Rusted & Busted | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

What’s that smell?

One thing about owning an older car is that when I notice a weird smell while driving I always say to myself “Is that my car?” then look around to see if there are any busted, rusty pickup trucks around. If it’s just me on the road the next question is “Where’s that coming from?”

I’m starting to get a burned plastic smell emanating from somewhere on my brick. I’ve noticed that interior fresh air circulation is coming out hot. I’m dreading the inevitable, which is that my blower motor is probably going. It squeals after keeping the heater on more than 15 minutes. Looking at this video from Brick Squad and reading articles titles “chainsaw method” is filling me with dread.


No more smog

I finally brought the brick in for service after giving up on diagnosing the emissions problem. Turns out I had a bad air mass meter and I had it replaced. I thought the diagnostics box was broken but it turns out that it just needed to be reset with a bunch of button holds and clicks. D-oh! Would have been good to know that before.

Once fixed the car doesn’t lag, gets good mileage and passed NJ inspection. I took the opportunity this weekend to replace the plugs, cap and rotor. Above are the old plugs. They didn’t look too bad after 36k miles.


A Tale of Two Cats

I just took delivery on some parts from FCP Groton and am trying to figure out if I got the right catalytic converter. I photographed the new and old part together and it looks like the new one is different. I’m not sure if it’s just a different design or a totally different part.

I have a 1992 245 non-california. It’s Davico DV008, ref #8551608. Part listing here.

I’m cross-posting on the Brickboard for input.

UPDATE: I just installed and it fits perfectly, better than the old one. I’m afraid my problem may be the O2 sensor though since the check engine light is still on and it still lags on acceleration. I’m heading out for inspection.


Burning a Hole in my Wallet

My check engine light has been on in my brick ever since I drove through flood waters and stalled out. I’ve changed oil and flushed the transmission but ever since I’ve been getting awful gas mileage. Like 10 mpg city and 15 highway. I haven’t had the funds to get it looked at and am just not going on any long trips. The car runs fine on the highway but lags around town. Stepping on the accelerator just causes the car to pause for a moment, then revs normally. I’m guessing the engine is flooding with an overload of fuel, because if I’m steady on the pedal I don’t have too much of a problem.

I figure the problem is with the O2 sensor, even though I think it’s pretty new, like less than a couple years.

UPDATE: Now that I look at pictures of my catalytic converter install, I realize I have another O2 sensor I can test with. My old cat had cracked but I still have it in my basement, with O2 sensor attached. Looks like I need a new wrench and should start troubleshooting.

Looking at my iPhoto set I see I have tons of pics that I never got around to posting, of things like my overdrive install, flame trap, cat converter, etc. One of these days I should just dump it all onto this site.


Back on the Road

Turns out one of the oil seals I installed was busted or misaligned but now we’re back in shape, thanks to some professional help. While it was down in VA we had the windows tinted, a scratch repaired and nice paint detailing. It’s glossy like a new bowling ball and slick as an ice cube. We’ll be driving cool this summer, that’s for sure.


At least my nose is clean

The weather was pleasant this weekend for checking out my oily crank. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy a leisurely cruise down the boulevard because of the mega oil leak.

I await a call from DB Volvo on my minor catastrophe. I drove the brick cautiously along the inner loop of the beltway from Braddock Rd. to Route 66 and Don Beyer Volvo, belching plumes of smoke whenever I went over 40 MPH or 2000 RPM. After a short wait I was told none of the mechanics who worked Saturday would be able to service and I’d need to wait till Monday. I was fortunate enough to get a ride from my mother back up to NJ w/ the kids.

Here are shots of some of the work I did. I got plenty of “before” shots but was so beat at the end that I didn’t get a good pic of the new seals and timing belt. I did get one of the old and new covers though.

Here’s a view of how the seals looked when I took the pulleys off, then after I’d removed the seals and cleaned the front end. At least I’ve got a new tension roller.


Still leaking, worse than ever

After a day of rope tricks and greasy fingers I finally changed the front seals, timing belt, covers and V belts, only to have what looks to be a worse leak than before. I drove the brick for about 5 minutes then opened the hood. There was a trickle of oil leaking out of the timing belt cover and upon opening it up I saw all the work I did basking in hot oil.

I figured I’d give it another run, so this time I drove on a higher speed boulevard until I started smelling something burning. I looked in the rear view and there was a cloud of smoke trailing me. I was driving in a loop and pulled the car back into the driveway and checked the dipstick. It looks like I went through a 1/2 quart in about 4 miles. Wonderful.

I’ve got an appointment at Don Beyer Volvo, Falls Church, VA for 8AM tomorrow. I just can’t go through this crap again, especially since I can’t tell where the leak is coming from. They’re offering 15% off service for cars over 120k miles. Lucky me.


Overdrive Relay Check

Below is a sketch documenting how I checked the over-drive relay after I lost the use of over-drive last winter. It follows a technique I’d seen posted on the Brick Board, probably by Dave Barton. It took a while to troubleshoot but I eventually sucked it up and got the $40 Over-drive Solenoid Bypass kit from IPD and it’s worked great since then.

UPDATE: Added photo of the bypass kit install at bottom of this post.



My Cracked Pipe


In the continuing saga of my exhaust leak, I’ve discovered a new issue. There’s a big crack in the pipe going into the catalytic converter.

I think I missed it last time I was under there because I was looking from the other side. But with the camera the hole reveals itself. It’s only 2 years old, so I don’t know why it would have a fracture like that. It looks like it happened from over-tightening.

I posted to Brick Board here.


Exhaust Leakage

I just posted this on the Brick Board:

My brick rasps awful loud and I went under and found where it’s leaking. It’s at the flanged fittings where the header meets the cat. converter. I got a generic exhaust gasket from a local shop and it fit correctly. The old one was held on by one out of the three holes.

I tightened up the bolts but it still leaks. When I hold my hand around the back of the flange for the cat converter I can feel exhaust leaking out. It’s on pretty tight though, so I’m not sure why it would still be leaking. I tightened each bolt equally. Could they be too tight? Bad gasket? Bad flange?