Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: The XC90 took its “freshman 15” of transmission complaints and turned it into a “sophomore 45.” The 2004 XC90 saw 3X as many complaints about the transmission failing as it did in its inaugural North American model year! By the following year, transmission complaints fell back in line with the 2003. That sharp spike in complaints means we recommend avoiding the 2004.

On top of transmission complaints, the 2004 XC90 also has problems with a sudden loss of power. The lucky ones are met with a “reduced engine performance” message, while others are left stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
98,258 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Volvo XC90 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #60

May 302011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 124,500 miles


2004 xc-90 AWD: For over two years the vehicle has been experiencing the same issue which appears to be an electrical problem. The vehicle will suddenly seem to stall or "hiccup" while driving. This occurs at any speed but it is most prevalent at highway speeds. It normally happens at speeds of 65mph or higher. The windshield wipers will engage for one sweep (they will be selected "off"), the radio (if on) will turn off and on again, the gauges on the panel will go dead and then come to life. The most unsafe thing is a loud "thump" that occurs in the front of the vehicle. It feels like someone has suddenly slammed on the brakes and then released them. This all happens in a matter of seconds. The engine does not stop during this sequence and the brakes appear to keep working. This has occurred with and without the cruise control engaged. There are no warnings, lights, or caution messages associated with this during or after it occurs. None of the dealerships we've taken it to have discovered the cause. I recently discovered a NHTSA investigation that was completed in November 11, 2010 on 20 cases involving similar issues with 2004 xc-90S. The investigation number is PE10-025. It appears the problem may be electrical but neither I nor the dealerships can narrow it down. The vehicle has approximately 125K miles on it. I have been the only owner of the vehicle and all required maintenance has been kept up to date with Volvo dealerships in wichita, ks, stockton, ca and now Tacoma, wa. Most recently this occurred three times during a day trip which covered approximately 288 miles.

- Lakewood, WA, USA

problem #59

May 172011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that when driving various speeds, he could hear a clicking noise coming from under the dashboard and various lights on the instrument panel would illuminate rapidly. The failure recurred intermittently. The contact also stated that after the most recent failure, he was unable to start the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed or repaired. The failure and current mileages were unavailable. The VIN was unavailable.

- East Palo Alto, CA, USA

problem #58

May 262011


  • 123,000 miles
Was driving at highway speed when all electrical systems shut down. Dash panel indicated brake failure, stop carefully. No lights, turn signals, speedometer, tachometer, airbags, hazard lights, pwr windows, pwr brakes, radio - no power to anything. Clear, dry weather conditions. This had been happening for short cycles for approx. 2 months. Windshield wipers would turn on for one cycle and all power would shut down to dash, radio, lights etc. But would last for only a second or two. This might happen 2-3 times on approx. 20 mile drive home on highway. This only happens at highway speed. But the incident on Thursday 05.26.11 no power lasted for 10 miles until I got the vehicle home. Had the car sit for an hour and then started again and the dash indicated SRS system failure but all power was restored to car.

- New Market, MD, USA

problem #57

May 042011

XC90 4-cyl

  • 74,000 miles


This is in regards to my Volvo 2004 XC90. While driving my Volvo starts jerking and then all of the electrical systems go out - all the interior dash light go off, signal lights, and hazards will not work. I get a message about brake failure and then SRS airbag service. Once you stop the car and restart it functions normally with just the SRS message remaining.

- Ca, CA, USA

problem #56

May 012011


  • 110,000 miles
Engine warning light alerted a "bulb failure". replacement of the headlamp cartridge did not fix the problem. Since the incident happened, I noticed several other XC90 SUV's with same daylight lamp out on the driver side.

- Rancho Mirage, CA, USA

problem #55

Apr 122011


  • 113,000 miles
I own a 2004 Volvo xc-90. I have owned it since 12/2007. Approximately 7 months ago I started having intermittent electrical problems (navigation failure, engine service alerts, security alarm system failure). Messages would appear and then stop. Recently while driving in the mountains a message appeared about a position light failure, then progressed to multiple light failures. This occurred at night on the blue ridge parkway which is poorly lit in many areas and has winding roads with steep drop offs. We had to drive with my passenger aiming a flashlight to see the road until we could turn off on an exit. There is no where on most of the parkway to pull off and we were at great risk without headlights. We checked fuses, and then started again and headlights worked, so drove on. Later on the interstate they failed again and we had to pull off and park and get another ride home. Volvo confirmed that the cem failure is a very common occurrence with Xc90S. They used to keep some of these on hand due to common need to replace. As with other owners, I now have a $1200+ repair to replace this. This should be a recall item - high rate of occurrence and safety issue. Why wait until someone is killed? it is only a matter of time till happens with cem failures..

- Clemmons, NC, USA

problem #54

Mar 202011


  • 62,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving at any speed, the contact noticed a loud thumping noise coming from the front end of the vehicle folwed by the illumination of all warning lights including the check engine, ABS and SRS warning lights. The engine continued to run; however, all the electrical power failed. The dealer advised the contact to bring the vehicle in for diagnostic testing. The contact did not inform the manufacturer since he was awaiting a service appointment with the dealer. The current and failure mileage was 62,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Iaea, HI, USA

problem #53

Jan 282011


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving approximately 40 mph the vehicle stalled. The contact stated that the vehicle restarted after pulling onto the side of the road. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technicians were unable to diagnose the failure. The technicians performed updates to the computer. The vehicle was at the dealership and had not been driven since the updates were made. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in any recalls and referred the contact to the dealer for further questions and concerns. The approximate failure mileage was 77,000.

- Princeton, NJ, USA

problem #52

Aug 222010

XC90 5-cyl

  • 98,003 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving approximately 60 mph, the vehicle jerked violently and the instrument panel gauges failed. The engine was shut off and then restarted after several minutes. The vehicle resumed normally for a short period before the failure recurred. The contact stated the malfunction occurred after driving for approximately five hours. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the faulty cem unit was replaced. The failure mileage was 98,003. Updated 3/21/11

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #51

Feb 122011


  • 123,000 miles
Car lost all power. All dashboard went off and power steering went out while driving at over 40 miles an hour on the highway. This happened on 4 different occasions. Mileage 123,000 2004 Volvo XC90 T6.

- Sherman, CT, USA

problem #50

Jan 152011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 108,540 miles


Liquid (probably water) inside the frame of Volvo XC90 causing electrical issues.

- Niskayuna, NY, USA

problem #49

Jan 112010


  • 119,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that the vehicle shut off and back on causing a painful jerking motion to the occupants of the vehicle. The contact hurt his neck and shoulders from the drastic jolt that the vehicle made. The lights and all power shut off and then they immediately come back on. The contact had taken the vehicle to the dealer several times and was told that they could not find anything wrong with the vehicle. The contact also stated that the failure seemed to happen every 500 miles and was now happening more frequently. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 80,000 and the failure mileage was 119,000.

- Glasgow, KY, USA

problem #48

Dec 222010

XC90 5-cyl

  • 115,089 miles
During long durations(>4hrs) of driving my 2004 Volvo XC90, it seems to have electrical problems that have caused me and the passengers to be put into dangerous situations. For example, driving on a long trip with the cruise control enabled and trying to accelerate up a hill and suddenly the car will go into an engine protection mode and reduce power to the extent that I can't accelerate and have to pull over on the side of the road--(boost control module has been replaced and the engine control module has been replaced.) as long as I don't use the cruise control this will not occur. Also, there was a software update in 2009. Next, after trying to accelerate up a hill, there seems to be intermittent reduction in engine power, not allowing the car to accelerate. After trying to accelerate the "check engine" light has appeared and will not go off (waiting to have this problem diagnosed)...

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #47

Jul 102010


  • 132,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, every electrical component malfunctioned. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated that the stereo system needed to be replaced; the vehicle was repaired. Two days after the repair, the electrical system malfunctioned again. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 132,000.

- Kings Mountain, NC, USA

problem #46

Nov 052010


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that the owner's manual provided inaccurate information pertaining to the towing capacity; however, the 2005 and 2006 owner's manual specified the accurate weight reduction with the vehicle occupants. In addition, the entire electrical system became inoperative intermittently. The relay switch, internal rem and yaw modules were replaced at different times. While driving the engine would completely shut off when the contacts knee was close to the ignition key. The failure continued after the vehicle was repaired. Currently, diagnostic testing was being performed by the dealer. The failure mileage was 10,000.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #45

Nov 032010

XC90 4-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
Multiple electrical system problems with most recent being a shutdown everything electrical on the dashboard. Car would still drive but no instrumentation, door locks, windows or ability to open gas tank cover from button inside car.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #44

Oct 212010


  • 69,000 miles
2004 Volvo xc 90, 2.5 AWD. While driving on I40 at night, (65 mph, in drive) a loud thump followed by momentary electrical failure( headlights, loss of engine power.) it then picked back up and continued on for approx 1/4 mile and it happened again. Made into far right lane from the 3rd lane over. Other than the radio volume everything worked as normal the next 40 miles to home. This happened at approx. 9:30 pm in the middle of the interstate. What if the lights had failed and it not regained power, 40/85 is a busy highway at night. I was driving with my wife and 2 kids.

- Stokesdale, NC, USA

problem #43

Sep 012010

XC90 5-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2004 Volvo XC90 that needs the cem replaced a cost of $1400. As I was doing research on my cars problem I noticed that almost every model of Volvo has the same issue. The cem is the computer that controls everything. When mine went bad I was driving 70mph down the interstate and the car just shut off. Very dangerous!!!!!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #42

Sep 212010


  • 49,250 miles
While driving in rain about two ours left headlight went out twice but came back on, almost flickering motion. Noticed that the electrical system inside car flickered as well. Head light went out again for third time and so I pulled over and turn the car off and back on and was fine. Continued driving for another 30 mins when all of a sudden entire electrical system went out during driving. Total blackness. The only thing I could do was steer to the side of the road and stop. Turned the car off again and back on and worked fine but had "SRS" airbag warning light.

- Whitmore Lake, MI, USA

problem #41

Jan 102008


  • 45,000 miles
Coming home to southern California from a trip in Arizona and driving at night though the Nevada desert. Weather was nice, dry conditions, light traffic ( the sun had set about 7:00 in the evening) - January 2008 and we were cruising at about 65 mph. At about 50 miles outside banning the car had a power surge, and it felt as if we went over a bump on the road, there was a quick flicker in all lights and the navigation system reset. The recovery was almost immediate and did not think much of it. About half hour later it happened again. This time started to worry about the car as it was dark, had small kids in the car and we were in the middle of nowhere, desert for miles and miles. So, with no options we kept driving. About ten minutes later it happened again. This time there was no recovery. All lights, instrument panel, headlights, emergency lights, rear light all out. The car was pitch black. I believe only the fog lights were working but was worried about visibility on the road as we had no rear lights what so ever and the majority of the traffic at night on the I-10 is trucks. Drove on shoulder for about 2 miles and took the next exit. Small gas station only, no repair shop, no motel nothing; only a truck stop. After a small respite we stated up the car again and engine and all lights were again functional. I was terrified of driving the car home still over 100 miles away and no where near civilization, but since we had no other choice we did. No further incidents upon getting home. Dealer had no idea what could have caused that, they update computer codes, and a control module. To this date they still do not know what could have caused that. We are very lucky to have not gotten into an accident or worse.

- South Pasadena, CA, USA

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