Purchasing a used Volvo FH

Volvo’s FH remains one of the industry’s flagship vehicles. We take a look at why it can make a sensible used purchase. Volvo’s FH tractor caused quite a stir when it was introduced in 1993. Attention to aerodynamics meant it was radically different from its slab-fronted F predecessor. Pronounced windscreen rake and large corner radii not only improved fuel consumption, but made the tall FH stand out from the crowd.

It was not just a new cab: the FH was completely new, including its 12.1-litre D12A engine – an overhead camshaft design featuring electronic unit injectors. We focus here on FH tractors using this 12.1-litre engine and its successor, the 12.8-litre unit, rather than the FH16. The first revisions to the FH came five years later, in 1998, coinciding with the introduction of its FM sister. The most significant changes were the introduction of a CANbus electrical system and re-working the engine to create the D12C, boosting the maximum power rating from 420hp to 460hp. There was also a new 14-speed manual gearbox.


Automated gearbox

A whole raft of changes came in late 2001, notably the introduction of the first automated I-Shift 12-speed gearbox and development of the engine into the D12D to comply with Euro-3 exhaust limits. That included the addition of a turbo-compounded 500hp rating to join the 460hp. Other changes included a new interior and revised front grille and lights, plus some aerodynamic refinements.

Fast forward another four years to late 2005 and the introduction of the 12.8-litre D13A to succeed the D12D. Initially offered in Euro-3 guise, the D13A just needed the addition of SCR exhaust after-treatment to upgrade it for Euro-4, implemented in October 2006. As well as offering more power and torque, the D13A was both lighter and more fuel-efficient than the D12D. The D13A was available in the FH with nominal ratings of 400hp, 440hp, 480hp and 520hp, with peak torque figures of 2,000Nm, 2,200Nm, 2,400Nm and 2,500Nm respectively. These ratings are identical for both Euro-3 and -4 versions of the D13A.


No more Ad Blue


In late 2007 Volvo also introduced the option of an EGR version of the 12.8-litre engine, the D13B, compliant with Euro-4 but not -5.

Removing the need for AdBlue entailed the use of a variable geometry turbocharger instead of the SCR engine’s waste-gated turbo. D13B ratings in the FH are 400hp, 440hp and 500hp, with peak torque figures of 2,000Nm, 2,200Nm and 2,400Nm respectively.

The next FH milestone came in autumn 2008 when Volvo refreshed the cab’s interior. There was a new instrument panel, swivelling passenger seat, additional storage, a better bed, new audio system and revised interior lighting. The same four cab variants were carried over: day, sleeper, Globetrotter and Globetrotter XL. Most 6x2 tractors have non-steered mid-lift axles, but a minority have steered second axles or tag-axles.

Finally, in 2009 Volvo revised the 12.8-litre SCR engine, creating the D13C to comply with Euro-5 emission limits, taking effect in October that year. The transition from D13A to D13C brought more power and torque, both spread across a wider engine-speed range, with fuel consumption claimed to be up to 3% better. The D13C was available in the FH with nominal power ratings of 420hp, 460hp, 500hp and 540hp.

Torque ratings were 2,100Nm, 2,300Nm, 2,500Nm and 2,600Nm respectively. These same Euro-5 engines are carried forward to the first of the new FH series, which entered production in March. n l The April 2013 edition of CAP Red Book says a 2010-registered 10-plate Euro-5 6x2 FH480 with the D13C 12.8-litre engine and Globetrotter XL cab, with 420,000km on the clock, retails at £38,587.

  • The April 2013 edition of CAP Red Book says a 2010-registered 10-plate Euro-5 6x2 FH480 with the D13C 12.8-litre engine and Globetrotter XL cab, with 420,000km on the clock, retails at £38,587.

Product recalls by VOSA


Since January 2006, Vosa has issued 23 recalls for the FH product. The two most recent, both in 2012, state:

“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.”

“It has been identified that certain size mounting bolts may suffer hydrogen embrittlement, which can cause them to fail. This can result in the bolts falling from the vehicle.”




Parts Price:



Selective parts price from Volvo Trucks UK and Ireland for a Euro-5 6x2 FH12 Globetrotter with D13C 12.8-litre and I-Shift

Part Price
Headlamp £720.89
Oil filter £720.89
Air filter £86.71
Front bumper £85.75 (centre) £48.82 each (corners)
Front bumper £117.32
Windscreen £313.24
Turbo, 12.8-litre £313.24

Most Ordered Parts


Five most ordered parts of the Euro-5 6x2 FH12 Globetrotter XL D13C 12.8-litre

Part Price
Filters, fuel £86.71
Filters, air £86.71
Filters, oil £86.71
Wiper blades £17.41
Wheel protector £51.88