Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Defective ETM in Volvo Can Result in Accident.

[This is the Blog version. I am going to send other formal versions all over Thailand.]

ETM Related Volvo Accident

This is a letter to bring attention to public that a defective component in certain Volvos built between 1999 to 2002 with electronic throttles. All of the following models with petrol engines are affected: not just the 1999-2001 V70s and C70s, but the S60, S70, S80, XC70 and the model year 2002 V70 non-turbos and C70s. Also, all S60 and V70 Bi fuel models are affected. Sources have indicated that there is a 94% failure rate on this item before 100,000 miles (160,934 km), which happens to be beyond standard warranty period covered by Volvo Thailand.

The ETM (Electronic Throttle Module) used in these Volvos worldwide will have a high failure rate due to a defective design. The component in the ETM wears out resulting in the car going into erratic idling with a diarrhea of black soot coming out from the exhaust. At such times, the engine may shut down without warning and cause the car to be out of control as the brakes will be rendered ineffective. This I, guarantee scares every piece of shit outta you, better then going for any detoxifying enema treatment. Sometimes the car accelerates without even steeping on the gas like got a piece of ghost in the engine. Even without complete engine failure, an erratic and low power output form the engine may also result in lost of control, same detoxifying experience. This, I have experienced personally many times and believe is the cause of accident mentioned herein.

When the engine check light in these cars finally turn on and a visit is made to dealers, the fault with ETM will normally not be detected as the OBD (On Board Diagnostic system which makes warning lights turn on and report on errors) will indicate oxygen sensor failures. Example of OBD codes that I have encountered are P0134, P1132, P0140, all which points to the two oxygen sensors which I have already replaced less then a month ago.

On the day of the accident, 23 December 2006, the engine was running fine at first. But a while later, the engine began to hesitate with the PRM going up and down. A truck was parked on the side of the road. On approach, the brake was applied to slow the car as an attempt to stop before going around the truck was negotiated. The car did not response and the accident occurred. Should this have been at high speeds, I could have ended up with more then one car, in separate little not so cute pieces. After the hassle of insurance claims and everything else, the car was started again and mysteriously everything went back to normal, no engine problem. WTF????

Then the next day in the middle of heavy traffic, the engine began to hesitate. However, there was no warning lights on the dash, as the day before. That was when I made a u-turn in heavy oncoming traffic and realized I cannot brake effectively, detox again. If you wanna simulate this problem, try this. Drive, then u-turn onto oncoming traffic. Turn off engine in middle of motion and try to brake. Pray for divine intervention. Fortunately this time, there was no accident. I took out my OBD tool (a small gadget which I have to perform diagnostic on the car) and plugged it in. There again, indicated the oxygen sensor problem (P0134). Let me repeat hair-raisingly that I have just replaced both bloody oxygen sensors on the dealer’s advice on the same situation mention forth less then a month ago. The car was spewing black smoke and smelt of petrol. The engine was idling erratically and cannot be driven. My OBD also indicated that the throttle was swinging between 20 to 40 degrees when actually I was not pressing on the accelerator at all. The engine was about to cut out, the traffic was heavy. I did not want to engage a tow truck to have my car towed. I cannot drive to a dealer in such a condition. How to drive? The car was puttering like shit and don’t even know when got brakes. In an attempt to solve the problem, I send a reset command from my OBD tool to the car’s computer. Everything returned back to normal immediately like magic.

I drove to the dealer, 26 December 2006, at Sukhumvit Road (SMC Motors). Normally, foreigners have tear balls experience everywhere in Thailand when facing customer service (because it does not exists). Foreigners normally need a head as cool as absolute zero to engage in more then basic customer service negotiations. I was directed to a young sales chap who claimed he could help me with the ETM issue. My first question to him was that if he was aware there were problems with the S70 cars. His shocking answer back to me was “Yes, car have problem, turbo very hot”. This effectively heated my absolute zero temperature head tremendously till the point my expanding brain almost exploded out of my still cool skull. The good thing was that he realized he could not deal with the situation. Before I went supernova in response to his lack-of-intellect answer, he asked for the Senior VP to attend to me personally. I was glad the senior gentlemen spoke excellent English. He was very helpful and explained to me the situation with this ETM issue. Dealers in Thailand were well aware of this problem in fact long ago but closed one eye. The ETM will not be replaced if the car is driven in without the engine check light on. And, if the warranty has already expired beyond the standard period, customers will have to pay for it. What then bothered me is that Volvo is aware of the defect and that the ETM may fail and pose a danger to the driver before 100,000 miles and not taken any preventive measures. Volvo is thus aware that failure may occur beyond standard warranty period and Volvo did not replace the ETM in my car in the countless routine maintenance schedules beforehand, thus leaving me to play dice with the fairies up in heaven. Must they wait for an accident to happen before they do anything? Assholes. When the problem does arise, the car can no longer be driven reliably. How can one then drive to the workshop safely with the engine check or ETS indicator bright like Christmas lights? Where is your brain dear Volvo Thailand? No wonder Volvo has only got about 2% market share in a recent car sales report in this huge market, what bad after sales service.

Over in other countries, there were already many incident reports (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, EA05021 NHTSA Recall Campaign Number, US) and Volvo has extended a warranty of up to 10 years or 200,000 miles (321,868 km) on these defective ETMs to curb unnecessary detox. According to news sources, the ETM will be replaced for free and there is a recall exercise going on. Why is it then that Volvo owners here have to pay for the replacement? Volvo Thailand is hiding something and not telling the public so as not to loose face? I have a sample receipt from another country showing that a 1999 S70 with a mileage of 132,787 had her ETM replaced for free. The technician told me I have to pay for because my S70 is a turbo. Hello, think I goondu or what? An ETM is an ETM after all. It may be of a different size but what’s the difference when the defect is due to design concept? Eg.. u got penis I got penis. Different size but still we use them to pee. Senior VP said only selected owners are notified of this issue in Thailand officially to get their ETM replaced for free. What??? That means the rest of us are selected to die in accident? As a dealer, they have to follow instructions as per Volvo Thailand (the Volvo HQ) and the latter had ordered for me to pay through my ass even thought I have encountered several near and finally an accident. Volvo for Life? Volvo I cannot drive now.

1 comment:

glock19 aka James said...

Hello Jewie, I thought the following should interest you : http://www.vexedvolvo.org/

Go to the link where Volvo had some action plans for the failed ETM. They knew about this since 1998