Yeah, It Was the MAF Sensor

To test my theory that my stalling issue was due to a failed MAF sensor I ordered a replacement. Since original Bosch sensors are pricey and I wasn’t even sure if this was the problem I went with a cheap aftermarket part this time. I know, I know… “Buy Cheap, Buy Twice.” I fully expect this part to die in a few years at which point I will replace it with a better one. Who knows? Perhaps this part will defy the typically shoddy workmanship and QC of these sorts of manufacturers and go the distance. Stranger things have happened.

For the record, the part I bought was made by Bapmic. I looked them up to see where the parts are made and found a corporate website that was doing its level best to look like the homepage of a German manufacturer. A little more digging told a different story. A story where Bapmic, which may have at one point been German, was actually a trademark owned by Shanghai Tongzhi Auto Parts. They also own the brands Topaz and Autopa. So, yeah, one of many cheap Chinese auto part manufacturers. We’ll see how well it does in the long run. I’m just happy that my car is running.

Replacing the Main Fuel Pump

So I was sure that my problem was going to be the fuel pump. I had replaced and tested most everything else I could think of, so what else could it be? Lesson: it can always be something else. So obviously this entry is going to end in disappointment. A new fuel pump did not fix my stalling issue. It did give me an opportunity to try a couple of new things, so it’s worth talking about anyway.

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Fixed the New Wiper Motor

About two years ago I tried to rebuild the original wiper motor with mixed results. In the end I just bought a new motor and that worked fine. For a couple of years. Then one morning I tried out the wipers and nothing happened. I took the motor off and brought it to the work bench for disassembly. Once the stator housing was off and the plastic wiring harness with the brush wires and EM suppression capacitors out of the way it became clear what had happened.

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New/Old Fuel Pump and Pressure Testing

Like a lot of stories with my car and its problems, this one starts with an attempt to take a ride with my kids. One evening we all piled in for a short jaunt around town only to get nothing but cranking when I turned the key. Listening when the key was turned, I wasn’t hearing the in tank fuel pump priming as it normally does. That thing had been getting louder and louder over the last few weeks, so its sudden death was not a huge surprise.

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Changing the Ignition Switch

On older cars, the ones from the days before RFID based ignition interlocks, ignition, starting the car usually involved a physical switch that would close the circuit to the starter motor. This switch was connected to the lock mechanism which would turn only when the key was inserted. Pretty simple. My car has one of these mechanisms, and ever since I bought her this switch, while functional, is touchy. “Touchy” here means that it’s possible to over and under rotate the switch and cause it to not fully make contact in the proper places. It’s annoying to say the least, so I decided to fix this.

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New Alternator

Like a lot of people, I suspect, we recently got a “pandemic puppy” in our house. My daughter had been agitating for one for some time, and since we’re all more or less stuck at home most of the day we figured a dog would be an ideal companion in lieu of other kids. This has worked pretty well, but like most dogs he doesn’t like the sound of the vacuum cleaner. A week or so ago my wife wanted to vacuum the first floor and asked me to take the dog out. Knowing how much I love to drive my car she suggested I put the dog in his carrier and take him for a ride. I happily obliged. Puppy and I loaded up into the car and started tooling around the neighborhood. I contemplated getting onto the local highway to get some higher speed time on the engine, but as I was heading towards there warning lights started slowly popping up on my dash. Knowing that my ignition switch is touchy and can be put into a situation where certain lights on the instrument cluster turn on and off erroneously. As I pulled up to a red light, I turned the car off and attempted to restart it only to hear the sad sound of a struggling starter motor. My battery was dead. When the light turned I pushed it through the intersection and parked it on the curb.

My first road breakdown
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Interesting Engine Problems

Since I’d gotten her registered I’ve been driving my car around fairly regularly, or at least as regularly as the current pandemic lifestyle both requires and allows. Happily there’s been no real issues. The engine starts when asked, the car rolls, and it stops when I push the brake pedals. What more could one ask for? Well, consistency would be nice. That was called into question one morning when I climbed in, turned the key, and almost immediately stalled out. Rats.

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Uncrossing Her Eyes

It’s not terribly noticeable, but the driver’s side headlight on my car has always been a little wonky. Very early on in this project I had tried to clean the whole assembly up a little bit but it just never sat correctly. I mostly attribute this to the fact that the support frame for the lens is a Taiwanese made aftermarket part of questionable quality, but from the looks of it there also seems to have been a small amount of damage to the front end metal at some point. I don’t think it was crash related as nothing looked broken or buckled, but a few edges were bent almost like they had a hammer taken to them. It’s a bit of a mystery.

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Headlight Rewire

I’m a big fan of modular connectors. Nothing bugs me more than having to desolder or otherwise put in a bunch of extra work to undo a permanent wiring connection before I can even start to fix something. In the case of my headlights, over two years ago I used crimp connectors to wire up the bulb sockets.

This worked pretty well for awhile but I found that perhaps the crimps weren’t 100%. Road vibration would occasionally cause a bulb to loose contact. Obviously this was not ideal, so I decided to ditch the crimps and just solder the wires together. But that brought me back to the whole “I don’t like permanent connections” thing. So I got an idea.

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Small Touches

This past weekend was mostly one for yard work, but I did do a couple of smallish things on the car. The most significant one was the replacement of the belly pan. The original pan was long gone with only a couple of small bits still held on by the few remaining original bolts. I reused those and supplemented the rest with new 20mm long M6x1.0 bolts. This pan was a Uro brand replacement part, and like many after market trim the fitment was not perfect. The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice that one of the bolt holes (out of the seven) in the photo below is empty. This is because I just could not get the hole in the plastic to line up sufficiently with the threads to get a bolt to “bite”. Instead of drilling out the hole a little to make this happen I decided that six out of seven bolts was good enough for now and called it done.

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New O2 Sensor

About a week ago I noticed that I was getting a 1-1-3 code from the computer which indicated a rich mixture condition. More recently I got the code 2-1-2 which suggested the computer wasn’t getting readings from the O2 sensor at all. Doing some research on these codes will take one down a rabbit hole of “maybe it’s THIS or perhaps THAT or maybe even THESE!” so I decided to skip all that and just replace the O2 sensor. The model I went with was a Bosch 13034 which I believe is the OEM component.

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Rear Shocks Installed

By last Friday I had all the parts I’d ordered for this final push to get the car registered in hand. This included major components like the rear shocks and also a few extras like new hatch lift supports and a trim piece for the interior hatch handle (one of which I had already broken). Unfortunately I managed to aggravate a pre-existing back issue from a sports related accident I had when I was 13. I could barely walk let alone change car parts. I had to take most of the weekend to recover. Fortunately I was feeling about 90% better by Memorial Day, so I was able to get all my planned work done.

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Fixing the Central Locking Mechanism

Since my Volvo is effectively locked into my driveway by my other cars I don’t worry to much about it being stolen. As such I don’t often both to lock it. Recently after taking the front door panels off in an effort to fix the passenger side door switch and lubricate the window mechanisms I noticed that the driver side central locking switch, part 3540135 which I had previously fixed up, didn’t look right. Specifically the plastic part that connects to the door lock had fallen off. Closer examination showed that not only had it fallen off but it had come apart. Some bad wiring routing on my part had caused that side of the mechanism to get caught on the window as it rolled down, breaking it.

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