Volvo in Trouble

My wife went on a road trip and ran over a deer carcass 800 miles from home. She called me about 200 miles later and told me about it and said the car was working fine. I figured that after that many miles, she might as well bring it home. She did so through frigid wintry weather, and the car went fine. She then arrived in the Chicago area, which was thawed and storming and flooding. After running through a number of puddles, the car’s dash lights, turn signals, automotic car locks and electric seat controls went out. But the car was running fine otherwise. She limped it back, and I theorized that night (knowing just enough to be dangerous) that the splash pads might have been dislodge or damaged and water had splashed up onto the electronics somehow. I hoped aloud that it was just a matter of drying out. The next morning, all was well, as I had hoped. Then, later in the day (below freezing; no more splashing possible), the same malfunctions occurred. I am out of town now, and several of the malfunctions have cured themselves again (the seat control and car locks) but the others are on and off. She has grown impatient with my drying-out theory and made an appointment at Pep Boys across the road for one of those computer diagnostic checks. Does anyone have any theories out there? I am very worried about handing it over to Pep Boys. (My plan was to give it a few more days to dry out and then attend to any problems with the splash pads etc. with a local mechanic who is good but does not have a computer hookup for Volvos. Again, any theories?

Model and year would help little here, but should always be posted because someone else may have seen a similar pattern of symptoms on a similar car.

Whatever it is, a computer diagnostic readout at Pep Boys is HIGHLY unlikely to identify the problem.

Your mechanic can put the car on the hoist and look for any physical damage beneath the car that may have damaged wiring. If there is a shop that specializes in auto electronics in your area, that is your best bet. If you can get it into their hands when something is malfunctioning, they should be able to trace the problem back to its source. If it decides to work properly when they are looking at it, there will be little that they can do.

I would not be surprised if you find that the big bump combined with a heavy ring of keys damaged the ignition switch. Volvo ignition switches tend to be a bit fragile, and can result in really quirky intermittent problems.

Why Pep Boys? That is the last place I’d take a Volvo. If a Volvo dealer is too expensive for you then find a local independent shop that knows and works on Volvo car frequently. The problem isn’t going to show up on a computer scan. It is an electrical problem and Pep Boys is going to just throw new parts on the car and not resolve anything.

Stay out of PepBoys. They are likely to do more harm than good. Just get it to you regular local mechanic. Given the deer carcass it is unlikely that one will need a computer to figure it out. People tend to trust in the computers too much - they don’t know nearly as much as people think.


Pep Boys? That’s a BIG no in my opinion.

Also, you should avoid AAMCO, Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, and other chain operations.
The “mechanics” at these places tend to be…I will try to be diplomatic…not the best, and you will likely wind up paying more and getting less real help for the car’s problems with one of these chain operations than you would with a competent local independent mechanic.

And, as was said, plugging a scan tool into the car’s diagnostic connector is very unlikely to reveal the source of the problem, but it will probably give those charlatans a chance to suggest many extraneous repairs that may or may not be needed.

A competent mechanic can trace the probable wiring or electronic component problem, and will undoubtedly charge less than you would pay at a “chain” shop or a Volvo dealership.