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 4 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #81

Jun 052012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 109 miles


Driving on street and engine just died, no reason can think of, no engine light or message in text. Happened again 2-3 weeks (yesterday) while slowing down for street accident, lost all power, had to stop car without power steering or brakes, put in park and started again. No problem afterwards and drove home. Took to Volvo dealer today where I regularly go and of course no reason found for two time failure. Luckily not driving on freeway or may have been rear-ended due to engine failure. Quite scared now to drive - when is it gonna happen again? 111,500 miles - has had new transmission 2 years ago and major service several months ago. Service manager has no idea, recommended throttle cleaning for $400+ dollars and not even sure that is close to problem.

- Tarzana, CA, USA

problem #80

Jun 272012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 71,400 miles
While driving on a 40mph busy road, my cd player display began to flash, then a few seconds later, my SRS air bag service urgent message came on. Everything continued to flash and then all my instruments (speedometer, rev counter, turn signals) all died. Lucky I was passing my dealer who I just bought the car from and able to turn into it. After braking, I could not accelerate the car and had to let the momentum carry me into to the lot. I have had the car for 5 days now. I noticed on the first day that simple things were not quite right, including my mirror button only working half the time as well as my window control. Also my wipers would turn on randomly. This seems to be a very common problem with this year and model car if you read any Volvo forums. It seems it has happened to enough people that there should be a recall on the electronics of this car. People's safety are great risk with the failure of these said item in the car.

- Ballwin, MO, USA

problem #79

May 132011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 122,500 miles
Driving from phx to tus at 75 mi out of phx at about 2200hrs. The car completely failed for fraction of a second then resumed normal operation until arriving at destination 10 mi. Later. The second time a week later was traveling to phx at 1800 hrs. 70mi out of tus. The car failed like the first time then a few seconds later did it again reached destination about 15mi. Later. When this happens the lights, radio, windows, dash light and gauges all stop working the mess. Comes on ABS, SRS. Its happened 5 or 6 times now with the worst being yesterday 16 June 2012. I got off loop 202 and pulled in a parking lot and shut down the car and then attempted to restart 4 times before it restarted. The A/C, windows, lights, gauges, turn signals all failed. The mess. ABS, SRS, check engine came on. I drove about 5 mi to destination. I'm now scared to drive it if the SRS, ABS warning are on are they working" if in an accident will the passengers and driver be protected "

- Marana, AZ, USA

problem #78

Jun 132012

XC90 6-cyl

  • 142,082 miles


The Volvo xc 90 2004 lost all electrical power. The car continued to drive but, there were no dash lights, turn signals, radio, defroster etc.

- Palmer, AK, USA

problem #77

Jun 022012

XC90 5-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
Drove to the grocery store on Saturday morning, car was fine. When I came out, I couldn't unlock the vehicle with the fob, I had to use the key to open the drivers door. Then I tried to open the locks and was unsuccessful. The car did start, but had no dash info (nothing worked), ac, radio did not work either, front windows only worked, rear did not. I limped home because the car did not have any power. Had it flatbedded to Volvo dealer on Monday, 6/4/12 and they still haven't determined what the problem is. Had this same issue (only worse) in 2008 and they finally replaced (so they said) the computer. At the time of the 2008 incident, the vehicle only had approx. 33K miles. Now in 2012, it has 53K! 20K additional miles and still issue still exists even with replaced computer!

- Saint Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #76

Dec 232011


  • 68,000 miles
While driving, the electronic panel all shut down and I got msg regarding brake failure and to stop safely. I was on left-most lane of highway and my signals and hazard lights would not turn on!!! even my power window would not work so I couldn't open for me to make hand-signals. Lucky my father-in-law next to me had window open so I told him to make motions to surrounding cars for me to change lanes safely. When I was able to stop, I turned off car, turned on again and got SRS airbag urgent msg on panel. Since car started ok but with msg, I took side streets home but it shut off again 2 times. I did same thing (stop/restarted) and made it home. I had my in-laws with me and my 3 young kids when it first happened on 12/23/11. Because of holidays/vacation and since nearest dealer is 20 miles away (an hour drive with traffic) and service department only open on weekdays, we couldn't take to dealer right away. Since it was an airbag message, my husband not too concerned - he wasn't with me when it first happened so I don't think he realized the gravity. He used it few times and 2 wks later, it happened to him. This time when restarted, there was also check engine msg and noticed difficulty steering. He took to dealer, and both technician and manager could not diagnose problem! they just reset to remove the SRS msg and did a software update. We thought/hoped it was fixed but then yesterday the same thing happened (all shut down)! last night we started checking on-line and found many similar complaints! we are devastated because we love/take care of this car, which we use primarily on weekends and trips. We thought it's safe for our family but now aren't comfortable that taking back to dealer will fix problem. I am very surprised there has been no recall. Something needs to be done because it's only a matter of time before there are fatalities.

- West Covina, CA, USA

problem #75

Sep 012011


  • 68,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that the lights on the instrumental panel illuminated, indicating a failure with all components. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for a diagnostic test and the dealer stated that electronic driver information module and the central electronic module failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 68,000 and the current mileage was 75,030.

- Lakewood Ranch , FL, USA

problem #74

Jul 032010


  • 76,000 miles
While driving at highway speeds (typically on long trips of 4hrs or more) I hear a loud thumping noise that is very unnerving. It feels like the piston has left its bearings and is ramming into the car. This is followed by a sharp jerk then a momentary loss of engine power. At this point the dashboard goes blank, the headlights flicker and the windshield wipers turn on. This turn of events gets so scary that I pull off the road and wait for a few minutes. I am then able to turn the car on and keep driving. But once the issue has occurred it keeps occurring more and more frequently if I keep driving, about every 10 to 15 minutes. However if I let the car rest for a few hours or overnight I am able to drive the car fine. As a trend this problem is worsening. When I first experienced this problem in the summer of 2010 it only occurred once. I was able to resume my long road trip with no other incident. The next time it occurred was on the saw mill river parkway, a winding road from NY city to ct. It occurred at night and was far more scary than before. Again I was able to resume my trip but this time the problem occurred twice before I reached home. The third time it happened was on the last leg of a long road trip from ct to Florida. Same symptoms but with more frequency. On all the occasions I was traveling with my family that included two small kids and on one occasion two elderly people too. Not only has this cost me a lot of money by way of emergency car rentals and overnight stays (on the 3rd failure) but it has also put me and family at risk of serious accidents. I have had my car examined by 3 different Volvo dealerships in 3 different states and none of them could figure out the root cause. I notice that many 2004/2005 Volvo Xc90S have the same problem and am surprised that you have not issued a safety recall.

- Brookfield, CT, USA

problem #73

Dec 012011


  • 54,000 miles
Radio fails to reliably power up and after occasionally operating, ceases to work after a few minutes. Radio interfaces with rear collision avoidance system, which is now nonoperational.

- Olympia, WA, USA

problem #72

Oct 282010

XC90 5-cyl

  • 135 miles
While driving on the highway at night, all electrical indicators on dashboard including the turn signals stop working then the vehicle started slowing down. After stopping I was unable to open gas tank and tailgate where the battery is located. I took the vehicle to the Volvo dealer and they were unable to duplicate the incident. Now this has happen 7 more times. I am a single parent with minor children in my vehicle. Please assist. Someone inform me the problem might be with the central electrical module. I purchase this vehicle used and it is out of warranty. I have seen lots of complaints about this vehicle why is there not a recall on the central electrical module? please do something before there are fatalities.

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #71

Jul 052011


  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated while driving 50 mph the vehicle loses all electrical components. The contact took the vehicle to a dealer and the dealer performed a software upgrade as well as an upgrade to the central electronic module. None of the upgrades remedied the issue with electrical components. The dealer stated that the vehicle may need a new wiring harness installed. The failure mileage was 110,000.

- Manchester, CT, USA

problem #70

May 102011


  • 72,200 miles
As I was driving down a busy road, the dashboard gauges starting flickering on and off, and then the engine completely died out. As I was traveling at about 45 mph, I attempted to steer the car towards the right shoulder. The steering was very tight and difficult. As I moved right, the car behind me came around to pass because my car was slowing rapidly. As I started to move right, I could not correct my steering fast enough to avoid a collision. This is a very dangerous situation. When the dealer hooked the car to the computer, they could not diagnose a problem. It has now happened several more times with no explanation.

- Riverwoods, IL, USA

problem #69

Oct 082011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 113,026 miles
While driving the electronics shut off and the engine dies as if its in neutral. Took to Volvo service and they said a can software upgrade would solve it, this did not solve it, immediately after we left the same thing happened within a few miles, engine shut down, power went out, when restarted the SRS airbag error code came on as well as the ABS break failure message. I see you guys have completed an investigation (PE10025) on this but what the heck is being done about it. This car is very dangerous to my wife and newborn!!!! the car goes from 70 to 10mph on the freeway, how is this not as important as the issue with Toyota excessive acceleration problem, does someone need to die before you guys take this serious!

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #68

Oct 012011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 123,200 miles
I was driving on the freeway and there was a slight thumping noise and the electrical systems failed and shutdown in a second. The power was lost and the vehicle came to a sudden halt. Luckily I was on the right side of the road and I had pulled over to the side of the road. It was very scary, as I was on the freeway in the night and I could have very well been in an accident causing damage to my life and others. The electrical failure caused the car to loose complete control of the speed and the car came to an immediate halt. There was a message of break failure for a second before the car shut down completely. Request you to please look into this concern as it is a potential safety hazard. I have researched over the internet and I read that most of the owners of 2004/2005 XC90 are facing similar issues, which is very scary. Kindly help us and help save lives. Thanking you.

- Superior, CO, USA

problem #67

Aug 082011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
Driving down highway and all the gages went off-- had some minor electrical issues for years, tail lights not working one time and then okay. Finally dealership said it needed a new central computer. Just picked up the car $1,100+

- Granville , OH, USA

problem #66

Mar 152011


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving approximately 65 mph, the contact noticed that the headlights began to flash and the instrument panel gauges and windows failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostics where the technician stated that the central control module and the driver information module had to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000. The VIN was not available.

- Kingston, MA, USA

problem #65

Apr 132011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I own a 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 and it has been a disaster the last 4 years. One day I was driving on I90 (nyst) when my car whole dashboard went out. It was a moment I cant forget. I couldn't do anything, I was driving 65 mph and can only force my car off the road because I have lost control of it. This is safety issue in my book. No one is going to do anything until someone gets hurt. I know I am not the only one complaining about this random shut down on the XC90's. Volvo tells me they are unsure on how to fix the problem... how can you be unsure about a safety issue that puts my life on the line. I take it to the dealer (northtown of buffalo). They "fixed" the problem. Now 3 months later its happening again. Everytime I get in this car I am unsure if its going to happen again. I need help and many more citizens out there encounter the same situation. This is not normal. Thank you

- Selkirk , NY, USA

problem #64

Jul 022011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 134,000 miles
An electrical failure in our 2004 XC90 occurred late at night while we were nearing the end of a 60 mile trip...and it almost killed me and my family. I was driving home at night after attending a fireworks show in san jose, ca and for some reason the engine stalled during de-celleration as I was changing lanes while exiting the freeway. I first noticed it when there was a loss of headlights, then no acceleration plus a loss of power steering/brakes. I was lucky to wrestle the car into a gas station right off of the exit as it was coasting to a stop. I turned the key off, then attempted to re-start the vehicle...and it re-started right away and everything worked I drove the last 6 miles home with no issue. I have read numerous complaints from 2004 XC90 owners and cannot believe there hasn't been a more aggressive recall action against Volvo for this issue...or the transmission failure rate. This is ludicrous. I am thankful that it happened late at night while we were exiting the freeway: Under other circumstances the loss of control of this vehicle could have had serious consequences. I am also thankful it was me driving when it happened...and not my wife. I doubt she could have steered this vehicle with no power to the steering or brakes.

- Concord, CA, USA

problem #63

Jun 162011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 jerked, then all electric components went out suddenly including headlights as we drove along tn hwy 840 causing us to almost wreck as it was nighttime and pitch black on this highway. Pulled over and restarted SUV. Normal activity for 30 minutes, then problem recurred. Took SUV to Volvo dealership and they replaced faulty cem.

- Yorktown, VA, USA

problem #62

Jun 102011


  • 80,000 miles
I was driving my 2004 XC90 on the highway when suddenly all the lights in the dashboard went out. The car slowed down. Everything electrical in the car stopped working. I could still start the car however. But acceleration wasn't the same, the car crawled. Took the car to the Volvo dealership who say this is a cem problem. A computer defect the car is barely 7 years old and this is apparently a problem with many other XC90 owners and a real safety issue. And to replace this cemchip is 1400 dollars. Lease look into this matter.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

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