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Troubleshooting Volvo Low Battery Warning

Volvo low battery warning may come up for several reasons, including a weak battery, BMS sensor needs to be reset, parasitic draw, and even from using too many device chargers.  A discharged battery is the most common cause of low battery warnings on Volvos.  

ESTIMATED TIME 30 min - 2 hr
DIY COST
DIFFICULTY Intermediate

This problem can affect any 2011 and newer Volvo, including XC90, S40, XC60, S60, etc.

Volvo low battery warning

In most cases, charging the battery or allowing the car to run for thirty minutes will reset the low battery warning message.

If you turn off the engine but leave the ignition on to listen to the radio or keep the lights on, you may receive a low battery warning message. As soon as you see this warning, restart the engine and keep it running for at least fifteen minutes. 

If your battery is old and no longer holding a full charge, you may also receive this warning in the morning. It usually appears when it is extremely cold or below freezing.

volvo power system service urgent

Low battery warning may stay on even after you install a new battery. In that case, you need to reset the Battery Monitor Sensor (BMS). More on this latter. 

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 Causes

volvo low battery warning

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

  • Weak Battery - If you have a battery that hasn't been changed for over seven years, the problem could be the battery itself. With an old battery, you are more likely to get a battery warning in freezing weather. In rare cases, Volvos has reported this issue with a battery that is only two years old.
  • A loose or corroded connection at the battery or other ground points can cause the low battery warning message to appear.
  • Alternator - The alternator could also be the cause here. 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 regular voltage 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) - While not a common problem, it is possible for Volvo battery warnings to come on due to faulty CEMs. Typically if the CEM is the problem, you will notice several electrical issues in addition to the battery warning. 
  • BMS Needs Reset - If your battery is new or fully charged, the Battery Monitoring System (BMS) may need reset. The BMS sensor is mounted at the negative post on the battery. Disconnect it for fifteen seconds with the engine running and reconnect. 

There are over twenty 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 a battery warning?

Deciding what to do when the Volvo battery warning comes on can be tricky. The error message will disappear if the issue is simply a partially discharged battery.

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

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

Reset BMS Sensor

Volvo BMS sensor on battery causing low battery warning needs reset

The Battery Monitoring System (BMS) is mounted on the battery's negative terminal on most 2011 and newer Volvos. 

If the battery has been tested, is fully charged, or is new, but the low battery warning comes on, follow these steps to reset the BMS sensor. 

Reset battery low warning on volvo
  1. Start the engine and let it idle in the park. A low battery warning should come up. 
  2. Pull the hood release and open the hood. 
  3. Locate the battery on the driver's side of the engine, near the back (by the firewall). Remove the battery cover. 
  4. Disconnect the BMW wire (yellow in the picture, color may vary on the car)  that connects to the BMW sensor next to the negative battery post. The ground wire (black cable, thick) needs to stay connected to the battery post. 
  5. Keep the wire disconnected from the BMS sensor for at least 10 seconds, then reconnect. 
  6. Check the instrument cluster, and the low battery warning should be reset. 

Note that the preferred method to reset the Volvo BMW sensor is with a Volvo Multi-System Scanner

Here are a few other things to try if the low battery warning remains on.

Disconnect phone chargers

volvo low battery warning due to chargers

Make sure all chargers are removed 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 thirty min and see if the Low Battery message disappears.

If you keep getting a Low Battery message at startup, you may need to replace the battery. Perform a battery test. Most auto parts stores will test your battery and charging system for free. You can also do it yourself. It's straightforward to test the charging system with a battery tester

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 recommended to bring the battery to its full capacity. 

Read Fault Codes

The next step is 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 Multi-System Scanner-specific scanner. Engine OBD-II scanners may not show any fault codes. If you need help choosing a good scanner, make sure to read our article Best Diagnostic Scanners for Volvo.   

Software updates

Your Volvo has over twenty modules. One or more of the modules in the car may be drawing excessive current. The Volvo satellite module, for example, is known to draw too much current.

Software updates are performed by the dealer and, in some cases, can fix this problem. Call your dealer and ask if there are any software updates for your particular Volvo. You will need to provide your VIN, which is located in the lower-left corner of the windshield.   

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.

 

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