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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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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Horn Troubleshooting and Radio Removal

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.

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She’s Touchy

The new exhaust gasket came sooner than I thought but I didn’t have time (or good weather) to address it until this past weekend. The car stayed up on jacks for a few days. This may become significant later because after I did put the gasket in and let the car down I attempted to start the engine and got nothing but the starter cranking. This made no sense to me since the engine had run just fine a few days earlier. Did being tilted to the side on jacks for a few days somehow upset something? I can’t imagine why that would be, but what else could it be? The engine was running fine just a few days ago and I hadn’t changed anything related to it. Time for diagnostics.

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HONK HONK

The other day I was driving to the store and found myself in that common situation where the guy at the light in front of me was busy looking at his phone and didn’t notice the light change. I went to give him the little “toot toot” horn to refocus him but, to my dismay, found that my horn would not toot. When I got home I took the grill off to get access to the horn and see what the story was. The story was one that has become well known to me: everything was corroded to hell. Verdigris had eaten away at the copper connectors and the plastic insulation around them was falling apart

The horn on my car is a single horn type (some Volvos have two apparently) that connect to the horn switch with two wires that terminate in 3.5mm bullet connectors. Of course the only connectors I had on hand were the 3.9mm type. One trip to Amazon for a small kit of the correct size connectors and a couple of days wait later I was ready to fix it. I made two short pigtails and soldered them to female connectors. These went into the existing connector housing. The insulators that came with the new connectors were nowhere near thick enough to fit the space inside the housing so I ended up wrapping them with vinyl tape about 2 or 3mm thick. I clipped off the existing crappy connectors and soldered the new assembly in their place and zip tied it in place. The result was a working horn. TOOT TOOT!

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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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