Volvo Penta diesel engines

from quality reference:


MB11 and MB 17 diesels: Very old, but famous for quality and long life.

Quality crash:


Series 2000: Highly priced trash, the worst diesel engine:

Quality upswing?


series 20: According to the series 2000 quality improvement


Again reports about very bad quality of series MD 22

Mainly at the small diesels, the Volvo Penta reputation is heavily damaged:

The market at small diesels is booming. Light ships demanded light engines. At the end of the eighties this evolution was added by the exploding market of French catamarans, tendency climbing. Also they demand small diesel, and that always twice.

On this market Volvo Penta did not have anything to offer except for the technical nightmare series 2000. So Volvo Penta lost continuously market coverage. There was not time left for an own redesign. So Volvo Penta bought the small diesel series from Perkins, basis Kubota. That one indeed by any means was not convincing (Perkins had taken with that into economical difficulties), however, still far better than the own one 2000 series.

Meanwhile Yanmar with his small diesels had conquered market coverage through high-quality-standards. Yanmar had grown in the USA from 1995 to 1999 around 50 % while Volvo Penta had been losing 50 % in the same period.

At the small diesel engines we know only Mitsubishi (Vetus), Volvo Penta and Yanmar. Although all small diesel engines seem to have clearly more problems than bigger diesels, Yanmar is evaluated virtually everywhere to be far better than Volvo Penta. The Yanmar engines of the GM series are indeed not without problems, but in their class, their quality and reliability is by far leading.

To Mitsubishi we up to now hardly received information. The market coverage of Mitsubishi is apparently too small, in order to be able to do statements.

The scepticism about Volvo Penta is still going on, for example:

KIRIAKOULIS Le Marin, Martinique is running (2003) his fleet of 10 Catamarans (Bahia 46, Belize 43, Venezia 42, Laveszzi 40, Athena 38) only with Yanmar and uses no longer Volvo Penta engines.

In addition, KIRIAKOULIS Le Marin is running (2003) a fleet of monohulls, too, and has very bad experiences with Volvo Penta MD 22: on 6 from 8 new (2002) Dufour monohulls gearbox breakdowns in the first (!!) year.

MOORINGS Caribbean has no more a single ship with Volvo Penta engine in his fleet (2003): All small diesels come from Yanmar. All large diesels come from Perkins.

About the following Volvo Penta diesel engines we can present reports (according to year of manufacture type designations and power output numbers might be slightly different):

Volvo-Penta models:

Short evaluation:

summarized opinions of all of us in the Caribbean until today (conditions: see below load update) asked authorized workshops, free workshops, engine- fitters of the chartering-companies MOORINGS, SUNSAIL, STEM'S, STARDUST etc. as well as skippers

Volvo-Penta MB 11
Volvo-Penta MB 17

Not manufactured any longer. Was built before the series 2000.

"One of the best marine diesel, which one could buy so far: Absolutely reliably."

Mooring St. Lucia and International Diesel and Marine Ltd., Castries, St. Lucia, WI: "The old heavy Volvo-Penta MB engines are very good. Those ones will still run in the year 3000. "

Catamaran charter, Tortola, BVI: "Outstanding engines, it harms that Volvo Penta does not build them any more."

Mooring Tortola, BVI: "Excellent engines, the best, which had Volvo Penta so far."

Volvo-Penta MD 2000's

MD 2001, 2002,2003, 2003 Turbo

Not manufactured any longer. Short block assembly Peugeot

" The worst marine diesel, which one could buy so far:

Absolutely unreliably
Miserable electrical equipment
Lunatically high spare part prices
Very bad service "

see reports for this - >

Volvo-Penta MD 20's

MD 2010, 2020, 2030

In former times Perkins Parama, today Volvo Perkins

Short block assembly Kubota

" By no means lack-free, but clearly less lacks than at the 2000 series. "

The opinions on the Volvo Perkins 20's are very different. Our questionings runs since October 2002 in the range Grenada to Martinique, therefore still rakes shortly. First results to the Volvo-Penta 20's with their completely different construction (Perkins on Kubota):

By far better than the 2000 series.

Continuing weak points: Corrosion, water pumps.

New weak points, which the 2000 series did not show: Gear, exhaust rusts through heavily.

see reports for this - >

Volvo-Penta MD 22

Volvo-Penta MD T 40

April 2003

Vergil Joseph

repairs since 2000 engines at BAREFOOT, St. Vincent, Blue Lagoon, before that 18 years at MOORINGS St. Lucia, 4 years STEVENS Charter St. Lucia

"With the MD T 40 I had to do 10 years ago. Their biggest problem was continual overheating and consequential damages at the engines (cylinder head gaskets).

But Volvo Penta seems to have fixed this problem: Now these engines are good, as far as reported to me.

The Volvo Penta 4-cylinder short block is identical with the Perkins Prima 50 short block. I believe too that the cylinder head is identical, but I am not, however, completely sure. That can be interesting for repair parts and prices."

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