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240 Blower Motor Replacement: Holesaw Method


New member
Jul 8, 2005
Anyone who is or has contemplated replacing their 240's blower motor is aware of the onerous task involved. You are faced with a $400 bill, or pulling the heater unit out entirely, or diving in with the ?chainsaw method? described here and other places on the internet. But there is a simpler, cleaner method than the chainsaw method... a technique which really doesn?t take any more time, preserves almost all your original plastic, and does not threaten your functionality one bit. And really, if you have air conditioning, taking out the whole unit is not a pleasant or risk free option. Do you really want to bend a bunch of brittle aluminum tubes, stuffed with freon, with the EPA and the God of Broken Dreams looking over your shoulder?

This method is an adaptation of my own, based on clues left behind by a previous owner or mechanic of a 240 I owned years ago. I call it the ?Hole Saw Method?. While replacing a blower motor on that brick, I found a neat 1 ?" hole cut in the center of the right blower cover, and a 1/4" hole about halfway down from that. In addition, the left cover was broken in half... but this damage is not necessary, as it turns out.

The Hole Saw Method involves three little tricks to make it work, which will be explained in the steps below. You will still need a good 3 to 4 hours to be safe, but it is possible to finish in a bit over 2. Obviously you need a hole saw... the cheap kind you chuck in a 3/8" drill is fine. It would be a good idea to have some of the vacuum tube used by the vent actuators handy, too... about a foot is fine. I?ll explain what it is for later. A good #2 phillips and a sharp flathead screwdriver is needed, and you may want one of those magnets on a stalk... used for retrieving stuff from funny places. There are lots of funny places on a Volvo heater, of course. In fact there are enough funny places to make a brain surgeon cry.

1) Remove the center console side panels and the under-dash liners on both sides. You should also remove the glove box for access.

2) Remove the dash vents above the center console. They are held in with two phillips screws on the left, found under one of the square plastic covers. It would help to remove the gauges, radio or shelf you have above these vents, for access to the upper part of the heater unit. You can wiggle the ?Y? duct found behind the vents, to the right, and out from under the dash.

3) On the right heater cover, cut a 1 ?" hole in the approximate center with your hole saw. If you have meaty, German sausage-like fingers, a 2" hole can be cut. This hole is all you need to to access the blower fan clip... and since the right blower fan does not need to come out, you do not need to hack a big ugly hole in the side of your heater. About halfway below this hole, drill a 1/4" hole. This is your access hole for your flat head screwdriver, so you can pry the clip off the blower. Don?t do this yet.

4) Move to the left side. Take the screws holding the lower and upper vent ducts to the blower cover. The upper one is way up there in the nest of vipers... Pry these ducts off the blower cover, and a bit out of the way. The upper one will fight you... but it is flexible enough to move to the left and forward of the cover.

5) Find the little clips holding the blower cover on. They are around the edge, some hiding behind stuff. They can be popped off with your flathead screwdriver, by placing the blade under one lip of the clip and turning the handle. A trick here is that the clips which are out of sight can be felt for, and slid up or down until accessible. This will take some time and patience. The hardest ones are accessible from the top. There are two clips behind the left heater hoses, and one in front. One or two are around the back a bit, and can be slid up for better access. These two have to be pried off on faith... reaching the screwdriver under the heater hose, and feeling for the lip of the clip while holding the clip with the fingers of your left hand. Hate me yet? But hark oh unbeliever, this will work, lo it has been done and so it shall be done. Just don?t freak out yet. If a clip flies off into the nest back there, I don?t think it?s so important. There are maybe a couple more clips than are really needed to hold the housing covers on.

6) When you think you have all the clips off, play with the cover and try to jiggle it off and down. A dash ground wire will be in your way... the 10 mm lower heater bracket bolt holds it. Take out this bolt and tie the wire harness out of your way. With some wiggling and pulling you can take the blower cover down and out.

7) Now that you have access to the left blower, you can hold it and turn it... this makes it easier to take the clip off the right blower. Take out the screw which secures the lower duct, and pry the duct out of the way. Do this so if the clip gets away, it does not disappear down the duct with the paper clips, loose change, and blistered, 1982 M&M?s hiding there. Shine a light in the hole saw hole, and put your flathead screwdriver through the 1/4" hole. You can pry one side of the blower clip up. It?s sort of spring steel... but malleable enough to hold a bend and not be too hurt. Now you can slide the clip to one side, and remove it. Drop it? Now you see why the magnet. I had to steal a fridge magnet and wrap a wire around it to retrieve my clip. Spray some WD-40 on the shaft now... it is probably a bit rusty on the end.

8) Go back to the left side, and take off that clip. Now spray the shaft, and you should be able to wiggle the left blower fan off the motor shaft.

9) Here is the second place you veer from the Chainsaw Method. You will see three phillips screws around the ?venturi?, or opening, in the inner half of the blower housing. So instead of cutting out the venturi, you simply remove these three screws, and remove the inner housing half from the heater housing. First you have to gently move the thermostat?s copper coil from it?s notch in the inner housing. Be careful not to crimp the delicate copper tubing... but don?t worry, there is more than enough give to move it out of the way. When you remove the inner blower housing, you will be pulling the lower left vacuum actuator?s tube free... it may come off the actuator end, or it may come off the ?T? connector way underneath the heater. Now you will see why I suggest you have a longer piece of this tubing ready... the task of re-attaching this shorter original tube would be mind-numbing. But with a longer tube, you can attach it before re-assembly. But I?m getting ahead of myself...

10) Now remove the center console?s two lower and upper side screws, and gently move the console?s face forward. This is to get to the blower motor?s hot lead connector, and unplug it.

11) Now look for the motor?s black ground lead. Search. Search real hard. Now search some more. Now give up, and cut the damned thing. Hey, it?s only a ground... why go nuts removing the vacuum tank and other wondrous just stuff to get to the end? Cut it. Snip. Done. You can easily attach the new motor?s ground elsewhere.

12) Remove the old motor?s three phillips screws, wriggle it out of the right blower fan. It will help if you keep it from turning with a screwdriver through the smaller right hole. I held the shaft on the left side with a vise-grip. Pull the motor out, and throw it over the house, or into the neighbor?s pool. You know, the neighbor whose kid egged your Volvo last Halloween.

13) Before putting in the new motor, you may want to solder your old motor?s hot lead plug on the new one, if it did not come with one. Dive in the pool and clip off the hot lead. Throw the motor through their bay window. Hide your car next Halloween.

14) And here is how you pull off the seemingly impossible task of getting the right blower fan back on the shaft: Before putting the new motor in, insert a rod into the right blower fan?s shaft hole, from the right side, through your hole saw hole.. A #2 phillips screwdriver is perfect. So you have the blower fan supported on the shank of the screwdriver, and can move the fan around with the screwdriver handle. Now fish the motor into the left side, and screw it in place. You will now find it fairly easy to use the screwdriver (the one stuck through the blower fan?s shaft hole) to ?feel? and ?hear? around behind the right blower fan and find the end of the hidden motor shaft. Then gently push the screwdriver against the little flat end of the motor shaft, approximately parallel to the shaft. Then with another screwdriver, or your finger, slide the blower fan onto the shaft. It sounds like it would be the hardest thing... but it is really the easiest part of the job. It is sort of like the method used to line up clutch discs in a pressure plate assembly with a pilot tool.

15) Now the clip. This is not a low-blood-sugar-caffeine-rush-mad-at-the-world mood job. It?s a whistle-a-happy-tune mood type job. But if you disconnected the lower duct and moved it, and have your magnet handy, you can try and try again. Flatten your blower clip. Now look carefully at the blower and the shaft. Turn the blower fan on the shaft until the flats in the slot are lined up with one set of the small depressions in the blower fan... the depressions which the clip?s ?ears? sit in. This is important... you need a depression for the clip to slide in, once you have it on the shaft and are ready to slide it into place. I hung the clip on my flathead screwdriver to hang it on the shaft, and used a finger to press and slide it partially into place. Then you can ?walk? it in with the screwdriver blade. If the clip falls into the housing, it is an easy matter to fish it out with your magnet. When the clip is safely in place, you can cover the hole saw hole with duct tape.

16) Fish your motor wires through the bottom hole, and plug in the hot lead. Leave the ground off for later.

17) Now attach your longer vacuum tube to the tee connector. The tee is really buried, but you can fish it out from under the right side of the heater, and attach the tube. You now attach the tube to the slave actuator, then manipulate the inner blower housing up through the wires and such, and into place on the heater housing. Be careful that the lower actuator remains free of wires, tubes and so on so that it operates freely. Screw the inner housing on with the three screws.

18) Put the blower on the shaft, and put the clip back on. Temporarily ground the ground lead, and TEST the heater blower! Test the vacuum slave actuators and flaps!

19) The rest is a matter of reassembly of all the junk you took off. Wiggling the left blower housing cover back on takes some more of the whatever patience you have managed to preserve. Make sure the pivot for the lower actuator?s flap is in the hole in the outer blower housing. Don?t forget the thermostatic coil. And don?t forget the upper vent tube... get on your back and muscle it back onto the blower housing. As for the cover retaining clips, I don?t think one has to go crazy worrying about every single one. But it?s an easy matter to snap them back on, and slide them to strategic places. Add your new motor?s ground wire to the bolt which grounds the dash ground wire.

And there you have it. Nothing is drastically altered, no mountain of plastic chips and filings blowing out your heater vents, no anti-freeze was dribbled on the carpeting, and your air conditioning still works. Not that this is an easy job... but most of what you do with this method would have to be done anyway... the clips, the wires, the tubing... but you save yourself from much more. It?s true you may have to do more feeling around, more patient fumbling, while crouching or lying on your back. Just think of it as a Zen exercise with a $400 payoff at the end. Rich SantaColoma.
Here are the images which will go with the article (updated 3/14/10, because of new server for pics):


clip location.jpg

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this article makes me very happy because the blower motor in my '79 bertone is making wierd noises and i wasnt looking foreward to dropping 800 bucks to have my mechanic do it. thanks! :)
I've got the blower motor down to a lil over an hour typically. Holesaw method is the only way to roll.
awesome dude. . .mine just died so I'll follow this write-up. . .let you know if anything is weird. . .Thanks!
jkior said:
. . .let you know if anything is weird. . .Thanks!

That would be great. Take your Patience Pills. I'll check here for any comments/questions over the next few days. Rich.
just out of curiosity (which i imagine the answer is no), is there an easy method like this for the heater core? my heater core and blower motor are out in my 79 244...
rad. i've been contemplating selling my soul or first-born so i can afford to do the blower fan in my 74. you just saved my ass, yo.
harley said:
...is there an easy method like this for the heater core?

Not that I can see. I've had at least five 240 heaters out over the years, but just to be sure I went out and looked at one of my "parts" heaters. You would have to take off an inner and outer blower housing and blower fan on one side (right side?). Then the rectangular end of the core section of the housing could be cut out, and maybe the core could then be "slid" out that side. I suppose this would be possible, but the effort would probably equal or surpass taking the whole thing out anyway. But if you try and succeeded, you would be our hero. Rich.
Thank you. I'm a body and paint guy not a mechanic. Using the hole side method i did the fan in about 4 hours. (goofin off to break up the bouts of frustration) Loved the directions. You're a life saver!
240 Years?

Hi, fantastic article. What years does this article cover? Just picked up a '90 with 211K for my son. I'm recently paralyzed and I'm trying to explain step by step from a Repair Manual to my son that still doesn't know the difference between a blade and phillips screwdrivers.
Thanx, Dave
This repair covers all years of the 200 series Volvos, 1975 - 1993. It also covers 140 series and 160 series 1973/4 - 1975.
Press on Dave - if your son does his first repair on a Volvo as a heater fan, he can do anything to the 200 series!
For the core the trick I know is to take the center section out where the radio is and then you cut a corner off the metal bracket above that the center section was bolted to on each side and then you can get the heater box out without taking the dash off. It's been years since I did it, but it should be obvious what to cut.
Why use the holesaw method? 240 blower motors are my favorite work on these cars (very relaxing and very clean -> dusty, but not greasy).

Takes a couple of hours, and it's a great excuse to take the front seats out to clean under them. Just did one on my 240 DD two weeks ago, and it was just like I remembered it.

Nice Hacking. It only takes a few extra steps to do it right. $800 to get it done? Somebody passed the vaseline out. That job should cost no more than $400.00 Malloy, why bother with the seats? This is a straight up job. Older 240s take longer because of the new style blower motor. Maybe Im just proud of my work on these cars but the Hack and puke method has never been a fan of mine. To each there own.
Thanx for this! Replacing the blower motor is the first work I'll be doing on my '85 240 Estate Turbo since I got her. I did it 3 times in an hour on my 122S but when I started on the 240 today armed with a Haynes manual I actually felt some tears coming up!!!!