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 1 of 2)

problem #39

Mar 262011


  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph the transmission began to slip. The contact was able to move from the main roadway but as she proceeded into traffic, there was a significant decrease in engine rpms and the failure persisted. The urgent service transmission warning light then illuminated. The vehicle was not been inspected or repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised her that they were unable to provide any assistance. The failure and current mileage was approximately 120,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #38

Dec 292010

XC90 6-cyl

  • 104,750 miles
I purchase a used Volvo XC90 on 12/17/2010 for my son with a registered 104,555 miles. On 12/29/2010 the transmission went out. I got a couple different estimates from $5,000 to $7,000 to repair or replace. After discussing with the automotive technician, I found out that Volvo has had a slew of problems relating to the 03,04 & 05 XC90 especially with transmission problems. I was totally disappointed because I purchase this vehicle based on Volvo reputation and the car reliability and due to the fact that I have a 2000 Volvo S80 and have had it since 2000 and have had few problems. Although, my son wanted to purchase another vehicle, I steered him towards the Volvo. Thinking that since a vehicle (especially a Volvo) shouldn't experience this type of transmission problem with relatively low mileage, I contacted Volvo North America and told them of my plight and requested that they pay for the repair or at least pay for a portion of the repair and they flatly denied my request. I am totally disappointed in Volvo for not honoring and standing behind their product, remember I bought this vehicle based on their reputation for building a sound reputable vehicle, although my son wanted to purchase another vehicle. My confidence in this company has been totally shattered. And to think that I was planning on replacing my 2000 S80 with another Volvo this summer.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #37

Nov 092006

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. The contact was driving approximately 55-65 mph when the transmission began to jerk with excessive hesitation. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the transmission was replaced for the third time. The manufacturer was notified of the transmission failures but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 58,000. Updated 07/20/11 updated 10/26/11

- Huntington, PA, USA

problem #36

Nov 112010


  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that the transmission was slipping and the safety warning light illuminated on the instrumental panel prior to the failure. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired for the failure. The failure mileage was 120,000. The VIN was not available.

- Woodland, WA, USA

problem #35

Jun 142010


  • 102,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volvo XC90. While driving at 38 mph, the transmission began slipping gears. The contact was able to reach her destination without incident. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who advised replacing the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 102,000 and the current mileage was 102,914.

- Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #34

Apr 082010


  • 104,000 miles
My 2003 Volvo XC90 has been to the dealer several times including over 3 times for same problem when I purchased the vehicle in 2006. All recalls have been fixed, front axle, wipers etc. I have purchased 4 sets of tires, tires boston Volvo installed and my 17 year old son received a complete blow out because wrong size tires. I continue taking to same dealer and since owning the car have had the same noises in front of car. Boston Volvo has stated in October and since owning the vehicle can find nothing wrong, April diagnosed with need new drive shaft after having car for 2 days but could not really fine anything but drive shaft. A strong fuel smell stated fuel pump does not need to be corrected. I need new muffler and taking to my own mechanic the real issue is transmission service urgent and need new transmission. Volvo did not diagnose this problem and my son is driving the car! my son is driving a lemon that is a danger to himself. Taking to Volvo does nothing, they cannot even diagnose and give wrong info given to me. I am currently up to over $8,000 in damages and still owe on this lemon. I need new transmission, muffler, still car vibrates and front end noises from whining, thumping etc.

- Concord, MA, USA

problem #33

Mar 052010


  • miles


2003 Volvo XC90 transmission failure.

- Waxhaw, NC, USA

problem #32

Feb 212010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,800 miles
The automatic transmission failed to go into first gear on a left hand turn. This failure could have led to an accident. After this incident the transmission would not come out of third gear.

- El Segundo, CA, USA

problem #31

Jan 072010


  • 85,000 miles
Volvo xc 90 2003 T6 transmission catastrophic failure on 10/23/09 I purchase my Volvo xc 90 2003 T6 with 85000 miles, on 01/07/10 I had a total collapse of my transmission around $8,000! thank's god I buy extended warranty for tranny and engine. But to have my tranny certify by Volvo I have to buy a new radiator, cost over $1,000! (included replacements parts), no sense at all! in my understanding this vehicle has a chronic transmission problem and I'm not supposed to be responsible for any of these cost!

- Brighton, CO, USA

problem #30

Oct 012009


  • 79,300 miles
Operating vehicle since Oct '08, since that time there has been a noise emanating from front pass-side wheel area. Purchasing dealer(hall Chevy, chesapeake, va) performed wheel-alignment to "fix" the noise which did not remedy. Volvo dealer in arvada, co diagnosed it as failed, or failing wheel hub, to be replaced at cost of $500. This vehicle also had trans failure at appx 76K miles, and throttle control module failure in Oct '09. I believe there are many concerns about operating and having confidence in its ability to operate "safely and reliably" the vehicle has been in the shop nearly as much as on-the-road since it's I purchased it in Oct '08.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #29

Jan 012006


  • 71,000 miles


Transmission failure in 2004 Volvo XC90 T6. Volvo well aware of the transmission failure rate in these vehicles but fails to issue a tsb. My vehicles transmission failed at 71, xxx miles with my wife and kids in the car at an intersection. Would not accelerate from a stop. Had reported instances of "slipping" trans to dealer service dept with no resolution prior to this failure. New trans was replaced out of warranty cost over $4700 with no refund or discount from Volvo cars of North America or the dealer. Research reveals "squeaky wheel" policy toward compensating owners. I was rejected for compensation and offered 50% discount on parts and labor for "next transmission failure".

- Gurnee, IL, USA

problem #28

Oct 072009


  • 116,000 miles
I purchased my 2003 Volvo XC90 in April of 2005 with 36K miles. For the last 3 years, I have complained on various issues with the car's performance related to the vehicle's transmission. Pulling and jerking of the car when I proceed to accelerate, slow acceleration from stop, not being able to put the car in reverse, car only wanting to drive in third gear, and a high pitch noise. From Oct 05 to March 2008 I made 8 visits to the dealer regarding these issues for which I was blown off and told that unless the light appeared they could not replace my transmission. At 87K miles I had it and took the car right to the service mgr who in turn told me that "Volvo is aware of this factory defect and regardless of whether I am in or out of my warranty, they would replace it once the light comes on. 4 months later, the dealership that I bought the car from (gwinnett place Volvo in duluth, ga) went out of business. On Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009, the "service transmission urgent" light came on my 2003 Volvo XC90 with 116K miles. After which I noticed the gear automatically shifting into 3rd gear. I immediately took the car to my local dealer dyer & dyer Volvo. They've kept the car for 2 weeks offering to request a "good will" request to Volvo North America to fix the car. Volvo North America has refused to fix the car which costs $7500 sighting that it is now of warranty. I contacted the executive office who told me that unless the car is recalled they will not fix my car. Yesterday I found approximately 1,973 complaints regarding this same issue on this make/model for years 2003-2006. Please please please recall this car and fine Volvo as they have offered no remorse whatsoever on this issue and are openly admitting 2 this factory defect but refuse to fix it. It's a hard pill to swallow when you purchase a car for $40K to only be able to drive it 75K miles with countless issues and trips to the dealer for service. Volvo's marketing pitch of dependability is fraud.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #27

Oct 162009


  • 112,000 miles
Transmission service urgent light. The transmission had to be replace. This is a known problem with this type of SUV from Volvo the 2003 XC90. The dealer are only replacing the trans at outrages price some as much as $8000. If this is a know problem why will Volvo not have a recall. This is the third Volvo that I have own.

- Petersburg, VA, USA

problem #26

Sep 202009


  • 107,000 miles
We bought our 2003 Volvo XC90 T6 in July of 2005 with 40,000 miles from a dealer who stated it was a local trade in. I met the original owner of the car after we purchased it and was told they got "rid of it" because of so many trips to the dealers service department. We have taken the car to the same Volvo dealer who did normal maintenance at first, but then things started to go downhill from there. We had a "check engine" light that would not go off after numerous computer downloads. We were told the computer had to reset itself for this to go off. It is still on as of today. We replaced both turbos on this model in June of '08 for over $6,000 and only 70,000 miles. The car sat at the dealers service department for over a month and they had to bring in a Volvo expert for this repair. In Sept. Of this year they are both needing to be replaced again. I cannot believe that I could only get 25,000 miles from this repair. If I had known then, I would have traded it immediately. Also in '08 the "service transmission urgent" light came on. There was clunking and grinding in the transmission so we towed it to the dealer (again). The problem was a yaw sensor failure with was replaced at the dealer. This is where I believe our new problem started. We now have the light on again. It slips in 1st gear and sometimes gets caught in 3rd and won't come out. This, as we have now found out is a very common problem with this model. I have found over 1,800 XC90 owners with the same problem. We are looking at over $11,000 for both of these repairs and I honestly cannot see spending this on a car that is worth only $14,000!!!!! I need help with this problem from Volvo North America or from the dealer. I have friends with Volvo with over 300,000 miles. I wanted to be able to drive mine that long, but I guess my slogan is "fix for life" not "Volvo for life".

- Santa Rosa Beach, FL, USA

problem #25

May 222009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
The transmission (without warning) in my 2003 Volvo XC90 T6 went out (no reverse & wont shift out of 3rd gear). It is an automatic. There are many owners of this vehicle who have experienced the same problem it has been independently diagnosed as a defect with the particular transmission that Volvo choose to put in this model vehicle. Most owners have been told by dealers there is nothing that can be done for them (most problems occur between 40 - 60,000 miles & are out of warranty) except sell them a new or rebuilt transmission (approx. $5,000). My vehicle has 75K miles & I have my vehicle at a repair shop waiting to see what my options are. I have been told by two mechanics that the transmission needs to be replaced.

- Vero Beach, FL, USA

problem #24

May 092009


  • 107,000 miles
I own a 2003 Volvo XC90 T6. The transmission failed once at 66,000 miles and was replaced. At that time Volvo paid 50% of the cost. My cost was $2,700. It has now failed again at 107,000 and is now awaiting its third transmission. I have filed a complaint at Volvo customer service on the website. Volvo is offering to provide the parts if I pay for the labor. The car failed on the New York turnpike creating a dangerous, scary situation. The car was towed to a Volvo dealer in albany, NY. I live in columbus Ohio. I needed to rent a car @ a cost of $355 to return to columbus. The car is in albany awaiting repair. I have received a call from betty with Volvo, telephone 800-458-1552 X 1977. Volvo will cover the parts if I cover labor. The labor will cost $1,800. I will also need to incur the cost of a plane ticket to return tto albany. Due to the high costs I will need to incur to fix the car under Volvo's current offer, I would like to consider my options. Thanks very much for your help in this matter.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #23

Apr 282009


  • 102,000 miles
2003 Volvo XC90 - transmission is "stuck" in 3rd gear. I just found out the transmission is built by GM. No wonder there is a problem! the dealer said to "fix" the problem would br $6K+. he said the axle had leaked grease into the transmission and is causing the issue. GM built the transmission and this is not the first time I have heard or read about the same problem. The car is sluggish from a dead stop which is dangerous and will cause an accident. The vehicle is not safe to drive. If Volvo cares about their reputation this must be addressed and of course GM should work out something with the drive train manufacture. Faith in Volvo has been damaged. None of the dealerships seem to understand what the issue is or how to fix the problem without replacing the whole transmission. There will be an accident due to lack of performance if not already. This is a serious issue. Also, one would think the transmission could seize up at freeway speeds. My complaint is this is a pure product quality control issue. Please address and/or advise how to resolve.

- Novato, CA, USA

problem #22

Apr 012008


  • 65,000 miles
The Volvo XC90 T6 model has a significant safety issue with the transmission. My 2003 XC90 T6 with less than 65K miles on it had the transmission fail. I was driving down a limited access highway (hwy100 in minneapolis) when the transmission failed. I could not drive over 30 mph on this fast moving highway. In researching this problem, it is painful clear that this model has an extensive history of transmission failures. Time and time again T6 owners are having to replace transmissions sometimes twice with less than 120K miles on their vehicles. Volvo is not stepping up to take responsibility. It is going to take an accident or god forbid injury or death for them to acknowledge this problem.

- Edina, MN, USA

problem #21

Dec 312008


  • 77,344 miles
My 2003 Volvo XC90's transmission went out just ten days after the warranty expired. Volvo customer service offered a good faith repair but still cost me several thousand out-of-pocket in repair costs. Six weeks after repair, I have a puddle on my garage floor. This problem, with the T6 transmission, is rather common and well-documented. If the problem is so prevalent, why is there not a full recall or better fix? I am not satisfied with this car.

- Red Lion, PA, USA

problem #20

Feb 012009


  • 62,000 miles
Received a transmission urgent service warning light. Took the car to dealer and they stated I need a new transmission. Car has 62,000 miles and has always been serviced at Volvo. I did a search online and found over 200 complaints of the same failures I stated. Volvo would not cover the repairs under warranty.

- San Diego, CA, USA

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