By on July 21, 2017

2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, Engine, 2.5L 250HP I5, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Ed Writes:


I bought a 2012 Volvo S60 originally, but there was an ongoing issue the dealer could not fix. Amazingly, it offered to replace the car with a 2013 model after about 10 months of trying to fix the issue (at no cost to me). So, kudos to the dealership — I obviously feel like they did me a solid.

Fast forward to today and my 2013 S60 now has 60,000 on the odometer. During the last oil change cycle, I got a “low oil” warning pop up for the first time around 55,000 miles. I pulled over and the car was almost bone dry. I put in a couple of quarts and called the dealership. Since it was close to the oil change time, they asked that I just bring it in for a quick look and oil change. I did so, and now, just 3,500 miles after that dealership visit, I noticed my oil level has gone from the top of the “normal” range on the dipstick to the bottom. At this rate, my oil level will return to bone dry again in the next 1,000-2,000 miles.

On the Volvo forums there are a number 2012 models with oil burning issues and it looks like the dealers are all over the place when dealing with this issue, especially with cars that are out of warranty (in terms of goodwill assistance). So, do I press my luck and see what the dealership will do to help here or just trade it in for another car and keep quiet about the issue, considering their past goodwill towards me?

From what I read, it seems like the first step is a ring replacement ($3k) and if that doesn’t work, an engine replacement ($$$). Any thoughts?

Sajeev answers:

Too much time has passed to get another brand new car for nothing, but I’m optimistic you’ll get a sweet deal to remain a Volvo loyalist. Because you are a good customer (to both the Volvo brand and that dealer), and those folks regularly get goodwill repairs.

Let’s describe a typical “good” customer: they buy cars at Volvo-franchised sales and come back for service, aren’t rude to employees, wait patiently for a resolution as it goes up the chain of command, etc. “Bad” customers buy a used from a non-Volvo dealer, only come in for recalls/groupons and are rude to dealership/Volvo corporate staff.

Sure, it’s rarely that cut and dried…but loyalty has its benefits.

So talk to the Service Manager about how much “goodwill” they can do for you once more. Maybe ask to talk to the General Manager/Dealer Principal and see how they can handle this internally and with Volvo USA. And, as I said in my reply to your email, do it sooner rather than later.  

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Remember, Ed’s technical problem is irrelevant. Many (most?) people buy a car as a single unit; they aren’t marketed as hackable/repairable by the owner. So the oil consumption remedy isn’t something most folks wanna tackle after a mere 60k on the clock. This is purely a customer service concern, and hopefully we can collectively find the best way to get what you deserve.

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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71 Comments on “Piston Slap: Goodwill Repair, Goodwill Replace Again?...”

  • avatar

    My thoughts? As much as I love some Volvos, I doubt I would have bought one in the first place, at least in recent years.

    Older Volvos – the “brick” as they were called, were quite stodgy in terms of style, but were quite bullet-proof, according to my relatives who owned them and from others.

    Five years ago, we almost bought a Volvo C70 retractable hardtop, but something told us not to. We looked at a few other models and makes, but settled for my current ride.

    I keep hearing horror stories about Volvo on here and other sources, and am not sure I would be able to confidently purchase one, regardless how attractive they may be to me. Thing is, I see lots of them where I live, and we have a Volvo dealership near my home.

    Perhaps you got a bad one.

    What should you do? Cut your losses and trade it or sell it for something else that floats your boat? I don’t know. I would really ponder over your next move. Either way, it may or will cost you $$$.

  • avatar

    Based on the details provided, the car is burning a quart every 2,000/2,500 miles. So what’s the problem?

  • avatar

    Try a slightly thicker oil. All the car companies these days are specifying 5-20 or even 0-20 to save 0.1 mpg. Problem is that it does burn a bit more. Going a grade heavier won’t hurt a thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Be carefull though. I know a guy that ruined his 4.0 ranger engine by running 15-40 instead of the 5-20 its supposed to have

      • 0 avatar

        Well, there are lower limits to any oil grade. Never start a vehicle on 15W-40 if it’s below -25C. Consider -20C to be the practical minimum.

        It wouldn’t be a problem in summer though.

      • 0 avatar

        both of the ranger 4.0 engines (OHV and SOHC) call for 5w30. the 3.0 v6 calls for 5w20.

  • avatar

    So the 60,000 mile vehicle uses a quart of oil in 3,500 miles and the owner is upset??!! If I don’t have to add oil in between fuel fills and the plugs aren’t fouling I’m content.

  • avatar
    John R

    To be fair, I think it might be a tall order to expect Camry levels of carefree ownership from a modern Volvo.

    In this I think we can see why Saab and Volvo regularly dance with insolvency; German auto levels of maintenance with Camry levels of driving dynamism.

    While the Japanese lux/premium brands, depending on make and model, provide 90% of what the Germans can do dynamically with nearly none of the headaches.

    • 0 avatar

      Why do Euro brands get a quality pass? Why does it always fall on the consumer to pay for their quality levels? Why doesn’t it drive down the pricing to compensate?

      Friends used to laugh when they asked if they should buy/lease any of the cars from europe and I would tell them, lease and only if free maintenance is a component of the deal then walk away.

      Those that didn’t take me seriously are now finding that maintenance parts are costing them serious money and the cars had an expiration date on their looks so they don’t even want them anymore because no one admires old euro cars of the modern era. They just look like suits that are handed down from grandpa.

  • avatar

    That’s Subaru FB engine-levels of oil usage! Unsatisfactory! Must mean Volvo’s are junk. /s

  • avatar

    I have never owned a Volvo, but a quart in 3500 miles in a modern car with maintenance by the book sounds like a lot. My 2007 S550 (that has been covered by Sajeev for a mystery drivetrain noise/vibration) is about to turn 196,000 miles and I never have to add oil between 7500 mile changes. In fact, I don’t see that the level comes off the MAX line at all. I just drove 1800 miles in three days (NC to Michigan to Toronto to NC) for a family thing so it gets some hard use.

    I like the idea of pursing the new rings (or at least part of the cost) as a goodwill repair. But it could be valve train wear too, I have seen a number of BMWs with excessive oil consumption due to worn valve guides.

    I also like the idea of using heavier oil than these 20 weight oils, the S550 has had synthetic 0w40 it’s whole life and maybe that is part of it’s good health. But, I think the pump and other internal parts and not designed to push the heavier oil when 20 weight is called for. Maybe Sajeev can explain whether that is true or not. My 2011 LR4 has had synthetic 0w20 as called for since new, but I cut the interval in half to 7500 miles. At 100,000 it burns no oil either.

    • 0 avatar

      Oil viscosity changes dramatically with temperature. The viscosity of a 40 grade oil at operating temperature is basically nothing in comparison to that of any oil – even 0W – during the warm-up phase in winter. Even at normal operating temperature, a 20 grade oil is going to be thicker during light city driving than a 40 grade is during higher load operation.

      If this Volvo is consuming 5W-20, just step up to a 5W-30, or even a 5W-40 if necessary; or the equivalent 0W oils.

      Replacing or rebuilding an engine just to avoid having to check and top up the oil every couple months seems insane to me.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I’d start by checking Volvo enthusiasts internet forums to see what oil consumption is normal and how these other Volvo owners have dealt with the problem.

      If the oil consumption is abnormal, I’d work to identify possible sources of the oil consumption and then get Volvo and the Volvo dealer to do goodwill repairs on those specific items short of an engine rebuild or replacement.

      If the oil consumption is fairly normal or Volvo won’t pay, I’d look at changing the oil type to reduce oil consumption. Slightly higher viscosity within the Volvo requirements might help. You can buy a lot of oil for the cost of an engine rebuild and if the solution is engine replacement, why not use up the remaining life of the original engine before spending money?

  • avatar

    Had a similar issue on my 1999 Prelude. I probably used one quart every 1,000 miles or so by the time the car had 40K miles. Honda knew it was a problem but I was told by more than one dealer “it’s a design flaw of the engine, if you want it fixed then get a different car.” My coping strategy was to carry several quarts of oil in the trunk for impromptu top-offs. By about 60,000 miles the thirst became incessant so it got traded for a non-Honda product.

    I’d been a good customer of this one particular Honda dealer for 10 years, so perhaps some goodwill would not have been unwarranted? The sales team wasn’t willing to extend any when they heard the story. “It’s a Honda, it’s perfect, you must be joking” was the general response.

  • avatar

    The path forward is quite clear I think.

    Ask for goodwill (if you don’t ask you don’t get).
    If they fix the car for free or at a significant discount you can motor on. (Volvo retain a customer)

    If they turn down the request for goodwill repair, then do as others have suggested, replace oil with a thicker grade oil while it’s still warm outside and look for another car. (Volvo lose a customer).

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Service is a dealer’s real profit center. They charge customers $100 or more an hour for labor while paying the mechanic a third or less of that, and sending him home on slow days.

    OEM parts are not always well designed or first quality. Charging ten times cost is considered rock bottom pricing. And they’re poorly warrantied relative to parts from Tier One aftermarket suppliers, 90 days to one year.

    Paying too much does not improve integrity, competence nor the likelihood of a post warranty goodwill repair, just profit. If it did there would be no market for extended warranties.

  • avatar

    They just replaced it? Just like that!?!?

    • 0 avatar

      Dave has sad now.

      Which upon reflection… There’s no Lemon Law in Canada is there?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Dave can’t hear you. He’s currently putting boot prints into the side of his Verano and furiously flipping off the heavens.

      • 0 avatar

        No lemon law, much to my frustration. By all accounts it would have been returned within the 1st year if we had a similar law.

        At least I got the full new car warranty extended to lease end. It takes time when it acts up but at least its not costing actual money.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        In the Great Diversified Dominion consumer protection is for sissies! The industry operated Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) is our pretend lemon law. BMW, MINI, and Mitsubishi opted out!

        Most valid claims are ordered back for another repair attempt. Vehicle replacement is impermissible. A buyback, ordered in one of eight cases, is cost-prohibitive. The calculation undervalues the vehicle 50%.

        The claimant must waive his right to sue. If CAMVAP sides with the manufacturer he’s done to a fine turn.

  • avatar

    This level of oil consumption is not unprecedented. The older VW/Audi 2.8 liter engine is notorious for burning oil at a similar rate.

    I sling a quart of 5W-40 synthetic into my B5.5 Passat every 2000 miles or so. Someone on this board posted a really insightful reason why some of these engines are designed to consume oil.

  • avatar

    If the car WERE under warranty, I believe most manufacturers use 1qt/1k as the standard for if they are going to do anything about oil consumption, so 1qt over 3,500 is not going to get much traction for expensive repairs in an out-of-warranty car.

    Remember to check the oil a couple times a month and add a quart as needed and keep enjoying the car. It’ll cost you what, $20 a year? Yeah, it’d be nice if it didn’t burn a drop, but this is hardly a make-a-beeline-to-CarMax kind of problem.

  • avatar

    In 2010 he leased a new Honda Odyssey with the VCM motor. The low oil light came one with about 2k miles on it. Scary because this V6 motor only took 4 quarts of oil and the light comes on with less than 2. Brought it in to the dealer and they told me it was perfectly normal to use 1 quart of oil per every 1000 miles and that I shouldn’t worry because VTEC will protect the motor. Asked for the manager, he assured me that 1 quart for every 1k miles was normal and that I must have misunderstood the service writer about the VTEC. I was incredulous that I would have to carry quarts of oil around in my new 40k minivan to take road family road trips while my then 20 year old Integra and 16 year old Jeep didn’t. For the next 30k miles that I had it I had to put oil in about every 1,500 miles. So happy I leased that and was able to just be done with it after 3 years. Cold day in hell before I buy another Honda, not because of the car but because of the attitude of the various service departments I visited. Also please note I spent years in the car business so I am not one of those customers.

    • 0 avatar

      A four quart oil capacity in a motor that sized, doubly so in a car that big where it’s going to have to work, sure doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies. Even if it doesn’t burn any.

      Hondas have always been light for class and they get there by skimping on things that they shouldn’t. Undersized brakes that always warp, leaving out the sound damping, V6 cars on 215mm rubber, ACs 20% weaker than the competition (look up R134 capacities sometime), and now apparently leaving a third of the oil pan out.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1qt/1k “standard” is actually pretty common across automakers. Yes, that’s a lot of oil consumption, but since the remedy (absent an obvious leak) is usually an engine replacement, automakers really try to avoid that if at all possible, and that “standard” is how they do it.

      • 0 avatar

        I would expect such a burn in a turbo engine. In an N/A application it seems a touch high.

        • 0 avatar

          4 quart? Holy heck the 3.5 ltr V6 in my Highlander has a nearly 7 quart capacity!

          That blew my mind a bit considering that the old 5 ltr American V8s were usually around 5 quarts.

          • 0 avatar

            That doesn’t sound right at all. I’ve had 3 I4 Hondas, an RSX and 2 S2000s, so no engine over 2L. All took a full 5qt jug of oil every oil change.

          • 0 avatar

            My ’99 2.0L Honda CRV requires 4 quarts. My ’14 3.5L MDX takes 5 quarts.

            That minivan story sounds like it was running 1 quart down all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I shouldn’t worry because VTEC will protect the motor”

      I’m trying to imagine that scenario, as the engine throws a rod. Vrrrrrrrmmmmm BANG! clacka clacka clacka!

      VTEC just kicked in, yo!

    • 0 avatar

      Yet the Pontiac Fiero was considered a clunker because it only had a 4.5 qt capacity and some people who basically decide to some maintenance on their car when it starts making funny noises had it run low and break down on them.

    • 0 avatar

      Now that is a rate of consumption worth complaining about!

    • 0 avatar

      ” I would have to carry quarts of oil around in my new 40k minivan to take road family road trips ”

      News flash: most gas stations including the now ubiquitous C-store type have motor oil available so no need to carry your own. Check the oil when you buy gas, add if required. Not that hard!

    • 0 avatar

      2010 odyssey had 4.5 qt capacity.

      • 0 avatar

        What’s the problem? I’ve carried a spare quart of oil in my cars for the past 30 years. Also carry some papertowels on board just in case of spills or needing to check the oil when the towels are unavailable at the gas station.

        Use one of those minivan nooks or crannies to stash some supplies. ;)

        (I was really wishing for the onboard vacuum cleaner last night as I stopped at a gas station to use the vacuum cleaner. We had sand on our CUV’s floors from the beach. Cleaned the floors with the gas station vacuum and took the mats in our rented condo and used the condo vacuum to do a proper job on the mats.)

  • avatar

    John explains it well:

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Go ahead and press your luck. It won’t hurt to politely see what they can do for you. Damage to the relationship will come if you get obnoxious about it.

    Is oil consumption of this magnitude anywhere near normal for an engine with only 60K miles? I would think you have good cause to ask for some goodwill here.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    i think it would not hurt to ask the dealer like others have said, if your car is dealer maintain then as Sajeev has said they know you are not one of those screaming treat me like a princess freaks we all see sometimes.

    the worrying thing for me that some posters above seemed to have missed out on is that this problem just started. yes if the car always burned oil like other manufacturers than i would agree the level of burning is not out of the ordinary. but since this just started, i would want to make sure this is taken care of or at least explained.

    as far as quietly trading this in and let it be someone else’s problem: well i ain’t the moral police and you should do what you feel is right but i do know that, for me, Karma is a bitch and she doesn’t take “I’m Sorry” as compensation.

  • avatar

    re: rude customers. My brother works in service at a very large Toyota dealership in Vancouver, British Columbia. The routine profanity and abuse they have to put up with is astounding. Rather than discussing things like adults (and Toyota Canada is very good about customer service) they come in screaming profanities and threats which would get you hospitalized if you tried it in a bar. There is no wonder that some service reps are cautious and conservative. If you got sworn at for a living you would too.

  • avatar

    An interesting thread. I don’t understand how CARB/EPA with their focus on VOCs (gas dispensing, paints, etc.) would allow an auto manufacturer to say 1qt/1K miles is acceptable.

    My 1985 red block Volvo engine never had any repairs and at 320000 miles burned zero oil on the 1 year or 5K oil change program I followed throughout my ownership. Same with my 1972 MBZ V8 at 250000 miles.

  • avatar

    I am floored by the comments on this. How are so many people OK with engines this new having appreciable oil loss? This is the same site that murders manufactures over panel gap width and “DLO fails”.

    My 05 Grand Cherokee has a similar level of consumption- at over 150k miles. My advice is to push for a fix, and then dump the thing. Buy something reliable, like a Chrysler…

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Agreed. I don’t know what planet these people buy cars from. I have had 2 vehicles that used appreciable amounts of oil. My 95 Saturn’s at around 100k had the stuck ring issue those cars regularly got. A Saturn tech built me another motor and addressed this and it went 150k more and never used oil again. My 91 Caprice broke a ring land which turned into “might as well drop a 350 in”. My 30k F150 2.7 uses none between changes, nor does my wife’s Hyundai nor did the 150k Hyundai it replaced. My old Land Cruiser lost plenty of oil, but that was leaks, not use.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve owned and serviced many vehicles that have required top-ups, and I’ve never once thought that it was so difficult or expensive that the car needed a new engine or needed to be replaced entirely.

        I didn’t purchase those vehicles new or witness the initial purchase so I can’t confirm the planet from which they originated. In 2004 I bought my Mazda3 on planet earth and I’ve never had to top up the oil between changes. So you may be on to something. But I still check the oil levels regularly.

  • avatar

    When did a quart of oil every 3500 miles become such a big deal?

  • avatar

    The root problem is that Ed needs to check and top off his fluids more often.

    I think 1 quart in 3500 miles is acceptable with the easy flowing oils that are recommended today.
    I would not want a technician rebuilding the engine or swapping the engine because of risk of other problems from workmanship.
    Monitor oil usage, if it remains the same keep it. If the oil usage increases trade it in.

  • avatar


    The rate of consumption will likely increase over time. A thicker oil will only mask the problem slightly.

    Trade it in for a Camry/Accord!

    • 0 avatar

      I have kept many older, high-mileage cars alive by simply checking the oil regularly and adding some when needed. I never see anyone raise the hood of a car, either at a service station, or anywhere in my neighborhood. I guess I am the oddball.

      If one thinks they can go 7500 miles without checking anything under the hood, especially the oil, they are asking for trouble.

  • avatar

    My question is, do you always take your car to the dealer for service/maintenance/repairs? I had a major failure in my 2007 XC90 when it was about 6 months out of warranty. The angle gear for the Haldex system failed and I only had FWD as a result. I took it to the dealer and Volvo covered what would have been a $4k repair.

    I attribute the goodwill to me always taking it back to the dealer where I bought it for service.

    • 0 avatar

      ^This. As a Service Advisor I can do a lot for loyal customers of the dealership and the brand. If a customer spends all their money elsewhere, then out of warranty repairs are difficult to come by.

  • avatar

    As stated above, move up to a slightly thicker oil and check the oil level once a month. Sadly, there are many newer vehicles (mentioned above, and also those with cylinder deactivation) which consume high quantities of oil relative to others. You can likely drive it for another ten years by doing this.

    Our 2001 Odyssey uses a quart every 2K miles or so and has for the past 100K miles. It has 224K miles on the original engine (3rd transmission, heh) and it’s still running strong.

  • avatar

    There was a similar issue with the 3.2 I6 which was resolved around 2013. Ended up being some kind of intricate design issue I wish I could recall.

    This thread talks about a camshaft cover needing resealed:

    “At 2000 miles I had the low oil light come on and I needed to add a full qt to get to an acceptable level. Chalked it up to the factory underfilling as some have mentioned. The dealer did a visual inspection and removed the skid plate to find no leaks. At 4100, got the same low oil light and took it to the dealer again. Again no leaks but they started to root around for the cause as 2 qts in 4000 miles is not normal. They worked directly with Volvo to diagnose the problem so it took a few days. Pulled the plugs and took pictures of them for Volvo to see. They performed a cylinder leakage test per Volvo. Both did not find the problem. In the end, the camshaft cover was removed and resealed. Apparently it was the culprit. It was leaking into the combustion chamber somehow.

    On a side note, the 2014 T5 loaner was interesting to drive for a week coming from. 2015 RD. The T5 has adequate power, but it idles higher, is a lot more noisy and didn’t shift gears as fluidly as the T6.”

  • avatar

    Despite my TDI being dirty as fu$k in terms of NOx emissions, it hasn’t burned any oil in 67000 miles. Same with the wife’s TSI, 32000 miles and no consumption with it either aside from fuel.

    A friend recently bought a used Subaru Forester with the 2.5L engine in December 2016. She noticed it was drinking oil so Subaru replaced the short block, took them about a week to do but she got a top of the line Forester loaner. I don’t really like Subarus, but they made it right due to the TSB they have out.

  • avatar

    I have noticed that oil burning is a lot more frequent on cars driven in the US vs the same car driven in Europe.
    I suspect a lot as to do with the much lower average speed in the US combined to potentially more short trips/ more idle time.
    Bought a used Saab 9-3 Viggen several years ago that was burning a quart/1000 miles and drove it a lot harder than the original owner plus did 2 cross country trips.
    Oil burn is now down to a quart/5000 miles. Lots of European engines need to be driven harder than the average US driver often coasting in overdrive with little rpm change. Could dirty rings be the cause ?

  • avatar

    The 850 I bought soured me on Volvo and I’ve wondered if they ever got their quality back, I guess not! I’ve been a loyal customer at my Lexus dealers, now they regularly give me discounts and access to free loaner cars.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I can’t believe nobody mentioned this yet, but you can’t tell if the oil is “bone dry” by looking at the dipstick. No dipstick I’ve ever seen goes all the way down to the bottom of the oil pan.

    • 0 avatar

      Being a bit of a pedant myself, I struggled to keep myself from mentioning it. I concluded that it’s just a matter of semantics; written from a non-technical point of view. The dipstick is bone dry. I doubt he thinks that the engine only holds two quarts of oil.

    • 0 avatar

      Austin/Leyland B series- put in the stick & hear a clunk. Not the only clunk you’ll hear out of them.

      OK- there’s a raised floor of ~1/4″ where the stick hits the bottom.

  • avatar

    I had the exact same issue in my ’11 XC70 T6. The problem appeared at 45K and I immediately took it to the dealer The low oil warning came on again 3K later and the dealer fought with Volvo for a month until they finally had people in headquarters use a scope remotely to see the issue. It turns out the block was miscast allowing oil to blow out during combustion. The solution in my case was a new short bock. If you look in the Volvo forums you will see others with the same issue so it is not isolated. Depending on your car’s service start date it might still be under warranty. If so get to the dealer immediately and raise heck until Volvo fixes it. If out of warranty raise heck anyways or dump the car. The out of warranty cost would have been about 7K 2 years ago.

    My car now has 80K on it with no reoccurrence of the issue.

  • avatar

    my volvo has a similar issue, uses one litre about every 1200km, mind you it does have 435000km on it

  • avatar

    I have a 500 Abarth, and According to Fiat consuming a qt of oil every 750 miles on an engine over 50k miles is considered acceptable. that drops to 500 miles if the engine is being driven hard all the time. I believe Audi and BMW list similar numbers, so Volvo may consider this normal.

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