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S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

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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Carly245
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:42 am
Year and Model: S70, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ

S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Carly245 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:08 am

Hi All!
I have a 1999 Volvo S70 and it randomly goes into limp mode (arrowing flashing, battery symbol, oil can symbol). Every time I drive my car I am a nervous wreck because I never know when it will happen again; sometimes it happens months apart, sometimes weeks, sometimes days, sometimes hours, minutes, etc. The Electronic Throttle Module was replaced in 2008, and the PNP switch was replaced in May 2011, and everything was going fine since May until yesterday and today when the limp mode came back. The car also rumbles and shakes when this happens too, and the whole event takes place minutes after I am driving/running the car. I had the battery as well as the alternator replaced about a year ago. I've taken the car into the dealership about once a month, way more than I want to spend at the dealership and they have no clue every time I bring it in. Replacing the PNP switch was a shot in the dark decision made by my dad. I'm worried because when my car is hooked up to a computer it shows no codes whatsoever, and the repairman said that all of the codes have been wiped out, so they updated the software system but my car still fails to show any codes. And of course whenever I take my car in, the mechanic can never get the car into limp mode (last time he drove it 85 miles and nothing happened).
I'm having my car towed on Monday to a small Volvo repair shop to see if they can see something that the dealership could not, but, I am worried that they will be left clueless as well. It looks like the PNP switch and the Electronic Throttle Module can be thrown out of the equation, since they have been recently replaced. Any ideas?

Thanks for reading!
Carly

User avatar
jreed
Posts: 901
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:43 am
Year and Model: '97 Volvo 855 GLT
Location: Research Triangle, North Carolina
Flag: United States of America

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby jreed » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:11 am

Welcome to the site!
Hopefully others with more experience with automatic transmission problems will chime in with advice...
For me, I've only had the limp-home problem once about 6 years ago on my '97 850 and it was during very cold weather (20F). I "rowed" the transmission gear selector back and forth about 10 times and that helped clean up the contacts enough that I haven't had any trouble with it is since then.
1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

Gentleman Mac
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:12 pm
Year and Model: 850 1995
Location: Georgia

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Gentleman Mac » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:58 am

I have experienced this, too, but I have not replaced the pnp yet. My best solution is to "row" the shifter back and forth rapidly, but I do it about 20-30 times with the key in position II, foot on brake. Sometimes it takes two times of doing this to clean it. I know that doesn't eliminate the cause of the problem, but it does keep it at bay for quite some time. My indy volvo mechanic doesn't know exactly what the problem is either. If anyone does know how to permanently solve this, I would love to hear it, too.
95 850 167k
98 v70 glt 166k

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Xilikon
Posts: 218
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 4:41 pm
Year and Model: 2000 V70 XC SE
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Xilikon » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:04 pm

Even if the ETM was replaced in 2008, it could fail again if it use the same technology as the original. This can account for your issues but it's not the only cause. I'm saying this so you could consider all possibilities.
2000 V70 XC SE with 150,000 miles, still going great !

Carly245
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:42 am
Year and Model: S70, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Carly245 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:42 pm

Thanks everyone for responding!

I don't know anything about cars, so I'm not sure what some of you mean when you say to "row" the shifter back and forth rapidly...my shifter is kind of hard to move, I have to tug on it to get it from park to reverse, so I can't imagine rapidly moving it...or am I getting this all wrong? Also my car seems to go into limp mode in all sorts of weather, maybe hotter weather more than colder weather, and it seems to happen when I haven't driven the car in 12 hours or more, when it's sitting in the hot sun, I'm not sure if that has anything to do with anything. It's just a really frustrating situation, I've loved this car until about a year ago when this all began, now it's just a very unreliable, "piece of junk" (sorry to say) that's only worth $2,000 and I've paid about $2,000 in repairs on it within the last year!
Also I am worried that the ETM went out even though it was replaced in 2008, and I'm no longer under warranty for that so I really hope that isn't it! If my car doesn't put out any codes, does this mean that the mechanic can only guess what's wrong? I'm not sure that guessing is good enough for me anymore, because this is getting a little too ridiculous! I wish this car was more like my old 1988 Volvo 240 DL station wagon, that car ran just fine for more than 20 years!

Gentleman Mac
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:12 pm
Year and Model: 850 1995
Location: Georgia

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Gentleman Mac » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:42 pm

By rowing it, we simply mean to turn the key to position II, and then move the shifter from P to 1 (the length from top to bottom of the gear selector) rapidly, or as fast as it will allow you.
1995 854 167k
1998 v70 glt 166k

Carly245
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:42 am
Year and Model: S70, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Carly245 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:07 pm

I took my car in today, but on my way there, when I had just half a block more to go until I reached the repair shop, my car went into limp mode again! Anyway, I just got a call back saying that while there are no codes stored, the mechanics noticed that my battery cables are badly corroded and this could very well be the reason why my car goes into limp mode and shuts down, and why the "generator not charging" (battery) indicator light pops up as well as the ominous flashing arrow. So, hopefully this will fix the problem; they just didn't want to poke around and guess at what might be wrong, so I'll let you guys know if it ends up working!

Carly

User avatar
jreed
Posts: 901
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:43 am
Year and Model: '97 Volvo 855 GLT
Location: Research Triangle, North Carolina
Flag: United States of America

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby jreed » Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:14 am

I'm delighted to hear the car acted up at almost the right time (I guess it would have been perfect if it did it just as you were pulling into the mechanic's place). If the problem is corroded electrical connections, they should be able to clean that up without too much trouble. Be sure they check the cable connections at the alternator, starter and fuse box as well.
My '97 850 had a corroded connection at the B+ terminal at the battery, which I found pretty easily, but it also had a loose bolt connecting the B+ cable to the alternator, which was a little harder to reach.
1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

Carly245
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:42 am
Year and Model: S70, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Carly245 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:42 pm

So after I got the battery cables fixed, and after driving the car about 250 miles, it went into limp mode last night and I tried it out again this morning and it did the same thing. I tried the "rowing technique" rapidly moving the shifter back and forth and that did absolutely nothing so I have no idea what to do!

Carly

Gentleman Mac
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:12 pm
Year and Model: 850 1995
Location: Georgia

Re: S70 Loves to Be in Limp Mode, Dealership Clueless

Postby Gentleman Mac » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:51 pm

I have had to row several times of 30-40 reps and then it starts working correctly. If that doesn't help, there is an excellent tutorial here on cleaning the pnp. Try that before replacing.
1995 854 167k
1998 v70 glt 166k


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