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> '89 240 Dl Alternator Charging (and Now) Starting Problems
post Feb 4 2013, 09:39 PM
Post #1


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Drives: '89 240 DL

Hey all,

I‚€™m having problems with my ‚€™89 Volvo 240 DL. The car won‚€™t start. The battery (new) has still about 12.15V when measured across the posts. When starting there is no clicking sound from the solenoid. No warning lights come on when the key is turned to position II except for the Overdrive arrow. Headlights, brakelights, turn signals, and the high beam indicator seem to be working fine. The fuel pumps do not engage when starting (no sound), but with fuses 4 and 6 jumped, the pump will start operating. However, there is no voltage across fuses 4 and 6.

How did I get here? About a month ago the car was finally fixed after having spent 1.5 yrs in the garage. I exchanged the ECU (fuel), LH-2.4 Jetronic (used one in good condition); the car ran fine although the idle was a bit rough sometimes. It died again during a test drive. Turned out the wires from the camshaft sensor were corroded. After replacement the car was running relatively well, the only thing was that the idle was not smooth (idling fine for 4-5sec then kind of stalling catches itself, and so on; never actually quit). I put in a new battery since I noticed that the old one (3-4 years old) did not seem to hold a charge well.

The car ran about two weeks with the new battery, but died again while driving through the city; the headlights started to flicker, radio came and went. The engine died while pulling over. I was able to restart it with jumper cables and made it home. Since the driving belts had been squealing from time to time, I thought that perhaps the alternator was not turning as fast as it should. Note that the alternator warning light never came on during this two week period, not even when the car was losing power.

First repair after that: replaced alternator belts, swapped in used bushings, took out the battery and charged it. The car would start, but the alternator would not charge for the first few seconds; it started charging when I revved the engine (we did not connect the two at first-apparently the alternator self-exciting). The charging voltage at terminals was about 14.45V, the battery did get charged some (went from 12.5 to 12.6, or something like that). With the engine running and alternator charging the battery light would come on for some reason, but at this point I noticed that when starting / position II the other warning lights would not turn on (perhaps with the exception of the overdrive arrow), nor do any gauges work. No idea why.

Decided to replace the v-belts, just in case. After having done that, the engine started OK, but still no warning lights, including the alternator warning light, and the alternator stopped charging as well. Did some research: tried to check the exciter wire (smaller red wire that leaves the alternator). Ran a number of checks:

1) Grounded the alternator end of the exciter wire, which was supposed to make the alternator warning light light up with the key at position II---it didn‚€™t. Grounded the small red wire at the instrument panel connector---again nothing as far as the alternator light or the other lights.
2) Checked the exciter wire for continuity, first from alternator terminal to firewall (grey plug and socket), resistance was less than 0.7 Ohm. Then checked continuity from alternator through to the round plug with ‚€œpins‚€Ě on the instrument cluster (assuming the small red wire there was the correct one). There was continuity (similar resistance reading).
3) Checked the ground (blue wire) from the alternator ‚€“ checked out fine.
4) Exchanged part of the grey plug for a new one just in case since one half of it seemed to be corroded. Checked for continuity again, still there.
5) Checked all of the fuses, sanded clean contacts on each one. No voltage across #4, #6; about 12 V across all others. Jumping 4 and 6, the fuel pump comes on with the key in position II.
6) Checked to see if something was draining the battery ‚€“ nothing, no slow leaks.

I noticed that with key in position II, the oil pressure light was on but barely noticeable. When I grounded the small red exciter wire again on the alternator body, it went away.

That‚€™s where I am now: with key in position II, headlights, stoplights, turn signals work and overdrive arrow comes on, and none of the gauges work. The starter does not start at all and the engine won‚€™t turn. Not even a clicking sound from the starter motor.
No idea what might be going on at this point. Only thought is that maybe the instrument panel circuit board is shot. Any ideas? Any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, checked the voltage regulator, 1/4-3/8" left on the brushes too, cleaned them as well

This post has been edited by kapkloss: Feb 4 2013, 10:06 PM
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post Feb 5 2013, 01:11 PM
Post #2

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Location: Canterbury UK
Drives: 2000 volvo v70

check the warning bulb for the alternator hasnt blown, this makes the exciter circuit, if it is blown then the alternator wont work.
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post Feb 8 2013, 11:42 PM
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Joined: 4-February 13
Member No.: 114,472
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Location: USA
Drives: '89 240 DL

Hey all,

A quick update.

The bulb for the alternator warning light was not burned out.
The voltage regulator & brushes were fine.

The starter problem, after some investigation, turned out to be due to a bad connection we made while replacing the grey plug at the firewall. We "hotwired" the starter and it worked (car also started with key in position II while doing so), so that clued us in to taking another look at the wiring.

We replaced the instrument panel with a "new" one pulled from a 1991 240 DL station wagon at the junkyard; the gauges and lights look the same. Now, all of the warning lights work, car starts and runs, and - most importantly - alternator is charging the battery (almost 15 V across the posts while running). It seems the charging system problem was in the instrument panel circuit board, which I had read could be a problem.

However, the "new" instrument panel has some quirks: the speedometer doesn't work well (needle won't go above 20), nor do the instrument panel illumination lights work (even with the rheostat at max). Do y'all have any idea whether this is a) fixable at home, and (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cool.gif) how to go about doing it?

Thank you so much for all of your help so far.
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