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Oil change and engine "blew" same day

We have a 2001 Volvo S60; about 125K miles. Please be kind as we admit we know next to nothing about cars.

Last Friday, hubby had oil changed and we headed down to our daughters in Southern Oregon. Had driven about 150 miles and dash message flashed on,“No oil pressure”. Pulled over right away. Hubby checked oil, says he was basically just checking to see if there was oil in the car. There was and it was not low. When we started the car again the dash message was gone. Got back on the freeway and, within about 5 miles, the message came back on, car made BAD noise, whitish smoke as we stopped on the side of the freeway (immediately). In the hours that followed we learned from our mechanic (independent and has worked on our other car) that it threw a rod and possibly a bearing. Says it is a “coincidence” that we’d had oil change just hours prior. Hubby had checked the oil prior to towing the car to the mechanic and told him that it was between 3/4" to 1" over the full mark. He’d like to sell us a rebuilt engine for $4500. From reading A LOT of posts here about too much oil, I don’t believe him. This is truly a financial hardship for us and we can’t afford to go get other opinions from other mechanics we know nothing about. Advice in a big hurry please. And, yes, I’m sure we could have done better if we had ANY car savvy. Did too much oil ruin my engine? Hurry, please!

I would have the oil filter inspected very closely, it is possible that you got a defective oil filter that would not pass a sufficient amount of oil. If not that, then I’m afraid that it was just coincidence.

It probably didn’t have too much oil in it. From your description, it kind of sound like the head gasket blew or the head or block cracked allowing coolant into the oil. The coolant settles to the bottom of the crankcase and gets sucked up by the oil pump. That causes two things, low oil pressure and almost no lubrication to the main and rod bearings.

The coolant also caused the oil level to rise.

Sorry for your loss.

Seeing as how this car uses a canister filter maybe there’s a possibility of a seal of some sort gone awry or even disentegration of the filter element which then plugged off an oil galley.

I’m in agreement with keith the filter needs to be examined very carefully. If the filter appears to be fine then it may just be premature engine wear and sheer bad luck.

"And, yes, I’m sure we could have done better if we had ANY car savvy. Did too much oil ruin my engine?"
Don’t beat yourself up over this. I don’t think if you did have more care savvy that it would have made any difference. If the oil had been overfilled when it was changed, it is possible that the oil pump might “cavitate”–the oil churned around and too much air gets in the oil. However, it wouldn’t take 150 miles for the car to lose oil pressure. I agree with the others that coolant may have gotten into the oil and caused the level to rise.

Agree with Keith. If its from the oil change, the problem will be with the sub-standard filter starving the engine. If not its an '01 Volvo just giving up. No way would I put any money into it though. Just time for a new car, period. Then with help of the mechanic and checking the filter, you may be able to go back on the oil change place for the damages later. Volvo’s can be money pits.

I always get my oil filter changed during the oil change every 3000 miles for my 2000 corolla…which I think uses the canister oil filter.

How common is the oil filter defect/failure?

There has been debate on oil filter quality especially if using a quick lube place for oil changes. They may be using sub-standard filters. I only use OEM filters such as Honda and AC and either do it myself or use the dealer. So you need to know the brand and part number that was used, then you’ll probably have to pay someone to disassemble the engine enough to determine the cause and damage.

I agree with checking the oil filter but also the oil itself. The quickie-lube may have put in the wrong oil. Too thin and the oil pressure would drop as the engine got hot. Once hot and thin, the oil wouldn’t lubricate properly and the engine would destroy its bearings. Too thick an oil would not flow through the bearings and cause them to fail as well. This car takes 5w30 or 10w30 oil. 0w20 is likely the thinnest stuff they would carry, seems unlikely that would cause the engine to fail in that short a time.

Blown head gasket or bad oil filter are more likely, in that order.

“How common is the oil filter defect/failure?”

It once happened to a former colleague of mine.

He installed a house-brand filter and changed his own oil. Immediately after that, his oil pressure gauge was showing very little/no pressure. I told him he’d better hook up his own mechanical gauge to verify the situation. He said he wouldn’t go to the trouble. He didn’t trust the gauge, as it was an aftermarket gauge, which was hung under the dash. He said those things aren’t accurate anyways. Awhile later, the engine was making noise. He took off the valve cover. Then he took off the camshaft caps and realized the engine was essentially a goner. I actually watched while he exposed the cam. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

He took a few days off to resolve the issue. He rented a truck and drove to a pick a part junkyard and pulled an engine. He actually did the engine swap at work, in his service bay. I believe this was already the second day. He lucked out in the sense that the engine he got from the junkyard appeared to be a rebuilt unit.

All told, he lost 2 or 3 days of work.

After buttoning everything up, he told me if he’d immediately taken my advice and measured the oil pressure with his own gauge, his original engine might still be okay and he wouldn’t have lost a few days of work. Rest assured, he never bought another of those house brand oil filters again.

My forst thought was the same as Keith’s; coolant having gotten pushed into the oil via a crack or even a blown headgasket. That would account for the level being above normal on the dipstick as well as the overall failures. Oil diluted by coolant makes a terrible lubricant and could easily have caused seized bearing(s) which likely caused the connecting rod to break. Connecting rods on stock engines break because they’re flying around inside the cylinder and the bearing on one end seizes. Or because the crankshaft is spinning 3000 rpm pushing the rod up and sown and suddenly the bearing between the rod and the crankshaft seizes and the rod is suddenly being forced sideways instead of up & down. Inertia does the rest.

In this case I suspect it was just coincidental timing. The motor blew, but there’s no evidence that I see to suggest neglect in the oil change.

As to the rebuilt engine, if the rest of the car is in good shape it might be your best option here. $4500 is still a heck of a lot cheaper than a new car.

Just an educated guess, but if the oil was 3/4 quart overfilled, I doubt this was entirely a co-incidence. There might have been some existing problem though, and the over-fill was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The extra oil pressure or oil being churned and bubbling with air could indeed stress other engine components, might cause a seal to rupture for example, and the seal material clogs up the oil pump or some important oil channel.

As has been mentioned here several times, it’s a good idea for the driver to check the oil level on the dipstick before departing from the shop after an oil change.

Thanks so much for all your help, nice people. Won’t be putting a single penny into that car. The mechanic called today and said a junkyard is willing to give us $800 for it. I’m good with that, unless I’m missing something there. Got online with and they offered $175. Hmmm…Anything I should know about this? $800 bucks sounds pretty good to us right now. Why am I skeptical? I guess because I feel like we’re pretty vulnerable due to lack of knowledge. Again, thanks so much. I hope that 2014 is a fun and prosperous year for all of you. I’m sure ours will be in spite of this nonsense.

@NoMoreVolvo–Take the $800 and run. Your husband did pull over immediately when the message “No Oil Pressure” appeared. He checked the oil and found that the engine had oil. We have had people post on this board who kept on driving when the light came on indicating no oil pressure.
It would be great if things lasted forever, but they don’t.

+1 on take the money and run. $800 is great for a dead car.

Let me reassure you, maybe. The people on the internet cannot see your car, so they are bidding on a worse case scenario, only good for the weight of the metal to be recycled. If your car was otherwise in real good shape, the local junkyard can sell parts off it, particularly the body parts and seats, for a pretty good profit.

You could get more if you parted it out, but it would take some time before you sold enough parts to get ahead. You don’t have the network to get the price for the parts a junkyard would get and you might be looking at 6 months before you got rid of a majority of the parts, maybe longer. Can you store it for that long, especially in pieces? Do you have the spare time to mess with it?

Personally I’d put a reman engine in it and drive it for another 10 years or so. The TOC (total owner cost) per mile would be less than with a new vehicle, but only if kept for at least 5 years.

Thanks, again!

2.4 non turbo 4cyl motor is $1k with 80k miles in my area. Any shop can swap a 4cyl motor. I think spending $2k is certainly reasonable if u look around

Fly by night did my Nissan truck once(never again) apparently they just added oil and didnt let any out,it was a gallon overfull.I let a gallon out in the dark in the parking lot were I lived at the time(caught it of course,the engine was hot got a blister on my thumb but when I got the oil staunched it was right on the money,dont know what would have happened If I would have continued to run it like that,as it was it didnt hurt the engine-but I watched butchers destroy the engine on a nice looking Volvo during the cash for clunkers farce,they let the oil out,added they sodium silicate and floorboarded it,it was sickening(I didnt think that engine would ever seize) finally after a pitiful squeal the engine died,so apperently those Volvo engines are built mighty good(had 3 used Volvos myself,moneypits all,but still good comfortable cars and I liked them).Still though you would be better off to move on to a nice say Accord or a nice Camry,truthfully you will probaly never look back-Kevin

Man, the Gods are on your side. Go for it.

Are the piston rod bearing assemblies (I do not know what they are called) not to dip into the oil and splash oil around inside the crank case?