The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Lubricating the Heater Motor in 1973-1980 Volvos

2019-01-09 - ipd Staff

Disclaimer: Direct from ipd’s Tech Tip archive!  This tech tip contains information from previous publications.  Products mentioned may not be available or the information may not be accurate due to changes in supply, manufacturing, or part number association.  Please contact ipd Customer Support if you have further questions.

If your heater motor is starting to make noises, particularly after you've turned the heat on, it will probably fail in the near future. By lubricating the bearings, many Volvo owners have found they can prolong the life of the heater motor and put off the cost of a new motor installation.

This tip applies only to those 140, 160 and 200 series models with the original open armature motor. (In 1981, Volvo came out with a more powerful motor with permanent magnet fields, making it impossible to lube the bearings.)

  1. Remove the center console/dash cover. It you have a 200 series, there is one screw and one 114-turn fastener on each side, as well as two screws at the bottom (below the radio.) It you have a 140/160 there are just the two fas-teners on each side.
  2. Disconnect enough of the wires to the switches and lights to swing the panel to one side (as in first photo).
  3. Drill one hole (approx. 5/16 - 3/8" diameter) 2-1/2 to the right of the center seam. Be careful not to push too hard when drilling: you could damage the motor it you go through too tar.
  4. If there is nothing immediately behind the plastic housing, drill one more hole on each side of the first. (t.you can see the motor at the left edge of the hole, then drill both holes to the right.) You will uses one hole to apply the lubricant, one to look through, and one to shine a light through. (See second photo.)
  5. Repeat on the left side of the housing, again starting 21/2" from the center line.
  6. Look through the holes and you should be able to see the bearing. (It is a bushing type not ball or roller.) See illustration.
  7. You will need a long narrow tube (about 5" - 6") similar to what's used on spray lubricants. As far as lube goes, we've found ATE works well. It flows easily but doesn't dissipate as quickly as WD40.
  8. After lubing the motor, turn it on briefly. Then lightly reapply the lube again. When you're finished, use duct tape to cover the holes.

Reassemble and pat yourself on the back. You've probably gained another year of life for the old heater motor.

When we first tried this repair five years ago, we figured it might extend the life at the motor another year. The car used as a guinea pig belongs to our Vice President, David Precechtil. A half decade later, he says it is still working, despite some occasional crankiness.

If it's too late... It your heater motor is beyond repair, take advantage of-this.rev&-cirai-orrt our popular heater motor upgrade kit for '73-93 140,160 and 200 series. Kit includes updated motor, five-position switch, resistor assembly and complete instructions.