High-Mileage Vehicle Preventive Maintenance                                           FAQ Home

Volvo Maintenance FAQ for 7xx/9xx/90 Cars                                                                                                                     Version 5.0

Preventive maintenance after purchase

High-Mileage 1990 740/760 Problems

Car Storage Tips

How to Remove Tobacco Smell

Alternator Preventive Maintenance

Flame Trap Preventive Maintenance

Lubricant Preventive Maintenance

Maintenance Records

Useful Mealtime Tips

See the section Buying a Used 7XX/9XX for related information.

Preventive maintenance after purchase: When I buy a used 740 (87-92, are preferable) these are the items that I would immediately change/replace before placing the car into service. (Assuming the car had been checked out thoroughly first)
High-Mileage 1990 740/760 Problems. [Query: Any "special" problems I should look for in a 760 of this vintage?] [Reply:] I bought my 89 740 (non-turbo) at approx. the same mileage. Some items since then have been the radiator (replaced with an all-metal unit as opposed to the factory plastic tank version), the heater water control valve, the FI ECM, motor mounts and now at 175k miles the steering rack needs to be replaced. None of the above parts alone are insanely expensive, except the FI unit, so if you do your own work, it's not too bad. A recurring problem on my car is that the power window switches keep flaking out and I'm too cheap to get a new set and too tired of opening them up and cleaning them. [Editor's Note: see the section on engine wiring harness problems with 83-87 7xx cars.]

Car Storage Tips.  [Query:] I will be leaving the country in another month and have to put my Volvo in storage. What type of preparation should I do to the car before I leave and what should I do on my return? I plan on disconnecting the battery and I may even have a friend start the car once a week...the storage will be outside with a car cover and will be sitting for the majority of a Phoenix summer.

Shorter-Term Storage Hints: [Response 1:  Paul Seminara] Shouldn't be a huge ordeal to store a car in Phoenix through the summer. Just keep it in the shade!! (car cover 'll work) Make sure the tires are out of the sun, too.  I don't think it's too good to just start the car once a week, unless you do a full warm up cycle with some good driving. I think you'd be better off just dumping some fuel stabilizer in, filling the tank all the way, changing all the fluids, squirting some oil in the cylinders, turning it over, put new plugs in and remove the battery (you may do the battery monitor thing, but I'd be wary if I couldn't eyeball it once in awhile) and let her sit.  [Response 2: John Erickson] All the things Paul mentioned are good things to do, but you can get away with little or nothing. If you can get someone to drive the car once a month, you don't need to do anything else. If no one is going to touch it for six months, then you should put it on blocks (tires get flat spots that won't run out - especially in the heat), top off the gas tank and disconnect the battery. The battery will be dead when you get back, but it will recover after a jump start.

Long-Term Storage Hints.  [Query:] I am going to put my brick ('91 940gle) on the block (storage) for approx 12 - 18 months in the garage.  Anything else I need to do other than the suggestions from the board. The existing timing belt has 47000 miles on it and the manual recommends timing belt replacment at 50000, should I go ahead replace the belt now and then put it in storage, or can I replace the belt after I put the brick back on the road 18 months from now. if I leave the existing belt in the car, will the existing belt break when I attempt to re-start the engine 18 months later (the 940gle is an interference engine - major repair if the timing belt breaks). Any particular areas require extra attention before I put the car in storage?
[Response: JohnB] Store the car and replace the belt after a few hours of running after you take the car out of storage. Reason is that the belt is supposed to be replaced at x miles (50k in your case, my 90 B230FT is supposedly 45k in the chilton book but I still figure 50K) or if the car has been stored for 'any length of time,' whatever that means. Apparently the idler pulley puts a dent or fix in the belt, a reverse dent or set, and the belt reliability suffers.  As you already know, the engine (non-DOHC 4 cyl) is non-interference, even if the belt snaps when you start the car or after a few hours, no damage to the engine will result.

You might consider using amsoil marine synthetic lubricant for storage...the marine oil has a hefty anti-corrosion package that is ideal for long term storage. One should probably change the engine oil before storage, as well as the engine coolant.

I like to 'fog' the cylinder walls with marine storage lube, i.e., pop the plugs, squirt lube in the holes, put the plugs back in, disconnect and ground the ignition coil secondary, pull the fuel relay, and spin the engine a few seconds while blowing lube in the throttle body.

You can either drain the fuel tank and drop a dessicant bag (onna string...you will need to remove it!) into the fuel filler neck...it should be pretty well sealed unless the cap is defective, or you can use a quart of gas stabilizer mixed in with a full tank of gas. 18 months is a long time for gasoline, however, and you'll probably find yourself dumping the gas so it's better to have less gas than more to dump. If you have a non-steel gas tank, I'd run the tank as low as practicable, add the fuel stabilizer, run the engine a few minutes to distribute the stabilizer, and then pull the fuel relay at the storage site when you fog the engine.

Plug every orifice on the car you can....squirrels or whatever will find them if you don't. Find a couple bags of dessicant and put them in the car...clean the car real good before you close it up! If you have someone to air out the car every 3-6 months (no start!) and reactivate or replace the dessicant bags, so much the better.

Best case is if you can find a giant plastic bag to put the entire car in, suck the air out of the bag (wet/dry vac works good, and then bleed dry nitrogen into the bag. There are storage bags available, obviously you have to drive the car into the bag, look in the back pages of Autoweek or Motor Trend or whatever.  Or check out http://www.carbag.com

The Army learned a good lesson from the Israelis on bagging entire tanks/armored battalions...The tanks start up every six/12 months with nothing more than new battery packs (not a small deal....a modern tank takes 4-6 BIG batteries, like the size of those on semi trailer rigs.)

Take the battery out and sell it....you'll need a new one in 18 months almost no matter what you do with it.

How to Remove Tobacco Smell From Newly-Purchased Brick? I had the same problem and used a product sold by Sam's club called "Odor Ban". Sprayed it on the seats and carpets before I used a regular upholstery cleaner. worked very well for me.

Alternator Preventive Maintenance. It would be wise to inspect the voltage regulator/brush unit (VR/BU) for wear while the alternator is removed from the engine bay. The small slot screws which retain the VR/BU can be quite difficult to remove, especially if your car is driven in the "rust belt". The VR/BU sells for around $70.00 and can be obtained at any Bosch supplier. I apologize for not being able to give you a part number, but the VR/BUs are selected to match particular alternators and, if my memory serves, later model 240s were fitted with one of three Bosch models (depending on trim & accessories). One tip I can provide is to avoid cheaper, third world units as these can fail prematurely! When re-assembling the VR/BU with the alternator body, place a small dab of anti-seize compound on the retaining screws. This will make it easier to remove the VR/BU in the future. The rubber bushings used in mounting the alternator, power steering pump, and a/c compressor tend to require replacement after about 7 years.
[Tip: Editor]  Remove your alternator and take it to an automotive electric shop, where they can rebuild it for around US$70 including new bearings, brushes, voltage regulator and a complete electrical test.

Flame Trap Preventive Maintenance. [From RPR:] On four-cylinder non-turbo engines, the flame trap (a replacement for the old PCV valve in the "positive crankcase ventilation" system) prevents engine backfires from igniting in the crankcase. However, airborne contaminants and oil residue will eventually clog this device and cause excessive crankcase pressure. Symptoms of this problem may include finding your oil dipstick lifted up from its entry tube and worse, leaking engine seals. The flame trap is "buried" under the intake manifold [between 2 and 3 cylinder intake manifold inlets.] Do not let this discourage you. Replace the flame trap every year for trouble-free engine performance. Also replace the hoses connected to it if they appear bloated or "spongy" from engine oil damage. Do not use clamps to hold flame trap hoses in place; if they are popping off, you may have excess crankcase pressure. Also check that the vacuum fitting on the induction (intake) manifold is open and providing vacuum for the PCV system. The fitting is connected by a small hose to the flame trap housing.

Lubricant Preventive Maintenance. See the fluid filter under "Steering" and the notes on fluid change/filters in "Transmission" for tips.

Maintenance Records.  [Tip: Steve Ringlee] Zee's recent post on "Computerized Maintenance" was very insightful. I've tried to keep two sets of maintenance records for each car: one on my computer and one in the engine compartment. The computer records show date, mileage, who did the work, and a detailed description of not only the major work done but things to watch for in the future. This is backed up by a file of all receipts (remember the lifetime warranty on shocks? you'll need the receipt!) and warranties, etc. This goes beyond the stamps in the Volvo maintenance book: things are described in more detail and include work never done at the Volvo dealer, who is seldom visited.
       The other set is in the engine compartment. My father's mechanic taught me this: use
permanent marker and white duct tape on selected flat, cool surfaces to record routine things like: When you are maintaining five cars for self, wife, kids, in-laws, etc. it is impossible to remember what is going on. Every time I bring one of them in for service, the mechanics at either the dealer or Sears, etc. are unbelievably grateful that someone has made life easier for them by posting the obvious in the engine compartment. It also makes diagnosis a whole lot easier and keeps me from doing things twice because I forgot that I had done the work last year. I just open the hood and instantly know when something is due for work.

Useful Mealtime Tips.  [Query: After driving my Volvo, I am hungry.  What to do?] You can heat canned food ( small cans) on the engine block of many 4 cylinder  Volvo engines by removing the paper label and placing it on the engine just  under the intake manifold. The car's cooling system regulates the block temperature, and this should keep the can at around 130 degrees fahrenheit  for whenever you'd like to stop for lunch. In WWII, soldiers actually cooked roasts and potatoes, etc. on those flat jeep engines on trips between posts ( I got this idea from one of these old vets) and I believe there's actually a book out called "Manifold Cookery" or something like that. Just keep your motor  clean and don't try to stuff cans tight into the wiring. B230's are great for  this...turbos too, but forget the frogmotors and 16v's ( no room).P. S. This works year round! 

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