'92 Volvo 240 - was stuck in a "puddle", white smoke, engine troubles


#1

I just got caught in the rain, literally, a freeway ramp was partially flooded, saw other cars go through a “puddle” and with safety distance proceeded. About 9 feet away from the edge of this water accumulation my engine sputtered and turned off on me and I recall seeing some, but not much white smoke coming out of the hood. I didn’t leave the car as when I look right next to me I saw only water, about 1/2 the height of my tire surrounding me.
AAA came pretty fast and pulled me out of that wet mess and mentioned it could be just as simple as overheating.
It’s about 2 hours later and I tried my engine but all it does is struggling to turn on. I turned it off immediately.
I checked my coolant level - empty as it can get, and also my dipstick in the oil seems to be not right.
Transmission fluid is fine though.
Could those two fluids be the problem to why my engine is not starting? Or could it be that something got too wet?
Once I turn the key in the 1 position shows electricity is fine and all lights come on with Overdrive and SRS going off after a short while.

Am anxious here and so posted my experience and hope someone can share their thoughts on my matter…

From (rainy) San Francisco
Maxximus


#2

When you say the oil isn’t right, does it look like a milkshake?


#3

thanks for your response. Consistency looked ok, just very low…just came back from a car shop and refilled my coolant/oil …sounds different yet still didn’t start yet…noticed though that there was some wiremesh like hose not connected anymore…will take a picture tomorrow and post it here and also will try and see if I can reconnect it as from the looks of it it supposed to be…


#4

At the front driver side of your engine you will find a rust-colored plastic cap about 4" in diameter with 5 thick wires coming out of the top of it. This is the distributor cap, and it must be completely dry inside in order for the car to run. Remove that cap and dry it out inside. You can spray WD-40 in there to displace the water if you are in a hurry. The car will run with WD-40 in there, but not with water.

Also, if the insulation is old and frayed on the wire that runs down the back of your engine to the crank position sensor on top of the bell housing, water may have gotten in to that lead. If that is the case, you need a new crank position sensor because once that insulation flakes off completely and you have bare wires back there, the car will not run. Take a flashlight and perhaps a mirror and peek between the engine and firewall and see how good that wire looks.

The common thing to happen when you dip a hot Volvo 240 in cold water is that the oxygen sensor in the catalytic converter fails due to the thermal shock of being dipped in cold water. That won’t cause the car to fail to start, but if your check engine light illuminates after you get the car running, this will be a suspect.


#5

Thanks for your thoughts, I removed the distributor cap and found the contacts in good shape as well as everything bone dry there. Couldn’t see anything in the back of the engine though. I used the Mechanic files here on cartalk and already talked to a local volvo guy and will drop off my car there for diagnose and repair…