Everything was going along fine, I'd been following the 7,500 mile oil
change intervals, and I loved my car. Until...approx. June of 2003
when I took the car in for service at the local dealership for some
warranty work and a standard oil change. The car was at approx. 47,500
miles and I wanted to have it checked out thoroughly before the
warranty ran out at 50,000 miles. During this service, they replaced
the throttle body and did a normal oil change. In addition, my receipt
showed a detail for a turbo fluid leak and seal replacement (the cost
was covered under warranty). The dealership service department didn't
tell me that I needed to be concerned with these repairs on the turbo
and I didn't think much of it at that time. However, 3 months later,
when my vehicle approached approx. 52, 300 miles, I was leaving the
office for lunch when I noticed a large amount of smoke coming from
the tailpipe. My car was just out of warranty so I immediately drove
to the closest Certified Volvo repair shop which is approx 1 mile from
my office. The owner of the shop came out to take a look at my car and
said, "Well, you're not gonna like this, but it's your turbo." to
which I said "Is that expensive?" and he replied unfortunately, yes."
I called the local dealership from the independent Volvo repair shop
to find out if they could help me by contacting Volvo to see if they
would cover it because I had just had it in for service and it was
just over the warranty limit. They (the dealership) responded by
saying that if it was out of warranty they were certain that Vovlo
would not cover it and I would be responsible for the repairs.
Reluctantly, I paid for the necessary repairs which totaled approx.
$1,000 to replace the turbo including labor. I explained to the
independent Vovlo repair shop that I'd been following the 7,500 mile
interval for oil changes. They immediately told me that they do not
recommend this to their customers and advised that I begin changing
the oil at 3,000 mile intervals. I took their advice and began doing
business with them from that day on. I have had two more oil changes
performed by them and during each of these visits they noticed that
there was a build up of oil in and around my "oil parts"(for lack of a
On New Year's Day (2004) my husband and I noticed oil on our driveway
that seemed to be coming from the Volvo. We checked the oil (although
it wasn't due for service) and found that indeed it had oil but it was
registering just below the operating level on the dipstick. It was a
holiday so we had to wait until the following morning to call the
Vovlo shop to schedule an appointment. My car was now at approx.
61,000 miles. The result of our appointment the following day was
gruesome. The mechanic confirmed that I had an oil leak and
recommended replacing the rear and front oil cams along with the
timing belt which was drenched with oil (although the timing belt
normally would not be changed until 105,000 miles). I authorized the
new repairs which were estimated to run $1200. We left the car for the
repair work to be completed. I received a call from the repair shop on
Monday morning which caused us further stress.
The mechanic who was performing the needed repairs found a large
amount of "sludge" and build up in and around the area he was working
in. In addition, upon examining the engine he found even more sludge.
At this point, the mechanic didn't feel comfortable with only
replacing the rear and front cam seals and timing belt. This local
shop has a great reputation and I believe they really look out for
their customers. With that in mind, I asked what they would recommend
and they came up with two scenarios for me to choose from. 1) I could
replace the engine with a used engine (which they highly recommended
as being the best solution for this terrible sludge problem), however
the price would have been approx. $6700 with labor. or 2) they could
try to clean the engine and its surrounding parts by ordering some
special tools from Volvo. The total price for these repairs including
the seal cams and timing belt would be $1700. My husband and I really
wanted to go for it and replace the engine, however, the $6700 price
tag prevented our doing so. Especially, because we had just invested
in the new turbo just 3 months prior. We opted for the second choice
and had the engine cleaned to the best of their ability.
I now have my car back and am pursuing my legal options with regard to
being reimbursed for the repairs which I feel are not my fault and and
replacement or settlement fees for this car. Thankfully, I have all of
my documented oil changes and repair work receipts. It is the opinion
of my mechanic and several others in the shop that the car is
basically ruined. I can't tell you how frustrated we are with this
situation. I can only say that I wish that the dealership or Volvo had
advised that I change my oil every 3,000 miles, especially, because my
car has a turbo. I would like to receive responses/opinions to this
message from anyone with knowledge or experience with any similar case
or mechanical repairs. Thank you in advance for your input.
It's really too bad that they tell you 7500 miles, that's a ridiculously
long interval for such a high performance engine. Anything with a
turbocharger should get an oil change at least every 3000 miles with
conventional oil, or 4000-5000 with a quality synthetic, going any longer
than that is asking for trouble and will reduce the life of your engine
considerably. Using the intervals they list in the manual will make the car
last through the warranty but after that you're screwed.
That is indeed a sad state of affairs. I'm assuming you're in the US and that both your dealer and your friendly local mechanic by default used mineral oil? That in itself would not be a good idea for a turbocharged engine, IMO. Some of the sludge (if not all) can be caused by oil coking around the turbo cooling lines where the oil temps run extremely high. Synthetic oil does not have a tendency to coke as easily as mineral oil and therefore is highly recommended in turbo applications.
Turbos are fun, but there are responsibilities that come with them:
1. Proper warm up. Do not drive the car hard after it's just been started. The oil is thick and does not circulate well yet and therefore does not offer sufficient protection to engine and turbo. This actually applies to all engines, not just turbocharged ones.
2. Proper cool down. After spirited driving, the turbo is very hot and so is the oil. NEVER shut off the engine immediately in such conditions. This will lead to oil coking due to extremely high temperatures around the turbo cooling lines. It is best to take it easy for the last couple of miles or idle the engine for a few minutes before shutting off. I understand some cars have after-run cooling pumps that help prevent this issue, but it doesn't alleviate the problem completely. Not sure if your T5 has one or not.
3. Proper lubrication, ie. synthetic oil changed often. Was the 7.5K mile change interval indicated for regular or severe service? Most people qualify for the severe interval which is usually half the standard interval.
I wish your Volvo dealer told you all this before or when you bought the car, but of course they wouldn't want to discourage you from making a purchase. They just want to sell you the car, and then fix it for you at high price after the warranty is over.
Similar story with Audis sold in the US these days. They recommend 10K mile oil change interval (free for the first 50K miles). But what does that free oil change include? Mineral oil of course. Wonder how many of those 1.8T and 2.7T engines come back needing a new turbo at some point? My 1.8T gets an oil change every 5K miles, synthetic of course. It's chipped and I drive it hard, but I also firmly adhere to the three points above.
FYI, Volvo dealers in Europe use synthetic oil, although the change interval is up to 20K km by now (12.5K miles) or 1 year, whichever comes first.
As far as suing Volvo... I don't have much experience in that. I guess it's worth a try if you find a good lawyer. Dealers should be mandated to use synthetic oil in turbo applications or extended drain applications, IMO. Mercedes in the US already lost a class-action suit for letting their customers run their cars for 15K+ miles on mineral oil and ruining their engines as a result.
I wish you good luck.
I don't have a Volvo Turbo myself, but it all sounds very strange to me who
live in Volvoland.
What type of oil did they put in? A fully synthetic should last much longer
than 7,500 miles.
I can't imagine that the proper oil would build that amount of sludge had
they not used the wrong kind of oil, or maybe the engine had an internal
water leak or something.
The oil change intervals are generally two or three times longer in Europe
than in the US, the oil is two or three times more expensive too. Nobody
changes oil at 5,000 km/3,000 miles in Sweden, but often use synthetic oil.
Just my two cents,
Firstly this is bad luck.
Overall I feel that the root ofthe problem has been the use of the wrong oil
throughout the life of the car. This extreme sludgiing you speak of could
certainly have blocked the PCV system and blown out the cam seals, and
possibly carboned the turbo and caused the seal to blow here too.
Volvo have always recommended a semi or fully synthetic oil for the T5 due
to the heat and high loads the turbo charged engine puts on the oil- i.e. an
oil that can resist the high temperatures and isnt prone to sludging.
It seems to me that your car has been on a diet of poor quality dino oil
since it was new, which has sludged even though 7500 miles isnt a great
distance for any oil to last (we have 20k intervals for some cars in the UK-
madness but thats another story!)
Any half decent oil wouldnt have sludged and blocked the engine with this
So I would suggest checking up with the dealer who has been servicing this
car to begin with and check what oil they have been using.
I regually see '94 on T5's with upwards of 150k miles on them on the
original turbo and engines clean as a whistle but they have been on a proper
diet of top quality synthetic oil.
I want to be in the oil change business once I go to North America.
3000 mile intervals I last used in my racing motor bike, not in a
I am using my second T5 and fourth high performance Volvo and have
never had oil changed in any of them sooner than 15000 km, i.e., 9400
miles I believe, currently I do in 20000 km (12500 mi) intervals. No
sludge, no degraded performance, no oil lost. Just works like a
horse. I use decent oil, though: Castrol's best racing synthetic (the
bugger costs more per bottle than my favourite scotch); would never
even consider any of the sludgy minerals.
I am not a technician, dare not diagnose your problem by the symptoms,
but I would not be surprised if it were due to the low quality of oil
rather than to infrequent change.
Seems like people in the UK are so obsessed with having a new car that it's
only natural for long oil change intervals to be done, once the car is a few
years old nobody wants it anyway. Still the fact is engines and oil haven't
changed *that* much in the last decade or two, and the cleaner and fresher
your oil is the longer the engine will last. There's a point where you'll
achieve optimum life per dollar spent on oil, but few can agree when that
The thing is, your average consumer here in the US uses oil that costs
around $1-$2 a quart, not high quality racing oil. Running cheap oil in a
high performance engine is bad in the first place, trying to run it for a
long period of time is worse.
Exactly, my '95 854T5 is now at 257000 km and is still on its first turbo
and gets it oil changes at 15000km.
Unfornately this won't help Shelby much.
Shelby, go get 'm! These cars should run 300.000km or so when properly
Change the oil at reccomended intervals, 160k before rebuild. Change oil
every 3,000 miles, 300k + (one with a million + in Sweeden). Thank you
volvo for reccomending so many owners ruin their engines.
"Shelby" <wats...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
Yes. This is true. They come with Castrol SLX 0w-30 from the factory nowadays, AFAIK. That's why I find it so pathetic that starting with the first oil change, the dealer will put you on an unhealthy diet of dino oil. Of course I knew better and always brought my own synthetic oil with me when bringing the car for these "free" oil changes, but there are many people that don't know or don't care, and AoA/VoA doesn't care either.
All said and done, I still love my 1.8T, just not the dealer network. ;-)
>I would like to receive responses/opinions to this
>message from anyone with knowledge or experience with any similar case
>or mechanical repairs. Thank you in advance for your input.
It looks as though you are looking for people who have outcomes in
courts which have been favourable for people in comparable
I doubt that you are interested in the technicalities of what could
have gone wrong but the technicalities are important to pursuing
recompense. Volvo are quite good at meeting partial (about half) of
costs in some cases of premature failure but you would need a good
Volvo *main* dealer who is prepared to argue the case.
I have owned three Volvo's (currently V70 T5). Two Volvox were turbos
and so was a Nissan. In all turbo variants I have covered about 200K
miles and never had a turbo related problem. I frequent many Volvo web
boards and turbo failures are not totally unheard of but are IMO very
rare. There are some oil leak issues at very high mileages but total
failures are rare.
Your first task is to look through every service receipt that you have
and list the make and type of oil billed on each one. Volvo do not
specify oil manufacturer but the oil must at least meet their minimum
standard. Semi-synthetic, of suitable standard, is the minimum for a
turbo and if any oil of lower standard has been used you have a case
of non compliance with the dealer\s who carried out the work.
I live in the UK therefore have never really known what the US refers
to as Dyno but I guess it is the type we use in low performance petrol
engines. Such oil should never be used in Turbo or performance cars
and if it has been used it can coke up in a turbo engine and will
certainly cause premature failure.
Oil sludge is normally the term given to the white\grey froth which
looks like shaving foam and by users is seen in the oil filler cap and
on the dipstick. Providing there are no faults allowing water to mix
with oil, the usual cause is use patterns. Oil will take on moisture
from internal engine condensation if common use is short trips in a
cold climate. A regular short trip user falls in the category of
extreme conditions, by use patterns, and oil should be changed very
frequently. If only short trips which do not allow protracted running
at optimum engine temperatures is combined with Dyno oil then it is a
recipe for disaster with a performance turbo engine.
We had a poster on a Volvo board recently asking about the creation of
sludge in a non turbo vehicle. As suggested he changed the oil for a
better grade but the sludge was back within three weeks. His daily use
pattern of driving 1.5 miles to and from the railway station was the
cause and as soon as he mixed in some longer runs the moisture
evaporated out of the oil and the problem was solved.
My concentration on use patterns is simply because barring faults it
is the cause of sludge in almost every instance. If you pursue the
issue of compensation you will almost certainly be asked and because
you are the only one who knows your use pattern the onus may be upon
you to inform the dealer so that service intervals are shortened.
Hehe... yup. Dino oil is short for dinosaur oil, which means it's the basic mineral oil, not semi-synth, not full-synth. ;-)
As far as her usage patterns, if she managed to put on 52K miles in just over two years, my thinking is the car was driven a lot, probably quite a bit of highway driving as well. But maybe she'll come back to verify this for us...
Lastly, I'm being picky here (sorry about that), but I'm not sure that your definition of sludge is accurate. The type of sludge that she is most likely experiencing is caused by poor quality oil not being able to withstand very high temperatures. This results in dark/black carbon-type deposits inside engine and oil lines. These deposits can effectively clog up the oil lines to the point where turbo is no longer sufficiently cooled/lubricated.
The "white froth" accumulating under the oil cap is a separate problem which is just caused by moisture condensation that did not have a chance to burn off due to frequent short trips, as you well explained.
>Hehe... yup. Dino oil is short for dinosaur oil, which means
>it's the basic mineral oil, not semi-synth, not full-synth. ;-)
Thought it was. I haven't used that stuff for decades. I have always
thought of it as cheap rubbish with potentially expensive problems
waiting to happen.
I know the type of sludge you are referring to which is a sticky black
tar like mess. This is often caused by low tolerance to heat and the
oil is over-cooked many times. Used to see it a lot 30+ years ago when
engines were not very sophisticated and oils pre-historic<g>. It used
to collect in a sort of black gum similar to softish bitumen. When the
UK had more than it's share of cars which rusted away the non hardened
old oil stuck well when painted on to the underside of the car and was
good at rust prevention albeit not very eco friendly<g>.
If the oil in that T5 has deteriorated down to those levels then
something serious has been wrong throughout the vehicles life.
Consistent use of dino oil could have done it but I still wouldn't
rule out use patterns. We have two cars.... A peugeot 3.0ltr coupe
(24valve) and a V70 T5. Both have fully synthetic oil but from
lifelong habit I take both out at least once a fortnight and when hot
give them some max revs treatment. The Volvo especially as it's an
auto needs a lot of spirited driving or the revs will rarely go over
3K and I think that is long term bad.
In the UK the old advertisement for second user autos of "one lady
owner, very low mileage" is now a warning and "company lease car,
mainly motorway miles" is attractive. Modern cars thrive on endurance
runs and die on short runs. BTW I have neighbours who clock up large
mileages but judging by the number of times they are on and off their
drives per day most trips are to schools and shops within 1 to 3 miles
Thank you to everyone who has posted a response thus far. I am getting
some good feedback and I really appreciate it. FYI - I just called the
local dealership that performed my oil changes prior to my switch to
an independent shop and they confirmed that they used regular 10W30
oil in my car each time. They said that they only use synthetic oil at
the owner's request because it is more costly. My question is, should
I have known or been told that I had a choice between regular or
synthetic? I had no idea until I started reading on this forum and
others like it, that I may not have been getting the best oil for my
turbo and engine. I'm going to post some photos of the sludge and
seals which were removed from my car for you all to look at over the
weekend and would appreciate any feedback you may have on what you see
etc. I'm learning a lot. Unfortunately, it is most likely too late
for this car. Thanks again for all of your input.
> My question is, should
>I have known or been told that I had a choice between regular or
My 1999 T5 handbook states that the oil used should\must meet the
quality standard ACEA A3 for turbo vehicles.
It then goes on to state that semi-synthetic or full synthetic oils
which meet the standard may also be used,
It appears to be a typical non specific cover-all which will cover all
oils from regular up to the best . I have never used anything lower
than semi-sythetic since I bought my first turbo car in 1985 and have
been aware since then that normal UK practice is to use semi-synthetic
in all but relatively low powered standard vehicles.
The oil which is also used to lubricate the turbo and it is a source
of enormous heat which will cause problems with low quality oils. The
question of whether you should have been given the option is difficult
because the dealer will have operated (should have) within Volvo
guidelines and they must be presumed to have a knowledge of the
vehicle and climate conditions within your locality. The 10W30 figure
refers to viscosity within temperature ranges and that is the climate
You are obviously desperately unhappy that a vehicle which has an
engine which should have been good for 3 or 4 times the mileage you
have covered has failed but your only possible recourse may be to
have the engine examined by a qualified engineer who is able and
qualified to appraise what went wrong and prepare a case for court
proceedings. I have a distinct feeling that you will not get very far
and the fact that you used a non franchise garage may count against
It is an irony but buyers of second user cars often change the oil
after purchase to full synthetic , drive the car hard for a thousand
miles and then change again just to remove any possible residues.
Normally it's done immediately on purchase because it can show
problems including oil leaks and we can go back for a full refund
within 14 days. I know it doesn't help you but regular (dino) oil can
I would like to see the photos. It shouldn't have happened but it was
not really your responsibility to know about oils and you have mine
and probably a lot of other people's sympathy.
Well there you have it then, 'regular' oil is the cause. If a quality
synthetic had been used your car would undoubtably be running sweetly and
you would be many thousand dollars better off.
The change interval is not the issue here, if you had changed the oil at
3000 the problem would still be there, just less severe. The fact is these
engines were never meant to run on mineral oil and the garages WOULD have
If this is a Volvo dealership, then they should have used the appropriate
oil for the car, wether or not it was more expensive. The dealership
is supposed to service these cars according to Volvo's specifications.
Unless you said "use cheaper oil", then the Volvo dealer is at fault.
How a person will lay out the money to buy such a techically
sophisticated car yet remain so woefully ignorant of basic maintenance
is a bit beyond me.
Do believe everything you read without questioning ulterior motives?
Does the Volvo service / owner's manual -not- suggest shorter oil
service intervals when operating under less than laboratory
conditions? 7,500 miles on most common mineral oils available in the
US is under optimal operating conditions WITHOUT a turbocharger. Ever
shop the shelves at an auto parts store and notice some oils carry a
Do you check your OWN oil for level and color on occasion? Black = no
Sadly, I see your experience as the price of your education.
While I agree that one of the most important and first things a new car
owner should do is thoroughly read the owner's manual and adhere to it,
I think a Volvo dealer should adhere to it as well. Besides, we do not
know exactly what is written in this particular manual in regards to oil
and oil changes - maybe Shelby would like to provide this info so that
we can settle this once and for all - was the Volvo dealer not following
the manual, or was the information not even in the manual? In both
cases - I'd blame Volvo. Not everyone has to be a car mechanic in order
to drive one.
> Do you check your OWN oil for level and color on occasion? Black = no
That's not quite true. The color of oil is no indication of its state.
Oil turning dark is just doing its job by suspending tiny dirt particles
in itself. However, this does not mean it's "no good" anymore. Many
oils turn dark rather fast (within a couple of thousand miles), but
their TBN is still relatively high, showing that there is plenty of
additives left to fight acids and prevent wear. Truthfully, only a used
oil analysis could determine whether it's time to drain it.
Interstingly, in her case, an oil analysis after the first 7.5K miles
would have shown a high level of insolubles giving an indication that
something is wrong and preventing the disasters that followed. Alas,
her case is so clear-cut (to me at least), that it doesn't take a rocket
scientist (nor an oil analysis) to figure out that
turbo + dino oil for 7.5K miles = big trouble
But again, not everyone has to know this. And as you well pointed out,
in this case the learning came at a rather high price. With time, more
cases like these will surface, and will eventually force some
dealerships in the US to start using better quality oils with those
extended drain intervals. For now, extended drain intervals are a
"One of the selling points during the transaction was the 7,500
mile recommended oil change intervals for Volvos."
Now, if the dealership also informed her that you need to use a more
expensive oil ($5/quart for average fully-synthetic oil vs. $1.50/quart
for a dino oil), then suddenly it would not be a good selling point, so
they conveniently forget to mention that part. And for that they should
have their hands slapped, IMO at least.
> How a person will lay out the money to buy such a techically
> sophisticated car yet remain so woefully ignorant of basic maintenance
> is a bit beyond me.
Not everyone does their own maintenance. I think Shelby acted in
good faith. She performed owners-manual scheduled maintenance at
a Volvo _dealer_. I personally think her dealer sucks to have used
non-synthetic oil on a turbo. I think her dealer sucks to have
not warned her about the implications of a serious oil-leak from
the turbo seal.
> Sadly, I see your experience as the price of your education.
Put your statement in any other perspective. The vast majority
of arteriosclerosis can be avoided if people eat differently.
Do you view their death as the price of their education? Or
do you think that they should have been educated about diet
by their physicians earlier in their lives, especially if such
education never occurred?
Bev A. Kupf
"The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne" -- Chaucer
Tintin turns 75 <http://www.tintin.com>
If they're selling a car using maintenance costs that are not actually
valid, then they are lying. All my manual states (1998 T5) is that
synthetic oil is stongly recommended. It doesn't say that your engine
will suffer premature failure if you don't use synthetic oil. Mercedes
has a class action suit against it in the US now, because their extended
drain intervals suggested by the hi tech computer is not often enough
for the cheaper, commonly used oils in North America. Not everybody is
interested in learning everything about their cars. The original poster
trusted Volvo's service schedule and the dealer (who took lots of good
money) to do a job that was, at best, wholly inadequate.
Thornhill (near Toronto), Ont.
NOTE: new address!!
Replace tt with t (twice!) and remove parentheses to email me directly.
(But I check the newsgroup more often than this email address.)
"Shelby" <wats...@earthlink.net> wrote in message