2023 Volvo C40 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Cheap structural finishes, problems with a recurring knocking rattle, and tire issues are among the top complaints to the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

2023 is the second model year for Volvo’s first ever “pure electric only” car. The automaker says it has a “pure heart in a daring body,” and urges owners to “immerse” themselves in “smart features and enabling tech.” It’s not a cheap car, but owners are complaining about cheap finishes, including plastic cup holders that catch on fire. Many others are experiencing vibrations, clicking noises, and what is commonly called a knocking rattle. There are also widespread problems with faulty Pirelli tires. For some, there’s a big question mark about how pure, caring, and smart this car really is!

Most Common problems with the 2023 Volvo C40

Volvo has made a major sustainability commitment to electrify its full range of vehicles by 2030. Nobody can say that this isn’t a fantastic commitment. But many customers are saying that it seems to be at the expense of general quality.

While the 2023 Volvo C40 has been generally well received, there’s no doubt that it has its problems.

Early consumer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are varied, with owners drawing attention to problems linked to the powertrain, structure, suspension, and tires of the car. Cheap structural finishes and a widespread knocking rattle are attracting the most attention, not only in NHTSA complaints, but on other platforms too.

Additionally, the 2023 C40 is also implicated in 2 recalls. One relates to a diagnostic error in the Brake Control Module 2 (BCM2). This can cause a loss of the Antilock Brake System, Electronic Stability Control, and traction control. Essentially a software problem, it may reduce brake support functions and, in this way, increase the risk of a crash. In January 2023, Volvo stated that the 27,457 vehicles affected – including the 2023 C40 – are entitled to an over-the-air BCM2 software free update.

The other recall, released on March 22, 2023, relates to a false warning message for the vehicle’s emergency call system. This can prevent the detection of actual e-call system failure, “which could delay an emergency response during a crash, increasing the risk of injury.” This is also a software issue.

2023 Volvo C40 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Fuel/propulsion System
Lane Departure: Assist

Clicking and Knocking Rattle Problems

A complaint by a 2023 Volvo C40 owner to the NHTSA states simply that there is a “mechanical knocking sound under acceleration.” It also states, with reference to a forum thread, that the “issue appears to affect other vehicles of the same model.”

The “knocking rattle” as some call it, is causing a lot of concern.

Beginning of a Forum Thread

In November 2022, a 2023 C40 owner started the forum thread, stating that he’d “noticed an audible rapid clicking noise.” It started when he was leaving a stoplight on a major highway. And it seemed to be coming from the front end of the car at maximum acceleration. He said that it “sounded similar to a piece of heavy plastic flapping rapidly.” He asked for input from other members, which he got. He also continued to report his own experience.

He states that after the dealer had had the car for 3 days in January 2023, they said they were able to replicate it. Then they changed their minds, saying that the noise was normal for a new drivetrain. “I don’t really believe that. I had a Tesla Model 3 for 3 years before the C40 and never heard anything similar. It appears to only be happening under full acceleration and when the weather is below 40 degrees F. They did not indicate it was a symptom of some kind of catastrophic failure.”

Then, a month later the dealer said that both front axles needed to be replaced. But the parts were on backorder. A month later only 2 axles had arrived. At this point, he was ready to invoke New Jersey’s lemon law. In March, the dealer provided a gas XC40 as a loaner. “Stunningly, the same clicking/grinding/knocking issue is happening on the loaner! It’s a brand new 2023 Plus model – still with the window stickers.”

“Seems like there is a design or manufacturing defect with these units. I am encouraged that a few people here have said the issue went away after the replacement. I hope I get the same results.”

Other Similar Experiences

While there are too many to quote in full, here are a few excerpts.

Dealer Acknowledges a “Known Problem”

An owner from Canada experienced “something similar in colder weather and after I put snow tires on. Quite loud clicking/grinding noise which disappeared as soon as I stopped accelerating. I assumed it was the traction control kicking in. I also have the ~100km/h vibration, and this is certainly different, if you were experiencing the same clicking/grinding I did.

A couple of months later, the same owner reported that the dealer had “acknowledged that the noise ‘is a problem.’ They acknowledged that this is a problem in my car, and that it’s a known problem for C40s.” But the dealer didn’t have a fix.

“To go back to the rapid clicking, my concerns are safety and long term. Is this a symptom of a problem which will cost big money when out of warranty?”

Could the Problem be Electrical?

“My version of the rapid clicking could almost be electrical, like the noise made by contacts in an electric motor as electricity arcs. It doesn’t feel mechanical and isn’t getting worse, so I’m not too concerned nine months into a four year warranty. I’m happy to sit back and read what other people are doing.”

Dealers Refuse to Help

“My early 2023 Twin Ultimate started to have the clicking noise in the front end. The dealer claimed to not be able to replicate the issue but at the same time claimed the noise was normal. Kind of a head-scratcher if you ask me.

“I reached out to Volvo Customer Care, and after much back and forth, they refused to do anything unless there was a sign of motor failure.”

Another owner reports that “the GM literally told me ‘I felt the vibration you’re talking about, and then (I) drove our other C40. It did the same thing. It’s normal for them. If it is something you decide you can’t live with, you can do pretty good right now selling it.’

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Structural Issus

The 2023 Volvo C40 isn’t a cheap car, but owners are complaining about very cheap finishes and various structural issues.

One owner states in an NHTSA complaint that even though the hood indicates it is latched, “it only partially latches then while driving it will begin to vibrate violently.”

Another NHTSA complaint describes how the “cup holder sparked and started burning” the day after buying the C40. It appears that “the sun reflected on a plastic water bottle placed in the cup holder, and the water bottle then reacted to the cup holder material and began smoking.” The water bottle was provided by the dealership at the time of purchase! Worse still, the same thing happened two more times. The owner, who has a video of the cup holder burning, contacted Volvo, and was told that they don’t have “a way to cure the defect.” Instead, they “advised they needed to check with engineers.”

Another owner reports the same experience on Edmunds. “The car drives well but is made very cheaply. The plastic cup holder/center console started to smoke and burn from a water bottle sitting in (the) cup holder.” The window was down while the C40 was charging. He smelled” melting plastic and noticed the smoke.” It has happened twice now but Volvo told me they can’t refund me because it’s due to outside influences (sun, and bottled water they gave me at dealership). It’s not the customer service or quality I expected from Volvo. The C40 is beautiful and it drives well, but for 60k+ I expected a more quality product. Maybe that’s my fault.” Giving the car three out of five stars, he questions how a C40 cup holder and center console can be “combustible in direct sunlight due to a plastic bottle of water.”

Tire Problems

The owner of a 2023 C40 from Ohio states in an NHTSA complaint that a Pirelli Scorpion tire developed a bulge in the sidewall due to a manufacturer defect when the vehicle, and the tire, were less than two months old. The complaint states that the defect “led to a blowout while driving at highway speeds.” It also states that there hadn’t been “any curb rash,” and the tires had “never caught a corner of a pothole, or any other damage.”

A bit of research by the owner revealed that “this specific problem seems to be a recurring issue with Pirelli Scorpion tires on C40s and XC40s.” And, according to consumers, “Volvo has done nothing to rectify this dangerous issue involving the fitting of their vehicles with faulty Pirelli tires despite being notified of the problems and potential risks.”

The rim of his rear passenger tire was damaged and cost him $410 for replacement because “it was not warrantied by either Volvo or Pirelli.” While he was able to get a replacement via a Volvo dealership in Cincinnati East, the dealership where he bought the vehicle couldn’t help. “They could not order the replacement tire due to a national backorder.” The implication is that it is, indeed, a Pirelli tire problem.

There is a very similar NHTSA complaint about the 2022 Volvo XC40 Pirelli tires. In this case, Volvo did replace the damaged tire.

What to do if your C40 is a lemon? Your Lemon Law Rights

If you think your 2023 Volvo C40 could be a lemon, it’s not a good idea to accept this as your fate. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace vehicles, or pay cash settlements to thousands of owners. And the law makes the manufacturer, in this case, Volvo, pay the legal fees.

Lemberg Law has many years of experience dealing with vehicle lemons and we’ll happily assess your problems free of charge. All you have to do is call our Helpline or fill in a contact form.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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