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First time DIY... all did NOT go to plan!

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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 21:35   #1
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Default First time DIY... all did NOT go to plan!

Writing this as a brief recount of my efforts today as a complete novice DIY-er. A tale mostly of frustration, punctuated with a few moments of satisfaction.

Since I bought my 2005 S60 in May 2020 I've said to myself and others that I'd like to do whatever can be done myself. Earlier in the year I had some minor frustrations with the specialist she was going to, as a result of which I decided I'd commit to putting actions to the words and do the next jobs myself...

Next week I'm going away with the car, if anyone's left us some petrol, so it seemed a good time to make a start. Cue emptying the bank account at Halfords and FRF - many thanks to the latter, the discount is outstanding and very much appreciated, as I'm sure all here agree.

The plan then was to change the oil (last done about 7,000 miles ago), do the sparkplugs, fuel filter, upper, lower, and right engine mounts, then possibly rear discs and pads.

What actually happened...

I took her on a nice long run to get everything hot. I was hoping to drain the oil within 45 minutes of getting back; well, I was under the car by then, jacking from the front of the subframe, as had been suggested to me. I had a piece of oak 2x4 running the entire length of the front-most subframe beam. I have to say it felt a little sketchy - although the wood's surface looked completely flat, the saddle of the jack and the wood were meeting at a slight angle, such that there was a small but visible gap between the wood and the subframe when viewed from the front, with the saddle, wood, and subframe only really biting each other in the rear two thirds or so. I had second thoughts but a few cautious practice attempts showed nothing untoward and everything seemed stable once the jack began to engage more. Handbrake off, rear wheels very loosely chocked so she could roll if needed. I was glad to get the axle stands under though, putting them under the subframe plate bolts.

Up in the air at last, I got to the sump bolt and found it looking rather rusted. It very quickly became apparent it was not going to budge. Neither spanner, socket, nor breaker bar would solicit any motion. It was slightly rounded, my sockets wouldn't engage properly, and spanners slipped around once torque was applied. I sprayed WD-40 Specialist Penetrant and opted to wait and hope a while.

In the mean time, I started looking at the lower torque rod (gearbox to subframe) as that was accessible simultaneously. I got a breaker bar to the 14mm bolts to the gearbox and the 18mm nuts to the subframe... nothing at all. Although they were visually clean, I'd anticipated these would be tight so I'd actually sprayed them right when I started work but they were not moving at all. I admit I was starting to become a little disheartened at this point; I'd got all the tools and felt I knew the steps I was going to take but in 90 minutes since parking the car I hadn't managed to do a thing. I made some tea and left the penetrating spray to soak.

An hour later, I started with the sump plug again. There was no improvement at all and I noticed the sockets were starting to worsen the rounding. I sprayed it again and resolved to leave it several more hours, conceding the original plan was out the window. Back to the lower torque rod... the left 14mm loosened! The other one and the 18mm bolts were still unresponsive but at last there was something positive. I sprayed everything again and resigned myself to the fact the torque rod was not going to be happening immediately either.

I lowered her down again and started tackling the fuel filter instead. For this I used the rear sill jacking point - the saddle of my Halfords Advanced jack is rubberised so I engaged it without the wood this time; although the saddle is almost too large to engage the factory jacking point, it did actually work well when accurately positioned and felt very stable. I put an axle stand under the subframe point.

When I saw the state of the fuel filter screw head I was rather apprehensive - it was rusted and coated in grime. I sprayed it and waited a few minutes... to my surprise it moved, and quite easily! The "quick release" clips were troublesome though; I understood the premise and the tabs were depressing but they would not pull back. I hadn't done anything to release the fuel pressure though, as some guides suggested it's not needed after the car's been sat a couple of hours. Depressurisation efforts commenced. The inline Schraeder valve was quickly discarded - it mostly resulted in bursts of petrol going up my sleeve - so I pulled fuse 21 (fuel pump) as indicated by VIDA (no mention of the valve at all there). I tried to start her... she would not start after a few seconds of cranking. Evidently I'd already lost a lot of petrol from the valve. Back to the filter, the tank-side quick release now came off easily. I didn't want to get petrol everywhere and managed to quickly get the lawnmower's petrol can underneath. It took a couple of minutes to drain out the filter. The engine-side quick release took a bit more wrangling but came off soon after.

Things were looking better now. The old filter was stamped 2012 and as I'd expected it was not Volvo. By the service schedule and the odometer reading from that year, I'm changing this filter quite early, but as I don't know exactly when the old one was fitted, and it wasn't genuine, it makes it more comfortable knowing I'll now be back to a Volvo filter with a known mileage.

Got the new Volvo filter in the bracket. Getting this assembly screwed back onto the car was massively uncomfortable, frustrating, fiddly, and time consuming, but I'd anticipated that this part would be as it looks a faff in all the videos I've seen. Eventually I managed to grasp the whole thing tightly enough while at weird angles under the car to get it lined up properly and thread in the screw with my right hand. Torqued up to 25nm, fuel lines reattached, I'd done a job! Fuse 21 reinstalled, try to start... and nothing after a good 15 seconds cranking.

I was prepared for a few seconds of cranking, but it really seemed she was not going to fire. I didn't want to strain the battery too hard, as I suspect it is getting a little tired, so I stopped trying and double checked everything... fuel lines attached, no leakage. I was feeling nervous now. I pulled the fuse again and put it back in, although I didn't see what difference this would make. I tried to start again, held the key for a good 5+ seconds, and was just about to give up for the battery's sake when she finally started and what a relief!

I don't really understand why it took so long though. I guess I had zero fuel pressure, an empty fuel filter, and a battery that sometimes takes a second or two at the best of times but it still seems a bit excessive. It is possible the fuse wasn't engaged properly the first time, although it was certainly sat at the same height as the others.

Anyway she was running again and all seemed normal. I blipped the throttle a few times, found it as responsive as ever, and checked under the car to confirm there was no fuel leakage. It was now lunchtime but I'd done something!

In the afternoon I got the front back up and tried the lower torque rod again. The 18mm bolts came off with a breaker bar without too much of a struggle! The right 14mm nut against the transmission was still not moving although in retrospect I think the real issue was the clearance and the tools; that's one tight to get to, and in my newfound experience not possible to use a breaker bar on. That's not something I've seen mentioned in any guide. There's a little screw/nut above that gets in the way of trying to get a socket on. I eventually did it with a deep extension on a 3/8 wrench, after briefly soaking the bolt again. The torque rod was off!

Inspecting this confirmed it was desperately overdue for replacement. The small part against the transmission flopped as soon as I took it out, and holding the large part in my hand I could flip the lower part vertically through 180 degrees as it dragged through the air! The new one I can move by hand through a few degrees from horizontal and it requires some effort to do so. It went on very easily as expected. Torqued up, another job done.

One last look at the sump plug... it had been soaked hourly and hadn't been touched in an hour. I wiped everything around and got the 17mm spanner but no, it's too rounded to engage. I tentatively tried gripping it with jaw-type pliers but it didn't help and by now I was resigned to the fact I was just going to make it worse. I don't have a new drain plug so I couldn't risk completely rounding it - as the oil was last changed in April, I foolishly assumed they'd have used a new one then, or the current one was still usable. I think what's happened here is an already old and rounded bolt was forced back in with power tools. I'm fed up to say the least. I reluctantly conceded that the oil was not going to be changed.

Next - top engine mount, mine was the original circular shape and completely ripped through. This replacement all went quite smoothly with none of the bolts in a bad condition or excessively tightened.

The worst thing was getting the T30 Torx bolts out of the ignition cover. The retaining clasp on the screwdriver bit socket in my new Halfords Advanced toolbox suddenly came off, and the bit slipped out down the hole to the left of the PCV pipe on the exhaust manifold! And it had been briefly going so well...

Now I was lost and worried; I could just about see the bit by pointing a light down the hole, but there was no way I could reach it. It was jammed against two hoses and I could see the ground off to the side, so I raised the car again and tried to reach up, but I wasn't sure where I was aiming for and couldn't find any gap to get in. Eventually I lowered the car again and succeeded in gaining entry from within the engine bay, using a 3/8 extension bar joined to another one, weaving in between the hoses and wires to the right of the exhaust bits (sorry, I don't yet know what's in this area, I was just careful not to force anything too much), until I made contact with it. But the magnetism wasn't strong enough to pull it out, and I was pushing it ever further to the left... this had me worried in case it got really stuck, I started the engine, and it popped out into the path of a belt. But in practice an accident saved it all... my contraption of extension bars slipped, nudged the bit even further left out of sight... and then it clanked to the ground. So I needn't have been so tentative about pushing it left.

This episode cost me another half on hour. The rest of the engine mount removal and reinstallation went smoothly... then as I was putting the T30 screws back into the ignition cover, the clasp got loose again. This time it let the bit drop a fraction down into the mid-tightened T30 screw, which was under rotational force at the time, causing the T30 bit to shear in half with half of it stuck in the screw. I had one other T30 bit but no working driver or socket for it, so I gripped it with gloves and hand tightened the screws until the cover stopped making noise when tapped. I managed to extract the sheared off bit end from the screw using pliers.

As it was now getting close to twilight - doesn't time fly when you're having some sort of fun - I reluctantly conceded it just wasn't my day and I could do no more. I did not fancy trying the right hand side mount as although it's only four bolts, I'm now confident they'll need a lengthy soak first. And a power tool addict has probably over-torqued my wheel bolts.

As for the rear brakes... well, I wasn't sure I'd get to them anyway. It's no great loss as they're not really needed yet. The spark plugs I didn't fancy doing with only an hour of sunlight left as far too many things had gone awry already. Now I'm going to need a new socket/T30 bit to get the ignition cover off again though.


In summary then, this is just the ramblings of someone who decided to work on their own car, with nothing but VIDA, the Haynes manual, YouTube and these forums for instruction. It really didn't go to plan and although I'm tired and a bit fed up, in hindsight after writing this I'm not sure I could really have changed that. I should probably invest in a powered impact wrench to help get things off as that would have made a huge difference. I'm short and slim so at a disadvantage when loosening things by hand.

I am immensely frustrated at the sump plug situation though and not sure what to do. I suppose the only thing at this point is to try and get it to the place that did the oil change in April and see if they'll get it loosened up for me. I was really hoping to be on fresh oil by next Saturday and having bought it all I'm sad that the biggest issue of the day has been something so fundamental. I was half-expecting the bolts on the lower torque rod or right-hand engine mount to be in a nasty state and impossible to remove... I was not anticipating it would be the sump plug that would thwart me.

I finally packed everything up, got in the car and crossed fingers she would start again... it was a slightly long crank of a couple of seconds, but I can possibly attribute that to the battery feeling the exertions of earlier.

The day is over, I did what I could, feeling quite unsure whether I'm more happy or fed up really. Anyone got any ideas on the sump plug? I don't think I should try anything until I've got a new one though, and I'm not sure where I'd get one of them on a Sunday!
Volvo S60 2.5T SE
Magic Blue
2005 MY

Last edited by ilmiont; Sep 25th, 2021 at 23:20. Reason: Removing bits where i don’t know what I mean (!)
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 22:14   #2
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Sorry to hear it didn't all go to plan.

Working on anything can be frustrating, but modern cars with breakable plastic clips and torx/Allen headed bolts even more so.

Personally, on the sump bolt I'd try a decent set of locking mole grips, cranked up as tight as you can get them to lock on the bolt.

If that fails, I'd weld something like a screwdriver to the sump plug head...
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 22:30   #3

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Default Rounded sump plug

Try coating the inside of the socket with a little grease and then dipping it in sand, you might get just that little big of extra grip.

Certainly get a new sump plug first though.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 22:59   #4
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If the sump plug isn’t too badly rounded try using a good quality socket that grips the flats rather than the corners of the nut.

On a couple of occasions I have used an electric impact wrench to remove the sump plug on cars where someone else last tightened it. This has always worked and is less likely to round or break the nut than continuous high torque with a breaker bar.

When fitting a new sump plug use a new crush washer and be wary of tightening it to the torque suggested in the manual. Book torque settings usually assume dry threads which you won’t have on a sump plug. Something closer to 2/3 generally works for me and I’ve never had one come loose in over thirty years of DIY oil changes.

I wonder if whoever torqued your sump plug used the same approach on the filter. If so, have a look at Yato metal strap wrenches.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 23:42   #5
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Nil disperandum, 'ilmiont'! I don't think that I would be making too much of an assumption were I to suggest that most of us have probably been there at some point.

Might I suggest that it is now past time for you to relax with a large glass of your preferred beverage - tomorrow is another day!

Regards, John.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 09:35   #6

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Sorry to hear of your issues, we have all been there before !!

With regards to the sump bolt you could try the "Sealey tool 7524" which are a set of removal sockets that go over the damaged nut/bolt then you fit a 12 point spanner or socket over the top and gently turn.
i used this method on a rounded off caliper bolt with success.
Costs around £10.

Not sure about your S60, but as the oil filter is accessed from the top of the engine on my 2.4 S40, i use one of those 12v battery operated suction pumps to remove the oil via the dipstick hole then fit a new filter without the need to lift the car off the ground. So much less hassle and i don't agree with those that say you don't get it all out because i need to put in more oil than that listed for a service refill.

Good luck with whatever method you choose.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 15:12   #7
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Originally Posted by MDS40 View Post
Sorry to hear of your issues, we have all been there before !!

With regards to the sump bolt you could try the "Sealey tool 7524" which are a set of removal sockets that go over the damaged nut/bolt then you fit a 12 point spanner or socket over the top and gently turn.
i used this method on a rounded off caliper bolt with success.
Costs around £10.

Not sure about your S60, but as the oil filter is accessed from the top of the engine on my 2.4 S40, i use one of those 12v battery operated suction pumps to remove the oil via the dipstick hole then fit a new filter without the need to lift the car off the ground. So much less hassle and i don't agree with those that say you don't get it all out because i need to put in more oil than that listed for a service refill.

Good luck with whatever method you choose.
add me to the "extract the oil with vac pump" list
(mines a manual sealey pump not a posh electric)

sump plug , been there said the same words hence the "avoid the issue" with vac pump via the dipstick tube and with 2 x V50 2.4i petrol Se Lux's to do > "good move me"
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 17:17   #8
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Thanks all, it was frustrating, but rewarding too. Went out for an hour today, mostly to give the battery a chance to recover. Much smoother when on and off the throttle but some of the clunks persist. I still need to get that right-hand side mount in and the top and bottom mounts should probably be done too, although they look like a much trickier job and not something I want to attempt myself yet.

Thanks for all the suggestions re. the sump plug, but regrettably I have neither the time or tools to pursue them this week. In my current situation I've decided it's best to call tomorrow morning and try and get her booked into local specialist this week so they can undo their handiwork, drain and change the oil with my supplies, and fit a new drainplug so I can stand a chance of doing the next change myself. I'm simply not going to have time this week to attempt anything myself and it will probably be quicker overall to take her there, give it 30 minutes to drain, and come home again.

Re. vacuum extraction - personally it doesn't appeal to me, I just like to do things by the book and I'd worry it wasn't really grabbing everything. In an engine where the only real weakness is sludge problems, I'd rather not take the chance. Anyway I intend to get the sump plug situation resolved then keep the new one in good health going forwards and replace when needed. As it should be only me touching the sump from then on, probably changing oil every six months, it shouldn't have a chance to get neglected again.

All I've done today is a PCV glove test which I've had in mind for weeks, to put my mind at rest about the state of that system. It exhibited what I think to be a good pass - strong suction from idle, with the glove flattening out against the grate in the filling neck. So nothing to worry about there for the moment hopefully.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 18:39   #9
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I think that most of us have started jobs that didn’t go according to plan.
After many years of occasional struggles I invested in a set of “flat drive” sockets which engage on the flats of the offending bolt/nut instead of the 16 point sockets which engage on the points of the bolt/nut. I now try to use the “flat drive” socket whenever loosening anything remotely tight.
I have also invested in a set of “twist drive” sockets after having them demonstrated to me by a neighbour who is a garage owner. The required size socket is hammered onto the offending bolt/nut and the interior spiral bites into the bolt/nut.

Since 2005: 1992 Volvo 940 estate 2.0L. Manual. Daily driver and workhorse.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 19:55   #10
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I’d be tempted to get a heavy-duty Stiltson on the sump plug, adding a length of scaffold tube if space permits. It’ll completely shag the old plug head, but you’ll be replacing this anyway. The most important thing to change in the future is the washer - you can get a few uses out of the plug if you’re sympathetic with the tools, but the washers are strictly one use only!

And I’d second the 2/3 torque suggestion above. You can feel the new washer crush well before the book torque is reached, so this is plenty for a good seal.
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