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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Engine in question: 2.4i, 284k miles

I've been tracking down a high pitch ticking noise, and narrowed it down to the rear exhaust area where the manifold connects to the head.

I removed all the exhaust manifold bolts with no problem, and took the gasket off. It doesn't look that bad, but while I was in there, I noticed a large amount of soot(oil?) in the exhaust port for cylinder 2.




After seeing this, I decided to pop the coil packs off the plugs and look into the spark plugs wells. I noticed there was a decent amount of oil in all spark plug wells except for 3.



I changed the spark plugs 60k ago, and cylinder 2 had oil all over the plug, so it seems to have spread. Also, the front of the cylinder head is leaking oil, and the top has all dirt (probably from oil attracting it). It's not from me spilling oil when doing an oil change, and the VVT solenoid and oil cap gaskets and new.



I have to add about a quart of oil every 2-3k miles now. It didn't use to be like this a few months ago. Normally I'd add a quart every 7500 miles.

I'm wondering if I am opening a can of worms and trying to replace basically all the gaskets for the head with a kit like this: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/volvo-engine-cylinder-head-gasket-set-c30-s40-v50-02-37005-01

I know the valve cover is one with the head, so it all has to come off. I'd remove the head, prep it, replace gaskets, and replace head.

Would this possibly solve my issue? Or is it everyone's advice to ride it out?

I have all the tools from replacing my VVT because of my original one leaking oil a few years ago.

The car has no real issues besides this one that seems to be getting worse. I have no desire to get rid of the car, and I'd like to see myself keeping it for many more years.

TLDR: Replace cylinder head gaskets with a kit due to oil in spark plugs wells and bad exhaust port for cylinder 2, or ride it out?


Thanks for reading!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here's some more info.

I took out all 5 plugs.




The intake sides of all the piston heads are wet with oil. It's tough to see in the pics, but you can see the reflection at the bottom.

I posted a pic of all the plugs as well. They are all wet except for 3, with #1 being the most wet, and 5 being the least. 1-2 were the worst, 3-5 were not so bad, but had oil.

Cylinder 1:


Cylinder 2:



Cylinder 3:


Cylinder 4:


Cylinder 5:



Here you can see the top of the piston glistening of cylinder 1:


Note that I did clean the area around the plugs and blew it out with compressed air. So, there was a small pool of oil in each well before that.

I'm pretty sure this isn't normal activity, so I'm wondering if anyone can lend advice or insight to this issue. Thanks!
 

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Well - oil pump is attached to the crank - oil pressure gets put out from there all over the block - into the journal bearings, out to the turbo - up to the head and around there.

My .02 - since there's no water getting in but oil getting in and given the design of the head - it sounds like maybe oil rings not doing their job giving you excess? Excess is pushing through the threads slowly and making it's way by everything during heatup...I mean those channels are surrounded by water, so the only place oil is in our cars is: pan - block channels and crankshaft, turbo, and head. Sounds to me like rings are gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well - oil pump is attached to the crank - oil pressure gets put out from there all over the block - into the journal bearings, out to the turbo - up to the head and around there.

My .02 - since there's no water getting in but oil getting in and given the design of the head - it sounds like maybe oil rings not doing their job giving you excess? Excess is pushing through the threads slowly and making it's way by everything during heatup...I mean those channels are surrounded by water, so the only place oil is in our cars is: pan - block channels and crankshaft, turbo, and head. Sounds to me like rings are gone.
So what are you suggesting? You think new piston rings are in order?
 

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So what are you suggesting? You think new piston rings are in order?
That'd be my vote. oil drips downward, doesn't push up unless it's got some help. Threads are far from 100% airtight. Properly working rings would mean the oil wouldn't be building up and would be getting pulled downward. I wouldn't be surprised though if you get in there and you've got some semi-polished walls given the lack of DOWNWARD oil movement between the burning of it and the plugs having some on it, excess oil comes from somewhere...
 

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Or could it be getting in through the intake (ie PCV valve or PCV housing).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PCV is new from about 60k miles ago. It seemed to be mainly on the intake side of the piston. Could it be leaking down from the valve seals after being turned off? Or a work guide?

I'm going to do a leak down test and I guess that's a good place to start diagnosing?

I'm hoping it's not a ring issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I did a leak down test and I'm hoping someone can help me interpret the data.

Leakage Per Cylinder @ 100 PSI

Cylinder 1: 4%
Cylinder 2: 32%
Cylinder 3: 10%
Cylinder 4: 38%
Cylinder 5: 12%

The leakage is mainly coming out of the oil fill cap and oil dipstick. So, PCV? Rings?

Thoughts?
 

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PCV is out of the loop in a leakdown test, which is pressurizing only the cylinder. It's either valves or rings, and the fact that the crankcase is seeing it, means, well, rings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Makes sense. Thanks for the reply and gold star to avenger09123 haha

What's the recommended advice on how to proceed?
 

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Depends on your goal. It's not likely to be cost-effective to rebuild the engine, you could look to swap for a good used one. Or, put a scope down there and get a good look around, and if no major calamities, put in some thicker oil and drive it. Or anything in-between.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It sounds crazy to think, but I do like to tinker and have the ability to take this car out of the DD rotation for awhile.

For the heck it, and potentially for laughs, how much do you estimate a rebuild would be? Assuming the labor is all done by me and friends, and a machine shop would perform any machining duties (level head, hone cylinders, restore valves... etc).

Obviously you never know what you'll find until you open it up though.

Although, this could be my excuse to move to a turbo...
 

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I have no idea on cost. Maybe someone has actually done it.

But this is not the kind of engine you can do a quick tear-it-down, hone-the-cylinders, plane-the-head, lap-the-valves, done. Everything is matched and if you don't repeat the full monty, you're just going to toast it. Also, you don't yet know what's going on in there. If the pistons are dinged, or the cylinders are egged or cracked, it's a lot more $$$. I'm all for educational projects, but this one could cost you. Or maybe not!

I still say get a scope in there and look. Maybe it's all decent and you just have crudded-up oil rings that can be flushed out. Unlikely, but not impossible. What's the compression in each cylinder, by the way? With and without extra oil?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Nothing VIDA and the ole Haynes manual can't tackle!

100% agree on getting a scope before moving forward. I'm working on getting one.

I'm picking my compression tester up from a friend tomorrow and will report back.

Let the fun begin!
 

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I did the simple math on this a while ago -

To replace EVERYTHING with OEM new would be about $2000. That's bolts, bearings, rings, gaskets, the works top to bottom.
To replace everything with non-oem new (i.e. ARP Headstuds, quality aftermarket), it'd run you about $1300.
To replace the minimum - $800-$1,000 (reusing all bolts and just getting gaskets+seals and required replacement bolts.

It's a simple motor to tear down, especially given how it's designed. However I would advise caution and attention to detail here - Head - cams - valvecover all require special love and tools and attention. Crankcase is relatively easy but has many seals for oil passageways and requires some attention to replace with the correct size/type. Proper use of the anaerobic sealant is also required, or you'll find yourself with leaks. Replacing the main seals also takes some knowledge and patience. It's not a small task, but research every step of the way and you can do it. No guarantee on how long it lasts after that though :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Those prices are from awhile ago? Perfect. So they've probably only increased haha

Thanks for that info! I'm seeing this as an exploration. The car has treated me well most of its life. I drive it hard, and I can't really complain.

I'll pop a camera in there and see what we are dealing with and report back.

You never know, it could become a write-up that everyone attempts. You know, the casual $1000 weekend teardown and replace...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Avenger - could you give a rough breakdown on how you got to those prices and what it included?

When you say all OEM new, is that also including rods and pistons? Or just the stuff you mentioned? Also, is that included machine shop jobs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here are some pictures from a camera. Sorry for the poorer quality. I'll try to explain them.

This is a photo of cylinder 1. The exhaust valve is at the top left of the photo. You can see oil dripping down in the center of the pic.


This is a photo of the cross hatching in cylinder 1. From what I could tell, all 5 cylinder walls looked like this.


This is cylinder 2 showing oil dripping down from the exhaust valve.


This is the exhaust valves from cylinder 4. They have this white residue on the backs of the valves. What could this be?


In total:

All cylinder cross hatching seemed to be like cylinder 1 photo. If anything, some had an oil tinge at the top of the piston.

All cylinders have a noticable oil leak from the exhaust valves dripping down. The car has sat for about a week at this point in the photos.

All intake valves are wet and have oil caked on them.

I wasn't entirely sure what to grab photos of, so let me know if any other angles/photos are of interest to see.

Compression test to follow... Thoughts?
 

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So white buildup is typically ash from an excessively hot burn - think of the white stuff as the peak of burn at the hottest temp.

Given that the headers can be at 1500*F, it's not a a shocker to see white. Too black = too rich. Too white = too lean. Both or grey is what you want to see on the valve.

I wouldn't be shocked that oil is coming in and going out the valves/burning off. Typical cycle involves pushing exhaust up, and the top of the stroke, the intake is open too to "whip" the intake air in using the KE of the exhaust energy leaving. Between this concept (if it even applies on these engines) and excessive oil in the chamber pushing up past both valves on the compression stroke, plus your oil burn mark on the piston crown edge - all points to bad oil rings.

I wouldn't waste time on a compression test unless you're doing it for poops and giggles. Compression rings are only supposed to slide past the oil sheen on the wall, not collect or remove it. Plus replacement rings come with new compression rings anyways. However, oldschool hotrodder mentality says if your compression test does it's job, then you pull the piston's out far enough to change the oil rings only, as the piston/wall/compression rings have formed to each other already, eliminating the need to replace the rods or get the walls rehoned. However the "proper" way to do it all is to take it all apart and have everything checked and resurfaced appropriately and everything "new."

Also as for where I got the numbers: I went on VolvoPartsLisle and looked up all the bolts/bearings/seals/gaskets to reassembly my old motor and added them up in the cart. then found aftermarket stuff and added that in in place of the OEM stuff. That was not including any work done by any shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the detailed reply!

Forgive my ingnorance, but is it normal for piston rings to just wear down and the cylinder be okay? Or is wear related to an issue. I would imagine wear is normal since they are a moving object. Is the purpose of rehoning the cylinder to help the new rings find there home in the cylinder?

Also, it seems like, although it'd be easier to just snap new rings on, it should really be done properly and not cut corners when you're talking about already being in there.
 
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