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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
96,661 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments

problem #20

Nov 022016

XC90 5-cyl

  • 137,500 miles


While driving any distance over 60 minutes the car warning comes on saying sudden loss of brakes, stop safely. Airbag check light comes on. Within a few seconds all the electronics shuts down; all dash, stereo, lights, wipers, windows and lack of power to engine but car stays running. This was almost a deadly crash while driving in pouring rain and there were cars everywhere. No way to signal or flashers, I honestly thought me and my family were gonna get in an accident. I have read other stories online so my question is, what is the cause of this? how do I fix it before some gets hurt or even worse killed!

- Kutztown, PA, USA

problem #19

Nov 022014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 220,000 miles
Traveling on highway at 65 mph, hit a large deer, no air bag deployment. The deer smashed in the front end of vehicle.

- El Dorado Springs, MO, USA

problem #18

Nov 032010

XC90 5-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
While driving our Volvo xc-90, the entire electrical system shuts down (dashboard display, lighting, ac, power windows, power door locks, everything electrical etc.). additionally, for a split second the engine/transmission jerks and/or stalls before resuming. The first time this happened was in 2010 and never occurred again for several years. Then suddenly on a recent trip in August 2014 this happened repeatedly and the electrical system never returned to operation during that trip. In that August 2014 occurrence we were traveling down narrow state highway 1 in big sur, California. Had we lost control of the vehicle during the jerking episodes we could have gone off the narrow road and down the steep cliff side to our deaths. This put our family in a very perilous situation. Additionally, since the above incident in late August 2014 the vehicle has experienced numerous other flashes/jerking incidents while at highway speeds. This occurrence seems to be increasing. This is a very dangerous situation and needs to be addressed with a national re-call.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #17

Jun 172014

XC90 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


While on the interstate at 60mph, experienced temporarily loss of power, the ip displays and an abnormal 'jerking' in the transmission/drivetrain. The SRS airbag and brake failure error messages appeared in the ip error display. The wipers momentarily came on. Lights dimmed. Power failure was only for a split-second (at 60mph) before returning to normal. After normal power was restored, error messages continued to be shown in the ip error display. The brake failure message instructed me to pull over and bring the vehicle to a safe stop. Upon bringing the vehicle to a safe stop and turning off ignition, I heard excessive electrical clicking under the dash (like relays clicking). All ip displays were non-responsive (dark). I locked the car (alarm armed) and later returned with a tow-truck. Upon return to the car, I was unable to unlock it or disarm the alarm. Car was unresponsive. Alarm was armed (unable to be disarmed) and the engine bypass feature of the alarm prevented me from starting the car. Could only gain entry into the car from the driver's side door with physical key. Car was placed in neutral and loaded onto a flatbed truck for tow back to Volvo dealership. Temperature at time of failure was 110F.

- Washougal, WA, USA

problem #16

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

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problem #15

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 #14

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 #13

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 #12

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 #11

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 #10

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 #9

Sep 202010

XC90 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
While driving on the highway, my wipers came on for one cycle. A few minutes later the same thing. Then a few minutes after that the wipers came on, stayed on, and my entire electric panel shut down. No dash board instruments, no power in the windows, no turn signals, no stereo. Car still ran, and headlights still worked. Pretty scary. When I stopped the car, turned off the engine, and turned it back on again, everything returned to normal except for a SRS message. This seems to happen when the car is stuck in traffic or is hot. My daughter was going 65 mph on a highway after being stuck in traffic for a while. She panicked because all lights and dash went out and she thought the engine had stopped. She could have had an accident!!!! last time it happened we got an error code for airbag failure. This is not good!

- Tuxedo, NY, USA

problem #8

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 #7

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 #6

Jun 172010


  • 90,000 miles
2004 Volvo xc 90 and transmission is failing, as well as motor mounts, wheel bearing boots, etc. Dealer knows about these recurring issues with others of same year, but claims it is only my issue. Purchase price was ~$55K and with only 90K miles I should not now have to spend ~$5K for a new tranny. Rip-off

- Moraga, CA, USA

problem #5

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

problem #4

May 012009


  • 105,000 miles
When working on the audio/cd/radio of the car, this generates an SRS service urgent message to be displayed on the dash. This appears to be a common problem with Volvo if you check the message boards. People should be able to work/change out their stereos without the fear of the airbags working after words.

- Washington Court House , OH, USA

problem #3

Apr 252009


  • 113,825 miles
While driving in heavy traffic on April 25, 2009, my 2004 Volvo XC90 began jerking and then there was a sudden loss of power, the instrument panel swooped to the far right and then back to left with no other movement, the radio shut off, the windshield wipers began wiping, and the door locks and windows would not work. Shortly thereafter, the message box displayed "brake failure-stop safely", and then changed to "SRS airbag _service urgent". once we stopped, the vehicle would not start again. I disconnected the battery in hopes of resetting the computer. Once this was done the car started again. Messages are still displayed. We contacted Volvo corporate and have an appointment with a local dealership tomorrow. This is a serious safety issue and it is not the first time I have submitted a complaint for this same type problem. I have been a faithful, repeat Volvo customer, and would like to continue to support Volvo. My loyalty is slowly fading, especially after reading several complaints of the same nature. Volvo please don't let a death occur before you take action.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #2

Sep 042008


  • 60,000 miles
While driving my 2004 Volvo xc-90 at night I experienced a momentary loss of control, followed by the headlights pausing and then going from high beams to low. The instrument cluster lost some of it's displays and the door locks became inoperative. The data display warned me of an "urgent SRS failure". I was at low speed a block from home so I crept home and the next day sent the car to triad Volvo by roll-back wrecker. Problem was failure of central electronic module. I called Volvo corporate and they seemed disinterested.

- Statesville, NC, USA

problem #1

Aug 262004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On August, 26, 2004 there was a major malfunction in our Volvo XC90 (2004). While driving with 2 small children in car seats and 2 adults on a major highway; suddendly, there was no acceleration in the gas pedal and the stearing wheel did not function. We managed to slowly move to the side of the road from what momentum was left in the car, and avoid an accident. We were obviously very shaken up, and find this car completely unsafe. It has been 3 weeks now getting the run around with the cherry hill, New Jersey Volvo dealer. They said "there's nothing wrong with the car". the car is unsafe for our family, and presents a danger for others on the road. We are afraid it will stop dead again on a major highway with death or injuries occuring to either ourselves or others. The dealer asked us what we wanted "we finally said, (after they said they'd get us a new SUV and did not) that we want our money back ($3,000 deposit) and we don't want this car they sold us. Today, they made us take this car back and they are refusing our request to refund our money. Also, the car was towed on a flat bed truck in to the dealer on July 13th, 2004 as the car did not start.. "relays were loose in the icm and cem etc.," [we have the service order] on this day, the message on the car said something to the effect "urgent malfunction in SUV air bags..." and we unloaded the family and it was towed to the Volvo dealership. And the car's 2 side mirrors work one day and not the next. Tomorrow I take matthew to his first day at pre-school, and I'm half thinking what if something happens to the car when we're driving. It's amazing to me that Volvo can let me leave their parking lot with this car this evening, and the aren't taking safety seriously at all. So, at 11:00 pm I am up letting the NHTSA know what's going on. We are willing to help in anyway we can. Sincerely, the lawrence family.

- Medford, NJ, USA

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