CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Lifter Noise

I have a 1998 Volvo S70 with 140k. 2.5 litre 5cyl automatic. For sometime now my lifters have been making noise especially at start up. I’m up to date on my oil servicing using Volvo filters and a 20-50w motor oil ( as recommended by my mechanic ) but still the noise continues. In the past I have used additives to the oil but still the problem continues. Maybe I’m using the wrong one. Can you recommend an additive?

Thank you,
Cesar

That seems like very heavy oil, especially for winter. What is recommended for this car?
If you have startup lifter noise, the oil might just be too thick. The additive I like is CD-2 oil detergent. It can be hard to find; I have been able to get it at O’Reilly’s.

I have to agree with melott on this, heavy oil and heavy additives is going in the wrong direction. If it is truly the lifters making the noise, I would would use the old trick of 10w30 with one quart of either dexron III ATF or one qt of Marvel Mystery Oil substituted for one qt of oil.

Volvo recommends 5W-30 oil for your engine. http://new.volvocars.com/ownersdocs/1998/1998_SV90/98S90_108.htm 20W-50 oil is too thick for engine protection at cold startup and the noise you hear is the engine starving for oil when it’s started cold. So you’re accelerating engine wear.

I’d find a new mechanic if they recommended that you use 20W-50 oil in your engine.

Tester

I agree with melott; CD-2 with the black label, not the red label works very well for one of my cars with a lifter that tends to be noisy. You might try backing off from using a full container with each oil change to use the minimum amount that does the job to save a little money.

+1 for Tester. Find a new mechanic and switch back to 5W-30 for your engine. You could use 10W-30 if your engine starts to use oil but that’s as thick as I would go.

Only in Hawaii or Miami Floroida would I put 20W50 in a Volvo engine. Your mechanic needs some further schooling!

A good oil to try is a 5W30 synthetic, which will start the car in low temperatures and still have good film strength at high operating temperatures.

But as others point out, long term use of 20W50 will quickly wear out the valve gear and you may already have done substantial damage

The OP can count this as one more vote for ditching the current mechanic, and immediately changing to 5w-30 or 10w-30 oil in that engine.

In addition to producing this noise, his inappropriate suggestion regarding the viscosity of the oil has most likely led to some engine damage during cold weather, before the engine has warmed-up. And, your gas mileage will likely improve a bit once you use the correct oil.

Personally, I doubt whether this mechanic is really qualified for his job.