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A strange combination of symptoms 200 1988

help needed, sorry in advance for long read. TL;DR is at bottom.

Hello all. My name is Nick and I’m new to this site. I’ve owned two Volvo 200 series vehicles and have a solid amount of automotive experience. I’ve heard good things about this board and am hoping one of you guys can help me out. First things first:

Vehicle info: 1988 Volvo 240
Engine: (not so) Professionally swapped-in b230f from a 1993 Volvo 240.
Trans: M47 5 speed
Miles: 268K on broken odometer

I’ll start at the beginning. Picked up car and had a weird lope at idle like maybe a fuel injector was ever so slightly congested, you know, like an spaced out soft miss. Was not worried, it’s an old car and certainly the engine is not new. Even so, inquired about the sound and mechanic said it’s been sitting for awhile so it’s bound to run a tad rough. Touché. Drive about 3 hours home, once I’m in the RPMs (freeway driving) drives perfect, miss at idle is barely noticeable and only someone familiar with a well-running redbloco might notice it.

Fast forward several days, car has a few hard misses and no start instances. Mechanics had left MAF partially unplugged and battery had an internal short. Cleaned out corrosion on MAF and replaced battery. Everything is good, still idles a little wonky.

One day I start car in the morning and don’t let it warm up, have to get brother to school. Put it in reverse and start driving and boom dies right there. No start (cranking only) for about 10 minutes. Catches finally and runs fine. “That was weird, relay or something, maybe?” Forget about it. Fast forward two weeks or so. Only issue in those two weeks was long crank but always fired up and ran fine.

Recently driving back from lunch break. Start car, seems okay albeit a little rough at idle. Whatever. Suddenly starts idling VERY rough, as if there were an enormous vacuum leak or it was firing on two cylinders. At light throttle engine shakes violently, missing HARD. At speed it’s a bit rough but fine, no hard misses like I had encountered earlier with my disconnected MAF. When I come back down to idle starts running like shit, thick white smoke from exhaust. Appears to be running significantly rich but smoke is white, not black. Think fuel pressure regulator or MAF.

Get home and get to troubleshooting. First thing, replace plug wires and plugs. Plug wires are corroded as hell inside and plugs are black with soot, obvious red flag for the rest of the work on the car. That being said a lot of the work looks very tidy but come the f**ck on guys. Anyways, replace those, no success. Take car to auto parts store where friend works. On break we do some trouble shooting.

I replace MAF they had in stock for my motor—except for the old one is a hot-wire type and this new one has a little chip (like a computer chip) in it instead. Still has a 6 prong connector and housing is nearly identical so I figure screw it and throw it in. No change. Removing sensor puts car at default values and it idles way better. This happens with either sensor. MAF seems to be eliminated as cause even though symptoms seem to point to it.

I think, maybe it’s a huge vacuum leak. Spray carb cleaner on intake manifold gasket, around fuel injector ports, around flame trap, etc. and idle never stabilizes, at least from my input.

Do some research, thinking maybe TPS although the one on it looks brand new. We replace the TPS with one from a slightly older Volvo motor but with same connector and appearance. No difference whatsoever. I use a jump wire on the connector prongs to see if I can trick car, no change. TPS appears to be adjusted as faint click can be heard when moving cable slightly from resting position. Reinstall previous TPS.

Replace ignition coil, no change at all. Pull vacuum line off fuel pressure regulator, no drip or smell. Clamp 3/8 hose on back of FPR to see if the fuel is maybe draining back into tank due to FPR failure. Idle does not improve.

Clean connections on blade fuse by ignition coil with a wire brush, no change.

Inspect accordion hose to engine to see if unmetered air is getting past the MAF. At this point I realize a good amount of yellowish oil in the intake hose. I am initially extremely dismayed as it appears to be coolant contamination, although I figure there’s a chance it’s just nasty oil that mixed with some starter fluid and Seafoam throttle cleaner I had gotten all over the intake hoses. Check oil and coolant, neither appears to be mocha colored or cross contaminated. Obviously, gross oil mixed with white smoke immediately makes me think of a head gasket problem but I’ve had literally 0 overheating problems. None whatsoever. Coolant level has remained the same the entire length of this ordeal.

Oil in intake + aforementioned symptoms make me think vacuum leak from some part of the flame trap. Open up flame trap. Mesh screen is dirty but not super cruddy. Has black bits in certain areas but you can still see the entire surface of the mesh and tubing still allows air through. Oil separator box does not appear to be leaking.

Fast forward to this morning. Start it up to move out of my brothers way. Put it in reverse and mid reverse stalls completely. Won’t pop start, nothing. Cranking cranking cranking, nothing. New fuel pressure regulator is in the mail. Have no idea at this point what it could be. Any advice is VERY appreciated.


-in reverse on cold start will stall out if attempting to back up
-extremely rough idle, reminiscent of serious misfire or enormous vacuum leak
-large amount of engine vibration between idle and like 1/4 throttle (no tach in this vehicle)
-at idle on start up huge plumes of white smoke, gas smell
-after running fine at higher rpms, engine will almost idle out when you get to a stop but will almost always catch itself
-oil in intake hose


New A strange combination of symptoms [200][1988]
posted by  Nicjim16  on Wed Mar 13 10:36 CST 2019 >

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