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My top ten toughest 240 repairs... 200

I just completed changing the rack on our son's '90 244. What a PITA job! It got me to thinking about a top-ten ranking of my toughest 240-series jobs:

Number 10. Fixing an undiagnosed no-start condition (’88 244GL). This happened last week on the ’88 244GL. There are SO many things that might prevent a 240 from starting. After establishing that I had fuel, compression and spark, I felt was left with the probability that flooding was the problem. It probably was, but it took a LONG time to arrive at that conclusion. At least I wasn’t on my back

Number 9. Rear speaker installation (’88 244GL and ’92 244). Sounds innocent, right? Wrong! The designer of the hat shelf seemed determined that nobody would place anything other than Napoleonic speakers there. There is a center cutout that occupies the space needed for the speaker screws. The presence of a rear headrest complicates matters even further. I finally had to fabricate sheet metal covers for the center cutout and modify the base trim of the headrests on the ’90 244so that I could fit 6” round speakers.

Number 8. Strut assembly replacement (’90 244DL). This is big, heavy, scary looking part. I decided to change the caliper as well. Here I learned the value of a GOOD flare nut wrench. In disconnecting one of the brake hose fittings, I stripped the nut as cleanly as if I had turned it on a lathe! Had to purchase and bend a new line from the junction box to the strut, and then bleed the brakes.

Number 7. Valve clearance adjustment (’92 244). The valve train noise seemed a little excessive, so I checked the clearances and found that all 8 were out of spec. I purchased the IPD “J hook” valve compressor, to remove the old shims. My clearances were such that I couldn’t reuse a single shim! I replaced ‘em and buttoned everything back up. I could rear a reduction in the valve train noise – I think! At least I sleep better at night.

Number 6. Front joint and bushing replacement (’88 244GL, ’90 244DL and ’92 244). I replaced tie rod ends, ball joints, control arm bushings, sway bar end links, and sway bar pivot bushings for all three of these cars. It was difficult to remove the old control arm bushings. I stripped the threads in one of the holes for a control arm rear mount and had to ream and tap threads for an oversize bolt. A bad thing about this job is that work like a dog for several hours on one side, finish it, and then have to start the other.

Number 5. AT kickdown cable replacement (’88 244GL). An absolutely filthy job, and you are on your back a large portion of the time. You have to drop the tranny pan, and the tranny underside keeps weeping on you the whole time. Even clean AT fluid stinks. Also, getting the cable end into its little slot inside the tranny was tricky. Keeping the work area and your hands clean is a must, to avoid contaminating the tranny.

Number 4. Floorpan rust repair (’88 244GL and ’92 244). It seems unfair that I had to get into this business with two cars. The job had a difficult combination of disassembly (removing the seats and carpet), preliminary repairs (finding and repairing the leaks that caused the rust), prep work (cutting and grinding out the rusted sections, cutting and shaping patches), a challenging repair (I try to weld both sides of the patch. I use an arc welder with flux core wire. The undercoating tends to burn, which can be a little disconcerting), and demanding finish work (cleaning off scale, priming and painting – thank goodness for POR-15 – and undercoating. Still, a very satisfying repair. There’s just something about doing the little head flip to drop the welding helmet…

Number 3 (’88 244GL). Heater core replacement. One of the traditional "favorites." A lot of work, to be sure, but at least you're warm and dry. I used a variation of the "chainsaw method" wherein I cut off the top of the heater box to remove the core, and then bonded the box back together. If I had split the housing as Volvo intended, this job may have risen to the top of my list.

Number 2. Rack replacement (’90 244DL). The lower steering u-joint is TOUGH to remove, it’s difficult to keep dirt out of the hose fittings, and it is easy to get the steering wheel out of alignment. The difficulty of this particular job was exacerbated by the fact that I had to lie in mid-winter mud to remove the donor rack from my parts car. I got the steering wheel aligned properly, but 360 deg too far ccw. The horn slip ring would have prevented the wheels from fully rotating in a left turn. Rather than disassembling the u-joint again, I chose to pull the steering wheel and “center” the slip ring manually. Believe it or not, the wheels seem PERFECTLY aligned (I count threads on the tie rods and install to within +/- 1/4 turn). Oh, and before I forget, the job was like a mini tranny KD cable replacement – lots of automatic transmission fluid. The old rack was leaking from both ends and didn’t stop until it was off the car.

And my Number 1 worst Volvo 240 series repair has been (drum roll please):

Automatic transmission change (’90 244DL). Dangerous (jacked high on both sides), physically demanding, dirty. It was extremely difficult to remove cooling lines at tranny. Getting those bolts at the top of the bell housing requires a GREAT 6 pt 18mm socket with a universal joint and a long (18 in or so) extension. There is a lot of preliminary work (dropping the crossmember and driveshaft, disconnecting the KD cable, OD solenoid wire and shifter linkage). Even so, I am proof that it's a one man job (I had a tranny jack). That d**n AW70 is HEAVY. I strained my back dead-lifting one from the floor! Still, doing this job saves a TON of money, and the satisfaction index is off the scale!

I did every one of these jobs with the help of BBoard members. Thanks you all!

I am sure your list differs, and that mine will evolve as my sons invent new, creative ways of stress-testing bricks!

 





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