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Volvo XC90 Reliability and Common Problems

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If you’re in the market for a reliable midsize luxury SUV, you can’t go wrong with a Volvo XC90. Both new and older model years have something great to offer, from good fuel economy to a great selection of standard safety features. Its resale value is also good, only depreciating 54% after five years, according to CarEdge.com.

Are Volvo XC90s Reliable?

The Volvo XC90 enjoys above-average reliability, with some of its model years scoring better than the others. RepairPal gives it 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking it 8th out of the 14 midsize luxury SUVs in its category. Meanwhile, J.D. Power rated the 2021 Volvo XC90 a 75 out of 100, placing it well within the top ten midsize luxury SUVs of that year. With these figures, it’s apparent that the Volvo XC90 can easily enjoy a long service life with proper handling and regular maintenance.

Top Volvo XC90 Problems

The Volvo XC90 is a dependable midsize luxury SUV, but it has its fair share of problems. Here are the most commonly reported issues for different model years:

Brake System Issues

According to some owners of the 2016 Volvo XC90, problems with its brake system are common for the model year. The automatic emergency brakes would reportedly engage by themselves without any warning. Most drivers have complained that this often happens at highway speeds. Based on reports, this problem usually occurs in low-mileage SUVs with at least 12,000 miles.

Many owners have also complained that their auto-braking warning lights and brakes often turn on intermittently. In some cases, the seat belts also engage on their own. Although these problems are a serious safety hazard, no official recalls have been issued to fix them as of this writing.

Climate Control System Problems

When it comes to 2007 Volvo XC90 problems, climate control system issues are among the most frequently reported. Many owners have complained that their A/C compressor fails intermittently. Their A/C would not engage and get cold until their XC90 warmed up, taking longer and longer to start as their SUV built up mileage.

2007 Volvo XC90 Wikimedia
When it comes to 2007 Volvo XC90 problems, climate control system issues are among the most frequently reported. Image source: Wikimedia.

In some cases, the A/C does not get cold and blows warm air instead. The heater may also not engage. Heat would not exit the vents, but the seats reportedly got hot.

When the owners of the affected units brought their XC90s to the shop for repairs, most were told they needed a climate control module and software upgrade to resolve the issue. Volvo has rolled out software upgrades for the A/C control module to correct certain climate control system faults.

Oil Leaks From AWD Differential Housing

Some owners of the 2006 Volvo XC90 have complained about oil leaks coming from their all-wheel-drive differential housing. Most noticed differential or transmission fluid dripping from their SUV’s front. The seals within the angle gear drive assembly failed after some time, causing oil to leak out of its gearbox. Several drivers also reported that their vehicle started burning oil through the exhaust pipes.

Besides oil leaks, another common sign that the AWD system is about to fail is a rattling or fluttering noise coming from the angle drive or front axle assemblies. Various issues can make the system emit such sounds, including leaking seals. If your Volvo exhibits these symptoms, you may be able to fix it by replacing the worn-out seals.

Transmission Failure

The 2005 Volvo XC90 doesn’t have as many issues as other model years. But some units have been reported to develop severe drivability problems involving their transmission.

2005 Volvo XC90 Wikimedia
Some owners of the 2005 Volvo XC90 have complained that their transmission started to fail at around 101,000 miles. Image source: Wikimedia.

Many owners have complained that their transmission started to fail at around 101,000 miles. They reported hearing odd noises from the transmission before it malfunctioned.

For some, the problem caused more severe issues, as their transmission stopped working without warning while they were on the highway. Most technicians recommend replacing the transmission to resolve this issue. As of this writing, no recalls have been issued to fix this.

Audio System Problems

According to some owners of the 2004 Volvo XC90, problems with the audio system are typical for this model year. Many have reported issues concerning the CD player, radio, and premium sound system. Drivers have also experienced problems with their stock radio, including channel loss, troubles with the keystroke controls, and CD player issues.

Volvo has rolled out software upgrades to address some of these issues. However, solving problems that are not related to software issues typically involves repairing or replacing damaged components.

Premature Tire Wear

Some owners of the 2003 Volvo XC90 have reported problems with their tires, most of them experiencing premature tire wear at 12,000 miles. Uneven tire wear can lead to poor gas mileage and dangerous issues like a blown tire. To resolve this problem, the worn-out tires need to be replaced.

If you’re in the market for a Volvo XC90, be prepared to embrace the good with the potential bad. But don’t worry. As long as you know the issues that the model you’re planning to get may develop, buying it should come with little risk. Look up the most common problems that affect the model you’re eyeing, and make sure the seller has cleared everything before taking it home.

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Vehicle Reliability

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