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Volvo S40 Reliability and Common Problems

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It’s impossible not to talk about the Volvo S40 when it comes to reliable compact luxury cars. The S40 is known to have decent gas mileage and great ownership costs compared to its competitors, making it one of the most economical vehicles to maintain. But as reliable as the S40 is, some of its parts are bound to wear out or get damaged over time. If left unresolved, these problems can cause drivability issues.

Are Volvo S40s Reliable?

The S40 received above-average scores on all major reliability ratings. RepairPal gives the model a 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking it third out of 17 luxury compact cars. Meanwhile, the 2006 and 2010 model years received an average score of 75 out of 100 based on J.D. Power consumer ratings.

The S40 is known to have average ownership costs. The annual repair and maintenance cost for the model is approximately $695. This is lower compared to the usual $800 for luxury compact cars. Volvo S40 owners usually bring in their cars for unscheduled repairs 0.5 times a year with a 9% probability of needing a major fix.

Common Volvo S40 Problems

Despite being a dependable daily driver, the Volvo S40 has its fair share of problems that can affect its performance. Here are the model’s most common issues reported by its owners:

Slipping Transmission

A slipping transmission has been a common problem in many 2005 and 2011 S40s, specifically in models equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. Owners of the affected model years have also complained about their vehicles hesitating, jerking, or jolting into the next gear. These issues may be caused by an overheated transmission, outdated software, a damaged valve body, or faulty shift solenoids.

Starter Control Module Issues

Owners of many 2000 and 2003-2010 S40s have complained about being unable to start their engines after several attempts due to a failed starter control module. Some drivers have reported that their vehicles’ lights would turn on, but the engine would click as if the battery had just died.

2006 Volvo S40 Parked Volvo Car USA Newsroom
Owners of some 2000 and 2003-2010 S40s have complained about being unable to start their engines after several attempts due to a failed starter control module. Image source: Volvo Car USA Newsroom.

Insufficient or excessive voltage, disintegrated connections between modules, faulty sensors, extreme engine temperatures, and excessive vibration are some of the issues that may cause the starter control module to malfunction.

Vibrations at Idle

There have been reports of some 2000-2008 S40s vibrating excessively at idle due to a worn-out front engine mount. Owners of the affected models have reported feeling the vibrations whenever the engine ran cold. The movements would disappear once it warms up. Some drivers also heard a grinding noise whenever they made a turn. Replacing an engine mount can cost anywhere between $25 and $80 plus labor costs.

Hard Start Condition

Drivers of some 2000-2005 and 2008 Volvo S40s have had problems getting their engines to run due to a leaking fuel pressure regulator. Many have complained about their vehicles stalling a few moments after cranking the engine. There have also been some instances where the vehicle would hesitate during acceleration.

If your vehicle suffers from similar symptoms, have your Volvo checked by a licensed mechanic to get a proper diagnosis. Other parts that may cause similar issues include the starter, spark plugs, ignition coil, and the idle air control valve.

Premature Brake Pad Wear

Premature brake pad wear has been a common problem found in some 2000-2006 and 2008 S40s. Owners of the affected models have reported needing to replace their brake pads and rotors multiple times a year, which can cost more because they’re purchased separately. A brake disc and pad kit usually costs anywhere between $60 and $150 plus labor costs.

Water Leaks

Some owners of the 2007 S40 redesign have complained about water leaking into their cabin due to a clogged sunroof drain. Owners of the affected models have reported that they had to bring their vehicles to a repair shop to replace several damaged wirings under the driver’s seat.

According to some drivers, the sunroof’s drain tube was connected to one corner of the windshield, which caused water to leak inside the cabin. Several also reported having a damaged headliner, moldy carpets, and mildew buildup on the glass because of this issue.

Engine Problems

2004 2007 Volvo S40 T5 Wikimedia
Positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve failure has affected some 2007 S40 units. Image source: Wikimedia.

Positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve failure has affected many 2007 S40 units. Owners of these units have reported hearing whistling noises from their vehicles due to a clogged PCV valve. If left unaddressed, the vehicle could exhibit various symptoms, such as rough idling, engine misfires, rough acceleration, increased oil consumption, and an illuminated check engine light.

According to some owners of the 2006 Volvo S40, problems with its engine are common for the model year. There have been complaints about the model stalling or shutting off without warning, causing many drivers to call a towing company to bring in their vehicles to the nearest repair shop. There have also been reports of worn-out tubing on the oil trap housing, which triggered certain emission codes due to improper ventilation.

Oil Leaks

Many 2000-2003 Volvo S40s have had issues caused by a leaking turbocharger return pipe seal. If left unaddressed, this can cause serious damage to the engine, radiator, and HVAC system and result in more expensive repairs. Oil leaks may also cause rubber hoses and seals to wear prematurely, creating a fire and safety hazard.

Broken Springs

There have been several reports about some 2000 Volvo S40s sagging from the front end. Some drivers of this model year have complained about needing to replace their vehicle’s front springs to resolve the issue, only to have the same problem happen to the rear end.

Keep in mind that even the Volvo S40 may develop issues as it racks up mileage. But don’t worry. Familiarize yourself with the model’s most common issues and stay on top of its repair and maintenance, and you’ll be able to keep your Volvo S40 performing at its best for a long time.

Vehicle Reliability

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