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volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/10/17 7:41 a.m.

While the Krautbeaterwagen (or Panzerwagen as my coworker calls it) has been dutifully chugging away for over 2 years now, gradually, it's been becoming apparent that I might want to start searching for a replacement. Electrical stuff has been dropping off the grid, which is a minor annoyance, but the rust situation seems to be worsening from oil change to oil change. On top of that, the engine has been leaking oil more and more, which means nearly weekly top-offs, and a comment from my client at work that the Mercedes seems to be leaking "quite a bit" in it's parking spot and I "need to fix that".

While the rust could be abated for a few more years and the oil leak and electrical gremlins repaired, the other main problem with the Benz is its air conditioning, or, more accurately, lack thereof. With summertime just around the corner, as well as my 40th birthday, it was time, my wife pointed out, to upgrade my daily driver. A little.

I poked around online for a few weeks and thought about suitable replacements. A couple of sedans of various ethnicities flew across my radar, including a BMW hatch, but as Mrs. VCH pointed out, I really use and need the utility of a wagon on a regular basis (it's sort of like my second truck, except it doesn't get 11 MPG.

On Friday, I found one. And on Saturday, I brought it home.

Details to follow.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/10/17 10:50 a.m.

It's a 1990 Volvo 240 DL. Automatic. I had looked at a few with manual transmissions but they seemed to be a) beat to E36 M3, and b) asking way more money. Mrs. VCH, while she knows her way around a stick, prefers cars that shift themselves. And when this one came up, as clean as it was, for a reasonable price, I bit.

The interior (pics coming) is that nice velour cloth stuff, not leather, and everything looks decent, a few dash cracks notwithstanding. Aftermarket Pioneer radio, COLD A/C, power windows and locks- and the trailer hitch is a nice bonus. No rust that I could find, anywhere. This little blue pearl has just over 200,000 miles tucked under her odometer, and hopefully many more to go.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
4/10/17 7:03 p.m.

Well E36 M3.... You lucky sumbitch hahaha. I'm currently looking for a Volvo myself. Any recommendations?

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/11/17 6:42 a.m.
Bill Mesker wrote: Well E36 M3.... You lucky sumbitch hahaha. I'm currently looking for a Volvo myself. Any recommendations?

I specifically wanted a 240 wagon. The 7xx and 9xx series cars are a bit more complicated, a bit more features, which to me means stuff to break. I wasn't looking for a road rocket, so a turbo car wasn't a necessity. And being flexible on the transmission made the search a lot easier.

Everything I'd read seemed to suggest the later in the production, the better. The 240's last year was 1993. Some of the earlier cars had less- desireable transmissions, and Volvo apparently went through a biodegradable wiring fiasco of its own in the early to mid 1980's. Basically, if it had flush headlights, it met the criteria.

Just keep scouring CL and something will pop up. You're in Ohio, which is Rust Country, so cast your net southward. That's what I did, and ended up picking up this solid example from the northern Virginia area.

EvanB UltimaDork
4/11/17 7:07 a.m.
Bill Mesker wrote: Well E36 M3.... You lucky sumbitch hahaha. I'm currently looking for a Volvo myself. Any recommendations?

The 7/9 series rust much less than the 200 series so they can be found in better condition in Ohio. They are also less desirable so cheaper to buy. The later 200 series also rust less than the earlier ones but my 93 245 is plenty rusty, probably from living in Cleveland for awhile.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
4/11/17 11:50 a.m.

I'll keep that in mind fellas thanks for the tips

EvanR SuperDork
4/11/17 4:20 p.m.

Book says that hitch can only tow 2000 lbs. Oddly, the pre-1983 240 was rated to tow 3300 lbs. but there's no significant changes to the chassis.

I've used that hitch many times to tow another 245 on a dolly. Another 245 is 3100-3300 lbs, plus the dolly is another 4-500 lbs.

Just don't use overdrive. Ever.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/13/17 6:42 a.m.

In reply to EvanR:

It's part of the massive conspiracy to get everyone to buy an SUV..

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/13/17 7:03 a.m.

Some time has been spent over the past few days going over the 240 and preparing it for its new life as my regular whip. Since it was already in pretty good nick, nothing was really needed to bring it up to roadworthy standards. I drained and refilled the coolant as a preventative, and topped off the differential oil. The automatic transmission has a slight drip from the rear seal and was about 1/2 a quart low on fluid; I topped it off with Lucas tranny snake oil. That stuff completely cured the transmission leak in my W123 wagon, and made it shift firmer, too.

The biggest concern with the 240, though, was it's tires. The previous owner mentioned in the online ad that they had "recently rotated" the tires. What that meant, in Craigslist-ese, was that a pair of nearly new Hankook winter tires were on the front, while a mismatched set of 10-year-old radials, showing signs of dry rot, curb rash, and being nearly bald, were on the back.

(Note: the car did come with all 4 Volvo hubcaps to cover those stock 14" wheels, but 3 of them had to come off when strapping the car onto the car hauler to bring it home.)

As luck would have it, a fellow I knew from some previous Volvo parts transactions knew another guy who was getting rid of some 780 Bertone wheels.

Which fit nicely in the back of the Krautbeaterwagen.

However, while installing them on the back of the 240, they would only spin about half a revolution before striking something. Befuddled, I took the wheels off the back axle and found this weird protrusion bolted onto each rear caliper:

Which was hitting the balancing weight on the inside of the rim:

It wouldn't unbolt (the bolt was too long, and hit the coil spring before being completely unthreaded) so Mr. Angle Grinder came out to play:

And the curious offending metal bump was "clearanced" for the new wheels. Which, I think, look great:

They even came with some 2015-date-coded rubber. $200 for 4 wheels and nearly-new tires.

jfryjfry Reader
4/13/17 8:56 a.m.

Winner! Grinder ftw!

EvanR SuperDork
4/13/17 4:22 p.m.

If you want to take those weights completely off, just remove the bottom shock mount nut and the trailing arms drop enough to remove the spring by hand. Nobody seems to be really sure what those weights were for, anyhow.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/14/17 5:04 a.m.

In reply to EvanR:

I thought about doing that. But the angle grinder was close at hand, and seemed to be calling my name...."VCH....use me!"

I work in an office full of engineers. I asked around- no one could figure out what that protrusion was for. My guess is it's some sort of harmonic damper. One guy thought maybe it was a heat sink for the caliper. It reminds me of the huge chunk of metal Ford decided to hang off the back of the C6 in the mid-70's full size cars.

JamesMcD SuperDork
4/14/17 6:51 a.m.

Looks great.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/14/17 8:11 a.m.

The license plate holder had a loose bolt that rattled. Sure, that's about as minor on the list of stuff that could be wrong as you can get, but every time the hatch slammed, it rattled. I hate that. The trim piece on the inside of the hatched pops off easily, and when I did that I found the nut rattling around loose inside the tail gate. My helper and I put it back on and put the gate back together.

bigdaddylee82 SuperDork
4/14/17 8:53 a.m.

I'm super jealous of your new Multi-X wheels, I'd like to have a set for my 242.

paranoid_android74 UltraDork
4/14/17 6:53 p.m.

Nice looking wagon!

I'll be following along.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/17/17 7:25 a.m.

On Friday, I ordered a pile of parts for the "S.K." from Rock Auto. Saturday morning, the first package arrived. It contained:

  • One new front wiper blade.

  • One new rear wiper blade

  • One right tailight.

So...the other front wiper blade is shipping from another warehouse? Rock Auto's fulfillment system continues to befuddle.

My little helper and I swapped over the wiper blades on hand, and then turned our attention to the right tail light.

It passed Virginia inspections for the prior owner, but looked fugly. It wouldn't be out of place on the Krautbeaterwagen (which does, in fact, have duct tape on its right tail light) but the Svensk Kombi is being held to a higher standard. The new light was $68, a bit extravagant, but if it didn't get changed now....it never would.

Swapping over the wires. All fast-ons were tightened, and all connections got a light smear with dielectric grease.

New lens:

The insurance company didn't get the new card emailed Friday; hopefully it will come today so I can get all the paperwork unpleasantness out of the way and start driving the S.K.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/18/17 6:18 a.m.

Insurance card arrived yesterday! First stop after work: the tag + title shop! $263 and 9 minutes later, all the paperwork was settled.

Another box from Rock Auto arrived last night. It contained:

  • An air filter.

And...that was it. Rock Auto's fulfillment system continues to mystify...

At any rate, my little helper and I put the new air filter in, which was much easier once I removed the little bolt holding part of the air intake hose to the inner fender. Then I hooked up the gauges to the A/C line, added a little refrigerant, and swapped over the CHMSL (center brake light) to an LED 7506-equivalent bulb.

Loaded to the gills with the recycling, SK made her inaugural drive in to work this morning without trouble.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/19/17 7:01 a.m.

At work yesterday, one of my co-workers noticed the new car in the parking lot. Since it was parked in my "usual" spot, she came over to my desk and asked me if that was mine. I smiled and nodded, to which she added, "huh...looks just like the old one, except it's blue".

Now, I admit I've been a car guy since I was first able to roll a Matchbox around my parents' living room rug, so perhaps (probably) I'm a little (completely) out of touch with what average people think about cars. I mean, said co-worker drives a Kia Sorrento. Clearly she, lowly peasant in the automotive Pantheon, had no idea what she was talking about.

For reference, here are the cars in question, Svensk Kombi and Krautbeaterwagen:

Well...they are the same body type. So I found a vehicular paradigm that works for me. They clearly aren't the same car, otherwise...

Over dinner, I mentioned the interchange with the co-worker to Mrs. VCH. While what most would consider a "car girl", she's also a little more firmly planted in reality, as most other females with whom she interacts know comparatively little about cars. She pointed out that, aside from the color, both vehicles were basically boxy, old, European wagons with roof racks. All the details that set them apart are essentially invisible to most of the non-enthusiast public.

And unlike the non-enthusiast public, I spent last night crawling around under my BLUE, boxy, old, roofrack-endowed European wagon fixing a leaky transmission cooler line.

DrBoost UltimaDork
4/19/17 3:10 p.m.

I have that same conversation with 'normal' folks about cars. I really can't see anyone looking at the two Euro wagons and not seeing them as totally different. I mean, all cars have 4 wheels, does that make them all the same?

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Dork
4/20/17 6:08 a.m.

Nice 245!

My understanding on those rear caliper add on's is that they are there to clear and prevent slush/ice buildup.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/25/17 11:15 a.m.

Milestone today: Odometer hit 207,000.

First calculated tank of fuel (I bought the car with about 3/4 of a tank) was 230 miles on 10 gallons. Not terrible for an automatic wagon.

So far, so good. The rear transmission seal drips a drop or two while sitting in the lot at work, not a huge deal. A couple of the radio's speakers are dead and the antenna is currently sitting on top of the spare tire, but the radio mostly works, for now.

The only real issue I've had so far was yesterday, after some highway driving, and then getting stuck in a traffic jam, the TEMP needle climed up to about 3/4- below the red zone, but somewhat worrying, as the ambient temperature was only 60F or so. Cranking the heater for about a minute brought it down to halfway (where it normally is) and it stayed there after turning the heater off. The coolant's full- I drained and filled it when I first got the car. Fan clutch seems good. Weird...

Esoteric Nixon
Esoteric Nixon UltraDork
4/26/17 12:06 a.m.

Did you have the air on by chance? In my experience, 240s don't do too well cooling the engine while the air is on, though I feel as though you probably knew that with Volvo being in your handle.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/26/17 6:50 a.m.
Esoteric Nixon wrote: Did you have the air on by chance? In my experience, 240s don't do too well cooling the engine while the air is on, though I feel as though you probably knew that with Volvo being in your handle.

Nope- it was cool enough out I wasn't running the A/C compressor. Also, as a test of the cooling system, one warm day (about 80 degrees) I drove the car to get it up to operating temperature, then let it sit idling in my driveway with the A/C running full blast. The interior of the car got cold, but the Temp needle stayed in the center of the range.

"Volvo" may be in my handle, but this is my first experience with anything built by Goteborg post- 1974.

volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
4/26/17 6:54 a.m.

Minor new issue cropped up: The left turn blinker doesn't work. The dash light doesn't flash, the front and rear lights don't flash, but I do hear a clicking from under the dash. The right turn indicator works fine. Up until recently, the left one would work sporadically, but now it seems to be dead.

Also, probably related, when the left indicator is switched on, there is a faint clicking sound coming from the stereo speakers; this doesn't happen with the right indicator. I'm wondering if there's a bad ground somewhere...

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