Troubleshooting Volvo Low Battery Warning

Volvo low battery warning light means that the battery is partially discharged. In most cases, restarting the car will charge the battery and reset the low battery warning message.

For example, you may get this message when you turn off the engine but keep ignition on to listen to the radio. You may also get this warning if your battery is old and no longer holding a charge or during extremely cold winter days when battery performance decreases. 

If your Volvo doesn't start, you will have to use a jump starter to start the engine. See instructions on how to jump start a Volvo

Low Battery

Volvo low battery warning

  

If you are getting Low Battery message you most likely have a battery that has discharged. The battery discharges when you turn off the engine but keep lights, radio, heated seats, A/C, or any accessories ON.

Low battery warning also comes on in the winter if you have a battery that is over five years old. 

This error message may also come if the car was parked for a few days. If you leave your Volvo parked for a long time use a battery maintainer to charge your Volvo battery

In addition to the low battery warning on some Volvo models you may see "Low battery power save mode" or " Low charge, will soon enter power save mode" or "power safe mode". 

The next time you start the car the error message may still be there. Drive your Volvo for at least 30 minutes and the error message should go away. If it doesn't follow the troubleshooting steps below.Charging System Fault

volvo power system service urgent

If there is a charging problem with your Volvo you are more likely to get Charging Fault Stop Safely or Power System Service Urgent error message on the instrument cluster.

This could be due to:

  • bad alternator,
  • bad battery,
  • the voltage regulator
  • defective Central Electronic Module (CEM).

Common Causes

Here is a list of the most common issues that trigger Volvo battery warning on the instrument panel. 

  • Battery Age - If you have a battery that hasn't been changed for over 7 years, the problem could be the battery itself. With an old battery, you are more likely to get battery warning in extremely cold weather. In rare cases, Volvos with a battery that is only two years old, have reported this issue.  
  • Loose Contact - A loose or corroded connection at the battery or any of the ground points can trigger low battery warning message. 
  • Alternator - The alternator could be the culprit here as well. If the alternator is not charging the car battery properly your Volvo battery will not get charged triggering a dashboard warning message. 
  • Voltage Regulator - The alternator has a voltage regular build in that helps keep the voltage in the 12.5 - 14 volt range when the car is running. Voltage regulators can fail which in return triggers error codes such as Charging Fault Stop or Power System 
  • Excessive Battery Drain - Another problem that can trigger battery warning on Volvo cars are modules that draw current even when the car is turned off. For example, the satellite receiver may draw excessive power when the engine is off. Volvo issued a TSB for this issue. Have the dealer diagnose the problem and if necessary update the satellite module software to fix the problem. 

There are over 20 modules installed in your Volvo, and any one of them can drain the battery when the car is parked. Call your Volvo dealer and check if there are any open recalls or TSBs. In most cases, such repairs will be free of charge to you. If there are none for your car, check for a parasitic draw yourself. 

What to do when you get battery warning? 

Deciding what to do when Volvo battery warning comes on can be tricky. If the issue is simply a partially discharged battery, continuing to drive will help the battery recharge and the error message disappear.

On the other hand, if the battery charging system is not working, you may be able to drive another 10 or 20 minutes before your car shuts off.

Here are a few things that you can try especially if you are getting Low Battery warning. 

Disconnect phone chargers

volvo low battery warning due to chargers

Make sure you remove all chargers from the cigarette outlet. Auxiliary outlets draw current from the battery. Keeping chargers and adapters plugged into the cigarette outlet can draw excessive current from the battery especially with the engine off.

Drive the car for at least 30 min and see if the Low Battery message disappears. If you keep getting Low Battery message at startup, you may need to change your Volvo battery.

 

Charge the battery

charge volvo battery to get rid of low battery warning

If you got Low Battery warning and you have a relatively new battery, try charging the battery. The best method to charge a Volvo battery is to use a smart trickle charger and connect it to the jump starting terminals.

While charing a Volvo battery with a trickle charger can take a few hours, it is the recommended method as it brings the battery to its full capacity. Follow these instructions to learn how to charge a Volvo battery. You can also take a long trip and that will fully charge your Volvo battery as well. 

Test Charging System

test volvo battery as it can be the cause of low battery warning

The most basic test you can do is to use a multimeter and check the voltage at the battery when the car is running. The voltage should be in the 13 to 14.5-volt range. To get a better picture of your Volvo's alternator and battery perform a charging system test.

You can do this yourself as it is a simple test but will need a Charging System Analyzer. Follow this guide to learn how to test charging system yourself. You can also go to your local parts store as most auto parts stores such as Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, PepBoys, O'Reilly Auto Parts will perform a charging system test free of charge. 

Read CEM Codes

Video file

The next step would be to use a diagnostic scanner to read fault codes from the Central Electronics Module (CEM). A fault code and a short description of the problem will be stored in this module when charging error exists.

To read Volvo CEM module you will need a Volvo specific scanner such as iCarsoft for Volvo. To learn more about Volvo scanners, read our article choosing the Best OBD2 scanners for Volvo

Software updates

Your Volvo has over 20 modules. One or more of the modules in the car may be drawing excessive current. For example, Volvo satellite module is known to cause an excessive current draw.

Software updates by the dealer can fix this problem. Call your dealer and ask if there are any software updates for your particular Volvo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Volvo system will shut down in 2 minutes error? 

This error message comes up if you turn off the engine but leave on the key. All the accessories, dashbaord, lights consume power from the battery when the engien is off. To prevent the battery your Volvo may turn off on its own. This error message is likly to come up more often if:
- your only do short trips,
- during cold weather,
- your Volvo battery is old. 

Which Volvo models have this problem? 

Any Volvo from early 2000 to present. While the older Volvos (850 200 700 900) would simply turn on the battery light, the newer models will also display a warning message. This includes models such as Volvo S60, V60, XC60, XC70, V70, S80, C70, C30, S40, V50, XC90, S70, V40.

 

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