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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Aug 252008


  • 78,000 miles


At 78,000 miles my 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 transmission jerks and the "urgent transmission light" shines 25 miles from our house. The service center says we need new transmission $5,200 but for now they drop pan and flush. Not sure how long it will last. Plus they bill me for upgrading "software" $300+. transmission failure is common due to inadequate design (GM) relative to power plant in car. This is epidemic. Transmissions do not fail at 25,000 - 90,000 miles.

- Sicklerville, NJ, USA

problem #21

Aug 282008


  • 74,000 miles
Car does not accelerate and skips as it shifts gears dealer says transmission needs to be replaced.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #20

Aug 202008


  • 61,000 miles
My Volvo 2004 XC90 T6 has transmission problems. The first indication of failure was a lack of motion when initially accelerating despite the tachometer reading 3500 RPM. The dealer was unable to replicate the problem and did a firmware update to the transmission controller. The second failure was the same as the first. The third time the engine engaged the gears with a series of shuddering jerks forward and a foul-smelling (smoky) odor was briefly present. The car is back in the repair shop presently. The car has not been used to tow anything and the driving has been mostly in town (average speed 27 mph).

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #19

Aug 012008


  • 80,512 miles


My 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 has had several ridiculous issues that I have never experienced in any of the german vehicles I have owned over the past 20 years. I have been fearful of this car of late mainly because I read several complaints about the reliability of the transmission on this vehicle. Well my fears became reality on Friday night while my wife and 22 month son were coming home from the market. My wife called me frantic about how the car will not go into reverse and now that I have managed to drive out of my parking spot it is not moving above 20 mph. Needless to say, I was angry and very concerned for my family's safety. She was able to creep home and we called the tow truck company to take this piece of junk to mooer's Volvo in richmond Virginia 804 755-666. I wish to file a complaint about the reliability of this vehicle and the danger it places it's owners (mostly people who turn to Volvo due to it's safety record, we sure did!) and their families. I have read hundreds of people experiencing this exact problem with this vehicle. The dealers know there are issues with these cars yet they dumb you down as if you are a unique case. Monday morning I will be in my attorney's office with my facts I gathered over the weekend showing this is such a ridiculously common problem that if Volvo hasn't done right by consumers they better get ready for major lawsuits. To start, they need to buy these cars back from consumers for what ever they owe on these cars and issue a statement apologizing for putting out such a terribly dangerous product for families.

- Chesterfield, VA, USA

problem #18

Nov 032007


  • 56,000 miles
Transmission failure on our 2004 Volvo xc-90 T6 AWD at approximately 56,000K miles. Fortunately it was a warranty repair; however my research on automotive discussion boards like edumds indicates a very large pattern of failure of the transmission on this model.

- Apo , AE, USA

problem #17

Jul 202008


  • 71,000 miles
My 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 has produced a "transmission service urgent" message but the dealer could not find a problem in the vehicle memory. It intermittently would rev over 3K RPM with no acceleration and would violently jerk into gear from a stop after revving for a few seconds without acceleration. Just before the dealer finally agreed to replace the transmission (71K miles) it was jerking repeatedly into gear at only mild acceleration.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #16

Jul 182008


  • 62,000 miles


The gears started slipping. I brought into Volvo dealership and they say I need a new transmission. After reading up on internet this is a problem alot of people are having. Transmissions should not fail at 60, 000 miles.

- Mill Valley, CA, USA

problem #15

Jul 012008


  • 70,000 miles
Vehicle unable to shift properly, computer reading "transmission urgent service" locks in third gear in "limp mode". vehicle caused very near fatal accident when stopped on a hill and after initially moving out into traffic, seized to operate. Towed to dealer, dealer first flushed out transmission at $240, then without road testing, suggested we try again. Vehicle failed once again while in the dealership parking lot and was told the transmission needed to be replaced, $6,000 later.

- Wolcott, CT, USA

problem #14

Jul 142008


  • 64,000 miles
2004 Volvo XC90 T6: Transmission failure at 64,000 miles. Other issues: Brakes every 1.5yrs (15,000 miles); tires every two years (20,000 miles).

- El Sobrante, CA, USA

problem #13

Jun 272008


  • 92,000 miles
While driving on the interstate highway, the 'transmission service urgent' message appeared on the display of my 2004 Volvo XC90. I was fortunately able to drive the car home (<1 mile) and get it to a Volvo service center (20 miles) the following morning. The service center indicated that 3rd gear of our automatic transmission was 'gone' and that the transmission needed to be replaced. The transmission was replaced with a re-manufactured transmission. I found this issue surprising since, although this vehicle has significant mileage for its age, >90% of that mileage can be attributed to highway driving (commute >80 miles per day). I also have reviewed many reports online from other Volvo XC90 vehicle owners describing the same problem at far lower mileage.

- Berlin, MA, USA

problem #12

Jul 052008


  • 94,462 miles


My car is not driving well when I drive it hesitates which is very dangerous when I driving especially on the highway I just recently noticed that the transmission light came on, and when I brought it to be service the said it is going to be $2,500 I just had it serviced it has 94,000 miles on it but when I checked online I see that others with less miles have the same complaint with less miles. We pay alot for great quality and safety for our families. So there should be a recall cause I'm not the only one.

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #11

Jun 242008


  • 60,000 miles
Transmission complaint for Volvo XC90 T6 2004. Dealership saying transmission needs to be replaced. Vehicle is only at 60,000 miles. Many other consumers dealing with the same issue.

- Zebulon, NC, USA

problem #10

Apr 252008


  • 45,000 miles
I was driving back from the store and the transmission started to slip. I turned around to move the car from my parking garage to the street and the transmission warning light came on as my car stopped accelerating as I parked. The car had been serviced by the dealer 2 days prior including a service and transmission fluid flush. The vehicle had 45,000 miles on it. The dealer replaced the transmission (under our extended warranty) and said the coolant had leaked into the transmission.

- Carmichael, CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 092008


  • 75,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 062008


  • 78,000 miles
I drive a 2004 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD. SUV. After 78,000 miles my transmission has completely failed without warning. I was on the road and everything was normal. After accelerating at a busy traffic light first and second gear in my transmission failed. This occurred in busy traffic. The transmission engaged suddenly and the car jerked forward without warning or control. The entire transmission has to be rebuilt. I searched on line to see if there were any discussions about this and there are. Please check Volvo forum. There are over 35 similar complaints some while people were driving at high speeds. Apparently Volvo used a GM transmission designed for a much smaller car. There should be a recall for Volvo to change or repair this very expensive issue.

- Ocean Ridge, FL, USA

problem #7

Apr 252008


  • 53,897 miles
Three and a half weeks ago my 2004 T6 XC90 jerked for the first time. I was on leaving the parking lot at work and the rear end made a loud bumping sound and the car jerked forward. It felt like another car had bumped into me, but I was the only car on the road. It didn't happen again for another week or so. Thursday, April 24th, I'm driving to work and the car isn't picking up speed when I push the gas. The rpms go up but it doesn't accelerate. Friday, April 25th I took it to the dealer and there was no problem. The car drove perfectly, even after I picked it up. Saturday, April 26th at 9pm, I'm driving alone on the interstate and the transmission service urgent light comes on, the car loses power the rpms are running up with no acceleration. Fortunately I was in the right lane so I got off at the next exit and was able to make it home, but it continued to have intermittent power loss the whole time. I'm in nighttime traffic putting on the hazard lights trying to get home. I have to wait till Monday to go back to the dealer, the transmission service light has been on since Saturday. The dealership gets the vehicle Monday, and keeps it until Friday saying the cem module had to be replaced. I wasn't confident of the fix so the dealership service rep kept the car to drive over the weekend. I picked it up Monday, May 5th. The invoice says 'code tcm 002B incorrect gear ratio' was the error message found. The software for the tcm was upgraded, but apparently didn't fix the problem because the cem was replaced. This vehicle had 53,897 miles on it when his occurred. I have not owned the car 4 years yet and wish I had gotten an extended warranty because this recent work was not covered and cost $1297. From what I've learned on the internet in the past few weeks this T6 XC90 has transmission failure as its theme. I find it incredulous that Volvo may be putting me and other members of the public at risk for a problem that could result in an accident.

- Dumfries, VA, USA

problem #6

Apr 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
2004 xc90T6 has failed transmission at 82,500 miles. I first noticed problem when first starting from stop. The vehicle would not accelerate and then it felt like I had been rear ended. Problem persisted and now problem occurs at first acceleration and at further attempts to increase speed the transmission falls out of gear and catch. The failure of the transmission poses a significant safety risk and appears to be a wide spread problem particularly with the 2004 XC90 T6. The last time it failed I was stuck in the middle of an intersection and was almost struck broad side by an approaching vehicle. The Volvo dealership advises me that the original transmission is not compatible with the T6 engine. Reported failures have occurred as early as 1,500 miles and Volvo's corrective measures of replacing the transmissions with remanufactured transmissions does not appear to be correcting the problem as there are numerous reports of repeat failures. Volvo has agreed to replace the transmissions with a remanufactured transmission but has refused to pay for labor. The dealer has agreed to pay for half of the labor. I have requested the dealer to retain the transmission and the associated parts. I have also asked Volvo if they have notified NHTSA of the widespread failures and they have refused to provide me with this information. The drain lines from the sunroof had to be replaced. Updated 05/15/08

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #5

Apr 162008

XC90 6-cyl

  • 51,369 miles
2004 Volvo VC90 transmission slipping. Could have caused accident. Many similar cases posted all over web. Volvo offers no warranty assistance. Many posts refer to multiple tranny replacements under warranty. Volvo has problem and doing nothing. Perhaps you can persuade them.

- Manchester, KY, USA

problem #4

May 202005

XC90 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,800 miles
1) 7,500 mile checkup (under 7,000 miles on car) 2) check engine light keeps activating. This started on Tuesday. I only use premium gasoline in car. 3) received ¿¿anti-skid service required¿ message with yellow indicator light remaining on. This happened on Tuesday and later disappeared after driving the car again. 4) there is a problem with the gearshift indicator. When I change gears from park to anything else, the display panel is either blank or it shows an incorrect gear ¿¿ it will show neutral when I am in drive or reverse. Also in all cases, the gearshift on the floor will not light up so it doesn¿¿T show at all what gear I am in. This happened once last week and has been happening on and off since then. 5) I think because of number 4 on my list, the car seems to hesitate and even buck a little bit upon acceleration. These symptoms resulted in Volvo having to replace the transmission on my car. The car was just reaching its one year mark and had less than 7,000 miles on it when this happened. Thankfully the car is under warranty, but I find it completely unaccaptable and unsafe that something like this would happen to my car. Also, the day the car was to be picked up for service I received two brake failure pull over safely messages. This also had to do with the transmission needing replacing. Again, completely unaccaptable.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #3

Mar 112005

XC90 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
2004, Volvo XC90 T6 AWD - vehicle was parked in driveway. Upon returning to vehicle, remote unlock was hit twice to open all doors, and vehicle began to roll down driveway. This occurred two times. Vehicle has been at Volvo garage for two weeks. At this point not aware of what repairs may have been made. It appears the transmission locking mechanism was disengaged with the remote unlock.

- Downers Grove, IL, USA

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