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2015.5 s60 T5 clicking/ticking noise when accelerating

144315 Views 582 Replies 117 Participants Last post by  klr142
Has anyone experience this issue? I have a 2015.5 S60 T5, when accelerating, I get this ticking/clicking noise for about a second or so. And it feels like its losing power. Usually occurs between 3k to 4K rpm. I feel like I don't get that quick torch. Any idea?
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This sounds like pinging to me. I'd try a different gas station first and/or higher octane gas if you aren't already using premium.
I have been using 93. The owner's manual states:
Volvo recommends premium fuel for best performance, but using 87 octane or above will not affect engine reliability.
Putting around town I have no doubt that 87 is just fine. But lots of power and revs means more boost pressure and more heat and that's what causes fuel to start burning too early (and ping). The ECU detects that via knock sensors and retards timing before it can get bad enough to hurt anything. I suspect that's what you are experiencing when it loses power. You can take it to the dealer if you want but I'd just try higher octane first. It sounds like your driving style might call for it.

FWIW my former Prius did this but only in hot weather. I ran high-test in that from May through September and was able to run 87 the rest of the year.
I think I finally heard this for myself today. In my case it was three short ticks in rapid succession right after rolling to ~75% throttle to pass someone. If the radio had been on I probably wouldn't have noticed. The engine responded just fine, though. Does that sound familiar to anyone? If so then I have to agree that it isn't pinging. The waste gate explanation is probably as good a guess as any.
I've been hearing it more frequently as time goes on (or I'm just more sensitized to it). It always sounds like it's coming from my foot well. Just as a data point, I had all of the software updated yesterday since the car was in for unrelated work and I heard it again within a half mile of departing the dealership. I keep hoping Volvo will quietly write a software patch to correct some calibration for it but not yet.
"Video 1" is spot-on with my experience. It's that quick metallic tapping immediately after a sudden throttle application.
This is NOT good folks for the Drive-E engines. Makes me worry.
It's definitely not confidence-inspiring, and a shame considering that it's a pretty good drivetrain otherwise. Multiple reports of broken spark plugs and widespread reports of what is almost certainly detonation don't speak well to longevity. I'm starting to wonder if this isn't our first indication of a carbon buildup problem, either on the intake valves or inside the combustion chamber. The former is pretty common in early DI engines and could be screwing-up the intake charge enough to throw off the maps at high load. The latter would be strange but not impossible, especially in a cooler end cylinder. Thinking about it, my low-mileage/short trip drive cycle (more time at low engine temps) might explain why mine cropped-up at at ~5k mi while most people are reporting the problem first around 10k mi or later. It's completely inconclusive but consistent.

Oh, side note. Does anybody know what size spark plug socket this thing takes? It appears to need a much smaller diameter than what I have. (Officially, I'm asking for no reason in particular. None at all.)
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There is a reason I don't (normally) buy the first generation of a new car model or major revamp, either new or used. They (the OEM and their suppliers) have to get all the bugs worked out and by the third model year, normally have. Vast generalization here but borne out by experience I'm sad to say.
Same reason I leased mine instead of buying, which is why I'm not about to lose any sleep over it. I knew going in that a first-year (at least in the US) Drive-E engine was a gamble, just as any other first-year engine from any other manufacturer. Still, no sane person leases a car thinking "well, this will be **** so I may as well spend a bunch of money on the steep initial depreciation on a car that sucks so that I can dump it later and get absolutely nothing out of the deal!" At least not me. I really wanted Drive-E to be solid and I still expect Volvo to work the bugs out of it. But the odds of my buying-out this one are roughly nil.
If I owned mine rather than leasing I personally wouldn't take the trade-in hit just for this. I'd at least keep it through the original warranty and definitely continue hounding Volvo about it. If we're right about this being ping then there could be the possibility of a software fix in the form of revised maps. They'll only work on it if we keep after them, though. If it's something more involved then we still need to call attention to it.
Im curious if this has anything to do with the ethanol content in our gas. When I had my 98 T5 in the Midwest most all the 91 I got was ethanol free and I got wicked good mpg and power to boot. It's noticeable coming back to New England where almost everything is octane boosted with ethanol. http://www.pure-gas.org has a list of stations with ethanol free gas.
In my experience ethanol-free fuel hasn't helped. I've been using it exclusively since last August (91 octane since that's the only pure gas available to me) and I have had the same problem as everyone else. Having run my last tank nearly dry I refilled with 93 octane E10. So far I've only had one "event" and the pings were much more muted than they usually are. I'm only a couple hundred miles in, though. I usually experience the pinging after a good heat soak (20+ miles of driving) and I don't think I've taken a trip that long on this fuel.
After all is taken care of, I am going to put a bore scope into my cylinders and take a look.
Do you (on anyone else) happen to know what size spark plug wrench these cars take? I pulled my scope out for the exact same reason a couple of weeks ago but I realized that my sockets are too large. My searches have come up empty so far.
Use a 14mm thin wall deep socket w/ extension. use magnet to extract spark plug when you loosened it all the way and install the same way.
Mine seems to be running a bit better during the last couple of tanks of 93 octane E10 vs. the ethanol-free 91 octane I've been using for the previous year. It still pings occasionally under the same circumstances but not as audibly. The few events I've heard have been light ticks rather than the hammering I was getting before. It still gets really coarse during those situations where I'm on the gas but it's refusing to downshift, though. This engine has always seemed to run better some days than others and I'm finally starting to wonder if unstable combustion is to blame. Sometimes it's buttery-smooth at power, other times it isn't audibly knocking but instead takes on a rough, gravelly sound quality.
In my mind this is pretty simple. If Volvo designed these engines to run "without causing damage" on 87 octane gas and they require 93 octane not to eject their own spark plugs, then 93 octane is just a band-aid covering a serious problem. I'm still hoping that this can be fixed with revised maps. Hopefully performance won't be too badly degraded when that happens (which it must) but we'll see.

In other news I've discovered that mine is dumping power without any audible ping whatsoever. This morning I was headed up-hill when traffic cleared and I got on it. Foot down, downshift, about a half second of power, and then suddenly it just dropped-out and I was driving my old Prius. I tried it again a half-mile later on level road and everything was just dandy. WTF is going on with these cars? All of you who were experiencing problems going up-hill, I just figured that was because climbing is when you are most likely to work the engine. Now I'm not so sure it's that simple.

Whatever. It's been three months since my last trip to the dealer so I guess it's about time.
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we spend a lot of money on these cars so why cheap out on the gas.
I realize you're probably saying this as a matter of principle and not as an argument, but please bear with me because I think an important point needs to be made: this isn't about cheaping-out on fuel. I think that those of us who care about performance understand that a turbocharged engine running well over a bar of boost is going to run much better on high-octane fuel. We'll gleefully pony up a few extra cents per gallon. But there are still two problems. 1) Volvo said these cars would run fine (albeit not optimally) on 87 octane fuel, yet user experience proves that they don't, and 2) people like me are using the highest quality fuel we can find and still having performance problems with our cars.

My humble opinion, as one of the few (only?) multi-decade Volvo enthusiasts/owners on this site who has also been in favor of Drive-E since its announcement, this situation isn't good and it isn't an issue of user error. This is a real problem that Volvo needs to fix.
Pistons? Did they explain why?
This is a really excellent post! This might also explain why mine sounds increasingly like **** in those low-RPM situations where I need to go but the trans doesn't want to shift. It's smooth for a little while and then develops this sort of rattly, almost coffee-grinder tone. When it was new it definitely lugged but it didn't sound like it was falling apart. This is on 93 octane E10 which still seems to be mitigating the hard pings but isn't preventing it from dumping power, even in sport mode as of this morning.
I finally remembered to buy that 14mm socket. Know what that means? Borescope time! This engine has approximately 12,500mi as of today. (Ignore the date stamp on the video...it's completely wrong.)

The spark plugs were completely normal to my eye, with no visible damage to the ceramic and nothing amiss with the electrodes. But is it me or is that a lot of carbon buildup on the pistons? I reviewed a similar video from my V70 3.2 at around 90,000mi and there wasn't nearly as much buildup. There were spots of carbon but not a coating like this. Unfortunately the scope wouldn't fit through the hole with the 45 degree mirror so I wasn't able to see the cylinder head or valves.
Understanding that Volvo doesn't recommend the use of fuel additives, I did my own research and decided to try it anyway. The only real risk appeared to be 7.5 hard-earned US dollars for a bottle of Gumout All-In-One, which is reported to contain a relatively large dose of PEA. (Never mind that more may not always be better with PEA...I didn't come across that info until later.) So I ran the tank and re-scoped the engine. For the sake of consolidation I'll put both videos below.

Before (~12,500mi):

After (12,995mi):

I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. The piston tops certainly look cleaner in the "after" footage, especially in cylinders 1 and 4. I don't think it's a lighting trick since I'm using the same scope in the same engine with the same (as if it would matter) ambient lighting conditions. That much is encouraging, although a lot of buildup remains. Every visible surface has taken on a shinier appearance vs. before treatment. Cleaners at work? I don't know, as this is hardly scientific. It's interesting though. Anecdotally, I've had multiple sessions of "blowing the carbon out" type fun without any noticeable pinging at all. Normally that's exactly what causes it. It also idles buttery-smooth now compared to a bit of roughness that has developed over the past 20+ months in my care. (But to temper expectations, I always wonder if these treatments contain a little something extra like an octane booster to smooth things out while they are in use.)

I think I'll continue to treat it periodically with PEA and re-scope just to see what happens. So far I'm encouraged but experience tells me never to trust the first result.
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For those of you who have had techs ride along, have they bothered to do any data logging? With the plethora of sensors available through VIDA you would think Sweden would be clamoring for data to pinpoint the issue. If it's pinging it's pinging for a reason. Likewise, if the sound is actually mechanical (like a wastegate or something) you would think there would be clues somewhere on the CANBUS.

I was going to pay attention with my ScanGauge but I just can't get useful information from watching a couple of gauges while trying to drive. Today I received a bluetooth OBDII dongle and installed Torque Pro so I'm going to try to gather some data that way. If anyone else wants to give it a shot we're talking about a $25 investment assuming you already have a compatible smartphone, and the app is kind of neat in its own right. It could be especially useful from some of you who experience this problem all the time and/or can reproduce it. (Mine was always pretty sporadic and has been behaving itself lately whether due to the fuel treatment, change in weather, or whatever.)
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Some good news: I tried out Torque data logging today and it worked perfectly. For reference I'm using this inexpensive OBDII adapter in combination with my HTC M7.

Some good news that isn't remotely helpful: Once I got everything set up I went for a joyride but I couldn't induce an "event." And I really tried. I mean, I flogged it as I assume I would a stolen Yaris yet the thing ran like the 4-cylinder equivalent of a sewing machine. I even found an up-hill on-ramp that allowed a strong WOT run from a nearly standing start. TBH it was the most fun I've had in this car to date but not terribly relevant to the problem at hand. I did at one point manage a couple of very faint ticks by stomping on it from a moderate roll, which is usually what does it, but it didn't lose power as far as I could tell. If the radio had been on at low volume I probably wouldn't have noticed at all. Nothing sticks out in the logs, either. I'll keep logging as I drive normally until something happens.
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