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> Troubleshooting A 1983 Volvo 240 Dl, Spontaneous high revving, no-start problems & overheating
post Nov 14 2008, 06:19 PM
Post #1


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Joined: 11-November 08
Member No.: 50,497
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Drives: 1983 Volvo 240 DL

About a month ago, on a pleasant, sunny afternoon, I bought a well-maintained 1983 Volvo 240 DL sedan with roughly 150,000 miles on it. And, sadly, my troubles began shortly thereafter.

Monday morning, after shutting it off at a gas station, the car refused to start back up again for nearly half an hour. The car also had trouble, I discovered, with rough idling, surging and hesitation/power loss. Soon after--with the help of older threads from this forum--, I was able to trace the problem back to the fuel pump relay. For good measure, I also replaced all of the car's fuses. Swapping the parts out was a snap and, for a few days, the car ran perfectly.

Then the real problems began.

Not only did the car start surging again but it would now often spontaneously start revving high at idle. On the first two or so days of high revving, the problem could be solved by stopping and starting the car--though it usually took two or more attempts to actually get the thing running once stopped. Then there was a new problem: when going to start the car one night, the engine started revving unusually low. Concerned, I stopped the car only to find it wouldn't start up again. I double checked the relays and gave the wiring harness a yank to no avail. The next morning it ran--and relatively smoothly--but, when starting up that same night, it started revving low and stalled in place. It started back up but it felt unsafe to drive for the remainder of the night.

This morning, I took it in to an independent Volvo mechanic who, after looking at it for a few hours, gave me a call and told me that he suspected the wire harness. When I went to pick up the car, I was happy to learn he'd waived the diagnostic fee but also troubled to find that the car was now, inexplicably, overheating: Whereas, in the past, it read a steady 9 o'clock, driving home, I noticed the needle on the temperature gauge was above the red. (The needle would drop ever-so-slightly when accelerating only to raise again to its upper limit when stopped.) When I called him to ask him whether something might have happened in the diagnostic process, he insisted, again, that it was probably the wire harness.

Once the car first began to surge, I had planned on cleaning the throttle body, checking the throttle switch, and perhaps replacing the coolant temperature sensor. And, while I now also intend to replace the wire harness, I'm at a complete loss as to what's going on.

What do you suppose the matter is? Could it, like he said, all really just be the wire harness?

Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have.
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post Nov 17 2008, 11:23 AM
Post #2


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Location: idaho
Drives: 86 240

If its only the idle RPM's that are wrong yet it drives OK I would suspect the idle control valve. If it seems messed up while driving then suspect the air mass meter - idealy find one used and swap it.

The temp guage sender is a single blade-style connection under the intake, see if the wire is exposed and touching something.

The mid-80's cars had bad wire isolation under the hood and the replacements are expensive, see http://www.davebarton.com/volvoharnesses.html
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post Nov 17 2008, 11:35 AM
Post #3

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Joined: 10-February 08
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Location: Annapolis, MD
Drives: 1992 Volvo 240

I had the exact problems with the idle. Removed the idle control sensor, and sprayed some carb cleaner in it, and dumped out the nasty black stuff. That helped alot until I could afford a new one.
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post Nov 18 2008, 12:31 PM
Post #4


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Member No.: 7,689
Status: Offline
Location: USA
Drives: 2000 Volvo S70, 1988 Volvo 240, 1986 Volvo 245

He could be right about the "overheating". The wire from the temp sender on the cylinder head goes through a part of the wiring harness with a wire for the starter and if the insulation on these wires has crumbled the two wires can short together giving the "overheating" signal to the temp gauge and a "no crank" situation. This will not however give you a "crank but no start" situation.
Although it's ideal to replace the whole engine harness, you can work around these problems by splicing in new wires to replace the bad ones. You must replace wires with exactly the same gauge as the factory harness. Those two wires which were originally yellow and yellow/blue are easy to replace. Also you should check the wiring to the alternator for breaks in the insulation. One wire runs under the engine, the other is in a branch with the oil pressure gauge sender wire.
If the gods are shining on you, you might be able to pick up a replacement wiring harness at a breaker's yard from a 1983 or a 1984 240 that has had it replaced. Your one has a B23F engine with LH2.0 fuel injection- correct?
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