A lesson in the need for routine maintenance
Created 09/16/2015 - 11:52
We had a 2006 Volvo XC 90, 2.5 L 5 cylinder with 128,852 miles on the odometer come in with a complaint of low power, stalling and excessive oil consumption. The Volvo owner brought the vehicle in for a timing belt replacement thinking that this would solve the problem. I explained to him that the timing belt had nothing to do with the stalling or oil consumption problem. After conversing with him further, I uncovered that the vehicle had close to no maintenance performed other than routine oil changes about every 6,000 to 7,000 miles, using non-synthetic oil. In addition to the work he requested on the vehicle, I suggested that we perform a thorough vehicle inspection.
Upon inspection of the vehicle, we noticed that the serpentine belts and timing belt were all overdue for replacement. We also noticed that the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV), or oil trap system, was in real bad shape. The PCV system consists of the flame trap, small and large vacuum hoses, along with an oil cap. A telltale sign of a problem was that there was a cracked PCV breather hose located on the upper part of the engine next to the fuel injectors. The odd thing about this hose being broken (Figure 1) was that there was not much oil in the surrounding area, leading me to believe that the breather system had to be clogged. A quick test of the system for proper operation is to remove the dipstick and place a rubber glove or balloon over the dipstick tube. If the balloon or rubber glove starts to blow up, it indicates crankcase pressure is present and not vacuum. Since one of the customer’s complaints was excessive oil consumption (using 3 or more quarts of oil within 5,000 miles without any visible signs of a leakage) it was a good indication that the flame trap and hoses were clogged. To perform the PCV flame trap replacement, the intake manifold would have to be removed to uncover all the hoses and components. One of the PCV hoses is connected to the fuel line that goes from the front of the engine to the rear. Since this vehicle had more than 128,000 miles on it, it was in desperate need of every PCV line. Obviously since the engine had so many miles on it and all the plastic components had hardened with age, everything we touched broke, forcing us to replace more than the normal PCV breather replacement parts.
Once the manifold was removed, we were able to see just how clogged this engine’s PCV system really was. Take a look at one of the main breather ports (Figure 2) for the system that is located on the lower front engine block. As you can see, it was totally clogged and needed to be drilled, scraped and picked clean. My tech Franklin had to spend a good two or more hours just cleaning all the passages, as well as cleaning carbon deposits from the valves and intake manifold. If the vehicle would have had proper maintenance, the replacement of the flame trap (Figure 3) would have been much easier. If we would have just done what the customer originally requested, he would have still had the same problem of oil consumption and stalling. It’s always a good idea to make a thorough inspection and make sure to address the vehicle owner’s concerns so they leave the shop satisfied with a vehicle that is running well.
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THINGS YOU AUTO KNOW
In the automotive repair world we are asked many questions about general maintenance. For example when should my tires be rotated and why? We agree that it is always good to be in the know about your vehicle and what you can do to keep your vehicle safe and in good running condition.
For most of us, when we consider general vehicle maintenance, oil changes, tires, brakes, and tune ups typically come to mind. In regards to oil changes, there are many different types of oil that can be used. You can either opt for a Conventional Oil Change which is "Non-Synthetic", a "Semi-Synthetic", "Full Synthetic", or Diesel Oil Change. If you prefer a "Full-Synthetic" oil change, its cost is typically slightly higher but the oil offers more protection against wear and tear. When it comes to the type of oil you should use, refer to your Owner's Manual which is a great resource for questions you may have about your vehicle's specifications, including regularly scheduled maintenance intervals. Along with regularly scheduled oil changes there are also other general maintenance procedures that can help prevent costly vehicle repairs.
For instance, did you know that you should rotate your tires every other oil change? Regularly rotating tires will help prolong the life of your tires. Next time you have your oil changed, ask your shop technician to inspect the tires and check for uneven tire wear. Remember, if you really like hugging those curbs or hit a pothole, you should also have your alignment checked on a consistent basis. It is helpful to maintain your automotive repair records so you and your Automotive Shop can reference the work that has been completed.
Emergency Items For Your Vehicle
Emergencies in Eagle River may encounter can range from a flat tire downtown in Anchorage to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic car emergency kit to keep in your vehicle at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.Your close-to-home in Eagle River kit would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card. If you live in an area in AK with frequent severe weather or earthquakes, may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.For trips away from Eagle River, consider the weather and AK geography as you assemble your emergency auto supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car. Always tell someone where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area. The key to safe travel in AK is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.