Volvo 240DL temp guage in the red!

Got a '89 Volvo DL

History: I’ve recently had the radiator replaced after it cracked. In addition I’ve had the thermostat replaced as a solution to the problem below but to no effect.

Problem: While driving around town, the temperature reading goes into the red during the first 5 minutes and continues to hover around the red zone as I continue to drive.

The only way I can reduce the temperature is by turning the cabin heating onto MAX. When I pull over and feel the hose feeding the radiator, it is very hot, almost untouchable.

I’ve done the warm-up test - on starting the car and feeling the hose when the gauge reaches 9pm, the hose is starting to get warm and appears to have no cold spots. As I continue to hold the hose it gets hotter and hotter.

Also, there is no coolant leak or smell of coolant + the coolant level is at the max line.

Any solutions and/or suggestions?



Do the radiator cooling fans work? Overheating at low speeds is usually a symptom of non-functional cooling fans.

If you let the engine idle (your warm-up test) the fans should come on long before the temp gauge gets anywhere near the red, and they should cycle on and off as required to maintain steady temperature in the cooling system.

You didn’t say they ever came on.

You’re right I did not.
There’s just the one fan, the radiator fan which has a fan clutch. When I turn the fan by hand there is a slight resistance but no sticking. But I recall now that the fan seems to move at just the one speed - that of the fan belts turning, even at idle. I have not heard it ‘pick up speed’ at all.

Time to replace the fan clutch? Is there anything else I could do to verify it’s the fan clutch?


Switched out the fan clutch.
Still goes up to the red at idle, low speed, climbing hills, high speed (when decelerating).

Maybe my ‘new’ radiator has a block?
Or what about the water pump? I had that swapped out a few years ago along with the timing belt - maybe my assumption that it is fine could be wrong?

If it’s in the “Red” it should be boiling over…If it never boils over, then maybe you are getting an incorrect reading…Try replacing the temperature sender…

You said the coolant level was at the “max” You must be talking about the overflow jug. You need to check the RADIATOR when it cools down.

These particular Volvo’s do not have a radiator cap to remove and check radiator levels. The overflow jug is, in fact, a pressurized expansion tank.

Thanks anyway!