8-Fiddy Update: I are Mechanic!

This weekend I did a bunch of work on the 850. It didn’t go as quickly as I’d have liked but it also wasn’t as bad as I thought. Honestly I thought I’d have spent way more time fighting stuck bolts (I spent virtually no time doing this). I spent a lot of time dealing with other BS. Here’s a run down of what happened:

1. Remove some covers, and drain the coolant... easy.

2. Remove the serpentine belt. Okay, here’s where trouble starts. Usually the belt tensioner has a nut or something cast on it so you can use a wrench to relieve tension and remove the velt. Not Volvo! It’s got a 19mm square cavity, i.e. an odd size nobody uses for anything. I had watched some YouTube videos and just assumed everyone was using a breaker bar or socket and missed any mention of a special tool. Well I went to AutoZone for the tool loaner program but their serpentine belt thing didn’t have what I needed. I looked online and someone made a tool with a 7/16" square nut and short bolt. Great, I go to Fastenall and guess what? They have every type of square nut imaginable in stock... except 7/16", that’s a special order item. So I go to Lowes, think about getting some steel and fabricating something, then inspiration strikes. I buy the biggest carriage bolt I can get (5/8x4") because it has a square shank near the head, and a nut. I get home and measure and the square shank is just a tad small, so I grind the bolt head itself off to just a bit bigger than the square shank, tighten up the nut, then hack the excess bolt off. It worked perfectly but I’ve now spent probably 3 hours making one tool to do one thing.

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3. Get everything else disassembled, remove the water pump, and replace it. At this point I stopped to get cleaned up to go meet family for birthday dinner.

4. Next morning I resume work, replacing the timing belt idler and tensioner.

5. Now comes the most fun part - routing the timing belt. I meticulously check timing to make sure everything’s still lined up (it is), and I route the belt. I, for the life of me can’t get it over the tensioner (the final step in belt routing). I am yanking and pulling and getting furious - I want to cuss but the neighbor kids are all outside playing, so I try to contain myself. This makes me exponentially more angry. I take a break, get some water, do more googling, and learn 2 tricks. First, you have to make sure the belt is seated on the crank pulley, there’s some piece-part that flops around down there and occasionally the belt gets caught on it, and you can pull it really tight and it will just barely keep the belt from getting on. Also, someone said you can put a little soapy water on the backside (non-tooth) side of the belt to help slip it over the tensioner pulley. With these 2 things in mind, I go out and check and sure enough my belt is hung up. I fix it and it goes on relatively easily.

6. I turn the engine over several times by hand, everything seems good. I button up the timing system and start putting the new serpentine belt on. It’s too long. I go to AutoZone and buy another one. It’s also too long. I go back and talk to the guy and he looks in the computer and turns out there’s another belt listed as “alternate routing”. Some googling tells me that mid-way through 1996 Volvo changed the belt routing. I get this belt and it works perfect.

7. Replace the right motor mount. This was quite easy and the old motor mount was roached. The rubber bits were completely unbonded from the metal bits.

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8. Replace the front right strut. I had to wrestle this thing out, and wrestle the new one in. The swaybar end link connection was the trickiest part.

9. I lower the car, refill the coolant, and brace for the moment of truth... I fire the car up and everything makes the right noises and it runs as intended. Big sigh of relief!

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10. I turn on the heater and let the car warm up and watch the coolant level, adding as necessary. Suddenly, a top end tick! Dammit!

So that’s where we’re at with the 8-Fiddy - new timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, right motor mount, and right strut. I still need to do the left strut and rear shocks. I did some sleuthing on the internet, and it turns out the valve tick (which started only after the car warmed up) is most likely due to some o-rings going bad in the oil pan. Apparently the oiling system is a little more convoluted in the Volvo and there are passageways cast in the oil pan and they have o-rings where they seal with the block. When these o-rings fail, the oil squirts by them back into the sump instead of up into the cylinder head, meaning insufficient oil pressure to pump up the hydraulic lifters, hence the tick. It’s apparently not a hard fix, just a messy one. I also changed the oil the day I got it, so the current oil only has about 10 miles on it. Ugh.

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I’ve also got a CEL from my brief drive last week. I picked up a Bluetooth OBD-II adapter when I ordered the other parts, so I’ll get that hooked up and pull the code probably tonight. I’m hoping it’s something simple like an O2 sensor, because I need to get this thing inspected before the end of the month.

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