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:
75,760 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments

problem #9

Oct 072015


  • 84,500 miles


After driving for at least an hour the vehicle suddenly shuts down for a split second. All gauges go out, loss of power briefly, wipers sometimes kick on and fog lights reset and shut off and there is a thump from the transmission. This happens mainly at freeway speeds but has happened a few times at 30 mph and slower. Can happen several times on a 2.5 hour trip. Once it happens it can happen anytime. Doesn't do it on trips around town. Called Volvo of North America and they denied any problems with the cem and said since it's an '04 with 85,000 miles that I'm out of warranty and they can offer no help.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #8

Nov 012012


  • miles
We were driving on the highway at night in heavy rain when the computer shorted out. The car jolted 2 or 3 times and then the dash and everything the computer controls died. The car still ran, and we were able to make it home, but it was very dangerous. We quickly learned that anytime there is heavy rain or extreme heat this same thing happens. What remains on the dash is an SRS airbag error message.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #7

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 #6

May 252014


  • 95,000 miles


While driving down the road around 50 mph the XC90 skipped and temporarily turned off all elections. Thought it was a glitch so continued down the road more carefully. Then it happened again and the electronics never came back on. I couldn't make it up a small hill on the road to get safely home. My transmission wouldn't pull. The speed gauge and rpms were completely unworking. Windows would not roll down air had went out. Power steering temporarily went out. Made it home finally and nothing seems wrong now but there is obviously a problem that needs to be fixed. I could have easily been in a wreak or stranded on the side of the road with my babies. Volvo needs to take responsibility.

- Lyerly, GA, USA

problem #5

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

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problem #4

May 302011

XC90 5-cyl

  • 147,500 miles
I have had two incidents in which the car cycles off and on after approximate three hours of highway driving a few times, and then loses all auxiliary power, SRS light comes on, brake failure, but car continues to run and brakes operate fine. On the second occasion, I pulled off the highway, turned the car off, then on again, and the car worked fine for a few minutes, and did this again when the car powered down, until I reached my destination. The car then sat in a parking lot and I returned on the 250 mile journey home. I stopped every hour to hour and a half, and made it home after five hours, without incident. The mechanic initially told me it might be the driver information module (dim), which the part cost $1200 and then labor, but it may or may not fix the problem. It is in the shop now after the second episode, 3 weeks later, and again they say it looks to be the dim. I am not willing to spend the money on this if it will not fix the problem. I will continue to drive the car like this unless it becomes a safety hazard.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #3

Jul 102010


  • 107,000 miles


All dashlights went completely black, and the power steering went out with it while driving down the freeway (at night). This happened on three different occasions. Volvo dealer claimed they "reset" it the first two fixes and then the third time replaced the cem, which was a couple thousand dollar fix for me.

- La, LA, USA

problem #2

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 #1

May 252009


  • 112,709 miles
1. since day 1, the transmission on my 2004 Volvo-XC90 has always given me trouble, it doesn't engage trough gear as quickly as it should. On May 25th 2009, the transmission completely went out leaving me in the middle of the intersection with cars behind me traveling 35 miles and almost caused an accident. 2. the transmission has never operated properly since I purchased the car in April of 2009. The shop and every other one I called knew exactly what the problem was. They said that the transmission in this model and year was a faulty GM transmission and have seen many in for this type of service. I did some research on the internet and found that many owners have experienced the same problem, the exact problem. I bought it from autowest Acura in san jose, I ask them for help with that matter, (4 times) they were evasive and refused to help, or to get to any arrangement. The "transmission service urgent" light came on. Took the car to the dealer and they said I need a new transmission. There seems to be a large number of these same complaints for this same car from Volvo. There is a serious problem with this car and I'm writing you for consumer protection.

- San Jose, CA, USA

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