Can getting front-ended kill my AWD?

I have a Volvo XC70 and was in a minor fender bender a few days ago, someone reversed into me a full speed (she thought she was in drive, but alas, was not), hitting me and cracking my front bumper. Since then it seems like the AWD may not be working: I got stuck in a dirt/gravel parking lot, when I drive up my VERY steep driveway my tires seem to skip before they move forward. Could this actually be a AWD drive issue or something else? And could it be related to the accident?

Getting a tire to spin on a properly working AWD Volvo is very tough. You should get your car checked out for hidden damage. There is more wrong here than the obvious damage to the bumper. It is likely to be expensive, so insurance companies will get involved.

Older Volvo’s use a viscous coupling in the transfer case (circa '98) and later models use an electronic system to allocate power to the appropriate drive wheels. Without knowing more about your Volvo and how it is set up, it is safe to say something isn’t right here and needs to be checked out.

Thanks UncleTurbo, but ugh, that’s not good news! So do you happen to know if the body shop that repairs the bumper would be able to diagnose a mechanical problem like that or do I need to bring it to mechanic too? the insurance company (of the person that hit me) is already involved, the adjuster is coming to look at it tomorrow.

I belive the XC70 is front wheel drive by defalt, so if you are having an issue and the front wheel are not spining (IE power only going to the rear) that can be VERY bad… Definatly get it checked out ASAP !

A front end collision can cause damage to many things besides the body, bumper, frame, and other obvious parts. Believe it or not, in rare instances, collision damage can actually cause engine and/or transmission problems, so it is certainly possible for the AWD system to have sustained damage.

This definitely needs to be checked out so that any mechanical damage can be made a part of your claim against the other driver. I would suggest that you have a mechanic who specializes in Volvos take a look at the car. If the Volvo AWD system is anything like Subaru’s system there are some electrical connections involved with the AWD system, and it is possible that you merely have a detached electrical connector. That would certainly be preferable to an actual mechanical problem!

A body shop should be able to see damage such as broken motor mounts, broken transmission mounts, disconnected or bent axles and joints etc. I would advise reporting that the AWD is not working and an evaluation of “why” should be a part of the damage report and estimate. Not all damage is evident on visual inspection so that’s the reason to report the AWD malfunction now.

Thanks for all the advice. Glad I asked, sounds like if the AWD is broken it can be quite expensive to fix and something I want their insurance to take care of. Much appreciated!!!

I’m sure that your insurance company can tell you where to take the car to get it checked. Have you contacted them yet? That should have been the first thing you did when you got home. They are experts in auto accidents and can direct you through the process, no matter who ends up paying for it.

PERHAPS…it has something to do with an electrically controlled center Diff? Older Subaru’s used to have a 4WD switch on the shifter…you could engage and disengage your 4WD…I ALWAYS loved that ability to shut off the 4WD… Then later they removed the switch on the shifter…and you would have to open the hood and pull the fuse to be able to run in Front Wheel Drive only.

See if VUVU has the same type of thing going on…look in your owners manual for a fuse panel breakdown…Is there one for the AWD? If so check the fuse… That’s all I can come up with and I honestly do NOT know if that is even a possibility on the VUVU…I am just thinking about those Subaru’s…and what was possible because of that design


If you have a modern awd car, there is absolutely no advantage to running it only in fwd as decided by the driver.

.I am wondering why the damage has not already been inspected by a mechanic when hit this hard. Even just a fwd car can suffer drive train damage when hit in the front anywhere near a drive train component. I suspect it’s not awd related, but related to the front drive opponents. Any binding or misalignment of the front drive components could easily give false readings to the awd management system.

Any damage to electronic sensors in this area could cause a problem too. Abs sensors for example, which monitor tire spin rates for traction management could easily be involved. Neither, IMO would be no more expensive to fix then fwd damage alone.

I would not mess with any self fix it or diagnosis my self. It’s time take it in for service ASAP as a malfunctioning drive train on an awd car could cause handling problems too. I do not think the awd "is broken " but related front drive hardware may be damaged or compromised.

And, a non related topic…Ford wants police forces to buy their awd/front drive Taurus ? Good reason not to here.

I’m not looking for an advantage Dagosa…LOL…I’m trying to see if the OP has a blown fuse…that is responsible for the AWD…If there is one and its blown…there’s the fix, you know?

I hear you my good man. I agree on that point.

The older Subarus as you probably know better then I were just part time systems, much like trucks only in “reverse”.

That is, the fronts operated on dry roads and you engaged the rear in slippery conditions. The system sounds good on the surface, but as implied by my comment, the extra weight in the rear, carrying a rear diff that didn’t function in two wheel drive, negates all the advantages of fwd. Almost bought one myself, but my buddy’s love hate relationship with his, drove me away till the full timers took over. Though it was terrific in 4wd, it was a low speed system and less then ideal otherwise.

Might as well drive a compact truck. ;=) A fwd car with a truck based drive train…the worse of both worlds. I too like the advantage of shutting off 4wd, but only in rwd vehicles.

Yup you got that exactly correct Mr.Dagosa Sir…LOL…yeah…I really enjoyed watching Subaru mature during my lifetime…I honestly found it interesting watching them evolve…of course, because of my age, I’m primarily talking about the 80’s evolution…some of you can go back further than me…I’d like to hear about some of the 70’s models…I never see any of them…I guess they rusted away?

I tell you even those older switchable 4WD Subie-Roos were HARD to stop…That old push button AWD gave way to a more sophisticated system…nowadays Subies are pretty advanced and are true AWD. The current STi is an absolute GEM of a vehicle…and I believe it even has a Dial adjustable center diff to alter the front/rear torque split…Wish I had me one of those right now :frowning:

Many of you might remember Subaru’s HUMBLE Beginnings (even before I started paying attention)…The Brat was Funky Fun…It had TWO BUCKET SEATS…IN THE BED!!..WITH PISTOL GRIP HAND HOLDS!!!..LOL…Would that even be legal now to ride in ? Their Old Wagons were a Staple for a while there…I have owned quite a few thru the years too… THAT Wagon…IN BLUE…was everywhere in the 80’s…Blue Subie Wagons were a dime a dozen…Silver too. Well they sure have come a LOOONG WAY… They’re all Growned up now for certain… In fact I have been pondering one for a while now…Waiting to stumble across an abandoned Impreza due to Blown Head Gaskets…and THOSE are happening in a neighborhood near you and I …right now…I can tell you that for sure…so one is probably coming my way soon…I can feel it.

The Early Subies…Some look a LOT like the old Hondas I thought…


Good stuff “Honda.”

I had a 70’s 2wd Subaru and yes, it was a rust bucket for the first set of fenders mounted on “foam” open cell rubber gaskets. A designed into flaw ? My cousin was the service manager of the dealership, and gave me two new fenders. I mounted them with a rubberized caulking, greased and oiled them and the rest of the car and never saw another rust spot again till I sold it rust free, in the late 80s.

My 96 awd was an absolute tank and proved more reliable then the Accords, Fords and any Toyota I had before or since. AWD even then was outstanding…The seat support everywhere really stunk or I would have it today. It took more abuse then ANY vehicle I have ever own (except tractors) and everything felt “new” when I sold it rust free years later.
But oh those seats…my back aches just thinking of them.

My only Brat experience was when a fellow police officer dropped his off when I was ready to work the next shift after he had wrecked the town CV police cruiser and the back ups were out of town. I took one look and figured no one would take this “Barney Fife” seriously in a BRAT. I used my more official looking Chevy PU for court duty, security checks and just hung out till I could get the chief’s un-marked CV later. So you can say, I refused to drive it…where anyone could see me.


Your story about Greasing and oiling your new fender reminds me of some stuff used back in the day to rustproof MG’s and Mini’s…I believe it was a “British thing”… It was called Waxoyl…LOL can you imagine? This was all before my time…but I looked it up and sure enough they still make the stuff. I guess if you put enough Grease and oil on ANY bare steel…it wont rust…LOL again… OK I’m done…let the OP get back on topic if possible…