Volvo radios have a theft-proof system that freezes the radio if power is interrupted. It was designed that way to prevent theft of the radio. The downside is your radio will be locked if you disconnect the battery for any reason, or if the battery dies.
When you restore power, it will say ‘CODE‘ on the display. This is your cue to find the easily misplaced credit-card lookalikes that have your radio’s code written on it. New Volvo owners got two, I believe.
Update: The New Easy Way
Here’s a comment from the several hundred below submitted by Mark in August 2016:
This site was very helpful in getting me my code, so I wanted to share this. First go to
the Volvo website here and fill out the info, you will receive your code right away.
Here is the info you will receive:
Thank you for contacting Volvo Car USA’s Customer Care Center.
The radio code that we have in our system for the vehicle identification number you provided is ####
If your radio says “code”, you are able to enter this code.
If the radio says “off”, you will need to go through the process of resetting your radio by following these steps:
1. turn the key to the 1st position in the ignition
2. make sure your exterior and interior lights are off as well as any heat or air conditioning to prevent battery drain
3. make sure the radio is on and reads “OFF”
4. leave the car in this state for approximately 2 hours in a secure location
5. The radio will go from “off” to “code”, you will then be able to enter the code
If the code does not work after entering it once, the original radio fitted to your vehicle has been replaced. Simply reply to this email with the following information and we’ll obtain that code for you.
You can take the radio out by opening the tabs on either side of the radio and then pulling it out. If you are unable to remove the radio, please visit an Authorized Volvo retailer.
Hint: Check the radio for a four digit code hand written on the radio. Often times when the radio is replaced the technician will post it here in case the code is misplaced.
Volvo Car USA LLC
Store Your Code Here
Once you get your code, store it here on this site so you’ll always know where it is.
How to Reset the Radio
- When the radio displays CODE, you may enter the code using the preset radio station buttons
- For instance, my number is 1615, so when I get the CODE on the radio’s display, I press the radio preset button 1, then the radio preset button 6, then the radio preset button 1, then the radio preset button 5.
- If your radio says OFF, leave the ignition on in the first position for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in order for it to display CODE. In certain models you can clear the OFF state by pulling the fuse for the radio (#7 in my car). That’s a bit simpler than leaving the ignition in the first position for a couple of hours — particularly if you don’t have a garage.
The four-digit code is unique to your radio; your neighbor’s code will not work on your radio. So what to do if you’ve misplaced, or never received, the white card, like most people?
Dealers have your radio code in a database, and can look it up. Many will give you the code over the phone if you’ve lost your card. You can call any Volvo dealer: they all have the same computer system to look up your Volvo radio code.
Sometimes the code is written on the radio itself. But you have to pull the radio out (not hard) to see it.
Other dealers will have you drive to their lot and speak to them in person. Because the dealer will need to read off the radio’s serial number to cross-reference it with the unique code, bring your radio, and your Volvo. Some reportedly charge US$10-$100 for this. Hmmmmm. I suppose dealers can choose to charge for this, and we can choose to not go back, right?
Don’t intentionally break the flow of power (disconnect the battery) from the radio unless you have the code.
If you have the code write it down in several locations. Don’t keep any of them in the car, although Volvo radios having much value on the black market is questionable.
If you don’t have the code, call the dealer to ask what they need from you. Don’t pay the dealer any money for the code! If they want money, hang up and call another.