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2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials for the groundbreaking new Volvo S60 2011+, V60 2015+ XC60 2010-2018.
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KnucklesBusted

2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by KnucklesBusted » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:20 am

Hello all,

The purpose of this thread is not to re-hash this well worn topic, it is to see if any can report success with it.

When I married at the end of 2016 my wife arrived with a 2012 S60 T5 that had ~140k miles. Although a degreed and licensed mechanical engineer and airframe and power plant mechanic and farm mechanic of over 40 years I knew nothing about Volvos.

My first interaction with the car came one day when my wife said "there is a odd light illuminated on the dash board". Although a woman with many fine qualities (aside from her taste in men) appreciating that dash board lights might actually perform some function other than to entertain her is a foreign concept. Not sure how long the light had been on.

I found both the check engine and the low oil lights on, the engine took 4 quarts to get into the lower portion of the safe range (this singular event in my mind might be enough to trigger selling the car, perhaps I should have!).

She had the oil changed not long prior (2k miles?) so I called them to accuse them of not filling it. He told me it is very common for "engines these days" to burn significant amounts of oil, a new world to me. I am used to vehicles typically requiring no oil between service intervals. Apparently in a attempt to reduce engine friction and improve fuel econ various designs with various levels of success have been tried, this engine may not have been one of the best? Some engines now need routine expensive flushes, very high quality syn oil, etc. in order to keep things sealed up in there.

So as many of you know this car/engine was hit particularly hard and resulted in the TJ that recommends quantifying the burn rate, checking the (frequently faulty) PCV system, switching to syn oil (not going to stop this sort of burn rate), changing the rings (are they redesigned now?), then changing the engine.

There are many ingredients to this perfect storm of trouble for this car... issues with oil pressure warnings, PCV issues, piston ring issues, more. And, because of this issue there were many baked engines as they were often run very low on oil.

Last summer the car started making noise that came and went with the AC compressor engage, no big deal just did not use the AC. Then another noise that I am sure is one of the idlers/tensioners on the timing belt, accessory serpentine belt, or the aux belt pulley.

I have the car torn down now and am replacing the timing belt + water pump and all spinners, the AC compressor, the alternator (just for fun), all belts and spinning parts.

FINALLY, the point of my post:

Has anyone fixed this oil burn issue? If yes, kindly inform what you did and your results.

I would so appreciate it, I am seriously considering doing a in-frame piston pull to take a look at things and change out the rings.

Thank you in advance.

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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by RickHaleParker » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:42 am

KnucklesBusted wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:20 am
Has anyone fixed this oil burn issue? If yes, kindly inform what you did and your results.
Have you confirmed that the engine is burning, not losing oil? Burning oil would result in blue smoke and the smell of burning oil when the engine is running.

Three most common causes or Burning oil are Piston Rings, Valve Guide seals or Turbo seals.

Sometimes it is a stuck piston ring that caused by carbon build up. This can be rectified by soaking the rings in Seafoam which decomposes carbon.
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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by KnucklesBusted » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:39 pm

Thank you Rick,

I am interested if anyone has dealt with this issue on this particular engine.

I would be curious if they replaced the rings if the new rings were different than the old, and did that provide a long term solution.

I would like to know if they fixed a issue with the PCV and that solved the problem what the issue was? Valve or oil separator or? Did you test the crankcase pressure before and after? Any info of that sort.

KB

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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by jimmy57 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:56 pm

Oil consumption of as much as a quart per 500 miles doen't always show as smoke. If it does smoke from usage it might be only aftr a long coast down. Many times the oil use is due to low tension rings stuck in ring lands of pistons. Abiding by factory recommendations when your driving style is less than a 30 mile highway drive each way to work with NO stop n go has been lead to many engines of many brands, almost all brands, using oil due to low tension rings sticking. There is a chance to remedy the issue with ATF or sea foam or other low viscosity solvents poured into each cylinder HOT and allowed to soak over night. The 5 cylinder sits at a little angle and about 3 ounces in each is needed to assure a good soak. It may take two rounds of this. Once the soak period is over you spin the engine over with plugs out to let the excess blow out, clean up the mess, and then put it together and go drive it at high load a few minutes. Often the oil consumption does not cause loss of compression or excess crankcase pressure. It is most often the oil rings and that makes for too much oil film left on cylinder walls and it just burns it off from there.

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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by oragex » Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:18 pm

When our 2011 Q5 (Audi) started drinking some !qt/200 miles if my memory helps, we had no trace of smoking behind the car. Plenty of european brands shared the same 'breather' box part, the one that sticks on top of the engine (easy to replace), and all cars came sooner or later to have this part replaced with a newly improved design - the unlucky owners who didn't swap the breather timely, had to swap as well some rings and pistons. Of course, there may be other reasons for oil consumption - as mentioned, worn or stuck oil rings is one of these. Unfortunately, as jimmy says, these 5 cyl engines are tilted back some 10deg (quite a bit) and any additive poured inside the cylinder will leak by the rear of the cylinder, so it won't soak the rings uniformly, unless the car is parked on a steep incline nose down. Even then, one or two of the pistons will be at TDC so I guess it's better to only fill 1-2 oz on the cylinders that sit low, then crank a bit and repeat with the rest of the cyl. I used Seafoam which is safe for the O2. While doing this treatment, it is good to watch the fluid for 5 min inside the cylinder: a healthy piston/rings should keep the fluid for quite a bit, 10 may more minutes, if it gets empty in 1-2min, some compression rings may be worn or stuck within a few minutes, some compression rings

Waiting long enough to have all cylinders empty, will help the neighbors who may not appreciate that white smoke early Sun morning, when the engine gets fired for the first time

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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by abscate » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:30 am

There isn't an industry " standard" but consensus is that oil consumption of 1 liter per 1500 miles is considered normal. With my fleet of six, I have two Volvos that use no oil in 7500 miles, two VWs that use no oil in 7500 miles, a BMW that uses 1-2 liters in 7500, and a Volvo that uses 3 liters in 7500

You will find anecdotes like this across US, Asian, and EU brands so let's snuff out the chest thumping of "I've owned a Acme car and it never used oil" crap

Oil use is a complex function of manufactured tolerances, driver habits, oil choice, and usage pattern, and good old chance statistics.

My " oil user " cars get monthly checks, my others probably quarterly.
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KnucklesBusted

Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by KnucklesBusted » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:43 am

Thank you, this car burns around a quart in 600 miles. Pretty sure there is not much "consensus" on that being OK. Volvo issued two TJ on the subject for this car and this car alone with limited VIN application. That is what I am inquiring about. Would not take on the larger issue, will leave that to others. All of us old coots have owned cars our entire lives that used less a quart between 7000 miles changes, that's a fact. These days we trade a bit of oil for better fuel mileage, I am good with that.

As a engineer I can tell you that friction consumes much of the horsepower produced by combustion. A good way to reduce that is to reduce the tension on the rings. When you do that you will also get more blow by that must be processed by the PCV system. And, more oil will end up in the combustion chamber which causes it's own issues. Also failure of the PCV system will have quick and significant impacts on the amount of oil in the combustion chamber making things much worse very quickly and carbon accumulates.

Piston ring design is a bit complex. Dragsters for instance often use only a single piston ring groove with two rings in it to give very tight seal. But the TBO for those engines is around 15 seconds. Cross hatch honing, the second ring profile, ring tension, etc. All a trade off between compression, blow by, cylinder life (you need enough oil, not too much), many things.

This particular car got hammered with the low tension ring design they tried. Coupled with the limited life PCV system and the oil P warning light issue this particular car was a huge headache for Volvo. They replaced a lot of engines and installed a lot of piston rings. They only used this engine for a single year.

Volvo will of course not tell us why this happened, but I think I am figuring it out. My goal is to salvage what is otherwise a pretty good car without spending too much money. Was just curious if any others had experience with THIS CAR.

As far as your chest thumping I will leave that to you. If your cars make you happy, good on ya. Engineers are human, some designs are much better than others. I do think you can still buy a car that does not burn much oil, but have never done the research. The "industry" (with which I am very familiar) will of course try to claim high oil use is "normal". And, for their engine designs it is. They built a engine that needs oil as a trade for fuel. And, if their PCV system and ring design can survive that, more power to them. Witness the rise in all these "flushing" services (BG, etc.). This is a direct result of low tension rings. The industry PR juggernauts can save them huge amounts of cash by managing customer expectations, and so they should.

Appreciate all replies.

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Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by jimmy57 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:43 am

All internal combustion engines use some oil. Lubricating valve stems and the film wiped on and off by oil rings are the places where it goes. At the same time you lose oil you gain contaminants from inside and outside the engine. Used Oil Analysis (UOA) will show you the gains. Looking at the oil go from clear with a tint of color to dark brown or approaching black also will indicate this. Diesel engines gain the black coloring of oil from soot left on cylinder walls. Engines that use no oil have the most minimal loss on cylinder walls and the least movement of oil through porous valve guides that is balanced by the gain of contaminants into oil. Oil rings have a tougher job since almost all engines, turbo or not, have oil cooler spray jets. The amount of oil in the under piston area is increased and if the oil ring is not handling it then the other two rings now have to deal with oil residue that is partially combusted and that encourages ring sticking. Synthetic oil helps but nothing fixes too much oil left on cylinder wall except to change the rings. On some Volvo engines the piston is changed to hold a wider changed oil ring and on others (the 5 cylinders) The oil ring is changed to have a stiffer oil ring. The majority of the 5 cylinders have no problem because the driving habits are easier on the oil. Most of this is not something the customer has much control over. If your use of the car is shorter trips and it is a colder climate and even worse if a lot of idling time is normal for the car then you would be more likely to have a problem.

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KnucklesBusted

Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by KnucklesBusted » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:12 am

Thank you Jimmy, my post is about this specific car which definitely has a problem!

I have one question for you regarding your post:

"On some Volvo engines the piston is changed to hold a wider changed oil ring and on others (the 5 cylinders) The oil ring is changed to have a stiffer oil ring. "

Do you have a source for that info? I have been looking and am very curious about that. Volvo only used this engine one year as stated in the TJ.

Pistons are fun!

Also on a side note, it is the second ring that is responsible for controlling oil in the combustion chamber, not the third "oil control" rings, is a common misunderstanding. The "oil control" rings actually control how much oil is delivered to the second ring which balances the oil allowed to pass with the requirements of cylinder wall lubrication.

Ref: Item 4 here https://www.enginebuildermag.com/2017/0 ... ons-rings/

Or here: https://blog.wiseco.com/common-causes-o ... onsumption

"Wide ring end gaps are a common source of leakage. This is the reason that JE offers 0.005-inch oversize rings to allow the engine builder to set custom end gaps for a performance engine. We should even add oil control rings into this discussion since choosing low oil ring tension can overload the amount of oil the second ring must handle and therefore contribute to both excessive oil consumption as well as increased blow-by. Standard tension oil rings are the best choice for a street engine."

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KnucklesBusted

Re: 2012 S60 T5 High Oil Consumption - Did you fix it?

Post by KnucklesBusted » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:15 am

In reply to Oragex, thank you for your comments.

The PCV on this car is a Mann-Hummel built unit. They are a huge company that among other things mfg a wide range of oil separation/crankcase pressure control systems for engines from small to high HP diesels. The unit is fairly complex, I have not seen anything so intricate short of high performance engines that actively manage crankcase pressure at all times. It is located on the front side of the engine and can be access by removing the airbox. It is integrated with the oil filter housing, half aluminum and half plastic which makes it fairly expensive to replace at ~$220 from parts geek. It also has internal heaters supplied by their own 12v connection. Rather than the metal rattle slug you may be used to the valve itself is a ~2" rubber diaphragm that reacts to crankcase pressure against a plastic orifice. Below that are the separation chambers with the heated orifices that drain into the chamber. It does not use a serviceable separation filter as many of their units now do.

More interesting to me is why did they choose this design?

My "opinions" are what follow, not based in empirical fact. The reason for the expensive system, and for the heaters is response to the expected higher level of gas volume that must be processed in this newly designed engine. It is integrated into the oil filter housing to keep it warm, and heated at the "choke points" to also keep it warm. Blow by from low tension turb engines is both higher in volume and contains more and finer suspended oil particles that must be processed. Also blow by contains significant amounts of moisture that will freeze and clog unheated systems. Keep it warm, and move a lot of air, and remove as much oil as possible before returning it to the intake.

When this systems performance starts to degrade it begins to allow positive crankcase pressures during certain operational conditions (ideal being slightly negative) which will not produce symptoms such as the famous "whistle", or oil blown out seals but will create the more serious and insidious issues surrounding excess oil in the combustion chamber. "Stuck" rings (the second ring actually, the "oil control" third rings not as much of a factor), high carbon deposits including potential burnt valves, all the rest. This can last many miles leading to essentially engine failure. I think the reason the Volvo TJ for this engine requires a ring replace as part of resolution is not because they have failed, but because they are as you say stuck. Volvo (no one actually) would call out for "cleaning" the rings.

The reason I think the TJ calls out for engine replacement as the last resort was that some engines were damaged so badly due to excessive oil and/or running on very little oil was that the engine was re-designed (only used one year) and field repair at dealers was not practical. I do not know if you had this car and the engine was replaced whether you did get a different engine or not.

This is a fairly tight tolerance engine, stock it uses three different size pistons. I have asked Volvo and 4 different dealers part/service departments "Has this piston/ring been re-designed?". No one can tell me... Also not known for sure is whether a single ring part number fits all three piston sizes, or is there a set for each piston? I have found both.

Based on a bore scope exam of my combustion chambers I am not thinking flushing would be a good idea due to the volume of the debris, there is a LOT. All that crud must make it's way into the crankcase past the rings or exit the exhaust system through the catastrophic perverter. I am planning on removing the pistons to clean them replace the rings and examine the valves (perhaps a trip to the machine shop for seals and lapping).

Still learning, so appreciate your comments.

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