In a guide to parsing Volvo paint codes, it says the following:

The fifth digit stands for:
1 = solvent based
2 = water based Metallic/Pearl + Varnish
3 = water based Solid + Varnish
4 = solvent based Solid + Varnish
5 = solvent based Pearl shine + Varnish*
6 = water based Solid/Metallic/Pearl + 2 component Varnish
7 = water based Solid/Metallic/Pearl + powder Varnish
8, 9 = not used

I can't figure out whether the slashes mean that these things are the same, or whether it means that the code means different things depending on the year/model of the car. For example, does "water based Metallic/Pearl + Varnish" mean that water based Metallic is the same thing as Pearl + Varnish, or does it mean that code 2 is water-based metallic for Volvo 850s, but Pearl + Varnish for later models (V70 or later)?

2 Answers 2


It means metallic or pearl, they are different kinds of paint. Varnish probably means clearcoat. So it means

  • water based (as opposed to solvent based) and
  • metallic or pearl (as opposed to solid color) and
  • varnish aka clearcoat which adds lustre (as opposed to no varnish)

If you paint some lawn furniture with Rustoleum paint, that is solvent based, solid color, no clearcoat.


It means that the paint applied on your car is based on 3 layers:

Taking example 6: First layer is water based Solid

Second layer is Metallic/Pearl

and final / top layer is 2 component Varnish

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