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1995 Volvo 850 2.4L (non-turbo, manual 5-speed)

Engine cut during operation twice in one day, started back up almost immediately on its own the first time, the 2nd it stayed dead. Headlights were dimming just beforehand each time.
All electrical remained intact and working, including starter. Thought to check alternator, it's gone out. Have a mechanic change pulley from old to new alternator, but puts it on a bit too far, maybe 2mm misaligned, but solid enough to start the car.
Drive about 30 feet, car says no to the serpentine belt (which is looking a bit old anyway), eats a big strand off the edge and throws it. I have a spare, so I throw it on.

Now, the fun part.

The next time I attempt to start car, a loud pop is heard from the engine compartment. Friend is watching and sees that "magic smoke" puffed out at the mass air flow sensor's connector plug.
Along with this pop is a sudden change in sound of the starter. It now sounds higher pitched and sounds as if it is producing less work. It seems the serpentine belt and pulleys are moving slower than they should be.
Check battery, charge is sitting at 12.45V, which considering all the extra work on the starter as I've been doing all this for the past 3 days, seems reasonable.
I have a spare mass air flow sensor, so I put that in, but there was no change to the behavior of the car when starting.

Anyone got any ideas?
 

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850 hard to start and run

You likely have a different problem than what I have with my 97 850 turbo. My 850 will start but run poorly. About a week ago it started having a problem starting but would run well once it started. Now it starts easily but runs poorly after doing these 5 repairs: 1. Replaced fuel pump relay. 2. Replaced MAF. 3. Replaced distributor cap. 4. Replaced ICV. 5. Replaced the fuel pump. (Now, my replacement parts were used but some nearly new, so I could have several used parts that aren't good.) You might have to try some of these fixes.
 

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Update on my 97 850: (for the ones reading the original post and beyond): I double checked the possibility that I installed the spark plug wires in the wrong order. They were ok. I decided the next move would be changing the spark plugs.....Each one had black soot buildup, so I replaced all five and it runs great and starts easily. I expect one of my 5 previous repairs solved the initial problem. The plugs were the cherry on the top. I hope for no more problems related to the apparent fuel to air mixture being wrong.
 
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