Crossover & Midsize

Why a Dangerous Braking Problem Makes the 2016 Volvo XC90 a Model To Avoid

Sport utility vehicles have become popular in the last few years, surpassing minivans as the family car of choice. Volvo was already on board in this segment of the market, while others were just introducing their models. The Volvo XC90 has been in production since 2002, and it’s seen a fair number of problems over the years.

One issue, dealing with the brakes, has many owners frustrated with Volvo. The 2016 model, in particular, saw a ton of issues with the brakes, one so severe that it’s now known as the one model you should avoid. CarComplaints.com shows some of the complaints owners reported with their XC90.

The Volvo XC90 brake problem

The 2016 Volvo XC90 model has a surprising number of complaints, and a good portion of them deal with the brakes. While many dealerships blame brake issues on user error, this problem shows the vehicle itself is at fault.

The automatic emergency brake system allows the car to detect a possible collision coming up in your path. The car will apply the brakes for you to ensure crash prevention takes place without you having to do anything, especially when you don’t see any objects in front of you until it’s too late. The problem with the XC90 is that the automatic brakes will go off with no warning, despite there being nothing in the path ahead of you.

This is a serious safety issue because many owners who complained of the problem state that it happens when you’re traveling down an interstate or freeway at speeds around 65 mph. Anyone in a vehicle behind you risks crashing into the rear of your car if they’re not watching closely. Some drivers reported that they came close to getting hit from behind, but the other car managed to avoid a collision in most of those cases.

Has Volvo addressed the issue?

The NHTSA received many complaints from owners experiencing this braking issue on the 2016 model. One incident reported apparently resulted in a crash. When drivers took their XC90 models into the Volvo dealerships, technicians there claimed to not be aware of the problem, and a good number of them were unable to mimic the issue with the vehicle. Some felt that they needed a simple computer update, which the dealership performed, but the problem would only come back in some of those cases.

Car and Driver reported that Volvo stepped in to address the automated braking system issue but only for the 2019 and 2020 models. For these vehicles, the problem is thought to be with a software code failure. The issue is a bit different from the 2016 model, though. These newer XC90s with the automated braking system would fail to brake on its own when an obstacle is in their path. The recall Volvo sent out for this doesn’t include the 2016 model problems.

Other complaints against the Volvo XC90

The problem with the automated braking system is not the only complaint owners have about the Volvo XC90. Some owners reported a loss of power in the vehicle when driving at highway speeds. Without power, the driver was unable to access anything, including steering, braking, and shifting into neutral gear. With help from a local dealership, they were able to get the vehicle into the shop without causing any accidents.

Another incident reported was a fire under the hood of the SUV. The driver noticed flames on the engine and the fire department determined the cause to be from a short in that area. With research, the owner figured out it was a known problem with the soy-coated wiring that attracts rodents that chew on the wires.

Door latches also became a problem for some owners. They would lock on their own, which would trap people inside the vehicle, sometimes trapping pets or infants inside. In another case, a door latch came undone while driving. The occupants were able to get the door closed and locked it shut until it could be looked at.

Despite its popularity, this model of the XC90 had many complaints lodged against it with little-to-no resolution from Volvo. Owners, in most cases, became fed up with the lack of repairs and traded their vehicles in for something else that wouldn’t cause them more headaches to drive.