My volvo 940 won't start

Written by harvey birdman
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My volvo 940 won't start
Trying to fix a car (dead battery image by Katrina Miller from

Given the age of a 940 Volvo (which was last made in 1998), there are a number of things that may cause it to not turn on. The most likely culprit is a dead battery, but if regular maintenance has not been kept up there can also be mechanical problems. If the problem is electrical, then a simple battery swap or jump-start may fix your problems. If the problem is mechanical, you will need a professional mechanic, especially one skilled in repairing an old European import model.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Car battery
  • Jump leads
  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Sit in your car and try to turn the car on. Listen for whether the engine turns over; this will sound like chugging. If it is not chugging, then look at the dashboard lights. If the lights are not on or are only flickering, then your battery is dead or dying.

  2. 2

    Take the keys out of the ignition and open your bonnet, making sure to prop the hood up with the prop stick on the side of the engine bay. Inspect the battery for foam. If there is foam, then the battery is leaking acid. You need to call a tow truck. A professional mechanic is needed to deal with the battery because of the danger of acid burns. If there is no foam, then strike the battery post clamps with your shoe as the clamps may just need to be reconnected. Try turning the car on. If that has not fixed the problem, then you need to either replace the battery or jump-start the car.

  3. 3

    Jump-starting a 940 Volvo can be easy but can take up to an hour. Make sure the car is off first, then have a friend park his car next to yours so that his car's front end is next to your car's front end without the two vehicles touching. Pop open both bonnets; connect one end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal on the 940 and the other end to the positive terminal on the other car. Connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal on the other car and the other end to a bare metal part of the 940 Volvo. Start the good car and let it idle for five minutes, then start the 940. Let the Volvo then run for half an hour to fully recharge the battery, or you can quickly burn out the alternator by driving and charging. If, however, this does not work, then your battery may be beyond revival and needs to be replaced.

  4. 4

    Replacing the battery in a 940 Volvo is relatively easy. Make sure the engine is turned off, then take the battery post clamps off by unscrewing the ring clamps with a flathead screwdriver. Remove the retaining clamps with the flathead screwdriver. Pull the battery out by its inbuilt handle and slide the new battery in. Screw down the retaining clamp and reattach the battery post clamps, being careful not to overtighten the screws. Try to turn the car on again. If the car lights come on but the engine does not come on, the engine may be flooded.

  5. 5

    Clearing a flooded engine is the easiest part of fixing a nonstarting car as the car has a clear flood mode that will automatically clear a flooded engine. A flooded engine is when there is fuel on the spark plugs that is preventing them from sparking. To fix this you will need to depress the accelerator all the way to the floor before repeatedly turning the ignition to the "On" position. This triggers the clear flood mode, which makes the engine pump air instead of fuel, thus drying the spark plugs. Do this for five minutes, then take your foot off the pedal and turn the car off, taking the key out of the ignition. After a minute turn the car on like normal and the car should start. If not, there may be mechanical problems requiring a professional mechanic with diagnostic equipment.

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