Volvo Service Tips
Volvo Maintenance Tips
My cousin called me on my cell phone a few days ago to let me know that the timing belt on his Volkswagen broke and that he was looking at $2000 in repairs. I told him that he was lucky, because if he was driving a Volvo, he would be looking at about $4500 in repairs, basically a new engine.
The reason his car’s timing belt failed at 140,000 miles was because he went far too long between services.
When your timing belt fails in an interference engine, the camshaft stops rotating immediately, but the crankshaft continues to spin due to the force of inertia. And as a result, the valves can be caught frozen in the open position. The moving pistons will violently collide with the valves, bending them out of shape, causing catastrophic engine failure.
At the worst, a hole may be punctured into one of the pistons: permanently damaging the piston, breaking or bending the valves and destroying the cylinder head.
At the Volvo service center, we change your vehicle’s timing belt according to the service schedule laid out in your owners manual. For example, some Volvo Model’s require changing the timing belt at 105,000 miles or 10 years and others at 120,000 miles.
What is a Timing Belt?
A timing belt is a reinforced grooved rubber belt that drives one or two camshaft(s) in an internal-combustion engine. A four-stroke engine requires a timing system to coordinate the intake of the air and fuel mixture and the expulsion of exhaust combustion gases with the up and down motion of the pistons.
This is achieved by synchronizing the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s).
For every two rotations of the crankshaft during the combustion cycle, the camshaft(s) makes one rotation. Thus the gear ratio is 2:1.
Benefits of Timing Belts as compared to Timing chains and Gears;
- Rubber composite belts are lighter and quieter in their operation.
- Rubber composite belts are less expensive and more efficient than chains and gears.
- Timing belts do not require lubrication, which is essential with a timing chain or gears.
Causes leading to premature failure of your Timing Belt;
- High engine temperatures (overheating) in older vehicles, late model cars have heat-resistant belts.
- Hot and dry climate conditions can causes cracks to form on the belt.
- Engine oil leaks can cause the Timing Belt to fail.
Symptoms of a bad Timing belt
A perfectly timed engine runs smoothly.
But when the timing is off: the engine will start to vibrate so much that it causes the entire car to shake, your car starts belching more exhaust than usual, you hear strange noises coming from the car’s engine and you experience difficulty in starting the car. And when that Timing Belt snaps in half, the vehicle will come to a dead stop, leaving you stranded in the middle of the highway.
Interference vs Non-interference engine damage
The amount of damage is determined by the type of engine.
The difference between interference and non-interference engines is the clearance between the pistons and valves needed to prevent damaging impact.
An interference engine does not allow for enough clearance between the valves and pistons; hence, the engine will be severely damaged.
Interference engines will experience catastrophic damage during a timing belt failure due to the pistons impacting valves in the open position. While non-interference engines will not be as severely impacted, because the pistons will not crash into the valves, but still costly to repair.
Volvo Engine Valve Train
Volvo engines are belt driven interference engines and these type of engines use the double over head configuration also know as DOHC. This means that there are two camshafts driven by the crankshaft. The camshafts located in the cylinder head, control the opening and closing sequence of valves in each piston cylinder. For every combustion cycle, there are four valves opening and closing in each piston cylinder for the double overhead camshaft configuration (DOHC).
Benefits of the double overhead camshaft configuration (DOHC)
- Fewer parts in the valve train.
- More precise and accurate – up and down valve motion.
- Reduces frictional losses due to heat.
In order to save our customers money, whenever we replace the engine Timing Belt we also replace the water pump, belt-tensioner, tensioner pulleys, idler pulley, oil pump seal and camshaft seals. This is because all these parts require just as much labor to replace later due to their proximity to the Timing belt. So, you might as well save on labor costs and replace these parts now.
Observe your scheduled maintenance intervals and you will not suffer a broken or snapped Timing Belt.
Before you purchase a used high mileage vehicle; save yourself some grief by finding out if the Timing Belt has been replaced.
Top ten reported stolen vehicles from NHTSA’s 2008 theft rate data compilation:
- Dodge Magnum
- Pontiac Grand Prix
- Mitsubishi Galant
- Chrysler 300
- Chrysler Sebring
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Chrysler PT Cruise
- Hyundai Sonata
- Hyundai Azera
- Dodge Charger
Top ten U.S. States with the most stolen vehicles are:
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
Top ten most popular parts or items left in vehicles are:
- Wheel covers
- Air bags
- GPS units
If you know what is wrong with your vehicle, please do us a favor and fix it yourself.
Off course I will not say it aloud, I’m not that crazy. I whispered.
The reason I say this is because I have been there and done that. When my previous car broke down in 2007, I had just been laid off from my old job. Talk about great timing.
The last thing I wanted was to end up at the Volkswagen Dealership, paying hundreds of dollars, to fix my beloved VW Jetta.
So, naturally I turned to my good friend Google to provide much needed answers.
I researched the symptoms; stalling when slowing down or when stopped at a traffic light. You can imagine the traffic nightmares I caused. I was hooted at, cussed at, you name it.
According to mighty google, this was an electrical problem, most likely a bad ignition coil or a bad battery.
I had my battery checked and it checked out fine. So, it had to be my ignition coil, I thought to myself.
I confidently drove down to the nearest Service Center in my neighbor hood and asked the service guy to replace my ignition coil. He asked me how I knew this was the problem, but I wasn’t about to let him know that I was following google orders.
Long story short. The Ignition coil wasn’t the answer to my car problems, I ended up wasting $250 to replace a perfectly good part.
The lesson here is to let the experts do their job because they will save you money in the long run.
The best advice I can give you is to be nice to service people because it pays dividends.
Personally, I like to help customers, and that is why I started this blog. I want to save you money.
Test yourself, see if you can figure out how the new s60 Pedestrian Detection System works (10 question quiz).
1. According to research, 50 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occur at what speeds?
A) Above 51 mph (82 kph)
B) Above 26 mph (42 kph)
C) Below 26 mph (42 kph)
D) Below 16 mph (26 kph)
2. Is pedestrian Detection with full Auto Brake effective when backing up (reversing)?
A) Yes – in all situations.
B) Yes – if the driver programs it to do so and activates it properly.
C) It depends on the angle of the tires.
D) No! It’s effective for pedestrians in front of the vehicle only.
3. What is the key benefit of Volvo’s world – first Pedestrian Detection with full Auto Brake?
A) It prevents pedestrian accidents and significantly reduces the impact of pedestrian accidents that are unavoidable.
B) It helps support drivers who are tired and distracted by warning pedestrians that the vehicle is approaching.
C) It prevents accidents with small vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
D) It works with Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue assist to monitor driving and traffic conditions.
4. If the driver does not respond to the initial warning, what does Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake do next?
A) Increases to a secondary level of audible alert.
B) Gently applies the brakes to draw the driver’s attention.
C) Applies the brakes with full force.
D) There is no further warning – there is only one stage of alert.
5. What weather conditions can affect the performance of Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake?
D) all the above
6. What is the field of view for the feature?
A) 30 degrees
B) 60 degrees
C) 90 degrees
D) 180 degrees
7. What can distort the shape of a pedestrian so that the camera does not recognize them as a person?
A) Brightly colored clothing
C) Wearing a Clown or Mascot costume
D) Walking too close to other pedestrians
8. How tall must an object be to be recognized by the Pedestrian Detection feature?
A) 20 inches (51 cm)
B) 32 inches (80 cm)
C) 40 inches (102 cm)
D) 52 inches (132 cm)
9. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, how many pedestrians are injured in the United States each year?
10. Where does research show that pedestrians deaths primarily occur?
A) Remote country roads without sidewalks or crosswalks
B) Urban areas with crosswalks, sidewalks, median strips, and traffic islands
C) Suburban neighborhoods with children who are unsupervised
D) Expressways where cars are stopped during emergencies
Answers can be found in psychic s60 Volvo article
I am not kidding, the new s60 is psychic.
The new sporty s60 can sense an accident well in advance and avoid it.
I can’t help feeling that if the driver of the vehicle that fatally hit a pedestrian in Bethesda, last Thursday afternoon had been driving the new s60, the ensuing traffic might have been avoided.
No snarled up traffic, and no life lost.
Pedestrian Detection System (PDS) with Full auto Brake, is worth its weight in gold.
About the new sporty s60
This is what Warren Brown, a motoring enthusiast and Washington Post Newspaper columnist had to say in his recent article. “The car braked suddenly. I thanked God there was no car following me (a possible hazard with the pedestrian-detection system). The pedestrian continued moving, blessedly unaware of how close he came to being sent back to the doctor’s office, or to a hospital bed.”
Before I explain how this technology works, I will share some important statistics from the Insurance Institute for highway safety.
According to IIHS, 4,092 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. This accounted for 12% of overall crash fatalities in the U.S.
Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas at: crosswalks, sidewalks, median strips and traffic islands.
50% of these fatal crashes occur at speeds of less than 16 MPH.
95% of the pedestrians are struck by the front of the vehicle.
A common crash scenario involves a person crossing the road and a vehicle going straight with nothing obstructing the view of the driver from seeing the pedestrian, with no evidence of braking.
The new Volvo pedestrian detection technology can sense pedestrians, and if the driver does not initiate braking in time, the car automatically applies full braking force (Pedestrian Detection System with Full Auto Brake). Pedestrian Detection System (PDS) specializes in avoiding collisions at low speeds, up to 22 mph or 35 kph. At higher speeds the car will slow down, enough to reduce the chances of a fatality by 85%.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 70,000 pedestrians are injured in the United States each year; research estimates that PDS prevents an additional 39,000 crashes including 2932 fatalities.
You can think of PDS as an extra set of eyes and an extra foot above the brake pedal. A forward collision warning system that applies brakes automatically when the driver fails to react.
How It Works
The PDS uses a combination of radar (located on front end of vehicle) and camera attached to the back of the rear view mirror. This combination can identify a human figure within a 60 degree field of view. The radar detects a shape or object in front of the vehicle and measures the distance to impact. The camera determines what type of object it is, and a sensor device reads contours lines of a human being.
The driver is alerted by sound and a flashing brake light shape appears on the windshield, simulating the rear end of a vehicle ahead. If the driver fails to respond to the warning sound and lights then full auto brake is engaged, a split second before impact, when it is too late to swerve.
Benefits to customer
Helps avoid injury or death to the pedestrian.
Prevents accidents or reduces impact if vehicle is traveling too fast.
The radar and camera have a limited field of view, 60 degrees. In addition, dirt on windshield can and will affect the view of the camera.
PDS is affected by rain, snow, road spray, or low sun. (This means that it does not work at night) Function of the system cannot be guranteed.
The driver is ultimately responsible for maintaining a safe speed and distance. The human body being detected has to be at least 32 inches or 80 centimeters tall. This means that a child cannot be detected and neither can a wheel chair bound person.
Body shapes can be distorted by baggy clothes, bags or costumes. Therefore, the camera and sensor cannot detect a human shape.
The brakes once engaged can only hold for only 1.5 seconds before the vehicle starts to move again.
Slippery wet surfaces will negate the system.
Other Volvo Safety Features
This technology when used with other safety volvo features can enhance and avoid potential accidents:
- Blind Spot Sensor(BLIS) which is a little camera on your side mirror
- Lane departure warning
- Adaptive headlight
Conclusion: Volvo is ahead of the race with this technology; however, Audi is working on a system that works at night and does not require expensive radar technology. Subaru is also working on a cheaper PDS system that can detect cyclists, and other luxury brands like BMW are not far behind.
So, I see this technology as being a standard in the near future instead of just an option.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
“If only she had done some due diligence”, I thought to my self.
I was heart wrenched early one morning at the service center to see a young well dressed African American lady crying like a baby. She had recently purchased a used Volvo that had now turned out to be the worst investment of her life, the car was a piece of @#$%.
The following tips will help you make a well educated decision if you are in the market for a used car:
- Get the service history for the vehicle. The dealership will not only print you a copy of the service records for the vehicle, but they will also fax it to you on request (or ask the previous car owner for a copy).
- Get a car-fax report. Make sure you are not buying a lemon or a car that was in a major accident. Get the Vin number and run a report immediately and discover if any major repairs have been done. Sometimes the seller will sell the vehicle before a major service, for example the timing belt & water pump which costs about $1900. Car-Fax will run a FREE lemon check, Record Check, Recall Check, problem Car Check, Sample Reports and Vin History. I have used car-fax for all my previous used cars.
- Lemon Law. Know your lemon law statutes for new and used cars.
- Get a car diagnostics if possible. This will pull up potential problem codes just in case the seller has masked a check engine light by unplugging the dash bulb.
- Protect yourself from Odometer fraud. Mileage on a used car is a big factor in determining its resale value, so make sure you research the history of the car and obtain a vehicle history report. Repair shops write down the mileage at different service intervals, so you can easily compare past readings to the present odometer reading.
- Lastly, get a top to bottom car inspection. Our dealership will charge one labor hour or $112 to conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle. This way, you are guaranteed that you are not throwing good money after a bad.
When you start up your car, all the warning lights should come on and then go off when the engine is running as it should.
However, when a warning light comes on and stays on; you know right away that something is not working right.
Another name for the check engine light is the Malfunction Indicator lamp (MIL). The Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) must light up when a catalytic converter allows hydrocarbon (HC) emissions to increase greater than 1.5 times the level allowed by Federal Test Procedure (FTP) standards.
Three reasons for failing emissions are;
- High Hydrocarbons (HC),
- High Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- High Nitrous Oxide (NO).
This means that your car’s engine is not running efficiently. Your vehicle may either be runing too rich or too lean, and you may experience poor gas milage (MPG). This is due to incomplete combustion in the engine; the engine requires 14.7:1 air/fuel ratio for optimum fuel combustion.
So, unless you fix the problem you will not only fail emissions, but also loose money at the gas pump.
History of the check engine light
In 1996, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the recommendation of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), mandated that all vehicles from hence forth were required to upgrade to the On-Board Diagnosis 2 (OBD II) system.
OBD II System
To protect the environment and bring vehicle emissions under control, a sophisticated electronic control system know as the OBD II system was developed. The OBD II diagnostic system continously or non continously monitors all engine and transmission sensors and actuators that run diagnostic tests on the emissions related systems.
Continous monitoring systems includes;
- Misfire detection
- Fuel trim
- Comprehensive component monitors (detects a failure when your emissions exceed a certain limit that triggers a Diagnotic Trouble Code (DTC), which in turn illuminates the Malfunction Indicator lamp (MIL) or check engine light, and lastly this code is stored in the computer.)
Non continous monitering is performed once per trip on the following emission systems;
- Catalyst and heated catalyst
- Oxygen sensor and oxygen sensor heaters
- Evaporative emissions (EVAP)
- Secondary air
- The Exhaust Gas Recirculation System (EGR System)
When the OBD II system detects a problem or a fault it triggers a daignostics trouble code or DTC.
All OBD II Diagnostic Trouble Codes are universal, meaning that these are generic and any technician including independent shops can read these codes by means of a scan tool. (Dealerships use diagnostic computers for Manufacturer specific DTC’s)
An example of a generic DTC is P0060 – heated oxgen sensor heater resistance (bank 2 sensor2)
- The first character, a letter that denotes – the system where the code was set
- The second character is a number – reveals whether it is an SAE or a manufacture defined code
- The last three characters, all numbers – describe the type of malfunction
Some states are considering an advanced OBD system that would allow them to do away with emissions testing.
For example, if the “check engine” light came on, the system would automatically send a email to state officials, who would in turn contact polluting motorists to have the problem corrected within a reasonable time period.
Driver errors that can trigger a check engine light:
- A loose gas cap on a Volvo can trigger a check engine light
- A tank of bad gas
- Filling the tank while the engine is running
- Disconnected vaccum hose
A check engine light lets you know that you are loosing money at the gas pump because your engine may be running too rich or too lean.
Amber check engine light means it is safe to drive if you have not noticed any symptoms, but have it checked out as soon as possible at the dealership.
Red check engine light, pull off to the side of the road when it is safe to do so and come to a complete stop.
Well, that was before some strange lights started flickering on my instrument cluster. I did not know much about cars back then. So my well sanitized reaction was, Oh No!
The check engine light was the worst offender. Each time I saw that light come on, my heart rate went up, I felt my blood pressure begin to rise, and my cholesterol levels went from good to evil.
Your check engine light or MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp) means that a fault has been detected in your engine control system. This fault will trigger a DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code).
Some faults are intermittent and will make the lamp go on while the fault is occurring, and when it goes away the lamp goes off. Most faults that trigger the check engine light tend to stay on until a diagnostics has been done and the problem fixed.
Sometimes, all you need is to tighten up on a loose gas cap for the check engine light to go off.
Most times, I get calls from customers and they want to know why the check engine light is on. My answer is always, “I don’t know”. You need to make an appointment and come in for a diagnostic as soon as as possible if it’s an amber light, but if it is a red light, then pull over when it’s safe to do so and come to a complete stop.
There are over 5000 OBD II fault codes in a modern vehicle. However, the check engine light is reserved only for the Powertrain On-Board diagnosis problems that can cause you to fail emissions. The powertrain consists of 999 different generic OBD II Diagnostic Trouble Codes.
We currently charge $112 for a diagnostic, and yes we are competitive, you can shop around, but all dealers charge about the same.If you choose to have the problem fixed the diagnostic fee may be waived. We want your business.
The gas station down the street will probably charge you $80 and use a $150 scan tool to read the codes. After they hack your Volvo and can’t figure out how to fix it, they will have the car towed to the dealership, so we can fix their mess. It happens every day, last week it was New Concept Auto.
So why us, you may ask?
Because we have the latest technology and current software updates from Volvo USA. Our Codes are Volvo specific and not the generic off the shelf scan tool codes used by independent shops. Our Technicians are Volvo trained specialists; they work on the same type of vehicles everyday.
Please don’t get hacked, get the job done right the first time.
If you don’t agree with me, please let me know in the comments section below.
Several days ago, a new Volvo owner called the service center with an interesting question.
The new Volvo owner had recently purchased a brand new Volvo C30, an upscale hatch back from our dealership. He wanted to know why he was not getting 21 mpg for city driving as listed in the owners manual.
The Volvo C30 is fun to drive, especially the sporty R-Design. On occasion I have pulled around the orange R-Design C30 loaner car for our customers and I love the way it handles. The little car has a zip to it unlike any other Volvo I have driven, probably because it has a 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that produces 227 horsepower. The car easily hits 60 mph (miles per hour) in a respectable 7 seconds flat and averages 22 mpg (miles per gallon) on regular gas.
Volvo engines are designed for optimum performance on unleaded premium gasoline. So, if you read your owners manual you will note that an AKI (Anti Knock Index) octane rating of 91 or above is recommended.
Regular gas – 87 octane fuel is okay because the Volvo engines are strong and will re-adjust the timing sequence to accommodate the cheaper gas. However, you will note that the performance of the vehicle will go down.
When you switch to 89 octane fuel you will observe a smoother ride and an increase in horse power. The R-Design is a peak performance vehicle that responds well to higher octane gas.
Therefore, if you are going to invest good money into one of these sporty vehicles you might as well spend a little extra money on gas.
For the new Volvo owner we mentioned several factors that could have lowered his MPG to 16 mile per gallon instead of 21 mpg for city driving.
Factors affecting MPG for new vehicles:
- Engine Break-In. A new Volvo engine has to be broken-in in order to perform at optimum or peak performance. This means you have to have at least 5,000 to 10,000 miles on the vehicle for the engine to loosen up and obtain optimal fuel economy.
- How you drive; Quick acceleration and hard braking will affect your fuel economy. According to new EPA tests, aggressive driving can reduce fuel economy by up to 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town.
- Excessive idling. Zero miles per gallon; idling will lower your average MPG.
- Frequent short trips. Short trips of 10 miles or less will affect your fuel economy because the engine does not reach optimum operating temperatures.
- Cold weather. Your car needs to warm up in order to operate like it was designed to. Please note that idling your car in the drive way is not the right way to warm up a modern car engine. Idling only increase fuel consumption and pollution. Drive your car gently below 3000 rpm to warm it up.
- Cargo, towing and junk in the trunk only increase drag and reduces fuel economy.
- Electrical accessories. Air conditioning (A/C) requires gas to run the compressor. Operating the A/C on ‘max’ can reduce MPG by between 5-25%.
- EPA recommends using cheaper regular gas for fuel economy but a motorweek magazine road test for a Volvo C30 achieved an average of 22 mpg. To obtain higher MPG Volvo recommends higher octane fuel (gasoline containing deposit control additives). These additives have shown to be effective in keeping injectors and intake valves clean. Thus, consistent use of deposit control gasoline helps ensure good smooth handling and fuel economy.
- New vehicle variation. New cars fresh off the assembly line have slight variations that will give a marked deviation in MPG.
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Service advisors are often the first point of contact for Volvo service customers via the phone or in person.
The job of a service advisor includes:
- Preparing written estimates for service work and parts
- Acting as a liaison between customers and technicians
- Tracking Service/Repair orders
- Ordering parts
- Timely follow-up with customers
- The Input and tracking of repair orders through the computer
- Ensuring timely completion of repair orders
In my opinion, a top service center is defined by the quality of work performed, a high level of integrity or honesty, a focus on building relationships, and differentiation from their competitors.
A service advisor represents all these facets or characteristics of a top service center and most important, he or she is first and foremost a sales person.
- Empathy and a focus on relationship building. A good service advisor will remember the name of your dog, Fido. Customers must be treated with utmost respect, it’s not just about making the sale, but about how much he/she cares.
- A service advisor follows through on his commitments, such as making sure the technicians take the time to complete a detailed courtesy check so that mom is not left stranded by the side of the road and also follows through by returning your calls.
- Communication. A service advisor will tell you about the good and the bad and has an ability to prioritize based on the customers needs.
- Listens. He or she listens without interruption.
- Well organized. A service advisor is a team leader, he or she leads a team of technicians who complete the repairs in good time.
- Providing alternatives when customers have a problem. For example, providing a courtesy shuttle to the metro station, and a loaner car for major services.
- A service advisor should allow you to speak to someone of authority like the service director in case of a problem.
- Confidence. A service advisor displays confidence in the quality of repairs and when making appropriate recommendations. A service advisor should never recommend repair work that does not need to be done.
- Customer Advocate. A service advisor should always look out for his or her customers by verifying the quality of repairs performed by holding technicians accountable for the results.