Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start?

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Production of the Volvo XC90 started in 2002 and has been going strong since, with the car finally in its second generation.

Being a 5 door sports utility vehicle, you can expect to face issues late into the car’s lifecycle.

While small annoyances are usually ignored, major issues that can halt the car from turning on need to be addressed and brought to light.

Many owners have faced issues that had them ask, why won’t my Volvo XC90 start?

These issues are usually due to faulty components and some factors that are not in your control.

  1. Battery Problems
  2. Starter Issues
  3. Bad Weather Conditions
  4. Faulty Alternator
  5. Fuel System Issues

If you are struggling to turn on your SUV, you might have the above issues, in which case, you are in the right place.

I will talk about all of these problems and how you should go about fixing them.

What Would Cause A Volvo XC90 To Not Start?

Why is your Volvo XC90 struggling to start? Find the issues to fix

Lack of maintenance can easily cause the components of your car to break down slowly.

Sometimes, these components have a very small life and will give up on you.

Let’s find out them in more details.

1: Battery Problems

Battery-related issues are a dime a dozen. This is because many people do not know that the battery needs to retain an ample amount of charge to turn on the car.

In some cases, the battery of the Volvo XC90 is unable to retain its charge. As a result, it cannot supply the rest of the car with the power it needs to turn on.

While I will discuss those later in the article, I should also talk about other battery problems.

You can also deal with corroded terminals as well as loose wiring. These are relatively easy fixes but can cause great issues for the SUV.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Look for loose, frayed, or corroded wires near the battery. If you spot any, you will have to replace them for the car to work.
  • If your battery’s terminals have been corroded, you must get them cleaned and take measures to prevent them from getting.
  • Conduct a voltage test; if the battery is giving out less than 12 volts, you will have to get the charge back up.
  • You can do this by getting the car jumpstarted.
  • If a jumpstart does not work, then you have no choice but to get the car’s battery replaced.

2: Starter Issues

Once you turn the key to your Volvo XC90, many different components have to work together to get the car up and running.

The engine usually does the major brunt of the work, but what gets the engine started? The answer to this is the starter motor.

Moreover, the starting system comprises many smaller parts then first moved by the starter motor.

The starter motor’s rotation eventually gets the engine moving, so it is safe to say that if the starter motor is damaged in any way, your engine will not be able to turn on.

Starter motors, in general, will wear out eventually, but this is anything but sudden.

You will get a lot of warning signs before this happens, such as smoke and grinding noises before the starter motor gives out.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Check the surrounds of the starter motor to see if you can find the cause of the issue of why the motor became defective.
  • Once you have found the issue and had it fixed but still see that your starter motor is not working, you should take it out of the Volvo XC90.
  • After you have removed the starter motor, you should try turning it on outside the car.
  • If it works, then your problem is not with the starter motor. If it does not start to spin, then your starter motor is defective.
  • Get the starter motor replaced with a new one rather than getting it fixed. This should resolve all of the issues.

3: Bad Weather Conditions

Many people do not know the effects of cold weather on their Volvo XC90.

No one wants to deal with weather conditions that prevent their car from turning on, but sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if you live in the states’ colder areas.

While you can take measures to mitigate the cold, you are often left at the mercy of Mother Nature.

It starts by preventing the battery from operating at full capacity and continues to stop the spark plugs from working either.

Eventually, you will not be able to turn on your SUV simply because the engine is so cold it cannot heat up and start.

Apart from all this, you may also deal with thick oil in the car, which can cause problems.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If you are caught outside in cold weather, you should turn off all your extra gadgets and lights, so the engine gets the battery’s power.
  • Keep the engine on before you attempt to move the car. This will allow the engine to gain enough heat to run efficiently.
  • Try to keep your Volvo XC90 inside and away from the cold so that issues like this do not occur.
  • Make sure that the oil does not thicken up. If it has, you will have to get it flushed and replaced with a new batch of oil.

4: Faulty Alternator

I have already talked about battery-related issues, but the alternator is closely linked to the battery, so you should also ensure that it is properly working.

The alternator has a single objective; charge the battery when the Volvo XC90 is up and running.

If your alternator is defective, you will not be able to charge the battery. This will result in many of the issues I have discussed above coming to life.

Alternator issues are generally very hard to find out as you have to inspect your battery’s health and charge time across multiple jumps to conclude that the alternator is the problem.

Many people do not do this, assume that the battery is the problem, and end up getting it replaced.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Start by taking notes on how long your battery can retain its charge after a jumpstart. It should be able to go on longer than a day. Any less means that you have a bad alternator.
  • Inspect the alternator and its area for any loose wires and leaks. You will have to fix them before you can continue getting the alternator back to 100%.
  • Once all other problems have been resolved, you should take the Volvo XC90 to a mechanic and have the alternator checked out.
  • You can opt to get the alternator fixed, but you are better off getting an entirely new one.

5: Fuel System Issues

The most common issue you can face with the fuel system is leaks or blockages.

Many newer drivers make the mistake of not filling their fuel tanks up. This causes the Volvo XC90 to run on fumes for some time and prevents it from starting the next time.

More experienced drivers will not fall victim to this issue, but depending on their SUV, they can have other fuel-related issues, especially if they do not carry out regular maintenance.

If you are unlucky or your car is at the end of its lifetime, you may also be dealing with component issues.

The fuel pumps and fuel injectors are the most common parts of the fuel system that can cause faults.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Visit the nearest gas station if you are low on fuel. A full tank of fuel should get the car started.
  • Check the fuel pipes and make sure there are no leaks. You should patch up any leaks that you see.
  • Clean out and replace the fuel filters, as they may be holding back a lot of contaminants and blockage.
  • If your fuel system is still causing trouble, you need to visit a mechanic as soon as possible, as chances are you have a defective component.
  • A mechanic can attempt to fix the broken component, but you are probably better off getting the component replaced with a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start With New Battery?

Check to see if the battery of the Volvo XC90 has been installed correctly. Also, make sure all the wires are properly connected.

If your SUV is still not turning on, you likely have issues in other parts of it.

They could likely be found in the ignition system, or the fuel system so has those checked out by a mechanic.

Q2. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start Even With A Jump?

Battery-related issues are usually solved via a jump. If your jump did not work, it is probably because the battery is not the issue or because it was not done right.

Make sure that you have hooked up all the cables correctly. If everything is fine, it is likely that the battery is completely dead and needs to be replaced.

Q3. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start But Lights Work?

A low-charged battery can turn on the lights. The same cannot be said of the engine because it requires much more power to start, which it simply cannot get.

To fix the issue, you should have your battery jumpstarted. Additionally, you could get the entire battery replaced to solve the issue.

Q4. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start But Cranks?

Cranking means that your electrical system, ignition, and starting systems are working as they should. The likely issue is within the fuel system.

You may not have enough fuel, or there might be a faulty component in the fuel system. This may prevent the Volvo XC90 from getting the fuel it needs to start.

Q5. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start Just Clicks?

More often than not, this is usually caused by a low battery or a poor connection between it and the starter.

Alternatively, this could also be due to issues with the cables or the battery’s terminals.

Corrosion can also weaken the link with the battery, making it more difficult for the engine to start.

Q6. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start In The Cold Weather?

As discussed in this article, you can face many issues due to the cold weather. This is because of the effect it can have on the battery and the spark plugs.

Other issues also occur with the oil and engine, so ensure your Volvo XC90 is kept as warm as possible.

Q7. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start After I Get Gas?

Also discussed in this article, if you get a full tank of gas, you need to make sure all of it is reaching the engine.

Clear out any blocks and patch up any leaks. You should also make sure that all the components are working perfectly.

Q8. Why Won’t My Volvo XC90 Start But Radio Works?

Turning on the radio is almost similar to the lights. The ignition needs to be set a certain way, and the battery does not need to give out much power.

You are either facing a low-charged battery or issues with the ignition system. You can get this fixed via a jumpstart, getting the battery replaced, or having the ignition system repaired.

Related: What Are The Worst Years For The Volvo XC90?


While the Volvo XC90 may not be completely free from issues, it is still a quality car that you should consider buying if you are in the market for a mid-sized SUV.

With over two decades of models, you will be able to find yourself the best model that caters to your exact needs.

If you are even unfortunate enough to ask, “Why won’t my Volvo XC90 start?” you will be able to figure out why this is the case and take the necessary steps to get it fixed.