Purchasing a used Volvo FM

 

The FM tractor was introduced in July 1998 as a successor to FL and a smaller brother to the FH. Sharing its chassis and 12.1-litre powertrain with the FH, the FM’s cab was more spacious than the cramped FL but less so than the FH, intended to strike a reasonable compromise for distribution tractors.

Versatility is key

Its first major milestone came in 2002 when the 9.4-litre D9 engine was introduced for Euro-3, slotting in below the 12.1-litre D12 with ratings of 260hp, 300hp, 340hp and 380hp. It replaced the former 9.6-litre engine, carried over from the FL10. More importantly, early 2002 marked the arrival of the first FM units with I-Shift, Volvo’s excellent 12-speed automated gearbox.

Then, in late 2005, when the D12 engine was replaced by the new D13, a 12.8-litre Euro-4 engine with ratings of 400hp, 440hp and 480hp. This was a year before the implementation of Euro-4 in October 2006, so some FM units from early 2006, with either D13 or D9 engines, were Euro-3s, some were early Euro-4s and operators could even specify Euro-5 if they wanted to leapfrog Euro-4 altogether.

Two other changes coincided with the introduction of the D13. First, further development of I-Shift made shifts 10% faster. Second, Volvo dropped the suffix denoting engine size – FM12 or FM9 – so all units simply became FM.

Both the D13 and D9 are SCR engines at Euro-4 and -5, but you may find a much rarer EGR Euro-4 version of the 13-litre engine too. This was the D13B, introduced for the FM in 2007, with ratings of 360hp, 400hp and 440hp.

The 10.8-litre D11 engine, Volvo’s version of the DXi11 in Renault’s Premium, was introduced for the FM in mid-2008, although long delivery lead times meant it was mid-2009 before the first D11 FMs arrived in the UK, ready for Euro-5. The D11 replaced the D9, which never really caught on here in FM tractors. With Euro-5 ratings of 330hp, 370hp, 410hp and 450hp, the D11 is a natural fit in FM units, around 150kg lighter than the D13 and more fuel efficient, so has become the more popular engine choice.

In spring 2010 Volvo gave the FM a minor facelift, including a new grille, headlamps, LED indicators, air-intake and new upholstery colours.

Around 70% of UK FM tractor units registered last year were 6x2s – mostly with non-steered mid-lift axles – and 60% of those had the D11 engine, with the 450hp rating the most popular. The D11 is even more prevalent in 4x2 FM tractors, with the 410hp rating most commonly specified.

FM tractors come with either a day cab or one of four sleepers. All sleepers share the same 430mm engine tunnel height but have different roof heights: the second highest, the Globetrotter, is the most popular.

The highest, the Globetrotter LXL, found only on 11-litre FMs registered from 2009 onwards, is comparatively rare. The majority of FM units naturally have I-Shift, with nine-speed or 14-speed boxes as the manual alternatives.

The Euro-6 FM was unveiled at the CV Show in April this year.

  • According to CAP Red Book edition (November 2013) a three-year-old 6x2 FM-450 6x2 Euro-5 with D11 engine and Globetrotter cab with push axle 420,000km on the clock, retails at £33,000 (plus VAT).

VOSA recalls

 

There have been 25 recalls since January 2006, here are the main recalls:

December 2008: Fifth wheel – it has been identified that the near and offside locking plunger fixing bolts may have been incorrectly located. Should this be the case, the fifth wheel would not be correctly locked to the slider frame.

July 2012: Fire – a heat shield mounted on the frame can fall down on the starter motor and could cause a short circuit. The heat shield breaks due to fatigue caused by vibrations.

Road tests

Date: 28/5/2009

Model: FM11.430 Euro-5

GCW: 44 tonnes

MPG: 7.89

Date: 18/9/2009

Model: FM13.430 Euro-5

GCW: 40 tonnes

MPG: 8.6 Date: 23/9/2010

Model: FM11.410 Euro-5 EEV

GCW: 40 tonnes MPG: 8.4

 

Example 4

 

Parts price for 6x2 FM-450 6x2 Euro-5 with D11 engine and Globetrotter cab

PARTS PRICE
Headlamp £720.89
Oil filter
Long life x 2 £24.19
By-pass £33.04
Air filter £86.10
Front bumper
Centre section £85.75 each
Corners £48.82
Rear mudguard (top) £117.32
Windscreen £313.24
Exchange 10.8-litre Turbo £896.32
Extra options...