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Tech Article

Easy flame trap access

Last Updated: 03/29/2016
Parts Group: PCV valve
When an automotive task is horribly difficult, I know that some people take pride in toughing it out and struggling through it. Not me. I like to find easy ways to do things. A classic example involves replacing the flame trap, a.k.a. positive crankcase ventilation valve, on a Volvo 240. Neglecting this part causes ever-worsening engine oil leaks that pretty soon can no longer be corrected by simply replacing the part.

Even brand new, the part is priced at less than $5 for a good-quality part, and the company might even throw into the deal the plastic housing and the relevant hose. So, price is certainly not what causes the temptation to delay replacing this part. What, then? It's very, very difficult to reach. Volvo forums have many examples of DIY mechanics complaining about how difficult a task that is. Is it really? It depends.

Much of what makes a task difficult for me is not being able to reach and not being able to see. The flame trap on our 1991 car was located under the intake manifold, where seeing and reaching it were both very difficult. We soon gave up trying to do this the normal way, which is probably the way that everyone else was complaining about. Next, we temporarily removed the throttle cabling on the intake manifold, to see if that would help. It did -- a lot. But not enough. Would the task be easier when done from below, maybe? Yes! We removed the starter (simple and not all that difficult, unless the top bolt is stuck) and the idle stabilizer valve (easy). This gave us a nice, wide open space. The flame trap was then easy to see and to access from below. Mission accomplished, and now our beloved Volvo has one less reason to leak engine oil.

Removing the starter might be a good move: Starter Removal ... or not: Starter Removal: Tragicomical Stories of Desperation
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