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Hacked III: Third Time's The Charm (M90 940 Edition) (prev. Hacked II)

With the grille out, I could immediately see some paint anomalies and obvious patches to the radiator support. Check out this panel that was screwed to and oversprayed white.


The whole core support on the front of the car is bent and tweaked in some unnatural ways. It becomes more apparent in future photos.


Of course, just about everything broke as I was taking it out. The really big pain was a stripped bolt on the passenger side headlight housing, which I had to mangle with a stepped drill to get off the car. This is the point of no return.


There's a lot more related photos, but I'll spare you the details. The new headlight and corner light on the passenger's side went in, no problems at all. Second-guessing myself, I threw the battery back in to make sure it worked before I started screwing around with the driver's side.


Now, at this point on that particular weekend, a snowstorm blew in. 70 km/h wind and sideways snow blowing right into my face. I was getting very frustrated with the driver's side, and started running into a lot of hackery, presumably done by the same people that welded that patch onto the core support. I apparently stopped taking pictures, I was so irritated by the seemingly infinite line of tape splices holding all the wiring together on that side. I ended up having to cut the connector off my new corner light since there wasn't even anything to plug into on that side of the car.


No matter what, I just couldn't make the indicator work properly, or really at all. I tried everything, checked voltages, and continuity and it should have worked, but didn't. Finally, I pulled the bulb out and tested it, and it was dead. Thanks, Skandix.

Went to Walmart to grab a new bulb, and then started working again in the dark, in the freezing cold the night before a work day. I made damn sure it would work before trying to wire it up again.


...to be continued.


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So, last thing that happened that night was this. And it was the last straw, I went to strip a wire, and ended up pulling the whole damn thing out of the fender harness.


So long story short (sorry, I didn't actually shorten it), I ended up driving the car with no left-hand turn signals for a week. I consider this to be stupidly reckless, but I got away with it because my commute happens to involve precisely zero unprotected left turns or lane changes.

So, a week later, I got back to it. Took a lot of photos to demonstrate how bent the core support is, it really really bothers me. One headlight is an inch higher than the other.


But anyway, I went ahead and traced all the nasty splices under the hood. Fortunately, they all stemmed from the turn signal, and stopped in the fender harness, not nearly as deep down as I had originally thought. I went ahead and stripped those down to get rid of the nasty parts, crimped them together and then put some shrink wrap over them.


Did this solve my problem?

Yes, sort of, not really. Still no amber turn signal light, but the side marker comes on as if it were a signal. The car still acts like there's a bulb out, it blinks twice as fast as normal. Passenger side has zero issues. With the brake lights on, I have no signals at all.

I love cars. I love this car.

Send help.
Welp, another weekend, another update.


First bit of weirdness actually happened Friday morning on my 30-ish minute commute to work - had a slightly alarming experience where, while sitting at a red light in the rain; the car lurched forwards with my foot on the brake and shot a CEL at me before going back to normal. It bogged again when I started driving but the issue didn't reappear for the rest of the commute, or the ride home eight hours later. Gauges all read normal, fluids normal - nothing I could easily identify at a quick glance at my work's parking lot.

Saturday morning I go to move the car (to work on the turn signals again) and it wouldn't start. Crank, no start. My voltmeter wouldn't give me a logical reading on the battery, so I hooked it up to my charger and tried again. Cranked faster, still no start.

The fuse panel explained a lot.


Simply put, the fuse for the fuel pump somehow dislodged itself and fell onto the fuse for the brake lights (and ABS). I left that alone for a minute while I disconnected the battery to work with the problematic turn signals. That turned out to be a much easier fix than anticipated, and I didn't even bother taking pictures of it.

Bad ground wire to the FL corner. The old wire to the fender ground had disintegrated in places so I removed it, crimped a new wire and voila, turn signals work - no problem at all. The issue with the brakes killing the signals also went away, so that's cool. With the battery disconnected, I replaced a couple fuses and made sure to seat them firmly in their holders. Car cranked to life shortly after.

Apart from electrics, the worn out suspension causing bumps and rattles is also going to be a perpetual battle with this car. More on that later.


Headlight woes continued: the corner light on the other side, while electrically sound (functional) - liked to fall out if I hit a bump the size of a flea. The little black retaining clip thing just wasn't enough to hold it on, and wouldn't clip on fully anyway with the headlight in place. The second I tightened the nuts on the housing, the corner light would just slip off.

My solution to this (allegedly temporary) was to pull the headlight housing out, clip the corner light on and then affix it with super glue and a zip tie. If that doesn't hold long-term, I'm going to either shove a self-tapping screw in it to hold the two parts together or drill a hole and ziptie them that way. Either way, my small fix held up on the road trip I took the next day, no issues at all with the light coming loose at all.
Road trip:

Typically I go hang out with my girlfriend when I can on the weekend - she lives a few towns over, but it's really not that big of a drive. Maybe an hour, hour and a quarter if traffic is bad on the windy scenic route I take (which is a lot slower than the highway and feels safer on a car this old), so no real challenge for the 240 to have made this trip multiple times now.

Anyway, in the same city, and really not far at all from the route I take to get in, I learned about another Volvo guy with a couple interesting cars and some parts I wanted to take a look at, so I went to check it out.


And yes, you know you're in the right place when there's more than one engine-less, decrepit Volvo and at least one Saab on the property. I think the deal is that the 242 is the project... it's mostly rust, as you can tell from the condition of the butt cheeks, but coupes are next to impossible to find here in the first place. That one's a GLT, I believe - basically a Turbo without the turbo. I offered a hand whenever he decides to start working on it... maybe I might weasel myself into a position to buy it someday. Hacked V might be a 242, who knows.

Anyway, the two big things about this discovery are as follows;

-Guy has some decent spare parts - I grabbed a T cam (for the 244) and he indicated that he might sell and/or help install a spare M46 lying around.

So of course I asked if I could put the car up and take a look at the underside... the horror.

Honestly not as bad as I was expecting, but at least I have a clear direction for what needs fixed long-term, and where I can/should go with the car, mods-wise.

The obvious thing here, of course, is that all the horrible bumps and rattles and death vibrations appear to be related to a completely wasted center support bearing and um... non-existent rear end bushings.


BUT I have access to a lift now, so maybe I can actually start fixing things like this.

Hopefully I don't die before I get to, though.

So, I got some more parts to throw on the 240. Big tach, small clock and a very nice eggcrate grille.


...and of course I'm not going to get to use them because I have essentially sold the car at this point.

I sort of hemmed and hawwed about what exactly to do about the 240 vs 940 situation, and came to the conclusion that I would be best off just cutting my losses and getting rid of the 240. My logic being that I would get pennies on the dollar for the 940, and then have to put that money (and a lot of time) directly back into the 244, just to make it tolerable.

Considering the 940 has basically brand new;
-a new windshield
-now-functional gauge cluster and working airbags

It makes a good deal of sense to just switch back to the red car. It's in way better shape, has a lot more I can do with it (from a project perspective) AND a functional radio.

That being said, I still have to keep the 244 going since I promised to deliver it to the new owner. My intention was to leave today and drop it off, but was initially foiled by the MTO place being closed, so I couldn't get my sale paperwork in order. Also, basically everything broke the minute I hit the road; the turn signals stopped working, the brake lights stopped working, I could feel the ABS not working and it started doing the "no fuel pump" shuffle.

First suspect, as I learned from working on the other side of the car, is the fender ground. Sure enough, the bolt was loose, and the wire going to that ring was a little sketchy and broke off with some light encouragement. I know you're really not supposed to reuse old crimps, but I didn't have a ring connector in the right size so...


Hey, look - the connection is solid. Heat shrink hides all sins.

Cleaning all the bits attached to the ground, and replacing the wire did fix all the issues except for the passenger side turn signal not working, so more diagnosis was required.


Looks like the connector for the corner light had just come loose. Put it back on with a ziptie, and now everything works.

Yippee, time for another non-update.

So I've verbally sold the 240. Pending pickup, and conflicting schedules keeps pushing that back. Was going to deliver it this weekend, but that's not happening so I get to try again in a week. Hooray. Part of my clause with the buyer is that I'm still driving it daily (to get to work) so I obviously still need to make sure it's roadworthy and continue to do sporadic maintenance to keep it running and driving.


A couple weekends ago, I went to see my girlfriend. Took the 240 as I always do. Got there, no problems at all. We went to a restaurant, which involved shoving the car in a nearby parking garage. I get back to the car, start it up and check the brake lights as had become routine. No problems. Get to the ground floor of the parking garage, and the brake lights are out. Parked it again, spun the fuses, nothing. Replaced the fuse. Nothing. Limped it to a Canadian Tire to grab sandpaper to clean the contact surface on the fuse panel, still nothing.

So I drove the 240 home on highway 401 with no brake lights. In the dark. No close calls but it was a very uncomfortable experience that I wish not to repeat again. Next time I'm just calling CAA - I left my card at home that time, which was a dummy move on my part.

I hate electrics, I really do. There's always been something daunting about trying to read schematics and translate an image into what I'm seeing and doing in the car. I've always avoided any cars with wiring issues - and I guess I had been lucky until I took ownership of this turd.


So, of course - I got to learn some things. The brake light circuit is very simple on a 240 - the only grounds in the system are at the battery and the individual lights themselves. I went and checked those (and cleaned them, of course) - and that wasn't the issue. So it was time to go down the line. Figured out I was getting voltage through the #7 fuse, so the next two obvious culprits are the brake light switch and the bulb failure relay. I went ahead and partscannoned both of them, figuring one was bad.

I didn't want to just sit around with a car bearing no brake lights while I waited for parts, so I jumped straight back into troubleshooting mode. I wanted to see if I was getting voltage to and from the switch first - which would be the biggest pain in the ass to replace.


In hindsight, it's much easier to get to this with the instrument cluster removed - at first I was trying to get at it underneath, which is a definite 'nope' for next time. I still busted my hands up trying to screw around with the wires even without the cluster, but at least I could see what I was doing. Anyway, I was getting voltage to the switch - I reattached both connectors to it before I even considered checking the wire going to the relay from the switch, but whatever.


So I pulled the relay out of its little cubby and disconnected it from the collar where all the wires connected. I figured this way maybe I could assemble a jumper to bypass the relay and make the brake lights function - assuming the switch wasn't bad. I jumped power from the blue/red wire (from the switch) to the brown wire on the collar, which goes to the center brake light. It came on with the pedal, which was a good sign. Meant I didn't have to replace the switch.

Puzzlingly, I chose to plug the relay back in and checked again... full brake lights with the pedal.


I'm at a loss as to why exactly this worked, but I guess something either got dirty and came loose.

Yippee. I learned precisely nothing from this. Well, okay - that's not necessarily true. I learned a great deal about fault tracing and how to read various Volvo diagrams - which will come in handy some day.

...by some day, I mean immediately. Back to the 940;

It had sat since the end of November when it failed safety, so the battery was thouroughly dead. Like, no lights, no central locking - nothing, dead. So I grabbed a new battery and threw it in, expecting it to roar to life. I was very disappointed when it wouldn't even crank over. I put it in charge overnight with my piddly little 2A charger and tried the next morning - nothing. Voltage wasn't abnormal (yes, after waiting for the surface charge to frig off) - it just didn't have the juice to run the starter more than once. On a hunch, I charged up the 3 year old Costco battery that was in the car, and it fired right up.

Cool, great - whatever. Means I can move it around again. While I was screwing around with the batteries, I took a second look at the wiring that I had previously been advised was "unsafe" and a "fire hazard" - which I had sort of brushed off before.


I mean, there's a 25a fuse, so that's good! Yeah, this wiring is going to have to go fairly soon. I don't like how many things are connected to the battery terminals, it's all just... wrong. It's all the wiring that goes to the aftermarket e-fan - which itself is wired to the power antenna switch.


In preparation for the 240s departure, I removed all the junk that piled onto the 940 and threw a new set of plate holders on it. Now it slumbers for hopefully no longer than another week.
Fatcatbestcat threads are like a handful of bits'n'bites.

Stickin my hand in the bag and comin’ out with a new handful. Well, what have we got here? A 142, two 240s and a 940. Delicious. Next handful, a whole new ballgame. You can’t get enough of those Bits and Bites snacks cause your mouth never knows till’ its all over.

I dig it though, it's been a neat journey! :D
Another quick update - pretty much no physical work done, just a lot of running around with paperwork. And also a big jump in subject matter for the thread.

240 is sold. For real, this time. Drove it up to the new owner on Friday, he put it on a trailer and took it even further north.


I'm not terribly sad to see it go. It was an car. I got to learn a little bit while owning it, and it got me to work while I sorted things out for the car I actually wanted.


So the 940 is now insured, legal and plated. I can drive it. I need a lot of practise though, it's been way too long since I've driven stick on city streets... now with something of a hot rod. Managed to get the car around the corner to the gas station to put air in the tires. I'm glad I did, they were basically flat. They took and hold air though, which is a good sign.

I also quickly learned that if I forget to turn the fan off, it'll kill the battery real fast. Here's a familiar sight.


Anyway, not much else to report at this time. Need to get some seat time with it, and then get a new exhaust, clean up some wiring, fix some trim and I suppose go for some paint touchups and a good buff job. Then I can worry about how I'm going to ruin it.
Another sort on non-update - been driving the car daily for about three weeks, and so far, so good? Sort of?

The 940 rides a lot nicer than the 244 did (doesn't feel like it's going to disintegrate any time I hit a bump), but for the first time ever, NVH is going to be a priority over performance. I guess since this is now my daily. The exhaust is surprisingly not that loud, but there's a really irritating drone in the frequency range that makes it not super pleasant to drive at cruising speeds between 2000-3000 rpm. The drone also really carries, you can hear the car coming from several blocks away, which is not great in the city. In a bright red car. The cone filter is also going to go, returning it back to the stock airbox as soon as I can figure out how to mount it.


On the subject of performance, I think this car is staying pretty stock, at least for the next few years and especially while I get used to driving stick in the city again. A couple weeks ago, we had a surprise big dumping of snow which I had to drive home from work in. I drove the 240 around with all season tires in snow, no problem. Didn't occur to me that in a heavier car with twice the horsepower and a locking diff, I might have had issues.


It actually went fine for the most part, but as per any "first snow" of the season (this late in March, I mean), pretty much everyone drives around like a chicken with their head cut off. People still want to get home early, I guess.
Coming to within a little more than a kilometer from my home, I got rear-ended by an F-250 at a red light. I saw him flying at me in my rear view, and scooted forwards a little towards the car in front of me, which probably saved the rear bumper. I got out, and miraculously there was no damage to either car. Setting back off, I find myself being tailgated by a silver Audi. Having just been rear-ended, I speed up a little (too much) and take a corner just a little too fast. The G80 locks up and I'm basically going sideways over the median on a side street, and I run right into the sign post.

I got out of the car fully, expecting the front to be smashed and for it to be leaking fluids everywhere.


Volvo 1, city of Mississauga 0. I didn't do any damage to the car, apart from bending my license plate. Pushed that back in and kept on going, much more carefully this time. I think snow tires will be a big investment for next year's season.

Coming up to this weekend, I finally felt some confidence in taking it on a weekend-long road trip.


At this point I've driven the car about 500 miles in total, and I think I'm keeping it. Honestly, the story of how I got it (partially trading music gear), plus it effectively saving my life twice was probably enough to seal it. I've also had it on a long enough trip (and with a working odometer!) to calculate mileage to being about 20-22 mpg, which is not awful compared to cars I've driven previously. Also, the performance is more than sufficient to keep up with and pass modern traffic, so I don't feel the need to hop it up right away. It still has passing power in fifth gear on the highway, which is a welcome change from feeling a bit stuck in the 244 without a lot of space to move.

I've had suggestions to buff the paint, and it does look nice in the wet. I'll get around to that eventually but there are some rock chips and very small rust spots that need touching up first.

Planning on a few more big road trips this summer so exhaust, headliner (needs re-covered) and airbox retrofit are first on the list.
I remember the week after I got my license being faced with driving the 240 home in fresh snow, definitely got my fair share of sideways action! Glad the 940 Bumpers prevailed!