gears.
    When I complained to Volvo that they shouldn't have charged me, as the mechanic should have know there were no airlines in the panel, I just got the brush off.
    All in all whenever I took the `lemon' into a Volvo dealer, and believe me I have been in every service dept from Vancouver to L.A. and from Van. to Winnipeg, I have been given fairly fast, always friendly, and always expensive service.
    The service rates, and the cost of parts is high and they charge for every little part.
    Every little investigation or repair will have a charge for `shop supplies'. Whatever that is.

    Volvos not only don't look like what a trucker calls a truck, they don't sound like a truck and they are more expensive than a real truck. A new VN780 will set you back $150K while a new International Pro Star will only run you $118 K.

    Volvo V 780 Looking under hood - driver's side
    Volvo V 780 Interior - cockpit


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    My commercial license is over 50 years old.

    I have experienced, nearly, every type of trucking and every type of truck.

    There are only two types of trucking that I would go back to, off highway logging or long haul.

    You can make a good living logging and it was a safe and peaceful life until the government opened all the private logging roads to the public.

    Highway trucking is enjoyable if you like scenery. However there are too many regulations governing truckers and too few regulations governing the idiot car drivers.

    And there is no money in it.

    If I was to go back in the bush it would be to drive a Hayes or a Pacific.

    If I was to go back on the highway it would to drive an `07 Volvo (No DEF), basically it is the tallest windscreen, smoothest riding, most driver considerate rig on the road.

    But I would have a lot of changes made to it.

    (Head shot.)
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