Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Oil in the radiator (Volvo)

Has anybody got an idea what might be wrong if my Volvo is leaking oil into the radiator? I have had the head gaskets replaced and the radiator replaced and the same problem keeps occurring. We have to flush the radiator every couple of weeks. We are going through a ton of oil, not to mention that fact that if it goes too long, the radiator overheats with a chocolate brown sludge coming out of it. I have heard that Saturn has had this problem with one of their cars, but Volvo claims it has not had a problem like this with theirs. Anybody? I am not mechanically inclined, and don’t have alot of money to pour into this car.

It could likely be transmission fluid coming from a leaking transmission oil cooler which is mounted in the bottom tank of your radiator. I’m assuming you have automatic transmission. I can’t think of any other way you could get oil in your radiator.

The fix in this case would be a new radiator, and new coolant plus labor. Your mechanic also has to check the transmission to see if any coolant seeped into the transmission, since the cooling system is normally under pressure.

On a Volvo this will be more expensive than on a more common car, but maybe an independent shop can locate a good use or rebuilt radiator. Count on $250 or so minimum. If you go to a Volvo dealer, budget close to $1000 for a new rad plus labor.

I assume that you have verified this is engine oil by the fact that you are having to add oil to the engine? Does you model have an oil to water oil cooler (usually by the oil filter I think)? It seems like it would have to be that or bad head gasket (you already tried that), cracked head, or cracked block. Are you getting any water in your oil?

We already got the new radiator, didn’t fix the problem. Will check the transmission oil cooler though, thanks.