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:
70,841 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Volvo XC90 Owner Comments (Page 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Feb 262009


  • miles


With each service at point West Volvo now park place Volvo since purchasing the car, dallas tx, I reported a problem with my 2004 XC90 T6 that my engine surges on takeoff. With each service, they could not duplicate the problem and did not list this on the invoice. Well, since they did not find a problem, I did not question why it was not listed. Two days ago the 'transmission service urgent" light came on, so I called the dealer to see if the car is safe to drive in for service. Assured that it may just be a commuter problem, I deliver the car. I am now at 72000 miles and did not purchase extended warranty. The dealer has completed a software download ($600) and thinks this may fix the problem. If not, I will need a new transmission to the tune of $6,000. I have not missed a service, even scheduled service early because of the continued problem with the surges. Why did the dealer not address this problem, when it appears to be a know problem with my make and model" when I went to pick up the car today, my service rep. Went to talk with the service manage. They kept the car overnight but I am concerned that this was just a stall. What can be done" this is a know problem and Ford (Volvo) is doing nothing!

- Desoto, TX, USA

problem #41

Jan 152009


  • 90,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 transmission failure.

- Lyme, CT, USA

problem #40

Jan 302009


  • 62,000 miles
I was driving the vehicle and the transmission simply stopped propelling the car. It was as if it went into neutral while going 50 mph. Fortunately I was able to pull over before becoming a road hazard.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #39

Jan 292009


  • 72,000 miles


Transmission simply died with no warning. I was driving the car and suddenly it just stopped. No accident occurred, but certainly could have. I believe the transmission in this car is defective and this has happened to numerous others.

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #38

Jan 182009


  • 65,000 miles
After 60000 mile service transmission appeared to be slipping when cold. "transmission service urgent" message appeared. Transmission would not shift from third gear. Shop indicated there is no adjustable part. Transmission replacement would likely be needed, when contacted Volvo indicated the warranty was off at 55K miles. Upon researching through the internet there are an extremely large number of transmission replacements for this vehicle and yet no recall has been issued. I contacted Volvo of North America and it appears they are dealing with this on a squeaky wheel case by case basis and some individuals are paying full replacement cost while others are being covered by Volvo. This does not seem equitable to the individuals who are unable to do the research or have time and resources to convince Volvo to replace the defective transmissions gratis.

- Olympia, WA, USA

problem #37

Nov 282008


  • 60,000 miles
I have a 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD SUV that I purchased from a Volvo dealer. While on a cross country trip the transmission seized and had to be replace. The vehicle was still under warranty (lucky), but the mechanic told me that this model and year had a engineering flaw and he had seen a number of these with this same problem. The flaw, the turbo engine puts too much torque on the 4 speed GM tranny in the car. I asked if Volvo had a recall on this issue and he said no. This first tranny went out at 60,000. At 66, 000 miles the second tranny went out. When I asked why this one went out, he explained that they do not know B/C when it is under warranty, Volvo tells the dealerships to just replace it and then send it to them and they will try and diagnosis the problem. I have been told that since GM does not make the transmission any longer they have to put a rebuilt into it. I have done some research on this issue and there seems to be 100's of xc 90 owners with the same problem. I have contacted Volvo customer service and they have been nice but not very willing to address this issue and I don't have very much confidence in this recent tranny. I was lucky when the first one went out, B/C I was not drive at 70 mph when it seized, I was just getting back on the hwy. The second one went out also at a slow speed. I searched through your site and did not find any mention of this issue so I thought I would post with you and see what happened. If you need further details please let me know. Thanks

- Burke, VA, USA

problem #36

Feb 012008


  • 55,000 miles


Transmission failure at 55,000 miles.

- West Point, NY, USA

problem #35

Dec 172008


  • 15,000 miles
Transmission replaced two times, at approx. 38,000 and at about 48,000 miles. Units start slipping when shifting to second gear and leave you right where you are until they decide to rengage. Ball joints and all four hubs replaced by 50,000 miles. Axles (front) need replacing now at 70,000 miles. Sway bar ends replaced at 55,000 miles. This is the neediest vehicle I have ever owned. Front bearings on drive shaft replaced last month, worn since abut fifteen thousand miles, finally got so loud that we could shake the drive shaft and get a quarter of play at the bearing set.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #34

May 142008


  • 62,500 miles
At approximately 62,500 miles, the transmission of my 2004 Volvo XC90 failed. After researching, I found this to be a common problem for this particular model car, as well as the 2003 and part of the 2005 year. I had the transmission rebuilt by an independent transmission repair shop, they were able to provide me atra manuals, which I have copies of, that shows the particular defect with the transmission which demonstrates as the direct cause of what seems to be a common problem. That problem is that the 2nd and 4th clutches are burning and eventually spewing bits of metal shavings throughout the entire transmission, destroying it. The problem was identified in the 2005 atra manual as something to look out for and inspect, in 2006, the cause was identified as improper machining of the accumulator housing, the angle and depth have now been modified to avoid damage like my car and many others owners like me have experienced. The particular model is the GM 4T65E transmission. Not only an inconvenience, but in my opinion, a severe safely hazard, prior tot he repairs, the transmission light came on and effectively made it impossible to maneuver the car forcing me to pull over and assess the situation, fortunately for me, traffic was light at the time, this may not have been the case for someone else, potentially causing an accident and even worse death or dismemberment. I believe Volvo should issue a recall and reimburse owners for the expense of a new or rebuilt transmission.

- Washougal, WA, USA

problem #33

Dec 132008


  • 70,000 miles
I have a five year old 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 that has had two transmission failures. It is currently at the dealer awaiting a third transmission. The first transmission failure was in August 2007, the second was in December 2008. I was told by the dealer that the first transmission failed due to "excess metal" and that the metal somehow traveled to the cooling system and then to the second transmission, which caused it to fail. This is a dangerous issue and I fear that the car is neither safe nor reliable at this point. I paid $1900 for the first transmission to be replaced. One week later, I returned to the dealer and complained that the transmission was hesitating and was not shifting smoothly. They could find nothing. I returned four additional times over the next year with the same complaints and the dealership could never find anything wrong. Now I am waiting to find out if Volvo will even offer to pay for this third transmission.

- Pacific Palisades, CA, USA

problem #32

Dec 082008


  • 80,000 miles


I have had 3 complete transmission failures in a Volvo XC90 T6 without warning requiring replacement of the transmission. The first two failed on the highway almost causing an accident as the transmission cut out completely. The last once occurred on a busy 2 lane highway while making a turn across traffic. The first one failed at 28,000 miles, the second at 55,000 miles and the third at 80,000 miles. The first one was replaced under warranty without an argument, the 2nd one was replaced under warranty with an argument, and the third one Volvo won't even talk about replacing for free and wants to charge over 5K, without giving any assurances another 25K won't go by and it won't fail again. They don't care that the "safest" car can instantly become a death trap. A transmission isn't a disposable item that should fail every 25K, they should last at least 100K and not cut out in these dangerous fashions without warning. The third one there weren't even any warning lights. The company should fix this dangerous problem at no cost to the owners with a solution that gives the transmission a life similar to other vehicles in it's class. There answer is to put another one in, knowing it will fail and maybe kill you.

- Scarsdale, NY, USA

problem #31

Aug 152008


  • 55,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD transmission failure at 55,000 miles - when purchased from carmax both Volvo dealership (who fixed an alternator problem carmax couldn't) and private mechanic stated "this vehicle has been meticulously maintained" and "it is still a baby" - all service done as recommended. No suitable replacement transmission, seems ridiculous to replace with another transmission to fail as most reported here have. Volvo offers no compensation whatsoever, from dealer to Volvo of na.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #30

Oct 312008


  • 49,500 miles
My 2004 Volvo XC90 transmission had to replaced and they had to tow the car twice because the first time they told me the problem was fixed. My little children were in the car that just about made it home.

- Scarsdale, NY, USA

problem #29

Oct 232008


  • 67,000 miles
My 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 transmission has failed. I bought the vehicle in January 2007, with no extended warranty. I have about 67K miles on it and bought it with 38K. The dealership is charging me $4,200 to replace it. I have been reading many complaints from people having the same complaint. I feel that this transmission is a lemon and should be recalled.

- Deerfield, NH, USA

problem #28

Oct 202008


  • 68,000 miles
While driving my 2004 Volvo xc-90, the transmission went out on the highway and the vehicle would not accelerate. There was not warning, and we almost got into a car accident with a truck. My wife is 8 months pregnant, and we were very scared.

- Crystal Lake, IL, USA

problem #27

Oct 112008


  • 51,000 miles
It appears my story has been written here by many others. I own a 2004 XC90 T6. Last Saturday my husband returned home in our XC90 and told me he had car trouble. The car was sluggish and the transmission service urgent light had come on. I took it to our Volvo certified mechanic two days later who said he had 3 other XC90's in during the month of October for the same thing. His course of action was to flush the tranny, replace the transmission fluid (w/Volvo synthetic) and update the software. I was told if that didn't remedy the situation a new transmission would be needed. After having this work done (cost $350) I drove it home. The next morning as I drove up a mild incline at about 25 mph the car seemed to be unable to shift. When it finally did all of the indicator lights for the transmission were back on. The transmission is slipping. I called the mechanic back and was told that a new Volvo tranny would be needed at a cost of between $4500-$5200. Unfortunately, it will be the same defective/inadequate tranny that is already used in the 03/04 XC90's. this is not my first Volvo. We have bought from them before and were happy. It seems this is not just an intermittent issue, it is chronic and Volvo needs to take responsibility. This problem substantially affects the use and value of this car. I can't sell it the way it is so I am essentially trapped into spending this additional $5K. These cars are expensive to begin with and you expect quality, longevity and dependability from Volvo, not to be told that at 51,000 miles the transmission problem is due to normal wear and tear.

- Sebastopol, CA, USA

problem #26

Sep 202008


  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Volvo XC90. While driving less than 60 mph, the contact heard a loud drilling noise whenever she released the accelerator pedal. The dealer stated that the transmission was failing and needed to be replaced at the cost of $3,400. The radiator also needed to be replaced at the cost of $2,100. The failure and current mileages were less than 74,000.

- Ferndale, WA, USA

problem #25

Sep 192008


  • 77,000 miles
Our company owns 3 - 2004 Volvo XC90 vehicles. All three have required transmission replacements at low mileages (77,000, 90,000 and 106,000 miles). We believe this is an extraordinarily low mileage for a vehicle to have transmission failure when it is a $50,000 vehicle new. After doing much research, this seems to be a chronic problem with this vehicle as evidenced by the fact that they cannot get a transmission for this in the us at this time and the many consumer complaints about these vehicles. We believe this should be reviewed by the government due to the high rate of failure at mileages lower than acceptable for transmission failures. All three of our vehicles are driven for work purposes only, mostly highway miles and do not pull trailers or are abused in any other way.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #24

Aug 072008


  • 105,000 miles
My 2004 Volvo T6 AWD transmission had been slipping slightly shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear, but there was no warning or service light. I was driving up a hill in victor N.Y. when the transmission totally disengaged, the engine revved up to 4,000 RPM's and I needed to swerve off onto the shoulder in order for traffic get around me. No one was hurt, I came to a stop on the shoulder, restarted the car and the transmission engaged. I pulled away slowly and the transmission was ok, but still slipped and failed to shift up occasionally. Now 6 weeks later the slipping was becoming much more frequent. The "transmission service urgent" light came on and I took the car to the dealer today. I have not heard the outcome yet, but after reading the incidents reported here, and all the internet forums, select Volvo XC90 T6 transmission, I am quite sure I know the outcome. My car had 105,000 miles on it when the problem was first noticed, but this is the second transmission, the first was replaced under warranty at about 30,000 miles. My Volvo dealer did not seem at all surprised by the problem. I am quite certain they see it on a regular basis.

- Highland Park, IL, USA

problem #23

Jun 032008


  • 76,000 miles
Transmission replaced June 08 front control arms and bushings and coolant reservoir replaced Sept. 08 thermostat & housing & temp sensor replaced Jan. 08 brake vacuum pump replaced for 2nd time Jan. 08 brake vacuum pump replaced Sept. 07 gasket, O-ring, hose clamp recall Sept. 07 power steering pump and brake vacuum pump installed July 07 steering rack solenoid replaced July 07 - (recall May 3, 08?) new Bridgestone tires May 07 upper engine torques mount replaced March 07 recall wiper arm 156, ball joint 157 Oct. 06 brake pad & rotors replaced Oct 06 upgrade software a & C July 05 ABS brakes warranty fix May 06 front pads & rear pads & rotors replaced Dec. 05 exhaust rubbing on driveline, install kit to hold exhaust off driveline Dec. 05 left rear wheel bearing & hub, rear pads & rotors replaced June 05 4 new tires June 05 turbo control valve replaced March 05 front pads and rotors replaced Oct. 04.

- Little Rock, AR, USA

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