1997 Volvo 960 Cooling Fan/Radio/Heater/Ignition?

  • 1997 VOLVO 960

Electrical problem
1997 Volvo 960 Automatic 163 k miles

Dear Fellow Human,

I have taken my car to five people and tomorrow it will meet a sixth and nobody is figuring out the underlying problem.

I believe there is a short somewhere, and it may be affecting some type of relay, but I don't know enough about how my car is wired to make sense of it.

I have already had the ignition switch replaced because for a while when I started it I could not get it out of park, the windows would not go down, and the sound telling me to buckle up, did not activate. I was told to back off the key a bit after starting to nurse it for a while, which worked, until I had the ignition switch replaced.

Since then in a short period of time, a coil pack has gone out, and most recently a thermostat and water temperature sensor also went out simultaneously.

Sometimes when I turn it off, the cooling fan will not go off. The first time this happened it was still on after ten minutes and I literally had to start the car and turn it off several times before the cooling fan finally went off.

Now the cooling fan goes on at almost every stop light, no matter how cold it is outside, and most of the time when I put it in park before turning off the car. It has been going on immediately when I start the car for a long time and I asked several mechanics about it because it didn't used to do that and they all told me that is normal.

The day the thermostat and water temperature sensor went out, the light on the radio display was flashing in synchronization with the cooling fan rapidly going on and off while I was at a stop light.

Most recently it kept going off on a cold night when I was running the heater, which should be pulling heat away from the engine, not making it hotter. That night I turned off the heater, and immediately the cooling fan went off. I also turned off the radio, and it helped, but all the way home the panel for the climate controls and the radio was way hotter than warranted by using a heater on a cold night. It was hot enough I was worried an electrical fire might start in the car.

Also, randomly when I take the key out of the ignition it is very hot and so is the ignition area. I have been told by one Volvo specialist that is normal, which I find very hard to believe since it is random and not all the time.

A long time ago the radio would flash off briefly and come back on again when I turned the wheel to the right, turned on the right turn signal, or went over a large bump. I the car to a Volvo specialist and he said it was just some connections behind the radio, which didn't make sense to me since it was at the same time as turning the wheel, but he cleaned up the contacts and the radio did work better after that.

There is a squeeky sound in the steering column that the same mechanic told me is not a big deal, he said just a rubber seal getting old, so maybe that is not related. I was just trying to figure out why the key gets hot.

Also, the car occasionally locks itself with me in it when it is damp, and I have no idea if that has anything to do with the rest of this mess. That very rarely happens.

My big concern is whatever is triggering the cooling fan to go on so much and the fact that it does it even more if the radio or climate control are on, and when it is in park (starting up it is in park, parking I put it in park). My second big concern, which I hope is related, it the key getting hot.

The only other clue I can think of, which may or may not be related, is there was a leak of brake fluid for a while, and I wondered if it could have leaked into an area and done some damage to wires and/or relays. The leak was fixed with a new apportioning valve.

Thank you for taking the time to read my very long message.

Do you
have the same problem?
Monday, August 24th, 2009 AT 11:27 PM

2 Replies

  • 19,033 POSTS

Hi Fellow Human
That is some story guess your on your way to number 6 ? Well seems there maybe several things going on but let's start with hot key. The short idea you have may have merit as a poor connection at the ignition switch. see diagram. Have it checked for loose pin contacts , signs of overheating ie. burn marks. Poor contact causes heat ergo hot key. The cooling fan try pulling wire connection to temp sender does fan go off?
Let me know
Thanks for donate


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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 9:15 AM

Thanks for your reply. I will investigate the key issue if it comes up again. The main problem seems to have been a cooling fan relay. The car still had the original relay. The Yoda of Volvos listened to my story very carefully, pulled out the relay, used some sort of device to check the voltage and found that one of the three sections was putting out six volts instead of zero when he tested it. Got the new part in today, and so far it seems fixed. By the way, one of the tip offs for the mechanic was that the cooling fan went on immediately for a few minutes every time I started the car in the morning, even though it was cold from sitting over night. Thank you for your time. I appreciate the link to the auto repair manual. Be Well, Simone

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Thursday, August 27th, 2009 AT 2:43 AM

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