Frankly, I would not have believed that in the final weeks of 2021, the thermostat on my car would be conspiring against me…with no other thought than to deprive me of the life giving output from the heater matrix in cold weather.

The last time I had to wear a scarf, coat and gloves whilst driving my car, was back in the 1970s. Worse still, I had to keep the air conditioning on to prevent condensation forming on the inside of the car windows.

Harbinger of Doom

During October and November the same year, possibly even earlier, I hadn’t felt the heater output was really up to much. There is no temperature gauge on my car so I largely ignored the issue. However, in December things changed. One very cold night I was heading home from a friend’s house when I got a message ‘Coolant System Service Required’. There was no heat in the car and both radiator fans were on full belt. Having stopped and checked the coolant was all still in the engine, I continued home. The following day, the same message came up as soon as the engine started…and there was still no heat in the car.

I suspected the thermostat but couldn’t work out why the radiator cooling fans were on at full belt too. My trusty Haynes Manual was consulted and I expected to find the thermostat housing and sensor at the front of the engine, where it normally is, and as shown in the manual. No way could it be that easy…ten pounds worth of thermostat, maybe a new gasket, drain the fluid, swap the bits and refill, job done…nope.

It looks innocent enough

On my car, which the manual erroneously claims to cover, the thermostat is in a sealed housing on the BACK of the engine in amongst loads of other bits and bobs. It’s only accessible after removing quite a few other things. You can see it from below, on a hoist, but you still can’t reach it.

It was booked in quickly with my dealer, Lloyd Volvo in Carlisle, who have been very helpful over the twenty years I’ve been dealing with them; I’ve had Volvos since they stopped being tanks in 1994.

They quickly confirmed the diagnosis of a faulty thermostat and explained that the radiator fans came on as the engine management system detected the fault, and went into ‘self preservation mode’. The thermostat could not be separated from the housing so a new part was needed; part number 31368373. Great, get one ordered and Lloyd would fit it as this was beyond my abilities with the tools and facilities I had.

The Guilty Party

Volvo UK said there were none in Europe and 320 on back order with Volvo in Sweden. Delivery was quoted as late March / early April. It was December 22nd. It looked as if there were some cold trips in the car ahead. There were some supposedly original parts in Latvia and Lithuania available on eBay, but I was somewhat concerned about authenticity. There were also some pattern parts which frankly, could have been anything.

The service manager at Lloyd Volvo tried a few places to find one, unsuccessfully. However, whilst asking Volvo UK about warranty issues, should I buy a part from Latvia or Lithuania, the chap on the other end told him there was one in Bristol! Needless to say my name was written on it, delivery was made to Carlisle and I spent a day at Lloyd Volvo whilst they fitted it and replaced the coolant. Even the Lloyd Volvo mechanic found fitting it a pain…my car is twelve years old and some of the nuts were a bit stiff.

A shiny new one from Bristol

It was wonderful to have the heater working again, I can tell you. It’s essential for me as thanks to my Mum’s DNA, my finger ends go numb and white if they are in contact with cold surfaces; yes, it’s called Raynaud’s Syndrome.

So, if your P3 Volvo V70 2.4D refuses to warm up and you get the warning above, with your radiator fans sounding like a plane taking off, your dealer will fix it for you, if they can get the parts, but don’t expect much change from £600…for a thermostat!!!