Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Volvo S70 grinding noise: starter and flywheel

Hi there,

I am penny pinching these days and need your help. When I brought my car (Volvo S70 1999. AWD. 125k) in for its 120k check-up they mechanic was concerned that it took a little while for the car to start, he checked it out and said nothing was wrong but to bring it in if it took longer or got worse.

Well, now it takes longer and sometimes there’s a grinding noise. So I bring it in and he said, starter and flywheel – $2750. Ouch!

Any thoughts? I was under the impression that it’s rare for a flywheel to need to be replaced and that it wouldn’t make a grinding noise, but what do I know?

All counsel is greatly appreciated!


The problem might be with just the starter driver gear. If that’s the case, only the starter requires replacement.

In most cases the drive gear on the starter is made from a softer metal than the ring gear teeth. This is to prevent damage to the ring gear in the event the starter drive gear doesn’t fully engage the ring gear.

But this can be determined by removing the starter and inspecting the drive gear, and then rotating the engine by hand to expose all ring gear teeth to determine if ant damage was done to the ring gear.


Thank you so much for your reply. I would be so relieved if it were just the starter. A few questions if you don’t mind:

  1. I presume damage to the ring gear is something I just have to take the mechanic’s word on?
  2. If there is some damage to the ring gear, would it need to be replaced?
  3. And is this the kind of thing the mechanic should have caught when he looked at 120k? or could have prevented somehow? I’m just feeling the sting of $2750.

Thank you a thousand times.

Well, when a repair is going to cost the owner that much money, I’ll do one of two things. Either have owner of the vehicle observe the damage themselves so there’s no question if the repair is required, or I send them photos via E-mail of the damage. Then when the repair is completed I show them the damaged parts that were replaced.

I forgot to add. I have repaired the teeth on ring gears by welding new material onto the damaged teeth and then grinding them back into their original shape. But I only do this if it’s just a few teeth that are damaged, and if the vehicle isn’t worth the time and effort of removing the transmission to replace the ring gear.


That seems honest. Well Tester, you happen to be in Northern California so I can stop on by?

Sarah, your post said the car was taking longer and longer to start. Taking longer to start has caused the damage to the starter and perhaps the flywheel. If you fix those and don’t find the reason for the car not starting without a lot of cranking, then you’ll just burn up the expensive parts you just replaced.

Since you don’t want to spend $2,750 I doubt you’ll want to spend $1,000 - 2,000 more on the car to make the motor start quicker. It is time to unload the Volvo. Don’t spend a nickel more on it. After this repair in less than 6 months it will need some other $1,000 or $2,000 repair.

Sell it now while it still runs at all.

Hi there UncleTurbo,

Thanks for your thoughts. A few of my own I’d love your reaction to:

Regarding taking longer to start. So is this something the repair shop should have addressed at 120k before this big fee?

Regarding selling it:

  1. I am thinking of selling it but to whom could I sell a car that needs $2750 worth of work?

  2. And wouldn’t a new – or new to me car – cost more than $4k a year?


I called another reputable place in San Francisco for a second opinion. He said that he has a bit of a radical approach but that he has had success in the past just replacing the starter and the car running for awhile – like years – after that. And he said that if he replaced the starter then he’d guarantee it for 12 months and if it didn’t solve the problem then he’d replace the flywheel. This way I can test out seeing if just changing the starter – $500 all in – will solve the problem. Thoughts? reactions?