Engine: Lubrication                                                                                          FAQ Home
 Volvo Maintenance FAQ for 7xx/9xx/90 Cars                                                                                                                     Version 5.0
Oil Filter Change

Flickering Oil Pressure Light on High-Mileage Engines

Oil Pump: Wear and Replacement

960 B6304 Oil Pressure Problem: O-Ring Problems

Oil Drain Valves

Oil Viscosity Recommendations for Volvo

See Fuel Additive and Lubricant Reference Information for information on lubricants.

Oil Filter Change. Changing the filter on 7xx series Volvos can be a challenge and I've never seen any way to do it that does not make a mess. As to hints - make sure you use a "low profile" filter. The generic Fram filter (the PH8A) is way too tall, you can get it in, but getting it out is a pain. The Volvo / Mann filter (or one of comparable size) is the one to use. As to the wrench (I use a band type wrench - where the metal band goes around the filter body) - I tried drawing a picture in my service manual to remind myself how it fits, but I end up "re-inventing the wheel" each time. I've just resigned myself to fitting the wrench and moving the filter only a 1/2 inch at a time until it gets loose enough to remove by hand. Thankfully, you can move the wrench more as you refit the filter.

Flickering Oil Pressure Light on High-Mileage Engines. [Symptom:] Oil lamp flickers. [Diagnosis 1:] the insulation on the wire from the sensor had degenerated from heat over the years. I had the wire replaced for about $85.00 and it has been fine ever since. [Diagnosis 2:] The oil pressure values you are getting seem about what I had in my B21FT early last spring when I had the oil pump, main and rod bearings replaced. I'd get the specs for the B23E, but I bet you're showing signs of pump wear. My light had just started flickering and the bearings were already into the copper. My understanding is the oil pumps don't fail they just slowly wear out. As the gears wear the oil pressure drops so slowly that we don't notice it. Meanwhile the bearings are getting less and less oil and their wear accelerates. According to my mechanic, who has been repairing Volvos since the sixties, it usually results in a thrown rod with an oil pump that's still pumping but not very much! I'm theorizing, but I bet if we would replace the oil pumps earlier and more regularly we'd get a lot longer life out of bearings.

Oil Pump: Wear and Replacement.  [Tip from Dick Riess]  Paul Despres posted a note on in-the-car oil pump replacement in a 200 series. This stimulated me to try a 700 and 900 series.
         Problems: Cold idle 1.5 bar
         Hot Idle: less than .5 bar
         Cold at 2000 rpm, 2 bar +
         Hot at 2000 rpm l.5 bar
         Not good and below spec.
         Engine approx 130K. This is a turbo running Mobil l.

Followed the Volvo manual and changed out pump in approx 6 hours after fabricating a jig to hold the engine up slightly. Built out of 2x6 yellow pine, a couple of chain repair links and a 1/4 inch hook eye. [Editor: See note following these instructions]
         Take off license plate and bracket so you don't make new holes in your body. Place car on jacks. Locate them on box frame just before the box slopes and becomes small. Take off belly pan. Unbolt sway bar at frame only. Undo steering shaft at U joints and slip upward. Remove negative cable from battery. Remove intake hose (turbo) from intercooler to intake manifold. Loosen power steering reservoir. Clip tie holding hose to motor mount.  Under engine, remove nuts and bolt from bottom of pass. side motor mount. Remove entire motor mount series of bolts and nuts, 6 total.  Snug up and lift slightly on engine jig. I used a nut to tighten and lift the hook eye connected to the lift hook on the thermostat housing.  Unbolt the frame, 4 bolts. It will drop slightly. Undo bolts and remove the reinforcement plate between engine and bellhousing. Remove motor mount from the driver side. No need to remove actual rubber from metal portions. Unbolt oil pan, drop and rotate nose toward the driver side (this is why you remove the motor mount.  Remove oil pump, replace with new one and new rubber O rings on feeder pipe. Lube rings with oil or Vaseline to help with reassembly. Carefully reassemble pump to block aligning pump driving shaft with driving shaft from engine. Clean pan and gasket leftovers.   You can also replace your rod bearings if you want. I did on one of the cars---less than an extra $30 using a standard size.  Reassemble.
         Cold idle: 4 bars
         Cold 2000 rpm: 4.5-5 bars
         Hot idle: 3.5-4 bars
         Hot 2000 rpm: 4.5 bars
As Paul experienced, both engines (B230FT) are much quieter re: piston slap.  I used a Febi Bilstein HD pump in both. Cost approx $120 without rod bearings and approx $150 with bearings.   This is not a bad job to do and may prevent some major blowups on engines which are good, but have a failing oil pump. So far I have a series of 5 oil pumps which I have replaced either rebuilding an engine or as this and all show the same wear pattern. Mileage usually in the 125-150K. All turbos. Believe they are wear items.

[Editor's Note]  Dick swapped the pump because after dropping the pan, a $100 pump replacement did not seem to be a big expense and would certainly eliminate any uncertainty.  If you remove your pump, note that clearance between oil pump gear teeth should be between 0.15-0.35mm, and axial clearance between the end of the gear and a straightedge across the face between 0.02 -0.12mm.  The relief valve spring, which is highly suspect in low oil pressure conditions, should compress from 39.2mm to 26.25mm under a load of 46-54 N (10-12lbs) and to 21.0mm under a load of 62-78 N (13.6-17.2 lbs.)  If you have a low oil pressure problem, try replacing the spring before you conclude the pump is bad.  Also, make sure the drive shaft cog teeth are intact and not fractured.  IPD sells a reinforcing ring for this drive and if you have the pump out of the engine it is worth installing.  Use new delivery tube seals on reinstallation.

960 B6304 Oil Pressure Problem: O-Ring Problems.  [Query:] i have a 95 960 with 114k miles with an unusual oil pressure problem that my repair shop nor I can solve. I'm hoping someone out their may know of this problem, know of someone that knows of this problem or can direct me to someone who can help me.   I've owned this car for 6 months with absolutely no problems except a noisy ps pump.   Suddenly the oil light went on and i then heard the valves complaining of no oil pressure.   After flushing the engine, replacing the filter, oil pump and associated tubes, pickups and valves, it still has the problem.   From a cold start the engine will idle for hours, including running the rpms up, and the oil light stays off and there is oil pressure.  Then a short trip down the road produces the light and valve noise.  After a short cool down everything is ok.  Sometimes the light goes on right from cold start up.  [Response: Abe Crombie] The o-ring on the oil pump suction tube in the oil pan has been pulled inward allowing air to enter. While the pan is off the two o-rings at the pan-to-block joint need to be replaced also.

Oil Drain Valves. Oil drain valves are available for Volvos from Fumoto Engineering of America, 12328 Northup Way, Bellevue Washington 98005. Phone is 206-869-7771, fax is 206-869--2558. The part number for four-cylinder engines is T-204; V-6 engines (1976-1982) use part number F-108. I've heard there might be a clearance problem with 850s because the drain nut isn't on the bottom, but can't say for sure. It's operated from below, but requires only pushing a lever out of the spring-loaded locking position, then rotating 90 degrees. It doesn't create a clearance problem, and can not open by mistake. I used a copper washer on mine rather than the washer supplied, and it has never leaked. I've used these for more than 25 car-years and they are really great. No stripped drain bolts, no bashed knuckles, no mess, no wrenching, less time...

Oil Viscosity Recommendations for Volvo.  [Comments from Tom] My brother and I have made a past time of studying engine oil. We respectfully disagree Tim's recommendation of 20W-50. The 30 point gap between the weight and the film strength is too much. The additive package necessary to make up the difference is being asked to do quite a herculean task. We would recommend using a 15W-40 for a heavier weight oil. The 15W-40's have been so extensively developed, that for heavy duty applications such as over the road diesels no mineral based oils come close. Mobil Delvac 1300 is a readily accessible choice and the 'badge' oil of Detroit Diesel... or is it Cummins?...anyway; Shell Rotella T is another. If you want something unique (also double the price) you can contact Fiske Brothers for Super GPO 15W-40.   A good choice for fall and spring is a high quality 10W-30. Pennzoil PZL Turbo is a superior mineral based oil at about $1.85/qt. but you'll have to call around to some independent autoparts stores to find it. It is not the Pennzoil 10W-30 at department stores. Again for the oil 'that nobody else has' call Fiske Brothers for their 10W-30 Super GPO. 10W-30's are technically acceptable down to 10 Fahrenheit.  In the winter you can trust a quality 5W-30. Department store Pennzoil has done well in past tests. AGAIN, Fiske Bros. 5W-30 called  3-4-5 is their offering. I use synthetic Mobil 1 10W-30 in the winter only, but remember synthetics "find leaks" where mineral bases are less likely to. We disagree with Consumer Reports conclusions on their NYC taxi tests. Running a taxi is a lot of stop and go with perhaps a lot of rapid acceleration, but the engine is always warm. It's cold starts that are hardest on engines and oil. Granted they tried; they had to design something they could control. Well, that's just two oil fanatics' opinion.
[Editor's Note:]  Volvo concurs; see Technical Service Bulletins 223, Feb 95: Oil viscosity grades 10W-30 and 5W-30 are recommended brand-by-brand (and include the usual Pennzoil, Quaker State, Castrol, Texaco and Valvoline brands.)  Dealers are "highly encouraged" to use the oils listed.) Synthetic grades are HIGHLY recommended and the brands approved are Amsoil, Mobil 1 and Pennzoil.  The use of 15W-40 "should be limited to engines in extreme duty."

Technical Service Bulletin 174901201, Dec 90: This TSB has a discussion of the dangers of using oils with too heavy a viscosity grade.  "Volvo's recommended oil visocity in most climates is 10W-30" (with 5W-30 acceptable in colder climates.) "The maximum acceptable viscosity, which is reserved for extreme duty only, is 15W-40. Extreme engine duty is defined as driving conditions that tend to raise oil temperature excessively, such as sustained mountain driving, trailer hauling, etc."  An exception to the above restriction could be high mileage engines (above 100k miles) operating in hot climates.  These engines may require a heavier viscosity oil to maintain oil pressure and reduce oil consumption.  Oils with viscosities heavier than 15W-40 are not approved by Volvo."  They then discuss the ills attending use of heavier-than-approved viscosities.

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