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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Murfreesboro, TN
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    34

    Unhappy Blown Cam Seal... Is it worth repairing my Volvo

    So, I bought a 2002 V70XC last year. It's has the B5244T3 Turbo Engine with the Aisin AW-55N transmission. I got her at around 106k miles and now she has just over 120k. (why a she? it sounds right... I don't know) I was driving on the interstate and film started building up on my back windsheild so I pulled over... good thing I did. I was sitting in a puddle of oil just beneath where the filter cap was located by the time I got out of the car and the undercarrage was slick with spillage all the way to the back, hence the window film. I just had an oil change the previous week. After towing it to my repairman, he determined it was in fact a blown cam seal in the crank case.

    I have been performing regular oil changes on this car since I got her. At most the longest interval I went was probably close to 6000, maybe a little over. Mostly the oil changes were between 3500 and 5000 miles. Now, this year, around March, I noticed she was getting low on oil around the time of my oil changes... like bone dry. It stands to reason, by my calculations, that I was probably running out of over a quart every 1000 miles. I do not know for how long this had been going on. I only noticed it this year.

    Before my cam seal blew, I had noticed the smell of oil every time I stopped the car from a period of driving it and I was about to get that inspected when I had my melt down. I probably started noticing this a month and a half ago, but it was a slow build. My check engine light never came on.

    I feel like when I first got the car, there was more power to the throttle than there is now, but I also believe that is due mostly to an adjustment of gas pedal tension from my previous car (1987 Honda Accord), where the Volvo's gas pedal was much looser than the Honda's so I was mashing it every time I stepped on it, having been used to tighter tension. But I am concerned that the Turbo could be part of the problem in all of this. There was oil collecting near some of the turbo lines (intercooler output?). It was in the right side (facing the windshield), front portion (near the grill) of the engine.

    I have been reading about the PCV system and the breather box related to this issue, which is what my repairman was also talking to me about. He also told me that in situations like this, plugging one hole does not necessarily mean you're fixing the issue, even if cleaning out the crank case proves to be a successful venture, because there could be pressure build up in other areas ultimately leading to other seals blowing out.

    I've only had this car for a little over one year and I really don't want to think that I bought a lemon, especially for what I paid for it, plus it has much needed space in the back that I do use quite regularly (which is really why I bought it as opposed to a sedan). I can't afford a new car or car payments so I'm wondering... is it worth it to fix this or buy something used again? Would a good, used engine be a better fix? Would simply replacing the PCV system and/or the Turbo (if that could be a cause in all of this) be a good place to start? I'm waiting on an estimate from my repairman on what he thinks needs to be done, which includes a new timing belt/timing belt tensioner (of course), idler pully (I think that's what it's called), and a new water pump.

    I'm real bummed out about all of this and I was just starting to really like the car too. I would love some thoughts and opinions on this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Virginia Beach
    Posts
    3,876

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    Your story makes me wince...

    Lecturing you on checking your oil every fill-up is probably pointless now (you would have seen the consumption a long time ago and prevented this problem from getting worse)...

    So, let's walk through the issues as you've laid them out:

    The timing belt (which includes idler pulley and tensioner) is a routine maintenance item - every 105,000, not frequent, but to be expected. That cost is part of why the car was for sale, I suspect, since the service was blown off by the previous owner...you should change it. If it fails, your engine is toast. You don't have to change the water pump when you do the belt - unless it's leaking. But the water pump is driven by this belt, so many techs will do the water pump work at same time, to preclude paying that big labor charge shoud the pump fail later. Personally? I just replaced the belt...and "rolled the bones" on the pump...so far, so good...

    Oil leak - I am 99% sure that is due to a plugged PCV system (flame trap in the Volvo vernacular) - happens to most all of them by this age - it's a few hundred $$ to fix (replace every component) and if you don't fix the PCV system, a new leak will crop up at another seal...that crankcase pressure has to escape somehow. It can't go through the PCV system - it's plugged up, so it will escape via the weakest oil seal. You've already seen that...it's been leaking for a while...that is why you've had the smell and seen the residue...so, replace the blown seal and the PCV system and be done with that issue.

    Power - there are no other symptoms of failures, like a check engine light. The turbo is likely fine...don't worry about it. The oil collecting where you describe is common...don't forget that you've been buring several quarts in your engine...some of it (a small percentage) found it's way there...clean it and be done with that part...

    Lemon - no, not really. Your car has a couple of issues related to poor maintenance - they're common to this model.

    Going forward. First, you really should check your oil on every fill-up. You have to keep the level in the operating range if you want the engine to live a long life. A low oil quantity can cause starvation (zero pressure at the pump, which will destroy the bearings in seconds) as well as high oil temperatures (leading to sludge, poor lubrication and PCV clogging). Because of the clogging/PCV issues, your engine likely has some sludge in it - my recommendation is to run only synthetic oil, and change it every 5,000 miles for a few changes. Pennzoil is among the best for cleaning. Their Ultra line of extended drain oils would be my choice. I've gone on and on about proper oil selection before, you need an oil that meets ACEA A3, not just a 5W30... but the point is this: oil is more than viscosity, it has to meet the spec for the engine.

    I've done a Used Oil Analysis on both my P2 cars, and the Mobil ONE and Pennzoil Ultra have given outstanding results. Further, the inside of my XC's engine is perfectly clean...
    Last edited by Astro14; 07-01-2012 at 02:16 PM. Reason: Search results not working
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Devon PA
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    11,409

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    Also front or rear cam seals?
    The front is pretty easy and do the timing belt at the same time (you have to anyway as it's probably soaked with oil)!
    The rear seals are harder and take more time.
    You have put off maintanance so unfortuntealy you need to now do it all at once.
    Lemon, no, just a fact of Volvo life.
    If you had been diligent, (regarding service and repairs) the costs now would have been far less, (now you know).
    All emails please use: jrl1194 (at) aol.com

    2007 V70 2.5T White/Oak, 112K miles. My daily driver and GORGEOUS
    2000 V70R wife's. Won't sell, now at 148K miles !! and still (almost) perfect.
    2000 S70 GLT SE with 29,000 miles!!! A time capsule, V70R front bumper, Volans, etc. SOLD!!! (I Will regret selling this!)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN
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    34

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    I should have mentioned that when I bought the car at 106k miles, the timing belt and the tensioner had been changed at that point, immediately prior to the sale. And yes, it is now covered in oil and will be replaced. I had been doing regular oil changes though, just not checking the oil more regularly. I don't know if it's the front or rear cam seals. I'll ask when I go back to my repairman though.

    But thank you guys so much for the advice. Aside from the timing belt, regular oil changes, and now checking the oil at every fill up, (which I will be doing from here on out... very sound advice and I kind of feel stupid for not ever developing that routine), what other "regular maintenance" is there to prevent this and other problems in the engine (specifically the engine)?

    Also, don't you have to do special preparations to the engine in order to use synthetic? It's not something you can just put in there after changing from regular oil, correct?
    Last edited by caryhorner; 07-01-2012 at 03:55 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    1,921

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    Leaking seals is most likely a PCV problem. Definitely discuss replacing the PCV with your mechanic. Otherwise, there are other seal leaks that are a lot more expensive (rear main seal leak will require transmission removal)

    On shifting to synthetic, it can leak on higher mileage engines that haven't used it. This is because synthetic is good at cleaning out the gunk around the seals and sometimes the gunk is holding back a leak. May want to stick with regular oil until all your leaks are taken care of to solve one problem at a time. After no more oil leaks, maybe consider mixing in synthetic gradually (say +2 quarts each oil change and watch for leaks carefully)
    Past Volvos : 01 V70 T5, 01/02 V70XC, 02 V70 NA, 00 V70XC
    Current EV/Hybrid : 13 Tesla S85, 11 Gen3 Prius
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Virginia Beach
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    Howard - I've heard that about synthetic oil before - that it will cause leaks in higher mileage engines because it removes the gunk...

    But I've not found it to be true in my experience - I started my XC on synthetic at 95K - no leaks...and a very clean engine inside as a result.

    Further, the oil companies all dispute that synthetic causes leaks...

    In the case of the OP - I was looking more to clean the engine - and for that, I would go synthetic. I believe that the OP's leaks are the result of PCV problems...and those problems are the result of sludge in the engine...so, I would still go synthetic to clean it up.

    And to the OP - clean it slowly. Do NOT use any of the solvents or "miracle cures"...all of those will cause any sludge to come loose in chunks and make things worse. The oil itself has detergents, change it more frequently to clean this up...
    Current Fleet:
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Windy Manitoba
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    630

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    Quote Originally Posted by howardc64 View Post
    On shifting to synthetic, it can leak on higher mileage engines that haven't used it. This is because synthetic is good at cleaning out the gunk around the seals and sometimes the gunk is holding back a leak
    Quote Originally Posted by Astro14 View Post
    Howard - I've heard that about synthetic oil before - that it will cause leaks in higher mileage engines because it removes the gunk...
    I believe this to be an old wives' (mechanics'?) tale, from the very early synthetics that were not entirely compatible with conventional oils.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2010
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    Virginia Beach
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    Yeah - Mac, I was trying to say the same thing: old wive's tale...but I was trying to be polite about it.

    You can put synthetic in any engine, it won't cause leaks. You can switch back and forth between synthetic and conventional with no issues (how do you think we get synthetic blends?). You can even mix brands of oils that meet SM or SN spec without issue...but I choose to avoid that practice...
    Current Fleet:
    2016 Tundra Crewmax 4WD 1794
    2005 MB S600 (100K, Michelin AS3+, M1 0W40)
    2002 V70-XC (238K, Castrol Edge 0W40)
    2002 V70-T5 (195K, IPD bars, Bilsteins)
    2001 V70-T5 (76K)
    1932 Packard Sedan (straight 8, dual sidemounts, original paint and interior, Shell Rotella 15W40)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Devon PA
    Posts
    11,409

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    I would only consider changing to synthetic on a car with over 100K is when the car is at a stage 0
    Do the breather COMPLETE, then perhaps clean it out with a couple of Seafoam treatments.
    After that, if everything looks clean and stable after a few hundred miles, then and only then would I consider changing over.
    You may want to split the difference and use a semi-synthetic oil like a Valvoline Max life semi-syn
    All emails please use: jrl1194 (at) aol.com

    2007 V70 2.5T White/Oak, 112K miles. My daily driver and GORGEOUS
    2000 V70R wife's. Won't sell, now at 148K miles !! and still (almost) perfect.
    2000 S70 GLT SE with 29,000 miles!!! A time capsule, V70R front bumper, Volans, etc. SOLD!!! (I Will regret selling this!)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    01201
    Posts
    2

    Lightbulb THROWING IN MY "MIRACLE FIX" FOR CAM SEAL FAILURE [NON VVVT PULLEYS ONLY] years after

    Quote Originally Posted by caryhorner View Post
    I should have mentioned that when I bought the car at 106k miles, the timing belt and the tensioner had been changed at that point, immediately prior to the sale. And yes, it is now covered in oil and will be replaced. I had been doing regular oil changes though, just not checking the oil more regularly. I don't know if it's the front or rear cam seals. I'll ask when I go back to my repairman though.

    But thank you guys so much for the advice. Aside from the timing belt, regular oil changes, and now checking the oil at every fill up, (which I will be doing from here on out... very sound advice and I kind of feel stupid for not ever developing that routine), what other "regular maintenance" is there to prevent this and other problems in the engine (specifically the engine)?

    Also, don't you have to do special preparations to the engine in order to use synthetic? It's not something you can just put in there after changing from regular oil, correct?
    to late for cary horner to consider this, but for others who may consider 'cob' fixes, [risky fixes?], read on:

    this may sound crazy, but it worked for me. When this just happened to me 4 months ago, i was about gonna give up on a 260k volvo s70. Exactly as you see in this video was what it was. [this was a you tube comment, copied for simplicity. what is seen in video is just the front intake cam seal viewed through 'sprocket holes', out of its recess and with much slop indeed.]
    [cont.]
    I had already looked [desperately, as the leak was too bad] into oil sealants you add to oil. When i finally found what he shows here in this video, i had a long shot idea. I simply pushed the cam seal back in with a stubby screwdriver, working around it from opposite sides, so as to try to get it seated evenly. [this thru the holes you see in the 'sprocket'.] I didn't push hard, just gently. Crosshatch, like wheel lug nuts.
    When i had the darn cam seal what i considered 'seated' in its recess, i bought some blue devil 'rear main sealer', and using a small paint brush [which i broke the handle off to make 'stubby'], i painted the blue devil product directly onto the cam seal itself. [this while it was snowing, in a parking lot!] I then bicycled home and came back next day, -leaving some ten hours of 'curing' time. [this ain't something 'blue devil' recommends!]
    i then followed the 'blue devil' company's directions, [i think], simply pouring the bottle of 'rear main sealer' into the engine's oil crankcase and running the engine at idle for two hours. Despite some apprehension at starting it, the seal held! After the two hours of the motor idling, i GINGERLY drove the car home, and idled it some wherever i gingerly drove it for a few days. I BABIED IT!
    within two weeks i drove it normally. Easy, but normal. A month later, i got on it here and there, -and I still do now! Too soon to say for sure, but i think it's a permanent fix!! May god show this to another who needs it to keep his 'beater' going, -volvo or no!
    some points:
    blue devil also makes 'oil stop leak', which i think is same formula, but more [fluid and money]. Think i paid $16ish for 'main sealer'. Blue devil's probably 'the best', though other brands are out there. The stuff expands gaskets and seals somehow. This stuff obviously made my 'loosey' cam seal expand enough to snug it firmly in place.
    i should note that in this video, the seal seems different than mine was.
    ---> again, no video, but go see it:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cKXxjd7Tbg
    2002 volvo v70xc Cam seal problem
    866 views
    •May 26, 2016
    ur our

    It seems like if you were to start pushing it into its recess with something, it wouldn't have had as much resistance as mine did. But i can't be sure from a video... Even if it IS looser, you could duct tape a matching cylindrical object over it, or in some way hold it in. If you can get it to stay in after painting the 'stop leak' on it and adding it to motor oil, it could [possibly] still expand it to hold. But if the cam seal pushes in relatively snugly, so much the better.

    My exhaust cam [rear] is a VVVT cam, with that kind of bell shaped pulley. It has no holes in it, as the 'sprocket' in this video does, to place a stubby screwdriver through! Thus, alas, you can't fix it this way. [at least i can't see how.] i think if my rear cam seal woulda blown, i'd a said goodbye to my baby, -cause doing this job 'right' ain't no walk in the park. And i do wrench some...
    [this is something i'd actually like a little response to, as there seems two jobs. one w/ vvvt cam and one like on a '98 s70, with no exhaust vvvt. the latter does seem simple, but the vvvt needs cam locker tool and resetting timing more complex(?) At time this ocurred, i'd seen job as a bit 'over my head'.]

    i also was warned that the pcv system likely caused this failure, and that i had to fix it or more trouble. But i did the dipstick test and the rubber glove test, [thanks robertDIY!], and they both passed. I think the seal just got old and i drove her too hard that night. I lost 3 qts of oil in ten miles b4 i finally stopped. I should change timing belt, [soaked in oil!], but won't, -as it was just changed! Just washed her down good with brake cleaner. [should give it a second wash soon again.]
    since this doesn't seem a pcv issue, i would definitely recommend using 'high mileage' motor oil in your old car/ truck. Definitely these volvos! cheap insurance! It's similar to the blue devil stuff, but likely much less concentration. You could even add the blue devil stuff, maybe 1/3 of a bottle every other oil change. Mite be better.
    Blue devil raised my oil pressure a lot. At least 1/4! [i got a gauge.] Don't kno why. But no harm i guess, and by golly, it saved my car! It may drop down when i change oil. There have been no side effects from this blue devil oil sealer, as there can be with 'sealers', generally. I've heard of them gunking up things, esp. coolant sealers.
    it is possible that the cold weather may have [barely] helped my cam seal 'seat'. If it's summer, maybe you'd put ice [or freon?] in cam seal area... Just an idea. Who knows?
    note for volvo xc forums: another related video here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBrAtoPnmxo&t=1405s
    2002 Volvo XC70 VVT cam seal replace
    48,736 views
    •Jan 9, 2018
    Rob Webster
    i'm driving an s70, but based on these "XC" videos, i believe that xc70's are [roughly] the same 2.4 w/ non vvvt intake and vvvt exhaust, -same as my 2000 s70 glt se. haven't watched 'seal replace' video thru, but think this is a 'bear' of a job nonetheless guys! actually, i guess he's doing crank seal too... but talks/ does the timing.
    Last edited by xydki; 04-07-2020 at 09:59 PM. Reason: JUST AT POSTING, editing

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