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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
197,330 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments

problem #9

Nov 022016

XC90 5-cyl

  • 137,500 miles


While driving any distance over 60 minutes the car warning comes on saying sudden loss of brakes, stop safely. Airbag check light comes on. Within a few seconds all the electronics shuts down; all dash, stereo, lights, wipers, windows and lack of power to engine but car stays running. This was almost a deadly crash while driving in pouring rain and there were cars everywhere. No way to signal or flashers, I honestly thought me and my family were gonna get in an accident. I have read other stories online so my question is, what is the cause of this? how do I fix it before some gets hurt or even worse killed!

- Kutztown, PA, USA

problem #8

Oct 022015


  • 140,000 miles
While driving at any speed the vehicles electrical system completely shuts down with out warning as if the vehicle was off. The engine stays running with very minimal power. This happened to me at night while driving on the highway, it was raining and all the lights, wipers, every electrical part just shut off, I am lucky I did not crash. After researching I that a lot of owners have the same problems and that Volvo is aware of the dangerous problem but does nothing about it.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #7

Aug 072014

XC90 5-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
Our 2004 Volvo xc-90 developed a warning light that the stability control was inactive. In addition, we experienced a "sloshing" sound in the passenger compartment akin to a bottle of water rolling around the back. Upon inspection it was determined that the yaw sensor was damaged due to corrosion from defective sun-roof drains which allowed water intrusion into the vehicle body. No external leaks or issues were evident and the issue was well described upon an internet search.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #6

May 242013

XC90 5-cyl

  • 974,300 miles


After several hours of driving in the Georgia / North Carolina mountains with the wife and 2 kids in the back, the air-conditioner and radio on with the 2004 XC90, the car started experiencing weird behavior. Shortly after crossing the Georgia border into the mountains of North Carolina there was a loud noise under the hood of the car and the vehicle jerked violently. The car immediately lost all electrical power (no dashboard, hazard lights, blinkers, windows and door locks, sunroof, etc.). the drive train also seemed stuck in a high gear and would not downshift which made normal driving close to impossible especially on mountain roads. About 15 minutes later, the car made the violent noise again under the hood again and jerked violently again. Luckily there was an autozone immediately after the second incident and I had them read the engine codes which was only showing a ¿¿dstc failure¿ (dashboard was non-functional). I decided to replace the battery with a new one in hopes that the failure was because of a weak battery tricking the computer to go into survival mode. Upon restarting the car, power was restored to the cabin (ac, radio, and dash were all working again) and there was now a ¿'SRS airbag service urgent¿ message which I couldn't clear from the dash, nor could the tool from autozone detect or clear via the plug to the computer port. There were no engine codes in the autozone computer after the battery change but we still had the SRS warning light / message on the dash. The next day, we had the same issue above driving home from our destination. We were hoping that new battery would solve the issue, but I now believe it's the cem. Car is going to the dealer tomorrow to investigate since of course it happened on memorial day weekend and nothing was open other than some stores.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #5

May 052013


  • 93,000 miles
I was driving my XC90 2004 and suddenly the unit just turned off completely. I had to continue driving with the vehicle without any kind of power. I parked the car beside the highway and tried to turned on the car again, the car started to function normally. I checked the pole of the battery but they were ok and the battery itself it's new. This is not the first time that happens, it is very unpredictable and sporadic.when I went to the Volvo dealer some months ago to fix a campaign that have the XC90, I told the mechanics what happened and told them to check that issue. The told me it was very strange and when they fixed the campaign they told me they didn't found anything.

- Vega Baja, PR, USA

problem #4

Feb 282013


  • 110,156 miles
Today, we learned our Volvo XC90's yaw rate sensor has failed. The root cause was water leaking into the passenger side of the car due to blocked moonroof (I.e. sunroof) drains, which shorted the yaw rate sensor. This impaired the electronic stability control and brakes of our Volvo, putting us at risk of accident. Research shows this is a frequent and recurring problem known since at least 2004. It has caused thousands of dollars in damage to numerous Xc90S. Volvo is aware of this issue up to and including the president of Volvo usa. Even though easy and inexpensive regular maintenance would prevent expensive damage, neither the Volvo user manual nor maintenance service operations guides mention the need. The damage we and others have suffered was completely preventable. The root cause is a design defect, which Volvo service providers regularly correct by cutting the bottom end of the hoses. A service provider is reported as saying, "this is a bad design. We don't know why Volvo designed it this way, so we just cut off the bottom two inches of the hoses." Given the risk this defect puts owners at and Volvo's ongoing failure to correct this design defect and/or notify owners of this issue and the required maintenance to address it, I believe a recall of all affected Volvo Xc90S is warranted and should be instituted immediately. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #3

Oct 132012

XC90 5-cyl

  • 88,013 miles


While driving between 65 and 70 miles on a major interstate my 2004 Volvo xc 90 has a severe "thump" in the front end, which is then followed by a very brief (split second) internal (meaning all dashboard lights, hi-fi, dome lights, radio air condition, oil gage, fuel gage clock ) power failure. While trying to push the gas the car would not accelerate. At first I hit something on the highway. A minute or two later the "thump" was harder and the lights internally completely went out, hazard lights could not be turned on, blinkers could not be switched on, hi-fi went out, the door locks would not work, the windshield wipers would not cut on or the electric windows. I pulled over immediately and turned the car off, waited 10 minutes and restarted it. There were 3 messages on the dash, the yellow exclamation point dashboard icon/alert lit up, a service message flashed referring to the anti-lock brake failure, the SRS needed to be checked, and check engine. The next day I took it to a Volvo dealership, they couldn't diagnose the problem. They assured me that the car was ok to drive. Four days later the problem starts again. So after doing a little research I find out that this is a common occurrence on the Volvo xc 90 and there was an investigation on this same issue in November 2010 in which Volvo is fully aware of and "acknowledges a problem affecting some subject vehicles involving water seepage into the plenum box area in the engine compartment. When this occurs water may enter into the interior passenger compartment and track along the wiring harness for the central electronic module, the device that controls many of the vehicles electrical functions including wiper operation, lighting, and transmission operation. If the water reaches the central electronic module connector electrical faults may result." This is a $1200 repair which Volvo should pay.

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

problem #2

Mar 012010


  • 46,000 miles
My 2004 Volvo XC90 has experience a sudden electrical failure. While driving in city conditions all internal electronics including speed & fuel gauges, turn light indicators, audio system, air circulation and supplemental restraint system have turned off while the engine continued to operate. This made the car impossible to drive as no feedback on speed or ability to indicate a turn or a stop was possible. This occurred suddenly and without any warning. I was unable to fix this by restarting the car. According to basic research, this is a common issue with Volvo cars made circa 2003-4 and involve a defective cem (car electronics module). In other incidents engines have also shut down unexpectedly and brakes became inoperable. This is a serious safety issue that needs to be addressed.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #1

Jun 202008


  • 52,000 miles
I have a 2004 Volvo XC90 that has 52,000 miles on it. I started receiving a "brake failure" warning and took it in to my mechanic. He said it was ABS/dstc control module which regulates the anti-lock brakes and dynamic stability control. This is a safety feature, and according to my mechanic, has been known to be defective on this model. It requires replacing with a factory part, and reprogramming of the computer at a cost to the consumer of about $1100. Labor for this is approximately $250. Since this is a safety feature, and due to the fact that this is such a common problem with this vehicle, I feel if is reasonable to request that Volvo recall these vehicles and repair this feature.

- Rancho Murieta, CA, USA

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