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.
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.Volvo recommends premium fuel for best performance, but using 87 octane or above will not affect engine reliability.
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.This is NOT good folks for the Drive-E engines. Makes me worry.
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.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.
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.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.
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.After all is taken care of, I am going to put a bore scope into my cylinders and take a look.
Thanks!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.
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.we spend a lot of money on these cars so why cheap out on the gas.
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.