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Old 06-14-2005, 00:27   #1 (permalink)
Robert Lutwak
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1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

Our 1996 850 GLT wagon, wtih 75,000 miles, has had regular oil changes and
never indicated any drop in oil level between changes.

Shortly after an oil change, two months ago, the oil light came on on the
dash and it was 2 quarts low. I topped it up and watched it closely. Since
then, in the past two months, it's taken another 5 quarts (one every couple
of weeks).

The underside of the engine is clean and dry, no drips or leaks.

If it were something horribly wrong with the engine (rings?) I'd expect the
exhaust to be black and smelly, but it's not. Also, the OBD hasn't
indicated any faults.

What should I look at next?

Thanks, as always, in advance,

-RL

p.s. This is not the 850 with the bad transmission, this is our *good* car.


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Old 06-14-2005, 00:27   #2 (permalink)
Bev A. Kupf
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Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

On Sun, 5 Jun 2005 06:13:39 -0400,
Robert Lutwak (Lutwak@alum.mit.edu) wrote:
> Our 1996 850 GLT wagon, wtih 75,000 miles, has had regular oil changes and
> never indicated any drop in oil level between changes.
>
> Shortly after an oil change, two months ago, the oil light came on on the
> dash and it was 2 quarts low. I topped it up and watched it closely. Since
> then, in the past two months, it's taken another 5 quarts (one every couple
> of weeks).
>
> The underside of the engine is clean and dry, no drips or leaks.
>
> If it were something horribly wrong with the engine (rings?) I'd expect the
> exhaust to be black and smelly, but it's not. Also, the OBD hasn't
> indicated any faults.
>


It is reasonably common for the valves in this engine to pit and then
for a small hole to burn through. This will result in considerable oil
consumption. I know several 850s that consume about 1 quart of oil
every 1000 miles.

Since an entire valve job is expensive, my usual recommendation is for
the owner to decide how much longer they plan to own their 850s, and
then determine whether it is worth their while to spend ~$1500 to fix
the problem. Otherwise just keep topping off the oil ever so often.

Although with your car the oil consumption seems to be (quart every
500 miles?), my guess is that it is the same problem. If you plan to
keep your car another 75,000 miles, get it fixed. If you don't,
don't bother. If you do get it fixed, keep in mind that in addition
to the valve job, the car will need plugs, wires, distributor cap
to be replaced around 90,000 miles, and timing belt, tensioner and
water-pump at 140,000, and the cost of this maintenance might be
important for your decision.

Beverly
--
Many a smale maketh a grate -- Geoffrey Chaucer
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Old 06-14-2005, 00:27   #3 (permalink)
Robert Lutwak
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

Thanks for your reply.

How would I verify that a valve pinhole is the problem before undertaking a
valve job?
Would I see it from the top if I took of the valve cover?
Is there a particular signature in the exhaust emmissions to indicate oil in
the mix?

I'd suffer the expense if necessary. Probably even seek out a
Volvo-certified mechanic to do it.

I always expect my Volvos to last for 250 Kmiles. Sometimes they even do,
but never without the occasional $1500 repair. I just want to make sure
that it's really the problem. I've only needed a valve replacement once
before, on my 264 GL at 200 Kmiles. Did it myself that time.

Thanks again,

-----

-RL

"Bev A. Kupf" <bevakupf@myhome.net> wrote in message
news:slrnda5t82.3hf.bevakupf@myhome.net...
> On Sun, 5 Jun 2005 06:13:39 -0400,
> Robert Lutwak (Lutwak@alum.mit.edu) wrote:
>> Our 1996 850 GLT wagon, wtih 75,000 miles, has had regular oil changes
>> and
>> never indicated any drop in oil level between changes.
>>
>> Shortly after an oil change, two months ago, the oil light came on on the
>> dash and it was 2 quarts low. I topped it up and watched it closely.
>> Since
>> then, in the past two months, it's taken another 5 quarts (one every
>> couple
>> of weeks).
>>
>> The underside of the engine is clean and dry, no drips or leaks.
>>
>> If it were something horribly wrong with the engine (rings?) I'd expect
>> the
>> exhaust to be black and smelly, but it's not. Also, the OBD hasn't
>> indicated any faults.
>>

>
> It is reasonably common for the valves in this engine to pit and then
> for a small hole to burn through. This will result in considerable oil
> consumption. I know several 850s that consume about 1 quart of oil
> every 1000 miles.
>
> Since an entire valve job is expensive, my usual recommendation is for
> the owner to decide how much longer they plan to own their 850s, and
> then determine whether it is worth their while to spend ~$1500 to fix
> the problem. Otherwise just keep topping off the oil ever so often.
>
> Although with your car the oil consumption seems to be (quart every
> 500 miles?), my guess is that it is the same problem. If you plan to
> keep your car another 75,000 miles, get it fixed. If you don't,
> don't bother. If you do get it fixed, keep in mind that in addition
> to the valve job, the car will need plugs, wires, distributor cap
> to be replaced around 90,000 miles, and timing belt, tensioner and
> water-pump at 140,000, and the cost of this maintenance might be
> important for your decision.
>
> Beverly
> --
> Many a smale maketh a grate -- Geoffrey Chaucer



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Old 06-14-2005, 00:27   #4 (permalink)
Mike F
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

Robert Lutwak wrote:
>
> Thanks for your reply.
>
> How would I verify that a valve pinhole is the problem before undertaking a
> valve job?
> Would I see it from the top if I took of the valve cover?
> Is there a particular signature in the exhaust emmissions to indicate oil in
> the mix?
>
> I'd suffer the expense if necessary. Probably even seek out a
> Volvo-certified mechanic to do it.
>
> I always expect my Volvos to last for 250 Kmiles. Sometimes they even do,
> but never without the occasional $1500 repair. I just want to make sure
> that it's really the problem. I've only needed a valve replacement once
> before, on my 264 GL at 200 Kmiles. Did it myself that time.
>
> Thanks again,
>
> -----
>
> -RL
>


Looking at the spark plug tips and a compression test will tell you just
about everything you need to know. It's amazing how much oil an engine
can burn without leaving a cloud of smoke. I had a '74 145e that I'd
need to fill with oil before gas, and there was never any smoke at all
behind it.

--
Mike F.
Thornhill (near Toronto), Ont.

Replace tt with t (twice!) and remove parentheses to email me directly.
(But I check the newsgroup more often than this email address.)
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Old 06-14-2005, 00:27   #5 (permalink)
jelliot
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption



Robert Lutwak wrote:
> Our 1996 850 GLT wagon, wtih 75,000 miles, has had regular oil changes and
> never indicated any drop in oil level between changes.
>
> Shortly after an oil change, two months ago, the oil light came on on the
> dash and it was 2 quarts low. I topped it up and watched it closely. Since
> then, in the past two months, it's taken another 5 quarts (one every couple
> of weeks).
>
> The underside of the engine is clean and dry, no drips or leaks.
>
> If it were something horribly wrong with the engine (rings?) I'd expect the
> exhaust to be black and smelly, but it's not. Also, the OBD hasn't
> indicated any faults.
>
> What should I look at next?
>
> Thanks, as always, in advance,
>
> -RL
>
> p.s. This is not the 850 with the bad transmission, this is our *good* car.


Oil consumption does not always result in an exhaust pipe mess. I
would try a couple of simple things. First, I would try,with a well
warmed up engine, driving along at about 50-60 mph, releasing the gas
pedal and coasting down to about 10-15 mph slower. Then step abruptly
on the gas, while looking in the rear view mirror for a telltale puff
of smoke. That would indicate that oil is getting past a bad piston
ring.
The other thing to do is to have a mechanic perform a simple
compression test. If there is a low cylinder, you can be fairly
certain there is a damaged valve or ring in that cylinder.

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Old 06-14-2005, 00:28   #6 (permalink)
John Robertson
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

What oil is the mechanic using his favourite brand (most profit ) or a
quality synthetic oil .My friend drove his old Japanese car a few hundred
miles to visit us and the car was low on oil .He was suprised as normally
he didn't use oil .But also the car never went on long runs so the hot run
burned off the moisture and the cheap junk oil he was using .I topped it up
with BP or Mobil synthetic and on his return no oil was used at all .Junk in
junk out as the lower fractions of oil burn off as well the moisture burns
off , not so with synthetic .In other words cheap oil is risky and you use
more but synthetic is more expensive but you don't use much in top ups .
"jelliot" <joeandruth@hargray.com> wrote in message
news:1118096808.075807.194070@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
>
>
> Robert Lutwak wrote:
>> Our 1996 850 GLT wagon, wtih 75,000 miles, has had regular oil changes
>> and
>> never indicated any drop in oil level between changes.
>>
>> Shortly after an oil change, two months ago, the oil light came on on the
>> dash and it was 2 quarts low. I topped it up and watched it closely.
>> Since
>> then, in the past two months, it's taken another 5 quarts (one every
>> couple
>> of weeks).
>>
>> The underside of the engine is clean and dry, no drips or leaks.
>>
>> If it were something horribly wrong with the engine (rings?) I'd expect
>> the
>> exhaust to be black and smelly, but it's not. Also, the OBD hasn't
>> indicated any faults.
>>
>> What should I look at next?
>>
>> Thanks, as always, in advance,
>>
>> -RL
>>
>> p.s. This is not the 850 with the bad transmission, this is our *good*
>> car.

>
> Oil consumption does not always result in an exhaust pipe mess. I
> would try a couple of simple things. First, I would try,with a well
> warmed up engine, driving along at about 50-60 mph, releasing the gas
> pedal and coasting down to about 10-15 mph slower. Then step abruptly
> on the gas, while looking in the rear view mirror for a telltale puff
> of smoke. That would indicate that oil is getting past a bad piston
> ring.
> The other thing to do is to have a mechanic perform a simple
> compression test. If there is a low cylinder, you can be fairly
> certain there is a damaged valve or ring in that cylinder.
>



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Old 06-14-2005, 00:28   #7 (permalink)
Stephen Henning
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

"John Robertson" <johnnr@optusnet.com.au> wrote:

> But also the car never went on long runs so the hot run
> burned off the moisture and the cheap junk oil he was using.


Oil doesn't burn off. It carbonizes and becomes a molasses like
substance which is almost impossible to get out. If you use ordinary
motor oil in air-cooled engines in very hot weather you will discover
this quite quickly. To avoid this, I use motorcycle oil in my
air-cooled engines. It is formulated for very hot use.

> I topped it up
> with BP or Mobil synthetic and on his return no oil was used at all .


Did you really think that a small amount of synthetic is going to make
the other 4 quarts of regular motor oil not do what it was doing before.
I think not. Otherwise, why not just use 90% cheap oil and 10%
synthetic.

I saw the same weird use of oil happen once in a friends Dodge. It was
speed dependent. Above a certain speed the engine blew or burned oil.
Below that nothing happened. He was in a big hurry going from PA to NM
and carried and used oil in bulk. On the return trip, he took time to
smell the daisies and didn't use any oil. That sounds more plausible.
--
Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA, USA
Owned '67,'68,'71,'74,'79,'81,'87,'93,'95 & '01 Volvos.
The '67,'74,'79,'87,'95 and '01 through European Delivery.
http://home.earthlink.net/~rhodyman/volvo.html
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Old 06-14-2005, 00:28   #8 (permalink)
John Robertson
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

actually the lighter fractions of oil do burn off and yes the 3 litres I put
in did make a huge difference 75 %synthetic to one litre of cheap oil made a
huge difference as well moisture builds up in oil and burns off when the oil
get good and hot so the level of oil drops .I must admit I also tuned his
car till it ran sweet .It all helps .
As we have turbos we only use Synthetic can afford to use "cheap oil" its
expensive in the long run .

"Stephen Henning" <pighash@aol.com> wrote in message
news:pighash-681BFB.16060710062005@news.isp.giganews.com...
> "John Robertson" <johnnr@optusnet.com.au> wrote:
>
>> But also the car never went on long runs so the hot run
>> burned off the moisture and the cheap junk oil he was using.

>
> Oil doesn't burn off. It carbonizes and becomes a molasses like
> substance which is almost impossible to get out. If you use ordinary
> motor oil in air-cooled engines in very hot weather you will discover
> this quite quickly. To avoid this, I use motorcycle oil in my
> air-cooled engines. It is formulated for very hot use.
>
>> I topped it up
>> with BP or Mobil synthetic and on his return no oil was used at all .

>
> Did you really think that a small amount of synthetic is going to make
> the other 4 quarts of regular motor oil not do what it was doing before.
> I think not. Otherwise, why not just use 90% cheap oil and 10%
> synthetic.
>
> I saw the same weird use of oil happen once in a friends Dodge. It was
> speed dependent. Above a certain speed the engine blew or burned oil.
> Below that nothing happened. He was in a big hurry going from PA to NM
> and carried and used oil in bulk. On the return trip, he took time to
> smell the daisies and didn't use any oil. That sounds more plausible.
> --
> Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA, USA
> Owned '67,'68,'71,'74,'79,'81,'87,'93,'95 & '01 Volvos.
> The '67,'74,'79,'87,'95 and '01 through European Delivery.
> http://home.earthlink.net/~rhodyman/volvo.html



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Old 06-14-2005, 00:28   #9 (permalink)
Stephen Henning
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

"John Robertson" <johnnr@optusnet.com.au> wrote:

> actually the lighter fractions of oil do burn off and yes the 3 litres I put
> in did make a huge difference 75 %synthetic to one litre of cheap oil made a
> huge difference as well moisture builds up in oil and burns off when the oil
> get good and hot so the level of oil drops .


You are saying that the car was 3 litres low on oil and the engine was
still running. I don't believe you. Have you tried contacting the
guiness world book of records. I think they will put yours in the
whoppers section. I still think you had a speed related problem that
was either blowing the oil out or leaking it. Telling such whoppers
won't change my mind. How long is your nose.
--
Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA, USA
Owned '67,'68,'71,'74,'79,'81,'87,'93,'95 & '01 Volvos.
The '67,'74,'79,'87,'95 and '01 through European Delivery.
http://home.earthlink.net/~rhodyman/volvo.html
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Old 06-14-2005, 00:28   #10 (permalink)
Bev A. Kupf
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Posts: n/a
Re: 1996 850 Sudden Oil Consumption

On Sat, 11 Jun 2005 13:56:17 -0400,
Stephen Henning (pighash@aol.com) wrote:
> "John Robertson" <johnnr@optusnet.com.au> wrote:
>
>> actually the lighter fractions of oil do burn off and yes the 3 litres I put
>> in did make a huge difference 75 %synthetic to one litre of cheap oil made a
>> huge difference as well moisture builds up in oil and burns off when the oil
>> get good and hot so the level of oil drops .

>
> You are saying that the car was 3 litres low on oil and the engine was
> still running.


It does depend on the size of the oil reservoir in the old Japanese car
in question. That being said, the most I've seen _car_ engines take is
about 7 - 8 quarts of oil, which is about the same as 7 - 8 liters of oil.

On an 850, losing 3 quarts of oil would certainly damage the engine. I
think the reservoir is between 6 - 7 quarts.

Beverly
--
Many a smale maketh a grate -- Geoffrey Chaucer
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