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Old 09-21-2020, 10:58 PM   #1
Terry1941
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Default 1984 Volvo 245 GL Wagon Brakes Went Out!!

Hey, I purchased a 1984 Volvo 245 GL Wagon for my daughter to use (she's been driving for several years already). Was tinkering with replacing lights, signal flasher, v-belts, and today installing the OD bypass. I took it out for a drive around town (no open road around here) but it did shift good. after driving around for about 15 miles with everything working as it should I was doing about 40 braked to slow to make a lane change and the brakes felt very strange with caused a bit of alarm. I slowed down and crept to the signal and barely had any brakes. within a couple of blocks no brakes at all!! I used the emergency brake to stop. I crept back home using the e-brake. Upon arrival I looked at the fluid reservoir (it was full) and visible signs of problems but there was nothing amiss. Could anyone give me a clue as to what caused the brakes to fail so suddenly?? There were no indications prior to this drive that the brakes were a problem.

Also the wipers stopped working. They had displayed problems with staring and stopping, but now nothing. I purchased a new relay, which is said to be behind the driver kick plate, but there isn't one there? Any idea as to what would cause this and where to find the relay?

Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:15 PM   #2
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Could be a bad master. Could be a stuck caliper caused the fluid to boil without you noticing. Could probably be some other things I'm not thinking of. Try cleaning the connector on the wiper motor.
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:31 PM   #3
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What happens when you have no brakes?
1) pedal goes to the floor?
2) pedal is firm and maybe stops a bit early with normal effort?
3) pedal is firm and car won't stop with herculean effort?
4) pedal is really squishy?
5) Other?

If you lost the brake booster, or the big booster hose, you can still stop with lots of extra effort. You usually get a couple stops before draining the residual vacuum, but 15 miles around town is way more than a couple stops.
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:54 PM   #4
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^^ Good questions. Here are mine:
6) During the years that you have had the car, have you ever done any work of any kind on the brakes?
7) You say the fluid reservoir is full. What color is the fluid? If it is black, I am not surprised that the brakes quit.

Regarding the wipers, take a look at the motor. It is mounted with three bolts that have rubber grommets on them. One of the bolts has a brass ground strap on it to get around the rubber. That strap is likely broken. You might be able to just wiggle the motor and get it to run a little.
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Old 09-22-2020, 12:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies: We have only owned the car for about 4 weeks so not sure of the history other than the previous owners claimed to have had it serviced. Yes the brake fluid is dark. The brakes were working fine, then using them half a block after normal braking for a signal they went most of the way to the floor, the second attempt the pedal went all the way to the floor with no braking. There had been no sign previous to the event last night that would suggest brake problems. Its almost like a switch controlling the brakes was turned off.

Will try the grounds for the wipers. Any idea as to where the relay switches are?? I looked at the diagrams and they show down by the drivers side kick panel, but when removing this I find no such devices (they are fairly bulky little boxes so hard to hide).
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:02 PM   #6
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Will try the grounds for the wipers. Any idea as to where the relay switches are?? I looked at the diagrams and they show down by the drivers side kick panel, but when removing this I find no such devices (they are fairly bulky little boxes so hard to hide).
Isn't the wiper relay the one they hide under the carpet?
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:18 PM   #7
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Interesting dilemma: Stared the car this morning in daylight to see how things were and the brakes worked fine?? I don't trust them, but what would cause this kind of issue? Will take the car down to a mechanic to have it checked out.

O could not find a ground at the wiper motor, but noticed a braded cable from the firewall toe the valve cover was disconnected. the wipers work, but not sure if this was the issue or just the fact that sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Have not yet pulled up the carpet to find the relays.
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:57 PM   #8
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Start the car. Put your foot on the brake pedal and press and hold. Does the pedal feel firm but then the pedal slowly sinks to the floor? Yes? Then the master cylinder is bad. You may also have a bad brake flex hose holding some pressure on a caliper which makes excessive heat in the brakes which may be why the brakes failed completely. That is brake fade.
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Old 09-22-2020, 03:05 PM   #9
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It's probably a bad master cylinder, unless it's spraying out brake fluid at the wheels or under the car.

The master cylinder has two separate pistons/circuits, usually plumbed in a diagonal to the wheels so that there is still some front and back braking if one circuit goes out (Volvo's are a bit more complicated). Dark brake fluid suggests neglect. You're looking at at least a new master cylinder and a complete brake flush. The hoses should be checked too.
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry1941 View Post
Interesting dilemma: Stared the car this morning in daylight to see how things were and the brakes worked fine?? I don't trust them, but what would cause this kind of issue? Will take the car down to a mechanic to have it checked out.

O could not find a ground at the wiper motor, but noticed a braded cable from the firewall toe the valve cover was disconnected. the wipers work, but not sure if this was the issue or just the fact that sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Have not yet pulled up the carpet to find the relays.
The relay is under a black sheet metal half tube that forms the corner of the floor meeting the firewall and left door jamb. Grab the wiring harness that you see heading down under that piece of sheet metal and pull up. The harness will come out and the relay is at the end. You just need to pull the upper edge of the carpet that runs horizontally across the fire wall back enough to see that sheet metal panel. Pull it back right where it tucks under the plastic kick panel. IOW, forward of the hood release handle.
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Old 09-22-2020, 08:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Start the car. Put your foot on the brake pedal and press and hold. Does the pedal feel firm but then the pedal slowly sinks to the floor? Yes? Then the master cylinder is bad. You may also have a bad brake flex hose holding some pressure on a caliper which makes excessive heat in the brakes which may be why the brakes failed completely. That is brake fade.
Teeny tiny nitpick - but brake fade is when the brakes stop working as well because the pads and rotor get too hot.

A sudden complete loss of braking happens when the fluid boils and creates a compressible steam bubble.

Related, but one's far more dramatic than the other.
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Old 09-22-2020, 08:59 PM   #12
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I want so bad to write some sarcastic stuff but changed my mind.

"Brakes are Brakes" and not 1984 Volvo 245 Wagon specific. Troubleshoot via a good maintenance manual or common sense to locate such a nearly total system failure.

Don't send your daughter out feeling that they are fixed.
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Old 09-22-2020, 09:57 PM   #13
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O could not find a ground at the wiper motor, but noticed a braded cable from the firewall toe the valve cover was disconnected. the wipers work, but not sure if this was the issue or just the fact that sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.
If the wiper motor ground tab is broken or loose, the motor may well operate intermittantly. The ground from the firewall to the valve cover has nothing to do with it.

See photo below, courtesy of Cleanflametrap. You will have to look close to see the tab. It is attached to the motor by a couple of peened-over tits on the housing, visible in the photo. They can get loose, or the tab can break. either condition will affect operation.

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Old 09-23-2020, 12:02 AM   #14
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If you don't have a copy already, I highly recommend the Bentley Volvo 240 Service Manual -- even if you don't do all the work yourself, it will certainly help you narrow down and understand the issues.
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:22 AM   #15
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Default Non ABS 240s Have This Achilles Heel

Same scenario happened to me two weeks ago. Not a new car, either, a daily driver we've passed back and forth within the family since '03: 89 244 with 350K.

The 240s without ABS (75-90 and some 91's) use a dual-diagonal hydraulic system to operate the brakes with some redundancy should one of the two circuits fail. Unfortunately for that scheme, BOTH circuits appear at each front brake. When the fluid in both boils, the brake pedal will go to the floor. Then when the dragging caliper cools, the brakes will feel normal again.

This is recognized by most driving a limited access highway for some distance without braking, when the pedal goes to the floor on the off-ramp. Or rear-ending someone at the toll booth, when they still had them. The car then gets towed to a mechanic, who believes only the master could cause total brake failure, so the trouble exists after the expensive master replacement, and the owner of the car is not happy when it recurs. I've had some difficulty explaining the theory to others on the Volvo boards who are skeptical but cannot offer alternative theories while pursuing litigation subsequent to a second mishap.

In my example the failure occurred in two steps. Like yours, I felt a pull to the right. A gentle pull, such that the car would steer off the straightaway if I took my hands off of the wheel. Then slowing for a lowered speed limit, I felt the pedal engage about halfway to the floor instead of up high. After a short time, the pedal went to the floor, and I too, had to make it the 15 miles home using the parking brake and leaving plenty of room in front.

During the last mile before arriving home, I noticed the steering pull was gone and the brake pedal was up high again. Immediately after parking the brick I used the IR thermometer that is the back of my hand to confirm the right wheel had overheated. Replaced the stuck caliper, bled both circuits, and test drove. All parts (calipers, flex lines, master, rotors, fluid) had been renewed in 2009. Time sure does slip by.

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Old 09-24-2020, 01:00 PM   #16
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^^^ that's an interesting failure scenario, thanks!

If one circuit of the dual circuit master fails, shouldn't it turn on the dashboard light? Does the sensor in the Volvo junction block commonly fail, or get stuck, so that a dual circuit failure could occur without a dashboard light?

OP: does your brake warning dashboard light work (comes on with key on but before starting)?
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:10 PM   #17
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In inspecting the car today after sitting for 4 days: The brake failure light comes on with the key, and goes off when the car is started. I drove the car around for about 20 minutes, in town very gently, and no issues with the brakes. It is very hilly where in live so every stop seems to be downhill to varying degrees! Would brake fade occur with normal everyday driving? Familiar with the concept of heavy loads and long grades, but not like this? I was curious if this was a Volvo thing? Have not yet been able to have someone put it up to look at things yet, all are too busy.

I found and replaced what looked like the wiper relay. The wipers worked, very slowly a few times then stopped. I check power to the connector at the motor and there is juice in the 3 positions. I tapped on the motor gently with the wrench and this worked for a few swipes and then stopped with out the blades returning to the resting position, would this indicate a bad motor?

Question for you Volvo enthusiasts: We bought the car 4 weeks ago for $1,800, it needed a alt belt so we could not drive it, the owner said everything worked but it had been sitting for 9 months. It again is a 1984 245 GL that looks good on the outside, no dents, mild fading silver paint on the top, a couple of very small rust beads, interior is good but the leather seats are worn (no rips or tears) and is a fairly good looking for its age. I am experiencing here a lot of little things that could quickly add up in trying to make this a safe and somewhat reliable car for my daughter to drive around the south Puget Sound area. Do you think this is worth it or should we resell for what we have in it and move on? I am used to old cars, economies are not what they once were, and this one is not for me to just tinker with. I would post a picture if I could figure out how to do that (not much in to social media).
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:17 PM   #18
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No, brake fade wouldn't occur in normal use. But if a caliper was lightly stuck and holding the pads against the rotor, it's generating heat all the time, getting far hotter than it normally would. Drive it around for a while, no hard braking, then stop and go around to all 4 wheels and *carefully* see if any of them feel warm or hot.
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry1941 View Post
Question for you Volvo enthusiasts: We bought the car 4 weeks ago for $1,800 . . . .
Do you think this is worth it or should we resell for what we have in it and move on?
All the regular posters on this forum are going to answer 'keep it'. That's because we have all lived with these cars for a long time and are capable, with some advice from our friends, of changing a caliper or even a wiper motor. We consider it entertainment. If you are going to send your daughter away with the need for professional assistance then this may not be the car for you. It is, after all, 35 years old.

I agree with the stuck caliper answer and that is a $25 repair from AutoZone. The wiper motor might be $50 from the 'Wanted' page of this forum but it does sound like, from your description, that it is an electrical problem.

Picture posting is easy but you must store them on a photo storage site then link them into the TB thread.

EDIT: I just noticed that the car is a 245. They are getting very rare and desirable among Volvo NUTS. From your description fix the known issues and sell it for twice what you paid.

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Old 09-24-2020, 06:00 PM   #20
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And yeah, to talk on that part of your question - one of the reasons 240's hang around so long is because they rarely all fall apart at once. They're tough buggers. With some faults, but generally, pretty tough. And quite often the previous owner may have leaned on that toughness pretty hard, and by the time they sell it a maintenance backlog may have built up. But work your way through it, and the bulk of the car will still be solid, good, ready to go another 200K miles.

It just might not be the right car for you if you're taking it to a mechanic and paying $100 an hour for labor to work through the backlog.

Last edited by JohnMc; 09-24-2020 at 06:40 PM..
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Old 09-24-2020, 06:34 PM   #21
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"It just might not be the right car for you if you're taking it to a mechanic and paying $100 an hour for labor to work through the backlog"

Truer words were never spoken.

Owning these turbobricks is basically a labor of love, with emphasis on labor: I own and maintain three of them and it seems "there's always something."

But I love these cars, the room, the road feel, the Swedishness of it all.

You want something bulletproof yet without character, get a Corolla.
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Old 09-24-2020, 06:40 PM   #22
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I was going to say a Honda.
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Old 09-24-2020, 09:02 PM   #23
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...

If one circuit of the dual circuit master fails, shouldn't it turn on the dashboard light? Does the sensor in the Volvo junction block commonly fail, or get stuck, so that a dual circuit failure could occur without a dashboard light? ...
Excellent question. I've had several of those differential pressure sensing switches (known as and search on *BFWS: brake failure warning switch) apart in various conditions from unusable to brand new. The "sticking point" is where the brake fluid is isolated by the shuttle's two O-rings, which gum up with contaminated brake fluid.

I think there would have to be a good deal of pressure in one non-failed hydraulic circuit against the lack of pressure in the failed circuit to overcome the sticky O-rings as well as the spring. When I first felt the "half pedal" brake feel coming down the hill, I didn't look at the warning light to see if that threshold of differential pressure had been met, but instead ripped the box of tissues from on top of the hand brake and prepared to drive without the service brakes. I'm guessing if I had to step hard on the brake then, I would likely have seen the warning light.

The warning lamp works, which is all that is tested key on engine off, because the following week that same car let me know it was time to change the alternator brushes. That's one of the lamps using the isolation diodes from the D61 circuit to be tested before starting the car.

When I again tested the brakes and found the pedal gone to the floor, I thought "damn that was stupid" figuring now I'd have to change the master too, having sent its piston seals into that rusty area of the cylinder not heretofore used. I feel fortunate that later, after replacing the caliper, bleeding, and test driving, there is no leaking master pedal fade, as I expected. Master is 11 years old, and the fluid, not clear, was too. Lucky me.

Bottom line is, if the pedal fails to stop the car after driving some, then later at some point works like always, there's only one cause in these non-ABS 240s: overheated front caliper.

*Edit. Seems 'BFWS' is Bulb Failure Warning Sensor in most search results, so perhaps the better search term would be "octopus" or what Volvo refers to as "Pressure Differential Warning Valve."

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Old 09-25-2020, 07:04 PM   #24
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Happened to my 245 a little more than 9 years ago. Needed gas, so I pulled into a gas station. Noticed that the pedal went to the floor. Had to use the parking brake to stop the car. Shut it off, filled up, restarted the car, and brakes were functional again. I suspect you may have some sticky calipers causing the fluid to heat up. After replacing the front calipers and bleeding the brakes, the car hasn't done it again.

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Old 09-26-2020, 06:44 PM   #25
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Default Just in case . . . .

. . . you decide to keep this little treasure I would strongly suggest, while you are working on the brakes, that you replace the 6 rubber hoses between the calipers and the hard lines. They are almost certainly 36 years old and fail by internally blocking from operating the calipers. You could drive for some time without even knowing one had failed until a second one failed.

They are stupid cheap at RockAuto. https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...ulic+hose,1792
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