On the off-chance you weren’t aware, your Volvo XC90 (with the 2.5T engine) has a turbo. Don’t get too excited – it’s a light-pressure turbo, so don’t expect to leave any rubber on the road. I find the turbo really does it’s best when you’re already on the highway and need to pass someone – or simply merge into traffic that’s moving at a brisk pace. I’ve read old reviews that paint a negative picture of the 2.5T engine and turbo and how you should have “ponied up” the extra money for the T6, but at this point, we all know the early twin-turbo Volvo XC90 T6 is a loser thanks to its woefully inadequate GM transmission.
If you’re not overly familiar with how the turbo charger in your XC90 works, iPd USA has a great Volvo Turbo 101 video to explain.
If you’re kinda-sorta familiar and want some details about how to keep your turbo in the best-possible condition for years to come, read on for some great turbo ownership tips.
2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T Turbo Ownership Tips
The first thing you should know is that taking care of your turbo is actually pretty easy and involves creating a few habits and procedures that help prolong its life.
Turbo Talk Tip #1 – Your Oil Change Regimen Is Vital
Change your oil. And then change your oil. First change: Change your oil to synthetic oil if you haven’t already. Why change to synthetic oil? The impeller shaft of your turbo charger spins at incredible speeds and therefore reaches temperatures that far exceed those inside your engine’s crankcase. Oil (and a little bit of airflow) is the only thing keeping your turbo cool. Synthetic oil doesn’t break down as fast as conventional oil, making it far more capable of keeping your turbo cooled and lubricated. Also, make sure you’re using the right viscosity for your XC90. Some will tell you to use a certain viscosity because your car is old or because it has a turbo or to keep the seals from leaking, etc. I won’t preach about what oil to use on your XC90 but I will say that I use Mobil 1 5w-30 or the High Mileage variant and I’m considering switching to LiquiMoly, but the jury is still out for me.
Second change: Change your oil on an appropriate schedule and stick to the schedule zealously. That means prior preparation. Use a calendar or an app or reminders to check your Volvo’s mileage so you change your XC90’s oil at the right interval – or sooner. I can’t stress the importance of this. Switching to synthetic oil is not a license to ignore you oil change intervals. Synthetic – especially in turbo charged engines – needs to be changed on a regular interval, too.
Turbo Talk Tip #2 – Your Driving Habits Matter
Owning a vehicle with a turbo – even a low-pressure turbo – requires some small adjustments to your driving habits. Again, I’m just telling you what I do – so if you disagree, keep on trucking. First habit: Let your engine settle before you take off. When you start your engine, it revs a little higher for a few minutes as the oil circulates. Then, the RPMs settle down. I personally don’t drive the car until it has calmed down. From there, I try to keep it under 3,000RPM until the car has fully warmed up (check your coolant temperature gauge for this). Once it’s warmed up, I feel more comfortable going above 3,000RPM. Granted this isn’t always possible if I’m hitting the highway first thing in the morning. So I try to not be an idiot in those cases and limit my over 3,000RPM time until we’re fully warmed up.
How you turn your XC90 off matters too. If you park your XC90 after a hard drive and turn it off, guess what? The oil still on and around the hot impeller shaft boils…and leaves nasty deposits that can shorten the life on your turbo and create sludge that makes its way to other parts of the lubrication system in your engine. Turning my car off is almost always the last thing I do after I park. Giving your turbo an extra minute to get some fresh, cooler oil over it will greatly prolong the life of your turbo.
Turbo Talk Tip #3 – Think Outside The Turbo
- Air intake.
We talked a little about lubrication – using the right oil (viscosity + synthetic) and changing it on a set schedule without exception, but also ensuring you’re using a quality oil filter for your XC90 will help prolong the life of your turbo as well. Make sure you’re getting a quality OE or OEM filter and change it every time you change your oil.
Air intake is vital as well. This includes ensuring you have a good air filter in place. But that’s just the beginning. Ensuring your boost hoses are in-tact and not leaking or coated with a lot of oil on the inside is a great maintenance tip. You should also make sure your MAF sensor and boost pressure solenoid valve (TCV) are working properly. I’ve read a few stories of owners who have replaced their TVC and have had excellent results – better turbo reaction, feelings of more power, etc.
Exhaust is important as well. A clogged exhaust can cause pressure build up in the system and cause your turbo to work harder which can lead to a shortened life expectancy.If you’ve got blue smoke billowing out of your exhaust you can be almost certain it’s turbo related – and very likely a seal. Thankfully a turbo can be repaired if you want to go that route. Just be sure it’s done right – or someone will be doing it – and paying for it – again.
Keep in mind that a new turbo (Volvo Part Number 36002369) can run you over $1,000USD.