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I have a 2006 XC90 with 118k miles on it. I purchased it recently, used, with over 100k miles. When I punch it the transmission down-shift makes a huge thunk, and it seems to be getting worse - either it down-shifts more or I'm noticing more of a think when it does. It has been pretty hot out here in Michigan, so that may or may not have anything to do with it.

So the first thing I'd normally do is check the ATF level, however apparently the '06 XC90, or at least mine with the V8, doesn't have a dipstick. The dealer says there isn't one and that the transmission has no regularly scheduled maintenance. Forum searches tell me that some people have very hidden dipsticks, and some people don't have any at all. I appear to be one of the ones that doesn't have one. I must, however, have some fill/check plug somewhere right?? Its tight in there, but I've checked the whole top of the trans the best I could and sure can't find anything.

Anyone know how I might go about checking the level on my trans? Once I can find that I can follow the change procedures I've found on this forum.

Or.. is this a normal thing to have happen in an XC90? This car overall is a lot less polished than what I'm used to, so maybe I'm overly sensitive (it IS a big thunk though, my 3 year old thought we hit something).

Thanks! Of course, I'm headed on a huge trip this weeked. Hope it'll be ok... I tend to be paranoid when I think something might be wrong.
 

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In general terms, I'd say your looking at a software or sensor issue. The whole drivetrain is now computer controlled.

My only experience with this is may daily driver (Jeep Grand Cherokee) and it has it's issues from time to time. Most of these things are corrected with a re-programming. My latest poor upshift condition was corrected with a new TPS (throttle position sensor). This is a key reference for the gearbox - who would have thought?

More and more new vehicles have dipstickless automatic gearboxes. The process to change fluid is locked down and becomes a dealer serviceable only job.

Eventually your hood will be sealed with a warning sticker saying "no user serviceable parts inside".
 

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@arrkerr: I have a same car XC90 V8, same year 2006 and exact symptoms like yours. Have you found the solution to the problem? Please let me know before I go to the dealer.
 

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Guys recommend you you take it to a Volvo service center and have the guys update the software in the transmission. Over time, wear and tear they get out of sync. Also make it a point to find out if it has one of the problem transmission types that were used in the earlier models. May want to check front CV Joints.
 

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You could try to get under the car and also inspect the transmission mounts. If they are messed up he normal shifting vibration could feel wrong and make a sound.
Otherwise, it could definitely be a sensor problem because the whole transmission is reliant on the speed and rpm sensors.
The trans fluid in these cars is not designed to be replaced but definitely look for signs of leakage.
 
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