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Can I safely drive car with oil leak?

I have a 2004 Volvo XC90 with 103,000 miles on it, and would like to get another 100,000 miles out of the car. I have recently developed an oil leak, and took it to the dealership meachanic. They wrote it up as having 24’issues’ including front and rear cam seals, hubs, flam e box and vvt solonoid. They quoted me $2727 to fix, but said I will likely have problems again anyway. Or they said I could replace the engine for $8,000-10,000. The car is not even worth that much! What do I do? I can’t afford to replace car, or engine. Can I keep driving it and just add oil? Is it dangerous? I frequently drive from NC to NY or FL… is it safe to drive such long distances in the car now?

The FIRST thing you need to do is find a good, independent mechanic to take care of your car.

Is it “safe”??? How MUCH is it leaking??? How often must you add oil??

You can add oil when needed no problem but what you need to check on is where oil is dripping.
If it drips on exhaust it may start fire, other wise I would just add oil and not worry about it

It’s only been a short time since it’s been happening, so I’m not sure. It seems to be leaking about a quart every two weeks.

Get away from the Volvo dealer before they bankrupt you. Find an independent mechanic and get another opinion.

If the oil leak is minor you can drive the car and keep adding oil as needed.

You didn’t tell us how much oil the engine is leaking, or where it’s leaking from. If it’s leaking a lot you may want to get the leak(s) fixed. I doubt you need a new engine.

And how many miles do you drive in two weeks, on average?

Definitely get it checked from an independent mechanic. I’m not familiar with this vehicle at all…But cam seals usually don’t need to be replaced on engines with a timing chain. Timing belts…since the cam isn’t lubed the seals can dry out and start leaking. If it does leak then you need to get them replaced because timing belts don’t like oil very much.

This just doesn’t seem right to me. I think someone needs a boat payment.

Start tracking your oil consumption in terms of miles per quart driven. Check your oil more often to make sure you don’t run it level too low. Get a good independent mechanic to evaluate the issues that the dealer came up with. Get him to tell you what is deferrable and what is a “Must do now”. In these cases, prioritization or awareness of the consequences to defer is essential.

I have successfully driven vehicles with oil consumption issues by following the advice above. I don’t quite understand why the dealership mechanic would say these issues, once fixed, would be sure to manifest themselves again. Some things are maintenance items, but even so I would be suspicious of his overall conclusion until verified by a trusted independent mechanic.

On the next oil change, try adding a high mileage oil such as Valvoline Max Life. These oils are added to high mileage engines where seals start to leak oil, and contain additive that conditions the seals to stop oil leaks.


It is a good thing oil leaks don’t cause cars to fail safety inspections (at least not here in the States.

Would you rather not have known about problems with your car? There is a very good chance that your car does suffer from all the issues the Dealer mechanics found.

The parameters you have listed (long trips,wanting to get another 100K out of the car) means fixing the car right (does not mean it must be the Dealer).

With the restrictions you have listed your only option about the oil loss is frequent checking and adding. I myself don’t take long trips in cars leaking significant amounts of oil.

If you really plan to keep this car for another 100,000 miles, like you said, I think you should go ahead and get it fixed.

Like others have said, if you can find a good independent Volvo mechanic, you will save a lot of money. The problem is that it isn’t easy to find a good Volvo mechanic. Volvos have a lot of issues that are unique to Volvos. They are expensive to buy, and as you have just discovered, they are expensive to maintain and repair. Unless you are prepared to shell out serious money on a regular basis, you should trade this car in for something reliable and inexpensive to maintain, like a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry.

I find some mechanics don’t know the difference between an oil leak and oil seepage. If you only have oil seepage, you can try a “high mileage” oil that will make the seals swell slightly, and you can keep a close eye on the level of the oil, making sure it never gets too low. If you have a real oil leak, it could get worse and leave you stranded, so you would be better off just getting it fixed.

Buy a case of oil and check/top it every other fuel fillup. You can buy lots of cases of engine oil for $8000.