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.
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:
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.
Remove the tire
Disconnect the brake line from the brake caliper and then remove the caliper from the steering knuckle
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.
Remove the four bolts that connect the strut to the ball joint and remove the strut from the car
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.
To make this sytem work I needed to find two new parts:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 swedishbricks.net I learned how to do it, and I’ll share it here too.
Recently my horn stopped working, and although I seemingly fixed it for a time it eventually stopped again. Since I didn’t have properly sized insulators, I was initially suspicious of the bullet connectors I had used reasoning that they were coming undone due to the vibrations of the running car. On eBay I found someone selling the same model of horn, a Klaxon brand model TR90 “low”, that used spade connectors instead. When it arrived I hooked it but still got no honk. My multimeter told me that I was getting 12 volts at the horn when I pushed the button. Manually grounding the other side of the horn to the car definitely produced a loud, sharp honk. This lead me to believe that the ground wire from the horn to the steering wheel switch. Thus began a day of disassembling a good amount of the dashboard.