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:
106,419 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

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 #27

Jan 192016


  • 160,000 miles
I had this problem a few times a year ago and now it has returned. I was driving my car at night in the rain on a two lane freeway when all of a sudden I lost the headlights, dash lights, speedometer, radio, power windows, electric transmission, and much more function of the car. The engine is still running but it seems to almost reset or something then start shutting stuff down. I see on your website someone put this in as a complaint also this is very dangerous you cant see at night the car is hard to drive its obviously this same problem with water getting into the ECM. I read through your information and it seems like Volvo knew something was up with ones produced before or after March. It seems like they have been well aware of the problem and still want to charge you $2000 to fix it! people shouldn't have to pay to fix a problem Volvo has been well aware of and has had a cheap and easy solution for years. I called my local Volvo dealers and not one of them had any information or knowledge of this problem. When Volvo has a service notice about this problem and has obviously spent a lot of time looking into it. The problem seems to be really bad when it rains or I use the wipers further leading me to see that it is the same thing in investigation PE-10-025. These are only the people who are complaining to you this seems to be a very common issue that Volvo is sweeping under the rug to make a buck. It's disgusting.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #26

May 312015


  • 84,380 miles
I switched from headlights on to daylight driving lights on. I received a "bulb failure" for the daylight driving lights. I switched back to headlights. I received a "bulb failure" for the hids. I have verified that the fuses are good, and that there are now no working headlights on the car. Had this happened at night it could have been bad, very bad. Thank god it happened during a sunny day and that the teen driver wasn't behind the wheel.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #25

Jun 182011


  • 60,000 miles


Hello Volvo, for the record, we love our Volvo SUV (2004, XC90). Over the years the service from michelle balside at Volvo on plainfield road in cincinnati has been truly excellent, her contact information is attached. However, we have has an issue since 2011 that has not been resolved, which is so uncharacteristic of Volvo. I am hoping you can help me change the outcome. For years my husband's right headlight has been turning on and off intermittently. This is very dangerous when he drives to and from work at night on an old 4 lane highway (columbia parkway) that has no separation between East and West bound lanes, which means cars travel head-on at 70 miles an hour. Our dealer looked at the issue several times and said they could not fix it; so we lived with the dangerous issue because we thought the problem was unique to us. Recently, someone told us they were having issues with their Volvo headlights and they found a blog on edmonds which listed a lot of other Volvo owners with the same issue. I have attached the blog for your reference. The blog refers to a repair kit. Please let me know if Volvo corporate can send a repair kit to our dealer in cincinnati. We have been loyal customers and we are thinking of giving our used Volvo to our daughter when she turns 16 next spring, and buying a new Volvo for my husband, bill. Please show your customers that you care and you will resolve the headlight issue, it could save a life someday. For now, we "hope and pray" on a daily basis that the headlight functions as it should.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #24

Dec 052014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 165,000 miles
I am paying for the third light ballast in this Volvo 700-1000 dollars each time. I know this has been reviewed by your organization in 2010 it is online. Let me tell you what happens. When the ballast fails the headlight go off. Sometime 1 light, sometimes both. I was on the highway at night, the past two time that the lights went off. Guess what, there is no back up light. So I had to drive to the next exit in total fear of crashing during the rain. Oh, and I did pull over in the side problem there was no shoulder, construction. All you need to light a bulb is a few watts, the ballast system is a joke and costly. It will result in someone crashing and death. Please do not ignore this, check online you will see this is a very common problem in this model and year. Oh, also had the transmission recalled. Mine failed at 75000 miles, still paid 1500 for the work nice company.

- Woodbine, NJ, USA

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problem #23

Oct 182014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
Driving along a rural road in E. Oregon at around 7:30 pm and all front lights went out at once (all of them). This caused a dangerous situation as we were not in a cell phone area and had to sleep in car overnight and drove out of area at daylight the next day. The car worked fine except for a complete lighting failure, which is important as you are driving down country roads in the dark.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #22

Jul 122014


  • 104,500 miles


2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T...driving at about 65 mph with no warning aloud thump noise, windshield wiper comes on radio goes off dash lights go off, last for a sec. Then resumes to normal. This has happened several times now, while I have only owned this vehicle for a month. Today it happens again only worse..after the initial thump and jerk it happens three more within 5 miles the last time I was going about 35 mph, big thump and jerk, wipers comes on, radio goes off, all dash lights hazards available and I get several warnings on dash brake failure, SRS failure and anti skid failure..I turn car off then back on and continue happens again 5 minutes later at 15 mph....I am reading many, many complaints like mine. This issue needs to be addressed asap..I almost was rear ended twice. Volvo needs to take responsibility.

- Gerrardstown, WV, USA

problem #21

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 #20

Jun 252013


  • 120,000 miles
Both headlights went out at the same time. I was on interstate 77 both lights went out didn't know it until I was behind a car the only lights were on were my fog lights.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #19

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 #18

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 #17

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 #16

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 #15

Jul 302012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph at night, the headlights were activated and suddenly failed to illuminate. In addition, the low beam warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact activated the fog lights in order to continue driving. The vehicle had not been diagnosed. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Malvern, PA, USA

problem #14

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 #13

Jun 232011

XC90 6-cyl

  • 57,675 miles
Headlights go on and off, don't work consistently. Sometimes both work, sometimes 1 works, sometimes neither work. Dealer wanted me to replace bulbs but at almost $200 per bulb I think the problem is somewhere else since the bulbs do work sometimes.

- Hazleton, PA, USA

problem #12

May 262011


  • 123,000 miles
Was driving at highway speed when all electrical systems shut down. Dash panel indicated brake failure, stop carefully. No lights, turn signals, speedometer, tachometer, airbags, hazard lights, pwr windows, pwr brakes, radio - no power to anything. Clear, dry weather conditions. This had been happening for short cycles for approx. 2 months. Windshield wipers would turn on for one cycle and all power would shut down to dash, radio, lights etc. But would last for only a second or two. This might happen 2-3 times on approx. 20 mile drive home on highway. This only happens at highway speed. But the incident on Thursday 05.26.11 no power lasted for 10 miles until I got the vehicle home. Had the car sit for an hour and then started again and the dash indicated SRS system failure but all power was restored to car.

- New Market, MD, USA

problem #11

May 012011


  • 110,000 miles
Engine warning light alerted a "bulb failure". replacement of the headlamp cartridge did not fix the problem. Since the incident happened, I noticed several other XC90 SUV's with same daylight lamp out on the driver side.

- Rancho Mirage, CA, USA

problem #10

Mar 022011


  • 189,990 miles
I was driving, and just as it started to get dark, I noticed that my lights did not seem to be working. I stopped at a parking lot to check, and the lights were in fact not working. If I had not been close to home, it would have been a perilous drive home; and, if it happened half an hour later, I would have been on a busy highway with no lights.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #9

Mar 032011


  • 103,000 miles
This has to do with faulty headlight system on this car. I have had repeated failures of the low beam on both sides. The connector that the headlight plugs into overheats to the point where the plastic connector melts and no longer works. To fix it requires that a new connector be purchased and spliced in to replace defective part. It appears that the wire gauge is too low thus creating both a fire hazard as well as a safety hazard from having head lamps fail. I have spoken to both my local dealership and Volvo corporate about this problem and they both say that there is no recall thus there is nothing they can do to help fix it at their cost. Of course, they are more than happy to have me pay them a ridiculous price to repair it for me. They seems to care not that this is a safety issue. From research I have done, it appears that this is and has been a known issue for Volvo and yet they do nothing about it. The service person I spoke to today at the nally Volvo dealership in atlanta, ga admitted to me that they have all sorts of issues with headlights so this was not a surprise to him at all...but said they would not be able to do anything to help fix it. I would like to see NHTSA place serious pressure on Volvo to issue a recall to fix this serious safety hazard.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

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