Electrical Problem with Volvo XC90



Our new Volvo XC90, purchased just seven months ago, this morning has a dead battery. No lights left on, no electrical devices left on, nothing – and yet the battery is dead.

Of note, when we first got the car (brand new, right off the dealer lot), we were ready to take delivery, but the dealer said that the battery was dead, which they chalked up to a bad battery – “Sometimes, things like that happen; we put in a new battery and you should be fine.”

The Volvo dealership is a factory registered service center and everything, but I think that they’re just going to replace the battery again, instead of looking deeper – and I suspect that there may be something sinister going on in the electrical system that is causing the battery to die.

I’ve got a little time to research it, because they say (Don Beyer Volvo, Sterling, Virginia) that the earliest they can fit me in is Wednesday (two days from now).

Anyway, I’m without wheels for two days, unless I jump start it wherever I go, I suppose – clearly not practical. They say I can’t get a loaner until Wednesday when I drop off the car for service.

Any ideas? What should I suggest to them? What should I say if they say that all they did was replace the battery??

– Thomas.


I first recommend you get a battery charger and charge up the battery. Don’t jump it and allow the alternator to charge it up as this puts a high demand on it.

The service shop should do a load test on the system to make sure the charging system is working as it should be. They also need to check the parasitic current drain to see if it is too high. If it is they need to find the trouble and repair it.

The problem could also be due to a faulty connection in the power distribution area if measuring the battery voltage shows it is ok.

Whatever the trouble is, it should be pretty easy to solve.


That was a fasr and very good reply with some excellent comments. I’ll write thatdown and take it with me.

I don’t quite understand the comment about not jumpstarting it – are you sayng that I shouldn’t jump it to take it in for the service visit?


You can jump start the vehicle if you have to but if you can charge up the battery first using a charger instead of a jump, it will help the alternator out. A dead battery will make the alternator generate it’s full output power and for a long time. This will make the alternator work very hard and could lead to early failure. By charging the battery first then the alternator only has to supply normal current levels for running the accessories of the vehicle.


If they say it was just the battery, just keep a record of this and the prior visit and any future visits. Eventually they will want to do something more or as it may well be, they may be right and you just got to bum batteries. There are more bad batteries than a lot of people think.


I own a 2006 XC 90 and have had the battery go dead two times. The first time occured 2 months after I bought it. I took it in and they recharged the battery and sent me on my way. I had some other electrical issues in between that may or may not be related. My battery went dead today and I took it into the dealership and they replaced the battery this time. One of the shop techs shared with me a VOLVO Tech Note which references a software bug that causes sudden discharges in the battery. In VOLVO speak it is due to ICM SW Bug (campaign 163f). I was told that the last time my vehicle was in, (2 months ago) they fixed the software bug. If it happens a third time, I will start to wonder if there is something more at work. The Tech note I have lists 2005/2006 XC90’s. The date of the VOLVO tech article is 12-6-2006. Hope this helps.



You should ask them to check the Central Electronics Module. We had the same problem, brought it back 3 times to the dealership over the course of 5 years only to find out that the central electornics module is completely rusted out and its a $6,000 repair. The car is now sitting dead at the dealership while we try to figure out what to do next. If you go forward with this purchase, look out for the blinker acting strangely, and other warning lights turning on like air bag lights, check engine lights, 4 wheel drive lights, etc that never stay on for any length of time. Good Luck.