Did I get good advice and/or service?

volvo
engines
gasoline
damage

#1

My 1993 Volvo 960 wagon (engine mileage 143000) quit running and wouldn’t start. I love the car and wanted to be very careful to do the right thing…find out what was wrong, not do further harm, etc. I called the local Volvo dealer/service center. Told them same as above. Asked for transport to their service area. Was told to jump start the car first…“Jump start it.” I replied, “Are you sure? I don’t want to hurt the car.” Was told, “I’ll check with technician”…person put me on hold, came back, said, “Jump start the car.” I tried to jump start the car. In process, it turned over for awhile then made a horrible CHUNK, GRIND noise. I quit trying to jump the car, called the Volvo dealer back, told them I needed a service vehicle to come get the car. When they got the car, they said they opened the hood, started the car, and gasoline squirted 3 feet up into the air from the engine AND the engine was making a banging noise (like a bad rod). [Before the vehicle died and wouldn’t start, the engine had purred like a kitten.] They said, "Fuel intake valve broken, engine ruined, buy new engine, $5000 - 7000. Because they hadn’t even run a compression test, I asked them to do that and check to see where the noise was coming from. With the engine torn apart, I was told I was at $700 cost so far and I still needed a new engine. I told them I thought their advice to jump the car was part of the problem and that I wanted a second opinion. I paid them and they agreed to transport the car to another volvo service center of my choice. They did deliver it, but in pieces. I had to pay to have the car re-assembled so these technicians could diagnose the problem. Then their opinion was much different, except for the engine noise which indicated it was beyond repair. I purchased a second hand engine and, altogether, spent a LOT of money. Here’s the question: I think the engine was damaged while trying to jump start it, not because of the ‘fuel intake’ valve malfunctioning. Otherwise, why no noise beforehand? [Had there been ANY engine noise, I would have stopped the car and sought help – I know better (at 65)].

Seeking opinions.


#2

Jump starting an engine will not–in and of itself–cause an engine to self-destruct in any way.

Of course, if there was some kind of catastrophic failure that had taken place in the engine already, starting it by any method would not be a good idea, but to say that jump starting the engine caused the unspecified damage is not valid.

By the way, what were the two (differing) diagnoses?


#3

Jump starting a car may damage the electrical system but I’ve never heard of it damaging the valves. That part must have been close to failure to start with, and starting it caused damage in the engine. Normally this occurs when the timing belt on an interference engine fails.

The garage should not have told you to jump start the car, since they had no idea at that time as to what might be wrong. You only advise that if you are sure the battery is dead and that is that cause.


#4

Just so we don’t put our readers on edge we should say IMPROPER jump starting most certainly will damage the cars electrical system. Jump starting using the correct procedure will not damage the car at all. Now if you have a car like the OP’s that had already injested a intake valve any type of starting will only make matters worse but, things could already be so bad that it would not matter.


#5

Then why did I not hear a single noise from the engine until it was started in the shop?


#6

Then why did I not hear a single noise from the engine before it was parked and subsequently wouldn’t start?


#7

The first place said because the fuel intake valve malfunctioned, the engine compartment filled with gas. Gas flooding the engine, they said, was just as bad as water flooding the engine. Either way, it was ruined by flooding.
The second place said there was a damaged engine part and, since volvo engines can’t be rebuilt, a new engine was called for.


#8

Jump starting the car did not cause this problem.
What it sounds like to me is that a timing belt broke and since this is an interference engine damage will occur.
An engine can run like a top and sound fine right up to the nano-second a belt breaks.

So answer this question. The car is 17 years old with 143,000 miles on it. When was the timing belt changed; if ever? If the answer is never, then it should have been changed about 80k miles and 11 years ago. You would have been on borrowed time for quite a while so you’re lucky.

The only thing I disagree with is this idiotic procedure of having to tear an engine apart to diagnose it and an even more idiotic procedure of reassembling it to make a diagnosis.
Neither one has to be done to diagnose a timing belt problem.

A compression test can verify a cylinder head/valve problem due to a broken belt but will not tell you anything about a bearing knock; which is lower in the engine and can be caused by a broken timing belt.
So. Did the belt break or not?


#9

You don’t always hear noises when the engine quits, mainly because it stopped running. Volvos aren’t supposed to be without soundproofing. They weren’t intended to be rattletraps. Restarting, or trying to, will usually be when you hear the bad stuff; especially when the engine is stuck and the starter tries to grind the ring gear off. I’ve known better a lot of times but it never bothered me when my destroyed stuff got destroyed some more by me. It’s also true that mechanics cost money when they tear into things. It was kind of silly to suggest jump starting when the engine was able to crank anyway. Gasoline in large quantities won’t burn and will hydro-lock the engine, bending lots of vital parts.


#10

“since volvo engines can’t be rebuilt, a new engine was called for”

If a mechanic actually told you this, then you have heard firm evidence that he is a charlatan. If you are smart, you will not have any type of repair work done by a mechanic who makes an erroneous statement of that sort.

But, to return to an earlier topic, I would also like to know the answer to the question that ok4450 posed, namely–When was the last time that the timing belt was replaced? If, as most of us are beginning to suspect, the timing belt snapped, that is almost always a problem created by the car’s owner who has opted to ignore vital maintenance.

When was the timing belt last changed?


#11

Here’s my take on it.
If the engine was hydrolocked due to a severe gasoline leak, then any attempts to start the engine could result in severe damage. You were correct in your suspicions and in wanting it transported to the dealership rather than trying to start the engine and drive it there. Perhaps they thought they would save you some money and did not forsee this type of failure mode. However, when a customer requests extra caution, why not abide by their request? They could have said, it will cost X to transport or you can try starting it and driving it here, your choice. Instead, their advice may have contributed to the severity of the damage. IMO, their bad…


#12

Your biggest mistake was taking your out-of-warranty car to the dealer. They generally want to scare you out of fixing it and sell you a new one. I would call the person who told you, sight unseen, to jump start it an idiot, but that would be an insult to the idiots of the world.


#13

I think you got poor advice on the jump start, and then had mechanics trying to figure out what killed the motor. Trying to diagnose a dead engine that won’t crank is difficult and that caused differing opinions.

Is the car running good with the new engine? Do you want to sue someone?

At this point you have an expensive old car. You must really be attached to the old Volvo. Let it all go, drive on a be happy.

Some part failed and that set off a cascade of events that took out your motor. Remember Appollo 13? Stuff like this can happen. Figuring out exactly what happened is possible, get you old engine and take it apart piece by piece and have experts examine it and you’ll eventually have an answer.


#14

Timing belt was relatively new. Changed at 60,000 and again at 120,000. The supposed culprit was the part that regulates fuel intake.


#15

Assuming that the timing belt was not the source of the problem, I hope you realize that the mechanic’s/service advisor’s statement (“since volvo engines can’t be rebuilt, a new engine is called for”) is totally bogus.


#16

Yes, I’d like to sue the pants off the fancy, schmancy dealer service center that (I don’t think) gave me good advice OR good service. BUT…I think you’re right. I leave for Colorado on Thursday in my expensive old car which I do love, and I’ll be happy.

Thanks for all the advice and opinion!