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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, first post here. I bought an $800 2003 XC90 AWD with the 2.5L. It's in great condition but has transmission issues, hence the 800 bucks.

This is a project car for me so there's no urgency to complete the work on it but I would like to keep the costs down. I will do all of the work myself.

Right now I'm trying to figure out if it is worth it to try changing the ATF and filter, or just jump right into a trans swap. Here's the symptoms:

- almost no reverse. A lot of revs and a very small amount of 'go backwards'. And a bit of a burnt smell after doing so.

- drive is fine when cold, gear shifts seemed okay.

- when warm however, engaging 1st gear from a stop sometimes can take a long time. It just revs then eventually grabs.

- fluid level was okay when checking cold (I know that's not the proper way to check, but the car isn't registered to drive on the road). Color was very dark, hasn't been changed in a while.

- about 210k miles on it.

So what do you think, is it worth trying a fluid change or would you just dive right in and start hacking the transmission out?
 

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I would flush it. At that many miles it can't really hurt, especially when you compare the cost to a rebuilt. I would do a compression test on the engine first though because putting all that money into a car with a tired motor might end up being more costly than its worth.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, that's the direction I'm leaning. I wish it took cheap fluid though, would make the decision easier.

$100 for the fluid and filter or $500 for a junk yard transmission. Plus the PITA factor.

The lady I bought it from had been driving it this way for a while so I wouldn't be surprised if it's cooked...

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The trans is done. There is no use wasting money on a flush when there are gears slipping. The damage is done. Flushing or changing the trans fluid is to help prevent breakdown. Yours is already broke. btw, there is no serviceable filter. The case halves must be split to replace. Best bet is a auto recycler that will give you some kind of warranty on the trans if it doesn't work. The 2.5L will have a AW55 trans. You can drain and fill trans for $20. It requires about 3.5L of fluid for a drain and fill. Toyota IV trans fluid or Mobil 3309 is what I use professionally. But unless there is a massive leak and its just low on fluid, a slipping transmission for this vehicle is just easier and cheaper to replace than rebuild. You can probably get a used trans for $500 and installed for $800-1000
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys. Thankfully, there seems to be an abundance of these Aisin transmissions locally. I'll start shopping.

It won't be the first trans I've pulled, but it will be the first from a Volvo. Should be fun!

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I should add, the deciding factor for me I think is the smell after trying to reverse. Something is certainly worn out now to get that kind of a burnt smell.

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There was a fella in the forums giving away a 82K AW55 AWD Trans out of an R. He's in Orlando. Local pickup only. Should fit your XC
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks! I'm up by Boston so I'm not sure I can work out the logistics, but I'll check it out.

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