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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
113,369 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 #10

Dec 062016


  • 166,000 miles


When traveling at high rates of speed (on the highway) the car completely shuts off. The dashboard and all electrical shuts off, the hazards do not seem to work or the turn indicators, ABS does not work so it is a very slow heavy stop. This happened to me in this car one other time in 2010, and there was an immediate computer module upgrade issued.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

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

May 282016


  • 125,000 miles
Car moved to right when applying brakes. Car clunks when making turns. Car very noisy when going over bumps/ potholes.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #7

May 172014

XC90 5-cyl

  • 155,000 miles


3 hours into a 3-1/2 hour weekend road trip there was a clunk in the engine compartment. Thinking I hit a pothole, I continued on cautiously. While continuing on these unfamiliar 2 lane windy roads going 43mph (the speed limit was 55) about 2 miles from where the clunk happened my entire dash cluster stopped working. All my dome lights and leg lights came on. The car clunked harder this time. I lost power to the engine, steering was like trying to turn a tank, and the brakes were very spongy. Still traveling on windy roads with large semi trucks behind me and cars passing by in the opposite lane I veered to the right to avoid being rear ended by a semi. Not being able to steer or stop as efficiently as before I coasted into a residents 2-3 man rock landscape traveling at about 5mph. I dented my front license plate and scratched the bumper. With my heart pounding, I turned the car off and got out to see the damage. I went to the residents home and told them my story. They were thankful my fiancé and I were okay. Since I hit rock there was no damage done to their landscape. After 20 minutes I started the car. It was hesitant to start. The brake failure light was on for a few seconds then the SRS service warning light came on and stayed on. For the remainder of the weekend trip the car would lurch like the tranny was slipping. Especially after taking off from a stop light. It still clunks once in awhile but we only drive it around town. It's currently at a certified Volvo specialist being serviced. This morning all lights stopped working and I couldn't get it out of the garage. The key stuck in the ignition. In conclusion, this mishap could have resulted in a serious injury or fatality. If every car of this make and model is doing this, they need to be recalled and repaired!

- Everett , WA, USA

problem #6

Jun 172014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
While on the interstate at 60mph, experienced temporarily loss of power, the ip displays and an abnormal 'jerking' in the transmission/drivetrain. The SRS airbag and brake failure error messages appeared in the ip error display. The wipers momentarily came on. Lights dimmed. Power failure was only for a split-second (at 60mph) before returning to normal. After normal power was restored, error messages continued to be shown in the ip error display. The brake failure message instructed me to pull over and bring the vehicle to a safe stop. Upon bringing the vehicle to a safe stop and turning off ignition, I heard excessive electrical clicking under the dash (like relays clicking). All ip displays were non-responsive (dark). I locked the car (alarm armed) and later returned with a tow-truck. Upon return to the car, I was unable to unlock it or disarm the alarm. Car was unresponsive. Alarm was armed (unable to be disarmed) and the engine bypass feature of the alarm prevented me from starting the car. Could only gain entry into the car from the driver's side door with physical key. Car was placed in neutral and loaded onto a flatbed truck for tow back to Volvo dealership. Temperature at time of failure was 110F.

- Washougal, WA, USA

problem #5

Oct 262013

XC90 6-cyl

  • miles
Hit another car from behind before a red traffic light. Tried the best to stop my 2004 XC90, but seemed I lost the brake (fully or partially) and was not able to stop it to avoid the collision. Although I did all my best to brake it, did not feel ABS at all. I was not driving fast, 10 - 30 mph, maybe. The weather was pretty nice, sunny and dry. Northern NJ.

- Montclair, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jun 282013

XC90 5-cyl

  • 78,244 miles


Was driving in neighborhood at about 20 mph, when radio shut off and then all electrical shut off, car did not respond to either gas or brakes, then there was a thump from the front of the car, which brought the dash lights back on. I then was able to pull over and turn off car. Restarted the car and there were a slew of error messages on the dash, including a brake warning. Attempted to continue to drive car, issue happened again and again on my drive home. Very unsafe to be driving and not sure if your brakes or steering are going to cut out. Did some research when I got home and realized this is a well documented issue with the cem of Volvo. I hope NHTSA is investigating. If this happens to someone driving on the highway it could be a very serious safety issue.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #3

Feb 202013


  • 167,000 miles
Driving approximately 55-60 mph when having to make a quick braking stop the brake pedal was hard and the brakes eventually stopped the vehicle but, seemed to be without assistance from ABS. Also, after the veh is in cruise control and stepping on the brake to take out of cruise the pedal is hard.

- Crystal Spring , PA, USA

problem #2

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 #1

Oct 012012


  • 104,789 miles
My wife and I were driving to a friend's how's when suddenly the radio started acting up, it would go on and off. After we noticed that I slowed down a bit then all of a sudden my hole dash board went out. I tried pulling over but the transmission would not respond, then the dashboard came back on but I had all these warnings like brake failure, SRS airbag service urgent, engine system service urgent. After all the happens the truck died, luckily I was able to get off the road before other cars hit us.after a couple a minutes I tried turning it on and it came back on but I still had the warning lights on but the truck was running fine, after we gotto our friends house I turned it off and left it their because I felt it wasn't safe to drive, the next morning I went over to pick up the truck, turned it on and all the lights were of and it ran fine. I looked itup online and it seems I'm not the only one who's had this problem, it seems its happened a lot but Volvo doesn't want to do anything about it. I like my Volvo but I am also concerned about how safe it really is.

- Salinas, CA, USA

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