Volvo Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Frequently Asked Questions & Self-help Advice

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Get in touch with one of our Volvo experts and we’ll be happy to help.

Caring for My Volvo:

Is regular maintenance and servicing really necessary?

It is very important to keep up to date on your vehicle’s services. REMEMBER – If you look after your vehicle, your vehicle will look after you!

This is also crucial when you’ve taken out a service/maintenance plan/insurance on your vehicle with any of the underwriting agencies. If services on your vehicle are not up to date, you run a very high risk of claims being rejected. Get all the facts, terms and conditions from your underwriting agency.

How often should I service my petrol engine Volvo?

On petrol vehicles up to 2001, service intervals are every 15 000km or 12 months (whichever comes first) – consult your service book.

On petrol vehicles from 2001 upwards, service intervals are every 20 000km or 12 months (whichever comes first) – consult your service book.

Depending on the age and mileage of your vehicle, specific services are required. Phone or e-mail us with your vehicle’s model, age, VIN number and service history for an accurate quote on what to expect. If you are already an existing Revolve customer, we have all these details stored on our system.

How often should I service my diesel engine Volvo?

On diesel vehicles the service intervals are every 10 000km or 6 months (whichever comes first) – consult your service book.

You will find that your 20 000km/annual service intervals will be the bigger services, while the 10 000km/6 month service intervals will just be a quick 30 minute oil change.

Depending on the age and mileage of your vehicle, specific services are required. Phone or e-mail us with your vehicle’s model, age, VIN number and service history for an accurate quote on what to expect. If you are already an existing Revolve customer, we have all these details stored on our system.

When should I change the cam belt on my Volvo?

This is one of the first questions we get when a vehicle is out of motor plan and warranty, and normally accompanied with a stressed look from the owner.

When in doubt which of the below is applicable to your vehicle, feel free to phone or e-mail us for further information and a comprehensive quote.

PETROL VEHICLES:

Some of the Volvo models (for example the C30/S40/V50 1.8L & 2.0L range) run with a steel timing chain, which means that the timing chain does not need to be changed. On these models the major service would include changing the fan belt(s), fan belt tensioner and fan belt idler, along with the specified filters as per factory recommendation.

On the models with a rubber cam belt, the cam belt change is recommended to be done every 8 years/160000km (whichever comes first).

Remember that parts damage with both wear (mileage), and age (rubber getting old and brittle). Where possible, we always suggest that you stick to the above guidelines to play it safe.

DIESEL VEHICLES

On the 2.0 Liter Diesel vehicles we follow the same guidelines as above, but on the D5 engines specifically we always recommend moving up the cam belt change/major service to every 7 years/140 000km as we’ve seen them acting up from year 7.

Can I fit cheaper, generic brake pads to my Volvo?

If you want to cut corners on your car, this is one corner you do not want to cut – we recommend always fitting ORIGINAL Volvo brake pads.

The compound of the Volvo brake pads is very soft, securing better grip on the brake discs and also giving you better handbrake performance.

After-market/generic brake pads are made from a much harder compound, leading to possible squeaking/noisy brakes, poor handbrake performance and faster wear on your brake discs, which will in the end cost you more money than you saved on buying generic pads.

Phone or email us for a quote – you will be surprised at the affordability!

How often should I balance and align my wheels on my Volvo?

It is good practice to do both alignment and balancing on your Volvo at least once a year, and also to rotate your tyres every 10 000km to avoid uneven tyre wear.

Warning Lights and Messages on My Volvo:

Oil Light Turning On/Off or Staying Lit

Stop your vehicle immediately as soon as it is safe to do so. DO NOT attempt to drive home nor to a garage. Turn the engine OFF and do not attempt to restart your Volvo. Your Volvo must be towed to our workshop for inspection. Contact us here.

Coolant Low Message

STOP IMMEDIATELY and check the coolant level in your vehicle. This should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum marks as indicated on your coolant/expansion bottle.

If not sufficient, top up with preferably distilled water/cold kettle water/premix antifreeze.

Check your coolant bottle and lid for fine cracks, and any visible hoses for evidence of a leak – remember that your cooling system runs under severe pressure, and will look for any possible weak spot to push through.

If no visible leaks are found, monitor the coolant level for a couple of days, and if it continues to drop, contact us to make an appointment for further inspection.

This is not something you want to take a change with – overheating your engine WILL lead to big repairs and big bills … Something we all try to avoid.

Beam Failure/Globe Failure

This means that one or more of the light globes in your vehicle have failed. We normally keep stock of all the globes, and you can just drop in for 5 minutes for a quick fitment for FREE. You only pay for the parts we replace. Contact us.

Feeling handy or just too far away to drive out to us? You can purchase the required globe from any retail outlet and consult your vehicle manual for instructions on how to fit. If you struggle you can still drop in and one of our guys can assist with fitment.

Beam Failure/Globe Failure

This means that one or more of the light globes in your vehicle have failed. We normally keep stock of all the globes, and you can just drop in for 5 minutes for a quick fitment for FREE. You only pay for the parts we replace. Contact us.

Feeling handy or just too far away to drive out to us? You can purchase the required globe from any retail outlet and consult your vehicle manual for instructions on how to fit. If you struggle you can still drop in and one of our guys can assist with fitment.

Engine Light Turned On / Engine System Service Required

The message refer to something in the electronic system of your vehicle which is faulty or logging a fault code.
An easy rule of thumb is that as long as your vehicle have sufficient oil and water, and there is no visible change in performance, it is relatively safe to drive (obviously this is a very general simplification, so please don’t take any unnecessary chances and rather arrange a 15 – 20 minute appointment for further diagnosis).

Airbag Service Required / Anti Skid Service Required / ABS Service Required / Alarm System Service Required

This does not mean that your airbags won’t work, or that you don’t have any brakes on your vehicle, so as a rule of thumb your vehicle still remains safe to drive (again simplifying, so please be vigilant of how your vehicle is reacting)

These messages can all refer to various problems in the above mentioned systems.  The best is to book a 15 – 20 minute assessment so that our technician can get your vehicle onto the computer to diagnose and see what is wrong and to enable us to advise you further.

Transmission Light Turned On / Transmission Service Required

The important thing to remember here is that it is good practice to change your gearbox oil every 3 years on all automatic Volvo vehicles.  This is not needed on manual transmissions.
We do not specialize in repairing transmission systems, so will assist you in diagnosing, but if in any doubt we will refer you to a gearbox specialist for further testing and assessment.

Power System Service Required

This could indicate that your alternator is no longer charging your battery effectively.

Insufficient power to run all the systems might also lead to your vehicle starting to log various other fault codes (for example: Power steering failure, ABS lights or Immobilizer messages).

STOP your vehicle in the nearest place of safety, as your vehicle might cut out at any moment and leave you stuck next to the side of the road.

Have your battery tested immediately, along with the charging rate on your alternator (this should be between 14 and 14.2 volts).

If your alternator is not charging at the correct rate, AVOID further driving at all cost, and contact us for a quote or advice.

Depending on the damage to your alternator, your battery might also have become damaged in the process and require replacing.

A warning light came on, but then disappeared. What does this mean?

Every time your vehicle logs a fault code, it gets stored in the vehicle’s on-board computer.  This means that we are still able to pick up on that fault code when we put your vehicle onto the diagnostic computer, and will still be able to advise you.

Basic Volvo Troubleshooting:

My Volvo won't start

If you’re turning the key and can’t hear the motor turning over, start by having your battery tested. Ensure that you have sufficient fuel in your vehicle (20/40km to empty tank is no guarantee). Even being parked on a slope with a close to empty tank can cause trouble starting.

If the battery is not faulty and you have sufficient fuel, contact us for further advice or schedule an appointment for further diagnosis.

On S40 and V50 models:

These models have an electrical steering column lock. Listen if the column lock unlocks itself when you turn the key (you will hear an electrical disengagement). This needs to happen for the vehicle to start. If you can’t hear this noise, it might mean that the column lock or ignition switch is faulty. Contact us for further assistance.

My Volvo is using lots of oil

It is good practice to check your oil every time you fill up. Also get into the habit of checking your own oil, and not leaving it to the petrol attendants to check, as they are in the business of selling oil.

Oil should always be checked at operating temperature, roughly 15 minutes after shutting off your vehicle.

Remember that Volvo’s use FULLY SYNTHETIC oil (even if you can’t find the 5W40 grade which we find effective in SA, ensure that you top up with fully synthetic).

On older model Volvo’s (and especially on Turbo vehicles), oil usage of up to 1 pint every 2 – 3 tanks of fuel is acceptable.

My Volvo is using lots of oil

It is good practice to check your oil every time you fill up. Also get into the habit of checking your own oil, and not leaving it to the petrol attendants to check, as they are in the business of selling oil.

Oil should always be checked at operating temperature, roughly 15 minutes after shutting off your vehicle.

Remember that Volvo’s use FULLY SYNTHETIC oil (even if you can’t find the 5W40 grade which we find effective in SA, ensure that you top up with fully synthetic).

On older model Volvo’s (and especially on Turbo vehicles), oil usage of up to 1 pint every 2 – 3 tanks of fuel is acceptable.

Petrol Engines

Fill up to the ¾ mark on your dip-stick – over filling can lead to over pressurizing the system, causing oil leaks on cam seals and possible oil usage.

Diesel Engines

On Diesel models specifically, your oil level MAY NOT be more that ¾ full.  If you by accident fill it up to the full mark, the crank ventilation pressure will increase and the engine light WILL come on.

My Volvo aircon is not working

Your air conditioner works with a transparent liquid gas. Simply stated, you’re A/C won’t use up the gas as it continuously recycles.

AIRCON NOT COOLING/KICKING ON AND OFF RAPIDLY

This indicates that your air conditioner is low/out of gas.

Normally being low/out of gas would mean that your A/C might have a leak somewhere in the system causing you to loose gas.  We would then do a re-gas adding fluorescent dye to the gas to show up any leakages down the line in order to trace the possible leak.

MY AIRCON WORKS FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES, THEN KICKS OUT AND STARTS BLOWING HOT AIR

Normally you can test this by turning off the vehicle, and turning it on again after 5 minutes. When starting up the vehicle again, the A/C will start blowing cool air again.

This can indicate that the compressor’s clutch is worn to such an extent that the clutch is struggling to engage the electro magnet operating the A/C.

First line of defense would be to re-shim the clutch (lessen the gap) again, and this should give you’re A/C clutch a 2nd lease on life. Remember that this fix depends on the condition of your clutch. Too much wear might mean that you’ll have to replace the air conditioner clutch.

My Volvo boot won't open (typically S40 and V50 models)

There is a wiring loom situated along the hinge on the L/H side of your boot if you open it up. With regular opening and closing, this loom and the wires within gets old/brittle and brake. This loss of connection could possibly cause your boot not to open.

Normally it takes about 45 minutes to fix – we open up your boot and cut into the wiring loom to repair/solder the damaged wires. Again this fix depends on the condition of the wiring loom … too much wear might mean that we’ll have to replace the wiring loom.

Your boot lock or micro switch/handle can also be faulty, but majority of the time we find broken/snapped off wires to be the cause of ‘boot not opening’ problems.

My Volvo engine is making a whistling noise (typically S40 and V50 models)

In conjunction with the noise, your Volvo engine light might also be turned on.

When hearing a whistling noise coming from your engine bay, open up the bonnet of your vehicle and pull out the dipstick.  If you can feel air gushing out of the dipstick tube and the noise stops, this indicates that the oil filter housing/crank ventilation box on your vehicle is cracked and has a vacuum leak.

Leave the dipstick slightly pulled out to avoid the noise irritation and over pressurizing of the system, and contact us for a quote to replace.

Remember, leaving the vehicle’s dipstick out is not a permanent fix, as your vehicle will be operating at an incorrect pressure which can lead to other problems).

My Volvo is hunting, experiencing erratic idling, or cutting out

This could refer to a dirty throttle module (a very common accurance on the larger platform petrol vehicles) – if this is the case, we clean the throttle unit and re-calibrate.  This is a very simple procedure.

Your question not answered above?

Get in touch with one of our Volvo experts and we’ll be happy to help.