Volvo service told me that the camshaft seal of my Volvo XC90 needs to be replaced for $1000. I see no oil on the timing belt, its dry. It just has some black dust.

If there is real leak, can it brake the engine suddenly? Does the car need an emergency repair right now?

By the way timing belt replaced 5 months ago and current mileage is 103K.


3 Answers 3


To answer your questions, if there is a real leak, then yes, there is a problem. The oil will cause the belt to deteriorate and possibly slip. When it does, it is catastrophic. Pistons slam against valves and the head is toast (in most cases). This does happen suddenly. Get a different shop to look at it. If the belt appears dry, I would bet there isn't an immediate danger of failure, BUT I would have it looked at all the same.


If indeed it checks out and you need to replace the camshaft oil seals, check the PCV system too. If it gets clogged and stops functioning, excessive crank case pressure can squeeze out camshaft and crank seals which will make for recurring and potentially catastrophic failure. Which engine does your XC90 have? I use my S60R 5cyl as reference.


If your Volvo dealer has told you that the cam seal has gone, then in all proberbility then it has. You could have a second garage look at it by way of confirmation. The timing belt itself will have a tolerance to being contaminated with oil, but the integrity of the belt is now under suspicion. If it is contaminated badly enough then it could snap. The cambelt snapping whilst the engine is running will be catastropic. In the very least it would mean bent valves, and at worst a destroyed engine.

  • 1
    I have asked two other shops and they said its totally fine. Lessons learned Volvo dealership tried to make $1K because of a fake reason. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 18:31

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