Hi. Bought a 1989 Volvo 240
wagon 1 year ago having owned over 2 dozen previously in my lifetime, and it ran great for this past year. Then a bad waterpump combo with a possibly partially-plugged radiator and a stuck thermostat contributed to a extremely rare head gasket failure following wild temperature swings that resulted in a few trips of the temperature into the orange range on the dash. It has 283,000 miles. It started the year getting 18 mpg, while just before gasket death was only getting 12-14 mph highway mileage; very bad even for the automatic that it is. All my others were standards getting 22-25 mpg highway mileage. Even before the head gasket replacement with the gasket failing, and finding my oil looking like a latte with lots of water in it the last time I ran it, the car had typical superb power; no hesitation, although a little sputtering. The last time it ran with latte-looking oil, it had almost the same great power it always had, although what clued me to look at the oil again after that trio was a slowness in turning over the engine
while cranking, almost as if it didn't have any oil, which it effectively did not. I let it sit 2-3 months while awaiting head gasket repair.
I replaced the head gasket, clamping the crank and cam, but the cam clamp moved a bit (I realigned to timing mark on rear timing cover without trouble during reinstallation), but the intermediate distributor shaft rolled free. I set the intermediate distributor shaft to the correct tooth of my timing belt when re-installing, and the car started on first try after the gasket was replaced. But when cold upon first starting it cough/sputter/popped about once every 10-15 seconds until warmed about 1-2 minutes, then no more, idling OK. For 5-6 starts this way warming for 5-10 minutes each the popping continued as it STILL does today, and there was a small amount of water spewing from the tailpipe (ring on the ground the size of a dinner plate each time. I concluded because the car sat for 2-3 months after the gasket began leaking coolant
before its failure, but not yet having been repaired, this was residual coolant evaporating). When starting now, no water/humidity comes out of the tailpipe, but the first couple minutes still causes this popping sound at the exhaust manifold.
Here is my issue: Every time I tried to drive the car forward after starting it, it stalls unless i feather it, whenever I press on the gas pedal too hard or when trying to go uphill at all. The Volvo stalled EVERY time upon significant acceleration attempt and refused to re-start again until 3-4 hours later when fully cooled down. When trying to accelerate from the new cold start idle each time, it had no power and hesitated, and I'd have to feather and back off the accelerator to keep it from stalling. EVERY time, once stalled, it refused to re-start until completely cool 3-4 hours later, although if not fully warmed up, it would TRY to catch on the first burst of the first try to turn the starter over, as if it WANTED to start, but ONLY the first burst of the first attempt and ONLY if not fully warmed after less than 5 minutes since new cool start. But it never restarts when warmed at all. All subsequent attempts to start were futile, with zero audible attempts to "catch" and try to start; any attempts to re-start when fully warmed up before placing in drive after 10 minutes of idling caused no "catch" at all being audible even on the first burst of attempting to re-start after the inevitable stall on any attempt to significantly accelerate.
I could and did drive it 2/10 mile to a high volume gas station with good quality fuel, and did fill it up full with 12 gallons. Thinking it was empty after the car died upon acceleration attempt and not believing it had this weird restarting-when-warm problem, I was surprised when my "empty" tank only needed 12 gallons to refill the 16 gallon tank (obviously NOT empty with 4 gallons in it, but experiencing this weird retarting-when-warm failure). It sat for 3 months with 4+ gallons in the tank during the gasket replacement, which I used up some of idling it for a total of 2 hours over about 6-8 cold starts in the last 1 week as I fiddled with the issue concerning the water spewing from the tailpipe and the popping noise when cold and warming up. The popping is NOT a backfire shotgun-like typical backfire noise, but more a loud sputter noise at the engine; a "coughing" noise like a very loud one-time sputter every 10-20 seconds and ONLY when cold for the first couple minutes during warmup. After that, it sounds normal but won't accelerate with =out stall and no re-start possible until cool when it always re-starts!
I'd drive it to be re-timed, but I suspect some other issue, and will have to fix that issue myself, likely negating necessity to drive to have timing re-set. Fiddling with the distributor to time it differently causes inability to start at all until put back to original spot, then the same!