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2008 XC 90 V8 starter motor fix (with photo's)

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo XC90s. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
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Year and Model: 08 XC90V8 94 850T5
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2008 XC 90 V8 starter motor fix (with photo's)

Post by T5AUS » Tue May 10, 2016 5:55 am

I had the common fault that seems to pop up regularly on this and other forums of the starter motor not engaging properly on these V8's, with sporadic catching and clicking with it finally starting but getting worse as the months went by. I did a lot of net research, trying to see what others had done and the most common answer seemed to be to replace the starter motor, an expensive exercise that I really wanted to avoid if I could. I checked with my local Volvo dealer and got them to try and do a quick analise as to why it was doing this but after a couple of hours they concluded it would need to come in for for a full time consuming strip down to try and isolate the cause. The manager also said that they have never had a starter motor go on one of these, it was unheard of. I mentioned all the replacements done in northern USA and Europe but he had no answer to that, so I paid my money and thanked him for trying and went on my way. I had read that some starter motors on the earlier V70's suffered a similar problem which occasionally turned out to be just an elerical wire corroding and fraying between solenoid and starter motor. I thought it worth checking this on mine before I do finally accept the expense and hand it over to the garage, glad I did.

Here is how it went for me.....
I am a weekend mechanic, not an auto electrician, spark plug and oil changes are about my limits so where do I start in this super modern machine. I knew it was roughly under a pile of pipes and wires to the right end of the enginge and wanted to remove as least as possible to get to it.
It's in there somewhere

Image Image

First I disconected the battery, negative lead first and then the breather box cover. Then I removed the two large wire lumes with the red locking gates attached to the left side of the air breather box and the large pipe between the breather and the top of the engine. There are a couple of other wire connectors that need removing to give you play, a bit of trial and error as you proceed. also, before you lift the box up take off the front breather pipe that is attached with the two bolts on top of the radiator. I finally fliped the whole box back out of the way holding it up with rubber strap.

So, we can now just about see the starter motor


She is looking remarkably clean in there and there are absolutely no signs of any corrosion on solenoid connections. This was not what I was hopeing for, it's looking like we are going to have to change out the starter after all.


I was going to leave it at that but thought I might as well just check tightness of nuts, which I did and which seemed tight enough. I then removed both nuts and it was still looking clean underneath them.


So, put it all back together and tightend them back up, probably tightening more than they were. I also saw another nut set back just between and above the two I had just tightened. I have no idea what this one did but tightened it and it did have a little more on it so was looser but certainly more than finger tight I would say.
That was it, I carefully put it all back together and prayed.
An hour later I hit the starter and she fired up immediately, wow, I tried again and again, stop, rest, start stop rest start etc etc, she started perfectly every time!! I took her for a run, nothing out of order, runing like she should all good and starting as she should.
So, I have no idea what part of my little foray into playing major mechanics did, all I can think of is that something was obviously not contacting.
It remains to be seen how long this fix will last but I am optimistic (hey they are Volvos, you have to be) and I will keep my $1200 in my pocket for a lot longer yet.
Will report back in a few months :wink:
1994 850 T5
2001 V70 T5 (Sold)
2008 XC90 V8

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