Tips for Improving Your Volvo 240
by Balu Vandor, with help from David Martin and John Laughlin
DISCLAIMER: the ideas listed here are not meant as a step-by-step instruction of accomplishing these improvements, as much as a list of ideas of what to do with your Volvo. This page will be most useful to the owners of '85 and older 240's, although some items are applicable to the newer 240's as well. If you want to start working on your car, you should get a repair manual (preferably a Bentley, not one of those cheap ones). You should also consider seeking advice on one of the internet forums, such as Swedishbricks E-mail list or the Brickboard. A large part of the information here originated from such forums. Most of the parts used to upgrade your car can be procured from a junkyard from more upscale models, but I did not provide prices, because they will depend greatly on the location and type of junkyard.
1.1 Front Airdam (spoiler)
Many of the early 240's came without an airdam, and to me they look a bit naked. An airdam will improve not only the looks, but also the aerodynamic and fuel efficiency of the car, as it lets less air underneath the car, which is an area with significant drag.
There are two main kinds of airdams: the ones for aluminum bumpers and the ones for plastic bumpers. '78-'79 GT's came with a third kind of airdam, which is almost vertical, and deeper then the others. This GT airdam fits the aluminum bumpers. Some cars with plastic bumpers have some sort of skirt under the bumper, which is not really deep enough to be called an airdam - I assume this can be removed and replaced with a proper airdam. '86 and newer cars have a different plastic bumper, and usually have airdams as standard. The airdams for the post-86 plastic bumpers should fit the earlier type of plastic bumper.
Some cars (I've seen it on turbos, V6's) also have a plastic shroud that directs the air from the holes on the airdam up to the radiator. In hot climates this can be pretty useful.
I also saw a junk GT fitted with a shroud that connects the bottom of the panel behind the bumper (and under the grille/headlights) to the bottom of the radiator. Basically it separates the low-pressure area behind the spoiler (for reduced drag on the bottom of the car and reduced front end lift) from the high-pressure area in front of the radiator. Of course the GT airdam has no ventholes in the center like the later airdams, require the later panel that directs air up to the radiator.
When adding an airdam to an aluminum bumper, you will need to drill some holes in the bumper. I think that plastic bumpers already have the holes. The holes for the shroud should already be in the body (maybe only '79 and later). One caveat: Volvo warns that an airdam should be used only on cars with alloy wheels or '80 and newer steel wheels (these have larger holes for ventilation).
1.2 Headlight Setups
Some '78-'80 cars has quad round sealed-beam headlights, while most �81-�85 cars had quad rectangular headlights. European cars had large rectangular lights (till '80, as the fenders and hood changed in '81 there to what the US got only in '86). All these setups are totally interchangeable, so if you like one better than your current one, just get the parts and a wrench, and in an hour you'll have a different looking car. One has to be careful if swapping in Euro-spec lights (even if drop-in replacement for sealed-beams), as the electrical connectors look the same and will mate up, but actually the wiring is different (if I recall correctly, only the quad-square sealed beams are different - an adaptor is available at light suppliers, but it is preferable to rewire your connectors).
Many people prefer the European standard light (E-code). The large rectangular lights are pretty hard to come by in the US, but one can purchase H4 lights that are a drop-in replacement for either rectangular or round sealed beams ($50-60 each). The word is that not all H4's are the same - buy something from a reputable manufacturer such as Hella, Cibie or Bosch.
On my '80 245, I went from the large rectangular Euro lights back to the quad round so that I can fit some Cibie CSR's - these use the latest in lighting technology and are a drop-in replacement for the small round sealed beams. See Dan Stern's site for more details.
For '75-'80 cars with the dual-round headlight setup, I highly recommend replacing the sealed beams with quality H4 lights. I had Hella H4's (about $55 each) with 80/100W bulbs for the low/high beams, and they are incredible in comparison to the sealed beams. If you use such high wattage bulbs, especially in an older car, it is advisable to put a relay into the system so that not all the juice goes thru your headlight switch. VClassics has a good article by OJ Rallye on lighting here. For all kinds of good lighting info, check out Dan Stern's site . For a more detailed description of headlight options on 240's, check out Evan's Lighting Page.
For '86 and later cars, the choices are fewer. The best is to just replace the whole setup with E-code lights, but this can be spendy, especially if one springs for the better quality Volvo stuff instead of the aftermarket. One caveat is that the turn signal/park lamp assemblies have to be changed as well.If you are on a low budget and the lense have become opaque and yellow, lately some suppliers have started selling the lense only for the US-spec headlights. Another more involved possibility is to put the older quad-round setup with E-codes in place of the large headlights. See this page for a very well done conversion.
1.3 Internally Adjustable Mirrors
Up to '79 most 240's had mirrors that are not adjustable from the inside. It is easy to upgrade these cars to the '80-'85 style mirrors, although even these can be hard to adjust precisely - the '86-on mirrors are much easier to adjust (see below for tips on that upgrade). The old mirrors are held with an allen screw behind the black triangular trim. You will need new triangular trim with holes in them for the new mirrors (conversely, racers who want to delete the passenger mirror to save weight need the trim without a hole). The new mirrors are secured with a philips screw in the stem of the adjusting knob. When removing the newer style mirror from a junk car, watch for the small spring and other pieces that might fall. Some DL's came with no right-side mirror: I recommend retrofitting one. I also stuck a small blind-spot mirror on both sidemirrors - this way I don't have to turn around before changing lanes.
Some cars did not come with a passenger-side mirror, but one can easily be added by removing the blank trim inside and outside, and following the steps above to add a mirror.
Another possibility is to upgrade to the '86-'93 mirrors. Most of these are manual, but they were also available as power operated ones in the last few years of production. I haven't done this type of conversion, but I hear that a hole needs to be drilled in some older cars, and another needs to be enlarged. Otherwise removing and installing these mirrors is straightforward once you realize that you have to pull the boot off the adjusting lever to reveal the screws.
One of the advantages of these mirrors is the passenger side one is convex. If you desire a convex one for the driver's side, get one from some place where they have right-hand-drive cars. Also, in Europe these and all other later model mirrors were available as mostly straight but the outer 20% convex. This is an excellent way to reduce the blindspot, and I'm sure it is illegal in the US, as the government must think people are too stupid to deal with such abstraction. Our Volvo 460 is so equipped in Hungary and it works great!
A different mirror upgrade would be installing power mirrors. In the USA these came on the Turbos ('81-'85) and GLE's ('78 to '83?). The motor is prone to wear, so try them out before you buy junkyard items. The original switches sit on the parking brake console, but can be installed anywhere, like on the center console. If you pull most of the wiring from a junker, then wiring shouldn't be too much of a problem. The system uses no relays.
1.4 Replacing Windshield with a Newer Type
If you have a '90 or earlier 240, and you need to replace your windshield, ask the glass shop to install a '91-'93 type windshield. It will actually be easier for them. If the shop is hesitant, they are probably not very sure about what they are doing. I called around until I found a shop that was willing to do it - they were actually very happy to learn that this works.
The earlier windshields have the molding held by plastic clips that have to be inserted between the windshield and the body when the windshield is installed. With time these clips break, and the molding becomes loose in places. The newer type windshield just has a flat plastic molding that is better looking, is flusher with the body, and therefore produces less windnoise.
I just want to provide a quick summary of 240 wheels, and some others that will fit. Basically, all 740 wheels and most �70 and newer 1800/140 wheels should theoretically fit, although there might be problems with the brake caliper not fitting.
Most 240's came with 14" steel wheels. '75-'79 had a one-piece chrome hubcap that covered the lugnuts. '80-'85's had a similar, but two-piece chrome hubcap, with black or chrome centers. Then there was a pretty ugly plastic cover that covered almost the whole wheel, with a lot of fins on the outside rim. The later cars had a nice one-piece plastic hubcap.
As far as alloys, there were two kinds of optional 5-spoke 14x5.5" alloy wheel available for the early GL's (GLE's?) and Bertones that is very rare nowadays.
'78-'79 GT's had a 14x5.5" alloy with short fins on the outer edge. They are nice-looking, but they are useless to the performance enthusiast due to their small size.
'80 GT's and all GLT's and Turbos had the 5-spoke 15x6" alloy that Volvo calls "Virgo". Very good looking wheel in my opinion (I have had several sets on various cars, you can see them on my old GT), and quite common, too. These are the wheels for the performance enthusiast on a budget. A set can be picked up for about $200-300, or much less from DIY junkyards. Original tire size was 195/60R15, common upgrade sizes are 205/60R15, 205/55R15, or 215/55R15.
GL's in the late 70's started wearing the 25-spoke 14" alloys. These wheels are pretty hard to clean, tend to loose their hubcaps, and are pretty ugly in my opinion.Evan Resnier has a very good Volvo wheel page with pictures of various Volvo 200 and 700 wheels, as well as some part numbers.
240 wagons (aka 245�s) have stiffer rear springs than sedans. They can easily be retrofitted into sedans by removing the shock absorber, which will let the trailing arm fall. Once the 17-mm nut that holds the spring to the trailing arm is undone, the spring can be removed. Wagon springs will help when carrying heavy loads or towing with a sedan. It can also improve handling with a correct swaybar/spring setup. However, they should not be a solution for a sagging rear end - that is usually caused by deteriorating trailing arm bushings, not weak springs.
It is a lot harder to obtain stiffer front springs. Only some 242 GT's had these: to the best of my knowledge, some '78's and all '79 had them, but no '80's. My '78 GT does not have them. Diesels had longer front springs to carry the heavier engine. These springs will make the front of a non-diesel car sit abnormally high - not good unless you are going off-roading!
Many of the less sporty 240 models came with very thin swaybars, which allow a lot of bodyroll in corners (common setups include 19-21 mm front bars and 14-19 mm rear bars). This not only decreases driver confidence, but it might disturb the tire's contact patch, as the tire is tilted from the vertical along with the whole car. In addition, wagons came with a very thin (14 mm) rear swaybar (or no swaybar at all in the first few years), as the stiffer rear springs already provide additional roll stiffness.
In general, adding roll stiffness (with stiffer springs or swaybars) to the back will bring handling closer to oversteer, while adding roll stiffness to the front will bring it closer to understeer. The stiffness of a swaybar increases with the 4th power of diameter, so even a small increase in diameter should bring noticeable results. The handling balance can also be fine-tuned by changing the tire pressures in the front and rear tires in comparison to each other.
Adding the swaybars of a Turbo sedan is an economical way of upgrading any 240. These are 23 mm in the front and 21 mm in the back. This setup is still safely biased toward understeer. If the car is a sedan, adding the stiffer wagon springs should bring the balance closer to neutral.
The only rear swaybar found on US-spec cars that is thicker than the Turbo ones are the bars found on '79 GT's, which were 23 mm thick. These cars also had stiffer front springs, which allowed the use of a moderate, 21 mm front swaybar. This '79 GT setup is said to be the best-handling factory package.
IPD manufactures some after-market swaybars for all models of Volvos, 240's included. Both of their 240 setups have a 25 mm front bar, one with a 22 mm rear bar and one with a 25 mm rear bar. I would recommend the less aggressive setup to most, except for the very aggressive drivers and occasional racers. I have the 25/25 setup on my '78 GT, and although it inducing power oversteer is easy and fun, in tight, fast corners the car lifts its inside rear wheel, loosing traction. This could be cured with a limited slip differential, but it is easier to fit a softer bar and stiffer springs.
2.4 Front Suspension Braces
These braces were standard on some '78 and all 79-80 GT's in the US. However, all '79 and later cars have the appropriate holes in the firewall, so installation is a snap. IPD (www.ipdusa.com) sells them for about $50 for the pair, while Mike Jordan (E-mail) in Atlanta has them for about $35.
There were also lower strut braces fitted to some cars, and my '78 GT is so equipped. These braces connect the rear a-arm mount to the crossmember, right under the front pivot for the a-arm. These should be really easy to make, as it's just a piece of steel tubing flattened at the two ends. Holes need to be drilled in the car, too.
I will just provide a very quick overview of engine mods:
The easiest engine modification is to change your camshaft: in the US there are high-performance ones available from IPD or from Canadian junkyards. The IPD VX-3 cam has the advantage of being emissions compliant, while the K and H cams from the B23E motors sold in Canada for a few years will not yield acceptable idle emissions (although they will yield more power). All three of these cams while increasing power will transfer the power band further up the engine's speed range.
One way to counter this is to install an adjustable or offset cam gear. IPD sells an adjustable one, but I keep mine at the maximum advanced setting all the time (6 degrees, I think), so for most people it'd be cheaper to just get a timing gear with holes offset by 6 degrees. I've seen them for sale, but I'm not sure where.
The two other ways to increase engine performance is to increase the displacement and/or the compression ratio (CR). If you have a 240 with a B21F ('76-82.5), then putting in a B23F block from an '82.5-'84 will give you a lot of extra oomph, especially if coupled with a performance cam. B23F's came in two variety: the ones fitted to automatic cars had a 10.3 CR, while manuals had a 9.8. Fortunately, these higher CR's (B21F's had 8.5) were achieved with different pistons, while the combustion chamber volume is the same on B21F's and B23F's. This means that one can just drop a B23 block in a B21F-equipped car, and just bolt the original cylinder head to it. I have done that with two cars already. To use the B23's head, one would have to convert to the LH-Jetronic injection used with those heads, as they don't have the holes required for the K-Jetronic injection of the B21F's. Note that a car with 10.3 CR will require premium gas.
3.2 ExhaustIf you have a normally aspirated 240, a very easy upgrade for the exhaust system is to mount the stock system from a 240 Turbo. These are becoming scarcer in the junkyards, but still can be found. You would cut your original exhaust a few inches behind the cat. Most auto parts stores sell exhaust pieces that go from one diameter to another. Measure both the original and the Turbo exhaust both inside and out (ID and OD) and get the appropriate diameter converter. You might need to use two. Ideally you would want these to attach to the outside diameter of the pipes to minimize restriction to the flow. Make sure to also get appropriate sized exhaust clamps, unless you plan to weld it all together. If you are not so handy, and exhaust shop should be able to put it all together for you. Naturally with this setup the car will be a little bit louder, but not by much.
4.1 Power Windows
Parts needed: the window regulators with the motors, wiring with relay, armrests with switches or console switches, doorpanel for the different switches or plug to plug up the hole where the window winder used to be.
The regulators with the motors should just bolt in place of the original manual regulators. I highly recommend taking the whole wiring from a donor car. If the switches are positioned in the dash, then the armrest need not to be changed, but it might be hard to find the switches for the center console.
The power window armrest use an additional mounting point, but a new doorpanel is not necessarily needed. One can just cut a hole in the existing one, and drill a hole in the door structure for the new screw.
The biggest challenge might be to get all the wiring through the rubber boots connecting the doors to the body. It is actually impossible with the earlier thin boot, which also connect to smaller holes than the later setup.
A quick note for both power and manual windows: lubricating the interior door window winder gears is a good idea every few years. Tighten the screws that hold the regulator in place: they tend to work their way loose. A bit of removable thread lock might be a good idea.
4.2 Power Locks
Parts needed: two switches: on driver�s door lock cylinder and lock button; 3-4 solenoids (actuators, lock motors: they have many names) with appropriate linkages to the buttons, wiring with two relays. For the original Volvo setup, no solenoid is needed in the driver's door. To install a remote entry system, though, a fourth solenoid for the driver's door is needed.
The stock system is activated by either of two switches: one on the stem of the driver's door's lock button, and one on the lock cylinder. It is easy to retrofit either or both of these switches to the passenger door, so that the power locks can be operated from that door, too.
As always, the best course of action is to take the setup from a donor car intact with all the wiring - saves a lot of labor if the wiring only has to be put in place, instead of thought out from the ground up.
4.3 Power Trunk Release
This feature will work on the 79-85(?) trunk style. The place for the little motor should be there in all trunk lids of this type. The motor just bolts in, and connects to the lock linkage. It has a 2-wire connector. One gets constant voltage (just tap it from the trunk light's wire) and the other gets voltage only when the button in the glovebox is pushed. Therefore, you have to run a wire from the fusebox to the button, and then from the button back to the trunk motor. In my GL, there was an antenna cable going to the trunk, with an additional wire attached to it. This serves the power antenna, but that was not fitted to this car, so I used the extra wire to carry the signal to the trunk.
To install the button, the glovebox needs to be removed. Cars without this feature have a blank covering the hole for the switch. Some cars with this feature also have a nice pictogram depicting the function of the button, don't forget to install it with the button!
4.4 Smaller diameter steering wheel
Up to the early 80's, most 240's came with a steering wheel big enough for a whaling boat, while GT's, Turbos, later GL's, and all the later cars ('86 and later?) had a smaller, softer, more sporty-sized wheel. I upgraded all my cars to the smaller wheel, as with the power steering, the large diameter is hardly needed. The only possible downside is that it might obscure some of the instruments for people of certain stature.
To change the steering wheel, you will need a large (22mm?) deep socket. Just remove the center trim, and you should be able to put the socket in with an extension. Make sure that the steering wheel is exactly straight before you remove it, and that you don't turn the shaft while you remove it. Then just refit the new wheel in the same position.
4.5 Headrest cushions
These are available both for the early (75-85) and the later style headrests. In fact the cushions from 740's fit the later style 240 headrests just fine. These cushions make the headrests a lot more comfortable when resting your head, and might also make a difference during a rear-end impact, as the headrests themselves are pretty hard and a bit too far back.
I don't know of any easy sources for the earlier style cushions, I see only the later ones in the junkyards, but they do turn up on the internet from time to time. Some dealers might also have some remaining stock, the part number on the blue ones I got is 1313868-0.
4.6 Rear Headrests
Both sedans and wagons can be retrofitted with this important safety feature, but both are rare in junkyard, the wagon ones especially so.
For a sedan, once you have the headrests, it is very easy to add them, as all the holes are already in place. They sit on the shelf behind the seat, and the legs stick down into the trunk, attached to the seatback beams. The only holes that need to be drilled is in the shelf cover. The metal beams holding the shelf and the beams behind the seat also have the holes for securing the legs.
As far as installing wagon rear headrests, there was a Rolling article in the sept/oct 1989 issue written by Kenneth Alan Crossner, Ph.D about it. Here's my understanding of the procedure:
Purchase a set of 4" guide bushings (part# 1395416-9). Examine the top of the rear seat and drill a small exploratory hole. There is a metal frame with an upside-down flat "U" cross-section that runs along the top of the seat: there are no obstacles to the installation of the guide bushings. After cutting four small holes in the vinyl seat fabric, drill four properly positioned 0.7" holes (with a metal-cutting hole-cutter). Then insert the guide bushings.
Now you can slip on the rear headrests of an '89 or later 245. However, the new headrests are expensive, costing $121.38 (10/89 price) ( part # 3513407-1 for the beige variant) . The cushions are $45.15 (part #3521508-6 for the beige).
After reading the above, I had the opportunity to dissect a seatback with the headrests, and based on what I saw, I would advise against installing headrests into a seatback that came without them. The setback with headrests has two metal channels that the legs slide into. If the car is severely rear-ended, the force of the head will push the headrest back. If these channels are not present, the legs of the headrest might poke thru the seatback, possibly injuring the occupant. I took the whole headrest-seatback setup, and installed it in my wagon. Replacing the upholstery is a pain, but it's doable.
While in Europe, I saw a different kind of rear headrest for wagons: it's the semi-hard plastic material resembles that of the sedan rear headrests, but it runs through the width of the car, so it's wide enough for the three rear passengers, and attaches to the dog-gate or an frame in place of the dog-gate.
4.7 Overdrive switch setup
1980 and earlier stickshift cars equipped with an overdrive had a sliding switch to engage this device, and no relay. The system did incorporate a 4th gear sensor, so if one shifts out of 4th, the OD disengages. But if one shifts back into 4th without sliding the switch back, then the OD wants to engage as soon as the shifter is in 4th. To avoid this problem, the latter setup includes a relay and a pushbutton on the shifter. This setup can be retrofitted to earlier cars. The relay turns off the OD once the shifter is moved from 4th, and does not engage it again until the button is pushed again.
I highly recommend getting all the wiring from the junkyard along with the relay and shifter knob, as it will make the job a lot easier. A wiring diagram of both setups is also useful, as for example the current goes through the 4th gear switch and the shiftknob switch in the early setup, while both just send a signal in the later setup (the 4th gear switch sends a ground signal).
If the knob itself is worn, it won't fit tightly on the stick. A replacement knob is the solution. I think that earlier and later sticks are different, as the location of the slot was changed from the rear to the side, but this still allows the installation of the newer knob.
It is pretty easy to add a tachometer to any 240, whether it has the older (75-80) or the newer (81-) dash. With both types, the instrument panel has to be removed to add one. The older style dash has a blank panel held with three screws in place of the tach. Remove this and slide the tach in place. It will mate to two connectors that supply current and ground. The center connector will have to wired to the coil, or to the coil signal wire going to the fuel pump relay (white-red wire).
With the newer style dash, the clock has to be removed, and the tach slides in its place. There is also a plug that plugs the hole where the clock�s adjusting knob sticks out. '81 and newer cars should also have a white-red wire (apparently this wire is gray for cars with the Chrysler ignition) dangling somewhere behind the instrument panel that carries the coil signal, so no wiring work is needed. The cars with the newer dash originally equipped with a tach had a small (52 mm, 2-1/16 inch) clock in place of one of the blank panels to the right of the instrument panel. This clock is powered and lighted by a 3-wire loom attached to the back of the tach. However, these small clocks seem to be less durable than the big ones: some of them don't work, others stop below certain winter temperatures.
As a side-note, a 52-mm tach that fits to the right of the instrument panel was an option for cars with the large clock, but these are quite rare.
5.2 Voltmeter and other instruments
It is also quite easy to add a voltmeter or any other 2-inch (52mm) instrument to the '81 and newer cars with the newer dash, as they can be mounted in place of the two blank panels to the left of the instrument panel. One common setup would be to have a large tach in the IP, and a clock and a voltmeter in place of the two blank panels. The voltmeter can get the voltage for the lighting from the clock, but the measured voltage should come from the fusepanel. Appropriate trim for the 2-inch gauges is needed, as well as 3 rubber "feet" to hold each gauge still.
Voltmeters, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges in the 2-inch size can be found in junkyards in some VW's, Porsches, and such (of course, the pressure and temp senders are needed). To add more gauges, a 3-gauge panel from a 240 Turbo can be added (this takes up the upper radio location, usually occupied by a storage area in the pre-86 cars). In the Turbos this holds a voltmeter, oil pressure gauge and a vacuum (boost) gauge. The appropriate vacuum gauge for a normally-aspirated cars was available as an option, called a fuel-economy gauge.Eric Staufer's page has a list with pictures of the various accessory gauges Volvo offered.
So there are a total of five slots for extra gauges in a later 240, unless one has a radio up there. To fill in all the five, such things as ambient temperature gauge or oxygen sensor output can be added. I have seen some cars with a total of 7 or 8 gauges, the additional ones residing on a pod above the dash.
It is harder to add extra instruments to 240's with the earlier dash. I've seen pods mounted on the two sides of the steering column, and that certainly works fine. There was also an optional pod that could be mounted on the top of the dash, but I have never actually seen one.
I have seen pictures of a '75 240 with three gauges mounted into the dash, on the section above the clock. I drilled a 2-inch whole there and mounted a voltmeter back before I converted my 245 to the newer type dash. It is not easy, as after about 1 inch of foam, there is some metal backing that's not easy to cut away. If the dash is out of the car, than the metal backing can be easily cut away with pliers. Otherwise it is better if one uses the shallower VDO/VW gauges than the deeper Volvo ones.
6.1 Adding Vented Front Brakes
This is a pretty simple operation. You need to swap the rotor and the calipers, and then bleed the system, and that's it! This is also a good time to flush all the old fluid out of the system and to replace the brakehoses, if needed. IPD sells some nice braided ones for about $120/set. Fluid replacement is an often missed maintenance procedure. Brake fluid absorbs water (no, the brake system is not a closed system), which can corrode calipers and other parts. The water also boils at a lower temperature, and if it does, the brakes will loose most of their effectiveness.
6.2 Alternator/oil sender wire re-routing
The wires to the alternator and oil sender are normally routed under the front of the engine where they are exposed to heat, oil from leaking seals, and road debris if the belly pan is missing. Add to this the flaky wire insulation found on some 240s, and often you get instrument lights that don�t work or light up like a Christmas tree under certain conditions.
The fix is relatively easy. The wires for both the alternator light and the oil pressure light go into a gray connector behind the intake manifold on the firewall. These connectors can be opened up, and the desired wires removed. Remove the wires for the two wires in question, and cut the last two inches off. Solder these to two new wires (heat shrink tubing also works), and put them back in the connector. Route the new wires along the firewall and then along the right inner fender. On my car I routed them to the appropriate connections from under the coolant expansion tank. It is also a good idea to put the wires in the some plastic wiring tubing one can buy at some auto stores. These are also used extensively on some Japanese and American cars, so a junkyard might also be a source.
6.3 Power Steering Fluid Filter
Some find it helpful to install a filter in the low pressure return line from the steering rack. This helps reduce wear from metal being suspended in the fluid - seems like a good idea with many high-mileage 240's needing a steering rack. IPD sells these filters for power steering and auto tranny fluids, but I hear that they can also be found in some general auto parts stores.
6.4 Cooling Efficiency
Flushing the front of the radiator and AC Condensor annually is a good idea to get dirt, bugs, etc. out of it to help with the cooling efficiency. Just use a garden hose and spray first from the back of the radiator. Then loosen the top radiator retainers and move the radiator back a bit so you can clean out the debris between the radiator and the condenser. Last, remove the grille and clean the front side of the condenser. A small electric fan in front of the AC condenser helps when the car is in city traffic. The late 240 Turbos and a few other high-end models had these fans from the factory, so it is possible to pick them up at a junkyard.
6.5 Rust Prevention
Keep the cowl vent area in front of the windshield clear of leaves and make certain the rocker panel's front entrance near the rear of the front fenders stays cleared of leaves and such. Often the debris into the cowl vent finds its way into the rocker panels causing them to rot from the inside out: tannic acid in the leaves does a number onthe rockers! You can get into the rocker panels from the inside of the car if you pull the sill covers and then the carpet is pulled back and find plastic plugs. If you remove these, you can insert a garden hose to try and flush out any larger debris in the rocker panel at the front. Regular inspection of the door and rocker panel drain holes is something that is also needed.
Annual inspection of the undercoating on the floor and underside of the car is important. You can remove any loose undercoating and reapply it if there is no rust.
6.6 Transmission Fluids
The transmission fluid in automatic transmisssions needs to be replaced regularly. Volvo says that manual transmission cars are "filled for life". But wonders just how long this "life" is supposed to be? With many of our cars having over 200-300 thousand miles, replacing the tranny fluid in a manual transmission is hardly a bad idea. Volvo recommends F-type ATF, but I would go with Redline MTL (manual transmission lubricant). Many people experienced smoother shifting and improved overdrive operation with this stuff. It is not cheap at about $8 per quart, but you only need to buy 3 quarts once.
6.7 Resetting the Lambda-Sond light
All the 240's sold in the US were fuel injected. From about '78 all cars incorporated an oxygen sensor in this system to optimize the fuel mixture based on the oxygen content of the exhaust gases. Cars from about '78 till at least '85, if not later, were equipped with a simple mechanical counter that was connected to the odometer, and once it reached a preset number of miles (15k, 30k?) it triggered the orange Lambda-Sond light, to remind the owner to have the sensor checked and possibly replaced. Nowadays we know what they didn't know back then: oxygen sensors last a lot more than 30k miles in a properly tuned engine.
To reset the light, just find the counter module, usually attached somewhere under the dash below the instrument cluster. If you have a hard time finding it, just follow the second cable emanating from the speedo, and it'll lead you to it. There is a button on this module that will reset the light. However, my favorite solution is to unplug and chuck the whole module instead of resetting it every 30k miles. This will reduce the drag on the already feeble odometer assembly. To remove the unit, the cable has to be undone at the back of the speedo, and the wires going to the instrument cluster have to be unplugged. Don't forget to check your oxygen sensor, though, if you experience increased consumption, rough idle, or fail an emission test!
6.8 Trailing Arm Bushing Tool
The rear trailing arm bushings on the 240's are each is pressed into two loops that are welded to the rear axle. Therefore, bushing r/r has to be done in place. Volvo has a special tool for this job. I borrowed one from a friend and made some diagrams of it in case someone wants to machine one of these beauties.Bushing Tool Parts 1
Someone figured out how to make the tool from common materials without too many specialized tools, and has made a great page of it:
As far as changing these bushings, I'd recommend soaking the area with penetrant for a few days before the procedure. Also, the new bushings have a taper on one end, make sure to fit that into the loops first. Last, don't forget to put a spacer between the two loops or they'll be bent by the bushing removal.
6.9 Lose That Weight!
Weight is the enemy of performance and economy. Minimizing the weight of your car will help you accelerate better, corner better, and will improve your fuel economy. Emptying the trunk of unneeded junk is the first step many drivers should take toward minimizing weight. This usually comes down to a compromise, as some basic tools and spare parts should always be in the car.
Many older 240's in the US have inoperable air conditioning systems. Owners of such cars should decide if the system is ever going to be repaired. If not, the system can be removed. From under the hood, the compressor, the drier, and the condenser can be removed, along with all the associated hoses. Fanatics can dig under the dash to remove the evaporator, too. To remove the compressor on cars equipped with power steering, a different bracket is needed to secure the PS pump to the block. The brackets on the pump (including the ones bolted to the pump) and the plate securing them to the block are totally different from the AC setup, so make sure you get everything from the donor car.
The large aluminum bumpers ("commando" bumpers) on the earlier cars also contribute considerably to weight. For everyday driving I elected to keep mine due to their excellent strength, but for autocrossing I was planning on removing my GT's bumpers, and just bolting up the plastic skins from the later cars in their place. Anthony Hyde from Australia has a great page on lightweight bumpers. Anthony has a seriously modified 244 Turbo, described on his specifications page.
If you have any comments regarding this page, feel free to E-mail me!