Volvo S60 Transmission Problem -The B4 Servo Update

Despite all the black magic trickery that goes on inside an average internal combustion engine, automatic transmission still holds the title of the most complicated piece of automotive tech. Manufacturing a reliable automatic gearbox is complicated by itself, but designing one can be a total nightmare. Most car brands have given up on this and left the task to specialized companies such as Aisin. However, they aren’t entirely removed from the R&D process, and we sometimes end up with issues such as the Volvo S60 transmission problem.

The Aisin Episode

Everyone appreciates a good specialist. Whether we’re talking doctors or transmission manufacturers. If you need something complicated, it pays to go to someone who has dedicated all of their effort to that specific problem.
As far as automatic transmission systems go, Aisin Seiki is one of the most trusted brands in the business. This company has been around for 71 years and has become a Fortune Global 500 brand largely thanks to its gearboxes.
Cool stats aside, Aisin’s gearboxes simply work. This brand alone has contributed a lot towards minimizing the misconception that automatic gearboxes are inherently less reliable than their manual counterparts.
However, accidents happen even to the best in the business.

Volvo P2 Hard Shifting eeuroparts

Aisin AF33 Gearbox

The majority of gearboxes Aisin designs are used across a wide range of vehicle makes and models. Rarely do they make a box that is specific to a single make and model. The same applies to the AF33 project. That being said, Aisin will allow individual brands to come in, make certain changes to the design, and slap their own designation to the end product.

Around the beginning of the 2000s, Volvo and many other manufacturers came together to design a new generation of automatic gearboxes that was meant to support future platforms. The project was called AF33, and Aisin delivered, as always. Volvo then took the gearbox and applied certain changes to the design.

This was nothing unusual as pairing a gearbox to different engines means different power delivery profiles. Some customization is simply necessary
Branded Aisin AW55-50/51SN, the new Volvo gearbox offered everything this manufacturer had hoped for, at least for a while. Namely, Volvo started receiving reports of failed gearboxes and transmission issues on cars that didn’t even have 50,000 miles on them. Vehicles two to three years old were being returned to dealerships worldwide, citing gearbox problems.
When their warranty department started spending significant amounts of money to cover all these repairs, it became evident to Volvo that the gearbox had a built-in flaw.

Volvo hard shifting fix The Volvo S60 Transmission Problem – Slush Box Strikes Again!

The Volvo S60 Transmission Problem – Slush Box Strikes Again!

Although S60 was one of the models that were hit the worst, Volvo has had issues with the AW55-50/51SN gearbox across a variety of their models. Here’s the full list of affected cars:

  • 20002004 Volvo C70
  • 20062013 Volvo C70
  • 20002013 Volvo S40
  • 20002007 Volvo S60
  • 20002006 Volvo S80
  • 20002004 Volvo V40
  • 20042013 Volvo V50
  • 20002007 Volvo S/V70
  • 2000-2002 Volvo V70XC
  • 2003-2005 Volvo XC70
  • 2003-2006 Volvo XC90

That being said, for some reason, the S60 become the hotspot for issues with this gearbox. At least the symptoms are pretty straightforward if that’s any comfort. Drivers have reported rough shifts, sometimes even erratic, depending on how severe the issue gets. Others have reported a loss of gears, especially the 4th gear or the reverse gear. There’s are also reports of fluid loss, among other symptoms. Long story short, when AW55-50/51SN starts acting up, you’ll know.

It took Volvo about four years to accept that there is a problem in the first place and come up with a viable solution. The way they’ve tackled the issue has become known as the B4 Servo Update.

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B4 Servo Update and Other Solutions

There’s a solid reason why it took Volvo 4 years to come up with a be-all, end-all solution. The first instances of gearbox problems were intermittent and often solved with a fluid flush. Other shops went for a full reflash of the transmission unit, which has proven to be a viable option. However, all of these solutions ended up being only a temporary fix in the vast majority of cases.

After roughly four years of trying different Band-Aid solutions, Volvo came up with a mechanical fix – the B4 Transmission Servo Update as it became known.

The update kit came with several O-rings and a newly designed valve cover for one of the main servos. This servo is tasked with actuating valve body valves (bear with us), ultimately ensuring that there’s enough hydraulic pressure within the system, resulting in smooth shifts.
What Aisin had shipped from the factory and what the new part replaces is an under-designed component. Such a tiny piece was enough to send many Volvos to their final resting place. Fortunately for most owners, the update worked, and in many gearboxes were saved.

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How to Fix the S60 Transmission? – The DIY Approach

This being the eEuroparts blog, we always lean towards the DIY approach. Especially when the job at hand isn’t overly complicated, as it turns out, you can perform the B4 update in your driveway. The servo cover you’ll want to replace is easily accessible via the driver-side wheel well. The cover is held in place with two o-rings and a snap ring. The kit includes all of the necessary parts to get the job done, but there are a few extra things you’ll need.

One of them is fresh Genuine Volvo transmission oil. Doing an oil flush is a must when applying the B4 update. You should change flush the oil every 50,000 miles anyway (no matter what version of “lifetime fill” or “lifetime oil” was in there previously). It’s basic automatic gearbox maintenance.

Following the oil flush, you’ll also want to reflash the TCU with the latest software updates. This is where you might need a professional helping hand if you’re not savvy enough with automotive electronics.

Volvo Auto Trans Flush Fluid How to Fix the S60 Transmission? - The DIY Approach

The Not So Lucky Ones

Although the update proved as effective, it was too late for some gearboxes. There is no guarantee that your newly applied update will get rid of the issues. In case the problem persists past the update, oil flush, and TCU reflash, you’re looking at a new transmission valve body or sometimes even a new gearbox. Those who experienced such horrific issues under warranty were the lucky ones. The thing with AW55-50/51SN is that you never know when the servo cover issue could strike.

If you’ve been looking for a mint S60 and wondering why these cars are so cheap, now you know. Buying an S60 or any Volvo that came with AW55-50/51SN installed is a lottery. If you’re dead set on getting one of these cars, you absolutely need to make sure that the gearbox has been fixed.

Since most of the affected models are now well out of warranty, experiencing a gearbox failure can set you back more than half of what the car is worth. We strongly suggest getting the B4 update kit and preemptively replacing the suspected components, just in case. These kits are a dime a dozen compared to what a new gearbox might cost you down the line.

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Transmission Issues Prevention?

As far as prevention goes, there’s no proven method to stop a servo cover from croaking. Standard automatic gearbox maintenance is your best bet. Flush the fluid every 30,000 to 50,000 miles and hope for the best. The only thing we can recommend is never to ignore the symptoms.

If you notice that your gearbox is starting to struggle or hesitate while shifting, do yourself a favor and visit your mechanic immediately. The whole gearbox fluid pressure problem rarely goes from 0-100 instantly. More often than not, it’s a gradual process. Catch it early enough, and you can prevent potential valve body damage.

That being said, your chances of running into servo cover issues greatly diminish as you move away from the 2004 year models. Right around that time, Volvo has put their behinds into gear (pun intended) and put in serious effort to make new cars less prone to hard shifting.

Chances of a later year model, like a 2010 or even 2007, having servo cover issues are minimal but still not equal to zero.
Once again, always make sure to check the service history on any of the vehicles listed above. Look for prior transmission problems, whether the previous owner flushed the oil and anything that could imply future gearbox issues.

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Where to Find the B4 Update Kit?

Even though it’s been nearly two decades since AW55-50/51SN first started giving their owners trouble, B4 update kits are still available. Being one of the leading suppliers of Genuine Volvo spare parts and components, we have the kit in stock.
If you’re unsure whether this kit will fit your car or need one at all, please contact our customer support. Our reps are standing by to offer assistance and answer whatever questions you might have regarding our products. You can reach us via email by filling out our contact form or by giving us a call!

102 thoughts on “Volvo S60 Transmission Problem -The B4 Servo Update
    • Adam Goral

      If your car is equipped with the Aisin AWTF-80 SC transmission, and are experiencing shift flares, it may be time to change the transmission fluid. A full flush is recommended, which includes 2 or 3 drain-and-refills within a short succession, because the transmission and oil cooler has a lot of stored fluid capacity that won’t all come out with one drain (only about 40-50%). Give that a shot, the fluid for your car is Part# 93165147. These transmissions don’t come equipped with filters so changing the fluid every 30,000mi is highly recommended to prevent issues down the road.

  1. Used2LuvMyVolvo

    How do you know which transmission is in your car? My vehicle (2006 V70 2.5T) is not on your list but definitely having those transmission problems. How do I find an honest Volvo mechanic to work with? Don’t trust dealers! – Sad Volvo owner in Atlanta, GA

  2. Norbert Gal

    Hi Adam
    I have a 2006 S60 T5 107,000 miles with same trans. issues for the last 8 months. I had a trans flush done, made some difference but still continues. Changed broken engine mounts some difference. Dealer did the adaptation drive better about 50 %, said that I have the latest software. It was mentioned that the B4 servo affects cars 2004 and older. Does the 2006 could have the same issue? I am thinking about changing trans oil again it was done 15,000 miles ago. How do I really know if I really need a new valve body.

    Appreciate your response

    Volvo owner from CA

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Norbert, sorry to hear about your dodgy transmission. Yes the B4 update is mainly a fix for ’04 and older, later models had revised covers (although yours might not have the most recent, I’m not totally sure on this). I am really surprised you are having issues with such a fresh vehicle, I hope at some point the wrong fluid wasn’t put in or something of that nature resulting in wear or damage. At this point, personally I would take it to a transmission shop or a specific transmission specialist. You need a trans whisperer. They may unfortunately tell you that the valve body has an internal leak causing poor shifting performance. In my experience, Volvo dealers are not too helpful with these problems, as they are geared to service every part. Jack of all trades, master of none type deal. Good luck, hope that second flush helps, make sure to use the correct fluid!

  3. Kazzaz

    Hi Adam
    Mine is 2001 s60 2.4 T with 100.000 miles on it.
    I am experiencing same symptoms specially gear 2 in addition to a rough idle rpm goes from 1000 to 700
    Any advice

    Kazzaz indiana

  4. Matthew H

    Hi Adam,

    I have a 2004 S60 2.5T that seems to be exhibiting some not so smooth symptoms, namely hesitation from 1-2 at low speeds like stop and go traffic and very occasionally from 2-3 in the same traffic. It shifts just fine in no traffic however… The sticker on the door sill says mine was made in May 2003 as a MY2004 model. Would mine need to have the B4 servo cover replaced, or should I already have the updated one? I have a case of Mobil 3309 being delivered tomorrow, and will be doing a flush ASAP using the upper cooling hose method which should exchange all of the fluid. I have been told that mine should have the updated cover, but after reading blog post, I’m not so sure. I plan to have the local dealer check the software as well. Thanks!

    • Adam Goral

      In America, the 2002 was a V70 with the XC or Cross Country package. I just added that, thanks. Sorry to hear about the transmission problems, I hope this article will help you out with your diagnosis and ultimately a fixed Volvo!

  5. junior

    I Believe I Am Experiencing This Issue, I Have An ’06 S60R(140k, But Flawless) and On “Normal Mode”(without the S active on the shifter) It Kind of Drives “Normal”, But When That S Button It’s Turned On(manually turned on or when Advanced It’s turn on) Its Always On “Racing Mode”(the revolution it’s always high and of course it’s a bit hard on shifting), In Other Words, If I Want “Normal” Shifting That S Button Needs To Be Off @ All Times.

    • Adam Goral

      This sounds unrelated to any internal transmission fault. The S stands for sport mode, and it will hold RPMs and keep from upshifting by the design of the programming to keep the engine closer to the power band.

      • junior

        Trust Me, Something It’s Not Right, Even With The Transmission On “Sport Mode” It Should Downshift and Be All Reved Up @ All Times, I Had An ’04 V70R With 170k That Shifted The Right Way When On “S”.
        Thanks Anyway Adal…✌️

    • Adam Goral

      The dealer or reputable Volvo shop can re-flash the transmission control module with an update, and put it into learn mode. Some people have had success with this, but more than likely (for the S40 anyway) you will probably need a new auto trans valve body. When the valve bodies leak or hang up, the hydraulic fluid going to actuate gear change can be impeded, resulting in delayed shifting and out of time actions.

  6. Jon

    Wow! I find this to be completely awesome. I’m not intimidated too much my these apparent automatic transmission problems—I’m a sucker for a challenge.

    There is a local early 2000’s Volvo that is for sale (cheap) due to it “needing a transmission”. I’m super modivated to buy it!

    I can do most of the work myself.
    I’ve done a little auto trans modifying (for performance) in the past, but have always had manual transmissions ever since, but a valve body? Okay? Solinoids? Alright. Re”-mapping” or
    “-programming” the shift points and tolerances? Still not freaked out.

    It’s going to come down to “value”.
    This might be my 5th car (not ever, but in the driveway). My wife would look great in a white Volvo, and this potential deal might just put her in the driver’s seat.

    Armed with the information that I’ve gotten from this site and others, I might have stumbled upon a jewel.

    Thank you all for the information!

  7. Hi again,
    Upon further investigation, I have found a VERY INTERESTING and INFORMATIVE video, made by a true professional who knows and describes every single part of the Volvo automatic transmission made by Aisin, the AF33 which is sold around the world for many different auto manufacturers, Volvo being one, as well as Chevrolet, Lancia, Nissan, Opel/Vauxhall, Pontiac, Renault, Saab, Saturn, Suzuki, and Volvo (respectfully).
    This master craftsman with 24 years experience, clearly illustrates how to tare apart an entire transmission, identify each and every component, all within 38 minutes and 6 seconds. Grant it, it’s not a race, he just knows what he’s doing.
    He has convinced me, and hopefully will you, that these simple solenoid, piston, and valve body tricks are “practically” a waste. And by practically, I mean it in the sense of the word as being practical, probable, or likely to be impractical because with the age, and/or mileage of these transmissions that require everything to have high tolerances, these seemingly simple fixes only delay the inevitable fact that unless you bought you car brand new and have properly serviced the transmission (without fault), you’re in the category of needing to simply replace the entire transmission with a new or properly fully rebuilt one.
    So please, take a moment and watch this video. I think you’ll get a lot out of it and be happy to have closure and/or resolve.
    Thank you,

    WATCH —> <— WATCH

    While this transmissions model number is not the same as for Volvos, it is the same transmission.

  8. Kenneth Wakefield

    Hi I have a 2004 s40 2.5 non turbo I’m ha ing to change the transmission I found out of a 2008 s40 2.5 non turbo will these swap and I’ve not found any sight to show the Removel or replacement ..

    • Adam Goral

      Sorry to hear that. The transmission part numbers, as far as I can tell, are the same. The control units are also the same between 04 2.5NA and 08 2.5NA, so I would say there’s a high probability of these swapping. If I were you I would ask in a good forum like Volvospeed and see if anyone has done that before. Also pick up a workshop manual, such as ALLDATA, which will have a DIY license to buy for an individual car such as yours. There should be a transmission section. Good luck, and remember we will have all the parts you’ll want to replace new, including the fluids, filters, and one time use only stretch bolts which Volvo uses frequently in the subframe and suspension components you may need to remove.

  9. I have a 2004 Volvo S40 Turbo that I bought new. Seven months ago the car started jerking when coming to a stop. The local Volvo dealership said I needed a new valve body. I took it to an independent shop for another opinion. They did a trans flush, software update and it seemed to help. After that I kept getting a check engine light. They then replaced the map sensor and breather box. The rough shifting doesn’t occur if I don’t accelerate or stop too quickly. If I do, then a rough shift happens. I’ve driven 800 miles after the new breather box install, now the check engine light is back on as of yesterday. Does this mean it’s all really due to the valve body? I only have 120,000 miles on the car and have taken excellent care of it (although I did drive it for two years in the mountains on high mountain passes that required a lot of power). Just wondering if I should trust the dealer that replacing the valve body will solve the issue. I would be happy if I can keep the car until it has 200K miles. I’m only driving 4,000 miles per year now. Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Adam Goral

      The CEL likely has nothing to do with the hard shifting, you can see what the code is by having it scanned for free at any number of local chain autoparts stores. Because of the cost associated with a new valve body, if I were you I would give the B4 servo update a try because your car is relatively low mileage. Higher mileage cars that have suffered from banging shifts often find their trans failing around 200k miles, so hopefully you can repair it with a servo update. If it doesn’t work, then yes you are looking at a new Valve Body unfortunately.

  10. Noah

    I recently bought an 06 S60R with only 64,000 miles. Everything is immaculate except the auto transmission. The guy I bought it from stated he had installed a new valve body kit, flushed the fluid, and said it was “fine”.However it has shift flares, and will usually flare changing from 2nd to 3rd or from 5th to 6th. Every day it seems to get a little worse. When it flares it acts as if it goes into neutral then will rev past the red line, and will not shift unless I let off the gas, then it proceeds to clunk into gear hard. My father is a Volvo Master Tech so we took it to the shop to reset the adaptives and installed the latest software. It smoothed out the ride, but continues to flare. I recently ordered a B4 Servo Cover Update, and will be installing it over the weekend, but I’m afraid it might not do the trick. A few days ago shortly after a shift flare my check engine light came on, but then went away the next day. I plugged up the ECU and it read “Fuel Pressure Fault”. Not quite sure that has anything to do with it. I am slowly but surely running out of options before I might need to scrap the transmission and install a new one. If you have ANY advice please let me know as soon as you can. Thanks.

    • Adam Goral

      I am interested in hearing the results from the B4 kit. Honestly if it has been banging around that hard for that long, I assume the transmission may be coming towards the end of its life. Do you have documentation on if the valve body was actually done or if you just got razzed? It really sounds like something is up with the valve body.

  11. Ron

    Thanks Adam,

    I have to say I am confused I have been told 3 different things ?? My s80 only acts up after 30 minutes???? I got a recommendation to replace the valve body ?
    Or open the tranny clean the solenoids and flush? Any feedback I would appreciate.

    • Adam Goral

      Hi Ron,
      The transmission issues generally do act up once the car is warm, that is common symptoms of the valve body or a part on it like the B4 servo mentioned in this article. The valve body is not a serviceable item so start with a fluid flush, drain and fill a few times over the course of about a hundred miles to make sure as much fluid gets out of the cooler and torque converter as possible, change the B4 servo cover, have the transmission put into learn mode by a dealer or authorized Volvo repair facility and you should have major improvements. If not, then most likely you do need to replace the valve body as the internal seals have deteriorated and are no longer able to provide the solenoids pressure to actuate the gears.

  12. Luis Faustino

    I have purchased a Volvo V60 D4 awd cross country in February 2017. This car has now 11.000 km and 6 months of existence.

    Unfortunately the car has stopped twice, always due to transmission problems:
    1. The first was on the 6/10/2017 : The Volvo assistance brought the car to Volvo garage, and the car stayed there for a bit longer than a week. I was informed that the transmission had been fully replaced;
    2. I picked up the car last night 16/10/2017 and Today it stopped working, indicating transmission error again.

    This is a brand new vehicle that stopped working twice in two weeks. I am honestly scared with all this situation and already regret the money I spent on the Volvo.

    I would like to make a formal complain about the whole situation and the potential deficiency of this vehicle. Would you have any advise on how to best proceed?

    • Adam Goral

      That’s frightening, since you are listing distances in KM, what country are you in? Do you have what we call a Lemon Law? In the US buyers are protected by a law that can rule a vehicle a ‘Lemon’ meaning it suffers extensive and constant issues. The dealer would be required to replace the vehicle after a certain amount of warranty work has been done.

  13. Ethan

    Hey Adam I have a 2007 volvo s80 3.2l. I’m having hard shifting about a half hour into driving. 3rd gear and neutral mainly. I just left the dealer and he said I would need to leave the car with him. with my understanding my transmission isn’t ment to drain fluid. Is that true? And should I tell them just give me the updates/upgrades and pay for those and not them spending hours driving my car and picking around the car? Your advise is appreciated!
    -frustrated volvo owner

  14. John

    Hey Adam,

    I’m having this seemingly random problem with my transmission (I think) on my AWD Torrent base. All of a sudden, the RPMs will jump and a couple of seconds will pass before the transmission slams into gear. The only consistent things I can say are:

    1) This doesn’t happen when the car is cold
    2) This doesn’t happen when climbing a hill
    3) WHEN it happens, the car is going on a flat road or slightly downhill

    There is no Check Engine light on. I did take a video of the problem occuring and I noticed something that happened too quick for my eye to see. This is the order in which it happened:

    1) Suddenly, the RPM gauge jumps from 3,000 to 6,000 without the trans going into gear
    2) 2 seconds later, the transmission slams into gear.
    3) As the transmission engages, the Traction Control Off light BRIEFLY (.25 second) flashes on and then off

    I see numerous entries on AF33 transmission issues, but I can’t find this among them.

    This seems to happen randomly and I cannot replicate it for my mechanic (he’d have to drive the car for an hour or so).

    Do you have an idea what’s going on and how to fix it?


    • Adam Goral

      This sounds like a sticky/bad valve body, and judging by the way you are driving it with this issue I assume additional severe transmission damage is being done to this vehicle, if not already. When a valve body has a bad valve or a sticky solenoid, it will fail to adequately divert hydraulic pressure to fully engage the gear. That’s how you get stuck in between.

  15. Hugo C

    Hello Adam, I have a 2007 XC70 and have no codes or lights on my dashboard. I do get a jerkyness and hard shifting specially in 2nd gear after driving the car for at least 30 minutes. It seems to do it more often during warm weather and it is not as noticeable during the cold days. Would this be an ETM issue or more related to transmission? I guess because there are no codes, this may be a transmission issue but where to begin? I have not flushed the transmission fluid yet as i got the car about 9k miles ago. Car now has 189k miles and i love it! Except when it does this! i would like to fix it, but having not paid MUCH for it, dont really want to INVEST an arm and a leg if i dont have to. Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • Adam Goral

      Sounds exactly what’s described in the article, start with a fluid flush, B4 servo update, have your TCM reflashed to relearn the shift points. If it persists, you may be looking at a new valve body.

      • Dave Bing

        I’m asking so I understand if my 2003 Volvo XC70 (exhibits the same symptoms as Hugo’s), so will the B4 servo update help for my model year, too? Would really like to know if Hugo’s problem subsided. Just to add, I have a hard 2nd to 3rd gear flare and a hard downshift clunk to 1st. Flushed the tranny, same issue persists. Hoping this minor fix will help.

        Great Blog BTW.

        • Adam Goral

          Hi Dave, the B4 Servo engages the 3rd gear shift, so if you are having issues with 1st gear as well… the poorly designed original servo cover may be contributing to the bad shift, but it might not be the entire reason. If you’ve done a complete flush and haven’t felt any difference, that’s a bad sign. Does the hard shifting change with transmission temperature? If so, you may be looking into getting a new transmission valve body. Just don’t let it go for too long, as the hard shifting can quickly ruin a transmission completely.

          • Dave Bing

            Yes, the hard shifting emerges as the car warms up (driving more than 5 miles). When initially driving I can barely tell there’s a problem. Just a quick question about the valve body. I have another XC70 2003, no issues with that transmission. Can the valve body be swapped out? Looking to save a couple of bucks since I essentially have a parts car at my disposal. (long story).

  16. Evanson Ikua

    My 2007 S80 3.2awd has the same issues of hard shifting in the lower gears. Based in Kenya and with 150k km on the clock, mine also suffers a lot when engaging reverse while on an incline, sometimes even just a on a flat surface. The mech recently flushed the fluid but nothing has changed. I guess I’ll have him take a look at this thread.

    • Adam Goral

      If you are having issues getting into reverse you may want to check the condition of your shift linkage bushings, as well as your range switch/PNP switch/neutral safety switch for play or reasons for it to give a bad reading to the TCM.

  17. Karen

    Hello Adam … I have a 2013 Volvo XCV70. After 30 minutes highway driving then transitioning into stop and go city traffic, I experience hard shifting into first. Have just had a second “flush” done after 5,000 km and problem has not been resolved. Can you help me with the next step? Thank you for your wonderful and informative assistance.

    • Adam Goral

      Did you clear your cookies? (kidding). Because this is such a new vehicle, this sounds to me more like a software problem. Go to a Volvo dealer or authorized Volvo tech that can utilize the VIDA diagnostic system, and they may have an update for your control module. Doing so can reposition the shift points, or at least put the transmission into adaptation mode so it can figure out the issue on its own.

  18. Rick

    Hi Adam,
    i finally found info that is making sense. I just was given a 2004 C70 with 152,983 miles on it. When you shift into reverse it delays and then bang into gear. But going into P N D 4 3 L the shifting is smooth. This is my first Volvo i ever had and want to work on it myself. Please help!

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Rick, that doesn’t sound good. First step would be to a few fill and flushes on the transmission fluid, and take it to get the TCM put into ‘learn mode’ to see if it can recalibrate to something smoother. Unfortunately, if it is shifting fine in the other gears but not into reverse, it signals the trans might have a concise issue somewhere interanlly, whether it be a bearing or a valve it’s hard to say. A transmission shop would most likely be your best bet on a proper diagnosis on that, since they specialize in diagnosing issues just like this.

  19. Bob in Vancouver

    Adam – really appreciate your time. We really like our 2nd Volvo – 2005 V70 2.5T purchased new – 159,000K
    We have started to get a clunking sound in our transmission
    • Does not occur when the car is cold but after 15+ minutes when the car engine is warm
    • It started clunking on downshifting around a speed of 20-30k/hour from 2nd to 1st – then later upshifting from 1st to 2nd
    • If the car is driven gently when accelerating or decelerating, the clunking is minimal or zero
    • There is no mechanical noise.

    Action taken to date:
    • Powerflush of Transmission Fluid although the Dealer says the fluid never needs changing
    • Some months later, the Dealer checks again and suggests a Volvo rebuilt transmission for $7k
    • Software is up todate and they have discussed symptons with Volvo Tech in NJ. Dealer only wants to replace the transmission.

    The car is not driven hard, has been serviced regularly at the Dealer, is in excellent condition with no other faults. I don’t want to junk this car. HELP !!

    • Adam Goral

      Hey Bob, bad news. This is the quintessential signal of a bad valve body. The hydraulic valve solenoids that engage and disengage the gears have seals that leak over time, so it takes longer for them to fully engage. The delay is enough for a half engaged gear to bang into place. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is that each bang that is hard enough to perceive through the heavy sound and vibration dampened steel that your V70 is constructed of, is hard enough to potentially damage the transmission. Your engine is using over a hundred foot pounds of torque to wind up and swing at these components, which includes delicate valves, precisely machined beveled gears, selection forks etc. You may install a valve body (usually to the tune of over $1000) and still have a transmission failure a year down the road. If you can get it done cheaply a valve body will almost certainly smooth out your ride. The degree which the transmission has already been compromised from the current issue, I cannot say. The dealer says you never need to change fluid (and of course hasn’t in their routine service), and then they suggest a new transmission on a car that has just crested 150k miles. Interesting right?

      • Bob in Vancouver

        Thanks very much Adam – really appreciate it

        I took it yesterday to a Transmission specialist (Wilf’s in Vancouver) recommended by the Volvo Dealer. They drove for 40 miles and did experience the symptoms. Their code scan identified a problem with 120D – the Air Mass Flow sensor which they cleaned somewhat. So far I have not experienced the symptoms, but it is early days. Plan B is the valve body replacement that you suggested.

        My questions –
        1) Is it better to buy a rebuilt or an after-market or a Volvo valve body ?
        2) should I sell the car now before plan B?

        Really appreciate your advice !!!

        • Adam Goral

          If you have had it for a long time, it’s important to you, and you haven’t been hammering it around for awhile…a valve body would be a great logical step. We replaced the valve body in our Saab 9-5 event support vehicle at around 170k (same Aisin transmission). We knew the history and it hadn’t been driven too long with the transmission issue, the car recently passed 200k and it is so far so good. I highly doubt cleaning the MAF would have any effect on transmission shifting, more than likely they cleaned it and reset the computer which should smooth things out for a short while.

  20. Richard

    Hi I have a 2002 V70 se T5 and it’s faultless except lately it hesitates when warm going into D otherwise it’s fine, do you think the B4 kit and a flush would sort it,
    Also am in Liverpool England would uk europarts be able to supply the parts.

  21. bob walter

    Hello Adam, I have a 2009 V70 3.2 without all-wheel drive. This has the six speed auto. when coasting down from 35mph or so, I get a jerkyness as it feels like the clutches are sticking. I had the same issue with my 2003 V70 and we flushed the trans and used a B&G product as an additive to supposedly clean it.
    It did seem to take care of it in about 3K. Is that the same process now Is the filter internal or external on these? Car has 99K and been well-cared for. Also, has a very slight shudder when first accelerating.

  22. Christopher Bair

    Hi Adam,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I like your blog. This really helped me out a lot.
    I have a 2006 Volvo S60 with 114,000 miles which has given me virtually no transmission problems until now. Basically it has 3 issues/symptoms:

    1. When driving in heavy traffic (ranging up/down from 10-30 mph), when engaging the accelerator or letting off, there is an audible bang/knock sound. It happens when staying in (2nd) gear, and not when changing gears. Doesn’t happen in 3-5th gears

    2. When trans downshifting from 4th to 3rd gear on a downgrade (foot off the decelerator), the same bang/knock sound happens. Almost seems to me like the trans can’t make up it’s mind to downshift or not. Then it does and bang/knock!

    3. When driving on freeway at moderate speed, when I need to push on the gas to move into another lane at a higher speed (or on an upgrade), the transmission will ‘shudder and shake’ (fairly significantly) until i let off on the accelerator. then it seems to be back to normal. It seems to be mostly in 4th & 5th gears.
    Based on what I’ve read, sounds like the valve body? Your thoughts would be appreciated, as the car is now being evaluated at a Volvo specialist. I hope this post might help other Volvo S60’ers that may be experiencing the same issue. I’ll be happy to report back when I have an update.
    Thank you!

    • Christopher Bair

      After further research, I’m seeing additional information about other possible culprits?
      Motor Mounts
      Drive Axle
      Transmission Torque Mounts
      Spark Plug / Misfiring

      Your thoughts? Thank you!

    • Adam Goral

      Thanks for the kind words! This definitely sounds like an engine mount to me. Check out this article to diagnose: However, don’t let that stop you from refreshing your transmission fluid anyway! These transmissions really need regular changes to avoid the issues pointed out by other commenters in this thread.

      Other potential culprits if you don’t find an engine mount that’s obviously worn out (with that age and mileage I assume they are all getting squishy), are sub-frame bushings and suspension bushings in the control arms. All of these are built to isolate vibrations while absorbing and maintaining torque application. If there’s slop, every time you are on throttle or off throttle, the piece will move and you will get a knock or bang. We have a huge variety of engine mounts, transmission mounts (torque mounts), and bushings to refresh your Volvo and get it driving like new again. Let me know if you need any help, thanks for checking out eEuroparts

      • Christopher Bair

        Thanks Adam!
        Ok well here’s the update:
        After extensive testing..Tech determined that #2 cylinder is misfiring. Coil and/or plugs are shot. Going to DIY replace tonight and will let you know. Thought this might help other Volvo users that find this post. Will provide final update to see if this rectifies. I still think I may have motor mount issues, however hopefully the ‘shuddering’ during acceleration will be solved. The knocking in 2nd gear is probably not related to plugs/coils.
        More to come! Thanks again Adam!

          • Christopher Bair

            Final Result:

            Cylinder 2 coil replaced.
            All Spark Plugs replaced
            Trans Torque Motor Mount replaced
            Upper engine Motor Mount replaced.
            Runs like a dream! No more shift-shuddering or engine clunking!
            Thanks for your help Adam!

  23. Adam

    Hi Adam,
    My 2005 S40 T5 w/160k+ miles on it is having the same hard downshifting issues. In addition, it seems to lose acceleration power if I give it too much power to quickly. At that point, it lugs off the line and has no ‘quick burst’ on the road. Any thoughts before I take it in for inspection?


    • Adam Goral

      I think the acceleration issue and the downshifting issue are two separate things. Laggy acceleration could be a number of things, but I am looking at the electronic throttle body, as well as the ignition system. When was the last time you changed the spark plugs? Are you using the correct gasoline octane? Because this is a turbocharged engine, performance will suffer greatly with low octane gas. Fill up with premium, change the spark plugs if you haven’t, and clean the throttle body.

      Flush the fluid with a high quality synthetic transmission fluid and have the transmission control unit reset.

  24. Casey

    I have a 2003 V70 with 144K that iPhone for 10 years and 100,000 miles and have had no issues with transmission. Unfortunately, I failed to surface this vehicle (it’s an extra car that my children’s babysitter drives).

    The fluid has never been changed. Should I:

    A) drain/refill
    B) flush
    C) do nothing

    At this point, sort of thinking “if it ain’t broke…“ But, any thoughts appreciated!

    • Adam Goral

      Give it 2 or 3 drain and fills with a drive in between. The torque converter holds a lot of ATF in it which can’t be drained, so basically one fill and drain and you replace some of the fluid. Go for a drive to mix it all up, then drain again, fill it. You can stop there, or do one more, might as well do one more. It’s recommended to go to a VIDA enabled service shop at this point and reset the TCU. It’ll adapt its shift points to the new fluid if necessary and you’ll be good to go. This is a very good idea to do at this point, as 144k is about 3 times longer than what I would recommend.

  25. Robert

    I’ve had software update done . trans flush an it still clunks hard on downshift around 2nd gear . engine light is on now an sometimes gets stuck in 2nd gear witch I’m thinking limp mode . any ideas would be appreciated . 2006 Volvo 2.5 ltr Auto . turbo .

  26. Steven Brenner

    Hello Adam,
    Lots of great info here, you really seem to know your stuff.
    A friend of mine just bouught a 2006 V70 with 160,000 miles.
    Very clunky shift from 1st to 2nd. Jerky when parked and shift through gears from P to R, then again to D. No jerk through the numbered gears.
    No problems accelerating at highway speeds.
    I am considering helping her with a flush and drain and possibly the B4 kit.
    Main first question, the trans is filled well past max level and the fluid is brown, not the reddish color I usually associate with ATF. Is that normal for a Volvo? Never worked on one before. Would too much fluid cause a problem? Is the wrong fluid in there? Looks more like thin motor oil…
    Thank you,

    • Adam Goral

      Thanks for the kind words. Overfilled and brown is normal only in the sense that many Volvo owners never maintain their transmission as they should, which the Aisin hardware is not fond of. That means there are tons of cars out there with ailing gearboxes in need of attention. I would start with a pair of drain and fills, and since the B4 cover replacement is relatively easy and inexpensive it would be worth a shot. The transmission takes 7l, but there will be a considerable amount left in the torque converter when you empty it so you won’t get it all out. After you do a pair of drain and fills, and replace the little servo cover with the updated version (you may find the one installed is an update, so you could do a drain, check to see, and replace if necessary), take it to a dealer or VIDA enabled tech and have them plug in and reset the TCM to learning mode. This all will be kind of a pain to do, but not too expensive as long as you use the ROWE and not Genuine Volvo, and will give you the best shot of rejuvenating that car. Whatever you do, DO NOT wait. Driving around with a bangy gearbox will ultimately cause total failure down the road.

  27. Steven Brenner

    Thank you for your fast reply.
    Based on the postings i read i waits thinking about a couple of drain and fills and replacing that B4 kit as well.
    Its my friends car, so depending on what she decides to do, we may be ordering that kit.
    Thanks again.

  28. Daniel

    I have a 2005 xc70 fitted with the aw55 51, I’m having trouble when the transmission is up to temperature it always seams to play up in heavy stop start traffic, I have done a loads of drain and fills, and changed the lower mount witch have improved but not resolved the issue….. any ideas on what it could be and what to do next ? Thanks

  29. T. Krusi

    Hi Adam – I have a 2015 XC60 T6 which I bought at around 45K miles. It now has around 65K miles and has recently been shifting roughly. When I bought it, it was so smooth – no problems – and I loved it. Now it seems to shift roughly on accelerating until I get into the higher gears and then when slowing down, shifts rough on decelerating (seems to happen between 20-40 mph). I’ve had two oil changes done since I bought it and I doubt that there was any software updates made as I’m 6 hours away from a Volvo dealership. I’m wondering if I should trust a local transmission shop to do a flush/service? And do I need the Volvo transmission fluid you recommend? Should I just not drive it until I can get to a Volvo dealer to have it serviced? Not sure what my next step is – would appreciate any advice and help. Thank you!!

    • Adam Goral

      Honestly, while 65k is a great time to do a transmission service, it is very strange for it to be acting up so early in its life. Generally, cars exhibiting valve body and fluid related issues are well past the 10 year 100k mile mark. You don’t need to have a dealer specifically look at it, but if you are going to take it to a more independent local shop, when you call be sure to ask if they have the Volvo ‘VIDA’ software. This is what the dealer would use to plug into your TCM and be able to manipulate or update the programming. With every trans service, VIDA should be initialized to at least reset the transmission control module, allowing it to re-calibrate itself for the new conditions.

      The Aisin AWTF-80 SC Transmission in your Volvo MUST conform to the AW-1 tested specification, otherwise you may have issues. We carry a ROWE transmission fluid that carries this spec (ROWE 9006), and ROWE is an OE manufacturer so although we aren’t specifically given that proprietary information, the Genuine Volvo fluid may very well be ROWE 9006.

  30. Rey

    I have a 2001 S80. It has about 133k miles on it. It feels like it never shifts out of first gear while driving it. I’ve tried manually shifting but nothing happens when I put it in second or third. It has a very loud reving sound when im at 60mph on the highway. It idles at a 5 and stays there when im going 60mph. If I try to go faster it gets to a 5.5 and I don’t want to push it. Was wondering if you could give me some advice. This is my first volvo. I did buy it used.

    • Adam Goral

      It’s hard to diagnose what is going on over the internet, unfortunately the best advice you have is to take it to a transmission specialist that has worked on Volvos before. They will be able to tell you exactly what is wrong after an inspection and give a straight answer on what needs to be repaired.

    • Adam Goral

      Do you have any lights on the dash illuminated that might signal an issue with the transmission range sensor? Can you verify the linkage is in good shape by looking at it on top of the transmission and having someone move the shifter? The lever should move freely going into the transmission. If it doesn’t then you (luckily) might be able to get away with fixing the linkage rather than the whole transmission. If the linkage is in good shape, then check your axles with the car off the ground to make sure a CV joint isn’t broken. If all that checks out, then you most likely have a transmission failure situation.

  31. Evan

    I would like to share my experience with this transmission. I have 2002 V70 AWD with 293000km. I started experience hard shifts and flareups at around 240 000km. I changed oil first time since it suppose to be lifetime oil according to Vida. That oil was nasty. It helped a bit but next year it got worse. Then I changed the servo kit which didn’t help at all. Oil become nasty again.
    Then I found a post about worn out Linear solenoids which controls shifting pressure of transmission other solenoids. I purchased the kit from Ebay for around $250. The job of changing it looks quite difficult but after its done it doesn’t look that way. Took me 4 hours plus few Golden Pheasants beers. I didn’t do any ecu tcu flashing yet. I didn’t go through adaptive learning either.
    Now transmission shifts smoothly like never before. Only issue I have is shifting in D ir R first thing in the morning. It engages with big bang.

    • Adam Goral

      After every kind of service, the transmission ecu should be hooked up to VIDA and flashed/put into ‘learn’ mode. Otherwise the adaptable electronics will still be using the old maps disregarding any change.

  32. Ethan

    Hi Adam.
    I have a 2007 volvo s80 3.2 fwd, atm

    I get hard shifting up and down but only about after 15 minutes of driving. It shifts late sometimes and early other times. And a few times it would not shift up if I have been driving for a while until I turn it off then turn it back on. The only other problem I have besides that is a leaky vacuum air pump. Would it be my solenoids you think? Bad fluid or a busted transmission. Any input would help greatly. It has 175,xxx miles.

  33. Hi Adam, I have a 2009 Volvo c30 auto 194 k , i’m the original owner. The bang on hard ish stop ,feeling the car down shift has been going on since 90k. Brought it to the dealers attention , they told me it was normal.. never had the trans fluid changed .. when i requested trans service at shops and the dealer visits through the years , i was always told ,,its sealed and never meant to be changed.. the thump when it down shifts gets a little scary as the car accelerates a bit when it happens, nomaly have my foot on the brake and im use to it at this point.. so .. the place to start would be to change trans fluid? my mech friend has a Vida , recommendations?

    • Adam Goral

      Hi Gary, definitely have the fluid changed. Most likely multiple times, no fluid will EVER last that long, it defies physics. The lifetime fill is their way of putting a specific lifetime on the car. The dealer would love for you to give up and buy a new Volvo, they won’t accomplish that without you completely wearing yours out. Unfortunately if you’ve been driving around with this malfunction for a long time, your transmission internals have been subjected to heavy and brutal forces, every needle bearing, rod, pinion housing and gear tooth are getting hit with a small sledge hammer. Your Aisin Warner transmission takes around 7.5-8l of JWS3309 spec oil, we have ROWE 9000 ATF that fits that specification and will be far more economically priced, especially since you should be doing multiple drain and fills. If you don’t have a specific drain plug in this model (I’m almost positive you do), you can get a fluid suction extractor to suck out the old fluid and you can use a thin funnel in the trans dipstick tube to put in a new one (again if you have one).

  34. Anthony

    Hi Adam I have a question for u, I have a 2000 S80 Volvo and when I got the car it would not shift into 3rd gear but if u used the shifter u could get it to shift from 2nd to 4th. So I replaced the transmission and replaced it with one that had really low miles and this transmission does exactly the same thing? Just wondering if u may have a suggestion as to what I should do thanks for ur help .

    • Adam Goral

      Is this an automatic transmission? It sounds like it could be a Neutral Safety Switch, Gear shift range switch, PNP switch (there are a few names for it). That tells the computer what gear the car is in and if its bad the computer is just guessing.

  35. Afirhan Daud


    My year 2007 Volvo S60-T5 auto transmission is AW55-50/51SN. 5 speed . JWS3309 spec. Mileage 140,000km

    Lately the transmission emits clunking noise during downshifting coasting/slow down. The clunking noise didn’t appear during idle to driving speed / gear up shift .

    Im not ready for transmission repair in near future.

    As temporary action, which transmission additives are good? I shortlisted 3 brands :

    Lubegard Platinum
    Lucas Transmission Fix
    CRC Trans X

    Which one would you suggest?


    • Adam Goral

      I would not add any transmission additives (some can cause clogs and damage in the long run), rather I would take the car to an authorized VIDA enabled Volvo specialist and have them plug the car in. They will be able to take a look at the software, and update if needed. A software update can reprogram the shift points and allow the TCU to adapt to the wear. You can pick their brain on the particular issues you are experiencing there in person.

  36. Salvador

    Hello Adam, after I step hard on the brake my volvo s40 2007doesnt move, if I accelerate it snaps into gear violently and continues normally, this only happens when I press or step hard on the brake

  37. C70D4

    Hello Adam, I own a 2011 C70 D4 2.0 diesel 6 speed auto 48k miles.
    It drives very well in all gears and speed. Gear changes are smooth and timely but occasionally(after car has been driven for a while, well warmed up) when selecting reverse from neutral or from neutral to drive, there is a small to medium thump.
    Also very rarely when moving away from lights it seems not to have engaged the first gear so as I press the accelerator down the engine revs up but car don’t move until a good strong thump and we get going but again very rear occurrence.
    To resolve the issue car had a full gearbox oil flush where a few litres of oil was poured in and a few drained out until cleaner oil started to come back out. In total good over 10/12 litre was poured in and out. Oil that came out was very dark brown. After this car got connected to VIDA and a reset was done for the gearbox.
    Since car has been driven over a 1000 miles and issues remain or have come back. No software update been carried out as far as I know. Would you be able to give advise based on this information or recommend likely repair.

    • Daniel Schwartz

      The car should have a fault code registering if there is an transmission control issue. I would recommend that you take the car into a dealer or trans shop to have a proper diagnosis at this point as the fluid service did not change the condition. Dark colored trans fluid at 48K is very suspect and there could be clutch plate or valve body issues.

  38. NorCalTroy

    Hey guys I have a 2002 S80 t6 with the turbos. I’m having issues with my transmission as well. I can only drive in 3rd gear manual. My check engine light came on and the codes it gave me is p0700, p0751, and p0756.what does this mean? Do I need a new transmission? I need some advice. Thank u all in advance…

  39. Drackala

    Hi All…
    I have a 2003 S40 experiencing this….when the car auto downshifts from 4 to 3, there is a hesitation as if the car is in neutral, and then it suddenly shifts into 3rd with a kick.
    I have already DONE the Servo change, and fluid change…and with less than 2500 miles on it, it has started again. I guess it is time for the software update? Any details on that?

    Oh, and for the record…that servo is NOT an easy driveway install on the ’03 s40 as has been stated…unless you have tiny, TINY hands, with extra joints in them…i did eventually get it done, but it was accompanied by a fair amount of cussing, weird tool usage, and magic.

  40. Chris P.

    I purchased a 2005 Volvo S60 Turbo a couple years ago. Same old story it was driving well then not so much. It began jerking into and bucking on a regular basis until finally I was pulling away from a stoplight and I had a readout for a transmission problem on my dash and it would not shift our of third gear, which I figured to be some kind of built in safety mechanism. I had not owned a Volvo before and had only heard good things about them for years but, just my luck, I bout the one I found out later to be plagued by the transmission design problem.

    To be fair, before it had issues I loved driving it. With the AWD it stuck to the road like silly putty to a warm blanket, the engine provided crisp and peppy acceleration…it was just fun to drive. My question though, is that I found has, according to their web page, re designed this transmission from the ground up and “meticulously addressed each one of the AW55-50SN’s individual flaws with a series of upgrades that make our transmission one of the most reliable on the market.” The cost is actually more than I initially paid for the car itself and I still need to address a problem with the climate control system not activating at all which I believe to be the control panel. More specifically the temperature sensor IN the control panel.

    So, is paying around $2,500 for this transmission actually worth it? As I said I do enjoy the car, but that is a rather hefty chunk of change and it doesn’t include actually having it installed, fluid etc. Plus, I’m no stranger to seeing a great promise turn into a bad idea.

    You opinion is greatly appreciated.

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