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Several Volvo models like early S60, S80, V70, XC70 II, XC90 have been prone to transmission problems. Sometimes, when a problem has been recognized from the Electronic Control Unit(s) the message "Transmission Service Urgent" will be displayed on the Driver Information Module. Because of the complexities involved in the operation of an automatic transmission / transaxle, diagnostics can be complicated even for an experienced technician.

Here are few things you can try before buying your used Volvo.

Before test driving

  • Make sure that the gear selector cannot be moved with the ignition OFF.

  • Check that the gear selector cannot be moved with the ignition ON and the brake pedal untouched.

  • Shift into Reverse (R) with the ignition key in the ON position and check that the back-up lights come on.

  • Check the operation of Neutral Safety Switch, Volvo calls it Park-Neutral Position switch, PNP. The engine should only start when the gear selector is in either the Neutral or Park position.

  • Try to start engine with the gear selector in any other position (other than P or N). If the engine starts then something is wrong.

During the test drive

  • Start the car. Select D. Pay attention and listen for a delay in gear engagement, harsh shifting or slipping gears. If you notice such phenomena, it means that the transmission has a problem. Be aware, Volvo transmissions are expensive to be repaired/replaced.

  • Drive the car so as to cause the transmission to shift up and down; listen for unusual noises.

  • Drive the car at approximately 70 - 75 Km/hr. Shift the gear selector to the lower gears ending in the L position. Check that there is engine braking, if not, something is wrong.

  • Check that the gear selector engages in each position and that it does not "jump" out of the selected position.

  • Stop the car on a flat section of road. Select N. Release the brake pedal. Accelerate a bit; if the cars moves then something is wrong.

  • Stop the car on a slope. Select P. Release the brake, if the car moves then something is wrong.

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