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Old 11-01-2020, 09:58 PM   #1
City: Melbourne, FL
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What year volvo engine would be a safe purchase?

I had a dock neighbor with constant complaints about getting his Volvo engines serviced, cost and availability of spare parts, etc. It was about all we talked about, so I've walked away from several interesting boats just because of his bad experience.
On the other hand, I see tons of Volvo trucks on the highway and very few on the side of the road so there must be a difference between marine Volvo engines and what are moving freight down the highways today.

Sabre seems to promote Volvo engines, and will under duress, install a cummins engine instead. Both Volvo IPS and Cummins + Zeus drives are pod drives so they are similar, with the only major difference being IPS has forward facing contra-rotating props, and the ZF Zeus drive has single props facing backward.

Many of the used Sabre boats are now Volvo powered, ranging from 2014 or newer. Is that safe to buy a newer Volvo engine and would it have similar cost of operation to a Cummins at the same horsepower range?

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Old 11-01-2020, 10:34 PM   #2
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I wouldn't own a Volvo out of warranty.

I'm told Volvo is the choice of some builders as they don't collect on the invoice until the boat leaves the builder. Certainly a significant savings in the upfront cost of building boats.


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Old 11-01-2020, 10:34 PM   #3
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It has been a while since I bought a Volvo engine in a boat so circumstances may have changed, but all evidence to the contrary, but I had issues from day one with a brand new boat. The only thing that kept my boat running was that I sold boats for the dealer part time so they would take the parts I needed off a new boat so my boat would be up. Since that experience I have deliberately never bought another Volvo. I also have passed on many boats because they had Volvo power in them.

Edit: as to owning one out of warranty, mine were under warranty and I couldn’t get parts. Maybe their modis operandi is not to supply parts and the boat won’t be used so no warranty claims
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Old 11-01-2020, 10:54 PM   #4
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I dont have a lot of experience with The boat model engines but owning a trucking company we have stayed away. The word is the parts chain. I can get same day or worst case next day anything we need for cat or cummins. I hear folks waiting weeks for volvo. Perhaps there parts are all off shore. I think some popular volvo truck engines may have parts in dealer inventory but perhaps not other models.
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Old 11-01-2020, 11:26 PM   #5
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At one time, and it might still be true, Volvo sold OEM builders their motors at a pretty good discount. Same HP and less cost equals more profit for the builder so it is an easy choice for them.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:47 AM   #6
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Put me in the camp of "never Volvo".

After three Volvo engines and horrible experience with two of them, I see little reason to have one again.

Until they change their attitude about owners and getting parts, I wouldn't give them the time of the day. I'm surprised there's still OEMs that use them.

My last one was a creampuff Formula 31 PC cruiser. Quality boat, with great performance and comfort. I made the mistake of getting one with Volvos (and had two brand new drives), and there were plenty out there with Mercury engines. I just couldn't put up with the horrible Volvo issues and getting parts so I sold it. Fortunately, I sold it for what I paid, so just lost the "cost of ownership" and the commission on the sale. Miss the boat, but not the engines.

Another thing with Volvo.... is authorizes Volvo dealerships. We only have 3 in the whole county, and probably have 100 Mercruiser dealers, and one of them is a real jerk. Sure, a lot of non dealers will work on them, but still have to get parts.

My neighbor has had his boat ties up all summer, waiting for a Volvo part, and STILL doesn't have it back.

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Old 11-02-2020, 06:47 AM   #7
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If Volvo actually created the engine , you have a chance with parts , many will be at the truck dealer.

If Volvo simply repainted a purchased engine , parts may be a really big deal to obtain.

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Old 11-02-2020, 09:17 AM   #8
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I just sold a boat with a volvo. I liked the engine. Easy to service, and their use of seals as opposed to gaskets made leaks virtually non existent. (my engine was a 200 hp 1997 model. The BIG issue is the cost of parts. They are expensive. however, I found that if you had time to hunt around a bit, you didn't get stung too bad. If I liked the boat, having volvo power would not be a deterrent. Each to their own.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:33 AM   #9
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I would never own a Volvo again, of any vintage. People with Volvo’s on here will also say theirs run fine and no issues which is a good thing, but my experience was different.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:41 AM   #10
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I have a 2002 Camano with a Volvo TAMD 41p-a with 1700 hours. It's quiet and fuel efficient. Yes, parts are more expensive but it's needed little beyond routine maintenance. The only thing I had more than a one day wait for is an oil cooler, which took 4 days. Before this boat I had a 1993 Albin with a Mercruiser branded BMW tunnel bore. That engine ate a valve at 1400 hours, cause unknown. Mercruiser had basically abandoned support for that engine and it took the Mercruiser mechanic 3 months to track down parts. The boat was about 20 years old at the time. So, I would not reject a boat with a newer (less than 20 year old) Volvo if it checks all your other boxes. Have it surveyed by a factory authorized mechanic, and ask about support issues. Good luck with your search. Dave
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:47 AM   #11
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My current boat is a year 2000 with Volvo engines. I've had it six seasons and it has nearly 3000hrs.

I would not rule out another Volvo boat if everything else was exactly what I wanted, but it probably wouldn't be my first choice. The motors themselves have been great. They run well, are smooth, and are relatively easy to service. But...

The reputation for expensive and hard to get parts is well earned in my opinion. I don't have an issue with service parts like filters, etc. But for engine parts, I've had to wait as long as 3 weeks for a back-ordered part (oil cooler) to come in from Europe. And I currently have a small part for the oil filter assembly that is on back order with no eta currently. On the oil cooler, I contacted virtually every stocking parts supplier in the U.S. with no joy. And the stuff is expensive. You can readily find retail prices for Volvo parts so I'd encourage you to check things like Turbos, Exhaust Elbows and other stuff.

Volvo service people are also hard to find. That's not so much an issue for generalized service like a valve adjustment or cooling system service. Any competent diesel tech can handle that stuff. But if you have a problem with a computer and need a tech with a Vodia tool to diagnose, then things get more challenging.

Bottom line, my motors at least are good pieces of equipment and I've never heard about Volvo putting out a known stinker. But parts and service can be a challenge.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:07 AM   #12
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I would never own another (Volvo). Poor customer support, extreme difficulty accessing parts (even when only 4-5 years old), some mechanics would not work on it, and I also found parts to be expensive compared to other manufacturers. My engine, just after warranty (ended by time (years) not engine hours) experienced a total failure of the lower end due to a connecting rod cap (nut) not having been properly torgued from the factory. This finding was determined by a metallugical engineer who specializes in failure analysis, the insurance adjustor, and the repair mechanic. Each came to the same conclusion independently. Volvo blamed me for any number of things I "could" have done wrong (but in fact did not do) as to being the cause without even taking the time to investigate the issue. However, to be fair, after many hours of back and forth, me presenting several reports and all of the evidence, Volvo finally agree to pay my insurance deductible and let my insurance company pay for the rest.
Just my actual experience (oh, and by the way, a couple of other local owners of the same engine experienced similar failures). Others may have had different experiences with Volvo.
I would look at engines where parts are readily available like Ford Leman, Cummins, etc. even Yanmar.
Another comment that may be more area specific, but due to the amount of debris and floatsum in the water around here, I would not want to own IPS (especially) or any "pod like" drive system especially if the boat in question would cruise at 20+ knots where the ability to see the larger stuff floating (or partially submerged) before a collision goes down.
Nanaimo, BC
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:44 AM   #13
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What year volvo engine would be a safe purchase?

Any year would be acceptable, just make sure you thoroughly clean the engine after draining all the fluids, and use a chain commiserate to the size of the boat you intend to moor to before using your new volvo mooring anchor.
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Old 11-02-2020, 12:32 PM   #14
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I imagine all the denigrating rumors and truths about Volvo are killing the resale value of V-equipped boats - another reason not to own one, despite some owner testimonials to the contrary.
Rich Gano
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Old 11-02-2020, 01:39 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rgano View Post
I imagine all the denigrating rumors and truths about Volvo are killing the resale value of V-equipped boats - another reason not to own one, despite some owner testimonials to the contrary.
Eh, I doubt it. There are many boats where volvo is the only, or at least primary option. And volvos are not bad engines. They have the disadvantages that have been listed but, as we say all of the time, every boat is a compromise.

I would much rather have a volvo than a high horsepower Detroit 6v92TA for example. If you insist on Cat or Cummins, or even Yanmar, you're going to eliminate a lot of boats. And all of the above have known issues, like newer CATs with aftercoolers. No engine is perfect, just depends on what compromises you're willing to make.

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cummins, pod drive, sabre, volvo, zeus drives

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