Tires on the Volvo XC90 are important. Because this is an AWD vehicle, it’s important to rotate them on-schedule to ensure even wear on the treads*. There is some allowable difference between front and rear treadwear, but it’s important that you have the same size+wear of tire on the front and the same for the back. So if you have to replace one front tire, you should replace them both and if you have to replace one rear tire, you should replace the both.
From what I gather on forums and from talking to various mechanics, tire size between front and back used to be an issue on older AWD systems, but the modern AOC systems only require the same tire size across an axle, not from front to back.
That was the answer I got when I called a Volvo dealership to enquirer if I needed to buy two tires, or four, based on the amount of wear on the tires when I bought the car. I ended up buying four new tires just to ensure all were the same size. I also bought from Costco because they have a good warranty program and offer free rotations.
Proper inflation of your tires is important as well. Check your manual, or flip open your gas filler door for info on proper inflation.
Winter Tires For Your XC90
Depending on where you live, winter tires (also referred to as snow tires) may be necessary. Where I live, snow tires are a good idea in theory, but there’s no guarantee that there will be snow on the ground for the entire season. So what happens is you get a ton of people driving around on dry roads in winter, wearing down their expensive winter tires that were made for snow and ice.
On the bright side, there may be some insurance savings associated with snow tires. Call your insurance carrier to see if they offer any kind of savings for having snow tires on your car in winter. Obviously if you live in an area where it doesn’t snow, there’s no need to make this call.
My winter tires are currently Gislaved Nord Frost 235/65R17 mounted on a set of rims that I keep specifically for winter use. I got a good deal on mine through a local website where you can sell just about anything, but there are other options. I bought them used, but they had only been used for a total of 6 winter months on an XC60. They were already set on a set of new Genuine Volvo rims that had been bought with the Gislaved winter tires and only used during the Winter on the previous owner’s XC60. So both rims and tires were used for 6 months.
Big box stores like Costco and BJ’s have decent deals on winter tires and may even offer changeover and storage services for your tires. If you get a spare set of rims+Winter tires, all you really need is a place to swap the tires and a place to store the ones you’re not using.
In some areas, you can have studded tires. In others, they are against the law to use. Know the law before you jump at pair with studs. Also, where I live, there is an insurance discount for car owners who have Winter tires mounted on their car. It’s a nominal savings, but it’s something.
Note: I’m a big fan of Firestone/Bridgestone tires on my cars. I’ve had very good results with them on both Volvos that I’ve owned, and it may be an idea to check out Brigestone’s Blizzak winter tires.
*If you’re on this page and you DON’T have a 2004 XC90, you may have an all-new XC90 and are wondering about tire rotation. Volvo does not recommend rotation.