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Doug, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Volvo
Satisfied Customers: 8612
Experience:  Volvo Enthusiast and extended work experience from a Volvo specialized shop
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Camshaft seals of my Volvo V40 wagon are leaking oil onto the

Resolved Question:

Camshaft seals of my Volvo V40 wagon are leaking oil onto the timing belt. Dealer says the car's PCV valve must be clogged, and pressure is blowing out the seals. Is that plausible? What's involved in cleaning or replacing the PCV valve?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Volvo
Expert:  Doug replied 7 years ago.
It is plausible, but there will be other indicators of this problem.

When the PCV system gets clogged, you will have greatly increased pressure from the oil cap hole while running and oil cap removed. Also it is very common for the oil dipstick to "eject" itself while driving once the PCV system has started to clog.

If this is the case for you, in order to repair this condition you must remove the entire intake manifold to access the PCV box (oil trap) and replace it with a new one and new hoses.
The oil trap is only about $50, but involves about $300 in labor to replace. The labor would not overlap with the cam seal replacement at all.

That being said, leaking cam seals does not automatically mean the PCV system is clogged. I would check for excess pressure as described before from the cap and dipstick tube.
Also, for every one cam seal I see leaking, I probably see half a dozen VVT solenoid (located right behind exhaust cam seal) leaking, often misdiagnosed as a cam seal, so you want to be certain that is the origin of the leak as well..
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
A followup question: if the cam seals ARE leaking--and the labor of replacing the oil trap doesn't overlap with the cam seal replacement--what do you reckon is the additional labor and parts cost?

The Volvo mechanic is telling me I have to spend $2400. I have to deal with him; his dealership is the only oe in town with the special Volvo tools.

I'm very pleased with your answer so far.
Expert:  Doug replied 7 years ago.
Wow, that is a lot.
Give me a few minutes and I will get you a figure for what my shop would charge.
Expert:  Doug replied 7 years ago.
Okay, sorry for the delay. I will give you a break down of the charges in stages, at my shops labor rate of $90 per hour:

Cam seal replacement only.
Two seals, $11 each, 3.6 hours labor; $345 plus tax/incidentals

Additional for replacing the timing belt:
Timing belt $60,
belt idler $80
tensioner $97
0.5 additional labor; $235 total additional for replacing belt and tensioners

Cost for PCV system repair
PCV oil trap, $40. Incidental hoses as needed (break from age) up to $30.
3.0 additional labor (this is rounded up to account for incidental cleaning while hoses are off; typical charge can be as low as 2.4 hours); $340 parts and labor.

Worst case scenario (these parts prices are full dealership markup/retail price), with doing a complete Tbelt and idler/tensioners, you should be in the neighborhood of $920 plus tax and any incidentals (damaged hoses during repair, cleaning chemicals, etc).

The only way I see it going higher than that is if they tried to upsell a water pump as well (it is often sold with the timing belt to save labor time), you would still only be looking at an additional $145 for the pump and $72 labor. A far cry from $2400.

With such a high estimate, I would recommend getting a full written estimate to see where exactly they are getting these numbers from, then perhaps look around for a Swedish specialty shop or even another dealer even if it is a long drive; from the information you provided, I don't see any way you they could honestly charge that kind of money for the job described.

Thanks for the Accept earlier. You are not obligated to Accept/pay for this follow-up answer unless you wish too; I am posting it as an answer simply for clarity.

Edited by Doug Cleland on 1/20/2010 at 7:51 PM EST
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I got the shop to email me a written estimate. It adds up to $1730 (a little better than $2400), and presents me with a terminology problem. I quote the summary: "Need to clean blocked ports, replace oil trap and hoses, replace front and rear cam seals, timing belt, turbo drain tube seals and oil cap seal."

The phrase "oil trap" seems to be a term that fits what you and I have been corresponding about, but the "turbo drain tube" is a new one. Here's the cost breakdown:
R/R Manifold and clean vent system: 399.45
Replace Turbo Drain seals: 180.00
Replace cooling turbo hose: 232.80
Replace cam seals: $400
Is the "PCV box" the same as the turbo drain?

The timing belt and water pump were replaced a couple of months ago. The rest of the estimate includes repairs not related to the engine.

What do you think?

Expert:  Doug replied 7 years ago.
Okay, heres my spin:

$399.45 for the pcv box (oil trap) is not too bad if it is all inclusive (parts, labor, cleaning ports); it should include a NEW oil trap (pcv box); you do not want to reuse the old one.

Also,this is not the same as the turbo oil drain. This is a different leak and is typically about $100-150 to fix (all labor, $10 in parts), again, about in line with our pricing.

The cooling turbo hose could either be a intake air hose from the turbo to the intercooler or a water cooling line for the turbo, and is not related to anything we mentioned previously.

$400 for cam seals is a pretty good deal including the timing belt. Since I presume the idler/tensioners were done with the previous belt and waterpump, this saves big $ this time around

Really over all the pricing is not too bad looking at the breakdown; the cam seals and a new belt are about the same as we would charge; the oil trap, presuming they include the trap with the cleaning/repair, is only about $50 higher than we would charge (Volvo specialized repair center). The oil drain is only a few dollars more as well.

The cooling hose I'd have to know which one we are talking about, but based on the other prices being in-line, it probably is as well.
The oil cap seal is very common to leak as well, by the way.

This makes me feel much better about their estimate; both the additional repairs you mentioned and the lower price. The $2400 for what you initially mentioned was way out of line, but the ~1100 or so you mentioned here (plus whatever the non-engine repairs to total 1700) sounds rather fair so far, if all the work is needed.