Lady with Volvo failure to start (July 28 NPR)



You guys said it had to be either electrical or fuel. Third option (always) is the driver. Case in point: my Durgango had unpredicable fits of no-start or start, sputter and die. The shop found only one error code: security. Finally realized that sometimes while turning the key to start, I would accidentally press a button on the oversized security key. Evidently, this sent an error code. If I take out key, press lock and then unlock and then carefully turn key to start - it works everytime. Bad driver. Neither fuel or electrical. Ha.


I once had a diesel Buick I bought brand new. I would park it in front om my home, and in the morning I would drive to work. After about 3 blocks, the motor would stop. After a try or 2 it would restart and thereafter run fine for the rest of the day. Next morning, same thing. Next morning same thing. You get the picture.
I took it back to the dealer who found nothing wrong. Finally I took the car back to the dealer, and said I didn’t want it back until they fixed it.
Finally, after a factory rep was called in, they replaced the fuel line from the tank to the carb. Their theory was that there was a pinhole opening in the fuel line (that they didn’t ever find) that let an air block in the fuel line, and when the air hit the carb, the car stopped, but it would restart and keep running because the hole was so small that it did not accumulate a block of air in the line, it needed the hours overnight to let in enough air to stall the car.
Perhaps the volvo has a altitude (air pressure) factor that is causing a similar problem. The similarity is that after she gets started the car it runs fine. Look for air entering the fuel line somehow, or some vent problem with the fuel tank.


I had a 1995 Subaru Legacy that had an intermittent start problem last year. But one day, the check engine light finally came on, so I took it to a particular garage in Cambridge MA (yes… that garage) where it was diagnosed as a bad battery that wouldn’t hold a charge. The check engine light was for the crank angle sensor, which was dismissed as an error code caused by slow cranking due to the dying battery.

The intermittent start problem continued. Fed up, and expecting the worse, I to a place over in Allston. The problem instantly disappeared after replacing the crank angle sensor.


Hi This is a classic Volvo problem. It is possible for a turn signal light bulb terminals to short and prevent the car from stating because the theft flasher relay is logically in series with the gear selector position sensor in series with the starting relay connected to the key start. Kate’s problem is probably the gear position sensor and will get worse with time, but can temporarily be fixed by shaking the automatic gear selector. This sensor bolted on the gearbox ages ungracefully. It will work sporadically before failing completely. I can provide more detail if needed. (but do check the terminals on the turn signal bulbs as a low cost quickie check first)