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Volvo s80 intermittent shut offs?

My 02’ Volvo s80 has been malfunctioning recently and I am not entirely sure what it could be. Today I was driving it slowly and it just all the sudden lost power and turned off, I was able to start it back up about 30 seconds later then parked it and restarted it again after a few minutes. Seems to drive ok afterwards. I’ve been smelling gasoline in the cabin recently. And it has run out of gasoline at least three times in a the past few months. I am suspecting a fuel filter. I checked the fuse and relay which turned out to be fine. Then I put my ear near the gas tank area as someone turned the car on and off. I could hear a flowing type sound, so the fuel pump sounds like it’s operating correctly. Could it be a fuel filter causing the random shut offs? I read that when a car runs out of gasoline the deposits and gunk at the bottom of the tank are forced out which could clog the fuel filter. Maybe the reason for the smell of gasoline too? My instrument cluster has been on the fritz so I’ve been calculating the gas on a notebook. However recently the gas seems to be fluctuating the amount it takes. Sometimes it will take a lot of gasoline and other times it will spill out. Any ideas what this might be guys?


Sounds as if your fuel pump is loosing pressure. It can be running, but not be putting out enough pressure. It can be tested easily.

Jim you first wrote of smelling gas in Dec 2015. Why have you not had a smoke test or something done yet. As for running out of fuel, change your calculations and try to refuel at the 1/2 tank mark.

@knfenimore which I think would be indicative of the fuel pump possibly not being able to force enough needed fuel through, probably being blocked by the clogged up fuel filter. And the reason the fuel filter is clogged is because it was run out of gas a few times.

@“VOLVO V70” I cannot afford to take it to a repair shop. Right now all my money is going to my relatives. Don’t have anything to spare…

If you are over filling the gas tank you may have damaged the charcoal filter which is there to filter the gas fumes, not the liquid gas. This may explain why you are smelling gas. Also check for leaks in the engine compartment and other areas. You don’t want an engine fire at some point.

I think there is a relay fuse panel near the windshield and you may have a faulty main relay that is causing the shutdown issue. For the cluster issue check for power getting to it. You would be wise in investing in a factory service manual for the wiring at least to help you with these issues and others that will occur later on. Ebay is a good place to get one.

@Cougar wow thank you so much for these tips and information! should I be listening/feeling for a click on the relays?

As for the leaks, other than looking for the slickest wettest spots are there any sure fire ways (preferably poor man protected) to find a leak? I might have to check all this in the morning I am on the mid east coast and w e are getting pounded with a blizzard. That Volvo won’t be going on away for at least two days!

You’re welcome for the help.

Relays with dirty contacts that cause the kind of trouble you are having can still seem to function (click) normally but the connection of the contacts can be bad. So “feeling” for the action isn’t a sure fire method of verifying their condition. Checking for power across the contacts using a meter is a good way to verify them. Tapping on them can change the condition at times if the contacts are bad.

If there is a fuel leak it should be pretty obvious by sight and smell.

I hope things aren’t going to be real bad with this storm the news is taking about. It doesn’t sound good at least. Things are pretty calm here in Alaska.

@Cougar oh wow Alaska that’s neat! I don’t know how bad it’s gonna be at least a foot+ on the ground now and it’s only 8pm. Suppose to be pretty rough Saturday, I just hope my power doesn’t go out. I need to keep researching this car.

With the contacts, that’s the slots the prongs go into right? is there any way to clean them out, like with keyboard cleaner or wd40?

I don’t have any jack stands to get under the car. I’ll just use my sniffer and start chugging away at it. Hope it’s something not too terrible. Heck, I wouldn’t know how to fix that leak even if I found it. Is there any sort of gummy solutions that advanced sells that would seal a hole or vacuum leak somewhere?

The problem with running the gas tank low isn’t so much sucking up gunk at the bottom of the tank that plugs the fuel system, but that the pump is designed to be cooled by the gasoline. So running out of gas, the pump can overheat and that can lead to a shorter lifespan for the pump, for which one symptom is reduced fuel pressure. It can also cause problems with the fuel air mixture and the cat.

@GeorgeSanJose Right, I know neither one is set in stone. At first, I thought it was the alternator. Then started reading more into it and read that it might be the fuel pump. But if it were the fuel pump would the car even run? or maybe it’s just slowly wearing down? because I tested it and could hear fuel rushing when the car would be turned on/off. I read that a bad fuel filter can also cause intermittent turn offs.

A failing fuel pump can indeed result in this symptom. Also could be an ignition switch problem. Both are fairly difficult for an inexperienced diy’er to test for themselves.

yea. . .
I was hoping it wasn’t possibly the fuel pump, but I must go where the truth leads me. On a volvo s80 that’s like a 1k job.
Well this blows to say the least

The relay contacts is was referring to in my other post are inside the relay and usually not accessible. Sometimes there can be a problem with the relay socket contacts like you are thinking.

They can put a pressure gauge on it or you can rent one at the parts store and see if fuel pressure is within spec.
Fuel Line Pressure (Desired Value)

Relative pressure

380 kPa

Absolute pressure

480 kPa

Absolute pressure: Fuel pressure in fuel system + air pressure.
Relative pressure: Fuel pressure in fuel system.
The air pressure is approx. 100 kPa at sea level. VIDA measures the fuel pressure in absolute pressure. External pressure gauge (pressure gauge) measures the fuel pressure in relative pressure.

Fuel line pressure. Refer to: Specifications See: Engine, Cooling and Exhaust\Engine\Specifications\Mechanical\Specifications, Mechanical

The following method must be used when reading the fuel line pressure on the fuel rail:

@Cougar Thanks dude! I am going to take a multimeter to it. I keep thinking either a fuel filter or pump it never seems to be the easy jobs on my cars lol

@knfenimore Thank you! I watched this video and feel pretty confident I can do the job. It looks like all I’ll ned to do is find the Shrader valve by following the fuel line of the car then unscrew the cap and screw on a fuel pressure gauge. Then start the vehicle and watch the gauge, it should shoot up between 40-45psi and I’ll need to watch the gauge for about 1-2min to make sure that pressure is maintained.

I found that autozone rents the gauge tool and a multimeter too! so I can test my relay:

They also carry an ultra-violet kit which I might rent as well, unless they have a rent limit:

Pretty cool. I’ve never used the rent option before hopefully there isn’t any fine print or way of screwing me outta money lol