850 Rear main seal leaking BAD

Discussion in 'Volvo 850' started by Myron Samila, Dec 6, 2003.

  1. Myron Samila

    Myron Samila Guest


    My sister just picked up a 1996 Volvo 850 sedan from a Volvo dealer LAST SATURDAY!!.

    It has 122kms on it, very clean car, the underside of the engine is super super clean.

    Well, now it is leaking quite a bit of oil between the engine and transmission, it appears
    to be coming from the small hole on the bell housing (auto tranny).

    There is a considerable amount of oil that is buffeting to the back of the engine while
    driving (firewall). When parked, there was a very large amount of oil that was left on
    the floor of our garage.

    So, I've heard that the flame traps can cause this, the PCV system was replaced at 100k or
    so, and I would suspect that in 22kms, this all should be working fine.

    What do I do now?? The dealer immediately suggested that the car was driven over a speed
    bump and the oil pan may have been damaged, ummm, that didn't happen, and if any car can
    bottom out over a speed bump (while driven squarely over it) without the struts hitting
    the bump stops.

    Any suggestions would be helpful before I take it to the dealer. I am hoping the dealer
    does the right thing and repairs this.

    Myron Samila, Dec 6, 2003
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  2. The rear seals on the 850 are notoriously bad. My 97 850 with less
    than 60K miles on it leaks.

    If the oil pan were damaged. it would be easily visible. I suspect the
    seal itself. Furthermore, since the underside of the engine is
    described as "super super clean" I suspect that the dealer cleaned
    everything including the evidence of a seal leak in preparation for
    selling it (standard procedure).

    Prepare for a fight but stand your ground. It sure sounds like the
    rear seal and they won't want to replace it since they have to remove
    the transmission and all. Not low labor.

    Chuck Fiedler
    Nothing but Volvos since 1973.
    Chuck Fiedler, Dec 6, 2003
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  3. Myron Samila

    Myron Samila Guest

    Thanks for the reply.

    A small leak would be somewhat acceptable.

    This is what ended up when we parked it in the garage (one day).


    These are pics of the wet underside, the gasket maker is a sign that this tranny has been
    removed before, I doubt Volvo uses orange gasket maker?!?

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/myronx19/upload/Underside1.jpg (its not leaking from the front
    sensor, it is just soaked towards it, it appears to be coming from the bleeder hole in the




    My '87 760 GLE leaks too, but not like this, this is severe!! It would take a year for my
    Volvo to leak as much oil from the rear main seal as this 850 did in one day!!!!!!!!
    Myron Samila, Dec 6, 2003
  4. Myron Samila

    Jim Martin Guest

    For what its worth, the rear main seal seem to go bad almost
    instantaneoulsy. Here is an example. I was once interested in buying a used
    850. It was a "third car" for the family and it had not been driven for
    several months since the daughter went off to college. There was NO oil leak
    when I looked at it sitting in the driveway. No oil under the car and the
    bottom of the motor was normally dirty but not oily. By the time I got it to
    the mechanic for a buyers check it was pouring oil from the rear main seal.

    Just another example of that legendary volvo reliability. Also another
    reason our next car will be a new Subaru. Hopefully our VolvlemonO will keep
    running till the 94 1/4 models hit the dealers.
    Jim Martin, Dec 6, 2003
  5. Myron Samila

    James Sweet Guest

    If a car sits for several months without being started the seals will start
    to dry up, sitting not being driven for months at a time is hard on any car.
    Still the Volvo reputation was built on the older RWD models, the newer cars
    are a lot more high tech, but long term reliability is still largely
    James Sweet, Dec 6, 2003
  6. asian and sweedish cars are a
    world apart...duhhhh...fix the rear
    seal, get your new 850 to a good volvo mechanic and
    see what kind if condition the car
    is in...if you find other %$#@ , take the car back for a full
    refund...(unless you bought it "as is")...if there
    are the usual things... < 1k to make it perfect..
    you are all set...you may have to put some
    $$ into it...

    ~^ beancounter ~^, Dec 7, 2003
  7. Myron Samila

    Barry Leslie Guest


    I had the same thing happen with my 1996 Volvo 850 within a week of buying
    it in june 2000, almost immediately after changing the oil (from whatever it
    came with to Castrol GTX-2). A very bad rear main oil seal leak. It was
    fixed under warranty by the Volvo dealer I bought it from without any
    argument. It took 3 days to have done as the mechanic said "he didn't like"
    the first two seals Volvo spares sent him! It hasn't leaked a drop since
    the seal was replaced.

    This item has cropped up regularly on this news group since then - you tend
    to follow something like that.

    You shouldn't have any future problems if its repaired properly.

    Barry Leslie, Dec 7, 2003
  8. I have 2 Volvos and 1 Subaru in the garage. There is a world of
    difference between them.

    I have to sweep up rust from under the Subaru every month. No problem
    with the Volvos.

    The Volvos are worth repairing since they hold their resale value. The
    Subaru is worthless on the used car market. My old Volvos sold the
    first day they were advertised in the newspaper to the first person that
    looked at them. I wouldn't dream of selling my Subaru to anyone, they
    deserve better.

    The Volvos go to the dealer for routine maintenance and state
    inspections. The Subaru goes to the dealer for that but also to have
    parts replaced because they have rusted out. The last part to rust out
    is the transmission linkage. It takes two hands to move the shifter for
    the automatic transmission. Subaru has tried to fix it for several
    years and but only fixes it for a couple days. The tailgate and lower
    body parts were replaced once and are rusting out again.

    New Subarus are nice, but if you want a car you can keep on using get a
    Volvo. They last.
    Stephen M. Henning, Dec 7, 2003
  9. The Volvo reputation was built on a solid and safe car. Reliability was
    never Volvo's strength. I used to carry spare fuel pumps in my 240's
    and needed the spare several times. Volvos were always worth fixing and
    held their resale value.

    The newer FWD Volvos have been on the market 12 years.* Their
    reliability is proven. The reliability is not the best, but the basic
    safety, strength and durability of the car is well documented. I would
    challenge anyone to find a more reliable 12 year old car than the Volvo.
    Most other makes are very reliable when new but fail to withstand the
    test of time.

    *The 850 was introduced in Europe in the fall of 1991 and the USA in
    fall of 1992.
    Stephen M. Henning, Dec 7, 2003
  10. Myron Samila

    James Sweet Guest

    Why would you carry a spare fuel pump? Do you mean a spare relay? I've never
    even heard of a pump failing with less than 150k miles on it.
    James Sweet, Dec 7, 2003
  11. Myron Samila

    Myron Samila Guest

    My big problem is who should be on the hook for it?

    Its been a week and 250 kms since I've picked up the car. I called the dealer. Why
    should I pay $1000 Canadian to have this fixed when really, the car was misrepresented. I
    asked, any problems with the car? leaks? (this is a Volvo dealer). The answer was "no
    no, it goes through a thourough inspection". yeah, well, they missed the big leak.

    No, the car didn't sit on the lot for months, it was there for about 3 weeks, and has
    122kms on it. This car was cleaner than 2000 S70s that the same dealer had.

    If it were a month down the road, I'd expect to pay, but a week? 5 freakin' days?!?! no.
    If the dealer doesn't make good on the repair, well, I'm not gonna be happy about it. If
    it were a fly by night little dealership, I'd certainly feel screwed at this point.

    I'll find out what happens tomorrow when I take it in.

    So far, 1.5 litres have leaked. Not happening, 1.5 litres for 250 kms. that is a HIGH
    pressure oil leak, I'm sure the back of the flywheel is soaked. (thrust bearings are
    right there, this is basically the end of the line for the main bearings).

    Myron Samila
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Samila Racing
    Myron Samila, Dec 7, 2003
  12. Myron Samila

    Dan Behr Guest

    I had an identical problem with my 96 850. Turned out it was the rear camshaft seal, located
    near the top of the engine on the right hand side, as you're looking at it. I cleaned the
    flame trap, which was completely clogged, with a drill and the correct diameter drill bit in
    it. Once the flame trap was clear and I replaced the seal, everything was just fine.

    Not completely cleaning the flame trap means that internal pressure builds up within the
    engine, blowing seals.

    I originally thought it was the rear main bearing seal, but upon closer inspection, I saw that
    the oil was dripping down the engine itself and exiting around the area you discovered the
    oil, leading me to initially and erroneously conclude it was the main bearing seal.

    Take another look at it; the cover to access the camshaft bearing seal is perhaps 2 - 3" in
    diameter and is held in by three screws.

    Good luck.
    Dan Behr, Dec 8, 2003
  13. Myron Samila

    inLA Guest

    Change the oil and stop a quart short. Replace that quarts with Bars Leak
    from your local autorepair shop. That stops a lot of leaks. I used it on a
    rear main seal on a 740 turbo successfully.
    inLA, Dec 8, 2003
  14. Myron Samila

    John Horner Guest

    The dealer should take care of it on such a recent purchase.

    John Horner, Dec 8, 2003
  15. You must not have driven many 240s. In the 70's, the Volvo outside the
    tank fuel pumps would start humming. If you didn't replace them when
    they started humming, they would completely fail.

    The inside the tank fuel pumps never failed for me, but the rubber hose
    could come off and have to be put back on.
    Stephen M. Henning, Dec 8, 2003
  16. Myron Samila

    Myron Samila Guest

    Thanks all,

    The dealer decided without me getting upset that they will repair the rear main seal, it
    is bad.

    The PCV system was recently replaced, and this could have caused the leak in the first
    place. The car will be repaired this week, and I'm happy.

    Volvo dealers are top notch in my books.
    You might pay a little more, but its worth it.
    Myron Samila, Dec 8, 2003
  17. Myron Samila

    Tangy Guest

    What dealership is this?

    Tangy, Dec 8, 2003
  18. Myron Samila

    James Sweet Guest

    I've driven 240's since I started driving, there's 7 of them in the family,
    one of which was bought new in '86. Virtually all of them have more than
    200k miles, I've had one fuel pump failure at 174k miles, one loose
    connection at the pump on the '86 when it was 12 years old, and the in-tank
    pump died on the '82 Turbo at right around 200k. Had a few relays that
    needed resoldering but the pumps have all outlasted my expectations, maybe
    it's the climate?
    James Sweet, Dec 8, 2003
  19. Myron Samila

    James Sweet Guest

    Depends on the dealership, your experience sounds very good, generally the
    dealership is the downside of the Volvo.
    James Sweet, Dec 8, 2003
  20. Myron Samila

    Mark Seeley Guest

    Similar story - though not quite as many 240's! Ours was a 1978/1979 240DL.
    We had it from 1983 to 1993, and in that time the fuel pump went once.
    Given we did in the region of 250,000 miles in it, I'd say that's not half
    bad - hardly any other cars at that time could get close to making half that
    mileage. Okay, it had an annoying habit like it really didn't feel like
    starting sometimes in very hot weather, but we can't have everything! :eek:)

    Mark Seeley, Dec 8, 2003
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