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 6 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #41

Jan 102008


  • 45,000 miles


Coming home to southern California from a trip in Arizona and driving at night though the Nevada desert. Weather was nice, dry conditions, light traffic ( the sun had set about 7:00 in the evening) - January 2008 and we were cruising at about 65 mph. At about 50 miles outside banning the car had a power surge, and it felt as if we went over a bump on the road, there was a quick flicker in all lights and the navigation system reset. The recovery was almost immediate and did not think much of it. About half hour later it happened again. This time started to worry about the car as it was dark, had small kids in the car and we were in the middle of nowhere, desert for miles and miles. So, with no options we kept driving. About ten minutes later it happened again. This time there was no recovery. All lights, instrument panel, headlights, emergency lights, rear light all out. The car was pitch black. I believe only the fog lights were working but was worried about visibility on the road as we had no rear lights what so ever and the majority of the traffic at night on the I-10 is trucks. Drove on shoulder for about 2 miles and took the next exit. Small gas station only, no repair shop, no motel nothing; only a truck stop. After a small respite we stated up the car again and engine and all lights were again functional. I was terrified of driving the car home still over 100 miles away and no where near civilization, but since we had no other choice we did. No further incidents upon getting home. Dealer had no idea what could have caused that, they update computer codes, and a control module. To this date they still do not know what could have caused that. We are very lucky to have not gotten into an accident or worse.

- South Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #40

Sep 132010


  • 105,000 miles
While driving at night after picking up soccer carpool, low beam head lights would intermittently go off, causing a message to appear of low beam bulb failure then after a 5 seconds would come back on and the message would disappear. This occurred 4 or 5 times within a couple of minutes then never occurred again during this trip. This is the second time in the past 2 weeks we have experienced this problem. Fortunately both occurrences occurred during low speed driving in well lit areas.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #39

Sep 112010


  • 94,500 miles
My 2004 Volvo XC90 sef has been experiencing intermittent engine failures/power shortages for the past several months. After driving for approximately 1 hour, often at highway speeds, the car will make a large sound and intermittently jerk, and simultaneously the gauges go down, exterior lights go out, interior lights may go on, radio shuts off, wipers cycle once, air/heat goes off. This lasts approximately one second, however, at times the interior lights will not shut off until the car is restarted. Once the problem begins, it happens intermittently (5+ times) until the car is shut off and not used for a period of time.

- Windham, NH, USA

problem #38

Sep 092010


  • 169,200 miles


My headlights, driving lights, park lights, and turn signals are not working. This began when I started to go somewhere last night. All of these things were working the day before. The tail lights, turn signals, and brake lights are working in the rear. My vehicle is garaged when it is not in use. My radio, cd player, or satellite radio would not operate 2 days ago and started working the next time I started my car. About 2 weeks ago the car wouldn't start. It acted like the security system had been activated as it would crank, but not start. I waited for about an hour and tried it again and it started the first time. I have checked all fuses. I am taking it to the repair shop today to see if they can figure out what is happening. These problems are intermittent and do not repeat often enough to diagnose properly. I can see this being very dangerous if I were driving at night and the headlights went out. I live in a rural area with a large deer population and it is hard enough to avoid them with the headlights working.

- Rogers, AR, USA

problem #37

Sep 012010


  • 99,000 miles
The vehicle is intermittently shutting off while driving on the private roads or freeway, all electrical equipment (dashboard, gauges, stereo, some windows, driving tranny changer - can't shift), and all other items are going out. The power of the vehicle will stall for 1/2 second in as many as 3-5 times during an episode. Ultimately resulting in all electrical power failing. This appears to also be causing the batter to not be charged. The battery is new, purchased a few days ago to see if this would resolve the issue, which it didn't. thus the car cannot be started after a few days of driving without trickle-charging the battery. The SRS baggage warning has not become engaged. I am the second owner of this vehicle, it doesn't appear through carfax or other records history that the previous owner had repaired these issues. This is very concerning, because this could cause an accident, leave me or my family stranded.

- West Valley City, UT, USA

problem #36

Jun 012010


  • 94,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving approximately 45 mph, the vehicle became unresponsive to the contacts attempts to accelerate. All electrical components also failed. The vehicle was pulled over and shut off for approximately 3 hours. Upon restart, the vehicle would drive as normal but all of the warning indicator lights on the dashboard were illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the failure was unable to be diagnosed and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure recurred twice and the vehicle was taken back to the independent mechanic. The mechanic was still unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 94,000 and the current mileage was 97,000.

- Moraga, CA, USA

problem #35

Aug 222010


  • 95,000 miles


Our 2004 Volvo XC90 has been experiencing intermittent power shortages for the past several months. After driving for approximately 1 hour, often at highway speeds, the car will intermittently jerk, and simultaneously the gauges go down, exterior lights go out, interior lights may go on, radio shuts off, wipers cycle once, air/heat goes off. This lasts approximately one second, however, at times the interior lights will not shut off until the car is restarted. Once the problem begins, it happens intermittently (5+ times) until the car is shut off and not used for a period of time (I.e. you reach your destination). We have had our Volvo dealer look at it twice, and both times they were unable to diagnose the problem. Today, after driving for approximately two hours, the car lost electrical function completely. We had no use of gauges, blinkers, hazard lights, radio, air conditioning, headlights and brake lights. Windshield wipers had power and were moving while on the automatic setting, without any rain to automate them. An ABS error light came on but we were able to use the brake and gas pedal. We were driving approximately 65 mph on a highway and were luckily able to exit without having the use of blinkers or brake lights. When we turned the car off and back on, we resumed power, but had an SRS warning light appear. After doing research on and, we have discovered this to be an issue many (50+) 2004 XC90 drivers have experienced. We feel very lucky that this happened during the day, because the situation could have been much more dangerous on a 4-lane highway in the dark. We do not feel safe driving this car and will be taking it to our Volvo dealer tomorrow morning and demanding a response to the problem. From what we have read from others, it appears to need a new cem. Given the number of identical complaints on identical models, it seems to be a defect with the cem.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #34

Aug 142010


  • 102,500 miles
My wife was driving our 2004 Volvo XC90 back from vacation with our two children in the vehicle and all the dash instrumentation lost power and the steering became heavy. This was during the day so I do not know if the head lights went out as well. The car did not stop and the power came back on. This occur a second time during this trip which was about 3 & 1/2 hours in duration.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #33

Jul 182010


  • 92,565 miles
I have been having an issue with my 2004 Volvo XC90 which the dealership has not been able to correct for my fourth visit now. The entire electrical system shuts down while driving on the highway. This has been happening and each time I take it in, they are unable to replicate the issue and of course find something else to repair. I have been lucky as not have been in heavy traffic when it happens, but I could imagine it could cause a horrible accident. The last time this happened was about 7/18. I was driving about 70mph on the freeway and the car made a 'thump' and all the lights and gauges turned off momentarily and started back up again. I slowed down to about 60mph and moved to the right side and the exact same thing happened again about 5 min later. Luckily I was close to the exit where my mechanic shop was so I slowed down to exit. All of the lights on the instrument panel turned off, as well as the airconditioning (115 day in phx) and a warning light flashed saying I had a break failure. I was able to limp to the mechanics and left the car running so they could see the engine was on, but nothing else. They did not have the equipment to check the 'code' on a Volvo. They were able to re-set it by disconnecting the battery, and the lights worked again. As I pulled out of the mechanics, the car thumped again and I once again lost all power. I limped the car home with plans to drive it early in the morning before it got too hot, to the Volvo dealership. In the morning, the car would not start at all. I called a tow truck and had it brought over. The Volvo dealership once again could find nothing wrong, but found something to fix and charge me for, the impulse sensor ($250). I finally got the car back on July 29th, 10 days later. This issue has been experienced by many 04/05 XC90 owners as described in this forum, I ask that you have Volvo fix this issue, before someone dies.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #32

Sep 012009


  • 55,000 miles
Our 2004 Volvo XC90 always had an erratic electrical system. Last year it suddenly got worse when the entire electrical system, including brake lights, turn signals and gauges started to fail and within a few days were completely non-functioning. The local Volvo dealer charged us about $1200 for a new computer-related part.

- Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #31

Sep 282009


  • 67,100 miles


Radio turns on and off spontaneously especially when heated seats are tuned on.

- Lemont, IL, USA

problem #30

Jul 252010


  • 104,365 miles
On our 2004 Volvo XC90 the headlights suddenly went dark, no low or high beams at all. I am now being told it is a module and the repair cost is in excess of $1200. The car has hid headlights. This outage created a very serious safety issue in that we were driving up highway 395 at night when the complete failure of the headlights occurred. In researching the issue on the internet it appears it is a relatively common failure.

- Upland, CA, USA

problem #29

Jul 242010


  • 75,000 miles
After driving 125 miles without incident, we left our 2004 Volvo xc 90 T6 AWD parked for 4 hours before driving again. After less than a half mile at low speed, there was a "thump" from the front of the car, the wipers cycled, the gauges all went blank, some of the windows stopped working, the A/C went out (blower stayed on). The car stayed on, but seemed "stuck" in second gear and the brakes became "spongy, " but operable. Turn signals were inoperable and the power steering went out. The indicator light on the gear shift went out and the central locking system stopped functioning. We got out of traffic and into the shade. I checked all fuses and tried to restart the car. It would restart, but within seconds there were multiple "clicks" coming from the area near the fuse box in the passenger compartment followed by the electrical failures described above. After letting the car sit for a couple of hours we moved it to a secure location two miles away. During that drive all of the above problems happened again, including the engine being "stuck" in second gear. After letting the car sit overnight, it started and ran without incident. However, the "check engine" light and the "SRS" light have remained on. A repair shop could not diagnose the problem. Prior to this incident, the same things happened to my wife in the same car. The symptoms lasted a few seconds and disappeared.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #28

Jul 212010


  • 83,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T AWD. Intermittent "thumping" at high speeds causing the car to jolt/lurch slightly. This has happened on and off for 2 months normally at highway speeds. Yesterday I was on a 4 hour highway drive home from vacation and the thumping/jolting happened about 5 times. Ultimately my car lost complete electrical power at highway speed and fortunately I was able to coast off the highway unscathed but others may not be as fortunate. Incredibly dangerous issue.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #27

Dec 102009


  • 45,000 miles
I own a 2004 Volvo xc-90. I have owned the car since April 2004. Approximately seven months ago, I started experiencing intermittent electrical problems (radio and navigation display disappearing, engine service alerts, etc). Since the initial problems with the radio, the problems have progressed to the point of complete electrical failures while driving on the highway at speeds of over 55mph. These incidents involved a complete shut down of the gauges (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, as well as audio system). I have learned from online searches (specifically, that these incidents are being experienced by many other Volvo xc-90 owners. Such incidents have caused many owners to take the car to their Volvo service department only to be told, as I was that determining the problem would be costly and that there have been not other complaints or recalls by Volvo. The problems I am experiencing are now ongoing whether I am in town or on the highway. It was with an initial expenditure of nearly $400 and an expected upcoming expenditure of $1200. The latter amount is the price for labor and parts to replace the cem board. I told my mechanic of the findings from my online search and had to request the replacement of this part. The problems I am experiencing are not only dangerous at high speeds but I have found that I am now having problems with the latch that unlocks the hatchback trunk and access to the gas tank. My car has less than 50,000 miles and required service has been done at the same dealership since my purchase of the vehicle. I have talked with Volvo customer service and they have not yet issued a recall. I have not found any records of deaths or injuries being caused by the electrical failures, but if the situations encountered by other owners are like mine it is only a matter of time. The vehicle literally can cause a slowdown and impair the ability of the driver to avoid accidents.

- Urbana, IL, USA

problem #26

Aug 312007


  • 40,000 miles
I have a 2004 XC90. I have been having electrical failure problems with my car where the car just stalls while driving at speeds of 50mph randomly for the past three years and have brought the car into the calabasas dealer numerous times and also to an independent auto mechanic and no one is able to duplicate the stall of the electrical system and therefore noone is able to diagnose the solution to the hazard that occurs when the car stalls and therefore no one is able to fix the problem. The dealer assures me that it is not a safety issue, just a nuisance. I researched and found that there are 100S of complaints of similar issues for this car. Today this same issue happened at much lower speeds two times within five minutes. I request that this issue be researched and the manufacturer fix the problem.

- Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

problem #25

Jun 032010


  • 45,000 miles
In March 2010, 04 XC90 lost power while driving on highway at about 65mph. Dashboard lights, radio all cut off, car lunged forward, and in 1-2 seconds dashboard lights and radio power on again. Took to Volvo dealership, they couldn't duplicate the issue but diagnostics said they needed to replace the steering column module which should fix problem. This didn't fix the problem because car did the same thing (lose power, lunge forward) around same speed 2 months later. Dealer could not duplicate, returned car to me. A week later, June 3, car won't start at all, towed to Volvo dealership. This time they say the cem (central electronic module) needs to be replaced and that should solve it. They replaced cem, so far car runs fine. There have been too many complaints about this and Volvo is not take ownership of this problem.

- Malvern, PA, USA

problem #24

Oct 052008

XC90 5-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving at speeds of 65 mph, there was an unusually loud noise followed by an immediate loss of all panel lights. The contact was able to move the vehicle from the roadway and shut off the engine. Upon restarting, the SRS air bag and check engine warning lights remained illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer twice but the failure was unable to be duplicated. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 89,000 and the current mileage was 99,000. Updated 6/21/10 the consumer stated after driving for about three hours, the radio turn signals stopped working. Updated 06/24/10.

- Moon Township, PA, USA

problem #23

Aug 152008


  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated while driving at speeds of 50 mph the vehicle would stall and the electrical system would malfunction. This would cause the power windows and interior lights to become inoperable. The dealer could not duplicate the failures. The contact stated that he was able to locate several complaints pertaining to the failure and did not feel safe in the vehicle. He also stated that the failure contributed to a defective computer and should be the manufacturers liability. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 97,000.

- Moon Township, PA, USA

problem #22

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

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