hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,680 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.

2003 Volvo XC90 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Dec 312008


  • 94,000 miles


Power train - automatic transmission failure. Days after completing a 90,000 mile service and other repairs (brakes, broken engine mount bracket) and trip to boston from Washington DC, the "transmission service urgent" message came up for the first time since purchasing the vehicle new in 2003 from don beyer Volvo in falls church, Virginia. The failure occurred on new year's eve during a snow storm in the boston area. The closest dealership was closed for the holiday. On January 2, 2009, we brought the vehicle to dalzell Volvo in dedham, Massachusetts. After conducting a diagnostic test, the service manager informed me that the transmission was failing and that radiator fluid had mixed with the transmission fluid. I was quoted a price of $7000 to replace the transmission, radiator, and related equipment. After researching this issue, I discovered that the transmission failure is widespread for XC90 model years 2003-2004 and that this significant safety issue is well-known by Volvo. The vehicles covering these model years should have been recalled to replace the transmissions.

- Fairfax Station, VA, USA

problem #18

Nov 152008


  • 30,000 miles
2003 Volvo xc 90. Transmission failed at 30,000 miles, no unusual circumstances and car well maintained. Transmission failed again at 46,000 miles. Replaced again by dealership. Car not yet at 50,000 miles already showing signs of transmission problems again. Dealership replacing original Volvo transmission (no longer in production) with a Ford model transmission that the dealership acknowledged verbally was not strong enough to support the Volvo xc 90. Internet search indicates that this problem is wide spread.

- Mclean, VA, USA

problem #17

Sep 302008


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. When the contact started the vehicle, a warning indicator illuminated stating that the transmission needed to be checked. She took her vehicle to the dealer and they stated that a new transmission was needed. The contact wants to file a class action law suit. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Berkeley Heights, NJ, USA

problem #16

Oct 232008


  • 65,000 miles


Volvo XC90 65,000 miles - regularly factory maintenance at Volvo dealership - transmission failure. Almost had an accident accelerating when transmission slipped between 3 and 4th gear and car slipped into neutral. Volvo agrees to pay for parts, but not for labor which is expensive on this luxury vehicle. Many others (edmunds.com) have this same issue and it is a safety hazard.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #15

Oct 172008


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. While driving less than 70 mph, the vehicle began surging on its own. The check engine warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel, as well as an error message stating, "transmission service urgent." The dealer stated that there was excessive damage to the transmission along with shards of metal in the transmission. The dealer also stated that an alignment was needed, although one had just been performed on the vehicle. The dealer estimated that the repairs would cost over $6,000. The failure and current mileages were less than 93,000.

- Eagle, CO, USA

problem #14

Oct 122008


  • 61,300 miles
My vehicle has 61,400 miles and the transmission needs to be replaced. Out of the blue it started slipping out of gear causing extremely high revving and the a transmission failure light came on. Vehicle is well taken care of and there were no warning signs of this defect. Dealer says a new transmission is needed.

- N. Dartmouth, MA, USA

problem #13

Sep 182008


  • 50,000 miles


2003 Volvo XC90 - transmission failure @ ~ 30,000. Resulting in loss of power and acceleration. Transmission was replaced under warranty. At ~80,000 was informed that transmission was again failing (during routine service) and again needed to be replaced.

- Holliston, MA, USA

problem #12

Jul 012008


  • 76,000 miles
Transmission failure after 76,000 miles. Also high pitch squeal comes from rear wheels in slushy snow. Must slow or stop to halt squealing and grinding sound.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #11

Aug 152008


  • 84,000 miles
2003 Volvo XC90 transmission failure.

- Waxhaw, NC, USA

problem #10

Jun 062008


  • 58,429 miles
Normal driving. Bought car at 50K. At 58K information message came on about urgent transmission service. Had to replace entire transmission. Drove car for 1 month. Found fluid leak. Dealer is now replacing the angle gear.

- Whitmore Lake, MI, USA

problem #9

Apr 152008


  • 92,000 miles


At 92K miles, the dealership broke the news on April 15, 2008, about seeing large chunks of metal shavings when changing my transmission fluid with my 2003 Volvo XC90. I got a bill for $7500 (new tranny, new radiator, lines including labor), but dealership agreed to pay 60% after relentless complaints and directing them to below discussion forum on ongoing XC90 transmission failures townhall-talk.edmunds.com/webx/.F18A651/14?@160.oa6tamkcgp0@ regardless, I'm obviously extremely disappointed paying, considering my XC90 is less than 5 years, and have been consistent with my regular maintenance. My biggest concern is the safety of my 2 small children (3 & 5 yrs old), who we take to school daily. Volvo touts 'Volvo for life' and strong safety capabilities. This is not the case.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #8

Oct 262007

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Transmission failure at 50,000 miles. There were no warning indicators or prior problems with transmission. Dealer advised just an internal failure. Check of fluid was good, proper level and no metal indicated.

- Thomasville, NC, USA

problem #7

Oct 032007

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
No accident.

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jun 212007

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. When attempting to accelerate from a stop, the vehicle failed to move. However, the engine was still running. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who stated that a new transmission was needed. There were no warning indicators prior to the failure. The current and failure mileages were 42,000.

- Dallas , TX, USA

problem #5

Feb 012006

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo xc 90. The current mileage was 75000 and the failure mileage was 47000. The vehicle is having transmission problems. While driving 45 mph and trying to accelerate, the accelerations dies, making the vehicle unable to move as needed. This incident occured twice last year, and last week. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The contact does not have the VIN; however she will add it to the complaint when she receives the hard copy.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #4

Jun 222004


  • miles
When shifting vehicle from park to drive vehicle accelerated or decelerated followed by a noise. Dealership could not duplicate the problem.

- Chatham, NJ, USA

problem #3

Aug 012003

XC90 5-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
For both our 2001 Volvo S60 2.4T and our 2003 Volvo XC90 2.5T AWD there have been unsuccessful attempts to repair a transmission defect (essentially same transmission in both vehicles per Volvo tech support). Between 2nd and 3rd there is intermittent/unpredictable failure to engage 3rd in timely fashion with resultant loss of acceleration as vehicle is functionally in neutral with engine racing for ~0.5-2.5 seconds. This can be extremely dangerous especially when pulling on to a highway. We have experienced 2 near collisions (almost being struck from behind). Volvo tech support acknowledges a flaw in engineering whereby servo fluid air lock occurs in the 2001. A new transmission is scheduled to be replaced for our S60, but if the problem is still occuring in our 2003, will this really correct the problem as the transmissions are basically identical? the 2003 XC90 Volvo says can be repaired with "upgraded software" (which is scheduled for that vehicle) but this remedy failed when performed on our 2001 S60. We have let the dealer know we feel both vehicles are unsafe with this problem and we are now stuck with them trying to remedy both vehicles' glaring defects. We are not aware of a federally mandated recall to repair this Volvo acknowledged (safety) defect. Can NHTSA pursue this?

- Ft. Washington, PA, USA

problem #2

Sep 152003

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Problems with vehicle's transmission, seat belts do not latch, driver's seat reclines by itself. The radio went out and the engine made a grinding noise

- Northport, NY, USA

problem #1

Oct 072003

XC90 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,600 miles
We bought a 2003 Volvo xc 90 in January 2003, the vehicle is less than a year old and has about 12,600 miles. In the last six weeks, we have had four system problems, brakes, cruise control, ac/ defroster and most recently automatic transmission. I believe that the transmission is the most serious problem since it failed to operate while my wife was driving on the highway.the dealer repaired the vehicle stating that a corrupt software was the cause. Volvo usa stated that the "new " software was a modification/upgrade which is being put in the 2004 vehicles. My question to Volvo usa as to whether this problem with the 2003 caused the design of the modification was not an adequately responded to. Volvo usa claimed that there were no figures available to advise myself on how many 2003 xc 90 have had this or other problems. I advised vovlo usa that we are very dissatisfied with the quality and safety of this vehicle.

- Matawan, NJ, USA

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