Howard's Volvo Maintenance

Electronic Climate Control Not Working

If your ECC doesn't work and you have recently dis/reconnected the battery cable, then you have hit a fairly common problem that I have heard in the Volvo forums.

While it has never happened to me, there is a sequence of proper steps to dis/reconnect the battery that Volvo recommends. I'm guessing for those people that have some how disabled their ECC, this procedure was not followed. See here for reference on how to do that.

But if you are reading this section, you likely already have this problem. Here are the solutions that I have read about but haven't tried so you can decide if you want to try this

Sunroof or homelink doesn't work

Each time Volvo's electronics for sunroof + homelink (+some other interior circuits that I don't know about) loses power, they require a certain initialization sequence. You might have lost power due to a recently disconnected battery during service.

Just use your remote to lock and unlock the door and everything will work again. This initializes these electronics circuits properly after power loss.

Another reason sunroof doesn't work is related to the alarm system. See here

ECC has no heat

There are a couple of interior cabin temperature sensors in this car. One of them is behind the 3 slits on your ECC and sense temperature by sucking in the cabin air over a heated wire. Dusts + threads gets in and causes the fan spindle inside to jam. This problems shows up when your ECC can't provide heat except at MAX.

There are 2 easy ways to determine if this is your problem. If you turn the temperature dial to MAX (do both driver and passenger side, can't remember if just one side is sufficient) and get heat, this is likely the issue. Another is to listen for the faint noise behind the ECC after the engine is turned off. This noise is coming from the fan running briefly after the car is turned off. If you have no noise, your fan is likely stuck. DIY for getting the ECC panel off can be found here

*IMPORTANT* Read this to avoid damage to your ECC.

Here is a couple of discussion thread on this

After ECC removal, just get a cotton swabs + some alcohol to clean the dirty fan spindle. Dealer labor maybe 1 hour.

I had another episode with this same symptom but found the fan behind the 3 slits was running fine. Found this following site and read up a bit more on VADIS. This system is really complicated with lots of interactions

Used my PPC Volvo code reader and found a bunch of error codes on the Driver Door Module. The DDM module handles the temperature sensor on the driver side mirror that is sent the ECU. Anyhow, I took the DDM module out, opened it, cleaned all the contacts with electrical contact cleaner. Then reset my error codes. Most of the error codes went away and I'm back to having heat again :) I'm guessing cleaning the error codes out did it.

ECC light bulbs out

*IMPORTANT* Read this to avoid damage to your ECC.

So skip dis/reconnect the battery from the original direction and when you have the ECC freed, just disconnect the 12V socket connector to turn it around. Also put electrical tape on your flat head screw driver before removing the bulbs. Both negative and positive electrodes are exposed at the base. Wouldn't be good to short anything out. 

There are 6 bulbs (4 of one type, 2 of another type indicated by their plastic mounts). Volvo wants like $10 each for them. I measured mine (10mm base diameter) and ordered some blue and white ones from this following site

The bulbs don't fit perfect but good enough. The problem is the color hue. Dark blue is too dim while the white gives a amber color hue on the ECC panel. The best way is probably to find a white bulb which can accept the teal color rubber color sock on the old bulb.

There might be other solutions in the thread

Here is a thread that has 3 part sources

This source looks interesting because it comes with a green silicon rubber which might match the hue on the ECC

Fuel gauge not working

I had this problem where

  • fuel gauge didn't work
  • rear door doesn't lock
  • front door doesn't unlock with the switch on the driver's side door
  • rear wiper doesn't work
  • rear spray doesn't work

This problem started when I was running on fumes and finally stopped to get 5 gallon of gas. Soon after while at a stop light, I heard a pop noise and the engine RPM dipped briefly. Then it was all back to normal except the backend electronics didn't work anymore.

All of these are related to failure of the Rear Electronics Module (REM). The front door lock switch doesn't unlock because it first checks the rear door lock's status and got a bad status due to REM failure. 

Seems like others have had the same

Battery dis/reconnect sequence worked for me (See this link). Unfortunately, didn't know what was the real cause. I keep on reading about these electrical gremlins in this car.

Headlight Bulb Sockets

Seems the heat from the headlight bulb tend to weaken the electrical plug behind the bulb. Some even show burn marks and soon disintegrates.

Plan to buy some H7 sockets (light bulb is H7, probably need the sockets where the wires make an L turn just like the original in the car) from ebay for cheap and replace it. 

Headlight Bulbs

Almost everyone complains these fail often. Luckly, it is easy to replace. Part $10-$20. DIY instructions can be found here

Besure to insert the bulb with guide lug facing up. The bulb is installable with the guide lug facing down and cause incorrectly aligned headlights.

If you turn off the day time running lights (DRL), it would probably make your light bulb last much longer. VIDA/DiCE diagnostic tool is necessary to turn off DRL. 

Alarm Service, Alarm Triggered, Sunroof Not Working

I got these messages each time I unlocked the car and started it

  • "Alarm Triggered"
  • "Alarm System Service Required"

The red light in the center of the dash would flash super fast with the alarm triggered message. Then everything returns to normal. Sometimes, my sunroof doesn't for awhile after this.

I read that the siren unit is the culprit. Some people also have opened it up and noticed the internal transformer blew up. When this unit isn't working correctly, the sunroof doesn't work. When I got my siren out and opened it up, it has blacken residue inside indicating some electronics had been fried. Here is a quick test to see if your siren is the culprit.

Pull fuse #38 on the fuse box inside the driver side compartment. This is the siren fuse. If your sunroof works after, then your siren is probably bad. Another trick I did is to lower the driver side window, lock the car and reach in to open it. If the siren doesn't sound, then it is probably bad. 

To disconnect or take out the siren, do this

  • Jack up the passenger side front wheel
  • Remove the tire
  • Follow direction 3 from the link below. After the 2 nuts come off, remove the piece of liner.
  • Drill out the 5 rivot in front of the wheel liner
  • Now you have access to inside and disconnect the siren
If you want to take it out, you have to remove the security bolt. I took a Dremal tool with a cutting tool and cut a slot out for the flat head screw driver to unbolt it. I used a 1/4" ratchet with a flat head screw driver bit to break it loose.

Here is the direction on how this siren is assembled

If this link is just during my web session and doesn't work for you. Just go to the website and follow this sequence

  • Click installations
  • Select your language, hit go
  • Select car model + year and check electrical systems and hit search
  • You will see alarm near the top of the list 

Here are some picture from someone who cracked the sealed siren open. Again, my looked even worse. My car is parked in the garage every night and this siren unit is sealed. So I think it is just bad design rather than any kind of dirt or whether related issue. Maybe when the battery is wearing down... it somehow triggered some problems. I don't really know. All I know is that my car is about 8-9 years old. Other failures I have heard are on this car in this age range. 

Here is the picture of my failed siren after I cut it open. See the black wire from the internal battery got cooked and the area surrounding the transformer just got fried.

From Alarm

After the siren is disconnected or taken out, you will get a Alarm Service Message each time you unlock the car and start it. But the sunroof will work. I read that the immobilizer still works. You just no longer get the siren sounds.

I got tired of getting the Alarm Service message and got a replacement part ($150-$200), installed it and plugged it in (with battery disconnected). I then took the car to the dealer to have them link the siren to the car using their computer (They charged me $30). Although it pretty much functions correctly without going to the dealer for computer setup. I saw no difference in the operation before and after dealer's linking.

The installation direction above also indicate the siren can be installed in cars that don't have it. I'm guessing this means the dealer can "turn off" the siren feature and avoid getting the message when the siren isn't present. However, when I called one dealer, they said this function can't be turned off. Maybe this siren is installed in all US cars but not some other region. Not sure.

Preventive Maintenance

Some people read about this issue and decided to do some preventive maintenance and swap the old battery out before it destroys the circuit board. Here is a link on that. I'm planning on doing this, I've ordered 2 CR123A Lithium Ion battery from ebay. Planning on connect them serially to make the necessary 7.2V. Perhaps taping it all together and tape down the electrodes for connection. 

Turn Signal Going Super Fast

And you get a light bulb is out message. I had this problem that intermittently acted up and was dependent on the weather. I would get this failure often during heavy rains but other wise okay.

Obviously, check the light bulb to see if the filament is in tact. But in my case, the bulb was obviously working when weather was nice. Traced it to a common problem in the front turn signal socket. The contacts between the socket and the bulb was problematic as explained by the parts person at the dealership where I got the newly redesign socket.

SRS Codes

I got SRS code 0014 and 001C, these pointed to an open circuit between the SRS control module and the driver side steering wheel airbag. See here for details.

Rear Door Lock Won't Lock or Unlock

If your rear door lock doesn't lock or unlock with the master lock switch on the driver door module (DDM), you likely have a failed rear door lock assembly.

Basically, the DDM will poll all other 4 locks (passenger front, both rear doors, and 5th door's lock) status prior to sending lock or unlock signal. When a failed lock sensor from one of the locks reports an erroneous status, the DDM will not send the signal.

Need to replace the whole failed lock module as it is not serviceable. Depending on region you live in the world, there are several different designs for this lock (with/wo deadlock - I think for police vehicles in sweden, with/wo "powered" child locks, and 2 stage locks) In the US market, i think we mainly have the 2 stage locks. Make sure you check the part number to compare what is compatibility. There are multiple part numbers for this same 2 stage lock.

Pretty straight forward taking the lock assembly out except this tricky part. 

Driver Door Module

The driver door has that master window, lock, and mirror control module. My had a error code when I read it with my Volvo code scanner. Everything worked but it has an "Internal Fault" code.

I replaced it with a used unit for like $35. You have to make sure the parts numbers match to avoid going to the dealer for reprogramming. Just take the old unit out and and look at the part number before you hunt for parts.

To remove the door panel, see here. Once the door panel is off, the rest is pretty obvious. Here is a close up picture of the DDM for your reference.

I also hear the mirror control sometimes splits and breaks. Here is a link to how to disassembled it and either reglue it or replace it with a used unit. 

Instrument Panel Not Working Correctly (example Racing Clock)

The instrument dash in these Volvos are called DIM (Driver Information Module) and seems to have some internal circuit board problems as they age. Some of the problems that appear are clocks that seems to cycle itself or message window with garbled characters.

These are generally fixable by reflowing the solder around the main controller chip on the DIM. However, the chip's pins have very tight pitch and you definitely want to have expertise to do this. If you have a cheap radioshack soldering iron, I wouldn't suggest you attempt this.

Here is the picture of the motorola chip on the DIM circuit board

Note on removing the DIM, make sure you remove the DIM with battery disconnected and reconnect the DIM in the proper battery reconnect sequence. I know someone that removed and reinstalled the DIM without power disconnect and burnt out light bulbs almost every time. Here is how to dis/reconnect battery link

You will also see some spring legs on the circuit board. It is important that these remain straight. They are contacts to things like speedometer etc... If the legs get bent, some instruments may not work. You can see the spring legs here in this picture

Here is how you remove the DIM cluster


El Power System error message

If you get this error message, chances are the alternator regulator has failed. Check the charging system. If not reading ~14V with the engine is running, then alternator is not generating electricity.

In my case, it was a worn voltage regulator brush.