Why does the C30 not start? and other fun Saturday activities



I started very early the this wet and chilly Saturday with great hope. I personally love days like this. As long as they aren’t stressful, they feel cozy and warm because you are reacting against the “bad” weather. The above photo is outside and the photo below is me feeling cozy and in my quiet work space.


The car was sold to me as a non-running car, so I was prepared for an engine. This generation Volvo usually looses their engines because they are run low in coolant and over heat, the timing belt brakes or the engine jumps times for a variety of reasons, or there is a hole punched in the oil pan and they run out of oil

When this one arrived I discovered there was plenty of coolant in the reservoir, the timing belt was replaced 50 miles before the miles on the odometer, and there were no holes in the oil pan. More over, the engine would turn over by hand.

The first guess was that the starter was locked up because it was not functioning correctly at all. It would stay engaged and we would have to work it loose to get it to function. My optimism ran very high for a while as a locked up starter would be a fantastic reason for the car to not start.

As the first step of diagnosis I pulled things apart and removed the starter. The first time I pulled one of these starters it took me a long time. Now? My time has been cut in half having done it 4 times in the past 2 months.


The starter was scorched and looked like an obvious failure that would fit the symptoms.


I excitedly installed another starter. Before we installed the intake we bumper the starter relay and the engine turned over OK. Excitement continues to build! Put the intake back on and hook everything up only to hear this…

Here’s a video of the first attempt to start the car

Checking the engine now, we find the engine has locked up again. I pull the starter back out and inspect for fault in that area, but with it out there is no change and putting a scope to check the flywheel reveals nothing.

Next I remove the spark plugs and check the pistons. No signs of a fault on the top end.

I then drain the oil. There is no obvious faults here either. No shinnies in the oil and the level was OK. Putting a scope in through the oil drain plug didn’t reveal anything.

After working with it a bit, the engine starts turning over OK again though it’s harder to turn than it should especially with the spark plugs removed. We decide it’s time to remove the oil pan.

With the oil pan off we discover the fault: the bearing for cylinder #2 has badly spun. The upper and lower portions of the bearing and fallen down together and were causing the engine to bind up at certain points of the revolution.

I removed all the bearings and inspected them. Only #2 was very bad, and only mild scoring was present on #5, and just barely a fault on #1.


Inspecting the crank I decided to try and remove the bearing material and try to save the engine. The bearing material is much softer than the crank and can be removed safely by sand paper.

How I was removing the bearing material from the crankshaft

And here are photos I took as I progressed.

After I cleaned it up and started at this for a couple hours we took measurements and found the crank was unusable by being 13 thousandths out of round… I should have checked this first! That would have saved me a significant amount of work and I could have done something else more useful! I could have not started at this for a couple less hours….


:sigh: A lesson learned. I was so hopeful since it was only that one bearing that was spun badly. Oh well, the search for an engine now commences.

In an effort to stop thinking of the C30 for a while I stopped by the paint shop and looked at the XC/V and was very happy with their work. I stressed the necessity of having good masking work to not have paint “edges” in the jams when I got the work quoted and I was told my requirement would not be an issue. Paint masking edges drives me crazy and I am planning to keep this car a while and I don’t ever want to be reminded that there were corners cut in regards to paint. I was very happy to report that the paint and masking was great and I was very happy with the work. The price was right, the work was good, and when it comes time to do the next car I will probably have the same person do the next conversion.


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