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:
144,370 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #29

Apr 282016


  • 169,335 miles


Transmission is defective and fails every 50,000 miles without warning which could lead to an accident as vehicle becomes inoperable (stops and cannot be moved) this is the 3rd transmission installed in the vehicle by Volvo. Each of the transmissions have failed around 50,000 miles without warning.

- Harrison, NJ, USA

problem #28

Oct 242016


  • 172,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that the all wheel drive sensor malfunctioned. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic, but was unable to be diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not aware of the failure. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 03V434000 (wheels). The contact stated that the vehicle experienced the same failure listed in the recall. The failure mileage was 172,000.

- Redding, CA, USA

problem #27

May 292016


  • 130,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 sudden engine stall with lose of headlights: I was traveling on the interstate at night with the cruise set at 75 mph when suddenly it was like someone turned the ignition key to off for about 3 seconds, and then turned the key back on without restarting the engine. With all the warning lamps illuminated, and the engine at a stall I pulled into the emergency lane, and stopped. I then shifted to park and attempted to start the vehicle, where it took several attempts to start. The headlights did not stop working while pulling over, and when I stopped I switched the lights off before I restarted the engine. The first thing at mind was a fuel pump that was starting to act up. After restarting I revved the engine up a few quick times (to clear the engines throat). I then got back on the interstate accelerating to 75 mph, but doing so manually this time(no cruise control). About 10 min had passed when suddenly the engine started losing power as I was having to press the accelerator harder to maintain speed. While still coasting at 65 mph or so I placed the transmission into neutral, and attempted to restart the engine, when I turned the key to the start position I lost all the lights, I quickly released the key to the on position, and the lights remained off. I quickly pulled to the emergency lane and used the force to avoid the guardrail and the ditch. All the warning light were illuminated, and the engine was at a stall. I then turned the ignition key off and then back on, and that restored the headlights. It took 5-8 attempts to restart the engine, and again I'm thinking fuel pump acting up. Each time I attempted to restart the engine it would spit and sputter like if the fuel pump were only delivering half the pressure needed for the fuel injectors. After the engine restarted I made it home, and the problem has not arisen since,

- Austinville, VA, USA

problem #26

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 #25

Jul 142014


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving 65 mph, the engine rpms decreased as if the brake pedal were depressed. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or repaired and the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not provided. The failure mileage was 135,000....updated 01/27/16

- Glenview, IL, USA

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problem #24

Jan 152015


  • 113,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving at any speed, the vehicle jerked and lost power. The contact also heard water running on the right passenger side door and underneath the dashboard. The air bag warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 113,00. The VIN was not provided.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #23

Jan 142015


  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle stopped independently. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the tie rod needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #22

Jul 242014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 97,878 miles
As I was taking my kids home the truck went into limp mode even though it was still in drive leaving me and my two kids stranded in the middle of the highway my daughter and I had to actually push the vehicle off the road to safety. Now I find out that it needs a new transmission which we aren't able to locate.

- New Salem, PA, USA

problem #21

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 #20

Mar 102014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
While driving, car stopped accelerating and urgent transmission required light came on. Took it to dealership today and was told a new transmission is needed; total cost $6800. I know this year and model vehicle has had several issues with transmission. When I called Volvo, they said nothing could be done.

- Commerce, MI, USA

problem #19

Aug 252013


  • 106,530 miles


While driving 70 mph on I-5 we heard a loud thump in the engine compartment and we suddenly went to about 25 mph all of our electronic systems shut down, there was an extremely loud grinding sound for approx. 2-3 seconds. Now I think my transmission is damaged and the electronics system shuts down pretty frequently. I am totally disappointed to read that this has happened to numerous other families. Thank god no one has died from this.....this is very irresponsible and negligent from a reputable auto company. Is it going to take someone or family to get seriously injured or die before they acknowledge this very serious issue. Its time for someone to be accountable for this.

- Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #18

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 #17

Jul 212012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 170,000 miles
At 65 mph wipers went on by themselves then followed by split second power failure, meaning dashboard light out, hazard lights could not be turned on, windows would not open, A/C out, in the message screen at that moment antilock brake failure was displayed before everything went out, driving another 20 miles till next exit at the dusk, after pulling over and restart ( to reset) SRS failure in the message screen. Car checked by Volvo dealer and statement from them:fault in cem is shutting down network and causing dim to black out. Replacement will run about $1500, this car had automatic transmission failure at 91822 miles and ignition failure recently, and many many other costly problems.

- Mokena, IL, USA

problem #16

Jun 052012


  • 86,000 miles
The transmission is slipping. Engine revs and the transmission won't upshift...eventual gear change cause the vehicle to lurch forward a bit, with a loud thud heard. The vehicle also fails to move off from a stop on occasion...with the engine revving for a while before moving forward. Display message in the cluster: "transmission service urgent"...goes off and on for days at a time.

- Lindenhurst, NY, USA

problem #15

Mar 092011


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the transmission failed. The vehicle stopped accelerating and the speed dropped to zero. The contact pulled to the side of the road to restart the vehicle and the vehicle accelerated but would not exceed beyond second gear. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnosis where they informed the contact that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the issue. The failure mileage was 130,000.

- Ham Lake, MN, USA

problem #14

Mar 122012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Add to the very long list one more XC90 T6 owner with an automatic transmission failure. Transmission began slipping while driving. Repair estimate was $5800. This is the GM-sourced transmission issue that Volvo appears to be ignoring. Rest assured I will be participating in any class action suits that I can find until Volvo issues a recall or monetary compensation.

- Sheboygan Falls, WI, USA

problem #13

Jan 312012


  • 116,000 miles
We are owners of a 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD and have experienced a transmission failure that will cost $6500 to replace. Upon further investigation, we have found that there are literally thousands of complaints regarding these transmissions failing yet Volvo has failed to step up and address the problem. In our case, my wife was driving the car, in traffic, when the car slipped out of gear and started slowing down! luckily she was able to get off on the shoulder before trailing traffic caught up to her, but imagine what may have happened if she wasn't able to get out of the way! Volvo knows this is a problem and should do something so that 1) no serious injuries come from this failure, and 2) to compensate the Volvo owners out there that have had to shell out thousands of dollars in repair costs for this problem. Please investigate this issue!!

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #12

Sep 202006


  • 86,000 miles
There appears to be a problem with the XC90 Volvo transmission in all years. The message error code given is "transmission service required". the dealers claims it just has to update the car software to correct the problem. However, if you check the internet for problems reported on this same issue, you will find it is not just an isolated problem which need to be investigated.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #11

Nov 302011


  • 118,000 miles
Transmission failed with no warning. Fluid is in great shape, bad transmission.

- Arvada, CO, USA

problem #10

Feb 242011


  • 125,000 miles
In the winter of 2011 while driving my car in heavy rush hour traffic in the Chicago area the transmission failed suddenly and lost all power which was very dangerous and concerning. I was barley able to get to the side of the road without power and without endangering the other vehicles around me. The repairs required that my transmission be rebuilt, drive train gears replaced, and my radiator replaced which took four weeks and cost $7,000. The transmission failed because coolant from the radiator leaked into the transmission fluid. My vehicle was maintained per the manufactures requirement including a transmission fluid change less than a year earlier. It is obvious from a simple google search that this is a common problem due to defective parts and manufacturing. Even more obvious because Volvo will only warranty a replacement transmission if the radiator and other transmission parts are replaced. I also had to replace both rear wheel bearings earlier (about $400 each) only to find out that this also is a common problem suspected to be due to over tightening of straps during shipment. Contacted Volvo on 10/31/11 and they refused any responsibility for the repairs even though it is well document that there are manufacturing defects with several vehicles and this is not an isolated incident. I was told since it is not a recall they will not address it.

- Crystal Lake, IL, USA

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