We present Herschel PACS observations of the [C II] 158 mu m emission line in a sample of 24 intermediate mass (9 <logM*/M circle dot <10) and low metallicity (0.4 <Z/Z circle dot <1.0) galaxies from the xCOLD GASS survey. In combination with IRAM CO(1-0) measurements, we establish scaling relations between integrated and molecular region L[C II]/LCO(1-0) ratios as a function of integrated galaxy properties. A Bayesian analysis reveals that only two parameters, metallicity and offset from the main sequence, Delta(MS), are needed to quantify variations in the luminosity ratio; metallicity describes the total dust content available to shield CO from UV radiation, while Delta (MS) describes the strength of this radiation field. We connect the L[C II]/LCO(1-0) ratio to the CO-to-H-2 conversion factor and find a multivariate conversion function, which can be used up to z similar to 2.5. This function depends primarily on metallicity, with a second-order dependence on Delta (MS). We apply this to the full xCOLD GASS and PHIBSS1 surveys and investigate molecular gas scaling relations. We find a flattening of the relation between gas mass fraction and stellar mass at logM* <10.0. While the molecular gas depletion time varies with sSFR, it is mostly independent of mass, indicating that the low L-CO/SFR ratios long observed in low-mass galaxies are entirely due to photodissociation of CO and not to an enhanced star formation efficiency.