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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
98,739 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #101

Jul 092012

XC90 5-cyl

  • 111,000 miles


At highway speeds, the windshield wipers randomly start, followed immediately by a loud thump sound from the engine, also immediately followed by all the electrical items on the instrument panel going dark, all gauges go to zero, speedometer doesn't work, radio goes dark and stops working along, A/C stops working, error message appear for the ABS and SRS. There is also an slight loss of engine power. Problem has occurred 4 times over the last year. Dealer could not replicate the problem on the first visit which is not surprising since the problem is completely random. On a more recent visit dealer says car needs a instrument panel module replacement at a cost of $1,500. According to my online research, this complaint is by far the most prevalent problem with this year and model by maybe a 20 to 1 margin.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #100

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 #99

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 #98

Mar 062013


  • 79,000 miles


I was driving on the highway at 60 miles an hour and the car completely shut off. No lights, no engine, no power steering, no dash lights. The car went completely dead. I pulled over and let the car rest and then it started up again. I noticed the second time it happened when I took my foot off the accelerator. I took it to arbormotion in ann arbor mi and they told me a code came up and some part had to be cleaned. When I took my foot off the accelerator there was not enough air going through the part to allow gas to flow. They fixed the part and a month later, the same thing happened on the highway only this time however, unlike the first time, just the lights stayed on. I went to the same shop and they said it was another code. I could have been killed on the highway. This should not have happened.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #97

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 #96

Jul 022012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 111,440 miles
Front lights go off got a ticket for that reason and only thru that ticket did I know that the lights go off it happens once in a while and when so I have to go to side of the road and turn car off and turn on again, wont happen for a period and then surprise it happens again.we bought the car used and we dont know if there is any recalls it might not have been taken care of.

- Lindsay, CA, USA

problem #95

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 #94

Dec 272012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 144,010 miles
Last night my 2004 Volvo XC90 left me on the side of the road interstate 88 near rock falls, il weather 7:00 pm 28° humidity: 73% wind: Nne dew point: 22° pressure: $30.16 in bone dry while driving 65mph felt a "thump" in the front end, followed by a split second where all dashboard lights, went black. While trying to push the gas pedal the car would not accelerate. Then normal function resumed. A minute or two later, same thing and all lights internally completely went out, I pulled over immediately and turned the car off. Hazard lights could not be turned on. After calling for a tow truck, and waiting about 45 minutes I restarted it. There were 2 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 urgent attention. I purchased this vehicle in early November 2012 I called the closest Volvo dealership and was told there were no open recalls and they had to have the vehicle for diagnosis because of the different symptoms I reported not a single mention of NHTSA defect investigations for the 2004 Volvo XC90 that seems specifically related to my symptoms experienced. From: Erica henry [mailto:[xxx]] sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 11:55 am to:[xxx] subject: Re: service request - yes I would like to make an appointment for Jan 10th. There are no open recalls on your vehicle. Because of the different symptoms that you experienced, we really need to have the car here to perform a diagnosis. There should have been some trouble codes stored in the system, and those will help my technician further diagnose the problem. If you'd like to schedule still please let me know. [xxx], service advisor -[xxx]world auto direct line 815-991-2770 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Rockford, IL, USA

problem #93

Nov 052012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
While driving on the highway with my two small children, the car made a knocking noise and driver console/dash stopped working. The lights went out, and all gauges went to "zero." I no longer had turn signals either. I feared for our lives. I have done research, and have found that others have this same issue with 2004 Xc90S.

- Wausau, WI, USA

problem #92

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 #91

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

problem #90

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 #89

Aug 262012


  • 111,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the radio and all of the interior lights turned off independently. The contact stated that the air bag and brake warning lamps also illuminated. In addition, the windshield wipers became inoperable. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the central electronic module needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was no longer under warranty. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 111,000 and the current mileage was 113,000.

- Mclean, VA, USA

problem #88

Apr 182012


  • 90,000 miles
The sunroof drain has a design flaw that can cause water to enter the passenger compartment and/or electrical systems. This can present simply as water on the floor boards. But it can also present in more subtle ways with water coming in contact with electrical systems and being drawn throughout the car through copper wires acting as conduit (this effects speaker quality, radio function, cruise control function etc). Most importantly, water can accumulate in the compartment under the front passenger seat that houses the dynamic stability traction control system putting safety at risk. We have experienced this with our XC90 but see many complaints regarding other Volvo models. This is a significant safety concern but most concerning because of its subtle nature, slow progression, and prohibitive costs to repair. Many people are driving around with compromised systems and are not yet aware, unable to recognize the cause, or unable to fund the repair.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #87

Jun 012011


  • 123,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving at any speed, the lights on the instrument panel illuminated and caused the radio, interior lights, air conditioning and the door locks to fail. The failure was experienced intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who performed a diagnostic, which located several electrical failure codes. The dealer reset the computer system and the failure was corrected. The failure mileage was 123,000 and the current 133,500.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #86

Jun 012012


  • 78,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph the brake and SRS warning lights illuminated, in addition to all of the dash board lights and gauges failing. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis and the contact was awaiting results. The vehicle had not been repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and current mileages were 78,000.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #85

Jun 012012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 111,000 miles
All interior lights, guages, windshield wipers randomly shut down at freeway speeds and at idle. Engine power is also affected as unable to accelerate properly. Dealer replaced driver information module however problem continues. Dealer unable to source the problem as the vehicle needs to be in the process of failing for them to source the problem. This has not been possible as the issue is random and typical goes away after the car sits for several hours. The service airbag and brake failure code remains in the driver information module. This is a serious safety issue especially at freeway speeds and at night.

- Burlington, WA, USA

problem #84

Jun 092011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
I was driving 65 mph on the I-95 when my windshield turned on by itself, then I got ABS system failure alert advising me to pull over safely. Next the dashboard died, windows didn't work and the power steering seemed to stop working. It was very scary. I got the vehicle to a dealership as luckily we were close to our destination. I turned off the ignition and explained the problem to the tech. He turned the car back on and it was like nothing had ever happened. The dashboard lit up fine and the windows worked fine. However, I did have a message stating I now had an airbag issue. They kept the car for 3 days trying to recreate what I had described and they could not figure it out. This incident happened about a year ago. It's happened no fewer than 8 times since then. I've taken it to other dealerships. I'm always charged a diagnostic fee and they can never figure out what's going on. It's very scary as there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason when the issue will occur. Sometimes my windshield wiper goes on it's own and sometimes my stereo flicks on and off; then I get the ABS system failure and dashboard goes dead. Volvo really needs to figure this out before someone gets hurt.

- Fulton, MD, USA

problem #83

Oct 072011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Starting in 2011 and 3 other occasions vehicle would not start. Starter motor would not turn and system appeared to be dead. Battery was tested to be in good condition. Prior to these events electrical system behaved erratically with radio switching on and off, door locks not operating from remote key fob and windshield wipers erratically turning on and off. Lights and systems seemingly behaving erratically. Airbag warning lights came on. On first occasion system was reset and mechanic changed the starter motor. In hindsight I don't believe it was bad or caused of the problem. On second and third occasions after towing and repeated start attempts the engine started. Note that when attempting starts nothing happened when the key was turned (engine starter would turn or engage. No clicking sound associated with bad battery), on fourth occasion in July 2012 Volvo reported that central electronic module was bad and multiple fault codes were present. When informed that this was a seemingly a common problem on 2004/5 XC90 with this model due to leaking grommet they denied this and stated that this was not the case for this vehicle. Module was changed at cost of $1,280.

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #82

Jun 252012

XC90 5-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
While driving on the highway my vehicle hiccuped intermittently three times and then the electronic panel, windows, locks, radio, A/C, signals, hazards all shut down and a message about the brakes came on. I was near the dealership so I stopped in and described the problem. With a smirk on his face the service consultant said it would cost $85 for diagnostics and then he would give me a cost estimate of the repair. They were busy and he said that he didn't think that they could get to it that day so I decided to take my chances and drive to my own mechanic. To my surprise when I started my car all power came back on and a message to get my air bag checked. When I arrived at my service station the mechanic put it on diagnostics (free) and couldn't find any error codes so he reset the car computer. Everything was fine until July 12 when the same thing happened again. This time I was driving at night on the highway about 65mph, my wife with me, when we got quite a scare when the car hiccuped. We lost all power again but fortunately our headlights and rear lights stayed on. We drove slowly and arrived safely home. What a scare! our mechanic put it on diagnostics again, found nothing and reset the car computer again. He doesn't know what's causing the problem (probably a computer issue) and told me I should take it to a dealer. Checking similar complaints on the internet this seems to be quite a problem with no fix. We fear for our safety driving the car and going any long distance. Help!

- Narragansett, RI, USA

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