How to Check the Oil Level in a Volvo Penta SX Stern Drive

Written by will charpentier
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How to Check the Oil Level in a Volvo Penta SX Stern Drive
Volvo makes more than cars. (car image by Muhammad Umair Tahir from

Check the oil level in your Volvo Penta SX-series stern drive before you put your boat in the water, every time you put your boat in the water. If the stern drive is low on oil, or has too much oil, the Volvo Penta owner's manual doesn't say that damage "may" result; the manual says it "will" result. That makes this check, which takes less time to do than to talk about, a critical item on your list of things to do before you go boating.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1/4-inch drive torque screwdriver
  • Clean, lint-free cloth
  • Stern drive oil
  • Replacement O-ring

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  1. 1

    Unscrew the dipstick, located on the top of the SX stern drive, with the torque screwdriver. Remove the dipstick and wipe it with a clean, lint-free cloth. Screw the dipstick into its hole as far as it will go using your hand only.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the dipstick, remove it from the stern drive and look at the flat part of the dipstick: there should be oil present on the flat part of the dipstick, but not above. The colour of the oil on the dipstick should be amber, without a milky appearance; "milky" means you have water in your oil. The oil on the dipstick shouldn't have metal chips in it, either -- both these conditions are serious and require your dealer's attention.

  3. 3

    Add oil to the stern drive if the oil does not reach the flat portion of the dipstick. Pour small amounts of oil through the dipstick hole, reinserting and checking the oil level on the dipstick, after each pouring.

  4. 4

    Look at the O-ring just below the threads on the dipstick and inspect it for cracks, nicks or cuts. If damage or wear appear, replace the O-ring with a new O-ring.

  5. 5

    Screw the dipstick back into the top of the stern drive. Tighten with the torque screwdriver to a minimum torque of 48 inch-pounds and a maximum of 72 inch-pounds.

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