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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've had Volvo sedans in the past, but the XC90 was new to me. As such, I did a lot of reading, and wanted to compile some of it here to help others considering a purchase of an older model Volvo. Please feel free to correct my errors and omissions. :)

Check the Sticky if you want to know about cosmetics. Look across forums for other performance issues because these share engines and transmissions with other models. I don't have the experience / effort available to make a cross-chart, but someone might have one handy (like the R, or v79/xc70)!

Engine
Engine types (in the US) were the 2.5, T6, 3.2, v8.

2003-4 2.5T Some transmission issues.
2005+ 2.5T is the same engine as in the smaller sedans (205 hp), so it lacks power for some people.
T6 has more power (268hp), but had spotty transmission issues (more below). It is unclear to me when they became redeemed, but it was because they got paired with a GM transmission (4T65EV/GT) that couldn't handle the power so it is when they will fail, not if. I imagine a can being crushed.
2005 V8 had an issue with the counterbalance shaft that could kill the engine.
2006-07 v8 (288 hp) had issues with the transmission as well, again no timing belt! Engine built by Yamaha.
2007 3.2 (235 hp) had issues with the transmission, but the 3.2 dumps the timing belt for a timing chain. Apparently it is a thing of engineering beauty, but pray nothing breaks.

On the 3.2/V8 transmissions with the transmission number of 06J or later have the improved valve body. Anything before that should be considered DOA.

For more on the transmission issue and where to find the label:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...ssion-Valve-Body-Issue-amp-Serial-Number-Info

When you do a fluid swap, at least on the 2.5T it looks like lots of people go with Mobil 3309 (or used to before something changed around 09), and that it is an Aisin transmission, which is what Toyota uses, so basically bulletproof and why so many people recommend the 05 and 06s. You can also use Toyota fluid in it which is much cheaper than the Mobil 3309 or Volvo OEM (Toyota Type T-IV).

2.5T:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?63288-How-do-you-change-the-transmission-fluid

3.2 / v8 Walkthrough:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?204760-How-To-XC90-6-speed-transmission-fluid-flush

If seeing hard shifting between P / R / D that is likely a motor mount issue, not the transmission.

FWD/AWD
Problems with the AWD Model is mostly the angle gear failing over time:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?50601-Angle-Gear-Tutorial

That can be an expensive repair (around $2k) if you have to replace the whole bevel gear assembly.

Others just replaced the splined collar on the cheap, but it was a difficult task to remove:
http://www.volvoxc.com/forums/showt...Costly-AWD-Repair-and-Disappointing-Car/page2

Radio/Bluetooth/GROM
Seems like the general consensus was that if you want to wire in an AUX port, that is hard to do, but possible on 06 or later.

If you like the hard method:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?212123-AUX-installation-on-XC90-2006

Easy method:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?169336-Grom-MOST-adapter-gets-me-an-AUX-in

Most end up going with the GROM MST4 unit (which I did personally), but when you turn it on it has to say "High Performance Sound" and have a multi-disk changer.

Or go Superman and install the Double Din:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...-XC90-Solved&p=2988505&viewfull=1#post2988505

Most of the things you want to get for accessories you should get beforehand - don't try to install backup sensors, etc.

Some exceptions:

In Dash GPS
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...-XC90-Solved&p=2988505&viewfull=1#post2988505

Backup Camera:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?217239-Aftermarket-Backup-Camera-install

Third Row Seating
This option cannot be retrofitted easily. I don't know anyone who has, but I see a big labor issue (since everything on the backend has to be swapped - the sidewalls, the flooring (it drops into a pit), and the seats. You also need to install all of the seat belts and because of the seatbelt restraint system, I think it needs to come pre-wired. The covers are there, but I don't think the underlying electronics are there. If you want it, get it when you buy it.

Hitch
Most people go with Volvo, Hidden Hitch or CURT, and opt for plug in play on the harness. You need to get the module as well, but all are relatively easy installs. You want the module because it helps communicate to the transmission that it needs to run at a different temp, and interfaces with the electronics.

If towing light and infrequently the 2.5T is fine.

If towing often then the 3.2 may be better. v8 has more power and similar gas mileage.

Electronic brake controllers are rare to find. Some people also install aftermarket transmission coolers, but only if they are doing LOADS of towing, as that cools down the transmission and extends its life.

Buying new parts
Loads of people recommend Boston Volvo - which now has an online outlet, volvovillageparts.com. After comparing to my dealer, the prices weren't much better though after shipping.

If you are in Texas, I can recommend Southwest Automotive in Houston or Capital V Connection in Austin for pre-buy inspections. Southwest saved me from a hidden flood car and a dishonest seller.

Preventative Maintenance

Most people recommend doing a transmission fluid swap.
Trim the bottom part of the sunroof drains. :)

Schedule for timing belt is here:
https://www.volvotechinfo.com/index.cfm?event=viewFile&fileName=TimingBeltInterval.pdf

On a 2.5T, keep in mind that you have to know your engine number because of belt and pulley differences. Up to engine number 3188688 is one set of parts, after that is another. You can find it on a sticker on your timing belt cover, and it is the Serial number not the part number.

2.5T
http://www.volvo-forums.com/t40002-xc90-25t-timing-belt-change.htm

T6
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?174402-Need-info-on-timing-belt-replacement-XC90-T6

3.2 / v8 have timing chains, which may see gear issues after high mileage (100k).

On VIDA / DICE

I went through three Volvos without it, and now that I have one, feel much more confident. The software alone gives walkthroughs and allows you to see how things come apart and are put together. The DICE unit can pull codes that your OBD2 sensor can't as well.

Open questions

Something about a PCV

Any other high mileage issues / preventative recommendations?

Will continue to edit for grammar, punctuation and content as I remember. :)*
 

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Lots of good stuff here. I've got some comments, too, but I'm going to bed so I'll come back later to add my $0.02.

Thanks for a good recap.
 

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One of the best threads I've seen, from intent to content.

I'm halfheartedly looking for an older XC70/90, perfect timing.
 

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I bought a 2005 XC 2.5T with 80K because of its "simplicity" and easy to maintain and being bullet-proof!
I am now at 105K, car has run very well the last 3 years.
I am doing timing belt soon, stay tuned...

We love the 2.5T engine/drivetrain...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I bought a 2005 XC 2.5T with 80K because of its "simplicity" and easy to maintain and being bullet-proof!
I am now at 105K, car has run very well the last 3 years.
I am doing timing belt soon, stay tuned...

We love the 2.5T engine/drivetrain...
I just finished that job, and intended to do writeups.

I didn't lock the cams - and they did end up slipping. Best advice, mark up like crazy before you take anything off. Water pump was much easier to replace on here than in previous jobs I've done - it's so dang roomy! I ended up having to take the crankshaft pulley off, but mark it up, and use a impact wrench, no issues at all.

Only weird thing was the clock like tensioner on the timing belt, that was new to me from the prior jobs I've done. Feel free to PM if you have any questions. 500 miles later, I've just discovered I may have AWD issues...
 

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The R Forum has really good write-ups for 2.5T related maintenance. I would look over there for engine specific maintenance like the timing belt, spark plugs, PCV, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Lots of good stuff here. I've got some comments, too, but I'm going to bed so I'll come back later to add my $0.02.

Thanks for a good recap.
I'm going to hold you to that. Can't be letting my mis-information hang out there too long. :)
 

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I'm going to hold you to that. Can't be letting my mis-information hang out there too long. :)
HAHA Sorry, been a busy weekend, I promise, this is still on my list. It's not like you've got patently false information, I just thought I'd add some info.
 
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