Power Loss Problems

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Power Loss Problems

Post by Johnny480 » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:48 am

Hi everyone,

First off, thanks for reading this posting, ….. I really hope that someone out there can help.

I have a much loved 480s that has been with me for 12 years now. But, I’m reaching the point where I feel like he may need to go due to some dangerous unreliability issues. If I can get this fixed I would be over-the-moon about keeping him.

The problem I have is best described as a combination of ‘rough running’ but also complete power loss. I’ve listed descriptions / examples to make for easier reading.

1. While driving the car will suddenly lose all power (acceleration goes as does the power steering). Sometimes this happens for just a few seconds (but it feels like a lot more) and then cuts back in with a jerk. Sometimes it doesn’t return and I have to navigate to the hard shoulders or similar, … leave it for a few minutes and it will then start again. Sometimes the car is then fine, …. sometimes it’s a case of limping (rough running) to a place where I can be recovered.

2. At times there is no absolute power loss but just severely rough running. For example, I may reach a junction and the car feels as if it’s going to ‘die’ on me. If I press the ‘gas’ the revs fall and slow and then (if I take foot off the gas) the revs recover in a way that resembles an old steam train speeding up. This happened two days ago – I pulled into a car park, turned ignition off, attempted to re-start but it just turned over but didn’t ‘catch’. I went off to get a coffee, came back, and he started first time and ran as smooth as anything!!

3. Both of the above seem to be worse in heavy rain / very damp weather but also if idling for a long period in a traffic jam. Having said this, what I described from two days ago happened .5 miles from home on a dry morning after lots of hot weather.

AA patrol folk and my local garage have suggested trying things that might be involved with some of the issues but no-one seems to know what might explain all of the problems. I’m guessing that the issue is electrical but in trying to describe the sensation – it’s like I have someone in the petrol tank squeezing the fuel tube; sometimes they release it and sometimes they don’t.

As I said, I’d love to keep the car but with a regular commute of 100 miles, early in the morning, on single carriage roads frequented by many HGVs, the constant possibility of total power loss on a blind corner just makes the experience pretty horrible.

Any thoughts / suggestions would be really appreciated.

Thanks all,


eye of ra
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Re: Power Loss Problems

Post by eye of ra » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:30 pm

When you say loss of power do you mean the engine stops?

I used to be driving along and the engine would just stop I would coast for a bit and then it would restart. It started off being only once every few months so I could never track it down but it slowly got worse, happening 2-3 times a month, however as it would always restart again I could never track it down.

Then one day it would not restart and I had to get towed home (the one and only time she has let me down completely in all the years I have had her). The next morning was a Saturday so was at last hoping to track it down but she started.

The only thing I did manage to find out the night it happened was that I had no spark, I had brought and put in line one of those things that flash every time you have a spark.

Although I can’t be sure as I had nothing to trace it has now not happened in over 6 months.

Check, or do as I did anyway, tighten the earths to the coil pack and the distributor.
480 ES Auto 1989
480 ES Auto 1991
CLK430 Conv 2001
Hyundai i10 2015

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Re: Power Loss Problems

Post by brinkie » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:35 pm

An engine cutting out suddenly could either be the ignition or the fuel supply.

I would try and replace both the distributor cap and rotor first, if that hasn't been recently. It will set you back approximately 20 quid and is a very easy DIY job.
Then the HT leads, which sell new for around 35 quid (Bougicord), could also be replaced, but a fault in them usually takes out only one cylinder and not the entire engine.
Ignition coil may show erratic behaviour at extreme temperatures (e.g. hot engine/hot weather), a new one is 31 quid at eBay:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VOLVO-480-E-2 ... 1192395429

Should this not resolve the issue, the fuel relay or the fuel pump may be faulty. Replacement pumps sell for around 60 quid and requires a bit of effort as you have to remove the rear seat to reach the fuel tank.

However, a qualified technician should be able to resolve this issue. The Volvo/Renault engine isn't exactly rocket science...

Present cars: 1994 Volvo 480 GT 2.0i Vase Green, 2010 Volvo V70 2.0F Momentum Mystic Silver
Past: 1981 Talbot-Matra Murena 2.2 Rouge Mephisto, 1995 Volvo 480 GT 2.0i Paris Blue

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480 Is my middle name
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Re: Power Loss Problems

Post by jamescarruthers » Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:04 pm

Johnny, if you want to come over we can go through through basics and also try to read the obvious stuff with your cars built in diagnostic box.

I'm in Horningsea. Where about are you?
1987 Volvo 480 ES, 507274, 217 - Red (Ness)
2001 Volvo C70 2.4T convertible (Olivolvo)
2003 Renault Avantime 3.0 V6 (Big Ren)
2008 Mini Cooper convertible (Mau)

Previous 480's:
J123 CFU -- ES
J449 MNL -- ES auto
D864 CPV -- ES
L691 JFC -- Turbo
F70 MNR -- ES
H858 FGV -- Turbo auto
E981 KHM -- ES (509849)

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Re: Power Loss Problems

Post by Johnny480 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:18 am

Hi all,

Thanks for the replies.

Eye of ra – by loss of power I mean that the engine just dies, … no revs, battery light comes on and power steering etc. are just gone. I has a patrol guy check for sparks etc and he seemed to think that all was good.

Brinkie – I had thought about this regarding the ‘total loss’ nature of the problem but wasn’t sure if it would be cap / rotor related or the ‘magic box’ that sends info to the cap.

James – that would be fantastic if you’re sure? That’s really kind of you. Yep, …. I’m in Cambridge so pretty close. I’ll send you a direct message to arrange something.

Thanks all,


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