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2006 Volvo S60 - Quick Acceleration stutter/sputter (not stalling)

Hi. My 2006 Volvo S60 turbo has about 116K miles and noticed a couple times when I punch the gas to accelerate quickly (like to pass someone on the interstate) that it will make this quick jerky thing (as though I ran over some rumble strips). I normally drive like a grandma so this has only happened a couple times. Today I was on the interstate and decided to test this out and sure enough it would quickly bump-bump-bump before the gas/acceleration kicked in. It never stalled, but now I am paranoid.

Also, it occasionally “feels” like it takes the car longer than normal to start. There is no pattern to this. It will happen first thing in the morning, but I have noticed it more often when I stop to drop my son off and get back in the car. I will crank the key and the RPM dial will shoot up twice really quickly and then be normal.

Maybe you should also know that when I first got the car, I filled it up with gas and started driving and it died. Thankfully, we checked the fuses and the fuel pump fuse had burned out so we changed it and all was right again.

I bought this as a high mileage car (60K) in 2007 and have not done much to it since (air filter, oil, tires, brakes). Yes, that means I have not gotten my transmission fluid changed or any recommended dealer maintenance.

Please help. I am surely over thinking this.


The 1st thing I’d do is get new spark plugs. If there are other ignition parts, such as a distributor cap, rotor, and plug wires they should be changed too. Once you have changed out the old ignition parts, you can see if the hesitation issue is resolved. If yes, no more work is needed. If not, then you need to troubleshoot more. It could be a turbo issue, a sticky waste gate for instance, or low fuel flow or low fuel pressure. A fuel filter change might resolve fuel issues. The MAF (mass airflow sensor) is another possible cause of hesitation, and it might need cleaning or replacement.

Then it really looks to me like you have done the bare minimum to maintain the car. If you plan on keeping this car a few more years you should have all the fluids changed, and I’d find out if you have a timing belt or not. If you have a timing belt you need to change it before it breaks. This job also includes a new water pump, belt tensioner, and new coolant.

“I bought this as a high mileage car (60K) in 2007 and have not done much to it since (air filter, oil, tires, brakes). Yes, that means I have not gotten my transmission fluid changed or any recommended dealer maintenance.”

I think that you may have answered your own question!

Turbo-charged engines are notoriously intolerant of poor maintenance.
The oil must be of the specification mentioned in the Owner’s Manual (most likely synthetic oil), and the oil must be changed on schedule in order to avoid damage to the bearings in the turbocharger. Also–spark plugs tend to take a beating in a turbo-charged engine. Badly-worn spark plugs could likely be the cause of the poor acceleration and the slow starting.

So, for starters (no pun intended), if the spark plugs are the originals, they are overdue for replacement at 116k miles and 7 years. That type of maintenance alone could aid in both starting and in smooth running of the engine.

Before you take the car to the shop, check your Owner’s Manual for the type of oil that is required, and make sure that the shop uses that type of oil. Also make note of the mfr’s oil change schedule, including the fact that it is based on both elapsed time and odometer mileage, which a “whichever comes first” proviso. Then resolve to stick to this schedule.

As to the “rumble strip” feeling, that could relate to a problem with the torque converter lockup clutch mechanism. Since you have told us that the trans fluid has never been changed, you are seriously overdue for this service, which should be done every 3 yrs/30k miles (whichever comes first). I would suggest that you go to an independent transmission shop (NOT to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, or Mr. Transmission) for both a fluid/filter change and for evaluation of the torque converter lockup clutch mechanism.

And, in the future, please bear in mind that timely maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from lax maintenance.

So I called my Volvo dealer and was told that they can do a transmission change/flush, but that Volvo does not have a recommended schedule. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Most car mfrs have dropped transmission service from their maintenance list, but that is not because this service is not necessary. They have dropped it from the list because they want their cars to appear to be maintenance-free. By the time that a transmission fails, due to lack of maintenance, the warranty is long over, so the mfr is not the one to suffer the financial consequences of the trans failure.

I have observed (and as verified by scores of posts in this forum), that transmissions are likely to fail anywhere between 90k & 150k miles if they have not been serviced. Trans fluid service will likely cost you ~$120 at a dealership. A new/overhauled trans will cost over $2,000. While nobody can guarantee that very much delayed maintenance will save your transmission, at least it gives you a better chance of getting a few thousand more miles from it.

I hope you’ve been using high octane fuel as well. If you, or the previous owner, have not been using high octane fuel, this could be another cause for your problems.

@Cole do not let anyone flush your transmission.

My idea of a proper transmission service is a fluid and filter service, using only the fluid called for in the owner’s manual

IMO flushes are becoming popular because they are immensely profitable. If you’re not dropping the pan, the car is out of there very quickly. But the old filter remains and any debris and junk has been pushed through the entire system.

Some newer cars the only way to change the fluid is to flush it.

@bscar2 I am aware that many transmission need to be filled from the bottom using a machine or some kind of a pump (Benz, some Fords, some/all Toyotas, etc).

Can you tell me which cars/transmissions you are referring to?

Ugh, no. I have not been using high octane fuel.

We changed out the spark plugs and they were in need of being changed out. My timing belt still looked very nice, but I will have that done when it is due.

I still noticed it is not firing up immediately, but the jerky motion (when I gas it hard) stopped. I talked to a co-worker who owns and S80 and he said his does the same thing (firing up). Maybe it is a Volvo thing.

I am still on the fence about the transmission fluid change/flush.

Thank you to everyone for reading and advising. I appreciate it.

“My timing belt still looked very nice, but I will have that done when it is due.”

Unless you can confirm–through hard copies of repair invoices–that the timing belt was already replaced, then is is OVERDUE at this point. The appearance of the timing belt means nothing, and a pristine-looking belt can snap–with no warning whatsoever–at any time, now that it is overdue for replacement.

Unfortunately, it appears that little of our advice about being proactive with maintenance has had any affect on your approach to taking care of this car. When (not if) the timing belt snaps, you will be looking at a few thousand $$ worth of engine repairs, over and above the cost of the timing belt.

As I stated previously, timely maintenance is invariably cheaper than the cost of repairs resulting from lax maintenance, and I can only hope for the sake of your wallet that you take this to heart.

Absolutely. I did not mean to seem like I wasn’t taking your advice to heart. I very much am. I called the dealership and asked what items I should have had done thus far and we went through the list. I may have misunderstood, but I thought the gentleman said the timing belt is due at 120K miles. I will double-check!

My '95 Nissan Altima is still kicking with 250K miles and I would love to have the Volvo make it as long!


@Cole your 95 Altima is still kicking at 250K because it has a timing chain.

Ugh, no. I have not been using high octane fuel.

Check to see if premium is recommended or required(will say in owner’s manual or on fuel door). Turbo cars usually say one or the other. Mine says recommended, but I’ve gave it nothing but premium

Yes, the Altima has a chain. As does my husband’s Accord. My Volvo has a belt and I am getting that changed. And, as I said, I would love the Volvo to be kicking as long as the Altima has been.