Rusted & Busted | My Black Brick - Part 2

My Black Brick

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

I’ll be sure to use lots of lube


After waiting an excruciating 18 hours for my FCP Groton order, it finally arrived via UPS. Did I really just order these front wheel bearings yesterday afternoon?

Wait a sec… is the name on the box really the name of the company? FAG? WTF? Do they offer t-shirts with their logo?


Troubleshooting Overdrive


Finally pulled the glovebox out and checked the Overdrive Relay switch. It looks fine but, after trying Art Benstein’s test of the current at the relay, it didn’t give a response. I’ve read that the circuit boards often need to be resoldered, so I’m thinking I need to bust it open and check, before springing $43 for the part.


Lowered Brick In DC

washington monument
We drove down to Northern VA this weekend to visit my parents and had a chance to check out some museums in DC. Pulling onto the mall at 10:15 on a Sunday allowed us to park right in front of the Capitol, the National Gallery and the museum of the American Indian. It also gave me a great backdrop to photograph the brick with it’s new lowering springs.

The 4.5 hour ride down was quite pleasant. I’d been nervous about the stiffness of the springs but overall everything is fine. On long stretches of highway it felt about the same. The only problem is large dips and rises. The car doesn’t absorb them like it used to; you ride the full height and depth. Luckily there’s no bottoming out or shock crash-through, and no scrapping the exhaust on speed bumps.

I’ve been driving my wife crazy taking turns though. It’s so easy and precise to steer that you can lose a sense of your speed. Of course I was pushing the car a little, sending our case of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck sliding around the trunk, and forcing Desiree to grab onto her seat. Fun!

But, as always, I’ve got a new gremlin in the car. No overdrive. It kicked out last week, so the whole drive was spent at 60mph in the right lane at 3200rpm. I gotta figure out if I want to check the OD solenoid, or just get the ipd bypass kit.


Idle goes bad, but now it’s fixed

The idle problem I was having got so bad that when I tried to start the brick yesterday it just stalled. I could rev the engine, but once I let off the gas it would shudder and quit. I did a deeper analysis under the hood. I pulled the new flame trap off, checked and tightened it on, checked the air filter, checked the hoses and everything seemed ok. There was one hose that seemed loose though. It was attached to this white and black plastic cylinder:


I’ve been researching and haven’t been able to figure out what this thing does. I pulled and reattached the hose, wrapped it in duct tape and fired up the engine. No stall. I drove all day today and had no idle problems at all. It seems the problem had to do with air intake/vacuum leaks, but I can’t tell if it’s because of this part, or somewhere else along the line. Whatever. Runs strong now.


What’s up with the Idle?

Over the years since I bought the Brick I’ve become more and more sensitive to the odd noise from the hood or strange feel from the gas pedal. I don’t always act on these things, but at least I’m becoming more aware of the quirks and problems before they get much bigger.

Right now I’ve got some weird idle issues. A couple times its idled high, a couple times it’s idled low enough that it threatened to stall. I know I have an oil leak somewhere in the front of the block, but it’s not draining too much oil. Maybe 1/2 a quart a month. I’m wondering though if that oil is draining into the timing belt. The belts squeal when it’s cold.

Or do I have an air intake/ vacuum problem? The trouble shooting guides point to the air mass meter, air filter, throttle body, etc. As I have a clean throttle body and a new air filter I wonder if there’s a leak somewhere in the line, or if I need a new AMM. Whatever it is, it’s another, new issue after just finishing the tranny problems. What a PITA.

UPDATE: After digging around under the hood, everything is back to normal.


Been Peened?

In the ongoing saga of my transmission shifter, I discovered the retaining ring I installed isn’t the right fix. It snapped off at some point, and I was left back where I started. Actually, it was worse, because I had to shut the car off while it was sticking 1/2 way into the street with no ability to get out of gear. While I biked to the hardware store my wife had to deal with a local cop, who demanded the car be moved off the street. I got back and quickly put on a new clip, only to have that one pop off 5 minutes later.

Obviously the retaining clip doesn’t work so I posted an inquiry on the Brick Board. Art Benstein posted some great pics and it was explained to me that I either needed to weld the end of the rod adjuster to a washer, or flare the end around a tight fitting washer. I chose the later and here’s the result.


I’m hoping that this fix, plus new bushings for the shift levers and a new transmission mount, will solve the shifting problems. Because I don’t need to be stuck in reverse in a parking lot with no way to park.


Troubles with My Tranny

Last night after grocery shopping with the family I discovered a problem with the brick. It started up fine, but when I went to put it in reverse the shift lever went slack. I tried putting it back in Park, but it was stuck in reverse and the shift lever could just bounce back and forth through the range of gears without any resistance. I pulled the parking brake, shut it off and explored under the car.

A rod hung from underneath the shift lever and after a little exploring I saw that it should have been attached to another lever on the transmission. But there was nothing to hold it in place. I was parked over a sewer grate, so if there had been something that fell of it was gone. Luckily I had just thrown a roll of duct tape into the trunk, so I was able to fasten the levers and drive home.

This morning I removed the duct tape, pulled the mechanism and walked to the local hardware store for a retaining ring and washer. The guy in the nuts and bolts section was clueless when I asked for help. He told me they didn’t have retaining rings, but after a short search on my own I found a drawer with plenty.


Reassembly was easy and now it shifts properly. But the whole shift assembly is loose and sloppy, so someday I may have to go in there and swap out some of the bushings. Right now I’m just glad we were able to get home, and the repair only cost $.75 in parts.


New Yokos

yo_avid_h4sI got some nice new Yokohama Avid H4S tires installed this week. My mechanic said that 3 out of 4 of my alloy Virgo rims are bent. I guess 1 straight rim is better than none!


The High Cost of Air Conditioning

After two summers without AC I just couldn’t handle seeing my sweaty, miserable daughters melting in their car seats as we drove 2 hours to Jellystone park to camp. Robert, my occasional mechanic, had quoted $900 to replace the condenser and upgrade to R-134. With Bush’s stimulus check in hand I brought the Brick in for the operation.

Five days later I’m out $1800! Turns out it needed other work in addition to the upgrade. What a surprise. Now we have a new timing belt, new water pump, all new belts, new bushings and the front of the engine is straight and doesn’t squeal. It’s nice to have chilly air and a quieter engine, but DAMN! I probably would have just kept driving w/ the windows open if I’d known I also needed to spend $1000 to just keep the thing on the road. But I guess now the Brick and the family are protected from overheating.


Removing the Rusted Exhaust

Back in November I had a problem starting the Brick. It had been tough to start for about a half year. I changed the plugs, rotor and distributor cap. When that didn’t help I replaced the spark plug wires but it still wouldn’t start. The car was towed and it turned out to be a broken ignition coil.

When I picked it up again it was noticeably louder than before. I looked underneath and it was leaking masive amounts of exhaust. I brought it back and was told that the whole exhaust system, cat back, would need to be replaced, and got an estimate of about $600. No way.

Last weekend I got a $120 Starla system from FCP and installed it at my parents house. It was a pretty easy job, about 3 hours. I wish I’d replaced the catalytic converter also, because it would have made the job a little easier, but would also have raised the price over $300. We’ll see if it passes inspection.

UPDATE April 2008: Didn’t pass inspection. I felt so stupid having to shell out a bunch of cash for the installation of a new cat after having been under the car a few weeks before. But I had no interest in going under there again, and I figured if i got the work done by the place that would redo the inspection I’d be better off.

I’m learning it’s better not to be too frugal. This is the second time I’ve tried to save money by going cheap, ended up getting burned and had to shell out a bunch MORE money to pull myself out of it.