The Most Common Volvo Problems

The most common problem across many Volvo models is transmission issues, but watch out for software issues and oil leaks.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
The most widely reported issue with several Volvo models is transmission problems, but oil leaks from the AWD differential housing and problems with several control units are also common.
It’s a tale as old as time: man makes a machine, the machine works for a while, and then the machine starts developing problems that make man go a little nuts. Cars, like any other machine, can develop mechanical problems from simple wear and tear, but some issues seem to come straight from the manufacturer. 
If you’re curious about common issues with Volvos, then this guide from
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, is for you. If you drive a Volvo—or want to buy one—check out these mechanical issues to watch for.
And since saving money on car expenses is what we do best, we will also show you how to find the lowest Volvo car insurance costs around!
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What are the most common Volvo problems?

The Swedish manufacturer Volvo produces a wide range of luxury vehicles from sedans to SUVs. However, their luxury price tag doesn’t necessarily mean they’re free of mechanical issues. Here are some of the most common issues reported among several Volvo models:
  • Transmission issues
  • Multiple control system failures
  • Oil leaks from AWD differential housing
The 2003 Volvo XC90 seems to have the most problems, with five major recalls and 95 complaints to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
. Compare that to the 2020 Volvo XC40, the brand’s most reliable model, with no recalls and very few reported complaints. 
For a better look at the most common issues across several Volvo models, check out the table below.
Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating
Most common problems
Years to avoid
Transmission failure, hard or erratic shifting, oil leaks
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Stiff controls, rigid suspension
2018, 2019
Decreased engine performance, engine overheating, power steering failure, faulty climate system
2010, 2015, 2019
Vibration from rear brakes, multiple sensor failures, engine vacuum leaks
C40 Recharge
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Most common Volvo XC90 problems

Average annual repair cost: $851 complaints: 109
The most common complaints with the Volvo XC90 seem to be centered around the transmission. Issues include rough or erratic shifting to complete transmission failure, which is probably why the annual repair costs for the XC90 are higher than average.
Another common issue is oil leaking from the all-wheel-drive (AWD) differential housing.

Most common Volvo XC40 problems 

Average annual repair cost: $769 complaints: 7
The problems reported with the Volvo XC40 seem less focused on mechanical wear and tear and more on the engineering itself. Several drivers complained that the controls are stiff and challenging to operate, especially a tricky gear selector.
Other drivers complained of a rigid suspension system coupled with a stop/start system that jolts the car with every start-up, making the overall drive feel rough.

Most common Volvo XC60 problems 

Average annual repair cost: $746 complaints: 54
Engine problems seem to plague the Volvo XC60, with reports of decreased engine performance, a drop in fuel economy, and frequent engine overheating.
Drivers also complained about the satellite navigation system malfunctioning, intermittent loss of power steering, and climate system issues.

Most common Volvo S90 problems 

Average annual repair cost: $552 complaints: 2
The Volvo S90’s most common problems stem from multiple sensor failures. Drivers noticed their no start and check engine lights coming on due to failure of the engine coolant temperature sensor or gear position sensor.
Drivers also complained that the intake manifold gaskets developed leaks, and the air pump check valve failed.

Most common Volvo C40 Recharge problems

Average annual repair cost: $N/A complaints: N/A
Brand new in 2021, Volvo’s all-electric C40 created quite a bit of excitement, selling out in record time. Since there are very few C40s on the road, a lot of problems haven’t been reported yet. Some drivers did report that the acceleration and handling of the C40 weren’t as great as competitors like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, but major mechanical issues haven’t become common yet.
MORE: Does Volvo have a self-driving car?

Are Volvo cars reliable?

According to experts like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, Volvo scores near the middle of the road when it comes to reliability. While they have some reliable vehicles, other luxury brands like Lexus have consistently higher reliability ratings.
Repair Pal states that the average annual cost of repairing a Volvo is around $769. This is above average compared to other brands.

The least reliable Volvo model: 2003 Volvo XC90

Most common problem: Transmission issues
NHTSA complaints: 95
The 2003 model Volvo XC90 has a list of issues longer than most other Volvo models, starting with the transmission. Rough and erratic shifting is commonly reported, along with complete transmission failure. 
The XC90 also has issues with oil leaks and loud noises coming from the front wheels. The frequent transmission issues explain the high annual repair costs of $851—well above average across other Volvo models.

The most reliable Volvo model: 2022 Volvo XC40

Most common problem: Isolated 
NHTSA complaints: 5
Volvo’s compact luxury crossover SUV has consistently been one of the most affordable options in its class, but with the 2022 model XC40, affordability meets reliability.
The 2022 XC40 earned top safety ratings and very few complaints with the NHTSA, with only a few drivers reporting isolated mechanical incidents.
MORE: How many miles can a Volvo last?

How to buy hassle-free car insurance

Just because Volvos come with luxury price tags (and expensive annual repair costs!) doesn’t mean you have to break the bank for car insurance. If you want affordable coverage,
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If properly cared for and maintained, a Volvo can last over 20 years or 200,000 miles.
A car’s reliability has to take several factors into account. While Volvos don’t have as many mechanical issues as other brands, the cost of those issues is much higher than average, which hurts their reliability score.
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