Question about 1985 Volvo DL

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1985 Volvo 240 - just bought it - eratic idling - was bone dry

I just bought my friends 1985 DL for super cheap. It revs up and down trying to idle, and eventually will stall out after a minute of that. I can get it up to about 30 mph, but cant rev it without it dying. When i was driving it home I noticed it was overheating because it was dying and wouldnt let me get anywhere, so I pulled over added water to the radiator (it was bone dry) and started up again and it drove home with the erratic reving. Does this sound like a blown or warped head? He simply told me that the thing wouldnt go on the freeway, but didnt say anything about the erratic idling. He isnt big on cars so that doesnt surprise me. It only has 160,000 miles, so it should have lots of life left in it.
Thanks so much for your help.

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  • 240cpa May 11, 2010

    Have you looked inside the engine compartment to see if all of the wires appear to be hooked up? It could be anything from a loose spark plug wire, a loose vacuum hose or other more expensive items like a faulty air mass meter. I've even had the ground wire go bad and make it act the same way. Find a good shop if you're not able to troubleshoot it yourself - one that knows Volvo's well is best.

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The coolant leak could be a blown head gasket. And the not going over 30 MPH could be from the catalytic converter being clogged. Do a compression test for the head gasket, and remove the O2 sensor from the exhaust and drive with the exhaust leaking out the hole. If the lower back pressure allows the car to go over 30 MPH then you know the cat. is clogged.

Posted on Feb 05, 2009

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