Fixed the Antenna

Of the many cosmetic issues that Gudrun came with the missing antenna was perhaps both the smallest and the largest. Small in that it didn’t affect the running of the car but large in the sense that I couldn’t really listen to the radio. Whatever caused the original aerial to fall off must have been violent because it deformed the hole through which the antenna cable passed through the body. I had bought a replacement antenna kit awhile back but due to the warping of that hole I couldn’t just connect it up. I considered taking it to a body shop as I don’t really have the tools to fix these sorts of things, but after a year or so of not getting around to doing that I decided to try and figure out my own method.

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Downpipe and Exhaust Manifold

Having replaced the front suspension and control arm-related hardware it was time to take the car to get inspected. I didn’t anticipate any issues, and I thought I’d take the opportunity of having the car in the shop to get the alignment done. On a whim I also asked them to change the transmission fluid. This is something that I could have done myself, but it’s sort of a pain in the ass and I didn’t want to have to worry about disposing of the old fluid, so I figured I’d pay someone else to do at least this one thing. My mileage was pretty low for the year, so I didn’t even have to get my emissions done. I dropped the car off expecting to get it back later that day.

When I did get the call I was told that everything was good… except that my exhaust had fallen apart. For those not familiar, when I had originally replaced the original rusty exhaust system the end of the downpipe attached to the catalytic converter broke in half. I fixed it by binding it back up with muffler tape and a stainless steel clamp. That stopgap measure was obviously no longer stopping that gap.

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Front Suspension

So I decided that in preparation for inspection I should replace the front shocks. I had already replaced the rear ones a year ago. That was quite easy, but I knew the front would be more challenging and include things like spring compression and other sort of scary procedures. I foresaw the following set of actions I’d have to do before getting a place where I could remove the old shocks:

  1. Up top, remove plastic cover that hides the 24mm nut that holds the shock absorber as well as the three nuts that hold the strut assembly to the body.
  2. Remove the tire
  3. Disconnect the brake line from the brake caliper and then remove the caliper from the steering knuckle
  4. Unbolt the steering end link from the steering knuckle and the sway bar end link from the sway bar. This will allow the lower control arm to move down far enough to get the strut out.
  5. Remove the four bolts that connect the strut to the ball joint and remove the strut from the car
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Keyless Entry Installation and Amateur Dashboard Repair

Ever since my driver’s side central locking mechanism self destructed I’ve wanted to either find a replacement part to fix it or come up with a better way to accomplish the same functionality. After viewing a YouTube video about installing a keyless entry system I decided that such a feature would do just that.

Required Parts

To make this sytem work I needed to find two new parts:

  1. A linear actuator to actually move the door lock. Volvo makes this already (part no.1315178) and thankfully they are widely available on eBay which is where I got mine.
  2. A controller kit. China makes billions of these and they’re all basically the same with the main difference in the number of buttons on the key fob. I just needed one for my doors, so I eventually settled on this one from Amazon.

With my parts in hand, I set out to put it together.

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Fixing the Ignition

Now that the dashboard was off and the new blower was installed I could turn to the ignition issue. I had proved that both the starter motor and the engine itself worked, so the issue had to be somewhere between the key and the starter. I looked around on the forums and saw it suggested that the most common cause of what I was seeing is a broken neutral safety switch. This is a simple switch connected to the gear selector that prevents cranking when the car is not in park. Unsurprisingly the switch itself is located in the gear selector housing. The entire assembly is a sort of wedge shaped plastic bit that is connected to the gear selector by a plastic lever with a hook on the end. When the transmission is in park the lever connects a circuit that allows current to flow to the starter. When it’s not, the circuit is broken and no crank. I undid the two screws holding it in place and lifted it out gingerly. Once on the bench I prised the tabs holding the metal cover on and took a look inside.

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Changing The Blower Motor

As the photo at the end of the previous post I decided to take my interior half apart. Since my starter was working I figured that whatever was preventing my car from starting was more than likely in the dash. The prime suspect was the aftermarket ignition switch I had installed last summer. Getting to it was a real pain as the dash was in the way. I figured that since I had to replace my blower motor which would require removing the dash I might as well do it all at once. So out went the dashboard and a few other bits, bobs, odds, and sods.

Everything out of the way
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Really Stepping Into It Now

My car’s been running fine recently, but I’m worried. This is because when it runs well for any length of time it usually means that something is about to break. In this case that thing was the ignition switch. You may recall last August I changed out this switch from the one that came with the car. I bought an aftermarket part from iPd as the originals are no longer made. I figured “It’s just a rotary switch! How crappy could aftermarket be?” And that’s where it began, really.

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Changing an Exhaust Hanger Donut

Recently the weather has been particularly cold. During that late winter snap I had noticed that a lot of exhaust was coming out of the connection between the catalytic converter pipe and resonator. When the weather improved slightly I and my son went to tighten the clamp, but what we found was that the clamp had actually been knocked back from the junction and that one of rubber donut hangers had broken off and disappeared. This probably happened when I ran over some compacted snow or something. I didn’t have any spare hangers so at that point I readjusted the clamp to the correct position and said a prayer for the remaining hanger . It wasn’t looking great itself, but it would have to last until I could get a replacement for the missing one.

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More Flair

In Pennsylvania, the state where I live, only the rear of the car requires a license plate. This leaves an empty space in the front for novelty plates and other such things. It’s typical for people restoring old European cars to decide to put a euro-plate of some sort on it. Some look at this as silly and perhaps even a little tacky. I’m not one of those people.

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Changing the Crank Position Sensor

It’s been a bit since my last entry. The weather’s been pretty awful, and Gudrun’s been running pretty well so there honestly hasn’t been a lot of need to do work. There was still that set of codes indicating a malfunctioning crank position sensor, so my next bit of work would be replacing that.

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Central Lock Mechanism Revisited

I live in a pretty safe area and don’t bother to lock my car very often, but when I do I appreciate the central locking feature. One day about a week ago while running some errands I did actually lock my car only to find that the key didn’t seem to want to unlock the other doors when I came back. Central locking not a critical function to me, so I figured something had gone wrong with the janky switch on the lock and that I’d eventually get around to repairing it in the future. However, the next day when I went to start my car I found that the battery had been drained. I immediately suspected the lock switch. Sure enough when I opened up the door panel I found that the little plastic tab that connects the lock to the switch had broken, probably because the action of moving it was too hard. This had left the circuit permanently energized, hence my dead battery.

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Snow Day!

We got an inch or five of snow this past week and Gudrun has done very well. Despite the cover of cold snow she started up and has been driving fantastically. True, the lack of a blower makes defrosting the windshield an issue until the car warms up but other than that I couldn’t be happier. 

New Radio

Now that the original radio was out of the dash it was time to put in a new one. I’m no audiophile, but I do have a few requirement. This is 2020 after all. The car may be old, but the audio system doesn’t need to be. First, there’s no need for a tape deck like the original, or a CD player. An auxiliary in and Bluetooth connectivity will do. I am somewhat cheap, though. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money. Luckily the date was close to the Black Friday sale time.

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Resetting The SRS Light

A small aside to the previous post, when I reattached the battery to test the horn with the airbag assembly still off the car’s computer registered the missing airbag as a fault. When I got everything back together and started the car my SRS light stayed lit. I was confident that my airbag was fine, so I figured I needed to reset the light. Thanks to a post on I learned how to do it, and I’ll share it here too.

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