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     UPDATED: May 19, 2023                       CONTACT       
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Go to 240 Headlight RELAY Page
1975-85 240 Headlight Switch Problems

H4 Halogen Headlights
240 E-Code Headlights
Lamin-X Protection Film

LED Headlight Bulbs
How to Remove Headlight Terminals
Headlight Relay Harness Upgrade
Fog Lights / Driving Lights

Mounting Driving Lights
Dealing with the Bulb Failure Sensor

If you have any comments or if you can improve this information, please feel free to email.


I created these detailed function diagrams below in 2023 so that virtually ALL headlight circuits and connectors and all connector pins can be seen. Please email if you have any questions or corrections.
For more detailed information concerning the headlight step relay, I have a full page dedicated to 240 headlight relays HERE.
Click image for larger, high-resolution photo. 

1975-85 240 Headlight Switch Plug Problems
 From 1975 to 1985 the 240 was equipped with this headlight switch below. 
It's a metal case design with a 5-pole plastic plug. In most cases this switch only has 3 poles, so only 3 wires will exist. In some non-USA countries this switch will have 5 poles. More on this is found further below. 

As you can see in this photo above, there can be some melting and deformation on this plug.
This melting is at the RED wire, which is the 12v power supply from the battery.  This is a very common occurrence that has happened to almost every pre-1986 240 I have ever seen. Some I've seen are much worse than this photo.
Some people might suggest that too much current caused this melting.  That is obvious, but it's not the problem that caused this.  The cause is a slow build-up of corrosion at that RED WIRE  terminal, which caused a less than optimal circuit connection.  This condition eventually causes arcing and resistance and heat build-up.  That heat build-up eventually melted this plug. 

Stock headlights generally don't draw too much current as long as the connections are clean and tight.  However, many people add high wattage halogen headlights, which can easily overwhelm that plug terminal if it's corroded. 

Better designed terminals with more contact area (i.e. bigger terminals) between the male and female sides might have kept this from happening, but if the corrosion had not been there in the first place, this plug would have been fine.  There are ways we can keep this corrosion from happening in the future.  One way is by eliminating the high current load of all those headlights going through that small terminal. 
This is done by adding a headlight relay that takes the bulk of the direct battery load.  This is in fact what Volvo did for the 240 beginning in 1986.  This is a great idea. 

Another great idea it to smear some Anti-Corrosive Zinc Paste on these terminals
(click here for more info).

 For those of you who want to replace that melted black plug, you can try digging through old Volvos at salvage yards, but all you'll find will be more melted plugs. 
As of 2022 this plug may still be available new.

VOLVO PN 1215464 available at places like Skandix, iPd or VP Auto Parts.

If you cannot locate a new plug, I'll show how you can switch to a LATER 240 HEADLIGHT SWITCH found in all 1986 and later 240s. 
  I recommend taking steps to eliminate the cause of plug melting first before fitting a later style switch.  You may install a headlight relay upgrade (more info below) and get some anti-corrosive zinc paste CLICK HERE for More Info

Here are two styles of 240 headlights switches.
The top switch is the 1986 and later.  The bottom one is the pre-1986 switch.
If your early style plug is melted and damaged, you cannot just swap in the new style plug on an older switch.  They are not the same.  If you want to use the newer plug, you will have to use the newer style switch.  Below I will show how you can swap the wire terminals from an early plug to a later plug and then you can use a later switch.


 These plugs have numbers molded into them on the backsides. The newer white plug will have one extra wire (1: Blk/Yel) that you won't need to use in an early 240.   

Here are the wire circuits for these plugs:
Early Plug: 1.  White:
2.  Yellow:
3.  Red:
4.  empty
5.  empty
Goes through fuse panel, then to parking lamp circuit.
Goes to step-relay pole 56 to turn on low beams.
Goes to battery +.
Later Plug: 1.  Blk/Yellow:
2.  empty
3.  Red/Green:
4.  Yellow:   
5.  empty   
6.  empty
7.  White:
Goes through fuse panel, then to key switch power (not needed for earlier 240).
Goes to battery +.
Goes to headlight in-dash relay to turn on low beams.
Goes through fuse panel, then to parking lamp circuit.
So here's the formula needed to swap in a newer headlight switch and plug. 
1.  White wire from old plug goes to position 7 in new plug.
2.  Yellow wire from old plug goes to position 4 in new plug.
3.  Red wire from old plug goes to position 3 in new plug. 
(position 1 not used for early 240)
Click here for tips on removing wire terminal inserts from these plugs.
More information on adding a RELAY to upgrade your early 240 headlights can be found here:

Early 240 Headlight Switch with 5 Poles
In some markets (I believe Canada is one of these) the 240 was made so the headlight wiring would activate the headlights when the car was running. I have not seen this wiring first hand or up close, but I found the below images in Vovo Greenbook TP30808 Wiring for 1985 240 (pages 50-51).

Installing H4 Headlights instead of Sealed Beam
Your early U.S. 240 came with inferior sealed beam headlights. You might install Euro-style headlights that use H4 bulbs instead.
Your connector wires may need to be MOVED to make the wiring work.


Here's the back-side of the headlights for a typical pre-1986 240 with four-headlights. Look at the wire order in your headlight plugs. The High/Low headlight will be the one with THREE wires.

If your wire order looks different from the below H4 style diagram (probably), they need to be moved to the below H4 configuration.
Go HERE for a terminal removal guide.

E-Code Headlights
E-Code headlights get their name from this CODE embossed in the lenses of all European approved headlights.
It may say 'E2' like this one or it may have a different 'E' number. This E-mark was an approval mark regulated by the ECE (Economic Commission for Europe). The information on the lens contains approval details for the country where the European test agency granted approval, including a marking category and approval number. The E-mark certified that the product met and complied with specific automotive requirements.

When our beloved 240s were imported to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) had their own ideas of what good lighting should be. 
So all U.S. 240s got crappy sealed beam headlights with inferior lighting.


The first 240 models in 1975 appeared with TWO ROUND headlights (EXCEPT for 260 series). Headlight size: 7 inches (178 mm) in diameter.
So originally, all 4 cylinder 2-door, 4-door and wagon model 240s got these headlights.
Of course in Europe, these round headlights were the superior E-Code type using the H4 bulb.  Not in the USA.
This TWO headlight front was retained on all 2-door models (except for the 262C) through the 1980 model year, while other models changed.

The FOUR ROUND headlights in this photo appeared on U.S. 6-cylinder models first. They would then later appear on USA 4-door and wagon models up through 1980.
These four round headlights are 5.75 inches (146 mm) in diameter. Again, these were originally inferior U.S. DOT approved sealed beam units for all cars in the USA, but of course they can be replaced by better E-Code halogen headlight if desired. When the 4-cylinder 240s began using these lights, the up-scale U.S. 6-cylinder models (262, 262C, 264, 265) then began receiving four RECTANGULAR headlights.

Europe was quite different. The European (E-code) large rectangular headlights (using one H4 bulb per headlight) first appeared in 1975 on the 262C.
Some of these cars received an extra special headlight version shown below with wipers.
This E-code headlight eventually became standard for most Euro version Volvos through the 1980 model year. U.S cars were never so fortunate to get these headlights.

These are similar to the above pre-1981 E-code headlights. This was a DUAL BULB version using two H1 bulbs per headlight, one for low beam and one for high beam. I mounted this set on my 1984 245 Turbo.

If you look closely at this photo below, you can see the second smaller curved reflector inside.  This extra reflector is for the high beam and it will tell you this headlight uses dual H1 bulbs.

These square headlights were optional in some E-code markets in 1979-80, such as the Netherlands and Australia (and maybe some other places). This headlight uses one H4 bulb per headlight. Never available in the USA.

These four rectangular headlights below first appeared on 1977 U.S. up-scale models, such as the 262C and other 6 cylinder models. The headlights are 4 x 6 inches (102 x 152 mm).

These rectangular headlights later became standard on all U.S. 240 and 260 models from 1981-1985. 

Of course the USA versions used inferior U.S. DOT approved sealed beam units. Greatly superior E-code headlights in this size are available, which use one H4 (high-low) bulb for each outer headlight and one H1 (high) bulb for each inner headlight.
These headlights are 4 x 6 inches (102 x 152 mm).

  This U.S. 1984 245 Turbo below originally came equipped with the same four rectangular headlights as above. For 1985 or earlier U.S. 240 owners, these headlights below (sourced from a 1980 or earlier Euro 240) are a direct fit and a welcome improvement for those who can import them from a country using E-code lights.
These early H4 bulb versions pictured below are shown mounted on a U.S. 1984 245 Turbo. No changes were needed to the hood, grill or turn signals on this. These early headlights bolt right in.

This U.S. 1984 242 Turbo below also originally came with four rectangular headlights. These E-codes originally came from a 1980 or earlier European 240. The turn signal lenses were changed to Euro style dual color, but the turn signal assembly did not change.

This is the same U.S. 1984 242 Turbo as above, except this later photo shows the change to a flat hood and grill. No sheet metal changes are needed, except of course the new hood.

In 1981 Volvo re-designed the front sheet metal for European 240/260 models. USA got left out in the cold and continued to get the old 4-headlight version seen above.
These E-code versions below used one H4 bulb per headlight.

 The flat hood shown below was the same hood used on earlier flat hood 240s in Europe and USA. Some up-scale versions in Europe (6-cylinder cars) received a peaked hood and a different grill.

The new sheet metal changes for 1981 and later European versions included the following:
Different front fenders to accommodate the larger, re-designed turn signals.
And a different sheet metal piece directly below the headlights and grill (shown here below).

And you'll also notice that Europe abandoned the larger aluminum (commando) bumpers, which stayed on U.S. cars through 1982 and on Canadian cars for a year or two longer than that.

These E-code headlights below are the same as those above, except for the chrome trim (instead of black trim). This model below is a U.S. 1986 or later model that has been fitted with E-codes sourced from a Euro 1981 or later 240. It has a raised/peaked hood and chromed grill surround. This is the more common style of Euro headlight/grill combo that will fit a U.S. 1986-93 240.  Volvo continued using these headlights on all Euro 240s through 1993.
If you can find a set of these E-codes for your U.S. car, they're a direct bolt-on to any U.S. 1986-93 240. Be sure to buy the Euro turn signals too, since the U.S. turn signals will not fit next to the E-code headlights and the turn signal lenses will not interchange.
These are definitely NOT a direct bolt on to U.S. 1985 or earlier cars.

  1986-93 240s imported to the USA received the same front SHEET METAL that Euro versions got for 1981-93. U.S. versions did not, however, receive E-code headlights. Instead the U.S. versions received inferior U.S. DOT approved headlights with plastic lenses. At least these weren't sealed beam units. These use replaceable 9004 bulbs. The turn signals appear to be very much like the above Euro versions, however they are not quite interchangeable. If you buy E-code headlights for a 1986-93 240, buy the E-code turn signals to match.

If you have expensive or rare GLASS headlight lenses that you want to protect from rock chips, breakage or pitting, spend the money to get some good, thick headlight protection film.
If you search for Lamin-x or other universal headlight protection film, you'll probably find a lot of pre-cut kits for many different newer cars. There are no pre-cut kits for older Volvos, so you need to buy uncut sheets or rolls of this stuff.

or ANY film where thickness is not clearly advertised!
I put thin universal Lamin-x film on this headlight below and a rock killed it immediately.

This universal Lamin-x film I used first turned out to measure only 8 mil thick (0.008 inch or 0.2 mm). Perhaps this thickness would be OK for paint, but it did not protect my headlight at all.

I then found the below Lamin-x film that's available in 40 mil thickness (1 mm or 0.040 inch).
When I found this thicker stuff, it was only available in a bulk roll, 12 inch x 15 feet (or longer). This 15 foot roll was about $133.
More bulk rolls: https://lamin-x.com/rolls/lamin-x-rolls/

I had extra film left over, so I sold it to some friends for a small price to cover the cost of the roll.
Here's a comparison photo below of 8 mil versus 40 mil.

12 inches square can be used for two 7 inch round headlights, however you will probably really only need about 6 3/4 inch circles.


LAMIN-X CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEksXxq7yPaVLNhYQScg30A

Are they finally good enough to replace Halogen?

 LED headlights (and bulbs) have been around for years, but aftermarket kits for bulb replacements have mostly earned a bad reputation because of poor or inconsistent lighting patterns and poor brightness.
I resisted trying out any aftermarket LED bulbs in any E-code headlights for a long time because I felt it would be really hard to match or beat a good set of European H4 HALOGEN headlights.

This Info is Primarily about ROUND HEADLIGHTS, but bulbs are bulbs.
For a long time I used 80/100 watt H4 HALOGEN bulbs, which were much brighter and far better than any stock headlights. So my lighting was very good. Good E-Code H4 headlights are well known for the great beam pattern and lots of brightness. I had no complaints.
The only negative with high wattage halogens is that they use a lot of current. You should be using relays and heavy gauge wire for direct battery power when using high wattage halogens.
LED bulbs have an advantage in the lower power consumption. They typically use about 30% to 50% of the current
of a high wattage H4.

My NON-VOLVO car happens to be 2018 Subaru, which came with factory LED headlights.  Those lights are exceptional, so I had been hoping eventually the aftermarket would catch up to that kind of quality, brightness and beam pattern.

In 2020 I saw some videos from Headlight Revolution (I placed those below).
  Those videos led me to reach out to them to ask more about things like how the LED H4 beam pattern looked in an E-code headlamp housing and how the brightness was with the latest LED H4 replacement bulbs they offered. I was interested in how it would compare to my already pretty awesome hi-watt H4 halogen bulbs. Then I took a chance and I bought a set of LED H4 bulbs (below) to try out in my round E-code headlamps.

I bought the S V.4 LED bulbs shown below and at the link below. These are not cheap bulbs that you'll find all over the internet. They were close to $200 for the pair. 

S V.4 LED Bulb Review Video from Headlight Revolution

And here's another good video to see about how these bulbs are installed in an H4 housing.

So then I did my own visual comparison. These two photos were taken a little after sunset using low beams.
The top image shows the 80/100 watt HALOGEN H4 bulbs.
The bottom image shows the LED bulbs.

My observation is the LED bulbs are noticeable brighter, have an equal or better beam pattern, good beam cut-off at the top, and of course the light color is a bit whiter, since the LEDs are 6000k white.
After driving for a while, I really liked them and I'm keep the LEDs.

Here are a series of installation photos in an E-code Housing.
Here's the S V.4 LED bulb, which I'll show being installed into the below Cibie H4 headlight housing.

The collar shown below can be removed from the bulb. It just pulls off.
Since the rear fan part on the bulb is a bit wide, removing the collar will make it easier to lock down those wire retainers below.

Then this rubber
dust boot, which came with these headlights, gets installed over the collar. The center opening needed to be stretched a little to fit over the raised collar center.

Then the bulb is inserted and just clicks into place. It must be oriented so that the low beam CUP faces straight UP. It can be turned in the collar if needed.

All done. Pretty slick setup.

How to Remove Terminals from 240 Headlight Sockets

The plugs shown above are typical of a U.S. 240 with original sealed beam headlights. This plug above will have FLAG style terminals, which are shown below.

Removing these terminals will be an identical procedure to the below relay socket terminal removal.

Again, this is NOT really a headlight socket plug below
, but it'll work for this demonstration.
Notice the metal terminals inside the holes?

You'll need a tool for this part... a long sharp pick will do. A micro screwdriver can also be used. If your tool is not small enough on the tip, a little grinding will fix it as I did on this pick. Even a stiff piece of piano wire can work for this step.

Now pay attention to the little openings at the top of the little rectangular holes. That wide spot is where you need to insert your pick. The idea is to insert the pick in about 3/8 inch (10 mm) or so and push down to flatten the locking tab on the terminal. That locking tab holds the terminal in the socket. In the next photos, the locking tab will be easy to see.

If your socket doesn't have a wider opening that you can see, just pay attention to the below pics to know which side of the terminal to insert the pick into to push on the tab.

In this photo you can see the terminal backing out of the hole after the locking tab was released.

Here's a good view below of the locking tab on the terminal. After you depress the tab and pull the terminal out of the socket, you may find that your tool bent and flattened the tab a bit too much. If you will be re-inserting this terminal into a connector, the tab may need to be pushed back out so it still engages when re-inserted. It needs to be sticking out like in these photos to work correctly. If you accidentally break the tab off, you'll need to crimp on a new terminal.

As it gets inserted, you should hear a 'click' which tells you it has locked into place. Always make sure by giving the wire a little tug.
And always pay close attention when you plug sockets like this back in to see if any terminals get pushed back out of the back of the plug. That can happen sometimes if the tab hasn't fully locked the terminal in place.
If you need new terminals or plug sockets, you can find them here:

Headlight Relay Harness Upgrades

This is a good project for anyone with any older Volvo, especially if you have or want to to upgrade to brighter headlights with bulbs that use more wattage. 
For the best info I know, begin reading Daniel Stern's page on this subject.  He also has several useful diagrams for designing and building your own relay harness. 

Here are some Volvo specific diagrams that have been available on-line for many years. These use the same principles:

UPDATE 2018:
Wagonmeister is offering ready made 240 headlight relay harnesses, like this one below.

240 Fog Light or Driving Light Installation
I found these driving light diagrams below in some OLD Volvo 242 GT literature.  I modified them for simplicity and I decided to share them here. These diagrams below will show you two different methods of wiring; one for driving lights and one for fog lights. It uses a dash switch in conjunction with the 240 headlight step relay and with an added cube relay.
The relay diagram above is an SPST (Single Pole, Single Throw) type cube or mini relay. An SPST type relay is one that uses a center 87 pin (AKA: 87b) which has power when the outer 87 pin has power.  Using this type relay is not critical if you're not using the center 87 pin like in these diagrams. If you're looking for a relay like this you can find one here.

There is a reason for wiring the circuit to the step relay. 
For Driving Lights, the diagram below allows the lights to be automatically cut off when you switch OFF your HIGH beams. 
For Fog Lights, the diagram allows the lights to be cut off when you switch ON your HIGH beams.

The battery power is drawn from the inner fender battery junction box or it may be taken directly from the battery.
A FUSE is recommended somewhere between the battery power source and the relay.


With this method, the AUXILIARY DRIVING LIGHT switch receives power from TERMINAL 56a on the headlight step relay. 56a on the step relay is the high beam output, so this means these lights will be configured as auxiliary high beam lights that will only come on when the dash headlight switch is turned on AND when the high beams are also on.

When the driving light switch is turned on, it sends power to terminal 85 on the cube relay, turning the relay ON.

So then turning ON your high beams will turn ON these driving lights
, as long as the driving light switch is in the ON position. 
If the switch has a bulb as this one shown does, then it will light up when the driving lights are on if wired this way.


  I modified this diagram to demonstrate a method for fog lights. With this method, the fog light switch receives power from TERMINAL 56b on the headlight step relay when your headlight switch is turned on. The switch sends power to terminal 85 on the cube relay, turning it ON.  56b on the step relay is the low beam output, so this means the fog lights will only come on when the dash FOG LIGHT switch is turned ON and when the low headlight beams are also ON.
So then with this wiring, turning ON your high beams will turn OFF the fog lights.
If the dash switch has a bulb as this one shown does, then it will light up when the fog lights are on if wired this way.

Additional relay uses can be found in the Relay Guide posted HERE.

Detailed pinouts for a 240 step relay can be found HERE.

Mounting Driving Lights on your 240 without Drilling your Bumper!
If you're one who likes the look or function of killer driving lights on your 240, but you don't want to drill holes in the top of your bumper, I'll show you an alternative to drilling holes in your bumper. 
The ABOVE PHOTOS show 240s WITH HOLES drilled in their bumpers.
But if you don't want to deface your bumper, read below . . . .

This photo and photos below were found in some old Volvo optional accessory literature.
These lights were mounted using Volvo supplied accessory brackets that do not require drilling the bumper.

It turns out that Volvo produced accessory brackets that mounted BEHIND the bumper, which then came forward below the grill.  The photo above has a good view of the bracket design. I'm pretty sure it will be impossible to actually locate an original bracket, but I think making them would not be all that hard to do using these images.  You should try to use fairly thick steel to reduce the possibility of bounce from bracket flex. Volvo didn't make them stiff enough, since you can see here they have a brace at the top of the lights to stabilize them. Or you can make some of those stabilizing brackets for the tops of the lights as shown.

<<< I did a similar thing when I mounted driving lights on my 760 Turbo way back in the late 1980s. Then I later removed them before I sold the car with ZERO visible damage to anything. 
I used 1/4 inch steel plate to make them, so there was no flex or bounce.
I think that was
overkill, so probably 3/16 inch plate would be OK.
If you do a project like this or have already done one, please CONTACT MEI would like to hear from you about it.

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