Troubleshooting Volvo Low Battery Warning

Vehicle:   Volvo
Difficulty: ⚫⚫⚫⚪⚪
DIY Cost:
Est. Time: 30 min - 2 hr

Volvo low battery warning may come up for several reasons, but the most common problem is a partially discharged battery.

In most cases, charging the battery or allowing the car to stay running for 30 min will reset the low battery warning message.

Volvo low battery warning

You may get a low battery warning message when you turn off the engine but keep the ignition on to listen to the radio or when you keep the lights on.

You may also get this warning if your battery is old and is no longer holding a charge, most noticeable during freezing days when battery performance decreases.

volvo power system service urgent

The first thing you should try is to start the engine and keep it running for at least 20 minutes. 

Symptoms

  • Low Battery Warning

    • If you are getting a Low Battery message, you most likely have a battery that has been discharged, when you turn off the engine, the battery discharges but keep lights, radio, heated seats, A/C, or any accessories ON.
    • Low battery warning also comes on in the winter if you have an over five-year-old battery.
    • 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."
  • Charging System Fault

    • 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.

Common Problems

Here is a list of the most common issues that trigger the 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 a battery warning in extremely cold weather. In rare cases, Volvos has reported this issue with a battery that is only two years old.
  • Loose Contact - A loose or corroded connection at the battery or any of the ground points can trigger a 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 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.
  • Defective Central Electronic Module (CEM).

There are over 20 modules installed in your Volvo, and anyone 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 a 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 disappears.

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 a 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.

Drive the car for at least 30 min and see if the Low Battery message disappears. If you keep getting a 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 note a Low Battery warning and 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 to bring the battery to its full capacity. 

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 battery's voltage 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. You can also visit your local parts store as most auto parts stores such as Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, PepBoys, O'Reilly Auto Parts, many of which will perform a charging system test free of charge.

Read Fault Codes

 

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

To read the Volvo CEM module, you will need a Volvo specific scanner. Generic OBD-II scanner may not show any fault codes. 

 

Software updates

Your Volvo has over 20 modules. One or more of the modules in the car may be drawing excessive current. For example, the 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, dashboard, lights consume power from the battery when the engine is off. To prevent the battery, your Volvo may turn off on its own. This error message is likely to come up more often if:
- your only do short trips,
- during cold weather,
- your Volvo battery is old.

Which Volvo models may have this problem?

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

 

By YOUCANIC Automotive Experts
Nov 2020

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