Car Problem Reports

Volvo XC90 Transmission Failure Common

Volvo XC90 Problem
67 Reports
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Model Years Affected: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2013

Average Mileage: 102,137 mi (7,052 mi - 192,000 mi)


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

  • , , 143,000 mi

    I have had the transmission replaced 2 times under warranty since I bought the car with 30,000 miles on it. I have had many other issues that were transmission related. I have always had funny noises, difficult shifting and transmission fluid leaks since the transmission was replaced the last time, and I brought it into the dealer over and over again while it was under warranty still, but they never could find the problem. Funny though, right after the warranty went out, they found that the problem was something that was part of the transmission, I told them they needed to fix it under warranty, but they said it was not considered the same thing and was a separate fix. but not the entire transmission. So, I got that fixed. Them I took it to an independent mechanic who had been recommended to me. I asked him to look over the car and let me know what I would need to do to keep the car running for a few more years. I also asked him to fix what was needed to get my gas mileage back up to around 20 mpg (currently it's 16.3). I wanted to see if it was worth fixing this car or just getting something else. I went ahead and spent about $3500 with him and thought I'd be good for awhile. The gas mileage was back to 20 for a few weeks then went bad again. Then I was told I had to get a timing belt replaced and a few other things so I ended up spending another $4500. That is not counting the tires I have replaced over and over on this car. Supposedly, broken engine mounts caused that issue but that's a whole other story for another section. A few months ago, the mechanic told me my all wheel drive was going out and it would be about $7000 to fix that. The dealer checked it as well and said the same thing. I just ignored it and now I don't have all wheel drive anymore. I also have an Anti Skid Warning that has been on for a few months. It is on, according to my mechanic, because the area under the seat with that sensor must have gotten wet. I'm not fixing it either. I can afford to spend more money on this car. It has cost me so much over the time I have had it (since 2007). I have numerous costs and repairs related to this car that I don't have listed here, plus the thousands I've spent on the regular mileage 'check ups' with the dealer. I hate that car and I hate Volvo and will never buy another one. I am sad to say that because I grew up in Alaska and I grew up around old Volvos which are adored up there. But, those are the old ones; the ones that made Volvo popular. Now, their reputation is running into the ground and I make sure to tell everyone what a horrible car Volvo makes.

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  • , , 78,000 mi

    The transmission on my XC90 -- with the 2.9L in-line T6 engine -- is generally regarded as the only engine with the transmission problem. Unfortunately, Volvo used an inferior Aisen-33 transmission in these cars from about 2004-05, which was not strong enough to handle the pronounced torque of the engine; the transmissions were "guaranteed to fail"...just a matter of time. Volvo remedied the problem with a redesigned transmission. I had one of these installed after mine failed, together with a new radiator and all cooling lines replaced with the new transmission, which has worked perfectly since. It should be noted that replacement should be in accordance with Volvo guidelines, and not just be rebuilt by an expensive transmission shop; replacement with a certified Volvo redesigned transmission is key to thte success of the new installation. Those who have experienced transmission failure should petition Volvo for their "Goodwill Assistance Program", who will likely be able to help you financially by assuming some or all of the cost. In my case, they paid $5000 of a $7000 replacement bill; some was better than nothing.

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  • , , 60,000 mi

    I bought this car used with just over 50,000 miles on it. I had it for not quite 3 months before it needed a new transmission. Out of warranty, so had no choice but to spend $4000 on a rebuilt transmission. Two years later, no problems until today. I've only put 7,000 miles on it in two and a half years. I had the "urgent transmission" check engine light come on today...very nervous to take it into the shop today...

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  •  Rookie

    My 2007 XC90 had a jerk in between 2nd and 3rd gear. Especially while accelerating to catch speed up to highway traffic. I brought to dealership for almost 2 years. I was repeatedly told that they were not able to recreate the problem and that there were no codes to help them with the diagnosis. I had the GM of the dealership tell me it's not a sports car, it's an SUV. When I was finally able to go on the drive with the tech, he finally felt what I was describing. He still stated that there was nothing that he could do without a code. At one point, the service tech informed me that my model had known issues with the valve body of the transmission, but my VIN number was 3 months out. It took me three years of dealing with this progressively getting worse transmission issue, until I found a transmission shop didn't need to break down the transmission to show that it was the tranny that was the culprit. Of course, it wasn't until I was out of warranty with VOLVO and luckily in a extended warranty, that the transmission shop owner, drove around until the adjuster that came out, not once, not twice, but three times, finally agreed I needed a new transmission. That same adjuster said, "this is the same car I drove 3 months ago" (yep, that's what happens when you drive it for only 6 minutes in a 25mph zone). The car drove like the day I bought it after the transmission was replaced. But only concern is that during all of this, there was another noise that was underlying to it all and I have yet to find out what that is all about. Is it possible that the faulty tranny put stress on the engine or other parts??? All I know, is that, that sound (a sound like the car is bone dry internally and about to die on me, only in gears 1 and2) is getting worse. I really wanted this car to be a car in the family for years. It's such a shame that this is the way Volvo treats their customers. And worse of all, they are very aware of the problem and just turn a blind eye. What will it take for them to have to own up to the major/costly issue that we have all had to go through regarding this???!!!! Serious injury, Death, ....??!!

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  • , , 59,500 mi

    trans kept slipping in all gears. when I limpped into the dealer they were suprized I made it! Thsat's when I was told that this is a known problem with this 6 speed GM transmission. All parts and labor were covered by Volvo!

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  • , , 137,000 mi

    Transmission Service Urgent Message on XC90 Volvo 2004

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  • , , 125,000 mi

    Transmission is slipping; the dealer says $9,000 to replace the transmission, radiator, and cooler kit. Oh -- and the main seal. The dealer said the radiator leaked into the cooler and now the transmission has been contaminated. No warning; no overheating issues; no lights.

    Have had the car for not quite two years; put about $8K repairs into it so far -- front end including bearings, tire sensors, multiple bulbs, put new tires on it last May and already can tell they will need to be replaced before winter.

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  • , , 102,000 mi

    Transmission failed and had to be replaced.

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  • , , 60,000 mi

    Burnt foamy fluid. Vehicle shudders when accelerating. Erratic pump noise.

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  • , , 88,000 mi

    Transmission seems to be failing. The dealer says I will probably need a new transmission. I had always heard Volvos lasted forever and were high quality. My ABS module has also failed and needs to be replaced.

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