Transmission Will Not Shift Properly on Volvo XC70

Problem Description and Possible Solution

Many complaints have been reported regarding Volvo XC70 transmission shifting issues. Long shift times between gear shifts, hard shifting, hard downshifting and a loss of transmission operation all together to name a few.

If the issue is minor, a transmission software update may address this issue so if available, the software should be updated before any repairs are made. After a software update or repair, the shift adaptation needs to be reset. A good quality Volvo repair shop will know how to perform this task.

There are several technical service bulletins (TSB's) available from Volvo that address these shifting issues and they should be consulted by the repair shop during the automatic transmission diagnostic process.

Regular servicing of the transmission fluid can help with preventing transmission failure, but not in all cases. Follow the suggested fluid replacement interval recommended by Volvo. You will find this in your owners manual, or find it here:

Problem Data
RepairPal Verified
Average mileage: 117,472 (27,000–221,000)
Drive Train affected: 2.5L 5 Cylinder Turbo
8 model years affected: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, more2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
68 people reported this problem
Viewing 1 - 20 of 41 comments
When driving in stop and go traffic,the transmission begins shifting erratically.Hard up shifting and down shifting.Incorrect engagement between shifts.Seems to be when the transmission gets hot.After steady driving,the transmission acts normally.I have not attempted to solve the problem yet.
My issue is first gear. When I pull up to a stop sign and take of quickly (as in not waiting more than a half second)the transmission gets confused and clunks back into first gear. This also happens when driving in a parking lot slowly and then give it gas to speed up. Its as if 1st gear is slipping or not staying in first gear. The dealer stated nothing was detectable when they drove it. If you pull up to a stop sign and wait a couple of seconds, and then take off all is fine. I will have to fight with the dealer on this one....its under warranty but they claim there are no software updates.
Delayed and then hard shifts, particularly uphill on warm days. Happened even with fresh fluid.
My experience first happened almost two years ago, and I am still putting up with it having spent a total of $1,500.00 to try to resolve it. The first sign of trouble was hard downshifting into second gear. Then, the gear selector lever (rocker arm) would not stay in the automatic position. I had to use a dog collar fastened around it and fastened to the handlebar next to the passenger seat to hold it. Next, I was cruising at 75 mph with the cruise control engaged when suddenly the cruise control disengaged with a bump that I could both hear and feel. The gear indicator inside the speedometer display changed from D to double dashes. (--) The car kept driving, so I decided to keep going. At the end of the interstate exit ramp, I had to stop at a red traffic light. When the light changed green and when I accelerated, the car felt like it was in fourth or fifth gear, but I gave it the gas and it got going. When I got home, backing into my driveway was blind because the transmission problem caused my backup lights to not work. The next day, I called a tranny shop, and the guy told me it would be safe to drive the car to his shop as long as there was not a lot of transmission fluid under the car. So, I dropped it off for his diagnosis. He told me the next day that my tranny was fine, but my "range sensor" was bad. He was too busy with actual transmission problems and said my regular repair shop could replace the range finder. I took it to a shop that specializes in Volvos and gave them all the above info. They said they would advise taking it slowly and start by replacing the rocker arm for a total of $200.00 and see if that would fix it. It did not, but next, whenever I had the money available to take the next step, the error codes had cleared, and they could not find out what sensor was the problem. In the mean time, I discovered that I could shift manually using the driver's side of the rocker arm. Without a manual clutch, I learned that you must regulate your speed and shift at appropriate speed intervals. Finally, I took it to another shop that I had started to use for my wife's 2003 Land Rover Discovery. They felt that the tranny was shot and advised me to drive it until it finally died. I decided to ask them to go ahead replace the sensor that the computer code indicated was the problem. Turned out that there were two: an import sensor and an export sensor. I said okay to replace these for a total of $1,300.00. This did not resolve the problem. Now, the new rocker arm is broken again. It is functioning properly, but the plastic cover over the button you squeeze to shift in & out of Park and Reverse, cracked vertically. I simply taped it with Gorilla Tape, but when the tape failed, I dropped by the shop that installed it. The warranty had expired, but they said that this indicated a more serious transmission problem, but they could not be more specific. That was just a couple days ago, so now I am trying to find a time to take it back to the original tranny specialist who gave me the first optimistic answer. I will update this post if/when that happens.
When car gets warm it revs before shifting from 1st to second and sometimes from second to third.


Car has hard time shifting - we call it herky jerky. Went to cert. ind Volvo mech and he confirmed everything here. Said he could replace with good used transmission (when he could find one) for about $3000. Very disappointed. 3rd Volvo wagon, first problem major problem.
It has only happened twice now, and both times were when I was driving my 2005 XC70 up a steep canyon road with wet road conditions - it would have a very hard time shifting between 3 and 4 gear and rev up to like 3000 rpm's before finally shifting hard into 4th. I thought the first time that it may have been my tires spinning out, but this last time was exactly like the first, and while the roads were wet, and it was snowing and cold outside, I don't think my tires were spinning out.
Since I have gone through the whole process enumerated widely by everyone else, I can confirm a few things:

1)You can get the transmission to limp along for a time, but it definitely deteriorates as it heats up...stop and go traffic and hills are not your friend;
2)I think the software upgrades may address about 5% of the issues. About 95% of the issues are a flawed transmission, and if you want to keep driving you're going to need to replace it.
3)Mine cost about $6,000 but the car has been flawless ever since (oh, except the ignition coils which were also under-designed and required replacement last week, about $800).
4)Don't forget about the bevel gear, which was also under-designed and is a separate repair from the transmission. Yes, I've had that done too, about $3,500.

It's been a fun couple of years.
transmision gets confuse upshifting and downshifting, in highway it drives good, engine light on, noise on front right around the wheel, can this model take to court and report as recall?
Transmission "slams" from park to drive or reverse, slams when you let off gas and re-apply accelerator. Not fixed yet.
Transmission had to be replaced at 98K
Hard and some times erratic shifting, particularly when accelerating from a stop. After the SECOND time at the Volvo dealership with this complaint, (first time I was told 'there was no problem') the service people found that there is a leak in the transmission line that 'may' be causing the problem.....
Hard downshift from 3rd to 2nd. Volvo repair shop did update the software and the problem "shifted" down I have a hard downshift from the 2nd to the 1st gear.
I get vibrations when shifting into any gear. Going to have somebody look at it - but it is most likely the transmission.
Long shifts if it shifts at all. Started during cold winter months. I started using manual shift option before entering drive gear. Flushed trans recently no change to report. Ready to sell ...
Automatic 2006 xc70 has hard shifting, clunking into gear, won't downshift, and all sorts of other crazy things when the car get's hot. I took it in twice to have it fixed. They reset it, flushed it, changed some part and it still kept doing it and now the dreaded service transmission light is on WITH the check engine light. Code says excessive clutch slipping and now I'm being told that I need a new transmission 2 years after my 2001 Volvo xc70 also had a failed transmission. 7th Volvo. Used to be a die hard Volvo fan. I am SO DONE.
Not fixed yet. Always has been jerky when shifting..bringing it in this week.
Hard downshift when deceleration, seems most noticeable w/ 2nd to 1st. Alleviated by transmission fluid replacement but not solved.