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:
108,594 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

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 #21

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

problem #20

Sep 172015


  • 117,000 miles
Exiting driveway in reverse, upon switching to drive the dashboard lights started flickering and a jerk was felt in the transmission. Soon the dashboard gauges and the indicators went dead. Several error messages quickly "scrolled" (brake failure, airbag failure, ABS failure, engine failure) then the check engine light came on and remained on. No power to dashboard controls (gauges dead, no lights/turn signals, no radio). Front windows work, but not rear. Vehicle drives as if in low gear. Unsafe to drive so had towed to dealer. They are running diagnostics so tbd on specific issue and cost to repair. Concerned as no recall and situation is so dangerous (what if I'd been on freeway!) Volvo should recall all the 2004 XC90 as others report same defect

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #19

Apr 132015


  • 143,000 miles


My 2004 Volvo XC90 with a 2.5T engine, 7 pass, intermittently and inadvertently stalls while driving it. It is scary because all electrical goes off, instrument panel, radio, lights, etc, several warning messages appears, such ABS, air bags failure, brake failure, engine failure, etc. It won't respond to acceleration and brakes are very hard to push, the engine does not stop. I have to stop, turn it off, wait few minutes, then start it, everything comes to normal again but with the check engine and the air bags message, then after some minutes of driving the same stalling and electrical issues happen again. This is serious because you are on freeway and you loose brakes and engine control, no information in instrument panel, etc. I found that the relays in the cem (control electronics module) are super hot possibly due to loose connections, in the video below you will see the problems and infrared pictures of the cem. Please help!!!!!! please help!!!!!! please help!!!!!! please help!!!!!! please see my youtube video and other videos with the same issue search for XC90 issues, XC90 stalling, XC90 electrical problems, etc. Https:// thank you

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #18

Apr 082015


  • 87,400 miles
I have a Volvo XC90 2004. I was driving and suddenly I heard a noise under the car. I stop the car and call my road service provider to send me a tow truck. We took the car to the auto center to have it inspected, they call me to give me bad news they said it was the transmission shaft, something coming out apart and that will be expensive to fix and that I needed to take it to Volvo dealer to get it fix. I was in shock. I didn't expected this so soon my Volvo car it has 87,000 miles and I feel this is a manufacturer malfunction problem. This should be a recall, its too soon to give me this headache please investigate this matter soon to help others I will really appreciated if I have a answer soon.

- Provo , UT, USA

problem #17

Jan 062015


  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving 40 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician was unable to diagnose a failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 122,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #16

Oct 102014

XC90 5-cyl

  • 133,514 miles


Car lost all power and message window read "reduced engine performance". we were traveling in the left lane and had to coast through traffic to the shoulder. There was absolutely no throttle response, so we shut the car off. Upon restarting it, the message disappeared and we were able to continue our trip. It happened again, and we reset it once again. We stopped at the first Volvo repair facility we found and had them scan all the computers using the Volvo diagnostic equipment. The code they retrieved was ECM-981A. They cleared our computer using the Volvo computer, but the problem returned on our return home. We were barely able to get out of the way of a semi barreling upon us! the problem still persists, and I finally went to my computer to find some information on my own. Apparently, this is not so uncommon a problem with these cars. There is already a recall on some of the 2003-2004 S60's and V70's. we have already spent close to $2,000 trying to remedy this problem, but that becomes inconsequential if someone gets killed because the issue doesn't get resolved.

- Rogue River, OR, USA

problem #15

Oct 262014


  • 167,000 miles
In October 2014 myself my boyfriend and my 7 year old we're driving home when all of a sudden the car would not accelerate when I tried to push through the traffic light the vehicle then slowed down in the middle of the road their was no way of me trying to pull over bc the car completely stopped I then proceeded to get my 7 year old out the truck and her spelt belt in the back was stuck and would not come out we were almost hit from the back due to the vehicle stalling in the middle of the road in a curve we were stranded for about three hours in the dark when we were finally towed home I was told that the transmission was no good and this is the reason our vehicle stalled and was disabled.

- Jonesboro , GA, USA

problem #14

Jul 072014


  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving various speeds, the vehicle would stall and unknown warning indicators would illuminate. It took the contact numerous attempts to restart the vehicle. In addition, the contact stated that the windshield wipers activated independently. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 76,000.

- Bronx , NY, USA

problem #13

Jul 102014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
Driving vehicle at 45mph and key switched out of the "run" position while being driven. Vehicle's engine completely shut off, rendering power brakes, power steering and airbags as not operational.

- Kingwood, TX, USA

problem #12

Apr 182014


  • 95,000 miles


On two separate occasions, our vehicle would not restart after stopping for gas. This occurred after it was serviced and battery replaced a week prior. Aaa was unable to jump start it as well, and vehicle had to be towed back to dealership for repairs. According to the two separate dealerships, the central electronics module is the culprit, and needed replacing. Across multiple online forums, Volvo owners have complained about similar problems with the cem, often placing drivers and occupants in danger as they experienced complete electrical outage at highway speeds. We were fortunately that our vehicle just did not restart, instead of shutting down in traffic at 65 mph. This is a significant safety issue, and Volvo should be responsible for replacing the faulty units.

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 032012


  • 74,000 miles
While driving at highway speeds, the vehicle experienced a complete systems failure of engine, lighting, wipers, interior lighting (dash), brake failure message and SRS airbag service warnings. This has begun to happen repeatedly. This problem appears to be the same that many other XC90 owners have been experiencing.

- Springfield, OR, USA

problem #10

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 #9

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 #8

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 #7

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 #6

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 #5

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 #4

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 #3

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

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