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Chasing advice for 1976 Volvo (244 GL) that mysteriously broke down today

G’day everyone. New to the community.

I recently purchased a 1976 244 GL Volvo that’s sat idle for 12 months. She wouldn’t start, but immediately did with a jump start. Battery was dead, so I replaced it.

Ran smoothly for 4 days (travelled about 150km) but today she broken down after being on the road for about 80 minutes. Was running smoothly for the first hour (incredibly smooth to be honest) but started to get spluttery under 2000rpm when accelerating. Seemed to idle OK - the spluttering was only on acceleration.

When at a standstill, I stalled her up before taking off (trying to get the rpm up) but same spluttering. It gradually got worse over 5 minutes of semi stop-start traffic and worse until she spluttered to a stop.

Wouldn’t start, but did fire up fine after sitting for half an hour. Drove for another 10 minutes and she conked out again. There was a distinct fuel smell so I’m leaning towards it being fuel-pump / line related, but I’m no mechanic. It’s 40 degrees celcius today, but the temp gauge was reading normal temps. Any ideas?

Having been the owner of a bought-new, and perfectly-maintained '74 242 GL, I can tell you that these vehicles have an electrical system from hell, and it might be necessary for a really good automotive electrical specialist to take a look at it.

That being said, my prime suspects would be the highly-problematic CIS fuel injection system, and the fuel pump(s). IIRC correctly, this model has a pump in the gas tank, as well as the one located in the left rear wheel well. Luckily, that latter one is very accessible, and it got to the point where I was able to replace it in about 20 minutes, which is fortunate because I had to replace it 6 times in 7 years.

I wish you sincere good luck with that Volvo.

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Have you cycled through all the old gas and filled with fresh gas yet?

I would suspect the ignition coil because it temporarily self corrects when it cools down. If you are not getting any spark when you are cranking it, you would smell fuel. If you were not getting any fuel, there would be nothing to smell.

Another possibility would be a small hole in the fuel line of fuel system. Not unusual in a 43 year old car that sat for a year. That would also explain the smell but it would have to be very small to let the car start and run again.

Nothing mysterious about a 43 year old Volvo breaking down, it is to be expected. I knew a few people who had 70s vintage Volvos and they all had repair manuals on the back shelf.

One of thise people drives a late model Volvo today, but to him the safety aspect outweighs the repair costs.

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I did, and that was in the '70s!

First suspect - clogged fuel system caused by old/bad gas.

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I agee; consider contaminated gasoline. Another sore point is the dual relay that control the fuel pump. Over time the high current draw of the fuel pump will burn the contact points and cause a hit and miss situation.

A distributor pickup coil may be being effected by heat.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/volvo,1976,244,2.1l+l4,1287323,ignition,distributor+pickup+coil,7176

Tester

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My first hunch, too, is pickup coil inside the distributor. It may also be called signal generator, control module, etc. It does what points did in pre-electronic distributors: tells just when to fire a spark. If you have a no-spark condition, especially with a warmed up engine, it’s a definite possibility. They eventually fail for good, but can be intermittent for a good long while.

The distributor also utilizes breaker points.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/volvo,1976,244,2.1l+l4,1287323,ignition,ignition+breaker+points,11337

Tester

Could they make it any more complicated? I remember trip from Yellowstone back to Wisconsin in one of those cars - a wagon. We were running low on fuel midnight and miles from any settlement. My buddy, the owner, was talking about the two fuel pumps and the trouble he’d had with them.

Do the breaker points signal the pickup coil which then signals the coil?

Thanks for the advice and pre-warning. Very handy and gives me a good starting point, plus prepares me for the ownership journey ahead.

The fuel tank was low and immediately filled, but that’s not to say there’s not residual in the lines or fuel filter.

Thanks everyone. @shanonia and @Tester - I’m going to start with the pickup coil and/or the distributor itself and hope that fixes things up. If not, I’ll turn to the fuel system as suggested by @VDCdriver @TwinTurbo @oldtimer_11 texases and ok4450 - It looks like an easy vehicle to work on, but I’ll admit I’m not wildly excited about diagnosing an issue that exists somewhere between the fuel tank and injectors. :grimacing:

Yeah the fuel injector system. My boss had a new one around that vintage and it was in the shop more than out for fuel injection problems. Not only was the system a problem but getting to it required a lot of disassembly. There just is no good answer and whoever sold it to you should be jailed. It will never be dependable.

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+1
My '74 Volvo 242GL was a multiple problem-ridden POS from the day that I picked it up from the dealership. Trust me… they don’t improve with age.

Yup!
Just like my POS Volvo!

Firs thing you need to do is determjine what is missing when it will not run; spark or fuel pressure.

A 76 244 is what I got tied up with once that had an ECM problem. The owner was a traveling salesman and threw all kinds of crap into the passenger front floorboard. Running fine and suddenly ran like garbage while belching black smoke.
Finally deciding it was an ECM problem I accessed the computer and noticed a Donald Duck orange juice against the ECM connector with juice on it. You don’t suppose…

Yep. After drilling the ECM rivets out I found that the residual juice had gotten inside the ECM and onto the circuit board where the acid in in the juice ate up a dime sized piece of circuit. That in turn led to the ECM holding the injectors open all the time instead of pulsing them.

My suggestion was to keep an empty box in the front floorboard and toss everything into that.

My old VW Rabbit had the Bosch K Jetronic CIS fuel injection system. For it anyway this symptom would probably be a clogged fuel distributor. It has to be taken apart and cleaned, replacing the fuel filter at the same time.

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I remember checking the oil on a ‘74 or so Volvo at the gas station I worked at - smelled gas, found a little puddle on the head under one of the injectors. Not good!

Nothing mysterious about a ‘76 Volvo breaking down. A 40+ year old Volvo will probably spend more More time in the shop than on the road. No mystery just a fact of life.

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