A 92 Volvo 240 that cuts out


I drive a 92 Volvo 240 with under 100,000 miles on it. Previous owner never really drove it, had it for about four years now. During the winter we seem to have electrical issues; back in 2009 I turned the car on after going shopping and drove immediately, while driving I got a green light and was braking around the corner the car just cut out completely. Got it to a mechanic and they replaced the whole electrical system, issues never reappeared for another two years. 2010 only issue was it need a new transmission, so I put in a used one. Four months later, February I believe, this time it would not start at all and it was night time. Got it towed to the mechanic and the next day he called me, said nothing was wrong with it started right up.

Now we are here November 22, 2011 and the car has cut out on me twice in the pas week. The first time was a dark cold night, got it towed to the mechanic and started up the next day like nothing was the issue. The mechanic joked that it likes to play dead and it starving for attention. The second time it was in broad day light and it started about again 30 minutes later.

3 out 4 times my car cut it happened while applying the brake and from a short distance from where it was parked. Also note that during the night during the winter the battery light will have a light glow to it, also when purchased the owner put it a newer radio system, sometimes when the brakes are applied it will cut out, during the winter is when its more common.

After it happened a third time and the mechanics were stumped, I decided to go to a much reliable source. Let me hear your thoughts and suggestion on what this issue could be about

“replaced the whole electrical system” - this statement says nothing. A whole electrical system would cost thousands of dollars so no clue what was replaced and/or repaired. My guess is a short somewhere behind the dash board. Perhaps a blown out ignition switch, or two wires touching where the insulation is either missing or worn out which is common with a poor splice job. Perhaps the installation of the aftermarket radio was botched by the installer.

Working to find a short under the dash is not a fun job. Take the car to a good car audio shop and have the radio issues checked out. Otherwise you need a mechanic that specializes in electrical problems to troubleshoot this for you. Many mechanics are great at pulling transmissions and bolting on new parts but same mechanics are easily stumped by issues like yours. Without a good schematic of the cars wiring they are pretty much clueless.

I wonder if this car has the same problem as the 940 model? They were prone to having the electronic ignition module to fail intermittently until it fails completely.If the module is not assembled correctly to the heat sink mount with the thermal transfer grease, the module will fail prematurely.

I was just about to write the same exact sentence as Uncle Turbo… What on earth was replaced with this electrical system? To replace the entire electrical system would have been a MAJOR undertaking and would have taken some MAJOR issue to warrant this.

This “electrical system replacement” invites such a long list of electrical problems/gremlins down the road, I couldn’t even begin to touch base on all of them. Please describe the events surrounding the electrical work that was done and why this was performed. It sounds like now…you are having an electrical issue obviously I really just need to know more about this electrical system replacement…that is a very serious statement.

Perhaps you are simply having a fault in your ignition switch and its shutting down the power to the ignition? Would be very helpful to get into the electrical system right when you are having the issue and do some testing…lots of little things to test actually. Please tell us more about the system replacement.


I drove two 240s over a quarter-million miles each, and the two common problems that will cause them to cut out or fail to start, and then start later as if nothing happened are:

  1. Failing insulation on the lead to the crank position sensor. This lead runs down the back of your engine between the engine and firewall, to a sensor mounted in the top of the bell housing.
  2. Cracked solder joint in the fuel pump relay. This relay is under the dash, above the passenger’s right foot as I recall.

If your crank position sensor has never been replaced in 20 years, I would bet money on #1

The OP may have meant that the wiring harness was replaced. On older Volvos those wires tended to degrade after years of exposure to heat. I had to have that done and, unfortunately, it didn’t solve the problem, although it did pay the mechanic’s mortgage for that month. I would suggest going to the Brickboard forum where people who specialize in Volvos hang out. They would have more specialized knowledge.

Biodegrading wiring harnesses were a big problem for Volvo from around 1980 through the 1986 model year. I would not expect that problem on a 1992, other than the shielding on the crank position sensor lead.

The glowing battery light is unrelated to the stalling problem. That sometimes happens when the alternator brushes are about shot. If you notice your dash lights start to pulse bright/dim when it is running, the problem is the brushes. You can solder in new brushes, but if you pay a mechanic to fix it, they will replace the whole voltage regulator because their time to clean up and solder the old unit is worth more than the cost of the new voltage regulator (and a whole new regulator is a more reliable fix). The voltage regulator attaches in the back of the alternator with two Torx screws. It is much easier to access if you remove the oil filter.

For the stalling problem, take a flashlight and a small mirror and examine the lead that runs down the gap between the back of the engine and the firewall. I think that you will find that the insulation is flaking off.