My Volvo dealer is using cheap bulk oil

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Oct 12, 2003
North Carolina
My new Volvo 2004 S60 has 1800 miles on it. The filler cap says Volvo recommends Castrol. It's a company car so the oil changes are free, that's the only reason I'm not changing it myself with a quality Synthetic. I decided to go to the dealer for all changes. I called the dealer to inquire what oil they use.

They told me they use Citgo Bulk oil. When I told them that the filler cap says Castrol, they said sorry all we use is Citgo Bulk.

So much for using the dealer for oil changes. My company will not pay for full Syn so I'm having my normal fleet mechanic use the Castrol Blend. That's got to be better than Citgo Bulk. Does anyone know what the Citgo bulk oil is?
Here is what you can try, it worked for me partially. If the manufacturer says Castrol then write to SAaB headquarters and complain that the dealer is using bulk non castrol oil and that your warranty is in jeopardy.
My Toyota dealer did not even carry the specified weight for mine until I complaind to corporate and they satrted to carry more then one weight of oil

Obviously the dealer is looking for the cheapest bulk deal they can find and in this case it was Citgo
Seems like old news...back in the 80's with the family Volvo 240T, the local Volvo dealer was using Quaker State conventional 5-30/10-30 because to most shops "oil is oil".
The Volvo dealer where my dad bought his 2004 XC70 from uses Castrol Syntec 10w30 as it's only choice if you want synthetics. No 5w30 offered.

My dad is running GC 0w30 though (changed by me the last time) and will just bring more GC to this Volvo dealer at his future oil change times. Considering it's a Castrol product, I'm sure they won't raise a fuss.

Curious as to what OCI is Volvo recommending for the S60? Is this a turbo motor? What does your owner's manual say about recommended oils/viscosities, etc?

Originally posted by Spector:
Here is what you can try, it worked for me partially. If the manufacturer says Castrol then write to SAaB headquarters and complain that the dealer is using bulk non castrol oil and that your warranty is in jeopardy.

'Recommends' and 'requires' are two different things. That's why you can't MAKE the dealer use Castrol. Now, if it was written somewhere in the owner's manual that the car must run on synthetic Castrol and nothing else, that would be different, but of course they can't put that in the manual because it would restrict free competition, etc. Although VW seems to be doing just this with some of their new engines specifically requiring some 505.01 (or other) spec oil that only Castrol meets (so far).


Our local Volvo dealer uses Castrol TWS 10w-60, but the oil changes aren't free. The yearly (or every 20K km) maintenance visits cost around $200, but it's basically just a glamorous oil change.

You could bring your own synthetic oil with you when you come in for the service to your Volvo dealer. That's what I used to do with my Audi (same story BTW - they call for a 10K oil change interval with a turbo engine but only use cheap mineral oil). But then again, it's just a company car - why spend the money on it? Unless you plan on buying it back from the company at some point...
If it's a company car....... why worry about it? I doubt Citgo bulk oil is all that bad if it's changed regularly.

I don't blame the company for not wanting to spend extra $$ on synthetic. The chances of the engine dying before they get rid of it just because it's using bulk dino are slim and don't justify it.

Originally posted by userfriendly:
All oil is bulk until packaged.
Some people don't like oil going into their cars that came from a 5 gallon pail.

In some cases the bulk containers are never cleaned at all (rust around the filler necks etc. and never cleaned between different brands of oil and weights of oil. I believe that is why most people like to see the oil come out of gallon or quart containers packaged at the plant.
the dealer I work at used to have chevron supreme 5w30 and then citgo 10w30 on the lube rack wall, along with castrol 5w-40

Now its Mobil 1 0w-40, chevron 5w30, castrol 5w-30 and i think citgo still
This is one of the things that bothers me about getting your oil changed at a dealership or quick lube place. You don't know what is in those bulk oil tanks-it could be anything. I remember when I owed a new Toyota car and I went to the maintenance meeting with new vehicle owners at the dealership. The dealership was in the process of changing from recommending Pennzoil to recommending Valvoline. Now, conventional Valvoline has not exactly been a star in VOAs and UOAs at this web site. But you would be surprised how many mechanics think that Valvoline is the oil to use.

The oil in the bulk tanks could even be recycled oil or some cheap no-name brand that barely meets requirments. How do you know? They only have to keep your car or truck running through the warranty period.
I buy all of my old company cars, that's why I'm concerned. The manual states Volvo recommends Castrol 5w-30 unless the temp goes over 86 then they recommend 10w-30.

My company does not pay for a full syn. So I brought the car to my normal mechanic that takes care of our fleet, He used Castrol synthetic blend 10w-30
My Saab dealer has been doing the same thing for years. The manual recommends Saab 5W-30 semi syn as a minimum spec, but the dealer puts in some bulk 5W-30. Some of the mechanics "think" it's semi syn, & others "think" it's Valvoline, but nobody can tell me for sure.

Quattro Pete,
To make things even more complicated, starting only with the new engines in the '03 9³ Sport Sedans (the '03 9³ convertibles use the old engine), Saab requires an oil meeting the new GM/Saab/Opel Long Life spec if you're going to rely on the OLM. Like VW, they don't say you have to use any particular oil, just that it has to meet the spec. Of course, the warranty-included oil changes rely on the OLM ...
Last time I was in my local Toyota dealer they had cases and cases of Castrol dino and Castrol Syntec sitting in the parts department along with some other cased oil that I don't remember. Maybe not your brand of choice but at least you knew exactly what you were getting and it's hardly bad oil.

If you want good oil put in your car though, take it in with you or do it yourself...
I kind of like the Mystik (Citgo) products. At least their synthetic blends are formulated with PAO. The data sheets spec 30% PAO (Mystik) and 20-40% PAO (Citgo).
Just grab some Syntec Blend at maximum OCI and be done with it. I'd try the 5w-30 in winter and the 10w-40 in summer or any 15w-40 HDEO.
Another question I would have about Citgo. Is oil quality (or lack of consistancy) tied to its relationship to the Venezuelan govermental oil cartel that owns the brand? I have no knowledge of this point, but Venezuela is hardly the paragon of stability these days. I think there was one VOA (haven't checked-memory) on Citgo and it didn't look too bad. It could be that all refining and blending are done here.

[ December 08, 2003, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: csandste ]
I don't recall ever having used Citgo motor oils. But I've never seen compelling evidence not to, either. But it seems odd to be going over the top over the issue of a franchised Volvo dealer using what you and several other posters are implying is a sub-quality bulk oil when the dealer would be liable for oil-related damage if that were true. I would imagine most dealers (any make) have bulk oil drums delivered for the convenience and economics of scale. My former Honda dealer would sell customers all the "Genuine Honda Motor Oil" in quart bottles they wanted in the parts department. The service department used bulk Mobil Drive Clean fed through a metered hose, though. Unscrupulous? Draw your own conclusion, but keep in mind that "Genuine Honda Motor Oil" is relabled Mobile Drive Clean. If Volvo required Castrol by name, then according to the Moss-Magnusen Act, Volvo would have to give it to customers. I'm more interested in knowing what API service category the Volvo owner's manual specifies rather than the brand name recommendation. If it's common "SL", then, brand is a lessser consideration as long as the oil's changed at Volvo's recommended intervals. If you insist that nothing short of a full synthetic is good enough for you, then buy it and take it to the dealer to install. Life's too short to stroke out over motor oil. Speaking of which, I wonder how many of us bring our blood pressure to a roiling boil discussing the "abuse" to our car engines from using inferior brands or types of motor oils while we habitually stuff our mouths with Big Macs and fries by the handful and wash it all down with a double caffeine jolt of designer coffee concoctions...

[ December 08, 2003, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: Ray H ]

Originally posted by Ray H:
[QB] But it seems odd to be going over the top over the issue of a franchised Volvo dealer using what you and several other posters are implying is a sub-quality bulk oil when the dealer would be liable for oil-related damage if that were true. /QB]

Oil related damage, well, even using the cheapest oil known to man the damage would take enough time to occur so that the car would be out of warranty and the dealer would disclaim all links to it being the oil Wear occuring over time is about impossible to link to oil as wear is natural. Bulk oil of poor quality could take 75,000 or more miles to show up. Simply put, impossible to win this case in court against the dealer that uses non specified oil in the barrels or tanks. Proving damage is tough.

My Toyota dealer did not even have in inventory the weight of oil my engine required and only a letter to corporate forced them to carry it. I know that I am extremely cynical but money is the name of the game today and there are very few honest and forthright car dealers out there.
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