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XC70 overheating/burning of drivers seat from warmer??


I was wondering if anyone has experienced anything similar to what I did today where I turned on the seat warmer of my 2004 XC70 (bought new) and I smelled a burning electrical/chemical smell, then within moments I felt my leg burning. I turned off the seat warmer and my seat remained scorching. I completed my short drive to drop my son off at school, windows open and left leg off of the seat, and when parked realized that the mechanism had caught fire and cinged a 2" burn mark on my seat as well as puckered the surrounding area of my leather seats. The smell remains to remind me of this very scary drive which could have been simply tragic.
Please let me know if anyone, in any model Volvo has experienced something similar. I am curious how Volvo handled it and if there is a trend in the seat warmer models experiencing this. Thank you - Drive safely everyone!


  • Melissa,

    We also have a 2004 XC70 we purchased new and had the exact same experience within the past few weeks. We are just beginning our research, like you, to see if this an isolated issue or if it is common occurrence. Unfortunately, in less than 10 minutes of searching the web, it seems to be a common occurrence. We caught it fairly quickly and have a small burn-hole in the seat. But, none-the-less, are concerned about what else could happen. It appears from our research some cars have caught on fire as a result of the seat heater.

    I'm looking forward to your reply, hoping to see what you've discovered since your 10/11/2012 posting.
  • So pleased that the damage was minor and most importantly that no one was hurt. I contacted my local Volvo dealership & they immediately determined that they would pay for the replacement of the heating element & seat cover which they have already performed. Immediately, as soon as they saw the damage, management said "I've seen this before." Sadly, there seems to be an established trend of defect. There are no recalls on our car and therefore for repair I would contact the dealership but there is the underlying safety issue which this obviously poses to us and others. If you care to speak with me about experiences, you may contact me directly 860-205-2966. Best of luck to you - keep me posted. Stay safe!! Melissa
  • I just had the same thing in my 2001 Volvo V70 that i bought new 11+ years ago. Fortunately, mine didnt burn through the seat though now i realize it probably could have. I timed it and it took less than 2 minutes to go from freezing cold to burning hot. For about 3 months i just turned it off when it got too hot. I didnt realize how dangerous it was and didnt want to spend the money to fix it. But then one day i decide to google it and saw Melissa's post and few others like it. After talking to Melissa --coincidently, i am also in Connecticut. I took it to my local Volvo dealer (Secor's) and they didnt acknowledge seeing this problem before and didnt seem to take it too seriously. I told them i had researched it and that although there is no recall, Volvo is making the repair. they checked it out, identified the parts needed, sent me home saying they would call volvo and see what they said. I was prepared for a fight but they must have gotten a pretty serious response from Volvo because they called me before i even got home saying i needed to come back to have the heater disabled and that Volvo would would cover the repairs. They ended up replacing the entire bottom of the seat (leather and all) which is great because after 11+ years, the foam was pretty tired and I think it had probably melted because the area around the hot spot felt lower then the rest of the seat. Anyway, while installing new seat, they found that the connector to the airbag was brittle. I dont know if this was related to the extreme heat but i expect it was because they replaced the airbag the too. I think it hasn't been a bigger publicity thing because most people probably just stop using the seat heater or turn it off when it gets too hot like I did without realizing how dangerous it could be. Obviously Volvo wants to make the repairs quietly on a case by case and not issue a recall because it is an expensive fix for them.
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