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My XC90 tried to kill me

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo XC90s. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
GreenMagicMan
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GreenMagicMan

My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by GreenMagicMan » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:31 am

Ok, headline grabbing title.... but...
Yesterday in fairly heavy rain on new within the past year highway pavement, in 43F or warmer, my Volvo tried to kill me.

I'll describe it as a 'VIOLENT lurch' - that's all I can accurately say.
Like a supernatural force tried to suddenly force me into the guardrail. It took all the white knuckled finesse to execute the best crash save I've perhaps pulled off in a car. On a new dead straight highway.

This was the most violence of any skid I've ever felt. (Except for out of the blue high side skids on my superbike.... nothing can compare with that) Driving straight down a perfect highway with perfect pavement in the wet no turn, no bumps, no suspension movement.

This also was happening for at least 5 minutes constantly prior to this but about 20% of the force.

I noticed later on this two hour drive that the conditions needed to be this to be suddenly pushed and yanked all over the road and into other lanes without warning:
-50mph or greater. 48 mph or less on same conditions no trouble.
-wet pavement. The first one hit us was a hydroplane at 60 mph.
-Brand new smooth pavement. The older roads, 3+ year old pavement no trouble

*Note: absolutely no pavement imperfection required. No bump, no turning input on steering wheel required. No chopping on throttle or stomping / touching brakes needed. Just tracking down the open road in a straight line with no unsettling inputs. I HAVE NEVER seen anything like this in 33 years of driving all over the world tons and tons of cars and motorcycles of new and ultra beater status.

I have no idea what the hell is going on.
The rear tires I discovered 2 days ago are bald snow tires. bald on half the tread and half the other side with some / very little tread.
It has felt like the rear drive suspension has been a cause for a year or so with 'pogo-ing' in bumps / wallowing / not recovering right... especially in a right turn when you hit irregularities like a pot hole - that XC tail wags and wags. Very unsettled. If you hit a pot hole dead on going straight not much to write about.

All I got is this: The Haldex AWD system - could it be sending incorrect commands to a brake to compensate for what it thinks is a skid when it's not?? Could it have some wheel slip(s) and then the AWD computer thinks it's correcting it by throttle or brake commands to wheel(s) and there is a severed electrical connection to said device? Do I need to get VIDA running for answers / hints?

OH, and the 'Anti - Skid service required' MIL is on. Not sure how long it's been on.
The only thing I haven't been accurate on is it's not my car, it's my gf family car... but I drive it with some frequency and am trying to help.

2005 XC90 V8 with 222K miles on it. Honestly, it's quite beat up.
Has ruined exhaust pipe (I call it 'the Hot Rod" and I love the noise this beast makes especially at cold start up!!! Seriously, it rocks!)
I believe the transmission is slipping. Something is not right accelerating slowly uphill sometimes... shuddering...
Bad tires, I just did a massive four wheel brake job on it that was a bear due to many issues. Numerous electrical faults. CEL on, for dreaded P0420 and P0430 codes if I remember it right (3 XC90 cars in their family and all in poor shape IMHO).
Leaks oil, leaks Power Steering fluid bad. PS groan often (as a result). Constant 'burnt' smell from car - likely one of the fluids burning on exhaust.
Trashed interior, food stained and smells.
I've been recommending this car be put to pasture and sold for parts 'as is' with all known faults listed and for them to move on. But I don't think they will junk it save for a blown engine or tranny.
We are likely to get the VIDA software and run it on a PC... The 3rd car just threw 9 codes and fried an ignition coil and the wiring to it. Will post more on that one soon too.

Not a fan so far of the XC Volvo's I will say. I have been strongly advising this family about ever getting one (Edit: an XC model) again. The Volvo wagons I'm open minded to, they seem to be better rated for reliability.
Last edited by GreenMagicMan on Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

wanderdüne
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wanderdüne

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by wanderdüne » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:39 am

"Not a fan so far of the XC Volvo's I will say. I have been strongly advising this family about ever getting one again. The Volvo wagons I'm open minded to, they seem to be better rated for reliability."

I would not recommend any Volvo to anyone who will not perform basic maintenance on their vehicle, allow for dangerous mechanical conditions to persist for a year or more, or even visually inspect it.
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GreenMagicMan

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volvolugnut
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volvolugnut

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by volvolugnut » Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:31 am

For your safety, do not drive or ride in this vehicle. It clearly unsafe. It is not a problem with Volvo's or this model, it is a lack of needed maintenance of the vehicle. It is likely this vehicle will soon have a "Darwin Award" event that will take out the vehicle and any occupants.
Consider disabling this vehicle for the safety of any occupants and others on the road.
volvolugnut
2001 V70 T5, 1986 244DL, 1983 245DL, 1975 245DL, 1959 PV544, multiple parts cars.

GreenMagicMan
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GreenMagicMan

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by GreenMagicMan » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:16 am

Hi
I don't take any offense if you're wondering. You're both probably right on and correct.
I don't consider this a safe car. I would not want to take out another car either.
This is... kind of a rag tag fleet... and I don't think the family is going to retire this car or sell it for parts - I've brought up this point several times before the car went all over the road on me.

I'm curious how a car could suddenly lurch so severely to a side and repeat this behavior in the rain.
Tomorrow I have to drive it 5 hours back to it's home but fortunately we got lucky and can wait out the rain today for sunshine driving tomorrow.

I may have a colored outlook on the XC family.... I've read numerous black marks with a poor overall rating according to Consumer Reports for the XC cars - honestly that's my main if not only source of info on these models as I'm new to Volvos as of less than a year. The XC70 and V70 wagons are much higher rated there. I do like the looks of these (XC90 and 70) cars. If you're into offroad / SUV looks these are all very sharp and well done I'll say that.

I've had and driven many high mileage Honda, Acura and Toyota sedans and coupes that perform extremely well, and have very good to superb reliability. That's been my main frame of comparison for the past 25 years. Two of these XC90s were purchased at auction inexpensively without being able to even start them, test drive them etc... No service records whatsoever and high(er) mileage.
The 3rd XC was purchased high price at a used dealer... and then rapidly had P0420 and P0430 codes showing up. That same dealer fudged an inspection for them quickly last year - in my opinion they knew it was throwing CEL codes for that and pawned it off to this family. Just my hunch anyway.

Masscomguru
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Masscomguru

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by Masscomguru » Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:11 pm

Without codes being read, it could be anything. If it happened while touching the brakes, then I would bet on control arms or subframe bushings but because it didn't, I could be an ABS issue triggering a slip on a wheel.

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crlande

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by crlande » Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:03 pm

Hydroplaning?

GreenMagicMan
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GreenMagicMan

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by GreenMagicMan » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:06 pm

It was not caused by hydro planning. It wasn't induced by braking at all.
Nor throttling etc... just literally cruising down the (wet newly paved within past year) highway.

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SuperHerman
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SuperHerman

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by SuperHerman » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:25 pm

I don't understand. You blame the Volvo when it is clear the car is abused and not worthy to be on the road. In many states it would not be allowed on the road.

No offense here - but I blame the owners and anyone willing to drive a car that is not fit for the road due to neglect.

I assure you that if all the problems are fixed the strange behavior will disappear. Bald tires, tranny issues and Anti-Skid Mil could cause what you describe. The car has had most its brains removed and is being blamed for misbehavior.

wanderdüne
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wanderdüne

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by wanderdüne » Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:00 am

GreenMagicMan wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:06 pm
It was not caused by hydro planning. It wasn't induced by braking at all.
Nor throttling etc... just literally cruising down the (wet newly paved within past year) highway.
Hydroplaning needs no steering, braking or throttle input; just tires, speed and a wet road.
1- You mentioned half- bald snow tires on the rear. Is this a mixed set then? A/S on the front?
2- Likely a blown or broken shock on the rear, and the other side not great as well.
3- Did you inspect the suspension parts when you performed the brake replacement? No better time to do that.
4- Does the transmission have fluid in it? Is that "one of the fluids" that's burning?

Anyway, not going to get into it.

Yes, at a minimum you need to scan the Volvo for Volvo specific codes. Use a VIDA/DiCE; get a scan at an indy Volvo shop or at the dealer, dealer, or get something like an icarsoft i906.

You know; at a minimum, take it to a tire shop or somewhere and have them look the car over in terms of suspension and drivetrain. Obviously this XC needs to be looked at by a professional; it has issues.

Yes, Volvo's and most other luxury and performance brands need to be serviced. It is incumbent on the operator of the Volvo to do this or have it done. Nothing wrong with buying a Volvo that is in need of work, a lot of us do; but if driving it into the ground is what has happened here and that is clear. Driving this vehicle on a public roadway is irresponsible, and blaming the vehicle for having a multitude of long- standing, serious, unaddressed faults and issues is ridiculous.
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GreenMagicMan
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GreenMagicMan

Re: My XC90 tried to kill me

Post by GreenMagicMan » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:10 am

Right, I agree. It's been driven into the ground. Who knows what if anything was done the first 175K miles?
It has snow tires on all 4 wheels right now. Front: Driver is 'good' more or less. Passenger I would not put back on for another winter,
and the two rears are skins on half the face of tread and small tread on other 50% lengthwise. So likely not perfect alignment back there either.

I did look at the suspension area when I did the brakes. Surprisingly everything looked good visually. Tight connected sway bar, the driver side resisted pulling etc... HOWEVER, I do now recall I saw something that caught my eye - it appeared (while jacked up) the driver side shock was at a peculiar angle. I meant to re-jack up the passenger side to compare that position -- but forgot.
Honestly something didn't look quite right, but it could simply have been unloaded the angle splayed out - like the spring was now touching the shock collar / casing if that makes sense.

Didn't spend a lot of time under super close scrutiny as the rest of the house was burning down so to speak with utterly failed brakes. In fact, this thread warrants a photo of just how bad those brakes had gotten. I'm talking the backing of the pad ate completely through one entire side of rear caliper rotor face and was eating into the splines in the center. I've never in my life seen a brake worn down to that level - and I like to push things mechanically on brakes and tires more than any in business mechanic would.

Thank you for your advice Wanderdune (and others) I will try to follow your tips on this.

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