Volvo Penta no longer provides warranties on their engines

henryf

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It seems Volvo Penta have lost faith in their marine engines. When buying a new boat last year one of the big comforting factors was knowing we could extend the engine guarantee beyond the initial 2 year minimum provision. Volvo, for a fee, provided a 3 year extension meaning they stood by their engines for 5 years. It wasn’t’ cheap, the cost on our D13 900 engines was around £12,000 but for £4,000 a year you were sheltered from catastrophic bills.

All of a sudden in 2023 without warning Volvo removed this guarantee. The official line was that it was something to do with the way insurance premium tax was treated within the EU. Of course here in the UK we are now outside the EU, had I found my first genuine benefit to Brexit? Err… no. Volvo said although it was an EU thing it affected non EU countries as well somehow. But leave it with us…..

I reached out to Samantha Hindson, head of Volvo Penta for the UK and Ireland. We exchanged emails and also spoke directly over a number of months but sadly there was nothing that could be done. Volvo were not prepared to guarantee their engines beyond the minimum 2 year requirement. At this point the legal beagles amongst you will start quoting consumer law, minimum expectations on what are very expensive engines, manufacturer obligations and so on. As and when something goes wrong it may well be possible to pursue Volvo Penta through the courts for compensation and we will of course go down that route if required but life is a bit too short. I’d rather play the game, hand over my £12,000 before anything has gone wrong and know I’d got a hassle free path of resolution via the official service network. As it is we would likely end up getting the work covered plus legal costs recovered and not have to pay the £12k but it gets messy and causes stress.

Whilst chatting with Samantha another interesting point was raised. We charter our boat. It comes with a dedicated commercially endorsed Yachtmaster skipper of more than 20 years experience who is familiar with the boat and mechanically very sympathetic. He is the only person to operate the boat, ever. The boat does around 200 hours per year so no more than might occur on a privately owned and operated vessel. Because of the commercial element Volvo point blank refuse to offer any warranty and would never have offered the extended warranty anyway.

This struck me as odd. Mikey Millionaire goes to a boat show knowing nothing about boats, buys a boat and was offered a 5 year engine warranty from Volvo despite having no experience or knowledge surrounding the operation of said vessel. But a professional, experienced and qualified operator was refused the warranty. How could that be? Well consider this:

If you were Volvo Penta and your engine failed it would be quite easy to blame operator error if the operator in question was a hapless amateur with little or no experience. The result Volvo Penta are off the hook. If however the operator was qualified and experienced it would be harder for Volvo Penta to absolve themselves of their responsibilities. Now I may be reading this all wrong but how else could you justify penalising a careful, experienced and qualified operator versus an amateur?

So there you have it. Volvo Penta are no longer offering guarantees on their engines beyond the minimum requirement. Officially they say they are committed to quality and all that stuff but they won’t put their money (well actually my £12,000) where their mouth is. If you’re having a boat built then consider the longer term implications and commitment of the engine manufacturer carefully. Marine inboard engines are not cheap and they are also an integral part of the boat usually installed at an early stage of construction. removing and replacing is not easy so you need assurances that they will last more than 2 years.
 

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I would expect Volvo warranties to be dependant on sevicing being shown to be carried out by volvo service centres at scheduled intervals. So mickey millionaire is more likely to just pick up the phone & instruct accordingly. Your yachtmaster may start playing with his spanner. Who do you think Volvo will trust the most of the 2. The volvo dealer or your spanner monkey.
In june 2023 they gave me the option of taking up the extended parts & labour world wide, warranty, provided I did so within 6 months of the commision date
 
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BruceK

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I wonder if the complexity of modern engines trying to deliver more power for less and meet emission etc laws coupled with a heavy reliance on electronics has reached a tipping point in what is a very harsh environment that one simply cannot guarantee untroubled longevity. To me it seems the older generation of diesels just keep plodding on while the newer ones just become more complex and troublesome. And unlike a car where the engine manufacturer knows what car its going in to * and can modify accordingly, marine engine manufacturers do not really know what boats their engines are going to be installed in and how that will affect engine design.


*i.e as an example the Land Rover and Jaguar Lion engine were the same but modified for low or high end torque and engine mapping etc
 

julians

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It not uncommon for warranties (not just on boats, but any leisure type object) to exclude any commercial use, your charter operation comes under that I would imagine.

Not offering a paid for 3 year extension is a bit annoying, but just pocket the 12k it would have cost and keep it for when anything goes wrong (ie self insure) , id imagine you'll be 'in profit' at the end of the 3 year extension period, unless you're very unlucky
 
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SC35

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That £12k wouldn't pay for servicing equivalent MAN engines even if nothing did go wrong 😂
 

henryf

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I would expect Volvo warranties to be dependant on sevicing being shown to be carried out by volvo service centres at scheduled intervals. So mickey millionaire is more likely to just pick up the phone & instruct accordingly. Your yachtmaster may start playing with his spanner. Who do you think Volvo will trust the most of the 2. The volvo dealer or your spanner monkey.
In june 2023 they gave me the option of taking up the extended parts & labour world wide, warranty, provided I did so within 6 months of the commision date
The warranties are indeed dependent on engines being maintained by an approved service agent and I fully agree with that. There is no way I would risk any goodwill or give Volvo Penta a get out of jail free card by going elsewhere. One of the key parts to the commercial yachtmaster approach is preparation and that includes having work carried out by people best able to deliver.

In automotive terms we see a lot of privately owned cars that just get driven into the ground.

The change in policy came about shortly after you were offered your warranty. Had you gone back to them towards the end of that 6 month window you would have found it was revoked. Speaking with European VP dealers in Düsseldorf they told me providing the warranty was taken out before the end of the 2 year manufacturer’s warranty it used to be ok, before VP pulled the warranty.
 

henryf

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It not uncommon for warranties (not just on boats, but any leisure type object) to exclude any commercial use, your charter operation comes under that I would imagine.

Not offering a paid for 3 year extension is a bit annoying, but just pocket the 12k it would have cost and keep it for when anything goes wrong (ie self insure) , id imagine you'll be 'in profit' at the end of the 3 year extension period, unless you're very unlucky
I think you need to consider what “commercial” use entails. If we put the engines into a commercial tug boat hauling large ships around 365 days a year or a fishing boat trawling 365 days per year then it is very different. In our case we do exactly the same thing a private owner would. The only difference is our beds don’t get slept in as much because we don’t have lots of family staying onboard overnight.

I would very much hope to be in profit after the 3 years if we self insure but that’s all the more reason for Volvo to offer a protective cover. They clearly think they wouldn’t be in profit. They’re telling me they expect my engines to incur more than £12,000 worth of mechanical failure from year 3-5.

That doesn’t sound like a company who has faith in their ability to design and manufacture a reliable marine engine that does 200 hours a year. Put in a lorry that would equate to around 9,000 miles per year. Given the average mileage on a UK truck is around 60,000 per year I don’t think we’re over stretching the engines too much.
 

henryf

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I wonder if the complexity of modern engines trying to deliver more power for less and meet emission etc laws coupled with a heavy reliance on electronics has reached a tipping point in what is a very harsh environment that one simply cannot guarantee untroubled longevity. To me it seems the older generation of diesels just keep plodding on while the newer ones just become more complex and troublesome. And unlike a car where the engine manufacturer knows what car its going in to * and can modify accordingly, marine engine manufacturers do not really know what boats their engines are going to be installed in and how that will affect engine design.


*i.e as an example the Land Rover and Jaguar Lion engine were the same but modified for low or high end torque and engine mapping etc
When you say “harsh environment”. My engine room is dry, clean and well ventilated. The shafts sticking out get sea creatures trying to cling on but Volvo Penta don’t make shafts or propellors.
 

henryf

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That £12k wouldn't pay for servicing equivalent MAN engines even if nothing did go wrong 😂
We had CAT engines on the P50 which are only served by a single parts / service agent in Poole. They never let us down once. VP has a wider reaching network for parts and service.
 

MapisM

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My engine room is dry, clean and well ventilated.
In a boat, there's no such thing as a dry - and most importantly, salt free - engine room.
Just do the math on the volume of air that your engines breathe, and you will not believe how much salty air goes through the whole e/r each and every time you turn the engines on.
Not to mention whenever the sea is rough-ish, making air even fuller of salty spray!

Of course, the boat age does make a difference, because the toll taken by decades spent in that environment is bund to be greater compared to an e/r that only spent months there.
But it's not like there's a lot you can do to avoid that, anyhow. Other than keeping the boat sheltered and never use it, that is! ;)
 
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From Volvo's point of view the extra warranty issue is that it is just too much hassle & the sales & marketing dept may have said " why bother?". Let's just argue the point as & when it happens. If the client has a justifiable claim pay him. If not, why not let him take a hit & take no risk in house? One can see where they are coming from if the insurance take up is not huge. They just may not have the client interest to cover the % of actual claims, which may well be inevitable - whoever makes an engine.
I did not go for the extra insurance simply because on my last engine I did not even lift the rocker box cover in 16 years. I had a couple of alternator repairs & a engine broken bracket The later I made myself & the alternator was repaired locally. All would have been outside the extended warranty period anyway.
 

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That doesn’t sound like a company who has faith in their ability to design and manufacture a reliable marine engine that does 200 hours a year. Put in a lorry that would equate to around 9,000 miles per year. Given the average mileage on a UK truck is around 60,000 per year I don’t think we’re over stretching the engines too much.
Whilst I agree with the general thrust of your argument, lorry engines don't have the same load on them as marine engines. Nor is the climate so hostile.
 

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Whilst I agree with the general thrust of your argument, lorry engines don't have the same load on them as marine engines. Nor is the climate so hostile.
Do you really think that is the case with all the torque changes, revs etc & the dust etc? The engine still operates in damp conditions, in rain, or snow, then hot weather. I do not know how much a large marine engine changes speed, but one might expect much less load changes & once on the plane a fast vessel throttles back. A displacement one probably runs at constant revs, but not at max. A lorry may have to give max power or high revs at an incline.
Is that not a fair comment?
 
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henryf

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From Volvo's point of view the extra warranty issue is that it is just too much hassle & the sales & marketing dept may have said " why bother?". Let's just argue the point as & when it happens. If the client has a justifiable claim pay him. If not, why not let him take a hit & take no risk in house? One can see where they are coming from if the insurance take up is not huge. They just may not have the client interest to cover the % of actual claims, which may well be inevitable - whoever makes an engine.
I did not go for the extra insurance simply because on my last engine I did not even lift the rocker box cover in 16 years. I had a couple of alternator repairs & a engine broken bracket The later I made myself & the alternator was repaired locally. All would have been outside the extended warranty period anyway.
Or you take the Snap-on-tools approach which has seen them rise to legendary status within their market.
 

henryf

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Do you really think that is the case with all the torque changes, revs etc & the dust etc? The engine still operates in damp conditions, in rain, or snow, then hot weather. I do not know how much a large marine engine changes speed, but one might expect much less load changes & once on the plane a fast vessel throttles back. A displacement one probably runs at constant revs, but not at max. A lorry may have to give max power or high revs at an incline.
Is that not a fair comment?
I very much agree with you. Our engines sit at constant throttle and are taken there steadily once warmed through.
 

PowerYachtBlog

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That £12k wouldn't pay for servicing equivalent MAN engines even if nothing did go wrong 😂
I do not know were you get your numbers from, bur servicing an I6 is cheaper to an equivalent D13, and I have seen both bills next to each other Italy.
The Man was about 40% cheaper. Volvo was cheap in the Kad or Tamd era. Those days are long gone, by about twenty years!
 

BruceK

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When you say “harsh environment”. My engine room is dry, clean and well ventilated. The shafts sticking out get sea creatures trying to cling on but Volvo Penta don’t make shafts or propellors.
Yours yes. But unless you are running a keel cooler they are all sucking in sea water and breathing in salty air. Regardless of how clean you think your engine room is it is not a kind environment. Not compared to a plant /agricultural or automotibe engine. Thats a given.
 
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