Volvo XC70 This wagon/SUV crossover offers the capabilities of an SUV without SUV size.

XC70 Terrible Transmission Noises When Cold

Old 12-11-2013, 02:19 PM
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Location: Parker, Pennsylvania
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Default XC70 Terrible Transmission Noises When Cold

I have a 2003 XC70 that I just love. Recently, when starting in cold weather (it's been right around freezing here lately), my transmission doesn't seem to want to work. I get terrible shuddering and clanging, hard shifting, etc. This seems to last for about a mile or so, then it completely clears up and runs perfectly.

Any thoughts on what this might be?
Old 04-20-2014, 03:03 AM
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I too am in love with my 2004 XC70. But when I bought it in January (116K miles), I noticed it would sometimes shift roughly, in particular when I was changing lanes during my first test drive and accelerated fairly hard to avoid an oncoming car. My mechanic said something like, "Oh they all do that with the computerized transmissions now; sometimes it just doesn't immediately know what gear to shift into." He's my friend, I believe him, so I bought the car.

Still noticing some rough shifting, I finally isolated it to especially occur when shifting upwards from 2nd to 3rd, and particularly when the engine is cold, having sat overnight (I'm in Vermont where it gets pretty cold).

My mechanic flushed the tranny before I bought the car, at my request.

I took it to the Volvo dealer in Keene NH. Their 'transmission specialist' reprogrammed the transmission - updated the software, which had never been updated - at my request. He said he noticed the fluid was dark and had a burnt odor to it, so maybe the fluid picked up some more gunk after my mechanic flushed it?

Anyway, this 'specialist' said the next thing he would try in order to suss out the hesitation is flushing it again, and then resetting the shift adaptation. I have heard informally that this sometimes works to make rough or hesitating shifting issues go away.

Please, can anyone enlighten me? They want $280 for a new flush, then resetting the shift adaptation.
Old 04-20-2014, 07:38 AM
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Location: Albuquerque, NM
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I do not know much about transmissions but if the fluid is not clean, I would replace it (the fluid).
Old 04-21-2014, 05:45 AM
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Question One Possibility?

A parts dealer posts this on their web site. Very interesting, but they want to sell me parts. Do they have any conflict of interest?

AW 55-50SN, RE5F22A, AF33-5 Transmission Parts Aisin Warner

The problem!

After months of extensive research we found that the bushes in the inductor housing were distorting at high temperatures causing the actuating shaft in the solenoid to be in the wrong position. This contributed to the cause of many of the well known problems that we are seeing today, including ‘hard shifting’ and ‘slip’

The Solution!

Our bushes have been designed to replace the worn ‘OE’ bushes. Many hours and Kilometres of field testing allowed us to evaluate the materials that we used to develop this product.
Stay tuned (see below) for another possibility.
Old 04-21-2014, 06:30 AM
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Now this article, a tech article from a comprehensive aftermarket parts manufacturer and distributor, sounds like it just might be the unadulterated truth.

The transmission in my XC70 is an AW (Aisin-Warner) 55. This tranny was built into many models and several makes of cars:

In the United States, the AW 55-50 is used in the:

Saturn Ion and Vue, (AF23-5 in the 4 cylinder and AF33-5 in the V-6)
Chevrolet Equinox and the Pontiac Torrent, (AF33-5)
Nissan Altima, Maxima and Quest, (RE5F22A)
Saab 9-3 and 9-5
Volvo C70, S40, S60, S70, S80, S90, V40, V50, V70, XC70 and the XC90

Now get this, the Transmission Control Module (TCM) for this tranny is programmed differently in different models of cars! Here are the "shift modes" for the Volvo ones:

Volvo Shift Modes

Economy Mode – This mode is used by TCM under normal acceleration. The TCM provides the earliest possible upshifts and lockup for best economy. The TCM adjusts oil pressure to provide smooth shifts and engagements.

Sport Mode – The TCM changes from economy to sport mode if the accelerator pedal is pressed down quickly and the vehicle exceeds 31MPH. In sports mode the shift points are raised to provide the best performance and down shifting occurs at lower engine RPM. When the accelerator pedal is moved less quickly, the TCM resumes economy mode automatically.

Extreme Mode – Extreme mode is another way of saying kick-down. The TCM selects the lowest possible gear, for the vehicle speed, when the throttle is depressed to the floor.

Winter Mode – Winter mode is selected by using the "W" button on the top panel of the gear selector assembly. A warning lamp in the instrument cluster illuminates when winter mode has been selected. When winter mode is activated, the transmission will start out in 3rd gear to provide maximum traction on slippery surfaces. Depending on manual gear selection, the following shift combinations can be obtained.

D – The transaxle starts in 3rd gear, automatically shifting between 3rd, 4th, and 5th gears.
4 – The transaxle starts in 3rd gear and automatically shifts to 4th gear earlier than economy mode in D range. 5th gear is locked out.
3 – The transaxle starts in 3rd gear with no up shifts or down shifts.
L – The transaxle starts in 2nd gear with no up shifts or down shifts.
At wide-open throttle in winter mode, the transaxle uses all gears for maximum performance.

Catalytic Converter Start – This function helps the engine to reach operating temperature by preventing converter lockup and delaying the 1-2 and 2-3 upshifts when the engine is cold. This is a normal function.

Temperature Controlled Lock-up – If the transmission temperature rises excessively as a result of a heavy load with high ambient temperature conditions, the torque converter clutch is applied to reduce heat generated by the torque converter. If the temperature drops below 20°C, (68°F), lock-up will be inhibited.

Slipping Lock-up – Slipping lock-up mode allows for a smoother lock-up engagement while reducing vibration and noise. The computer maintains a 50 to 200 RPM torque converter clutch slip in this mode. The following conditions must be met for this mode to activate:

Gear shifter must be in the D, 4, or 3 position.
Transmission must be in 3rd, 4th, or 5th gear.
The transmission input speed must be 1100 RPM or higher and the throttle opening must be 35% or less.
Engine coolant must reach a certain temperature.
Transmission oil temperature must be at least 40°C (104°F), but not to exceed 120°C (248°F).
Note: The friction properties of this transmission fluid are different from other fluids due to the large amount of converter clutch slip. Failure to use the correct fluid will cause transmission damage and codes.

Driving Uphill – To reduce shift business, the TCM may change the shift pattern slightly when driving uphill.

Neutral Control – (This function is not available on all models). Neutral control is when the TCM disengages the forward clutch, (C1), at a stop with the brake applied. This reduces the load on the engine, therefore reducing engine vibration and improving fuel economy. When the brake is released the forward clutch engages. The following conditions must be met before the neutral control function will be allowed:

Manual shifter must be in D, 4 or 3. Neutral control will not work in winter mode or when Geartronic is selected.
Transmission oil temperature must be above 10°C or 50°F.
Throttle position must be less than 3%.
Brake pedal must be depressed.
Vehicle speed must be zero MPH.
Engine speed must be less than 1500 RPM.
There is a 2 second delay once the vehicle has stopped in the D position and a 5 second delay when shifted from N to D.
So it is entirely possible that transmission "flares" (delays) during shifting from first to second and from second to third gears IS PROGRAMMED INTO THE TRANSMISSION BECAUSE OF THE NEED TO WARM THE TRANSMISSION FOR NORMAL FUNCTION DURING COLD WEATHER!

For this reason and this reason alone, shift hesitation of the type described in RED above MAY simply be the tranny obeying the software instructions from the TCM which are unique to Volvos because Volvos typically are used in colder climates than other cars!

So personally I am waiting this one out. Yes, I will look for an economical transmission flush (true flush, not drain & fill). Yes, I will have the shift adaptation reset when I am sure it will be done correctly. But replace a valve body ($1500 plus) or even a tranny (circa $5000) ??? Not now!

I wonder how many dealers and mechanics exploit this idiosyncrasy to push unnecessary and horribly expensive work onto their customers?!?! I mean, this is the company that charges $300 plus for a keyless-entry key setup!!!
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