Author Topic: What I fixed this week  (Read 195 times)

Offline Chris

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What I fixed this week
« on: February 15, 2018, 08:53:54 pm »
Much as I love my Volvo, and no matter how proud of its reliability I am, it's a machine and machines break.  After 116,567 miles it finally broke.


During our real cold snap it failed to start.  I thought it was just the battery finally giving up the ghost.  But when I did get it jumped it wasn't charging and after running for a minute or so it started making a very expensive sounding grinding noise.

I fooled around with it and even tried taking a short drive to see what was going on.  Went ok for the first half mile and then the grinding was back, better than ever and after about 30 seconds of that the dash lit up like a Christmas tree and really dire sounding error messages started appearing.  Then, as I turned for home the power steering stopped working and  about 100 yards later the engine stopped.

Turns out, on the nice computer controlled Volvo, if there's no electricity the car is very much like a pet rock.  You can't turn off the parking brake, shift to neutral, or lock or unlock the doors.  So it was quite a production jumping it to shift to neutral and turn off the parking brake so I could tow the car the last half mile to home.  And, after reading all the dire warnings about NOT towing the car in the owner's manual we kept the towing speed slow.  About 5 MPH slow.

Digging into it it seemed like it was either a broken or slipping drive to the alternator or a bad alternator.  The Volvo's alternator is mounted on the side of the motor under the intake manifold and is driven by a sprocket on the engine that engages the alternator belt.

This was new in my least with cars.  On the other hand it's sort of like the Suzuki GSX-R motors where the alternator is behind the cylinders and under the carbs.   

I looked into taking the car to Volvo to be fixed.  Ouch!  Estimates were on the order of $1300 and that's not counting a tow company's fee to flatbed it to the dealer in Knoxville.  Deciding to fix it myself was pretty easy.

So, I ordered a rebuilt alternator from Advance Auto for $184 with $20 of that being the core  ($700 for a new one from Volvo) and waited impatiently.  It arrived but we were having rain..days of it.  More waiting.

Finally, the weather abated and I got started.

To get started I needed to disconnect and remove the battery to put it on a battery charger for a 24 hour reconditioning cycle.  Remove the engine cover.  Then disconnect and remove the duct to the intake from the air cleaner.


There are 6 connectors on the intake manifold and throttle body at the bottom of it.

There's the throttle body at the bottom of the intake manifold.

With everything disconnected I unbolted the manifold from the head and started wiggling it up out of it's hole.

Manifold and alternator removed.  The round thing you see sitting on the edge of the engine bay above the radiator that looks like the world's shortest timing belt is the coupler between the engine drive sprocket and the alternator sprocket.

When I got the alternator out this engine side drive sprocket was loose and just wobbling in place.

And here's why.  I think the mounting bolt loosened up allowing the sprocket to start moving around on it's shaft and breaking it.  From there the failure spread to the alternator, which was bad as well.  How often does this drive set up fail?  The Volvo dealer had the new sprocket and mounting bolt on hand and was glad to give a new one of each for $118.00.

Here's the engine bay waiting for the new alternator and drive sprocket.

Here's the new alternator and drive bolted in place.  Why yes, I did coat the new mounting bolt with blue threadlock before tightening it into place.

With everything reassembled you can just see the alternator.  Actually, I kinda hope not to see it again for a long, long time.

All back together.  My total cost to repair?  $282 in parts and a couple of bucks for Blue threadlock.  Beats the Volvo estimate by a comfortable margin.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 12:26:04 pm by Chris »


1978 GS1000C / 1979 GS1000S / 1981 CM400C / 1986 RG500 GAMMA / 1988 R100RS / 1991 K100RS / 1997 GSF1200 BANDIT

Offline Deuce

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Re: What I fixed this week
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 03:03:28 pm »
That looks less than fun. Iíve often theorized that automotive engineers have a grudge against mechanics.
2006 VTX1300C 205/70/15 Hydroedge rear tire, Leatherlyke Bags, Batwing, Cobra floor boards, Vance & Hines pipes, LEDGlow, Pair Mod, Kuryakin Hypercharger Pro, Mustang seat, Cobra passing lights, Cobra Case Gaurds, 3" Fork extensions, 1800C Shocks, Cobra Tach, Custom Risers, Custom Kickstand, and a  WOLO Badboy Horn.

Offline Luvmystar

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Re: What I fixed this week
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2018, 06:26:11 pm »
An interesting job to say the least.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Offline Sarge

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Re: What I fixed this week
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2018, 07:35:28 am »
Good job.
Semper Fi