'91 Volvo 740

Starting about two months ago it would start, but then the RPMs would decrease and it would cut out again… so my method was crank it, step on the gas, slowly take foot off pedal until I felt it would stay on. That kind of worked.

Two weekends ago I stopped at a store after work and when I walked back out to the car it was cranking but not turning over… not actually starting.

The next morning I had the car towed to a shop, where they said it started right up for them. OK. They changed the air filter, cleaned the mass air flow sensor and flame trap. Now ever since this minor surgery, my car has started fine with no extra pedal-pumping, no cutting out.

Then, this past Friday I went to lunch and when I came out of the store it did the same thing (chug chug chug, no start). It seems to start fine if it sits for a while.

Someone told me that a tune-up would fix it, or changing the timing belt. I can’t tell by looking at my mother’s (she’s the only other owner) service records when the belt was changed or how many miles it’s been as the odometer stopped working quite a long time ago.

Does anyone have any idea what this is? When it starts, it runs fine. I would love to avoid a new car payment as I’m a single mom of two… on the other hand, I don’t want to shell out the bucks for a tune-up and then find it’s still not starting reliably.


I had a 91 740 and eventually got rid of all idling/starting issues with a complete tune-up and a slight adjustment of the timing belt. However, this could be a lot of different things. It could be fuel related (pumps, relays) or electrical (most of which would be addressed in a tune-up.) It may indeed need a timing belt (get the water pump replaced at the same time.) A good independent Volvo shop can get this car running right and it shouldn’t take a whole lot of money. You have a good car and it may take a little maintenance to get her running good again.