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Old 04-10-2008, 01:30   #1
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Thumbs down Volvo MD2030 Engine Failure - Lack of Support

This is a follow up to my earlier thread: "Engine Replacement Advise".
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, I hope they work because they clearly show the story.

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!
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:00   #2
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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.
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:12   #3
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I agree, stay on them. If that one single bearing failure was caused by lack of oil there would be evidence all over the rest of the internals of lack of oil. Some times stuff just fails no matter how well it's taken care of. 750 hrs and a rod cap nut coming off is not an owners problem.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:42   #4
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Update

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). This failure cost me about $1,000 including towing (no wind that day) and the fact I had to have the part machined because Volvo Canada didn't have any parts in Canada. My engine hour meter only works intermitently, the tac is acting up, and the fuel gauge reads full when I only have 1/3 of a tank left. 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,
Tom
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:47   #5
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I have to echo other comments to avoid Volvo Engines. We have seen several failures on brand new boats right out of the factory. And that is just in one dealership.
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Old 05-10-2008, 12:47   #6
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Keep us up to date. I'm rebuilding a KAD32P Volvo Penta now that had about 1500 hrs on it. Makes me real glad my boats got two Yanmars. I was of the old school that if you take proper care of any engine it will serve you for years. VP changed my mind. I still say if a rod cap nut comes loose on an engine that's only 750hrs old it's a factory problem. All for the want of a $.02 nut lock.
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Old 05-10-2008, 15:40   #7
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More horror stories. Heading north in the Chesapeake one year my 2003 died when the two cent screw that held the squish plate on in the impeller housing rusted to nothing! Luckily I ghosted in to Tolchester and got a replacement there. I think the screw was brass.
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Old 05-10-2008, 16:15   #8
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More horror stories. Heading north in the Chesapeake one year my 2003 died when the two cent screw that held the squish plate on in the impeller housing rusted to nothing! Luckily I ghosted in to Tolchester and got a replacement there. I think the screw was brass.
that's a part supplied to Volvo by Johnson Pump. SS replacements are readily available.
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Old 05-10-2008, 17:05   #9
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Firehoser,I anticipate hearing the rest of the report and Imust agree with everyone else that volvo engines are terrible, I'm with you about court but i think that you should sue volvo for enough to get a new yanmar to replace the piece-of-crap engine that they put on your boat.
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Old 05-10-2008, 17:28   #10
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Firehoser,I anticipate hearing the rest of the report and Imust agree with everyone else that volvo engines are terrible, I'm with you about court but i think that you should sue volvo for enough to get a new yanmar to replace the piece-of-crap engine that they put on your boat.
I think your comments are inflammatory.
First this is an engine that was out of warranty. Second, this was Volvo Canada's decision. The issue was not put to Volvo US. I'm sure the laws and obligations are different north of the border.
Third, any sailboat auxiliary can have a failure like this. It's a device made by a human, it can fail.
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Old 05-10-2008, 17:44   #11
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Never,I am truly sorry if I have made you angry, that is the last thing I want =( , i should have been more clear and said the dealership an the reason i say that is because the dealer told him to run it another season, knowing that it would be out of warranty. once again i'm sorry if i offended you and please do take it personaly or as a general statement against the company but against the dealer.
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Old 05-10-2008, 17:53   #12
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It's not a problem for me.
Like most internet horror stories these explode into who knows what.
If the dealer at the time of the first complaint didn't take proper action to rectify the customers complaint. Then that dealer should be held accountable.
Lets see what the testing comes back with. Remember it's a warranty administrators job to deny claims. If the testing is conclusive of no oil starvation the OP will have documentation to go to Volvo with. Right now it's he said/she said
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Old 05-10-2008, 18:21   #13
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that's a part supplied to Volvo by Johnson Pump. SS replacements are readily available.
Never monday,

My point was that this should not happen no matter who the supplier was. It's a teeny tiny screw in a two year old engine with less than a few hundred hours on it. As it was the marina did not have one that size and tapped a new one in for me. Excellent spot, did not charge me a nickel for it. As a result I felt obliged to stay the night there in the marina. The mosquitoes ate us alive that night.
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Old 05-10-2008, 18:30   #14
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I always try to avoid these warranty claim threads as there is usually a lot a negative passion on the part of the poster and it is rare that we get the entire story.

I would never suggest firehoser did anything wrong but signs of oil starvation are easy to spot.

In cases like this where the warranty is expired it is usual for the manufacturer to reach an accomodation, although he is not strictly required to.

Suggesting that the manufacturer be required to cover the replacement value, especially to repower with a competitor engine is ludicrous.
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Old 05-10-2008, 19:12   #15
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Trying to Present a Complete Picture

Basically I agree with Ex-Calif. Even though I am very upset with Volvo Penta (especially VP Canada as they are who I am dealing with), I am trying to present as complete and fair a story as I can, hence the rather long posts. I also agree that Volvo should not replace the engine and saildrive with a competitor's model. I have never asked for that. What I have asked for (but in my opinion up to now not received) is to be treated honestly, fairly, and with what all good customers desire, support when they deserve it. I have presented this information to several knowledgeable people (mechanics) and all agree with what my mechanic and the independent technical expert hired by the insurance company have concluded. The only differing opinion comes from the people with the vested interest - Volvo. As NeverMonday says, it is his job to deny claim. What a terrible situaiton where the person responsible for customer support for a company is the one who is looked to to help keep costs down. If Volvo had been open and honest with me from the beginning, and had truly been looking for "good customer service and support", I had a solution for them that would have made me happy (and these posts would have reflected the good customer support) without costing them any money out of pocket. Now, however, it is too late for that solution which is really too bad.
I was never looking for a "free ride", just what is fair and right.
My posts are meant to let everyone who is interested know what happened in as factual a manner as I can (I have however, given my recommendations based on my personal experience). Any conclusions drawn, are up to the individual, but an informed consumer is a good thing!
Thanks for all the replies, both supportive and otherwise, as I feel a good discussion (in the right spirit) is a very good thing!!
I will update this discussion once I have received the report from the independent PEng.

Tom
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