Volvo V50 Reduced Engine Performance

I wrote this article back in 2013.  Since then I’ve owned two Volvos.

The bad news is that both Volvos that I’ve had this problem.  All the problems I’ve had have been caused by the diesel particulate filter and EGR valve.  Something goes wrong with the ERG value or a pipe get blocked and then soot builds up in the system.  Then the whole thing clogs.  You really need to get it fixed because otherwise your diesel particulate filter can block or worst case, you can block up the turbo charger.

The good news is that Volvo now admit they have a fault with these parts.  You should take your car to a Volvo garage and most likely they will replace and fix the problem for you.   The only problem with this plan is that Volvo will try to only fix the original fault and don’t want to take responsibility the damage caused by the fault.  You need to push the garage very hard to take responsibility and not charge you.


Here is my original post:

I purchased a Volvo V50 estate (secondhand) just over a year ago. After a few months it started having problems when pulling away or when revving the engine over 3,000 RPM. This first started happening when it was really cold (-9’C)… however, after a while, the car would often go into reduced engine performance mode at any temperature if pushed hard. This was really dangerous because this would often happen when joining a busy road or when trying to get out of a tricky situation. The car would then stall or loose most of the power. I wish Volvo would allow me to override this setting on the car so that I could remain safe.

Having spoken to several mechanics and researched on the internet – the problem generally seems to be with the particulate filter. It can be either a faulty cable (next to the battery) or the tube to the particulate filter sensor becoming blocked.

In my case, it turns out to be the tube to the particulate filter sensor becoming blocked. It seems that the Volvo dealer who serviced the car previously had not checked or topped up the EOYLS tank. This meant that the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) Valve that a pipe to the particulate sense and valve had become clogged up

The moral of this post is:

1) If I had taken the car to a garage when this problem first appear then it’s very lightly that the EGR valve would not become clogged and needed replacing.

2) Volvo know that this is a problem and should provide a sensor to the EOYLS tank.

3) Volvo should allow the driver to override the “Reduced Engine Performance” stalling and shutting down of the car. It is simple dangerous.

24 thoughts to “Volvo V50 Reduced Engine Performance”

  1. I have the same symptoms in my volvo 1.6d. Everything you said there sounds reasonable, this fault is simply scandalous, I wonder how many people have died because of this. Volvo, shame on you.

    1. I have not died due to the Volvo problem . . YET . .Too lucky ? I think that the National Highway Safety Agency should know about this ..Maybe they are too busy with persecuting VWs and their diesels ..

  2. I had this issue happen on a newly purchased secondhand 2009 model v50. Live in Banbury. Which garage did you use?

      1. Hi James. . Thanks for all this information and the recommended indie garage. I have the same issue and am looking around at garages.. I’m in reading so Banbury is a little way but if they are good I may consider thames. Can I ask approx how much the who fix cost you?

        1. Hi Russell, I can’t remember exactly how much is cost by it was something in the region of £500-£700. I needed the EOYLS liquid filling which cost around £150 and also a new valve and their time. By the way, I also have had a problem with the diesel particulate filter getting blocked up. I recommend putting some diesel particulate and injector cleaner through the car every six months or so. This made a big difference to the power and fuel efficiency of the car for me.

  3. I’m having this problem in a V50 petrol, so nothing to do with EGR. Any thoughts on what might be causing it? Happened about 4 times in 6 months, there doesn’t seem to be a connection between temperature / speed etc. It usually happens soon after starting and clears when the engine is turned off and restarted.

    1. I’m sure what to suggest exactly. It sounds like you should take it into a garage and plug is into an engine management reader.

  4. Hello, I have V50 1.6 diesel 2011 stop/start. Few weeks ago I was taking long journey to EU, about 4 hours in to the drive I got message “engine reduced performance” for 2 seconds and gone, then car went to limp mode, I stopped restarted and it went normal again, with much of the worry I continued my journey, went over 3k miles and same issue happened few more times during all journey, however to the end of my journey it started to happen more often so I kept low reps hoping at least get back to UK. After the ferry got in the car and it went even worse then before, each time I was going uphill it was showing same message for few seconds then dissappear and limp mode, I pulled over and got green flag, engineer connected handset to my car and said he can’t see any faults, then kept reps on 4K for few minutes checked for leaks ond any physical faults and said car is fine and he can’t even take it on the truck to take to garage, so got his consent to carry on for over 200 miles reseting limp mode each time, however he suggested that it must be dpf filter and rejected my suggestion that it’s fuel filter. Both parts not cheap and labour is costy so don’t really want to end up replacing both solving one problem.. I tend to think that once dpf filter is full light on dashboard should come up? That’s why I’m more likely to think it’s fuel filter got partly blocked and getting worse, rather then 700pouns worth dpf filter.. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. There is a really good chance it is the DPF filter. It is highly unlikely to be the fuel filter. I would buy yourself a bottle of DPF cleaner from Halfords. . Also buy some injector cleaner because this is often the reason that the DPF filter has become blocked in the first place. If that doesn’t work then it might be worth getting Halfords to clean the DPF overnight in a special cleaner. This can save buying a completely new DPF filter.

      1. Thank you for this.

        I had same issue with 2012 Volvo V50 SE Lux .1.5 Diesel bought at 52000 miles.

        The first time it happened was putting my foot down at -5 degree’s I limped it 25 miles home. I was in Lane 2 over taking a the time had this been rush hour I’m sure a crash would have occurred.

        Anyway I have Just been to Cornwall after a while this happened again infact every time I went above 3000 revs. so I ended up stuck behind every truck and tractor on the roads. Not to mention the overtaking on the M5 that left me crossing from lane 2 to the hard shoulder in limp mode with people not letting me in (despite my hazard lights) at 1000RPM the under takers had to put their anchors on.

        I used:

        SO here is the effect. I noticed these after maybe 3 to 4 miles and improvement increased continually.

        1. I could rev into 3000 miles no problem
        2. My fuel economy increased to from 52 miles per gallon to 68 and on flats in the 70’s %3 was the best I could get previously.
        3. Turbo performance increased from a standing start and accelerating up hill. I am going t o buy the Turbo cleaner next in the hope that gives standing starts a lift.

        This was consistent for the 400 miles I drove over the weekend after adding it in the Tank

        So thank you for your posts guy’s I am not supper savvy with cars so this post I have no doubt saved me a small fortune.

        PS the cleaner is 12.99 at Euro car parts.

    2. So tempting to say “Junk it and buy a rebuilt VW Diesel without a turbo from the 1980s ” . Thanks to emissions and overreacting, an economical automobile is a thing of the past,

  5. I had the same problem, the official Volvo service found the problem was reproduced at 4000rpm and suggested the replacement of turbo. The problem did not appear after replacement.

    1. When you say the problem was reproduced at 4000rpm how do you mean I’m having an issue that my turbo doesn’t work till 4000rpm ?? Thanks George and what year is yours

  6. Anyone have any idea on volvo v50 2lte petrol /lpg r design 58 engine management lights feels and sounds like miss fire have replaced plugs and coils still number 4 not working engine not lost pressure or oil or water engine management light flashes when you go over 50 or to slow in a gear and then losses power but still drives just takes a bit ov time picking speed back up been like this for 10 months

  7. I’ve got a 1.6d v50 estate 09 with 103000 miles and after letting my Mrs use my car and her running the fuel right down until it registered no miles on the gauge, and it also being below freezing for several days, Ive started to have the same problem, a complete loss of power at 3000rpm but upto 3000rpm no difference in power, you can feel the turbo building pressure and then nothing, it’s happened twice now in 2 days but does clear once engine the engine is stopped and restarted. Any help would be appreciated

  8. Just bought 10 plate v50 couple of months ago . Would not Rev above3000 either went into reduced eng per for completely shut down .went garage had dpf cleaned ,no difference, changed air filter, .eventually found out turbo needed replacing(570.00)☹️☹️ .runs a lot better but still having issues with 3000rev+ red eng perf. Also cuts out..??? And to end on a fed up note ,getting 35mpg.

  9. I have had my 2009 volvo V50 Drive for 7 years now and have had an issue with the engine not going above 3000 rpm with no warning lights coming on. If I stopped the car and turned the engine off and then restarted the engine I found I would get full power again and then after 20 miles I would loose power again and only get 3000 rpm.
    This has happened to me twice now and each time I changed the in-line fuel filter and this resolved the problem.
    I bought my car with 40k miles on the clock and she now has 120k ( fuel filter last changed at 118K)

    Hope this info helps anyone with the same issue

  10. I too have this “reduced engine performance” problem, BUT , its a 2003 S60 turbo gasser, BUT not a Diesel. And the RPMs are reduced to an extremely dangerous 1500 ..The horsepower is reduced from 260 to about 26 ! Considering the danger, and Volvos being so expensive to repair and maintain junking the car IS an option ! Good bye three thousand dollars ! Maybe the problem is fuel pressure, the pump is original … No sense is made by all this , IF the FP is weak, why does it not stay that way ?

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