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Jared D
Jared D, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Volvo
Satisfied Customers: 1784
Experience:  Shop Supervisor at County Fleet
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I have a 2001 Volvo s40 Turbo. It has been great car

Customer Question

I have a 2001 Volvo s40 Turbo. It has been great car for 15 years....few problems.
Here is the chronology of what has been happening for the last 3 weeks. Can you please give me advice?
1) With foot on the gas pedal the car slows down, almost stalling. No vibrating or noise made. Usually when on slight incline, then hills. Sporadic, not every day. When it goes into this mode the car loses steering capacity and no steering is possible.
2) One day the car did this and I lost steering; almost crashed into telephone pole. Made it to place and had it towed to a foreign auto repair place. Here is what he found doing 1.5 hours of diagnostics: "Car in failsafe due to code 91 which is DSA module communication failure leading to improper antislip activation.Also misfires badly under load.Probably coils and plugs.Other codes present a 1 ect sensor and 5a cat inefficiency. 76 code stored in transmission module but scan reveals no code in that module."
They said they needed another 5 hours of diagnostics at $94 an hour.
I had the car towed back to my house because a friend said her mechanic could fix this; "he was a wizard and fixed all the autos on their ranch."
3) 8/15: Mechanic came and did a complete tune up (air, plugs, coils, fuel filter), said it
needed two catalytic converters. Did the tune up to see if that would improve things. Least invasive first....
Car continued to have intermittent problem of losing power with loss of steering capability.
4) 8/21: Tested the diagnostics at Auto Zone and found these codes: PO 705, sensor A circuit, PO 351A, PO 700, PO 128. Ordered a rebuilt TCM (Transmission Control Module) and installed this.
5) Car then drove fine for one day- no problems.
6) Yesterday the car did the same thing and lost all steering for a block. Had just turned a corner on flat area. Car crashed up on sidewalk with steering wheel locked up. Could not move it. Towed again to my friend's house. Tow truck driver was able to drive the car up onto the tow truck...
Questions please:
1) Does this mechanic sound like I should continue with him? Is he on the right track?
(I am not sure if he knows foreign cars or not....)
2) Can you give me some sort of idea of the problem or what I should do? I have already spent almost $800 on this problem and it is not fixed (although it included the tune up!)
3) Should I have it towed to a mechanic 30 min. from here who does foreign cars-- but he says he doesn't have a diagnostic capability to check for ALL the possible problems with his particular equipment.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Volvo
Expert:  Jared D replied 1 year ago.


Let me see if I can help.

With everything that the car is doing I'm suspecting an electrical problem, but let's run through the possible causes of each of your trouble codes and see what has already been looked at first:

P0128 and ECM-A1- Engine coolant temperature sensor. Is the engine over heating when the problems you describe are occuring?

p0700- TCM fault code which came on because of p0705. p0700 doesn't mean anything by it's self, it just indicates a transmission problem elsewhere.

p0705- Transmission gear-shift position sensor. This is a sensor that tells the transmission which gear it is in (Drive, reverse, neutral...). I would have replaced the gear-shift position long before I changed the TCM. A bad Gear-shift position indicator would throw the vehicle in limp-mode. Limp mode is basically where the car will barely run enough to limp the vehicle to the nearest repair shop to get it fixed. That could also be the condition you are describing when you say it is bogging down on hills. The electrical connections to the position sensor should also be checked.

p0351- Cylinder 1 coil connector fault. The electrical connection to the #1 coil should be checked for a damaged wire or short, and Pin #32 where it runs through the ECM.

Being that all of these are happening at once I would look at whether it is overheating first, then I would check the electrical connectors at the PCM.

I don't know that I would continue with this mechanic if he's the kind of mechanic that just replaces parts without testing modules first. I'm not accusing him of that, but the fact that he replaced the TCM because of a p0700 doesn't give me much confidence. In my opinion he should have seen the accompanying p0705 and changed the gear-shift position sensor. At this point it's already done though, so maybe if he can help eliminate overheating as a cause (which would be caused by a stuck thermostat according to the p0128 code) then he might be worth another try.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks so much! This mechanic had advised that if the car did the no power episode again that I should "put it in neutral and turn the ignition off and then on again with the car rolling." I did this, and went a whole block out of control, with the steering wheel frozen up before crashing onto the sidewalk. I did not ever see any indication of the car overheating.....Could you please advise me in a nutshell again what I should do? (This current mechanic is not a foreign car or Volvo mechanic.....Should I only have a Volvo mechanic work on this?) Finally, when is it time to forget it and just get a new car? Thanks again~
Expert:  Jared D replied 1 year ago.

I think you should have a mechanic check to make sure it's not overheating (because of the thermostat trouble code-p0128, ECM-A1).

Then I would have them check, or replace the transmission gear-shift position sensor (because of the p0705).

I'm not sure I can say that only Volvo mechanics should work on Volvos or any make really. I think the best thing to find is a mechanic with a lot of experience and who really wants to help you fix the car without making you spend a lot of money. Some mechanics are parts mechanics, meaning they change parts and hope it fixes it; some are diagnostic mechanics, meaning they check every little circuit and run the bill up with diagnosis charges before they change anything. Finding a good blend of both is tough, but worthwhile.

Finally, I think the Volvo S40 has a usable life of about 150-160 thousand miles before it will start costing you more than it's worth for pretty much any repair. Some might argue that they are good for much more mileage, but the turbo charged version puts a lot of demand on a small engine.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok this helps ~ thanks! There are 217,000 miles on this car. But like I said, it has been very reliable for 15 years. I am on a fixed retirement income and would love to keep this car if at all possible.
1) I was advised that his bad advice put me in danger-- so I should not use him again. Is this correct advice to consider? (I drove the car for a block out of control when the steering froze up, trying to do the manouver her advised, before crashing.)
2) If you were in my shoes, what would you do? I have already spent close to $800 in the last 2 weeks dealing with various tows and two different mechanics.
3) How much more should I spend before giving up on this car?
Thanks !!!
Expert:  Jared D replied 1 year ago.

It certainly wasn't the safest maneuver to suggest trying wile driving. I'm not sure what he was attempting to have you do, but it sure did put you at risk.

If it was my car I would probably take it to another mechanic and have them do the checks I suggested. You've already made a significant investment and there is little else to go wrong as far as the transmission is concerned (other than the transmission its self, but they are fairly resilient). If the engine is currently running well, the only thing that might put it at risk for future problems is if it is overheating because of that thermostat, but if they diagnose it correctly they should be able to catch it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you!
Expert:  Jared D replied 1 year ago.

I hope I've helped. I also hope you get it going again!


Expert:  Jared D replied 1 year ago.


I wanted to see if there is any additional help you might need with you vehicle. I was also hoping to receive a positive rating on the service I have provided thus far if you feel that is appropriate.