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96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.
1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
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96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby ShahinS » 06 Jan 2010, 03:17

Hello & Help Please!

My 96 850 Wagon GLT (189K Miles) all of a sudden won't start :( , I turn the switch and it won't even crank, nothing. I can hear the fuel pump buzzing, all the lights work ( I tried also to jump start it, thinking maybe the battery was getting a bit weak, but didn't help). Need to add that I've been having problem with shifter location a bit, the D location of the shifter does not align itself with the console PRNDL location. For that reason I made sure that I put the car in N, and tried again, but no Luck. I also checked to make sure that the PNP switch is moving while somebody moved the gears for me. Could this be caused by the Micro Switch? Please Help! Many Thanks!
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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby Ozark Lee » 06 Jan 2010, 04:41

The PNP switch can cause your problem. As I understand your post you have no crank at all. Try to ratchet the shifter from park to low 20 or so times, quickly, and then try it again.

At the end of the day the switch needs to be dealt with but rowing the shifter back and forth can buy you some time if that is the problem.

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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby ShahinS » 06 Jan 2010, 04:49

Thanks Lee for you reply!

I forgot to mention that I had the PNP switch replaced about 2.5 years ago; cause my back-up lights weren't working. Why the switch would cause this problem though? even though I can park the shifter firmly in the P position? I will try your method for sure. Thanks Again!
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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby Ivans » 06 Jan 2010, 07:48

I am no expert on this but it happened to my dad's car few years ago. (a peaugeot) It was caused by some dead fuse. (I know they are different cars, but who knows..)

I did have PNP switch problem before but that time the problem was I had to wiggle the key a bit to the left to make all the electricals running otherwise the ABS light went on, the no seatbelt light went on but not blinking and the indicators did not work. But the car did start when I turn the key on to crank. And since you said yo changed it 2.5 years ago...

Have you tried jump starting the battery anyway?

As long as I know, in my experience owning and driving car. An engine won't start if:
1. The gear is in D
2. Battery kill switch is activated (some people fit kill switch in his car)
3. Alarm immobilize function is activated.
4. Busted fuses
5. Battery is flat. (SOmetime you can see lights on the dash and horn functioning but the car still not startable) caused by many reasons including fail alternator.
6. Engine is simply dead (snapped pistons due to over rev <----this happened to me 10 years ago with my Lancer GSR evolution during stupid race on freeway lucky no accident, frontal crash accident, and other horrible things you can imagine can happen to your engine)
7. Busted spark plugs (has to be all dead)
8. Something wrong with the ignition switch, in this case PNP switch.
9. Something wrong with starter motor or simply dead.
10. Starter mechanism is dead (break pedal safety switch, starter relay etc)
11. Maybe others can add =D

Maybe one of these are the problem. But definitely do the quick shifting up and down in quick motion as lee suggested. I did have problem with it too (the arrow up light went on and the car was taking off very very slow). I think this problem is so common in volvo cars.
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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby FCPGroton » 06 Jan 2010, 14:57

You could have a stuck starter solenoid. Have someone in the driver seat with the car in the start position and tamp the starter solenoid. If the car starts to crank, then there is your problem.
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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby Quicken » 16 Oct 2010, 20:42

Sorry about the late reply, hopefully all is well, my 96 850 GLE had dead start, battery fine but just won't start, usually i have to sit there for like 20min cranking my key every min and suddenly it would start. Thought it was battery issue and brought it to the dealership and they couldn't figure it out as the dead start situtation only happens when u drive around for 10min and shut the car down and try to start again...and it was winter so for some reason it needed a cold start? spent lots of money all in all over $300 check this check that....even got a new battery...gerrr....anyways, brought it to an old mechanic and he says it's probably the starter, spent around $70 got it replaced and never had the same problem again. This really makes me doubt the service people at the dealership!!! Esp now, i have blue smoke coming out of my volvo after idling for more than 5min and start driving again, a puff of blue smoke would come out, sent it to the dealership for service apart from oil change, spent around $100 in diagnostics and they tell me the piston rings are going bad, which means i gotta replace the engine...but the cost of that is about the selling price of this car, which is insane. After searching on the forum for a bit, i am wondering if it's piston rings or stem valves...which hopefully replacing those would be cheaper.
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Re: 96 850 Won't Crank, Won't Start

Postby heisenbeis » 24 Apr 2014, 18:57

FCPGroton wrote:You could have a stuck starter solenoid. Have someone in the driver seat with the car in the start position and tamp the starter solenoid. If the car starts to crank, then there is your problem.

I have to add that I had this same problem and found the same solution.

Problem: No crank, no click.
Symptoms: All lights came on, did not dim when turning ignition key. Can hear fuel pump start and stop.

Since in the past I've had to back the key just a bit to shift to drive, get lights and other accessories while running, I assumed the ignition switch had finally died. Replaced for about $60 and easy repair. Still nothing. Used the service start connection, still no crank. Considered PNP switch -- still had reverse lights. Ratcheted shifter back and forth 20+ times, still no crank. Cleaned battery leads and tightened. No crank.

After reading this suggestion, I tapped lightly on starter solenoid with hammer two or three times. Cranked right up. (No need to find a helper to turn key.)

After checking the battery and the battery leads, this would be my second diagnostic step going forward, and I'd suggest to anyone with the no crank problem.

Easiest solution (Occam's Razor) would therefore be: 1) Bad battery or battery connection (at the battery or at the starter) 2) Stuck solenoid. After that, it gets more complicated, in order of expense and repair complexity: 3) ignition switch; 4) PNP switch; 5) Starter.

When the problem happens suddenly and unexpectedly with no real preliminary symptoms, it's probably #1 or #2.

As others have mentioned, the more complicated Volvo 850 repairs such as ignition, PNP and starter are very nicely covered by Robert DIY at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RSpi007

If you don't know where the starter solenoid is, watch Robert's starter repair video at about 50 seconds from the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um5uoW0XSL8 . It has a black cover that snaps off and on very easily.

Unlike many other cars, the starter and solenoid in the 850 are accessible from the top.
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