1990 240 will not start after rainfall

Discussion in 'Volvo 240' started by night-hawk, Dec 26, 2005.

  1. night-hawk

    night-hawk Guest

    This car will not start after rainfall. Engine cranks but will not
    start. This has happened a few times this year, sometimes the car will
    start the next day after the rain stops.
    night-hawk, Dec 26, 2005
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  2. night-hawk

    jg Guest

    Distributor leads were causing difficult start and poor cold running in mine
    when it rained.
    jg, Dec 26, 2005
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  3. night-hawk

    night-hawk Guest

    Thanks for that suggestion JG. Tomorrow morning I will try a new set of
    wires and see if that helps. I just went outside to try again (its
    still raining) and still no start.
    night-hawk, Dec 26, 2005
  4. night-hawk

    jg Guest

    Might be worth checking the resistance first, mine were probably original
    1980 and the car might have had a few less other potential things to go
    jg, Dec 26, 2005
  5. night-hawk

    Randy G. Guest

    Get the car somewhere dark (pitch black) and crank it. You may be able
    to see arcing along the wires. You can wet your hand and run it along
    the wires, but it feels real bad, and be careful that you don't jerk
    your hand into the fan or some sharp object. You want to be able to
    still count to 21 when you are done.

    Take a spare spark plug and pull one wire at a time and connect it to
    the plug. Be sure it is grounded, and crank it to check for spark.

    Also open the distributor cap and look for corrosion, carbon tracking
    or signs of oil, moisture, etc. Ecamine the carbon center contact and
    the rotor as well.

    Pull the plug wires where they connect to the cap and look in the
    twers for corrosion, and examine the connectors on the wires the same
    way. Also check the same on the coil.

    Examine the coil connections. It is not a bad idea to remove them all,
    clean them with Scotchbrite, apply a little silicone dielectric
    grease and reassemble. Use same on both ends of the plug wires as
    well. it also makes it easier to get the wires off the plugs later.

    New spark plugs may also be in order.

    Check the connection on the ignition module. Remove, clean, grease,

    But it's probably the wheelbase.... ;-)

    __ __
    Randy & \ \/ /alerie's
    '90 245 Estate - '93 965 Estate
    "Shelby" & "Kate"
    Randy G., Dec 26, 2005
  6. night-hawk

    night-hawk Guest

    Thanks Randy G..I am extremely adept at doing just about everything on
    this, my 3rd 240 Volvo (started with a 1979 240 wagon), from engine
    rebuild to electrical troubleshooting, but this problem has me beaten.
    So far I have changed the main relay, changed fuel filter and pressure
    regulator and fuel pump check valve. I will follow you instructions and
    hope that either yuors or JG's suggested fix will solve this wet
    weather intermittent problem.
    night-hawk, Dec 26, 2005
  7. The easiest thing is to spray the distributer and all HT leads with a water
    repellent such as WD40.

    Used to get my old Ford Escort going every time in wet weather.

    - Matthew
    Matthew Jenkins, Dec 26, 2005
  8. night-hawk

    jg Guest

    ha ha ha, you mean with all your good and helpful ideas RG, you don't have a
    way/s of avoiding ht lead pain? I don't either, except to abstain... But
    your "precautions" are classic :) A mechanic told me it can kill a pig.
    jg, Dec 26, 2005
  9. night-hawk

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Well, the problem occurring in the wet does suggest an electrical
    problem. I'd check the spark plug wires, coil wire, coil and
    distributor cap. Probably the likeliest scenario is voltage leakage
    from one or more of the wires (especially the coil wire, if it plain
    won't start or doesn't even try to catch). Use some dielectric grease
    on the connections. Another possibility is the spontaneous composting
    of the wiring harness under the hood, given the age of the car.
    Tim McNamara, Dec 26, 2005
  10. night-hawk

    Randy G. Guest

    The wiring breakdown was from the early 80's vintage 240s. I haven't
    read that it is found on later models, although wiring faults can
    occur from other sources.

    __ __
    Randy & \ \/ /alerie's
    '90 245 Estate - '93 965 Estate
    "Shelby" & "Kate"
    Randy G., Dec 26, 2005
  11. night-hawk

    Randy G. Guest

    Based on that, next time it does not start, pull a plug and see if it
    is wet with fuel. That should narrow it down. ALso try a voltage check
    at the battery when cranking, and maybe even a voltage check a thte
    ignition module and coil when cranking. I once traced a no start fault
    on a VW when the ignition switche supplied voltage to the coil when in
    the "on" position, but it did not supply voltage in the "start"
    [osition although it did crank the motor just fine. if you got the
    motor spinning then released the key it would sometimes start.

    As you stated that it only happens in the wet, it would certainly lead
    to an electrical problem. BUT.. is it ignition electrical or is it
    fuel electrical? Maybe a cam position sensor wiring problem...?

    Fuel mixture

    It's gotta be one of those! ;-)

    __ __
    Randy & \ \/ /alerie's
    '90 245 Estate - '93 965 Estate
    "Shelby" & "Kate"
    Randy G., Dec 26, 2005
  12. night-hawk

    Randy G. Guest

    But the WD-40 draws dirt which will hold more water over time and in
    the long term make the problem worse. Best to fix what is wrong, but
    in an 'emergency' the moisture repellant property of WD-40 can work.

    __ __
    Randy & \ \/ /alerie's
    '90 245 Estate - '93 965 Estate
    "Shelby" & "Kate"
    Randy G., Dec 26, 2005
  13. night-hawk

    Randy G. Guest

    A standard Kettering system puts out about 9,000-12,000 volts, but the
    amperage is VERY low, so not life threatening unless you apply it
    directly to the heart tissue or to the chest for a prolonged period of
    time. A electronix high energy system can put out 50,000 volts and
    that can be quite painful. I had a Delta Mark 10 CDI system on a car,
    and it would throw a hot, blue spark a full 3/4". It was so hot that
    the instructions said to WIDEN the plug gap in the winter for easier

    __ __
    Randy & \ \/ /alerie's
    '90 245 Estate - '93 965 Estate
    "Shelby" & "Kate"
    Randy G., Dec 26, 2005
  14. night-hawk

    James Sweet Guest

    Checking the resistance won't do much good, it's insulation breakdown
    that's usually the cause of rain problems when spark cables are the
    culprit. They arc to the engine block rather than delivering the power
    to the plugs.
    James Sweet, Dec 26, 2005
  15. night-hawk

    Marvin Guest

    If you can, first try a blow dryer on the distributor. If the car then starts, you know
    that the problem is there. And it could be the distributor cap, especially if it is dirty
    or has a crack.
    Marvin, Dec 26, 2005
  16. night-hawk

    User Guest

    If you'd rather test it in the dry, fill an old spray bottle with water
    and mist the ignition parts qhile the engine is running. When you hit
    the sweet spot it will either stumble or stop. Beesides you don't have
    to suffer the sting of success when you find the leaky wire. :)

    User, Dec 27, 2005
  17. night-hawk

    Chris Bowne Guest

    I'd bet on a bad coil. One went on my son's 1990 740. If it's the same
    design in the 240 (an open steel core with encapsulated windings), it's a
    design that's very subject to moisture absorbtion if it's wet/damp if any
    cracks develop in the encapsulation (and at possibly 15 years old, yours
    likely has them). Any dampess will result in a weak or no spark condition.
    You might be able to confirm this by drying out the coil with a hair dryer.
    Since it's an all or nothing situation when wet, that would tend to rule out
    individual plug leads (would more likely have a repetitive miss or rough
    running from that condition.)

    I once had a 1970 Austin America with Lucas ignition components. Same
    problem as yours - would sometimes not even run on a FOGGY day. Finally I
    ran into a sudden thunderstorm downpour on I-95 near the CT/RI line. Car
    just up and quit. Fortunately, there was (and still is) a truck stop just
    down the embankment from where I ended up on the shoulder. Got a new
    ignition coil there and the car ran fine afterward.
    Chris Bowne, Dec 27, 2005
  18. night-hawk


    May 28, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Wiring harness

    Well, there are a few more things that can be checked if what has already been said is not helping.

    The wiring harness coming off of the distributor and wrapping around the motor eventually going through the fire wall is known for being faulty in 240s 1987 and older. These will usually have been replaced at around 70k miles, but if your car is from a warm climate may not have been replaced. You can usually tell because it will be wrapped in electrical tape instead of black harness shrink wrap.

    Check the fuse on the rail next to the coil. check it again.

    Spin your fuses inside the car, sometimes they can lose connection.

    Loosen and tighten the ground strap from the block to the firewall

    Make sure you have fuel to the fuel rail.

    If your car fires (which in this specific case it isn't) try disconnecting the first injector wire. Now turn the car over... Often the car will fire up on three cylinders and then you can reconnect the injector wire and drive away.

    Other things. Test the spark starting at the coil. Ground the coil to the frame and see if it sparks. If it does then attach the cable running to the cap and test the cap end of the cable. (If no spark, bad coil wire) if you do have spark, check the cap and rotor, any corrosion can cause it not to fire. Also hairline cracks that you can't see can cause it to arc all over and not fire. Check spark plugs for spark.

    If you are still coming up short check the connection in the cable coming out of the computer (by the windshield wiper fluid reservoir) but DON'T nessecarily unplug the computer. There is often a connector in that wire down near the alternator unplug that one and clean the connections. (Some cars do not have this)

    If this doesn't work then it is most likely your muffler bearings ;)
    Tay8722, May 28, 2013
  19. night-hawk


    May 28, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Also, check the connection on the electronic control unit/module (ecu/ECM) it is located on the passenger side outside wall behind the plastic kick panel.

    The only other options are of course trying to die from electric shock, which I have had to do on two different cars. Grab those wires! And hold on tight!
    Tay8722, May 30, 2013
  20. night-hawk


    Jul 24, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Probably have a leak in the windshield, Check the fuse relay under the passanger side. White square, replace for like 12.50. Same thing happend to wifes 240. Alot of times if there is a leak they get corroded.
    shanksk8, Jul 25, 2013
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