Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Volvo Car (Thailand) - Liars

From Bangkok Post - Motoring - Friday January 12, 2007
Bangkok Post

Volvo's ETM in question
This is a letter to bring attention to public about 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 V70 and C70, 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 kms), 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. Sometimes the car accelerates without even steeping on the accelerator. Even without complete engine failure, an erratic and low power output form the engine may also result in loss of control with no braking power.

This, I have experienced personally many times and believe is the cause of accident mentioned herein.

Dealers in Thailand were well aware of this problem long ago. 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 Thailand knows 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. Over in other countries, there are already many reports about this incident.

Motoring replies :This letter was forwarded to Volvo Car Thailand and here is their response.

Thank you very much for bringing to our attention the concerns from one of your readers regarding a problem with the Electronic Throttle Module (ETM) on some Volvo car models.

First, assuming that not all of your readers know what ETM means, let me explain in simple terms that it is a device that controls the quantity of air entering the engine and, consequently, the vehicle's speed.

In certain of the involved vehicles, a combination of throttle positioning sensor irregularities, a dirty throttle housing, and/or inefficient software calibration may cause a warning lamp to light and the subsequent onset of limp home modes. This results in a high number of these vehicles going into limp home mode without need.

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this condition include uneven engine idle, and/or onset of "limp home mode", a condition that affects drivability potentially restricting maximum vehicle speed to between approximately 20-60kph.

Volvo's firm opinion is that this is not a safety related situation and we have had no report from anywhere in the world that has proven that an ETM malfunction has caused an accident.

The remedy for this is an Electronic Throttle System software upgrade. Volvo Car Thailand has since November sent letters to affected customers in which we offer a software upgrade at one of our Volvo dealers. This procedure will be completed at no cost and will take about an hour and half. Due to service scheduling, the Volvo dealer may require the vehicle for a longer period of time.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind our valuable customers in Thailand that the best preventive measure and remedy to avoid this kind of problem is to have regular maintenance service by our Volvo dealers, who then perform the necessary controls as part of normal procedure.

MATS OHLSSON Vice President - Customer Service Volvo Car (Thailand)

My follow up in Bangkok Post’s forum…

Date : Jan 13, 2007 02:32 PM
Author : S70 Volvo Owner
Subject : Volvo's ETM in questionnew

Referring to the letter “Volvo's ETM in question” on Friday January 12, 2007 of Bangkok post, here are some extracts of Volvo’s reply:

“Volvo's firm opinion is that this is not a safety related situation and we have had no report from anywhere in the world that has proven that an ETM malfunction has caused an accident.”

“The remedy for this is an Electronic Throttle System software upgrade. Volvo Car Thailand has since November sent letters to affected customers in which we offer a software upgrade at one of our Volvo dealers. This procedure will be completed at no cost and will take about an hour and half.”

This is crap from Volvo. I am the guy who wrote the incident letter, faxed and emailed to Volvo Car (Thailand). No reports from the world? Than what was my fax to them all about sent last year? Wonder if their fax machine burnt up. Wonder if their email sever ate my mail. What are the incidents reports all about that constitutes to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, EA05021 NHTSA Recall Campaign Number, US? And to reply that the software upgrade procedure will be carried out at no cost, then I am wondering why is there a receipt I got from a Volvo dealer that stated I paid for the upgrade. And to top it off, they did not care to explain the “secret” warranty extension on the ETM hardware (not just the software) that has a warranty extension of up to 10 years or 200,000 miles (321,868 km) that many Volvo owners elsewhere in the world are enjoying. ETM hardware cost about THB$25,000 and I had to pay for my replacement where elsewhere, it is replaced for free under the extended “secret” warranty. Do check your car, dear all affected Volvo owners. If your ETM (below intake manifold) does not have the yellow label but has the white one on it, means it has not been replaced yet.

Trackback: Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Defective ETM in Volvo Can Result in Accident


Anonymous said...

Hi found your blog when searching for volvo etm thailand.

having major issues after the service center replaced my etm last year with a "rebuilt" one. thinking about filing a formal complaint with relevant authorities. just wanted to see if you had your issue resolved or if you had any updates on the warranty in Thailand.

Thanks for your time.


Jewie said...

Hi Pat

They never solved the problem. After spending a significant amount of money changing almost all things except the engine block, they still cannot find the reason. I however, have my own theory and came out with a solution that stopped my S70 from blowing black smoke and idling erratically.

1. I brought a SCANGUAGE ODBII diagnostic computer from eBay.
2. I monitored my engine continuously over course of weeks.
3. I notice that the long term fuel trim always increase till a point of saturation (I think it was 30% or something), by which time, the engine check light would come on after 2 cycles. (I will explain later on why this happens).
4. If I continue to drive for several days with that check light on, my car will then spew black smoke and become uncontrollable. This is due to excessive fuel dump into the engine during the combustion cycle.
5. So, I use the SCANGUAGE to reset the S70’s ECU. That brought the fuel trim back to 0%.
6. I also set my SCANGUAGE to monitor the Open/Close Loop status of the fuel system. If it is stuck in open mode, it means the ECU had detected an error and on the second run cycle when an open mode is detected, the check engine light will come on. (I will explain later on why this happens).
7. So therefore, whenever my car goes stuck in open mode, I will use the SCANGUAGE to reset the ECU before the check engine lights comes on.

Now… as on why the fuel trim kept increasing.. it is due to the cooling system.

1. Using SCANGUAGE, I monitored the coolant temperature. I notice that my car on certain days, hit 106 degrees centigrade.
2. High speed cooling fan will turn on and bring that down to 90, then the cycle repeats.
3. However, on some good days, the cooling system is well behaved. The fan works in a different pattern and kept the engine between 80 to 98 degrees centigrade. During such days, the ECU does not go into open mode.
4. So the theory is, as with most fuel management system, when an engine is suffering from high operating temperatures, the ECU will dump more fuel into the engine in order to bring down the temperature. If temperature pattern does not improve, the ECU will attempt on each try to dump more and more fuel by increasing the fuel trim in steps.
5. It comes to a point that so much fuel is dumped that it saturates the Oxygen Sensors, which resulted in the ECU going into open mode, because the ECU thinks the Oxygen Sensors are faulty. This is proven when the check engine lights come on and a OBD SCAN indicated, bad Oxygen Sensor due to signal stuck in some level or something.

I spoken to so many mechanics over here in Thailand, but they are more of “mechanical engineers” and have no idea what I am talking about. Not even the chief engineer guy in Volvo Thailand. Suspecting that cooling system is the culprit, I had it checked, none of them found any issues with the cooling system. It could very well be a bad ECU cooling algorithm which can only be changed, if we can program that bloody ECU by ourselves.

I have been doing the “reset ECU when Open Loop” thing for more then 3 years now. Since then, I had not been spending much on maintenance. Volvo is a good car, but it takes knowledge to maintain it. Intelligent engineers talking on the same level as I do not exist here in Volvo Thailand.

Hope this helps..