Help with My 1984 Volvo!

Hi, I have my mother’s original 1984 DL Volvo Sedan with 74,000 miles on it, always taken care of and garaged. We leant it to a good friend while for two weeks and to show his appreciation, he washed, waxed and then PRESSURE WASHED the engine!!! Since then the car starts right up but after you drive it and turn it off, it will not start up again, DEAD IN THE DRIVEWAY OR WHERE EVER! My husband has changed the rotor, distributor cap, oxygen sensor and air cleaner to no avail. We think water was forced up into some component but don’t know where to go from here. Any suggestions!!! I want my good realible Volvo back! Thanks so much. Patty

I sounds like this has happened several times. How long do you have to wait before the car will restart?

You say “dead in the driveway” but based on the parts you have replaced, I understand that the car cranks vigorously, but fails to start, correct?

The first step would be to determine whether the failure to start is due to lack of spark or lack of fuel or warm flooding. Can you use an old spark plug or pull one of yours and ground the threaded part and see if you are getting a strong blue spark when the car fails to start?

Does it smell like gasoline around your exhaust pipe? If so, I would suspect that it is flooding due to a damaged time/temperature switch, which is located beneath the intake manifold near cylinder #3 (hard to get at).

The place to go with questions regarding old Volvos is the Brickboard, where all the old Volvo enthusiasts congregate. Just Google “Brickboard” or go to and navigate to the RWD (rear wheel drive) section. Make yourself a username (its free) and post your question. There are many Bricksters with far more expertise than I who can help you.

So it starts when the engine is cold, but not when it’s warmed up, correct? This could be a temperature sensor problem.

I’m assuming the battery is turning the engine, but it won’t start. If the battery is not cranking the engine, that’s different.

A service manual would suggest diagnostic steps. Guessing what’s wrong and throwing parts at it is unlikely to fix it.

It never happened until our friend pressure washed the engine. It starts right up, we drive it down our driveway to my husband’s shop (1/4 mile) and turn of the ignition. Try to restart it and nothing. I can’t remember how long we have to leave it (a day or hours) and it will start up again then not restart after turning it off. Totally dead, no cranking, no nothing. My husband has gone to Colorado for a funeral and we live on an island so will have to wait until he returns On Oct. 20th. I just decided to start trying to trouble shoot it on line and get some ideas for him to work with. Thanks for your reply. Patty

She says it doesn’t CRANK. The pressure wash may have loosened a battery or starter connection. Not clear why it starts and runs, then won’t crank/start.

Try checking battery cables/connections. Good place to begin.

I did go to It doesn’t turn over after it “dies”, no gas smell, doesn’t crank period, just won’t start, like there is no juice or connection to tell the “brain” to turn on. What do I know. Am pretty sure water was forced into some electrical component but why it would just start right up then die when turned off, then wait for a few hours or a day and it starts back up again then dies when turned off??

The problem you are having is most likely due to either a faulty relay that supplies power to a number of things when the ignition switch is turned on, or a bad main power connection somewhere under the hood. I don’t have any details on the vehicle so I can’t tell you where to look for the relay but it most likely near the steering column. Also check and clean the battery connections along with to see if there is a power panel under the hood.