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Volvo Cars is recalling 26,000 cars worldwide due to faulty software that causes engine problems.

The recall affects 2008-2010 models of the S80, V70, XC60, XC70 and S80L (sold only in China), which are equipped with the T6 six cylinder, turbocharged engine.

Spokeswoman Maria Bohlin said the problem centred on an electronic module which under certain circumstances does not work as it should. The engine does not start or just stops after 100 metres.

Customers are being sent letters asking them to take cars to dealers for a software update. Of the 26,000 cars to be recalled, 12,000 are in the United States where the engine is most common.