Volvo XC90: Which Years Should You Avoid?

Volvo, the Swedish and American darling known for its world-class commitment to durability, reliability, and safety, debuted the best mid-size luxury SUV—the Volvo XC90, in 2002. It made its first public appearance at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. The Volvo XC90 is unquestionably one of the best luxury cars in the market from an iconic brand.

However, some XC90 production years are better than the others. Selecting the bad years will be a waste of money, time, and energy. So, what are the Volvo XC90 years to avoid? Investment in luxury cars is a big deal, especially when investing a huge amount of your savings. Read on to learn more about Volvo XC90 best years to buy, the bad years to avoid, and other important information.

Volvo XC90 Years To Avoid

What Volvo XC90 Years Should I Avoid?

Trust me, the market search for new cars is stressful, especially if you have a model with many years of production in mind but don’t know what year to buy. The Volvo XC90 has been around for 22 years. Long enough for a child of its age to finish college and acquire his/her master’s degree. Because they have many years of production, some are better than others.

If you are in the market for a Volvo XC90, avoid the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2016. Owners of these models complain they suffer coolant leaks, transmission issues, engine problems, and malfunctions in the electronic systems.

If you are searching for Volvo XC90 for sale, avoid these five years I mentioned above. Not that they are too bad, but they are the least reliable years and cost more to maintain. Though, all cars and engines have their glory and pitfalls. All the XC90 has their weaknesses and strengths. But these years are the worst.

Volvo XC90 Years to Avoid

After researching through Volvo XC90 years to avoid forum discussions, I have been able to gather enough information about the years to avoid and the years to buy. If, however, you decide to buy any used XC90 years, inspect it properly, as there could be an underlying issue as to why the owner wants to sell it.

From my research, I figured out that the early XC90 years have poor reviews, while the newer years have excellent reviews. Here is the list of the XC90 years to avoid with their list of problems.

2004 Volvo XC90

2004 Volvo XC90

No doubt, the XC90 made a great wave as soon as it made its first public appearance at the 2002 North American International Auto Show until the 2004 model came out. According to Volvo XC90 years to avoid Reddit and other forum discussions, the common issues with the 2004 model are transmission and engine problems.

Hundreds of drivers complain that their transmission fails completely after covering 100k miles, which is a labor-intensive and expensive repair.

But let’s get this clear: as a professional mechanic and experienced car writer, transmission issues should not be a common topic in any vehicle make or model.

While some drivers of this model did not experience complete transmission failure, others complain their car feels jerky because of hard shifting issues when they cover 100,000 to 120,000 miles.

While most of the 2004 XC90 owners experienced transmission issues, some complained of oil leaks from the AWD housing units, having check engine lights regularly, and climate control and audio malfunctions.

2005 Volvo XC90

2005 Volvo XC90

In every year release, car manufacturers tackle existing issues and improve the vehicle performance. But unfortunately, most of the issues in the 2004 model started springing up after covering 100,000 miles. An average driver takes 7-10 years to cover 100,000 miles. If we agree on this, you can expect to see the same faults in 2004 to reappear on the 2005 model.

Much like its predecessor, the number one problem of the 2005 Volvo XC90 is transmission issues. Many owners complain that they experience a hard shifting and jerky response when shifting between the 2nd and 3rd gears. In extreme cases, the transmission will fail completely after covering 100,000 miles.

The 2005 model was also plagued with climate and audio system malfunctions. However, the users can fix these problems by simply updating their software. Though not something to worry about, it’s worth mentioning as one of the common problems in the XC90 2005.

The 2005 XC90 suffers severe engine problems at high mileage. Though it is not as severe as the transmission issues, it is a great concern because an engine problem in this model is expensive to fix, totaling around $5,000 per repair.

2006 Volvo XC90

2006 Volvo XC90

While Volvo did some major upgrades and incorporated advanced features in the 2006 model, they did not treat some issues in the previous models. So, the users still battle with the issues in the years 2004 and 2005.

Like the previous models, the users complain that the engine problem is a major issue. If you want to buy a used Volvo XC90, beware of the years 2004, 2005, and 2006 because the engine problems usually start at higher mileage. So, there’s a chance the engine is troubling the current owner, which made him place it for sale.

The 2006 XC90 has some issues that were absent in previous years. From my research, I gathered that some drivers start experiencing transmission issues after covering 30,000 miles. Also, the 2006 Volvo XC90 was bedeviled with electrical problems, typically battery issues. Some users complained they could not start their cars after parking overnight because their battery runs down even when the engine is not running.

2007 Volvo XC90

2007 Volvo XC90

The transmission issues continued even up to 2007. The transmission issue persists, causing unsmooth shifting and jerky performance. Volvo, however, managed to fix the severe tranny issue, which is the transmission completely failing on the users after covering 100,000 to 120,000 miles. The drivers, however, did not enjoy full satisfaction and ride comfort on the road, especially after covering 100k miles, since the transmission do not shift smoothly.

A new issue arises in the year 2007 model. This model had faulty cooling fans, which may damage your power steering hose when you least expect it. Users clamored over several forums, which led to a recall. If you want a 2007 Volvo XC90, there’s a high chance the issue was fixed during that recall.

2016 Volvo XC90

2016 Volvo XC90

After the 2007 model, Volvo took the bull by the horns and revamped the XC90, making it far better than before. The Volvo XC90 has received stellar reviews for nearly a decade because of its excellent performance, exceptional safety features, and superior comfort across other vehicles in its class—until they debut the 2016 model.

The 2016 model was afflicted with several problems, making it one of the worst midsize SUVs produced in 2016. One of the common problems users complain about is faulty auto-braking systems. The auto-braking system will activate unexpectedly, causing the vehicle to stop abruptly. Imagine this happens when you are overtaking a vehicle or when changing lanes. Oh yes, it can be dangerous.

Also, drivers reportedly complained of leaks, one of which is leaking sunroof. Other users complained of air conditioning fluid leaks.

The 2016 model is not free from electronic issues. In some cases, the battery won’t hold charge, and the audio system would give unpredictable audio problems.

What Are The Most Common Volvo XC90 Problems?

All Volvo XC90 versions come with their fair share of problems. Some problems are common with different years, while other problems are year-specific. It’s important to know about these problems before investing your money.

According to our Repairpal, here are the common problems that come across Volvo XC90:

Transmission failure

Premature automatic transmission failure is the most commonly reported issue across several Volvo XC90 years. 337 people reported this issue across 11 models. The affected years are 2003-2011, 2013, and 2016 versions.

Aside from the complete transmission failure, some Volvo XC90 owners complained of hard shifting, erratic shifting, and other transmission issues. At times, the XC90 transmission takes longer to shift between gears. If the shifting issue is minor, a transmission system update will fix it. Also, regular transmission fluid changes would help mitigate the shifting issues.

Some users complained of having to replace the entire transmission, while a few others repaired it. So, you would have to diagnose the vehicle to see if the transmission needs replacement or repair.

Audio system problems

Users have reported audio system problems across 10 different Volvo XC90 years. Luckily, most problems require just a system upgrade to address them. The audio issues unrelated to the system upgrade will require standard repair procedures to fix them. 158 users reported that the affected years were 2003 to 2006, 2008 to 2011, 2013, and 2017.

Climate control issues

There have been several reports of the climate system not working at times. According to Repairpal, Volvo has made software upgrades to fix certain air conditioning system faults.

According to a report from Repairpal, 134 users have reported this issue on 10-year versions, including 2004-2011, 2016, and 2017.

Oil leaks

Oil leaks from the differential housing are common issues across the 2003-2008 and 2010 years. 46 persons have reported that their all-wheel drive differential would leak fluids much earlier than expected.

Best Volvo XC90 Years

Best Volvo XC90 Years

We have discussed XC90 years to avoid; this doesn’t mean the Volvo XC90’s reliability is questionable. One thing is for sure: all cars, especially those with many years in production, have their pitfalls and glory. We have seen the worst years to avoid. Which versions of the XC90 are the best?

There are many top choices for the Volvo XC90, but I recommend the 2009, 2014, and 2020 years for the most satisfactory ride comfort. These are the most reliable years for the Volvo XC90.

Final words

If you want to buy the Volvo XC90, I recommend you avoid the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2016 year versions. These versions are the worst—they have extensive problems and are expensive to fix.

These are the bad versions on the road, but there are excellent versions designed with cutting-edge technology, and their luxurious interiors have set industry standards, making them give you peace of mind and on-road comfort.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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