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Edward
Edward, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Volvo
Satisfied Customers: 2952
Experience:  I've had 10 years of experience on the car line at 2 Volvo dealerships, Quality level Volvo tech.
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I have a 1996 Volvo 850 turbo wagon that keeps overheating.

Customer Question

I have a 1996 Volvo 850 turbo wagon that keeps overheating. I have changed the thermostat and heat cencer along with the module but it still overheats what would be the problem
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Volvo
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

Hello, Eddie here and I will do my best. How long does it take for it begins to overheat when driving? Also, do you notice any bubbles in the overflow tank when it's running? And have you ever performed a block test, My thoughts are it could be the head gasket.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I haven't done a block test but it just spirtes out of the overflow
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

so you do have bubbles in the overflow tank when it's running? does it smell like gas/combustion kind of like the oil dipstick crankcase smells in the overflow tank?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
how do you do a block test? also I have to connect the fan direct to have it run so I know there are some relays that need to be replaced but I don't want to go to any other expense until I get this heating problem resolved because I don't think the car is worth much. If I have to go into the engine it would cost me more that it is worth
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I'm not able to get with the car at this point so if I can call you tomorrow it may be better
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

That's no problem, a block test is done with a tester and a test liquid that you can get at Oreilly or Auto Zone or Advance. The test liquid pulls coolant vapors through the test liquid and the test liquid will change colors in the presence of gas vapors. (usually blue to yellow)

Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

The test looks like this when performed.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
the oil isn't milky and the antifreeze doesn't smell of oil
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

I follow you, If you leave the coolant cap off, is there any bubbles that come out of the overflow tank when it is running? These engines are great engines, but on the turbo models over a period of 20 years, the headgasket is not that uncommon to fail.

Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

It's either that or the radiator is clogged up. If the coolant looks good and not rusty, then it's likely not a radiator flow issue.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
no I haven't the equiptment to do the test and yes the coolant flows out of the overflow if the cap is left off
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

Alright, If the coolant flows out of the overflow jug when running and you see bubbles, then I would have to say it's likely going to be the head gasket. But I would recommend a block test be done to be 100% sure.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
if it was the head gasket wouldn't there be water in the oil?
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

Let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
can I call you tomorrow? I have something that just cam up and I have to leave the computer
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

Not necessarily, that is if the head gasket is broken between the coolant and oil passages, If the head gasket blows between the combustion chamber and the coolant passage, then that allows hot combustion to inject into the coolant which causes the overheating.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
ok thanks I get a block test done
Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

yes, the phone service is a premium service however, it's another 13$ or so, so I didn't want to offer you that as I don't believe I can explain it over the phone any more in depth than I can here, however, if you want to we can do that.

Expert:  Edward replied 7 months ago.

Absolutely, thank you.