1990 Volvo 240 DL misery

I have a 1990 Volvo 240 DL with just over 120,000 miles on it. Overall, it?s been good to me but I have a major issue now. Last Thursday, the car began to stall whenever I put it into reverse or stopped (when I drove at 25 MPH or more, it was fine). Previously, it had stalled occasionally if it had been idling for long stretches (like waiting in rush hour traffic) but always started up again without a problem.

I took it to the Volvo specialist shop where I?ve been going for about 5 years now ? they?ve always seemed reliable. I was told the pre-fuel pump needed to be replaced. Also, they let me know that one of the alternator belts was gone and should be replaced. They also did a throttle body service and oil change (I was due for the latter). The total came to just over $500. I was also told that overdrive relay had gone out but since I never drive on the freeway, we agreed that this could wait a week or two.

I got the car back Friday and it seemed OK for a few miles. Then several of the lights of the dashboard starting to glow on and off: battery, SRS, parking brake (even though I was driving and it was off), etc. I stopped the car, started it again, drove cautiously for a block. It seemed to run fine. By this time, the repair shop was closed for the weekend, so I drove home and resolved to call them first thing Monday morning.

I drove the car the next day (I had to – I work Saturdays) and then it died on me completely after a few miles. Not just a stall, but no lights, radio, etc. ? the whole thing was dead. I left it for an hour, it started up again OK and seemed to drive fine. Then the dashboard lights started glowing on and off again. I also noticed that the gas gauge wasn?t functioning properly (I had just gotten half a tank but it read as empty). The car died after two miles, I gave up, and had it towed to the repair place. They looked over it again, told me the alternator would need to be replaced and it would cost me $500 (for the part alone, excluding labor).

Bottom line: after having spent over $500, my car dies on my again after I?ve driven it less than 20 miles, less than 24 hours after I?ve gotten it back from the shop. It seems to have a whole new problem which wasn?t apparent before I took it in ? which seems like a bizarre coincidence, but I?ve never had reason to be suspicious of these guys before. Is it possible the alternator was damaged during the first set of repairs? Has anyone else had this kind of issue? Does it sound legit? Is it time to start looking for a new car?

I apologize for the length of this post and appreciate any thoughts. Thanks in advance.

I really apologize for not responding sooner. Hope it’s not too late. At our Volvo dealer here where I work we rarely replace alternators on 240’s. You just replace brush pack (part of alternator)- about $85 retail at a Volvo dealer. Don’t even have to remove alternator from car to do this. Also the 2 battery ground straps- both start at battery negative post; one goes to engine, and one to body; must have good

connections. The body of the alternator itself must be properly grounded, too. I think there’s a cable that goes from alternator body to intake manifold. Also on the rear firewall (rear wall of engine compartment) around center of firewall near top is a grey(?) plastic connector about half the size of a cigarette pack. It’s got wires coming out both ends- one direction goes to dash gauges; the other to

alternator- along/underneath engine. These wires along engine get frayed and short to ground. You might think about going to a place that specializes in automotive electrical work and run this by them. Again I really apologize for not posting sooner.

This could be a simple loose battery connection. I would check to make sure the ground wires and connections to the battery and alternator are clean and tight.

I agree with Karl Sieger. What you are describing are classic symptoms of an alternator that is about to die. If you can just replace the brush pack on that alternator, rather than replacing the entire alternator, then you have really lucked out. As you probably know by now, Volvo repairs tend to be obscenely expensive, but this particular repair may be the exception to the rule.

Get that alternator repaired, and you should be good to go.

Thanks VDCdriver and Ranck. Yeah, maybe check all those connections before repairing alt. There’s off chance OPer’s garage could have detrmined that entire alt. was needed. Anyway, yesterday I watched one of the guys replace this brush pack on a '92 240 in 8 minutes w/o sweating, by coincidence. I just hope i’ve gotten to OPer in time.

A quick look at a schematic shows your car uses a junction block between the battery and everything electrical on the car.
Age and juntion blocks (also called distribution blocks, centers, terminals, etc.) are the cause of many problems like this.

Simply follow the battery positive cable and it should go into a little box with a cover. Remove the cover, clean the terminals, and that may solve the problem.