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Volvo Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems for 25 Volvo models based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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260
Known Problems

While driving the 2011-2013 Volvo C30, operators may notice harsh shifting or slippage of the transmission.

This is caused by software issues in many cases, however, internal transmission failure may be the culprit as well. This may or may not be indicated by the check engine warning light.

In some instances, the failure has been attributed to the ‘sealed-for-life’ nature of the transmission, as the transmission fluid may break down before the transmission is taken out of service.

The manufacturer of the transmission, which is a third party, has issued many software updates, but when these updates fail to correct concerns, the transmission must be removed, disassembled, inspected, and repaired. 

 

While driving the 2011-2013 Volvo C70, operators may notice harsh shifting or slippage of the transmission.

This is caused by software issues in many cases, however, internal transmission failure may be the culprit as well.

In some instances, the failure has been attributed to the ‘sealed-for-life’ nature of the transmission, as the transmission fluid may break down before the transmission is taken out of service.

The manufacturer of the transmission, which is a third party, has issued many software updates, but when these updates fail to correct concerns, the transmission must be removed, disassembled, inspected, and repaired. 

 

The Volvo S40 from 2011-2012 is known to have issues with hard shifts and transmission slippage on models equipped with the six speed automatic transmission. When the transmission gets warm, the issues is most noticeable as a hesitation to shift, followed by jerking or jolting into the next gear.

The hard shifting and transmission slipping is commonly a result of software inadequacies, which do not account for all variables as the transmission heats to normal operating conditions. In some cases, the automatic transmission may be suffering from a damaged valve body or faulty shift solenoids.

Software updates from the manufacturer of this transmission have solved many reported complaints, but not all. In cases where software updates to the transmission controller have failed, the transmission will likely need valve body replacement, shift solenoid testing and replacement, or even a complete rebuild.

Since the transmission is sealed for life, the fluid is not normally considered a suspected cause, but many technicians recommend changing the transmission specific automatic transmission fluid at normal intervals. 

 

Model years 2007-2016 of the Volvo S80 using the 6-speed automatic transmission have been known to produce hard shifting and transmission slippage between gears. This is most noticeable when the transmission is hot, but can happen at any time. Note, this transmission is designed to be ‘sealed for life’ meaning the transmission fluid is never meant to be changed.

As many drivers and owners have learned, the issues are caused by problematic software for the transmission or mechanical failures associated with the transmission valve body or shift solenoids.

In order to restore transmission performance while shifting, the manufacturer of the transmission has issued several software updates that should correct the shifting issues. If hard shifts and slippage still exist after the software updates are completed, the transmission must be removed, disassembled, inspected and repaired.

Some technicians have advised replacing transmission fluid at normal intervals, but the manufacturer guidance is to use the original transmission fluid for the entire service life of the vehicle. 

 

A well-documented and well-known issue with the Volvo V70 built between 2005-2010 is harsh shifting from the 6-speed automatic transmission, and slight slippage between gears. This has been noted as hesitation to accelerate, especially from a stop.

Mainly, software issues have been to blame for these mishaps, but mechanical malfunctions related to shift solenoids and the valve body have also been major causes. Finally, the automatic transmissions in these models are sold as ‘sealed for life’, yet the transmission fluid does not seem to last the complete service life of the vehicle.

Correction of these issues often requires a simple software update, meaning the vehicle only needs to be plugged in, and the transmission controller receives new programming meant to fix these drivability concerns. In cases where this does not correct concerns, the transmission must be removed, inspected, and repaired, possibly requiring a complete rebuild.

To mitigate these issues from escalating to a full transmission rebuild, many technicians recommend replacing the transmission fluid at regular intervals, yet the manufacturer has never offered this guidance. 

 

From 2006-2016, the Volvo XC70  was built with a six-speed automatic transmission built by a third-party manufacturer, as is the case with most transmissions. For this specific automatic transmission, there is a common complaint regarding the harshness of shifts, as well as slight slippage when the transmission is hot.

In most cases, these issues arise from faulty software, which does not account for all variables as the transmission warms to normal operating temperature. In other cases, the valve body or shift solenoids are found to be faulty.

Software updates and software patches have been developed for these transmissions, and that is normally sufficient to correct drivability issues. If resetting the transmission controller and updating the transmission proves insufficient to correct concerns, the transmission will likely require rebuild or replacement before performance is returned to normal.

These transmissions were built and sold as ‘sealed for life’, but many have found that the automatic transmission fluid is not reliable for the complete service life of the vehicle. 

 

The 6-speed automatic transmission used in the 2006-2016 Volvo S60 is known for issues with harsh shifting, especially while the transmission is slightly warmer than normal operating temperature.

This is accompanied by slight transmission slippage, and is common with this transmission in various makes and models.

The transmission software sometimes causes the slipping and harsh shifts, but in other cases the valve body or shift solenoids are to blame.

To remedy the situation, the manufacturer of the transmission has issues various software updates, but in some cases a valve body replacement or transmission rebuild is required. 

 

The 6-speed automatic transmission used in the 2005-2014 Volvo XC90 is known for issues with harsh shifting, especially while the transmission is slightly warmer than normal operating temperature.

This is accompanied by slight transmission slippage, and is common with this transmission in various makes and models.

The transmission software sometimes causes the slipping and harsh shifts, but in other cases the valve body is to blame. Also, since the transmission is sealed for life, the transmission fluid may beak down and cause these issues. 

To remedy the situation, the manufacturer of the transmission has issues various software updates, but in some cases a valve body replacement or transmission rebuild is required. 

 

The engine may not start due to a failed starter control module. If the module has indeed failed, it will require replacement.

Premature automatic transmission failure is common. Diagnoses of the fault will be necessary to determine if repair or replacement is the proper repair.

Front and/or rear sway bar end links may wear out prematurely, causing a knocking noise from the front or rear of the vehicle when driving on bumpy roads. Our technicians recommend inspecting the links at each service, they should be replaced if any looseness is found.

As the vehicle ages, the plastic end tanks on the radiator may crack and cause a coolant leak. Because of the placement of the radiator, the leak may not be visible in the engine bay or underneath the vehicle. A radiator replacement would be required to fix this condition.

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: http://bit.ly/Volvo_Owners_Manuals

During the diagnosis of the symptoms the technician may pull diagnostic codes from the Engine Control Module that point to a lean air/fuel mixture. If no vacuum leaks are found, then the mass air flow sensor (MAF) is often the cause.

Replacement of the MAF will be needed, along with a reset of the Engine Control Module and erasing of the diagnostic trouble codes.

The Electronic Throttle Module (ETM) has a higher than normal failure rate. Volvo has extended the warranty on some of the ETMs to 10 years/200,000 miles