1985 Volvo Died?

My son who is a poor part time college student has been driving our vintage volvo with over 287.000 miles to his two part time jobs. The other day on the way to work he went through a puddle. He made it to work but then five hours later on his way home from work the car died. He may have run out of gas. I drove him out some gas but still the old blue dinosaur would not start. We had it towed home and replaced the spark plugs. Still no start. We don’t really want to put a ton of money in this car but he needs transportation! Help!

You have 4 things to check. Fuel, air, spark, and compression.

Fuel: you need to check for proper fuel pressure and if the injectors are pulsing.
Air: is the air intake and filter clean and clear, and is the IAC working properly.
Spark: are the spark plugs actually sparking?
Compression: are the cylinders building compression?

This car will probably still have a distributor cap. Remove the cap and check to water condensation on the underside. Also wipe clean and dry all the high voltage towers, coil and cap. Put a spare spark plug into #! spark plug wire and see if you do in fact have a spark. If you have a spark, use a timing light on #1 to see in the timing is approximately correct.

Also check to make sure the cam shaft is turning. I think this car has a cam timing belt which may have broken. If it has cam timing gears, the composite gear may have lost teeth.

Other than the above, go back to basics and check for spark, fuel, and compression that should point you toward the culprit.

We put some more gas in and the car started. It ran for about 2 minutes and then stalled. I noticed that the pipe leading back to the catalytic converter had come loose from the pipe coming out of the manifold. We reconnected those and again it started, ran for about 3 minutes and then died again. Haven’t been able to get it started since.