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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a brand new 2011 XC90 owner. I have to say overall I love this vehicle. Comfortable, handles well overall, responsive and safe. My difficulty comes when the vehicle hits ice. Any ice. Small patches in particular. When I transition from a dry road to an ice patch the vehicle immediately jerks and the backend begins to slide. I have brand new all season tires in it that handle very well in snow but, again, on ice it becomes a different vehicle. I was driving about 40 on an 80mph interstate and Honda civics were blowing by me with no difficulty, no sliding whatsoever.

It doesn't matter if the ice is covering the entire road or if it only is on one side of the vehicle. My wife will not drive the vehicle when it's snowy or icy because of the way it reacts. She drives an F150 and the difference between the way the Volvo handles the same patch of ice as the F150 is night and day. The F150 handles as if there was no ice whereas the xc90 jerks hard and slides, almost feeling as if it is losing control. Also of note is the traction control system does not engage. I've seen it engage when heading straight from a stop on snow.

Am I crazy or is this normal? I have all the latest software and have recently had the vehicle checked over and serviced and all was perfect.
 

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What tires are on it? Brand, size, rating, etc.? I have 255/55R19 Yokohama iceGUARD ig51v tires. They are dedicated snow tires, and I don't have any of these issues living in an area with snow and ice for 9 months. The best all season tires seem to be Continental DWS or Nokian WRG3's, based on various tire threads on this site.
 

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It's all about the tires. Any winter tire will grip better than a non winter tire, specifically because they stay soft in cold weather.

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The two I mentioned also stay fairly soft, and I think that's why they get better feedback from the XC90 forum.
 

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If you want to have grip on ice you need studded snows. Ice is also a completely different ball game. Unless you have studded snows, you shouldn't expect any mind blowing handling performance on ice. That being said, studded snows are an unrealistic option for the majority of the country's population. In that case, you're only real tire option - if you HAVE to travel in icey conditions - is dedicated snows.
 

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Am I crazy or is this normal? [\QUOTE]

What you describe is not normal behavior for an XC90. My guess is that you wheels are not in proper alignment. This could be due to worn suspension, bent suspension components, or frame damage due to an accident. The jerking you are feeling is likely due to the tires fighting each other and then when one set loses traction the other set dominates and the direction of your car changes, then when you gain full traction your heading changes again. Look for feathering on edges of your treads any thing more than a light amount on the fronts indicates you have alignment/ suspension issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The alignment was my suspicion. I noticed when I bought the new tires that it seemed to appear that the wheels looked "toed in". I live in northern Minnesota so I absolutely need this vehicle to function to the best of it's ability during the winter driving season. While I completely agree that snow tires would improve the traction on ice I had a hard time reconciling this when cars were passing me quite easily and readily on the interstate while I was struggling. I'll admit that seeing honda civics pass me with ease made me question my sanity.

Am I crazy or is this normal? [\QUOTE]

What you describe is not normal behavior for an XC90. My guess is that you wheels are not in proper alignment. This could be due to worn suspension, bent suspension components, or frame damage due to an accident. The jerking you are feeling is likely due to the tires fighting each other and then when one set loses traction the other set dominates and the direction of your car changes, then when you gain full traction your heading changes again. Look for feathering on edges of your treads any thing more than a light amount on the fronts indicates you have alignment/ suspension issues.
 

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Friend has an 04 civic and even with all season tires that thing is a beast in the snow. It's crazy. I remember driving back from Oswego (upstate ny) in that car on a snowboarding trip like ten years ago, we got stuck in this crazy snow storm and we made it back across nys, nyc, and into long island without any major issue, while passing 4x4s that had gotten stuck. My friend went to college up there and he's a very competent driver in the snow, but it did remarkably well on its own. Alignment can cause some issues, but I still think the best setup is winter tires. Comparing it to an f150 is totally different. The weight distribution is totally different and maybe that had something to do with it. My Bronco was great in 2wd on the highway with icy spots, much better than much newer suvs with awd. I always had at bfgs on it, and they never caused a problem. But maybe being so front heavy with that big 5.8 kept it straight for some reason.. There's just something different about electronically controlled awd and traction control that I'll never enjoy. My 96 Audi a4 was awesome in the snow but my friends 2012 s4 just didn't have the same type of control and predictability.

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Take it to a reputable alignment shop and have them check the suspension after you describe the problem. (the one that looks run down, but always has a differnt set of cars parked in front of it and no one standing behind the counter because they are all elbow deep working on cars) Ideally a dealer would be able to locate the issue, but I doubt many have the equipment to make the proper measurements to see if something is amiss.
 

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The alignment was my suspicion. I noticed when I bought the new tires that it seemed to appear that the wheels looked "toed in". I live in northern Minnesota so I absolutely need this vehicle to function to the best of it's ability during the winter driving season. While I completely agree that snow tires would improve the traction on ice I had a hard time reconciling this when cars were passing me quite easily and readily on the interstate while I was struggling. I'll admit that seeing honda civics pass me with ease made me question my sanity.
Having driven through icy conditions yesterday through western PA, with my AWD V60 and snow tires - I watched many FWD, RWD and AWD vehicles struggling for traction. A Porsche Cayenne was all over the place, several VW Jetta's and Honda Accords were spinning frantically - tractor trailers were jackknifing - the PA Turnpike was a disaster yesterday afternoon. I myself had challenges but was able to maintain forward momentum.

With winter driving it usually comes down to tires. Below 40 degrees, the rubber compound in all-season and especially summer tires, begin to harden and are less effective than a dedicated winter tire.
 

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Having driven through icy conditions yesterday through western PA, with my AWD V60 and snow tires - I watched many FWD, RWD and AWD vehicles struggling for traction. A Porsche Cayenne was all over the place, several VW Jetta's and Honda Accords were spinning frantically - tractor trailers were jackknifing - the PA Turnpike was a disaster yesterday afternoon. I myself had challenges but was able to maintain forward momentum.

With winter driving it usually comes down to tires. Below 40 degrees, the rubber compound in all-season and especially summer tires, begin to harden and are less effective than a dedicated winter tire.
It's one thing to drive on snow, it's a whole other ball game on ice. Almost nothing I've ever driven works on ice.
hockey pucks...
 

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I have never noticed anything of the sort with our XC90. It's extremely confidence-inspiring in snow - although we have good Nokian snow tires on it.

While the alignment may be an issue, again, what kind of tires do you have on the vehicle, and what condition are they in? What pressure are they at? Tires are the single most important factor so I'd start there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have never noticed anything of the sort with our XC90. It's extremely confidence-inspiring in snow - although we have good Nokian snow tires on it.

While the alignment may be an issue, again, what kind of tires do you have on the vehicle, and what condition are they in? What pressure are they at? Tires are the single most important factor so I'd start there.
Thanks to everyone that has replied! I'll go and check the specifics on the tires that I have installed. As to their condition, the only have about 5,000 miles on them.
 
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