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1997 Volvo 850 - Won't start

It’s a station wagon. Car cranks but it won’t start. Have jumped it, have trickle charged it, it starts right up. Then a couple hours later, it won’t start. Fuel pump changed. Am very fed up.

That tells me one of three things. Either your battery is bad or you have a parasitic electrical draw, or your alternator is bad. The battery and alternator can be checked, usually for free, at an auto parts store.


Thank you, Purebred. AAA battery guy showed me “tests” that “the charging system” is OK.

Although the battery is 3 yrs. old, it tested as ‘normal’. Likewise, he said the alternator was OK also.

He’s the one that suggested the trickle charger for a few hours which we did. “100%”. Then the car sat overnight and it started at 9 the next morning also. But by noon, nope, just cranked…had wanted to go run it for 30 min or so, but couldn’t.

What would be a likely source of a “parasitic electrical draw”?

Unfortunately that requires a volt meter. With a fully charge battery, with all electrical system and light off you remove the negative battery terminal. On a normal vehicle there are several electrical components that need voltage all the time. You will have a current draw regardless of anything being on. For example, your radio memory or alarm system. The normal current draw should be around .01-.07 amps.
If higher, then the fun begins, each fuse is pulled, one at a time, this will tell you the circuit that is the problem. Then you hunt down the culprit.

If you have an aftermarket radio, alarm, or remote start they might be the source of your problem.

Good Luck.


Also you may need to leave your meter hooked up to the vehicle for at least 20 minutes for all systems to go to sleep. Your car is older and may not take that long, but some do.

Thank you!

If the engine cranks over, there’s nothing wrong with the battery.

The problem lies elsewhere.


Thanks for your input!

Concur, unlikely to be a battery or charging system problem.

Explain better what you mean by the above. Do you mean it cranks but won’t pop and run. Then you either jump start it using another car, or you charge the battery with a trickle charger, then it cranks, pops, and runs like it should? When it cranks but won’t start, does it seem to have a robust crank? that rrrr rrrr rrrr sound w/the key in “start”? Or does it seem like it is having a slower than normal crank?

Thank you for your comment. Yes, to what you said in the 3rd sentence, except that after 1 or more hours, “it will not run…”.

Start w/this test. Measure the battery voltage when it won’t start. Then when it does start, measure the battery voltage immediately after starting the car. Report your numbers here.

It will be a few days before we can again deal with this problem…probably Jan. 2.

In the meantime, Happy New Years!!! Think of your problem this way. There’s no way you’ll get stopped in a DUI checkpoint when the car won’t start … lol …

I think some of us are getting lost in the weeds here… The vehicle battery was charged…and after charging the engine was turned over and started with no problem. Then 3 hours later the engine would not start despite the fact that the engine was cranking. At the time of the no start it was not due to insufficient voltage…it is due to another cause. Parasitic draw has not reared its head at this point in time… unless the OP forgot to mention that it was cranking or turning over very slowly during the no start event.

At any rate until clarification arrives I am reading this as a successful start at 9am and then a no start condition existing at noon despite the engine cranking normally.

If this is the case I would be looking at the fuel pump relay and or ignition switch…verify she is getting fuel… and also spark when the no start/but cranking condition is present.

Look at the batt connections as well maybe the batt charger clamps are altering what systems are getting powered up when the clamps are present…and then altered again when removed.

The battery charging events here are only confusing (me) at this time as they don’t seem to be required from a voltage standpoint. Correct me if I am wrong of course


Happy New year! Many thanks for your comments!