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I get a growling sound when accelerating at anywhere above about 50% throttle. I can't tell if it's tied to the transmission or not, but I figured I would ask the community, since you guys know more about the AWD driveline than I do. Could it be the angle gear going out? Mileage is at 180k, and as far as I can recall it's been doing this for the 70k that we've owned it. It doesn't seem to be getting worse or better, so I'm not sure if this is just normal.

As best I can describe it, if I drive gently to normal (think soccer mom) everything seems perfectly normal. When I step on it a little is when I get the growl. What happens is the engine starts to rev and wind up the torque converter, then a half second after you really start accelerating the growl starts, about an octave lower pitch than the engine noise itself. I can still hear the engine, so I don't think it's engine related. It's like a completely separate noise starts, over top of the engine and transmission noises. Once you are no longer accelerating hard the noise stops, about as abruptly as it comes on. It sounds maybe a little rattley or metallic, like there's a hint of something not right about it. Mostly it sounds like a sudden shift in engine tuning, but the fact that it seems more tied to the transmission and how hard the vehicle is accelerating, rather than just throttle position, has me thinking it is more mechanical.

If the noise is normal, fine. If I don't need to worry about it for a while, fine. I guess I just want to know if I'm headed for a big repair bill soon, or if there is maybe a small adjustment or part swap I should do now to prevent a bigger repair bill in the future. My guesses would be angle gear (which I know nothing about), torque converter, transmission, or it's just a normal noise.
 

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Maybe crawl under and try to fit your hand between exhaust and chassis where the center bearing is.

Touch if the rubber seems to be stiff,or rry to move the driving shaft sideways/up/down.

Another thing,is to check your driving shaft where the catalyser is.

If it begins to rust,it may have an impact on the balance.

It would surely make noise,but youll aslo feel vibration.

Are you feeling something different when the sound happens?
 

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or, maybe you are just hearing the exhaust starting to let go. Hows the front muffler and the flex pipes look? When my muffler went, it didn't sound like an exhaust leak I had in the past. I attribute that to the sound deadening in the XC. I now have the flex pipes starting to go. As the engine rocks, it gets worse. I can feel it under my feet too.
 

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or, maybe you are just hearing the exhaust starting to let go. Hows the front muffler and the flex pipes look? When my muffler went, it didn't sound like an exhaust leak I had in the past. I attribute that to the sound deadening in the XC. I now have the flex pipes starting to go. As the engine rocks, it gets worse. I can feel it under my feet too.
Also this....good idea
 

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I have a very similar issue, I'm so glad I came across this post! I thought I was alone in this.

I bought my 2009 XC90 3.2 AWD with about 72,000 miles on it, and I am pretty sure it has been happening since we purchased it. Like you described, it is a grumbling/growling/spinning noise, and usually occurs when accelerating mildly (normal around town driving, engine speed usually around or above 1.5-2k rpm and is especially noticeable in low gears). The sound is almost like a tertiary (but extremely rough) engine or exhaust note. At low throttle or in higher gears when large amounts of power are not needed, the noise is not present/audible, but comes back when more throttle is added (almost as if it kicks in, so to speak).

I always thought the noise was strange, but attributed it to the known loudness of the 3.2 engine. When I purchased the car it was inspected by our very reputable and knowledgable local garage. More recently I had my 75,000 mile service with them; I mentioned the noise, but they found nothing. It is only noticeable when the car is moving, so it might be hard to diagnose in the garage.

The car runs great otherwise—no mechanical problems besides this (and a front low beam bulb failure, but that doesn't really count), and so far this issue has had no effect on the actual reliability/drivability of the car. It's just extremely annoying, and I'm worried that this could become worse over time or cause other issues/damage. I want to prevent anything major happening down the road, and also I just want to hear a normal (if not that... inspiring) engine/exhaust note out of the car.

I am taking it into our local dealer soon instead of my normal shop—which is usually way less of a hassle and slightly cheaper than the dealer—for the spare wheel winch cable assembly recall (Service Campaign S79494) on certain 2009-2014 models. I will ask them what they think of the noise and to run a diagnosis. I will also be sure to take the technician for a ride in the car for them to hear the sound.

Let me know if you ever find a solution to the problem on your, I would be very interested to know what it was (especially before I take the car in).
 

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Same Problem...help!

I just bought an 07 xc90 3.2 AWD with 118,000 miles, and have the EXACT same growling as the OP. Please, if anyone had figured this out I would greatly appreciate your findings.
 
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