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Volvo 240/Stockholm Synrdome - MAF issue?

Dearest Cartalk community,

I have a beloved 1988 Volvo 240 Wagon with an automatic transmission. It has only tried to kill me once. In the past several years since I’ve purchased the car (my first), I’ve replaced or had replaced:

  • Battery
  • Fuel pre-pump
  • Fuel filter
  • Fuel pump relay
  • All the fuses in the regular fusebox
  • Timing belt
  • Water pump
  • Transmission/motor mounts
  • Ball joints
  • Rear bushings
  • Overdrive (with the bypass kit from IPD)
  • Flame trap
  • Some cosmetic stuff like odometer gear, radio, new center console

as well as got new tires, had brakes done, had religiously regular oil changes (and changed spark plug/rotor/dist cap/spark plug wires more than once.) Probably replaced more stuff that I’m forgetting.

I’ve been having an intermittent problem where the car will not accelerate well after stopping at a red light (press on the gas but it doesn’t do anything for several seconds.) Last Friday, I was driving and suddenly lost power in traffic. Engine and radio were still running, but gas pedal was not doing anything and the car slowed down. I was able to get to the right lane and turn blinkers on, but I did get power back a minute later and was able to drive home. Kinda scary. Put the car in the garage to think about what it’s done.

My amazing, mechanically inclined neighbor came over and poked at it and I poked around on the Internet to see what I could find. We did notice that the 25 amp fuse holder (for the fuel injectors) in the engine compartment is not in great shape and the fuse was a bit corroded. Cleaned the contacts on the fuse, reinserted it, and tried starting the car: no start. We’re not sure if the fuse was the issue though… we also tried unplugging the MAF sensor and starting the car. Started right up (in what I assume is the “limp home” mode.) Plug the MAF back in, no start.

I had also been having an intermittent problem where if I put the car in reverse within a couple of seconds of starting it, the car will die. If I restart the car or wait a few more seconds before putting it in reverse, it will go in reverse just fine.

  1. Is this very likely to be a MAF issue? Based on these symptoms the car likely to run for awhile longer if I replace the MAF and the fuel injector fuse holder/fuse in the engine compartment? I have never had problems with the transmission or engine; they seem pretty solid. I have had a couple of no-starts in which the car ended up being towed to my mechanic. First time the car ended up with a new battery, and the second time the mechanic couldn’t really identify the problem but ended up replacing the fuel pre-pump after I replaced the fuel pump relay myself (it seemed like a potential fuel issue.) The engine and transmission seem pretty sound though, and the chassis is nearly indestructible.

  2. The Volvo has many cosmetic issues: Dent in the front driver’s side, non-resettable trip odometer, busted glovebox, broken rear seat latch, ripped front drivers seat, rattley blower motor, only have the valet key cause the main one snapped, part of the back of the interior is held up with duct tape, etc. I’m strongly considering just ditching the car, buying a brand new Honda Fit (which I can afford), and having the local animal shelter charity place come tow it away. Based on the the condition of the car, is the animal shelter likely to get at least $183 more (the cost of the parts that I ordered) for this vehicle if I fix it and then donate it? Another option would be to fix it, Craigslist it and donate the money, but it’s more hassle for me.

  3. Anyone in the Portland, OR area want to buy a 240 for cheap? :wink:

I know this is a lot of fuss over a car that isn’t worth very much but it’s my first and it’s MY car and I am a little attached to it. I think my friends are about ready to stage an intervention if I don’t just make a decision already though. :stuck_out_tongue:


Time for a new “Fit”-Kevin ( A well educated woman I once dated didnt understand the concept of the " Stockholm Syndrome")

Hate to say it but I think you should start to look for a new car, Kevin. I can understand you getting attached to things but it has left you stranded and has weird issues.
Volvos do tend to have weird intermittent problems. It will only get worse.

And, @Kmccune: did this ‘date’ involve duck tape, zip ties and locked basements, by chance? And, if so, how’d you get away?

You can clean the wire inside the MAF and see if clears up the problem. A new MAF is your next step after that. The car is 25 years old so this won’t be the end of your problems. The car has just about -0- value as a donation. It’s main value is no monthly car payment. As long as you can find enough money to find and fix the problems you can keep driving it.

I’d advise you to have AAA or some towing coverage, a good set of road reflectors, and some flares. At this age any car is more likely than most to experience on the road breakdowns.

Did you ever figure out what was wrong with it? I’ve the same model that’s been giving me the business for awhile, although I’ve already replaced the MAF (with one that I tested to be good using an overly complicated bench setup). Also replaced O2 sensor. I’m suspecting either the Hall sensor on the distributor at this point or the ECU itself, since whenever I plug in the MAF and pull it out of the “limp home” mode, it immediately runs like three asses under a windmill and/or stalls.

I just looked at the photo and thought about the username and realized it’s not the same model, it’s the same damn car. :slight_smile: I kind of skimmed the story and one of the people responding referred to you as “Kevin.” sigh back to Google.

@littledog, your MAF is definitely defective.

By unplugging it, you forced the computer to use default values.

I say buy a new/remanufactured MAF and drive the car into the ground.

hahahahahaha. Krampus is the guy I sold the car to at the end of August. I did end up buying my Fit and I’ve been very happy with it.

@littledog, your last post is confusing.

Is the Volvo even your car?

Did you replace the MAF and fix the car?

I’ve replaced the MAF, just did an oil change, and sprayed about half a can of carb cleaner down through the oil separator box. It now no longer smokes out the crankcase / dipstick and will start with the MAF connected. I think I need to tear into the intake next, possibly a stuck idle air controller.

This thing is going to run if I have to pull and clean every piece of it by hand!

Any car problem can be solved. I like the cut of your jib! I expect you are right, it is going to run. I like your " Take no prisoners" approach! lol …

Approach it calmly, thoughtfully, and safely would be my only interjection.

Who is the owner of this Volvo?


In any case . . . glad to hear that a new MAF did get it running again.

Clean the throttle body before replacing the IAC idle air control valve

It’s not my car anymore, it’s Krampus’. I sold it to him shortly after I made the original post on this thread. He was apparently googling for information about problems he was having with it, and found my post on CarTalk.