'93 240 - electrical problem - need help

A week ago, I started the car but the headlight, rear lights, light of the intruments panel as well as the light in the center console didn't
turn on. But the brake lights and the flashers were working. I started driving and all the lights came back and lasted for the duration of my trip. The same thing happened the following day.
On the third day, I decided to pull the lever to turn on the high beam and all the lights came back and lasted for the whole trip.
On the fourth day, I did the same thing than the previous day, but the lights went off during the trip.
And on the fifth day, it was not possible to get the lights to come on at all.
The high beam will turn on when I pull on the lever, but will go off when released.
If I set the knob for the 'headlights and position lights' to the middle position (parking lights on), then I have all the lights at rear, console and inst. panel, but naturally no headlight. But if turn the knob to the 'headlight and parking lights on' position, I have nothing but the flashers and rear brake lights.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
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On Tue, 05 Apr 2011 17:06:34 -0400, notdeadyet

Sure SOUNDS like a bad switch.
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Could you please tell me where that switch might be located and what it might look like?
Thanks.
On Tue, 05 Apr 2011 22:17:44 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

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Sounds like the switch on the dashboard that you use to turn on the lights is shot. Could be dirty contacts or maybe it's just worn out after 18 years. High beam relays might be suspect, too.
Wiring stuff can be hard to figure out... on my wife's 1993 244, the high beams can be turned on but not off. Still not sure if it's the switch in the steering column or the relays.
My headlights got all wonky in my 1990 240, went off when I turned on the high beams, etc.- turned out to be a bad bulb.
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Wow, thanks! I didn't think it could be something so simple. I thought it might be more like a relay (hidden somewhere) or something else like that.
I also have a '90 240 so I'll switch the switch (no pun intended) and see if it solves the problem. I will report back after I'm done.
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Some time ago I had a mid 80's 240, and had something similar happen. I took it to one of my mechanics, and I believe he found a defective relay. It was underneath the dash, on the left side, I think near the fuse panel....??? Isn't the fuse panel on the left side of the footwell on the 240's? It's been over 10 years since I've had one and this happened. I seem to remember something about water being able to get down there and get into the relay if it is hanging upside down, maybe..... Been awhile, and I run only 740s and 940s these days.
I would open the door, and stick your head in there, and with the ignition on, turn on the lights and see if you can hear a relay click. Or, look for relays hanging off the wiring harness and maybe give them a sharp rap with a screwdriver handle or such, and see if that makes it work. If it does, replace it, because it will happen again, even if you make it work.
The schematics in the Haynes repair manual show 2 relays.
good luck, /glenn
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Here's an update: I pulled the lever for the high beam and managed to have the headlights (as well as all the other lights working). I just need to pull the lever to turn on the high beam and then pull again to turn off the high beam. I was able to do that about three times. After each time I would turn off the car and go through teh same process. But after the third times, I couldn't get it to work again.
I removed the switch from the '93 but did not have time to do the same in the '90. I will do that tomorrow.
I doubt it is the switch, but I'm ready to try anything.
I checked Haynes and I will have to check it again because in table 5.2 I see no relay for the headlight. It must be in another schematic.
I don't know if it could be related or if it might help you diagnosed my problem, but two weeks ago, there was a lot of humidity in the garage (because of melting snow from the car), so I installed an electric heater and let it work all weekend to reduce the humidity. And a few days later while driving, I could smell like burned plastic and it seemed to come from the central console. The problem with the headlight started a few days later.
Thanks for all the help and feel free to provide me with any suggestion you might think of.
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Hallmark of fried electronics.
IIRC the headlight relay in under the hood on the left fender, behind the power steering reservoir. Someone else may be able to be more specific. This relay is for high beam/low beam switching.
The problem may also be in the switch in the steering column, but that probably wouldn't cause the burnt smell.
Your other lighting problems suggest to me a bad light switch, although there are other possibilities. Just to be sure, you have checked the fuses?
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On Thu, 07 Apr 2011 08:38:09 -0500, Tim McNamara

Sanity check, guys. The tail , park, and dash lights were not working. That eliminates the beam /dip switch and relay entirely from the equation.
Hot smell in the car? Also eliminates the relay and underhood devices pretty effectively. The ONLY component common to the tail/park lights and the headlights is the light control switch and wiring.
Using the high beam "flash" function WILL turn on the headlight high beams, and CAN allow the rest of the lights to come on after releasing the high beam flash, because the change of load can affect the connections (higher or lower current ollowing connections to re-establish/burn through).
My BET is there will be discoloured contacts at the plug that connects to the main light switch, indicating overheating of the connection, or signs of arcing/overheating on the switch itself.
If not at the switch, the next connection down the line (fusebox or firewall bulkhead connection, whatever Volvo used)
Almost a guaranteend diagnosis.

No, can't be the fuses!! _ I got shot down on that one when I suggested (on another group) that a fuse could possibly be intermittent.
Actually, it COULD be an intermittent fuse - it HAS happened - but in this case I'm rather doubtfull.
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And the winner is... the switch!
All I had to do was to pull out the switch and re-insert it!!! Go figure!
Damn I wish I would have done that before tearing the car apart (j/k).
And btw, there is one connecter on the switch which is kind of bue. But I tested it about 10 times and the headlights (as well as the other associated lights) turn on everytime.
Thank you all for your help. This has been a valuable lesson. Moreover, I found a great link for the location of relays, just scroll down the page and click on the pdf. Very nice.
http://www.davebarton.com/volvorelays.html
Off-topic: If you need a battery charger, I strongly recommend the following one:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)02195652&sr=8-1
It is used in Porsche, made in Sweden and is absolutely fantastic. Note that it doesn't have a 55 AMPS setting. But apart from that, it does great job at restoring batteries. I have two such charger.
I have two Kirkland (Costco) batteries in my cars and one is 11 years old while the other is 7 years old and they work like a charm.
Again, thanks to all for your help and encouragement.
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UPDATE:
The problem came back a few days later. And this time the headlights never came on, not even for a few minutes.
Today I worked on this problem and found out the following: What happened is that the headlight switch relay malfunctionned and one of the 5 pins became so hot that it melted and burned the plastic in which you insert the HRS. The white plastic was black where the pin got so hot. As a result of so much heat, the piece of metal into which the pin was inserted became inflated and there was no more contact whatsoever. I hope my explanantion is not too confusing for you.
I have a 90 240 and a 93 240, so I started by switching the headlight switch (the knob you turn to have all lights, parking lights or no light at all) from the 90 to the 93. I then switched the Hi-Lo relay located under the hood. In the 93 it is next to the coolant container and in the 90 it is located close to the battery.
Both changes did not solve the problem. I then found out that there was a relay. In the 90 it is right above and to the left of the brake pedal. In the 93 it is in the center console at a difficult location to access. Sort of behind the small tray, under the vent.
I used a pair of plier to squeeze the metal that had expanded due to heat so there can be a contact with the pin of the HSR. I used the HSR from the 90 and everything worked fine.
In the 90, I installed the damaged relay from the 93 and the result is that the hi-beam headlights are always on when the car is running. Cannot use the low beam. But without the relay in place, there is no headlights at all. I didn't check if the other lights were working.
So the smell of burned plastic I mentionned in my first post was related to the source of the problem. If you look at the diagram I provided in the link in an earlier post, it is the relay identified by the number 124 for the 1993 Volvo (so you can see the location). If you completely remove the front panel of the center console, you should have no problem accessing it (once you know where it is).
Hope it helped.
On Tue, 05 Apr 2011 17:06:34 -0400, notdeadyet

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