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Volvo S70 Headlights malfunction

 I own a 1999 Volvo S70 and have experienced a headlight problem from time to time.  I always have the headlight switch to the on position, so that whenever I start the car I do not have to worry about turning on the headlights.  But sometimes when I turn on the car, the headlights fail to come on.  This happened a few days ago, and I was able to drive by holding in the high beam lever, but had no low beams and could not use the turn signal.  I called Volvo and they informed me that there was a recall for the headlight switch in 2005, and that my headlight switch was replaced then, and that the part might be failing again.  Is this a headlight switch problem or could it be something else?  How do I proceed


Seems to me to be the switch. Request they replace it free. A switch should not fail in 6 years.

“Request they replace it free. A switch should not fail in 6 years.”

Yes, the OP should give that a try, but that leads to two questions:

Does a recall result in perpetual replacement of the recalled parts, especially after one recall-related replacement has already been performed?
Is it realistic to expect free repairs on a 17 year old vehicle?

I tend to think that the answer to both questions is…“no”, but I am interested in seeing what others have to say on this issue.

Not sure how the volvo works, but my car the headlights do not come on automatically until you put it in drive. If that is the case with you it may be the bcm, not the switch

Sounds like an erratic relay to me. You’ll need a schematic to track it down definitively. Perhaps the dealer’s part guy can provide one.

When there’s a recall on a vehicle it means there’s a safety issue with the vehicle. That means that the defective component that caused the recall is covered for the life of the vehicle.

Here’s an example.

We purchased 1991 Jeep Cherokee in 1997. In 2001 the ABS pump failed where the brake pedal became rock hard. You could barely stop the vehicle.

I went on line and sure enough there was a recall for the ABS pump. I contacted the local Jeep dealer and they said to bring it in. An hour later, I get a call from the dealer and was told that the ABS pump would be replaced for free under the recall. I had pay for the bleeding of the system was all.

In 2005 the ABS pump failed again. And it was replaced again for free under the recall.

In 2009 the ABS pump failed again. This time the pump couldn’t be replaced because there none to be found. I guess they were all used up during the recall over the years.

So the vehicle was junked.

So when a vehicle has a recall, it’s a safety issue. And the recall follows the vehicle as long as it’s on the road.


Tester: As far as the Jeep Cherokee ABS pump you are 100% correct. We purchased a 1991 Cherokee new. ABS pump failed at 30,000 miles. It was replaced under warranty. ABS pump failed at 60.000 miles. Replaced under extended warranty. ABS pump failed at 90,000 miles. Replaced under recall. No problems at over 150,000 miles when Jeep was totaled (not brake related). The 1991 Cherokee had very advanced 4 channel ABS. Maybe it was too far ahead of it’s time.

Last Winter (it was dark) I was unfortunate to end up behind an old very beat-up square Volvo station wagon with no tail lights, brake lights, or turn signals. It crossed a congested bridge and entered a 55mph state highway. It was heavily smoking and apparently could not exceed 45mph. As I passed it I could see no dash lights. It had headlights with near zero candle power! My state really needs an annual safety inspection. A cop would have pulled the Volvo over and had it impounded. Law enforcement funding has been reduced every year.

Very few recalls include a lifetime warranty like the Bendix-9 ABS recall did. If there is a lifetime warranty it is stated in the recall, the Bendix-9 recall for example;

Dealers will test the vehicle’s ABS and repair as necessary. The warranty on all ABS components will be extended to 10 years or 100,000 miles (except for the brake actuator piston assembly and the pump-motor assembly which will have a lifetime coverage).

The Volvo headlight recall does not mention a lifetime warranty and in most cases the manufacture will only pay for the recall to be performed once.

I wouldn’t replace that switch willy-nilly, just in hopes it fixes it. There’s no telling the problems you’ll have if they do the job incorrectly. This is a situation where a proper diagnosis is the first step. Current flow in a circuit for a simple light bulb isn’t a mystery, it starts at one place and ends at another. If you have the correct voltage at the start, but not at the end, it’s just a matter of following along it’s path from the start, until it unexpectedly disappears.

As an analogy, if someone you are meeting tells you they are starting at the intersection of main and first street, and meeting you at the intersection of main and 10th street, but they don’t show up, you know straight away where to look for them right? You’re not going to be looking on 20th. It’s a virtual certainty they’ll be stranded on main street, somewhere between first and 10th. So that’s where you’ll look.

“The Volvo headlight recall does not mention a lifetime warranty and in most cases the manufacture will only pay for the recall to be performed once.”

That confirms my understanding of how recalls normally work.

From what you describe about the problem and that you can at least use the flash high beam switch I tend to think that the problem is with the light switch. It would be nice to know if you could turn the high beams on normally and that would mean the problem is just with the low beam circuit. I would still suspect the switch in that case. A good tech would jumper the switch wires for the low beam circuit to prove the switch is at fault before replacing it. The trouble could also just be a loose connector that just needs to be tightened together.