www.sonic.net: zipzippy: Volvo 240/260 Frequently Asked Questions
This page was last updated on: Thu Jul 24 14:10:42 PDT 2003
Stuff I've been meaning to archive:
Did you find what you were looking for? Was this page not what you expected? If so, please contact me. I'm all ears for feedback. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to all things brick related (at least not yet). Is this page not readable for you? You need a new browser. I've seen that it's mostly readable in MSIE 5, 5.5, and 6.0, Navigator 7, Opera 6, Amaya, and w3m. That covers nearly every platform out there. This site is designed to be XHTML 1.0, and CSS2 compliant. Lemmie know if you find any glaring non compliance (other than the whole “&” issue). This is just a quick handful of things to answer these things that any Volvo owner will eventually ask. Additions are always welcome. The standard follow this at your own risk disclaimer applies, and of course I don't expect everyone to agree with everything stated here. 'Course if you're really curious, there may be a more recent version of this site here. Two must see discussion type boards are “The Brickboard” and VolvoWiki.
The blower motor. Even a wonderfully engineered car such as a 240 has a few practical jokes up its sleeves. The blower motor is just one of those things to keep Lars laughing at night. When it fails, you might see smoke come out the vents, you may just hear it make noise for a long time, it may just stop working all together. If the motor isn't working on some speeds, but is on others.. it may be the resistor pack (about the same amount of labor to get to the resistors as to replace the motor). If the motor itself really is toast, a replacement (thanks to Art Benstein for the blood, sweat, tears, and the dedication to document everything so nicely) is in order. A replacement involves lots of money or lots of creative Swedish words. More than likely it just needs a little lubrication. Then again, maybe it's possible to save your blower motor before it's too late. Or as Chris Herbst points out, you can remove the blower motor in about four hours, more detail here. Nice pictures too. Don't you wish you had a newer Volvo now?
The water pump. It's time to change your timing belt, your water pump is leaking, or you need a weekend project. If one of those describes you and your car, you should probably replace the water pump if you've got a four cylinder engine. If you've got a 260, a new pump may double the value of your car (just kidding... sort of). If there's leaking where the pump meets the cylinder head, the pump may not have been installed properly. Be glad it's not a 260. If the pump is new, a gasket set and a proper installation should suffice. If the pump isn't so new or is leaking from the fan pulley or the housing, it's time for replacement. Water pumps are cheap for the four cylinders. But what brand should you buy? I splurged and spent the extra $4 on a German made Hepu pump. Others recommend Hepu as well (one, two, and three).
Random electrical stuff.

It's a Volvo, of course none of the electrical stuff works anymore. So says one of my neighbors. Have all the idiot lights gone on all of the sudden? Battery die unexpectedly? Battery not being charged? It's probably not the alternator. More than likely part of your wiring harness has "biodegraded". If you're daring you can attempt repair . However, all 1980s Volvos had truly biodegradable wiring harnesses. The wires most exposed to heat (like the ones under the hood) tend to go first. The usual outlets sell new Volvo harnesses for between $250USD and $400 depending. Dave Barton sells like new Volvo harnesses that out lasted the car.

Relay problems. The relays found on a 240 often suffer from cracked soldering, leading to the intermittent functioning of any number of electrical devices. From the overdrive (manual or automatic transmission) to the wipers to the fuel pumps, relays control lots of useful items on the 240. The long and the short of it is that these relays are pretty hardy beasts, but the soldering (from the factory) sucked. It's usually a simple matter of popping the cover off and re-flowing the joints. Art Benstein took some photos of what you'd expect to see on an LH-Jetronic 2.2 equipped 240.

Timing belt tips. If you've got a 1975 240, you don't have a timing belt. Instead you've got a fiberglass or metal timing gear. Same engine as found in a 140. If you've got a diesel, you've got two timing belts. Failure of the front one will destroy the engine, failure of the rear will mean you've got to re-time the injection pump. If you've got a V6, you've got a timing chain. If you've got a SOHC 4 cylinder, you've got a timing belt. If you have a 740 GLE or 940 GLE with the DOHC 16 valve engine, you've got a timing belt and a balance shaft belt to deal with. Right now, my interest lies with the most common, the SOHC four banger. 1993 (and later) engines got a different timing belt, with a 100,000 mile change interval. All others have a belt rated for 50,000 miles. Early on in the game Volvo had messed around with varying intervals (36k miles, 45k miles, etc) but they finally settled on 50,000 miles. All US-spec, and most (but NOT ALL) other engines are NON INTERFERENCE. If you mill the head and/or put in a hot enough cam, you too can create an interference engine. Either way, if the timing belt snaps, you'll be dead on the road. Good search terms for more information would be stuff like “rope trick” and “special tool” and “harmonic balancer”. I only saw one person mention this, but the crank bolt on the B21/B23 is a 22mm bolt. The B230 uses a 24mm bolt. Note, some people like to jam a screwdriver into the teeth of the flywheel to lock the engine, here is why I think this is a bad idea. The special tool is cheap ($40USD), and avoids potential damage like this. The Brickboard 700-900 FAQ has detailed instructions on how to change the timingbelt on a SOHC engine, as well as on the DOHC 16V engine. The Bentley manual is wrong, the B230 needs a final tightening of 60 NOT 90 degrees.
Water leaks. The 200 series Volvos are great cars, designed for harsh Nordic winters. Unfortunately for owners, some parts last longer than others. The water seals especially tend to age quickly, allowing water to enter from all sorts of unseen areas. Often, water will be found behind the front passenger's (right hand side) seat in the form of damp carpeting. This is the lowest part of the floor pan structure. Worst case you get to repair the floor pan panels. Before you get the floor looking all nice and rust free, make sure that you've cured the original water leak. The usual suspects are: windshield (note the decorative black trim on 75-91 240s and 260s doesn't seal anything), anything passing through the firewall (wiper motor, a/c lines, misc. wiring), the a/c drain near the center console, rear quarter windows on wagons, and clogged sunroof drains (did I miss anything?).
That crazy temp/fuel gauge. So you've noticed that occasionally your temperature gauge occasionally indicates an extremely high temperature. Time to panic? Maybe. 1985 model year and newer 240s have a small circuit, the temperature compensating board designed to help the steady gauge in the face mild variation in the coolant temperatures. When this circuit fails the temp gauge becomes an unreliable source of information, erring on the extremely hot side. Here are some pictures of the process.
What type of transmission fluid do I need? What type of fluid your transmission requires depends entirely on what type of transmission you have. Over the years, Volvo has used many different transmissions in the 240 and 260 models. Manual transmissions models: M41, M45, M46, M47/M47-II, M51. Automatic models: BW35, BW55/AW55, AW70/AW70. 1975 model year 240s with the B20F engine got the M41 (four speed manual + electric pushbutton overdrive) or BW35 (three speed automatic) transmissions as carryovers from the 140 cars. 1976-1993 models got either the M45 (four speed manual), M46 (four speed manual with a push button overdrive unit), M47 (five speed manual), BW55/AW55 (three speed automatic), or AW70/AW71 (four speed automatic). Early 260s were available with a true five speed Getrag manual transmission (M51), later ones got the M46 (four speed + overdrive manual) or the BW55/AW55 (three speed auto). Most, if not all, US and Canada spec 240s were not available with the M45 transmission.

Now that you've identified which transmission you have, you can determine what type of fluid you need.

For all M46 transmissions, Type F or Type G Automatic Transmission Fluid is the easiest choice. Synthetic fluid (like Redline MTL) has been used with success, 10w30 motor oil can be used (but will afford less protection). Dexron fluid SHOULD NOT BE USED (one, two). Christ Herbst wrote an intersting summary explaining how various acceptable fluids (Type F ATF, RedLine MTL, Synthetic Motor Oil) work with an M46 transmission.

For all BW35, BW55, or AW55 transmissions you should use Type F Automatic Transmission Fluid. Period. If you can find a synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid that's compatible or designed to meet Type F (or Type G) specs go for it.

For AW70/AW71 transmissions you'll either need Type F or Dexron (note that the two are not compatible, should not be mixed, and putting one in a transmission designed for the other will result in problems). For 1982 and 1983 model year AW70 or AW71 transmissions you'll want Type F fluid. For 1984-1993 AW70 or AW71 transmissions, you'll want Dexron / Dexron II / Dexron III / Dexron IV Automatic Transmission Fluid.
Overdrive. Over time, it takes longer and longer for your manual transmission to engage that push button 5th gear. Or maybe you have an automatic transmission and you were driving down the highway, and suddenly it shifts into third gear and refuses to shift into fourth.
If you have an AW70, AW71, or AW72 automatic transmission, look here for some more advice.

If you have an M46 transmission, Duane Hoberg has posted lots of useful information. Classic musings include stuff about:
Tires. So you bought a 240 or 260, and dang if it doesn't have the scariest looking tires on it. Time to replace 'em. What with? That's a personal decision that could be debated for years on end. Before you even begin looking, it helps to know what size you'll be looking for. The following sizes were gleamed from my Volvo owner' manual. Different years may have different sized tires fitted. The best place to look is on the right front door. There should be a sticker indicating what size tires were originally fitted. If this sticker is missing (or the door isn't original) you can also check the speedometer. On the bottom there will be a few numbers and letters such as " r.980". Match this up with the, and you can determine the original tire size. This of course won't work if someone has replaced the speedometer with the wrong one.
Volvo DL, GL, and Turbo 1985 Model Year
Country Body style Model Stock tire size Comments
USA Sedan Turbo 195/60R15 Volvo recommends size 185/65-15 or 185/70-14 snow tires. Speedo reads r.0980.
DL 175-R14  
DL, GL 185/70R14  
Wagon DL, GL 185-R14 This is roughly equivalent to the non-existent 185/82R14 size. 185/70R14 is not close, use a tire size calculator.
Turbo 195/60R15 Volvo recommends size 185/65-15 or 185/70-14 snow tires.
Canada Sedan Turbo 195/60R15 Volvo recommends size 185/65-15 or 185/70-14 snow tires.
DL, GL 185/75R14  
Wagon DL, GL 185/75R15  
Turbo 195/60R15  
The selection of true 185R14 or 175R14 tires is pretty slim, 195-75/14 (1.7% smaller diameter) and 205/75-14 (0.6% larger) are close matches. If you're going for accuracy, a replacement speedometer from a donor car with the tire size you want should drop right in and allow a much better selection of tires.
Wheel stuff. For its entire production run, the Volvo 240 was fitted with hubs of one bolt pattern and one offset (5x108mm and +20mm offset). 5x180mm is a fairly uncommon bolt pattern outside of Volvo (I think the Ford Taurus is the only common car with this bolt pattern). It is a bolt pattern shared by other Volvos like the 140, 164, 700, 900, and beyond. However, the 20mm offset means that only a few of those cars would have matching wheels. The 140, early 164s, later 960s, all FWD Volvos, and the Taurus use an offset vastly different from the 240. The 700 series cars use a 25mm offset (and 700 series wheels fit just fine on a 240). As with everything else, there's a catch. Most (all?) wheels designed for the 240 will not fit on the later 700s with ABS. The calipers on those cars will not fit within the wheels (in fact I don't think 14 and 15 inch wheels fit on those cars at all). The 240 Turbo wheels (Virgos) deserve special mention here as well. They will fit any 240, for sure, but you do need to remove the retaining pin from the caliper. You should be just fine with no pin or bolt in place (note: if you follow my advice and something goes wrong, you're on your own. take my advice at your own risk). You can find a list of the different Volvo wheels (complete with pictures) that will fit the 200 series cars here. The following table was from a recent turbobricks post by Patrick D. The pictures were from Evan R's web site of from Volvo world. If you have any other weights you'd like to add, please feel free to e-mail me. All wheels weighed with scale that rounds off to the nearest .5 pound, and all wheels weighed without their center caps unless otherwise noted.

Wheel name Wheel size Weight Offset Commonly found on Notes
BBS Wheel 17x7.5 22 lbs 43 mm C70 Volvo optional BBS wheel, weighed with "human" scale
Borbet Type E 15x7 19.5 lbs ???--- 
(P/N #9166315R and #9134402L)
16x6.5 21 lbs 43 mm 850 GLT Turbo 5 spoke swept fan
(P/N #1128730-7 and #1387157-9)
14x5.5 15.5 lbs 20 mm 240 GL  
(P/N #1330400-1)
15x6 16 lbs 25 mm 740 Turbo  
(P/N #1394623-1)
16x7 18.5 lbs 20 mm 240/740 optional, looks like old Momo 5 spoke, weight with center cap
(P/N #3516422-7)
16x6.5 18.5 lbs 25 mm740/940 Turbo 
(P/N #1394593-6)
15x7 17 lbs 20 mm 780 BBS mesh looking wheel
(P/N #3516961-4)
15x6 15.5 lbs 25 mm 740 Turbo  
Panasport clone 15x5.5 15 lbs 32.5 mm ---  
(P/N #9166378)
16x6.5 21.5 lbs 43 mm 850 GLTA(?) 5 spoke w/ tear drop shaped lug nut area
(P/N #3529650)
17x7 21.5 lbs 43 mm 850 T-5R 5 spoke, weighed 10x: 5x == 22lbs, 5x == 21lbs, weighed with " human" scale
(P/N #1128867-7)
15x6 17.5 lbs 20 mm 240 Turbo  
P/N # 3516303 15x6 15 lbs 25 mm 780 "early multi spoke one"
P/N # 9173714 16x6.5 20 lbs 43 mm S70 T-5 5 spoke swept fan with flattened face
Gauge goodies. Of the Volvo models, the 240 is nice in that it allows you to fit all sorts of off the shelf gauges neatly and easily (post 81.. the new dash style). No more futzing with aftermarket A-pillar pods that don't fit properly like on the 700s. There are two space to the right of the instrument cluster. Turbos and GLTs were also equipped with a three gauge cluster in the upper radio slot as well (radios in this case were put into the lower slot where most newer 240s have a storeage pocket).
Performance upgrades. Lots of places to look for various upgrades and advice. IPD, MVP (beware of MVP's obnoxious flash driven website), Unitek, TurboBricks, etc. Curious about installing upgraded sway bars?
Where to buy parts. The companies that follow all do business out of the United States. I have either done business with them personally or merely been sucked in by rave reviews. In no real order:
What to see. Again, in no order:
Buyer's Guide. (Un)fortunately for Volvo fans, buying a 240, 260, or something along those lines means a used car. A lot of what I could and would say is right here. There are some little things I take issue with (all in all minor stuff). It's a good read for the prospective buyer. Update: seems like the original link has gone bye bye, so I've put up a saved copy for your viewing pleasure.
Tail lamps for your 240. Of course you can find the usual five and six panel tail lights (80-93), as well as the earlier styles. However, I had never seen these lamps before. Notice how the reverse and fog lenses are swapped (compared to the US style five panel lights). The "new" six panel lights, look a bit like this.
Keys and locks for your 240. If you've bought a 240, you may have been lucky and provided with the original tailgate/trunk/glove box and door/ignition keys. If you're not so lucky, and you have a sedan, you will have a bit of trouble getting into the trunk. However, later 240s used the same pattern and a very similar blank for the door/ignition and trunk keys. It may be possible to have a trunk key cut from the door key. Update: The key I had cut didn't work. No big deal. Some genius friends decided to take a screwdriver and finally get into the trunk. Oops. No more remotely salvageable trunk lock. To get into the trunk, you'll need about three feet of extensions with a 10mm socket on the end. If you remove the bottom two bolts holding the striker plate in, you can open the trunk from the outside. A new trunk lock kit for my 1985 brick is part number 1315204 and retails for about $89.00, YMMV. You'll also probably want the o-ring (P/N 3536509) and the locking plate (P/N 1254114) as neither are included in the "kit".
Adjusting the drive belts. A/C: If you've got a B230 engine (260s have a completely different belt arrangement), the A/C compressor should pivot to adjust the belt tension. A rare plus of the more complicated crank pulley. If you've got a B21/B23 powered 240, the A/C compressor is in a fixed position. So how the heck do you adjust the belt tension (or better yet, how to remove the belt)? The crank pulley has two pieces (front and back) and a handful of shims. Six bolts , nuts, and/or studs later you can adjust the number of shims in the pulley to adjust the tension. Alternator: to install/remove the belts, pull off the fan clutch if applicable. Then unbolt the fan pulley, and slide the pulley off the water pump. Easy, eh? To install, just slip the pulley under the belts, and pull up and into place.
Getting your 240 to pass a smog test. all Volvos sold in the United States since the 140 have been fuel injected (Honda, for instance, was still selling carb'd cars in the US in 1989). Heck the first ever use of an oxygen sensor was in a 240, EGR wasn't used until 1990 or so on some California market cars. Point being that Volvos are rather clean burning cars, and getting them to pass a smog check shouldn't be a difficult process. The basics are always a good place to start (distributor cap, spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor rotor, fuel filter, oxygen sensor, etc). If that has been done recently, the more expensive items such as vacuum hoses and catalytic converter should be looked at. However, if you have a 1984 thru 1988 model year non-turbo 240, you most likely have the "Chrysler Lean Burn" setup. This is very easily identified by its tell tale white distributor cap. A brief explanation why this might prevent your car from passing smog is available here.
If you own a 240 Turbo with a water cooled turbo... if you're feeling silly and want OEM parts for the two coolant hoses, their part numbers are 6842129-6 (this is the "proper" lower radiator hose: it snakes from the turbo to the water pump to the radiator — $71.90) and 1346540-6 (this goes from the turbo to the coolant expansion tank to the radiator — $24, not in stock at Borton or the local dealer). Just wait until your car is very cold, and you're feeling a bit masochistic before you go about replacing them. Thanks to Borton Volvo for the P/Ns. Quick update: I went to the local dealer, hoses in hand. The expansion tank hose was incorrect, I had P/N 3531884 (while not special order like 1346540-6, it was obscenely expensive at $57.70).
Adjusting the heater valve Getting toasted even with the temperature selector on full cool? Got two temperatures to choose from: hot and hotter? Maybe a bit of coolant leaking under the console? Chances are your heater control valve has bit the dust and needs replacement or if you're lucky adjustment (404). The original design was all fancy and actually sensed the temperature. The later style merely adjusted how much coolant to let through. While the original style is no longer available from Volvo (they merely offer a retrofit kit apparently), IPD still has the original style valves. Don Foster summed up the differences pretty well.
The Volvo Font. Thanks to Matt Roggish in alt.autos.volvo for pointing out that Volvo uses Elston Light for some advertising stuff. Update: There was a link to a sample which has since changed.
Welcome to Volvo Owners Anonymous. Hi, my name is Alex and I don't have any more 240s. My current ride is a 1989 760 Wagon. I love the power and reliability that the B230FT brings, but miss my 240s dearly. I am going through 240 withdrawl. Hi Alex. P.S. I'm trying to clear out the garage a bit, so I'm selling some of my collection.