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Noisy valves

Our 1997 850GL wagon with 160k miles has persisently noisy valves. At considerable cost, we replaced the hydraulic valve lifters with new ones from Volvo. Noise persists. Increased oil viscosity, now at a ridiculous 15W40. Also using an oil additive to further increase viscosity. Little if any noise when engine is cold but once warm, much valve clicking. We change oil religiously and keep oil topped up. This is driving us nuts. Ideas?

Is this a push-rod engine? Is there any provision to adjust the valves? Have you checked the oil pressure with an external gauge?

I Think Turning The Radio Up More Is A Better Approach Than 15w-40. Are You Absolutely Positive That This Is A Valve Train Noise You Are Hearing ?

Are you taking the car to a mechanic with years and years of Volvo expertise ?


Not a push-rod engine. Hydraulic lifters supposedly self-adjust. Have not check oil pressure with an external guage.

Dealer says noise may be annoying but won’t hurt the car. Our long-time independent shop is excellent. We’ve used them for 25 yrs and have a sterling rep with local Volvo owners. Can’t say I’m absolutely positive this is valve noise but the indep shop says it is. We’re embarrassed by the ticking.

I am wondering if you have shims and buckets in this valve train…If so you may need a different thickness of shim to properly work out the correct valve lash clearance. I recall on one of my Saabs I had to use my dremel and a micrometer to slowly and carefully grind down a thicker shim to the spec I was looking for…I did this on 10 shims…so I basically made my own shim for the clearance I needed. Worked perfectly and the valves were silent after this…was a lot of work and I could have bought the shims at almost any thickness I wanted…but I was young and silly and decided to do it myself in my driveway without buying parts. It may be something like this

IF NOT…I did a quick search on the net for you regarding this and saw a post from a guy trying to rid himself of the same exact issue…

His post is below, sorry for the length:

OK folks…here’s the scoop…after a bit of searching the web and a few phone calls…here’s a posting on the web that answers my question.

I did not know that Volvo had gone to solid lifters in 1999. When I got my new V70 three months ago, I thought that it was more noisy than the 850 engine. It sounded like valve lifter noise. A trip to the local Volvo dealer, where I bought the car and where I have been dealing with some of the personnel for more than 20 years, brought the response: “Oh no Bob you are mistaken! Your car has hydraulic lifters! What you are hearing is injector noise!” Finally I stumbled on an internal Volvo document for sales people only, on the S60, and it mentioned solid lifters, almost out of context, with no discussion at all. Needless to say the sales people do not know a solid lifter from a football. By this time I had purchased the 2001 Parts Fiches for the V70/S60 2001, the only literature I am able to buy for this car. There they were, 24 solid tappets, (not shims! tappets) of a whole range of thicknesses. The Volvo dealer still did not believe me. I guess that then they started some serious checking because they believe me now, but they think that I am flogging a dead cow.

Here is why I am concerned about this. The modern Volvo engines are designed quite differently from previous engines. No more simple cover removal to get to camshafts and/or rockers for valve clearance checking and/or adjustment. Since the hydraulic tappets do not need checking or adjustment there is no simple access to them so that if you replace them with solid tappets you have major work to check same. The top cover on these engines is the upper half of the cylinder head and is also the upper half of the camshaft carrier. Take this cover, or top half, off and the camshafts lie loosely in the lower half of their bearings. If you are familiar with Volvo tools; all 999 prefix: 5450, 5451, 5452, 5254, 5453, and 5454 and their use as described in Volvo manuals TP 31804/1 and TP 2101201 you will understand what I am talking about here. I have made a couple of sets of these tools, by the way. I have not had to use them yet on my cars. But we are not finished yet. Once we get the top off we need another tool(s), (I do not have a part number for this tool yet.) to clamp the camshafts back into the bottom half of their bearings so that they will rotate so that we can measure the clearance. You will also have to put the pulleys and belt back on. Of course, if there is valve and seat damage you will have to take the head off as well. I can see why it took Roger’s shop 12 hours to replace two exhaust valves. I would suggest that this is not a home shop job unless you really know what you are doing. I would also suggest that it is not an “Average Volvo Shop That I Have Known”, job either; that is why I am so worried. The chances are that what would have been a simple valve clearance adjustment in the old days will now not be discovered until engine damage occurs. Volvo has ignored the fact that there could be any potential problems here. My service book goes past the 160k km check. No mention is ever made of checking valve clearance. Remember that these engines have been on the road for a good two years.

It is darn hard to add anything of value when the OP reports they are so happy with their mechanic.