Several months ago, I got back into my “tied for first place” dream car. I purchased a used 1991 Volvo 940 SE Turbo Wagon. I love these cars. They are fun to drive; they are comfortable; they are versatile with their room. The plan was for this to be a project car and rebuild it / build it into what I’ve always had in my mind’s eye. Well, with the move to New Mexico, that got put on hold until recently.
Necessity required me to get “back into the grease” recently. From day one, the car’s interior electronics would not come on until you revved the engine to about 3 or 4 grand. I kind of always wondered what would happen if you didn’t. A friend of ours borrowed the car one day and, well, we found out. It dies; completely draining the battery. I’ll write the rest of the gory details below for anyone who is interested.
I was able to figure out and fix the “revv or die” issue – which felt good and has motivated me to push on with the dream car.
If you are interested in following along, keep an eye out here. Also, I’ve set up an Evernote notebook for the project. Make sure to sort by “Note Title – Ascending” to see the notebook in the right order. The numbered notes are my “To Do’s.” The rest are self explanatory.
The Repair Details
I started to do some testing and found that the alternator was not charging the battery until you did the revved up. More research, plus input from my buddy at Allison Customs, told me that either the alternator was bad, or, the “exciter wire” was not connected. So, a couple of weekends ago I pulled the alternator (an accomplishment for a code monkey like me as it required pulling apart the intercooler to get it out) and had it tested. It tested good. So, it must have been that exciter wire. I found a post in the Inter-web that said it goes through the instrument cluster – directly connected to the “Charging Problem Light.” I did a quick test to confirm that there was no connection. More searching revealed that Volvo, sadly, did not do a good job with their solder joins. So, I pulled the cluster, resoldered all the joints, and, victory(!), the instruments all work and the car charges on start.
Specifics about what to resolder, as well as pictures of my situation, are in my Evernote notebook above.
Funny, though – with all the warning lights working again, the Brake and ABS warning lights are now on – ah, just some more TLC to perform.