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Ugh...2004 XC90 transmission rebuild needed

A mid-size luxury crossover SUV, the Volvo XC90 made its debut in 2002 at the Detroit Motor Show. Recognized for its safety, practicality, and comfort, the XC90 is a popular vehicle around the world. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
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Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:05 pm
Year and Model: 2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Ugh...2004 XC90 transmission rebuild needed

Post by bassbunny5 »

My 2004 XC90 has finally hit the dreaded early transmission failure. I purchased car from first owner in 2014. At time of purchase it had 46K miles on it. I now have 81K. Love the car and really want to keep it as it still has lower mileage than other XC90's of the same year. Car has the occasional hesitation getting into gear from a standstill (not super often) but I got the transmission service light last week. Took car to my local independent volvo guy in Santa Monica and they said it's coding for the gear ratio (I didn't get the actual code) but means transmission is on it's way out. Don't know how long I have but want to try and get rebuild done in the next few months if I have that long. Trying to source out my options.

Has anyone recently been able to get transmission rebuilt or replaced with Volvo's goodwill assistance program? My mechanic called his buddy at Santa Monica Volvo and they said car has to be less than 10 years old. I'm not sure if I believe them. I think they just may not want to deal with it. I've read that Volvo will help out if car has less than 100K miles. I'm going to call Volvo NA myself but thought I'd ask the forum too.

Does anyone have a reliable, honest independent auto shop for Volvo transmission repairs? I asked my mechanic and he thinks it's better if I go to the dealership. He says dealership would have a lifetime warranty on it whereas an independent shop might have a year warranty. I really don't have the dough to go the dealership route if Volvo is not helping out with the funds. Mechanic thinks dealership may be around $6K and independent shop maybe $4K.

I also just had the radiator replaced two weeks ago in case that has any bearing on transmission replies. New tires this past summer.

Thanks all - sorry for the wall of text.

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Post by joejoethedogfaceboy »

Is this is a T5 or T6? There was a TSB for coolant getting mixed into the tranny fluid via the radiator (that covered at least the T5) that would trash the transmission. I had 2 replacements on my transmission (under warranty, though) because of that issue. The first time, the dealer didn’t change out the radiator, so the replacement transmission fell victim to the same fate.

Did the problem start before or after the radiator replacement?

2012 XC60 3.2
2012 S60 T5
2004 XC90 2.5T (SOLD 11/2017)
1999 S70 GLT (24hrs of Lemons bound...)

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Post by cn90 »

My 2005 XC90 2.5T with 110K runs fine, no issues, but I wonder...

- Should I replace the radiator since it is 110K and possibly prevent trans failure?>

- What brand?
---> Volvo OEM ($350) vs
---> Nissens ($180)
2004 V70 2.5T 100K+
2005 XC90 2.5T 110K+

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Post by FLXC90 »

OP signature indicates 2.5t

Cn90, I put a Nissens in my T6 in 2016 and it's been great. I would recommend preventive replacement if you want that car for years. It's the same price as 4 ignition coils proactively after the first dies.

I haven't looked at the trans cooler on one of these yet-did post-mortem on a 740 I had once, and the AT cooler was alloy, don't know if they pinhole, or crack from vibration where they pass through the tank. If it weren't for warm-up I'd isolate it with a stand-alone cooler.
Current Volvos:
1998 V70 T5, 112k sat 5 years, still in mechanical coma (finally at the top of the pile )
2004 XC90 T6 AWD: 186k, 60 on transaxle ( traded in )
1998 POS70 N/A: DD/training aid, 236k but really about 240k, I think...ABS module( passed on to son who sold it)

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Post by SuperHerman »

I will assume you have the 2.5T with the AW55/50 transmission and not the 2.9 with the 4T65E transmission.

First thing to do is check your coolant and tranny fluid color. You are looking for cross contamination. If both fluids look good you most likely do not have an issue involving the radiator. This is not 100% accurate, but a quick easy test you can do visually. You can go one step further and do a tranny drain and fill.

Next you should actual tranny fault codes and see what they say. You may have a solenoid problem in the valve body rather than a hard mechanical fault in the transmission. On the XC70 forum you will find countless posts on the AW55/50. You could also have a CEM issue or another module problem. Your codes will tell you.

Were it me I would do a drain and fill of the transmission fluid and closely look for metal sparkle and/or fragments as well as cross contamination. It is possible you just have dirty fluid then again it could be other items, but a fluid drain and fill will provide some insight either way. In addition you should do it with those miles anyways - if the tranny is toast you are out only a bit of time and some fluid.

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