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New engine in a Volvo?

Hello everyone-
I was driving my 2005 Volvo v50 home to Brooklyn yesterday. Broke down just on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, towed the car to my mechanic, who now tells me there’s a giant hole in the oil pan and I must have hit a pothole or something, the oil completely drained out, the engine seized up, and now I need a new engine or I should junk the car.

I’m a bit stunned at all this- has anyone heard of this happening? Can the oil really drain so quickly and cause the engine to seize like that? Oil level may have been a little low to begin with, but…

More importantly though, does anyone have experience replacing an engine in one of these cars? Is this a plausible idea or a terrible one? My wife and I are of course weighing the costs and wondering if it’s worth it, we paid 7K for the car about a year ago, it has 120K on it, my mechanic is telling me a used engine could be put in for roughly $3500-4K. Sheesh. Just wondering about other people’s experience putting a new engine in a car, I just am wondering if it brings its own set of problems and would be worth it, or if it can be done relatively smoothly and should function normally once it’s in?

If anyone has any thoughts on this, love to hear them, thanks.

Can hitting a pothole or other road fault lead to a hole in the oil pan?

Can it cause the oil to drain very quickly?
A lot depends on the size of the hole. If it is…let’s say…the size of your fist, then it would probably take all of a minute or two for the engine to seize from lack of lubrication.

A smaller hole would mean a longer (impossible to calculate) amount of time for all of the oil to drain. Obviously, if the oil level was low to begin with, then the process will be quicker, with the speed of catastrophic failure again depending on the size of the hole as well as the actual level of the oil before the hole was punched in the oil pan.

Whether to repair it depends on a few factors, IMHO, with the chief factor being the overall condition of the rest of the car. If this car has a manual transmission, and if the car has been well-maintained, then it is possible that the car still has several good years left in it.

However, if it has an automatic transmission and if the trans fluid & filter have not been changed every 30k miles, then the transmission is essentially a ticking time bomb that will explode in your wallet in the very near future. Transmissions that are not serviced according to that schedule can be counted on to fail anywhere from 90k to 150k miles, and the bill for a rebuilt trans will be essentially similar to the cost of replacing the engine.

What can you tell us (specifically) about the car’s maintenance over the past 3 years?

volvo’s are cars that need a lot of costly repairs when old/older. your repair bills will be higher than average. if you purchased the car for 7K, drove it for a year…what is the remaining value?

if you belive it depreciated 2K, you only have 5K left. would you put 4K into a car so once it is running again to be able to sell it for 5K?

on the premise that you expect more future expensive repairs, it may be something to think about.

if you expect no more repairs in the future, then you can drive the car for 9 more years and not worry. as 5+4=9K invested on the rebuilt car+engine gives you dependable car for 1K per year…not bad.

what camp are you in? either option is possible

Is it worth it ?
You’ll need to assess the rest of the car.
If you end up with a suitable used car ( yours ) for that $4,000 then I vote it’s worth it.
If, due to overall condition, you’d buy a better car for $4,000 ?

If you have collision insurance the engine may be covered up to the deductible. Sometimes this is also covered under comprehensive, so check with your insurance agent.

Can hitting a pothole or other road fault lead to a hole in the oil pan?

Oh yea…happened to me. Luckily I felt it and looked out my rear window and saw that some fluid was dropping on the ground and pulled over and stopped. No engine damage. Just had to replace the pan.

Yes, road debris or road surfaces can knock a hole in an oil pan and the engine go south afterwards but there are usually warning signs.
This would include ignoring the oil pressure warning lamp or noises because even an engine with no oil in it does not seize immediately. It takes some seconds or possibly minutes.

The hole in the pan and even the seizure could also be due to a connecting rod being thrown due to lack of oil and ignoring the signs.

No matter which way you go on this you really need to differeniate between engine types. The mechanic says “used” and you use the term “new”.
A used engine installed in another car does not make it new and may well have its own set of problems before it left the salvage. Make sure that you and the mechanic are on the same page with this issue about the pitfalls, understandings about warranty if any, and so on.

For most customers, their term ''new ‘’ is used generically meaning ‘‘another’’, aka ‘‘replacement’’ engine.
When speaking to joe customer I’ll tell them the terms and the price differences. Used, rebuilt, remanufactured , or new depending on availability.
I think you’ll not find a truly new engine for that 05.

Is it the 2.4 or 2.5 turbo ?

If I had this problem I’d see if any mechanically inclined teenager in the neighborhood was looking to invest some time and money in order so to have their own car. Or if the local high school or junior college auto shop class could use it. If so, I’d just give the car to them.

I don’t think I’d get involved with the problems of a replacement engine. If you do, it might work out ok eventually, but be prepared for some trials and tribulations, like you won’t have the car for months at a time when you thought you would.

If you can prove the engine failure was from a road hazard then your insurance company will pay for the engine.

Volvos generally do not experience engine failure. The car is too valuable to throw away so look for a more realistic repair of putting in a used engine.

A used engine is 1200-1800 dollars plus labor of about 800 so do some more shopping around.

Looks for salvage yards that also do installation to save money.

Use to locate an engine near you , sort by zip code.

$3500-4000 is way too high for a used engine for this car. I would rent a car to take the time pressure off and shop around.

Thanks everyone for these comments- really helpful. This is a tricky calculation of whether it’s worth it to put a new (to this car) engine vs. selling the car for parts and buying something new (to us).
Was talking to a German guy tonight, he said the Volvo engines are the same as Renault and Audi. has anyone heard of this? I have not. Curious if that means I can look for those engines and they will work in this Volvo? That seems unlikely to me but he was pretty convinced that was true.

To answer a couple questions in case anyone checks back-
-We (my wife and I) bought the car a year ago from a woman who took good care of it, she had maintenance records and apparently changed fluids and serviced the car as recommended while she owned it (I think she was the second owner, first owner had not driven it much at all). In the year that we have owned it we’ve put less than 10K on it (honestly, I’m not sure at the moment…). We haven’t done any major maintenance and servicing, just topped off fluids, etc. It was probably due for a check up in the next couple months. So I don’t know the likelihood of transmission failure…certainly a major concern.

  • it’s a 2.4, not a turbo engine
  • I’m looking at used engines for the car, I meant new to this car, sorry
  • Both mechanics here in Brooklyn I have talked to said it would probably be $3500-4K total including labor, the labor being $1000 or so. Looking online I don’t see Volvo engines for less than around $2200 at the low end, except for ones with 160K + miles on them, which I don’t really want to get involved with (even at, thanks for that link!). So, would love to find one for 12-1800 but, maybe Volvos are more expensive than normal? Or I’m not looking in the right places. Yes, would love to take a couple weeks to decide and search for an engine but, I’m in New York City and I don’t have anywhere to put the car, so I have to figure this out in the next day or so probably. Not ideal but hey, at least I can find a good slice of pizza around here.

Again, thanks for the responses.

Also thanks for the tips regarding insurance, not sure they will cover this but am going to try.

I’m going to repeat my advice regarding the transmission, since that will wind up being as costly as the engine issue:

Unless the OP can verify–through hard copies of maintenance receipts–that the previous owner had the trans fluid & filter changed every 3 years or 30k miles (whichever comes first), then this 120k car is due for the transmission to die in the near future.

I would recommend going through the pile of maintenance receipts in order to verify whether or not the trans was serviced as described above. If not, then you have to deal with the reality that trans failure is undoubtedly going to take place w/in the next 5-20k miles, and the cost of that repair should be considered when contemplating whether to spend the money for an engine replacement on this car.

One of the problems with “servicing the car as recommended” is that, in an effort to make their cars appear to be as maintenance-free as possible, most mfrs have removed items such as valve lash adjustment and transmission service from their maintenance lists. That doesn’t mean that these services are no longer required, however. It just means that failure to do those types of maintenance are not likely to result in mechanical failure during the warranty period. However, after warranty protection ends, the car owner will be on the hook for VERY expensive repairs.

Al’s Auto Parts, Inc. - ARAPro USA-PA(Trevose) 1-888-396-2199 $1400 69k

Yes, they also do installation.

How much is a 90 mile tow?

“a German guy said the Volvo engines are the same as Renault and Audi.”

I do not believe that Volvo used Audi engines in any of their models, but I could be mistaken about that point. However, even if Renault engines were the same as Volvo engines, that could not possibly help the OP.

Ask yourself this question: When was the last time that Renaults were sold in The US?
(Answer…1987…and those tiny engines would barely be able to get your Volvo moving.)

How much is a 90 mile tow?

There are more flatbeds in Brooklyn than junkyards.

I would be surprised if the tow was more than $250. That would still be a huge savings after the installation.

Re: Insurance

Expect the insurance company to say they’ll be happy to replace the oil pan which was damaged by road debris, but not the engine. Their reasoning would be that the oil warning light must have came on when the oil leaked out, and it is the driver’s responsibility to immediately stop driving the car when that happens.