Volvo 240 260 Information
A selection of reports taken from back-issues of the Club's magazine, 'Volvo Driver'.
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How often have you needed to pump up a tyre? If it is something you have to do often, you probably think there is a small puncture in it. Although this can often be the case, sometimes it is not. It can be a leaking valve, which is easily and cheaply fixed at any tyre depot. The other cause, especially with alloy wheels, is that there is a build up of dirt on the rim between the wheel and the tyre. Deflate the tyre, clean the rim, and pump it up again, and you should not need to pump it up often again. Although we never had much prolonged warm weather, I had a few calls about engines getting a bit overheated when towing a caravan. This is mainly a problem with cars with automatic gearboxes. The manual 200's do not suffer at all when towing in hot weather, but the auto box versions do. This is because the gearbox oil runs through the radiator also in order to keep cool and the radiator cannot cool it efficiently, so the radiator gets warmer, and so does the coolant. This then shows on the temperature gauge. Fitting an oil cooler will solve the problem, but you have to way up the pro and cons. How often do you tow, and how far. If you only do it occasionally then breaking the journey up may be all that is needed, and will save the cost of the oil cooler. I have been told of another rust place on post 1986 240's. There is a panel at the rear of the car running between the rear wings, under the rear bumper, below the number plate. It is mostly hidden by the bumper and trim. Post '86 cars were fitted with a large plastic 'skirt', or concealment panel, that hides the area under the rear bumper, back and sides. It appears this may scoop up water and spray and direct it to this panel. There have been several reports of very advanced rusting of this panel.
How many of you have the injection engine and tried to start it one day, and it wouldn't start, or would occasionally start. One of the most common problems is the injection relay. It was modified some years ago, but still causes problems. I don't know the exact reason, but if you take the connector off the relay you may find signs of overheating around terminal 30, which is the live feed. Something causes a very heavy current to enter the relay and thus burns out the circuit board. In severe cases the live feed lead will overheat also and the insulation will discolour and darken with the heat. I have yet to find out why this happens, if anyone knows, please let me know. If your relay does fail and you want to get the car running to get home, or get to a Volvo dealer, then pull off the relay and run a wire from terminal 30 on the connector to terminals 87 and 87b on the connector, these feed both the fuel pumps. But remember to remove the wires when you stop as the pumps will continue to run after you have switched the ignition off. A friend had a 1983 240 with the 2.3 SU carb engine, and often towed a caravan. But in order to get enough power and not keep changing to a lower gear, he had to keep the mixture rich, infact it was about 5%, which is above the limit for the MOT. I recall a Volvo service manager telling me that some engines needed to run rich in order to run properly. If you are having problems then increasing the mixture richness may help. This does not apply to the injection engines, which require the mixture to be exact. My 2.1 engine runs quite well at just under 1% and this gives me a good mpg return without having to change to a lower gear unnecessarily. Increasing it to 2% gives a bit more power but the mpg return suffers. You will need to find which setting is best for your needs. But don't go too weak as this could burn out the valves.
The letters and calls on rusting floors are never ending, and some are real horror stories. It seems 1986 estate models are very badly affected because of poor side window seals. One member kindly sent me all the letters that had gone between him and Volvo head office on the matter. The replies from Volvo were very brief and mostly all said he should contact his local dealer, and not very helpful. Considering the life span of the 200 series was given by Volvo as 20.7 years, a car only halfway through its life and needing major floor surgery ought to get some serious attention. Anyway, enough of that, but bear this problem in mind.
"It feels as if the car is going to fall apart when I go over a bump" is a phrase that often crops up in letters and calls. It can refer to front or the back end on the car, or sometimes, both. The 200 is a heavy car, and so need fairly firm suspension, otherwise it will roll and wallow and leave you feeling sea sick. If the suspension is too soft then the road holding ability of the car will be impaired, possibly dangerous. The various bushes on the suspension system work hard under such heavy loads and will gradually deteriorate and not function properly, even break. The combination of worn bushes and shock absorbers will leave the suspension feeling loose and sloppy: it no longer holds the cars firmly on the road and does not absorb bumps in the road, it exaggerates them. This is the "going to fall apart" feeling. Because the shocks and bushes are worn they allow excessive movement, and so do not absorb any bumps. Over the years you may not notice this as the process is gradual, but if you are used to a well maintained system and get into a car with worn parts, you will quickly notice the difference, and the effects on the road holding.
I replaced all the bushes and shocks on my car after about 90,000 miles, and it felt like a new car again; totally different. Now, with 223,000 on the clock it is feeling sloppy again, so changing the parts every 100,000 is probably a good measure, and ensures the car handles safely under all the weight you may sometimes carry. Uprating the shocks can also help maintain the firmness. The DL has the lowest spec of shock, and they increase in the GLE and GLT. If you are going to upgrade the shocks then it is best to do all 4 the same time, otherwise you will affect the steering. For example, if you fit upgraded shocks to the rear and leave the front with older worn shocks, the car will oversteer quite noticeably. Other components susceptible to wear on the front end are the bottom ball joints and steering joints. Remember the front ball joints on cars with power steering are different to non PAS.
I get asked about the fuel consumption of the 240. The answer depends on several things. The engine - size and year of manufacture, how many gears, which models it is, types of journeys, and how you drive. The car should give 25-32mpg on average when unladen and driven on reasonably level roads. The 4-speed with overdrive gearbox will give best results, followed by the 5-speed. The auto and 4-speed boxes give least economy. The best engine for power, performance and economy is the 2.3 fuel injection engine as fitted to all GLT's. The 2 litre engines are good but have to work hard when towing or under heavy load, and will not give very good fuel economy. The 2-litre engine with auto box can be a disaster sometimes when towing, especially up hill, it just does not want to go into top gear. I have had horror stories of cars doing 15 mpg, even after service. Assuming the service was done properly, the cause is often the carburettor. Some cars suffer rapid needle wear especially if you are using unleaded fuel. A Solex carb that has done high mileage is best scrapped, they are not repairable. The Solex Cisac carb was a poorly designed carb and is often the cause of poor economy. A modified carb is now available for this. How often have you had the valve clearances checked when the engine is serviced. This is very important and if not correct the engine will not run properly, they need to be done every 24,000 miles or 2 years. That's all this time, I look forward to your letters and calls.
Some time ago I drove many of you to near-suicide, or deep depression at the least. It was when I suggested you lifted the carpets of your car to check for water and rusting. I had many calls from members who were in near-shock at what they found. Even with late-registered cars. This invasion by water is not a fault with the car, but simply loose plugs or grommets, or leaking windows. In March I had a call from a member with a 1986 estate. When he shut the tailgate pieces of rust fell to the floor from under the rear of the car. Inspection revealed it was the panel that runs across the rear of the car under the rear bumper, out of sight. It was in advanced stages of rusting. I found this most unusual for an '86 model. If any others find this in their cars please let me know so I can make sure you are all aware of another rust-prone part of the car.
My comments on unleaded fuel in the last issue brought numerous phone calls on the subject. Sales of leaded fuel are reducing and it is possible that commercial pressure could end the sale of 4-star before political pressures. I have also heard that Shell plan to sell an additive to use with unleaded fuel, although manufacturers such as Wynn's and STP have additives for unleaded fuel. The Broquet seems to be the only reasonable resolve at the moment. The manufacturer has quite an impressionable list of references for the product. At the end of the day it is your decision if you want to fit it. One member has contacted Volvo for their comments on the Broquet, but they say they have not tested it and cannot comment. That's reasonable, but they also did not comment on anything that they were doing to address this problem. If they are doing something, they are leaving it late to tell people. I do not think any of the car manufacturers are doing anything about this.
The poor headlamp performance has also brought a flow of calls. I had a call from a member with a late registered (L prefix) 240, and had to replace the reflectors after 4/5 years. He contacted Volvo who suggested it was fair wear and tear, but offered to pay some of the cost. The problem is that the reflector develops a film over it, like tarnish, and this reduces the light output. It cannot be cleaned, although I know some have tried this, it does not help. I don't believe it is wear and tear, just poorly made. Has anyone fitted a battery isolator switch? There are two types, the wing-nut type and the rotary knob type. I fitted the latter some time ago. Early one morning in March I went to start the car to go to work. As the key went to the 'run' position and the dash lights came on, the alarm started. I have one of those alarms that will activate if power to it is cut off. The interior light went out, in fact all the electrics were dead. After silencing the alarm I turned the isolator switch to the 'off' position then back on, and lights came back on. When I tried to start the car again the same thing happened. This happened six times before the car would start. My local Lucas agent said that this type of switch was not too reliable and that a loss of contact inside the switch was possible at times. The fitting of a wing-nut style switch was recommended.
The 200 model is renown for its capability of very high mileage with little effort, and remains strong and rugged with lots of life in the machine. It is easy to forget that many important parts wear quicker than the rest of the car. Bushes are amongst the parts that do wear. The rubber will deteriorate with age and general use, and after about 100,000 a new set of bushes can make the car feel much more firm and stable on the road. Some of the bushes can be replaced quite easily, but some need a hydraulic press to push out the old bush and insert the new one. There are two large bushes on the rear axle that sit in brackets welded to the axle casing, if the brackets are damaged then a replacement axle is the only answer. There is a special tool to change these bushes which clamps around the brackets and holds them firmly whilst the bush is pushed out. A source of transmission vibration can be attributable to a worn centre bearing on the propeller shaft. The life expectancy of this bearing can vary greatly, and the way you drive can affect this. Changing it is not a straightforward DIY job, as it is a machine press fit, there are also 3 different sizes, and you won't know which size is fitted until you remove it. A job best left for the mechanic. See you at the National.
As the years and mileage grow a number of areas need to be looked at in order to keep the beast smooth and pleasant to drive. Vibration is one problem that occurs. The engine and gearbox units are bolted together and sit on three lumps of rubber, two under the engine, and one under the end of the gearbox. Age, heat and contamination from oil cause the rubber mounting bushes to soften and the entire power and transmission unit will begin to wobble when it should be held firmly. It is normal for the lump to twist when pulling off because of the torque of the engine, but when the mountings are weak it will twist more than it should and will cause various forms of vibration. It is recommended that the engine mountings be changed at around 100,000 miles, although it may be necessary to do so earlier sometimes. The mounting near the oil filter deteriorates quicker as oil contaminates it when the oil filter is removed. It also gets hotter because of the heat from the exhaust manifold. I have found that the gearbox mounting needs to be changed more frequently, it gets covered with gearbox oil and as there is only one it acts like a pivot point. If the engine mountings are weak then the twisting of the engine will cause rapid deterioration of this mounting bush. Replacing these bushes is not beyond the capabilities of an average car DIY enthusiast.
With the price of petrol constantly increasing the only alternative for those still using 4-star is to change to unleaded. For some cars the conversion is simple; for others it is costly and if your annual mileage is not high then it may not be financially viable. For some there is no conversion available. My 1981 2.1 litre injection engine was designed to run on the old 2-star (all the 2.1 engines were) so no conversion is necessary. I tried unleaded some years ago but there was a noticeable drop in performance and mpg, so I went back to leaded fuel. However, since fitting the Broquet Fuel Catalyst I have been able to return to unleaded and still maintain performance. There are many supported claims that there is a small improvement in performance but I have not measured this. But I have measured the petrol consumption, which has improved, and for a 16-year-old car with over 215,000 miles on the clock, 25-31 mpg is got to be good. When it went for its MOT last April I was amazed at the exhaust emissions result. The legal limit for hydrocarbons for a car the age of mine is 1500 parts per million, my car had a count of 51 ppm. That's lower than can be achieved by some new cars with a catalyser fitted. Some people have tried the Broquet and say it made no improvement, but improvement can only be seen if the car is correctly tuned to start with, and maintained at the same level. I know that a lot of people are still using leaded fuel, the Broquet is a proven product, and it works for me. If you have tried it and it didn't work for you then contact me or Jack Cluer and we will take it up with David Lock, the distributor, to find out why it 'didn't work'. If you don't convert soon your car will be scrap in the new Millennium.
Following on from this topic, Spark Enhancers have been around a long time and are supposed to produce a more powerful spark and improve performance and fuel economy. I fitted one over a year ago and a moderate improvement was evident, but whether it was as a result of the device was unclear. Minor improvements can be attributable to many things, even a good tune up. When my car was at Volvo having a fuel injection problem investigated, it was commented that the device was overloading the coil, and I was recommended to remove it. I did, but it was about 6 months later. The reason was that after a short journey I found the coil was extremely hot. After I removed the device the coil no longer got so hot. I discussed this with a mechanic who said that a big fat spark wouldn't necessarily give improvement. The mixture has to be correct along with ignition timing. A good set of HT leads and plugs, and a distributor cap and rotor arm in good condition, will ensure the fuel ignites properly. One area that the 200 model is let down very badly is with the amount of light from the huge headlamps. From their size you'd expect to light up a football pitch, but you can just light up the road five yards in front. It is possible to increase the light output by fitting more powerful halogen bulbs. Auto shops such as Halfords sell a range of them, and are a straight swap. But be careful, it can be illegal to exceed certain bulb ratings and it depends on the year of your car. Also, go too high and you risk burning out the loom. Late last year Halford brought out another new range of quartz bulbs. One was an 'all weather' bulb that had standard wattage ratings, but claimed better lighting in poor driving conditions such as rain, fog and snow. They have a slightly different colour with a blue hue. I used them over the winter and they did seem to be an improvement. The other range is a bulb that has 1/3rd more light for the same wattage rating. I've not tried these yet, but I may give them a try over the summer period. As always, feel free to call me anytime you need any help or advice, or even pass on a tip or recommendation.
Late in 1996, at work we took delivery of a VW Transporter as our police van, with hopes and promises of reliability for the rugged job it had to do, on the road 24 hours a day. Not so, it spent considerable time in the workshop, with one fault after another. This is modern German automotive technology. One of the main causes of the many engine problems was found to be the level of oil in the crankcase. It was found that the upper marker on the dipstick was wrong, and if the oil was at this mark then there was too much oil in the engine. So we were told to keep it half way between the two markers. It's hard to believe that highly paid vehicle designers can make such a ridiculous error. Volvo has made some mistakes in their time but nothing so daft as this. But there is still a lesson in this, overfilling the engine with oil can cause problems, such as overheating. When you check the oil level, if you have recently driven the car then allow 10-15 minutes for the oil to drain back into the sump before you check it.
Something that gets overlooked often is the fuel filter, if fitted. All injection engines have a filter canister about the size of a cola can, and is fitted on or near the bulkhead. Carburettor engines may have an in-line filter, or may not have one at all. I recently changed the filter on my injection powered 244 after 28,000 miles, which is more than the recommended interval. When the old filter was off I held it up for the fuel in it to drain out, allowing it to come out from the inlet side. I was appalled to see black fuel come out. I cut open the filter and it was black inside. Clearly, a fuel filter is very important, and so is changing it at regular intervals. If you have the carburettor engine, see if there is an in-line filter, if not, then it might be a good idea to fit one. From the amount of muck I found, if that had found its way to the injectors then it wouldn't be long before they were all blocked up. The same could happen with a carburettor, bits will clog up the jets. Fit a fuel filter and change it regularly. A blocked filter can also impede the flow of fuel, and so affect the performance. I remember talking to a man in a Volvo parts counter many years ago who said he had never sold any shock absorbers, as the Volvo units lasted years. The "lifelong" shock absorber hasn't been invented, and if it had it wouldn't be marketed because it would put many companies out of work. Realistically, a shock only lasts about 35,000 miles depending on how you drive and the load carried. Adjustable shocks will extend the life by increasing the firmness of the unit, but the time comes when it is no longer serviceable. It then becomes dangerous, and illegal. The handling capabilities of the car become unpredictable, tyre wear will increase, and safe braking from speed can have disastrous results, and steering will also be sloppy. Apart from internal wear, the top and bottom bushes will probably have passed their effectiveness long before the shock has dampened its last bump. Driving a car with worn shock absorbers is a bit like Russian roulette, but the lives and safety of others are also affected.
With the winter back with us and the coldest part yet to come, one important piece of the engine system should be checked now, if you've not yet done so. There is a long piece of tubular metal ducting that runs from the air filter box to a bracket on the exhaust down pipe just after where it is connected to the manifold. This takes warm air into the induction system to help better running when the engine is cold, and during cold weather. If this pipe is broken or missing (I've seen several 200's recently where it is missing or disconnected) then it needs to be repaired, or suffer problems such as stalling or poor performance.
The National and BKV kept me pretty busy over the past few months so there's not too much to report. First thing to mention is the 200 Series rally on Sunday 14th September at the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire, just off junction 12 of the M40 motorway. I hope to see some of you there. A phone call from a member deems it necessary to repeat some information I gave some time ago. It relates to the brake servo hose that runs between the engine inlet manifold and the brake servo cylinder. Another member has suffered brake failure because the hose had developed a fault. Although the hose may look OK from the outside it will collapse on the inside and prevent the servo working when you brake. One cause of this, apart from deterioration from age, is that the hose runs over the exhaust pipe, and the heat causes it to soften. When you fit the new hose run it towards the wing, then bend it back round towards the manifold, and tie it to the bulkhead. That will protect it from most of the heat of the exhaust. Pinking still remains a problem, as you will have read in Jack's recent issue of Technical Newsletter. Even my low compression B21 E does it occasionally, and I have the Broquet Fuel Catalyst fitted. I have noticed that after the next fuel fill-up it often disappears, so I can only assume it was caused by some 'bad' fuel. A word of warning here, if you see a fuel tanker delivering to a petrol station then don't fill up there for a few days - the sediment in the tanks will have been churned up and some might get through the filters into your car.
The higher compression engines suffer more badly, and if after a fuel refill (even at a different fuel station) it still persists, you need to check the timing of the engine. In some cases replacing the springs and bob weights in the distributor will cure the problem. The only problem there is that Volvo does not supply these parts, you will have to get them from a Bosch agent. Volvo will only supply a complete distributor. Failing all these measures, if it persists, you can fit a valve into the vacuum pipe that runs from the distributor to the throttle valve. This has the effect of slightly retarding the ignition. Whilst the good weather is still with us, as we will be entering Autumn by the time you read this, it may be worth while getting under the car to check the fuel and brake pipes and hoses. Particular attention needs to be paid to the flexible hoses. They crack with age with disastrous consequences. If your car has fuel injection and the flexible fuel lines have weakened then this will affect the performance of the injection system, as the correct line pressures will not be kept. The weakened hose will vary the line pressure by expanding and contracting and this will cause all sorts of problems. Now is also a good time to check the coolant, if it's been in there over 2 years then it should be changed. It may still read OK when checked with a specific gravity gauge, but what can't be checked is its rust inhibition properties. This is what deteriorates most, and many don't realise this. That's all for now, I hope to catch up with my mail bag by the next issue. I hope to see some of you at Gaydon on September 14th.
Some time ago I spent some time discussing rust problems with the 200 Series, mainly for models from around 1981 to 84. Quite a number of Members reported back to me that they had found rust in areas they never expected to find it. In February I heard from a Member with a 1987 estate, and he found extensive rusting under the rear seat and luggage trays, He ended up with four good sized holes where the inner wing, floor panel and box sections meet. The car had been previously treated with WaxOil. The car had been well looked after but still suffered these rust problems. Now that the better weather is here get under the car and have a good look around: lift the rear seat and carpets. Under the front by the footwells you'll find removable sections running alongside the floor, front to rear, by the sills. A favourite place for water to sit, and cause rusting of the floor where it joins the sill. Where does it come in? Holes and gaps in the bulkhead, rear windscreen in saloons, and rear side windows in estates. When using WaxOil get it thin by warming the container in a bucket of hot water, this will allow it to flow easier. More than one application is also recommended with a break of about 12 hours between each application.
I want to take time to resurrect another bit of advice I've given a few years ago, about brake fluid. When was the fluid last changed in your car? If it's over 2 years ago then change it now, your health could depend on it, Why? Brake Duid is a hydraulic fluid. When you press the brake pedal a pressure is built up within the pipes of the brake system. This pressure then forces the piston in the brake calmer to push the pad against the disc. This then slows the car down. The brake servo uses engine vacuum to increase this efficiency and reduces the amount of pressure needed on the pedal. When the brakes are applied heat will build up around the calmer. This is because the energy of the car's movement is being converted into heat. The fluid has a high boiling point to prevent it vapourising. This is necessary for the brakes to work safely. Brake fluid absorbs water, and this will affect its ability to work in the way it was designed to. It will behave differently when put under the pressure of the pedal, and its boiling point will be reduced. These are the things that can happen. The absorption of water will make it thinner and will compress more when put under pressure so it is likely the pedal will feel softer when you press it. This means there is less pressure built up in the system and you will not reduce the speed of the car as quickly. If you've not left enough room in front of you then you could crash into whatever has caused you to operate the brake. If you are braking from speed, then because the boiling point has been reduced by the water, the fluid in the calmer will vapourise. This will then cause the pedal to feel very soft because further pressing will be compressing the vapour but doing nothing to slow down the car. In extreme cases you will lose your brakes completely. This is known as 'brake fade'. I have experienced this on some of the high performance police cars I have driven and it is frightening. The answer is to change the brake fluid every two years, and is recommended in the Volvo service schedule.
My report in the last issue of Driver regarding running without a catalyser attracted several replies. One interesting reply from the USA was a suggestion that if the cat was faulty and the replacement uneconomical or just too costly then the answer would be to remove the honeycombe inside the cat leaving just the case visible. Provided the emission was within MOT requirements, then all was well. There is a product on the market that claims to reduce the emission levels considerably, so this could be used also. This product is the Broquet Fuel Catalyst. It has been around for many years and, like so many other such products on the market, has attracted considerable scepticism. This product will, amongst other things, reduce the emissions to below the MOT levels. I am currently trying this product and Jack Cluer is also doing some research, and we will let you know what we find.
Water getting to the fusebox has caused more problems with the onset of the winter rain. This can happen in two ways. Firstly, from the air vent at the side of the footwell. If this does not close properly then moisture can get in. You will need to remove the trim to get to the vent, it works on a spring to close it. The more common cause is from water running from the grill in front of the windscreen down the drain ways inside the front wing and out through the drain holes in the sill. Behind the fusebox is a piece of thick card that has the bottom tucked into the sill and the top is tucked up by the side of the dash. Poor fitting or holes will allow water to get to the fusebox. When I had this problem I removed the fusebox and the backing card and fitted a piece of thick polythene over the box section which was held in place with a non-setting mastic, such as Dum-Dum. The bottom was tucked into the sill and the top tucked well up into the area by the side of the dash to ensure any water would be caught and would run down the inner side of the polythene. All the other parts were then replaced, including the original piece of card. This is an appropriate time to remove the fuses and clean the terminals and fuses. A dab of Vaseline on each terminal will help keep them dry.
With winter now back (did it leave) ensure the car is ready for whatever will be thrown at it over the next couple of months. There are a number of regular causes of breakdowns and running problems. Faulty batteries will fail to start the car because the lower temperatures will reduce the available power of the battery that is required to start the car. Most battery specialists will be able to test your battery. Cracked distributor caps and HT leads will cause a wonderful display of arcing as the electric current intended for the plugs jumps onto a metallic part of the engine. Incorrect plug gaps and timing won't help either, and a reputable brand of plug is essential. I use NGK and many professionals say there is no better make on the market. The 200 engines are also sensitive to the camshaft clearances, ensure they have been checked, they should be checked every 24,000miles/2 years. The biggest pain of all are the points, if you are not lucky enough to have an electronic distributor. They don't cost much, so a new set fitted regularly will prevent problems in that area. Check all the heater hoses for signs of deterioration, and leaks around the jubilee clips. Hoses often start to deteriorate from the inside, so if the hose has been on the car for a very long time it may be safer to replace it. Preventative maintenance can save a lot of trouble later. Make sure that the coolant contains the correct amount of antifreeze.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the tyres are the only things between you and the world outside, if the tread is not adequate or the pressures not correct then don't be surprised if the car does not do what you expect when you brake or turn the steering wheel.
Several members have contacted me about pinking problems, which has become a problem with older cars now that the lead content of petrol has been greatly reduced. Pinking was always associated with the need for a decoke and the cost of gaskets now makes this a fairly expensive operation. However, the need for a decoke is not always the reason for pinking. Firstly you need to ensure the engine is correctly tuned, and the compression in each cylinder is within permitted values. Retarding the timing slightly car sometimes cure the problem, but it should not be changed too much. You can get a valve which is fitted on the vacuum pipe between the distributor and throttle valve, and this retards the ignition timing slightly on acceleration More modern cars have an anti-pinking sensor which electronically retards the timing when the car pinks. Using a different spark plug can sometimes cure pinking, especially if you use cheap or inferior brand plugs. NGK plugs are recognised as being amongst the best in the trade so changing to these may help. The quality of the petrol is also important, and I have found that at fill ups at a certain station always results in running problems. This suggests the quality of the fuel is questionable and changing to another station rectifies the problem. different plugs and changing petrol station certainly helped a couple of our members recently, and saved them the expense and hassle of a decoke.
Fitting a 4-speed with overdrive gearbox has been a regular enquiry also. Most early 200's were fitted with the standard 4-speed gearbox, but with the increasing price of petrol and the regular need for long journeys now makes these cars rather expensive to run. This is a relatively easy task, and all that is needed is the M46 gearbox with the overdrive unit, the shorter propshaft, cross-member and the gearstick button and relay. The complete kit can usually be obtained from a Volvo car breaker or someone breaking a car and I have often seen these in our Sales & Wants listing The overdrive gear will give a better fuel consumption and make driving at motorway speeds quieter and more comfortable because of the reduced engine revs. I have had a few calls from Members with 240's fitted with catalysers which have caused problems whereby the Volvo dealership has stated the catalyser will need to be replaced. These are not cheap. The inquiries are all the same, can the car work without the catalyser? The purpose of the catalyser is to reduce the exhaust emissions, and all cars registered from 1st August 1992 had to comply with a lower emission. The catalyser helps to achieve this. Although it is not unlawful to remove the catalyser it is possible the car will no longer be able to comply with the MOT emission requirements. This is the only legal requirement. If anyone has experience running without the catalyser then please contact me. The problem in most cases has been a crack on one of the flanges that connects to the exhaust pipe. Welding the crack could fix the problem for a while. Again, anyone with experience, please contact me. With the cost of repair being around £800 put against the current market value of the car, then a question of economics arises. Catalysers were initially advertised as "lasting the lifetime of the car", but there are very many cases of them being replaced after a very short time, and not only on Volvo's.
Once again the past few months has seen a healthy flow of new Register forms, it is good that the 200 remains as popular as ever. I received a call from a member who had a noise coming from his car and was suspected to be from the gearbox or clutch. The clutch and gearbox were checked but the noise continued. It was later found to be a small hole in the exhaust which only manifested itself when it was warm. Once again, noises are not always what they appear to be. Jack Cluer called me and told me about an oil company near my home that may be of interest. It's called AMSOIL but trades in the UK as Performance Oils. Many will have heard of them. They sell high quality fully synthetic oils at a very competitive price. They also have a 'bolt-on' engine oil filtration system. This system filters out particles as small as 1 micron. Using this system the oil can last considerably longer than any other oil, you only need to change the filters, of which there are 2, the standard flow and the by-pass. The by-pass filter works at about 25% of the main filter. Even without the system, their oil and the standard Volvo oil filter will allow the oil to be used two or three times longer than normal. See them at the National in June, or contact Jack or me. Or, if you have Internet access, plug in to the Clubs' new Web site and read about their products. You'll find the Web address on the cover and in the main article.
I had a very strange problem with my 244GLE recently that had Lex Volvo mechanics baffled. The in-tank pump was changed last year as it had failed, but the main pump continued to be noisy. I assumed that it had been overworked because of the intank pump failure. So a new Bosch pump was obtained, but that was noisy too. It went to my local Volvo dealership who were not sure what the cause was, and thought unlikely that a new pump would have the same problems. In the end it went to Lex Volvo in London, where it stayed for 5 days, and yes, the bill was huge. But they found the problem, after fitting a Volvo main pump, which failed and was replaced, and another in-tank pump. The cause of the problem was the pipe that connects between the top of the in-tank pump and the metal pipe that comes out of the tank sender unit top plate. The pipe was not a tight fit and meant that the fuel pumped up by the in-tank pump leaked out back into the tank, and meant the pump was over-working. The main pump was pulling air through the same gap and also overworking. Another interesting problem was found, which caused a fluctuation of the line pressures, and that was the flexible fuel hoses between the tank and the main pump were old and had become soft. This meant that the wall flexed with the line pressure and gave fluctuating readings. So it may be wise to replace these if they are old.