The Volvo: Part 6


Back from the dead?

Did you miss me?

Well, I'm back. I've been more than a little pressed for time over the last couple months with classes and work. However, I'm rather sick this weekend, which gives me the opportunity to take some time to update everyone on the state of the Volvo. Things didn't go exactly according to plan, but the Tl;DR version is this:

  • The fuel pump relay wasn't faulty...
    • But I had to rewire the fuel pump and half my ignition system.
  • The swaybar linkages weren't the problem...
    • Because the swaybar wasn't attached on the passenger side.
  • The alternator brushes were installed without a problem
  • I've yet to install the engine mounts
  • Trunk struts are a nice thing to have
  • Headgaskets are much better when they are functional

Yeah... heck of a list.

When I received all the parts from FCP, I immediately installed the fuel pump relay and trunk struts. The trunk struts were simple to install, and it turns out that Stabilus also made the original ones. The date code has them built in 1989, meaning they were original to the car. The fuel pump relay was similarly trivial, just unplug and plug in new one.

Installing the new brake calipers was also quite straightforward. I didn't have any issues with the hoses being seized, and the pads and rotors are still in good shape. Really not a lot to talk about there. What I can talk about, is the swaybar....

I hadn't had the front wheels off in a while, simply because there hadn't been a reason to. While the car was my grandmother's, she had some work done on the front passenger side suspension (a ball joint if memory serves), so I imagine it was in the hands of that mechanic that the swaybar linkage became "magically" disconnected from the control arm. I went to Lowes and purchased a new stainless M12 bolt for it, which is unfortunately 45mm where the original was 50mm, but I am planning on replacing it when I redo the suspension. Having a swaybar does make quite the difference in stability, and also makes it more apparent how bad the rest of my suspension is.

After I had finished with the brakes and installed the fuel pump relay, I took a drive down to a local store to return a Christmas gift, and when I got back out to the parking lot.... The car wouldn't start. My fuel pump wasn't running. I was able to get it started by putting the key in the run position, and then reaching under the car and jiggling the fuel pump wiring. This indicated to me that it was most likely a wiring issue, and so I began researching replacement connectors. I was able to find something very close at NAPA, so I began replacing the cabling that ran through the body to the fuel pump... While I was doing this, I discovered some things....

This is not how the fuel pump is supposed to be connected

Quality, with a Kw...

My fuel pump was wired DIRECTLY into the switched power of the car. This means that none of the safety cutoffs were in place. That fuel pump relay I replaced? Yeah, it wasn't even connected to the fuel pump. This is by far the most profound disregard for safety I've seen in that car.

That's not how any of this works!

This wasn't going to be a good day

The wiring harness for my ignition switch

I spent several hours rewiring most of my ignition, fixed the fuel pump wiring, and fixed a couple other things while I was at it. I still haven't figured out why my fog lights blow fuses, but that's really not high on my list of concerns compared to things like fuel cut-offs...

The Volvo spent most of the last two months in that condition, until last Monday. I decided that it was time to try upping the boost pressure going into the engine. I was an idiot. I purchased a Bosch boost gauge and a boost controller on amazon, and eagerly awaited their arrival. Installation of the boost gauge was easy, and I took a drive to make sure that everything was correct. I drove to an empty parking lot so I could run my engine hard to get a peak boost measurement (around 7psi, as expected). I then checked the wastegate hose, and discovered that the "KWality" autozone hose I had replaced it with a year or two back fell apart in my hand. I decided that this was clearly a sign that I should install the boost controller then and there. I installed it according to the instructions I found on the internet (because you should always trust things you read on the internet) and started my car.

Everything seemed OK, so I started to give it some gas, watched the boost gauge climb to about 10psi.... and pop. There was a bad sound and suddenly my engine seemed to be making some bad sounds. I turned it off immediately, checked the oil pan and did a general visual inspection to make sure there wasn't anything sticking out of my engine block that shouldn't have been there, and then proceeded to start the car again. Everything seemed like it was running properly (no misfires, and it didn't sound like a 3cyl), but there was a ticking, almost spitting sound, in time with the engine. At idle, it was roundly 4 times/second, which corresponds to the number of times a single cylinder detonates in a second at idle. At that point, I figured that I was probably good to try and drive it home. I didn't get the engine over about 1500rpm, and I went less than 20 the entire way, but she got me home.

A visual inspection in the morning revealed the dreaded "chocolate milk" on the ground and down one side of the engine. My current theory is that I blew the headgasket out on the side of one cylinder, and the pressure of the exhaust gases is blowing the mixed oil and coolant right out the side, instead of allowing it to mix in the engine. We'll get to test that theory today, when myself and two of my coworkers tear my engine apart to replace the headgasket.

The results are in...

This article is my 39th oldest. It is 1080 words long, and it’s got 1 comment for now.