Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Fix or Not Fix

I have a very serious engine problem with my 1995 Volvo (150K). It has been burning oil for two years and given the recession I have been buying oil and continuously filling it. I recently took it in to find out what it would take to make it right. I was informed that it needed at minimum to rework the head (valve job , etc) but given the miles (150K) fixing one part of the system might temporariliy fix the problem but it will most likely cause oil to start blowing thru the rings. They recommended the total effort (If I do it I do agree with them is the best of course of action). However it is a 4.5K job and the blue book value of the car is less than 3K at this point. At this point I can not afford a recurring car payment for another year. Should I buy cases of oil and limp along (wife’s solution) or take the plunge?

a. (wife’s solution)

And start saving money, lots of money, for another car. It’s not going to run forever, even with continuous infusions of oil.

Agree; it will take more than “a head” to fix the oil problem. Don’t spend any more money on this car; buy oil by the case and start saving up for a car that costs less to operate and repair and will be more reliable. Don’t even look at another Volvo.

Your wife has the most sensible solution.

I concur as well. Your wife is right. Taking the plunge would be foolish on your part because the vehicle is not worth saving.

I wouldn’t fix it either. If it was otherwise in good shape and I really liked the car I might think about trying to locate a used engine for it and going that route instead. But Volvos can turn into money pits.

I would never suggest this to someone who wanted to fix or keep a car, but you are a prime candidate for trying out those crazy additives from the auto parts store (if you haven’t already). Things like Restore are meant to try to help old dead engines and that included reducing oil consumption. I’ve never used any of them. But you can find unsolicited “testimonials” around the web about various kinds.

Watch For Your Kind Of Oil To Go On Sale By The Case. Don’t Let The Oil Level Get Low.

Has anybody bothered to check and clean the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system ? Also, you don’t say which engine you’ve got, but it seems that these old Volvo’s have a “flame trap” in that system that is a replacement part. I’d have a new one in hand when I went in there to check and clean the PCV system.

[list] [/list]1. Clogging / restriction in the PCV system will increase the oil consumption.
[list] [/list]2. Increased oil consumption can contribute to clogging / restriction in the PCV system.
[list] [/list]3. Continue cycle. Go back to 1.

How much oil - quarts / miles are you going through with this car ?


From your description, it sounds as though you have bad valve stem seals or worn valve guides. I say this because your mechanic suggested that after you rework the cylinder head it might cause the oil to start blowing past the piston rings.

I don’t know if this is possible on a Volvo engine, but I had a Ford Maverick with a 250 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine that was using oil. A shop replaced the valve stem seals without removing the cylinder head. The technique was to remove a spark plug, screw in an adapter and pressurize the cylinder with air to keep the valves from falling into the engine. This was repeated for each cylinder. My oil consumption went from a quart every 300-400 miles to a quart every 1200-1500 miles. I don’t know what the cost would be today, but back in about 1974 my cost was about $50.

4 quarts in the last month. I do not drive that much ( 2 tanks of gas ~ 600 miles)