Volvo MD 2030 Engine Failure - Lack of Support - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-04-2008 Thread Starter
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Thumbs down Volvo MD 2030 Engine Failure - Lack of Support

Approximately 2 weeks ago, my 2004 Volvo MD2030D engine (I have had since new) suffered a complete failure and requires either a replacement or a rebuild. The engine has about 750 hours on it. It has been maintained to a very high standard (oil and filter changed at least as often as the owner's manual states) and all parts used have been OEM. The oil level is checked religiously prior to each use and the engine has never been operated with a low oil level. As a matter of fact, the engine did not have any oil leaks, nor did it show any evidence of using oil, and prior to the failure, it ran quite smoothly. I have never experienced anything getting wrapped around the prop, etc.

The engine has been examined by the mechanic working on it, as well as an independent technical expert hired by my insurance carrier to determine the cause of failure. They agree on the cause. I have sent their information (as well as Volvo's theory of what happened) to another mechanic, complete with photos, and he states: "I'd have to agree with the insurance summary".

The report I received from the independent technical expert is as follows:
"Bottom end of failed connecting rod and bearing shows evidence of mechanical deformation and grinding due to pounding of the connecting rod on the crankshaft during operation. The bearing land on the connecting rod is not blued from extreme heat, which would have occurred had the bearing been starved of oil. The connecting rod did heat up as a consequence of pounding and failure of the hydrodynamic oil film, which resulted in lubricating oil 'cooking' onto the external surfaces causing the discoloration. The other rods and bearings show no evidence of oil starvation. The mechanic who disassembled the engine reported that he inspected the main bearings and found them to be undamaged.

The bearing cap shows evidence that the nut on the left was loose and came adrift prior to the failure as lubricating oil has cooked onto the surface where the nut would contact the bearing cap. The nut on the right side remained securely in place as the contact surface is clean. When the nut loosened, the normal bearing shape and clearance was disrupted causing failure of the oil film resulting in metal to metal contact. Once again, no bluing of the clean surface is evident.

The crankpin for #1 cylinder shows evidence of galling whereby metal to metal contact between the bearing and pin occurred as a result of the hydrodynamic oil film failing due to the bearing cap loosening. The crankshaft shows no bluing.

In my opinion, the engine failure is consistent with loosening of the connecting rod nut as demonstrated above."

Both the mechanic and the insurance technical expert agree that the cause of failure is that one of the nuts on the connecting rod for cylinder #1 came off which resulted in the engine failure. They both feel that this is the result of faulty workmanship or improper torquing of the nut during engine assembly.

I submitted all of this information to the Technical Support Manager for Volvo Penta Canada. He has come to a completely different conclusion. He states that:
"Both the crankshaft and connecting rod are blue/black. The
only reason for this to occur is that the rod was either overloaded or
starved for oil and the rod bearing failed. If the rod nuts had just
come loose there would no signs of the blue/black colour.

The rod bearing failure would have been caused by a loss of oil or a
possible overloading. The top of the bearing becomes hammered from the
overloading and this leads to an eventual failure like this. If you
exam the other rod bearings you should see signs of this occurring in
the upper shells. If it was caused by being starved for oil the other
shells would show signs of wiping of the soft bearing material.

I am sorry to say that for these reasons we will not be offering any
kind of compensation for the repairs."

The other rod bearings and connecting rods (except cylinder #1), as a matter of fact all other bearings, are in great condition, and Volvo has been told this to no avail.
I tried to post 3 photos to go along with this information, but I just received a failed message???

Anyway, I am meeting a professional engineer who deals with engine failure analysis tomorrow, and if he agrees with the mechanics and the independent technical expert, I am considering small claims court.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt this was important information for everyone to be aware of, especially if you are in the market for a new boat or a repower. My advise is: AVOID VOLVO PENTA PRODUCTS, because in my experience, they do not build a quality product, nor do they stand behind it.
However, for economic reasons, I am forced to rebuild this engine, although if I could afford it, I would repower with a Yanmar!

Point Roberts, Wash. Marina

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post #2 of 21 Old 10-04-2008
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Generally, avoiding volvo marine engines is a good idea due to the outrageous price they charge for replacement parts...


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post #3 of 21 Old 10-04-2008
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Had a similar experience with a brand new 2003. Burned a lot of oil from day one. Volvo said run it for a season. Next season same problem, Volvo said it was out of warranty!! After much discussion back and forth to Sweden they finally did rebuild the engine. Engine never did run that well so I finally replaced it with a Yanmar. Keep at them, take them to small claims court. I think Volvo has more unhappy customers than any other marine engine.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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post #4 of 21 Old 10-05-2008 Thread Starter
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The engineer did his first look at the engine yesterday. He took several parts including the failed con rod and piston for metallugical testing including the use of an electron microscope. He gave me an early indication of his opinion, but I will wait until I receive his full report before updating.

I have to say I agree with Vasco about avoiding a boat with a Volvo engine in it. After reading about many other customers who have experienced both major and ongoing minor problems and having experienced it first hand myself, I am only rebuilding this engine because financially it is the only sensible option.

For further background on my problems with Volvo, I will give a brief history. First, my engine has gone through 4 sets of glow plugs. The first set burned out at 50 hours. They show no external damage, and I follow the owner's manual to the letter. The same Volvo manager told me that they don't have a problem with glow plugs, my problem is "user error". What a cop out! This problem is still ongoing, but I will hopefully fix it during the bebuild process by replaicng the entire glow plug system. This summer, I suffered a break down in the middle of Desolation Sound when the fresh water cooling pump pulley housing "just split in half"(see picture, if I can get this site to accept it). This failure cost me about $1,000 including towing and the fact I had to have the part machined because Volvo Canada didn't have any parts in Canada. My engine hour meter (along with several other owners of this same engine) works only intermitently, the tack sometimes doesn't work, and the fuel gauge reads full even when I only have 1/3 of a tank. My biggest problem with all of this has been Volvo Canada's attitude and in my opinion, total lack of concern for their customers!!!

My purpose here is just to make sure that consumers have information on which to base their purchasing decisions, whatever that decision will be. At least it will be an informed decision. We as consumers do have choices!

Thanks to everyone so far for taking the time to read this and to respond,

Point Roberts, Wash. Marina

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post #5 of 21 Old 10-05-2008
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your post shows a short sighted approach by volvo in dealing with your problems. after reading your post a lot of sailors will not want a boat with a volvo in it.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-05-2008
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As I recall, you have a Volvo Saildrive...correct? I believe that Tartan/C&C just switched to these on all their new boats about 18 months ago after their dispute with Yanmar.
Anyone know what other brands are using Volvo saildrives today?

Sorry for your troubles firehoser. Hope this gets Volvos attention and that it works out for you. They don't need this kind of publicity . Please keep us posted on your progress.

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Good luck, firehoser. Since I have no knowledge of the Canadian legal system, beyond a suspicion that you do indeed have one that involves old men in white wigs perhaps?, I can only ask if you have any equivalents to the US Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) or Magnusson-Moss Act, both of which provide for statutory warrantees, address hidden manufacturing defects, and are enforced by our state and fedearl courts AGAINST the manufacturer (warrantor) requiring the warrantor to prove in court that the defect was not theirs.

If you have similar protections, Volvo Canada would be required to refute the statements of your experts, and pay all costs, including court costs, as part of the proceeding. A manufacturer in the US would have to be terribly confident in their claims before they would go to court on that kind of warranty claim.

Do let us know what comes of it. Consider hiring a solicitor (is it?) to let Volvo Canada know how badly they may get trounced if they aren't certain they're in the right--and able to prove it. Or at least, to find out what your legal rights are up there.
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-05-2008
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There is no way on this earth that if you had a lubrication failure that the damage would be confined to one single con-rod.
The bores would score, the other bearings would score, other damage would be apparent. Coolant failures lead to horrible bore scoring, but rarely threaten the crank unless the motor is glowing red hot or something. By then it has siezed anyway. No-doubt your bores are perfect?
Also, the motor rattles like a box of rocks if there is a lube failure.

This is a disgusting cop-out, and 750 hours is a joke.
I understand this motor is a Perkins design, and it has been around for a long time. Someone has messed up on a con-rod torquing, or something similar, or the bolt failed.
I particularly liked the bit about "overloading". How do you overload such a motor?
This is just drivel.
I have a Volvo in my ship, the earlier MD17C. It is well-built, and runs well but heaven help you if anything breaks. The spare parts prices are shocking.... Ł1300 for an exhaust manifold, like 11 years ago.

Take the weeds to court. They have already said to you that other scoring of the crank would be apparent for a lube failure. There is no other scoring. Their point is self-defeating. This is your money they are messing with, and plenty of it, and that has to be remembered.

Last edited by Rockter; 10-05-2008 at 10:56 PM.
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-05-2008 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the Support

Yes the boat does have a Volvo saildrive, as do C&C, Tartan, Halberg Rassy, and I would imagine the other Swedish boats (not sure who else). Therein lies the problem, if I wanted to repower with a Yanmar. I have been told that I would have to also replace the saildrive making a total repower with a competitor about $20,000 (yikes).
I am not totally up on our legal system either, but I do know that I can go to small claims court (under $10,000) and do so for very little cost to myself. I will consult a lawyer if the engineer's report does not support Volvo's conclusions to determine what my chances are.
Thanks for your support and comments. You know what I find totally confusing by Volvo's response to my legitimate problem, it is that they could have resolved my issue with a solution that I had in mind that would have probably cost them nothing out of pocket. Unfortunately, now, due to decisions they have forced me to make by responding the way they have (which reduced my viable options), that opportunity is gone. I find that a real shame, as the outcome would have been so different. I would have been a happy customer, and come on these forums praising them! Wouldn't that have been great and it would not have cost them a dime of their existing money.
Anyway, thanks for everything and I will update this thread once I have received the PEng's report.


Point Roberts, Wash. Marina

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post #10 of 21 Old 10-06-2008
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I am in agreement with firehoser it's a very bad reflection on the bussness practices of a company such as Volvo. Im sure every marine engine manufacturer has the odd problem with a product. the real test is if they stand behind their product and the customer. it would certainly make me shy away from buying a vessel with a Volvo engine in it.
Camaraderie good you enlighten me on the yanmar dispute with Tartan and C&C
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