Oil viscosity grade for aging Volvos

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Perk, Aug 4, 2006.

  1. Perk

    Perk Guest

    I guess I'm from "the old school" that felt that, due to wear and age,
    one would use a slightly heavier oil in an older engine.

    I live in the Pacific NW where it rarely gets very cold or hot and would
    like some opinions as to the best grade to use in a 1990 740 GLE (B234F
    engine) with 115,000 miles on it.

    Looking at the manual there are a couple of options for our temperature
    range. I guess 10/40 is best for a newer car but what about a higher
    mileage one with the engine "loosened up" a bit.


    Perk :)>)
    Perk, Aug 4, 2006
  2. In all my cars I've used Semi-syn.

    Vauxhall Cavalier - 200K (1991 UK)
    BMW 525i - 300K (1993 UK)
    V70 2.5 - 160K and going strong (1998 UK)

    Worth bearing in mind that modern engines use oil. My V70 recently did a
    trip over Europe covering 3000 miles in 2 weeks, in very hot, hilly and
    sandy conditions - used about 1.5 litres of oil in that time.

    Got home, and the dipstick was on the lower markings at cold.


    Jason Russell, Aug 4, 2006
  3. Perk

    Jamie Guest

    I think my book calls for 5W30, but it being 100+ degrees where I live,
    I put 10W30 in my 1987 740 B230F with 200,000 miles.
    Jamie, Aug 4, 2006
  4. Perk

    mjc Guest

    We use 10W-30. I agree that older engines do better on slightly
    heavier oil, although this might not be necessary on a B230 engine
    with less than 200k miles - they are pretty tight. My 1986 Civic Si
    used oil only once: at 90K when I used 5W-30 oil in it. I had to
    replace the plugs and O2 sensor. At 140k it still isn't using a
    significant amount of oil...

    I'd avoid using synthetic or even synthetic blends because of
    leak issues, and I'd also avoid 10W-40, because supposedly the
    'broader' the spread in viscosities, the less effective the oil
    is overall in lubricating...
    mjc, Aug 5, 2006
  5. Perk

    zencraps Guest

    I use 10W30 in my '82 244 Turbo (I rebuilt the engine about 6 years
    zencraps, Aug 5, 2006
  6. Perk

    sweetscent Guest

    10W30 is what many people recommend for older vehicles.
    sweetscent, Aug 5, 2006
  7. I always use what Volvo recommends in the owner's manual. The
    recommendation depends upon the season and the climate. For example
    they use a different oil in summer and winter and in tropical versus
    arctic. That is why it is important to change oil with the seasons even
    if you don't drive much. I never use synthetic oil, always use the real
    stuff which is what Volvo recommended for my cars. I have had 10 Volvos
    each for over 120 KMiles and never noticed a change in oil consumption
    with mileage. One had a oil seal go bad. I fixed the seal rather than
    change the oil viscosity.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 5, 2006
  8. Volvo has posted owners manual for all models since 1964 including
    models from PV544 to XC90. They are at:


    For my 1995 850 wagon the oil recommendation is:

    API spec. SG oil:

    For ambient temp from below -4F to 68F: use SAE 5W/30
    For ambient temp from below -4F to 104F: use SAE 5W/40
    For ambient temp from -4F to 104F: use SAE 10W/30
    For ambient temp from 0F to temps above 104F: use SAE 15W/40
    Stephen Henning, Aug 5, 2006
  9. Perk

    John Horner Guest

    I run fleet type 15W-40 in the summer and 10W-30 in the winter in our
    older cars.

    John Horner, Aug 5, 2006
  10. Perk

    hjsjms Guest

    115,000 miles is nothing for a well maintained engine. It's barely
    broken in when you consider the hundreds of thousands of miles left.
    Just follow the owners manual for viscosity. Contrary to popular
    opinion a heavier viscosity doesn'y "protect" the engine more.

    Beyond following the ownwrs manual continue using a synthetic if you
    have been. But don't change over now.
    hjsjms, Aug 6, 2006
  11. The main reason people use it is because they mistakenly think it will
    not leak out as fast. However, what usually happens is that the reduced
    lubrication of a thicker oil causes the wear to increase causing the
    leak to increase.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 6, 2006
  12. Perk

    austjeremy Guest

    HJS is right, your car is a baby. I mean 115k on a volvo. Dang, your
    car is not even broken in yet! If well maintained these cars don't even
    burn oil with 300K. You said you live in the Pacific Northwest. Do you
    live in Portland? I own a 16 valve and I have never seen another one.
    It would be nice to see another one around. You should consider
    yourself lucky. The 16 valve was only made from 1989-1990. It has only
    a few horse power less then the turbo.

    One very important oil related thing, which is a lot more important
    then viscosity is the oil filter. Make sure you are using a Volvo oil
    filter. These filters have a check valve in them and they keep your oil
    pressure up when your car is off. So, you have instant oil pressure on
    start up, for the top end. If you don't use one you will see a low oil
    pressure light for a brief time on start up, which indicates that your
    oil pressure is not high enough and unneccesary wear is being done to
    your engine. The volvo oil filter is a significant reason for why Volvo
    engines last so long. They provide instant oil for the engine which
    reduces wear and increases the longevity of the engine. Note: 16 valve
    engines need more oil then the standard model, for the top end at

    If I where you, I would not use thick oil in your car. Your car has
    hydrolic lifters in it. The lifters have small holes where the oil goes
    in. If you plug them up, then your lifters will start tapping.This is
    why regular oil changes are a must. Since your car has so few miles on
    it this should not be a worry yet. The lifters on this car is
    considered a weak point by some. Although I don't see it being that big
    of an issue with regular oil changes. Although, if you have too replace
    them they are over 20 dollars a pop. Considering you have 16 of them
    they can be expensive. In addition, with labor, you would be looking at
    about $1300 to replace.

    If you ever have any problems with them, for example tapping, don't let
    anyone tell you they can be adjusted. They are hyraulic and don't need
    adjusting. You can sometimes use oil additives to reduce the tapping
    noise caused by sticking lifters. If the noise lasts only a short time
    on startup, don't worry about it because they take a few seconds to
    pump up.

    In addition, you have an interference engine in your car. This means
    that if your timing belt breaks your engine will be ruined. As a
    result, make sure you have your timing belt replaced every 50K. In
    addition, make sure your balance shaft belt is replaced also. If that
    breakes it might take out your timing belt. A lot of people have
    removed the balance shaft completely with no problems. Some also don't
    run a belt on it. I did not have a belt on it when I bought my car. In
    addition, your external oil pump has a bolt on it that is a weak point.
    If it breaks then your timing belt goes with it. If I were you, I would
    replace it. In addition, you need to have your belt tensioner checked
    periodically and probably replaced at some point, if it is the
    original. If the tensioner goes then you lose your timing belt as well.
    If you have your timing belt replaced make sure you have your water
    pump replaced as a precaution and have your seals replaced. I mean the
    labor cost is small if your already in there for the belt. Although, if
    you don't do it and then you have to have it replaced you are looking
    at a lot of money.

    I had my timing belt replaced/water pump/balance shaft belt/seals, it
    cost me almost $500 dollars. That was the most reasonalbe price/good
    shop I could find. I mean the 16 valve timing belt replacement is not
    easy and they charge accordingly. I think the dealer wanted to charge
    over $800. In a few year, that will almost be about half of the value
    of the car, just for a preventative maintenece item. I don't know about
    you, but I might just sell it before the next belt change is due. Well,
    minus the head of course, I have plans for that :) I could buy a good
    240 for that price. It might be a little ruff, but some jewels just
    need to be polished.

    The 16 valve have a tendency to leak oil more then the other 740's. As
    previously noted, If you have not used synthetic oil in your car, then
    it is never a good time to start if you have lot of miles on it.
    Although they should not be leaking around the oil filler cap. In
    addition, if your oil dip stick pops out you have issues. Make sure you
    service your pcv system. If not, your seals will pop out and your car
    will leak like mad. The pcv system includes the breather box/oil
    seperator, which is located under your intake manifold. The oil
    separator on the 16 valve is unlike any other 740. The other 740's have
    a hose that goes to the oil pan separate that u dont want to mess with.
    The 16 valve has it as part of the oil separator. As a result, it is a
    PITA to remove without taking off the intake manifold.

    Although, if you unbolt the transmission dip stick and move it over, it
    can be removed without messing with the manifold. If you don't have a
    lot of money the oil box can be cleaned.Simple Green works great. I
    think the thing costs like $40 bucks at the dealers. In addiition, on
    top of the breather box, connected by a hose is the flame trap, the
    trap is in the hose. (looks like a small round disk with holes, cheap
    item), which can become plugged, as well. In additition, to those you
    have a small hose leading to a brass nipple in your intake manifold.
    Those can become clogged also. The brass nipple needs to be removed and
    cleared out. It only has a very small hole that can get plugged up very

    This car is not liked by some because of the interference engine. I
    know that my mechanic does not think too highly of this car. Although,
    if you are responsible this car i no less reliable then any of the
    other red blocks. In addition, it is very powerful and has a unique
    transmission. I think it is the AW2L. Also, the 16 valve head is very
    liked by turbo bricksters. If you put the 16 valve head on a car with
    a turbo then you could have over 200+++ hp. If you put a turbo on a 16
    valve, which is very hard to do, well then you are a my hero.

    Also, I have noticed that the steering can become a problem with these
    cars. Sometimes in the morning the steering can be very difficult, like
    there is no power steering. This problem is not reduced until the car
    is in a rolling state. Check the previous posts on this forum alone,
    and there is a half dozen people mentioning this problem, not including
    myself. If your power steering fluid is grey and you are not noticing
    problems, chances are you will be soon. If not, make sure you change it
    every once in a while. ATF fluid Dextron III works great. Don't use
    that crap from the store that is labeled power steering fluid. That
    blue crap is not good for your steering.

    Furthermore, if you have tan leather seats like myself please don't
    forget to use some leather conditioner on them. If you don't you will
    regret it later because they will crack. I think the best to use is
    Lexol. I use Lexol cleaner and Lexol conditioner. They both work very
    well. If your leather gets really bad the leather skin itself, or the
    leather skin and the pad can be removed and replaced with a used one
    from a junk yard. There are some metal hardware holding them to the
    seat, but they can be removed and replaced very easy. If you ever need
    to replace the bottom part, the passengers side works on the drivers
    side as well. Most people don't use that side very much, so you can
    find many in good shape. I got one from the junk yard for very cheap.
    If you have a few blemishes that you want to fix or a few cracks/maby
    want to change the color, leatherique is the best place to get the
    stuff. I'm not affiliated with them, I just read a lot of good stuff
    about them on the net.

    If you want to clean your carpets the ones in the front are easily
    removed. They just pull right out and you can spray wash them. I have
    not tried to remove the back ones yet because mine are very clean. So,
    I dont know if they are difficult.

    The relays on these cars can sometimes be a problem. For example, if
    the white relay, I think fuel pump or injector, goes bad then you will
    have a lot of issues. For example, stalling. It is a good idea to pick
    up some extra relays from the junk yard. The dealers charge a lot for
    them. I took a whole fuse box out of a car and it was very cheap at
    U-pull it. Might also want to pick up an extra AMM and engine computer.
    These are also very expensive items to buy from dealers, but can be
    found fairly cheap at junk yards. If you want to buy your cars brain
    from dealer, I think it almost cost about as much as your car is worth.

    If you have stalling problems checking your fuel pump relay and idle
    control valve is a good idea.
    if your car has juce and won't turn over but sometimes catches and then
    dies, checking your intake manifold gasket for leaks is a good idea.
    Spray WD40 around it with your car on, if it changes your idle then you
    have found your problem.

    The coolant hose leading to your firewall is a weak point. If you have
    the original, I would consider changing it. Checking all of your hoses
    for wear is a good idea. If they are soft or cracked they need to be
    replaced. You can lose coolant very fast from a burst in these hoses,
    which will cause a blown head gasket. In addition, if you still have
    your original plastic radiator, I would replace that as soon as you
    can. This radiator has the tendency to develop leaks and breaks (the
    coolant hose connection at the top breaking clean off) at the most
    worst times.

    If you need good parts at a reasonable price, FCP Groton, on the net,
    is the place to go.

    You might also want to consider removing your preheat hose.It is not
    very functional in our climate, and it can burn out your AMM. The hose
    is the silver slinky style one.

    If you don't know it, there is also a jack in a cubby in your trunk.
    There is a handle below where you open the trunk up on the wall. If you
    pull it, you will expose the jack. It is set in there very nicely.

    I know you did not request most of this info. Although, I love the 16
    valve and wanted to share what I have learned with you. There seems
    like there is very few of us with this car.
    austjeremy, Aug 6, 2006
  13. Perk

    mjc Guest

    No, that may be true for some people, but there are many of us who
    simply want to reduce oil burning. As I wrote, this may not be necessary
    for a Red Block engine, but it applies quite well to most older engines.
    If you'd like to tell my 21 year old Civic that it has no reason to burn
    much more oil when I use 5W-30 than when I use 10W-30, be my guest. It
    didn't listen to me.
    mjc, Aug 7, 2006
  14. You missed the entire point. Engines run on higher than recommended
    viscosity oil will use less oil but will also die sooner. High
    viscosity oil doesn't lubricate as well as low viscosity oil. Oil is
    much cheaper than new engines.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 7, 2006
  15. Perk

    mjc Guest

    You're taking an argument that would be valid for people using, say,
    20W-50 oil, and are applying it willy-nilly to use of 10W-30, which
    lubricates perfectly well. The sky isn't falling, dude.
    mjc, Aug 7, 2006
  16. It depends on the climate and season you are in. 10W-30 may be right
    for you but not everyone lives next door to you and owns the same car as
    you. That is why a specific recommendation like that is meaningless
    unless you specify the location and model and make and engine. I would
    stick with the manufacturers recommendation in any case. Cars are made
    to different specs and have different sensitivities to climate changes.
    Even Volvos.
    Stephen Henning, Aug 8, 2006
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