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Refreshing the Volvo 200 - steering, transmission and chassis


In this part of our series on the Volvo 200 series, we look at the transmission, steering and chassis.

The manual gearbox

The manual gearboxes are another strength of the 200 Volvo: they are more robust than average if they are treated well and serviced from time to time.

As long as they are not overused and the gearbox oil (1024065, 1015246) is not only topped up but also changed from time to time, they will last a very long time.

With the Volvo M40, 41, 45, 46 and 47 manual gearboxes, you can clearly see that they are related.

Volvo 200 The M41 is basically an M40 with a flange-mounted Laycock overdrive, so it has an electrically selectable 5th gear. With overdrive transmissions, regular oil changes are crucial for long and reliable operation. The overdrive also always has a filter that needs to be cleaned or replaced. Some time ago, we had a suitable oil filter wrench produced for most overdrive types. Both gearboxes were only available at the beginning of the series in conjunction with the B20 OHV engines. Occasional oil loss due to hardened seals can be countered with inexpensive seal kits (1000154, 1000155). The M40 in particular is quite easy to dismantle, most bearings are still available and the number of special tools required is manageable. We have had the necessary puller for the four-hole cardan shaft flange in our range for some time, it also fits the differential. We only recently had the occasionally damaged fixing screw for the speedometer drive reproduced.

The overdrive is of course more complicated, but there are specialists who can repair it. Sealing kits and spare parts are available.

Along with the new B17-23 engines came the new M45 and M46 gearboxes, which are more stable and better able to cope with the extra power. The M45 is basically an improved, reinforced M40. As with the M41, regular oil changes are mandatory for the M46 with overdrive.

The ATF oil to be used for the overdrive gearboxes is also important: It must always be an ATF type F or G, never use Dexron. This is not compatible with the friction disks in the overdrive.

The M47 is basically a further developed M45 with five gears. The fifth gear is located at the rear in an extra housing. Due to its design, it is significantly less stable than the M46 overdrive gearbox, it does not like high engine power or too much torque and is already at its load limit with the B230FB. For a long service life, a little more oil than prescribed can be used, the sensitive 5th gear is then lubricated earlier and better. With the weaker engines, such as B230F or D24, it can still have an eternal life, with little trailer operation, far more than 500tkm are possible and not uncommon. Seal kits are also available for these three transmissions (1000632, 1000633)

The M50 and M51 gearboxes in the 260 are a structural exception: It was purchased from Getrag and later replaced by the M46. It is much more complicated to overhaul than the Volvo gearboxes, as it has a completely different design.

A pending clutch change should not deter you from buying a 200, with less than two hours this is done faster and easier than with many other vehicles.

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The various clutch kits are all available, special tools such as centering pins (1023786, 1023787) or pilot bearing extractors (1072814, 1072815) are available in our store.

The automatic gearbox

Various BorgWarner and AisinWarner automatic transmissions were installed in the 200s during the construction period. At the beginning of the construction period, there was the BW35 three-speed automatic transmission, which was later replaced by the BW55 and AW55. In the 1980s, the AW70 and AW71 four-speed automatics were introduced in the 200; these automatics had a fourth gear designed as a long overdrive and were therefore somewhat more fuel-efficient.

All automatic transmissions are robust as long as they are maintained. As with the overdrive gearboxes, a long service life requires regular oil changes, otherwise all automatic gearboxes tend to start complaining after a mileage of 250 tkm. This ranges from jerky gear changes and late upshifts to total failure. ATF type F or G should be used for all automatic transmissions, never ATF Dexron.

The seals and oil filters required for a gearbox flush (1004237, 1004238, 1004239, 1004240) are available, but specialists should be consulted in advance for complete repairs, as many parts are no longer available on the open market. In case of doubt, manual gearboxes are the better choice; conversions are not original, but are feasible. Seal kits for automatic transmissions are available (1007550, 1042035, 1060576).

For automatic vehicles that sometimes have to tow a trailer, we recommend retrofitting an additional oil cooler. This reliably keeps the rising temperatures low and ensures a longer service life for the transmission.

Volvo 200

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Cardan shaft and rear axle

Both the cardan shaft and the rear axle are usually inconspicuous for a long time if treated well. If the Volvo rumbles and roars with increasing speed, then perhaps a new cardan shaft center bearing (1001664, 1001665) is due, the rubber of the suspension becomes brittle and tears with age, the bearing falls out of the roller with grinding noises or play. With proper workmanship, this point will usually be left alone for 20 years or at least 300tkm. The hard disk, if present, can also cause noise and annoyance with age. If it is seriously torn, it must be replaced. The universal joints (1000112, 1000113, 1000114) of the cardan shaft usually last much longer.

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The differentials of the Dana-Spicer rear axles are almost indestructible with occasional oil changes, and mileages in the seven-digit range without an overhaul are quite possible. The wheel bearings of the rear axle are also extremely rarely defective, just like the differential bearings (1021983, 1076939) and seals (1000205, 1001131) are readily available. Bevel/disc gear sets are also still available for some axle ratios. However, replacing these, as well as re-mounting the differential, requires some special tools and specialist knowledge.

We have been having traction struts and Panhard rods for the axle suspension that are no longer available from the vehicle manufacturer reproduced for some time now; after thirty years or more, there are occasionally problems with pressing out the bushes due to corrosion. However, the necessary bushes are still available individually.

In the meantime, the eternally durable suspension bushes of the trailing arms (1000109, 1000108) are often defective and allow the axle to move in its guide. They are often overlooked because they have almost never been defective during the normal life of a car. To replace them, a special tool together with the corresponding support sleeve is helpful, then the axle can stay in place.

Volvo 200 Stabilizers on the rear axle of the 200 were only common on top models such as the GLT and Turbo; simpler models with B230F, for example, never had them. They are still available in three diameters as original parts (1089478, 1089482, 1089483) and significantly improve handling.

The springs (1000741, 1000742, 1000945, 1000946) and shock absorbers (1000964, 1007642, 1052840) for the rear axle are also available in several versions. Particularly in the estate with its high load volume and long overhang, the rear suspension springs can certainly be described as a wearing part if its possibilities are used more frequently. This is when the self-levelling Sachs Nivomats are particularly recommended, which must be installed with tuned springs.

For ambitious drivers, firmer springs (1013131, 1013132) and sports-tuned shock absorbers are available, as are thicker stabilizers. With the appropriate equipment, the 240 was a thoroughly competitive racing or rally car, not least because of its robust design. When lowering the car, adjustable tension struts and a Panhard rod should be installed to correct the position and geometry of the rear axle.

Front axle and steering

Volvo 200 The McPherson front axle of the 200 series holds few secrets and is also more robust than average. Brittle rubber bearings or defective ball joint sleeves are certainly normal given the age of the vehicle, but everything is available. The tie rod ends (1009344, 1004829) are often worn out, especially on vehicles with power steering, and not all parts available on the market are of the same quality as the old original parts. The suspension joints (1006950, 1010887) and strut bearings (1003678, 1045462) are much more robust, but given the age of the vehicle, attention should be paid to them. It is not uncommon for the first ones to still be fitted and the rubber to be correspondingly brittle.

The complete overhaul of a 240 front axle is neither complicated nor really expensive, if it is done with proper parts it will be quiet again for a very long time.

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The steering gears (1006228, 1007734, 1017957, 1017958) are robust, but they also wear out occasionally or the power steering leaks. New and replacement parts are available. The exact type of steering gear should be determined in advance for all parts relating to the steering system, as different manufacturers are used and the connection of the axial joints (1000900, 1003786) to the steering rack has been changed several times over the course of the production period. The VIN and, depending on the year of manufacture, the entries on the product or type plate provide precise details.

If the steering system is replaced, the universal joint in the steering column should definitely be checked. It is occasionally defective, either tight or worn out. A rusted universal joint can destroy a new steering system very quickly because it exerts forces on the input bearing for which it is not designed. The joint from 1979 is still available new.

If the stabilizer bearings need replacing, the clamps should be looked at before sourcing parts, they were once replaced by Volvo. The older clamps are too small for the new rubber mounts and must then be replaced (1016560, 1045533).

Brake system

In terms of brakes, Volvo was very progressive at the time with its 2x3 dual-circuit braking system; if one brake circuit failed, both front wheels and one rear wheel were still braked. A difference in pressure in both brake circuits is indicated by a warning light in the dashboard, the sensor for which is located in the brake line distributor. If brake fluid leaks from the sensor on the distributor, the distributor is defective. The sensor is not pressurized at the rear; a piston with contacts moves at this point when there is a pressure difference between the brake circuits.

The four-piston brake callipers on the front axle (1004064, 1004183, 1004184, 1004185) could certainly be described as leading in the seventies, Like the rear saddles (1004384, 1004385, 1004382, 1004383), they are available as new and replacement parts. Repair kits for the saddles are also available. Please note which saddle manufacturer is fitted. Different calipers are fitted at the front for ventilated and solid brake discs.

The parking brake hidden under the brake disk has always been neglected due to its accessibility during maintenance, which can lead to seized parts. Everything you need is also available here, and we have just had the spreader lever for the brake shoes reproduced.

Volvo 200 Master brake cylinders (1001187, 1001239, 1004486) and repair kits (1024879, 1028007) are of course also available, but some rarely installed parts may require conversion and adjustment work on the brake lines.

The brake hoses (1001052, 1001053, 1001234, 1001235) as well as the lines should of course also be given increased attention in a vehicle of this age class. Volvo has not skimped on these parts, but even the best hose material eventually gives up the ghost. With some other vehicle manufacturers, new hoses have often been fitted three times in thirty years.

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In summary, a well-maintained Volvo from the 200 series is still an undemanding and robust everyday car today, a popular car in any case. Maintenance and repairs can often be carried out quickly with simple means. In contrast to a new car, depreciation is not to be expected, and the prices for good cars have been rising steadily for years.

In the final part of our series on the 200 series, we will take a closer look at the electrics.

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