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Volvo 240 Starting Problems

Forgive me if this has already been addressed. I’m new here and a complete dummy regarding cars.

My Volvo has 2 seemingly unfixable interactive problems.

Something drains the battery. It’s inconsistent. I used it until Wed at 6pm and by Thur at 9 am, it was completely dead (even the manual clock stopped). Today, same scenario (it sat evening until morning) - started fine. But after 72 hours, guaranteed dead. I’ve now tried 3 batteries. The Volvo dealer could not find the problem. And charged $100 for not finding it.

Problem 2 - the cold start injector thingy that’s broke. Means on a warm day it takes many cranks to start. On a cold day, 3 minutes or more of repeated cranking before it catches. The dealer said that he couldn’t find this $300 part.

This means if the battery isn’t 100%, it could die in cranking before the car catches. That’s why it took almost an hour 2 days ago of being connected to someone’s car before I could get a jump.

Any suggestions?

Find a good mechanic that either knows Volvo’s and/or specializes in Volvo’s. The dealer techs haven’t seen a car as old as yours for years and the techs simply don’t know the car. You need a Volvo mechanic that is about 50-60 years old that has worked on those old 240’s.

Have you posted this on a 240 (“brick”) forum? Those folks will do anything to keep these running, somebody may have a solution to these problems.

@bil4913 did the dealer perform a parasitic draw test?
How old is the battery?
Was the alternator tested?
Was the compression check performed? The extended cranking might be due to low compression.

All of these things could be checked by any competent mechanic.

FYI blaming the battery usually only works if the battery had a bad cell or was already pretty old.

Is this what your cold start injector looks like? It’s possible that the Volvo dealers don’t stock them any longer.

Personally, I’d check the compression before concentrating on the cold start injector.

You definitely want to post any 240 problem here:

What year is your brick? If it is one of the last few years, it has 5 fuel injectors, the fifth fuel injector being controlled by the water temperature sensor. Those temperature sensors are notoriously prone to failure and hard to get at to replace BUT, the late model bricks will start and run just find down to around 0 F without using the fifth injector, so if it messes up, you just unplug the electrical plug from the fifth injector and forget it unless you live in the far north.

Any mechanic worth his salt can find a current drain on a simple car like a 240 Volvo. Common sources of current drain are aftermarket sound systems and alarms, and courtesy lights that are not going out in places like the trunk, under the hood, glove box, etc. The only constant drain is the memory in the engine computer. The clock gets an occasional bump of power to ‘wind’ it. You can use either a voltmeter or an ammeter in series with the battery lead to check for current drain. Voltmeter is easier to use and should work on this old style electrical system.

WOW, thanks so much everyone.

@Uncle: The mechanic I used said he specialized in Volvo’s. I am looking for another

@texases: is the link Manolito mentioned the one you were referring to? I’ll check it out!

@db4690: I thought he did a draw test, but don’t remember “parasitic” mentioned. 2 of the 3 batteries I’ve tried were new. Compression is not something I remember being mentioned. I should’ve asked the Volvo guy what the part was exactly. No idea what it looks like.

@Manolito: does brick mean battery – sorry to be so newbie? The mechanic claimed I had minimal drain. They kept it overnight and he was insistent on this.

I’ll check out brickboard. One other comment: while the starting problem is consistent (worse when cold, but never good – and when it ignites [“catches”], it stalls it in 5 seconds for the first few tries), the battery drain or whatever is not. Thursday: completely dead – clock stopped, no dome light, nothing; Friday: just fine; today: some juice, but not enough for the multiple cranks. I never know what I’m up against from day to day.

Any good mechanic should at least be able to tell you how much the current draw is when everything is turned off. It’s a very easy thing to check. Takes maybe 15 minutes.

Here’s a rule of thumb about batteries, might prove helpful to you.

The capacity (amp-hour) rating of a battery is about 1/20 th of the cold crank rating (CCR).

So if the battery is CCR at 600 Amps, a common figure, the battery will have a capacity of 600/20 or 30 amp-hours.

That means the battery (if it is good) should be able to hold enough charge for close to 30 hours if the current drain is 1 amp. Say it would hold it for 24 hours, one day, at 1 amp. On most cars the battery will hold its charge for a couple weeks at least, right? Most people feel if they park their car it will start again even if it sits for two weeks. So the current drain when everything is off on most cars would be 1 amp/14 days or around 70 mA. Any more than that, and the car wouldn’t start after 14 days.

If the “everything off” current drain on your car is substantially more than 70 mA, you at least know that’s what is causing your battery to run low.

Brick is a nickname for the boxy 240. And yes, @Manolito posted some good links to 240 forums.

@George: I really appreciate all the feedback. Draw has been tested. Don’t remember the number given, but he said it was minimal. Any idea what would cause such variability in my non-existent draw: one day, dead, completely; next day, just fine; next day, alive, but not very? Headlights turn off automatically; no dome lights left on; have no alarm system; glovebox closed…

@texases: thanks, I just posted on What forum were you suggesting for me to check out?

That was the one. As for your battery drain, I’d get a voltmeter and go through each circuit. With the key out pull each fuse and see if the circuit is live. If it is that one could be the problem.

@texases: I’ll try to do that — BTW, it’s a 1990; 222K miles on it. Sorry I didn’t answer that right away.