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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Posts
    58

    Default Volvo Penta 2003

    I am looking at purchasing a boat with a Volvo Penta 2003 with which I am not familiar.
    I would like to hear from anyone with experience of running one, and any tips as to servicing and what to look out for, spares etc.
    Thanks in anticipation.
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    UK East Coast
    Posts
    36,558

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    I had a 2003T in my 1990 Hallberg-Rassy 352, which I owned for about 20 years. Basically an OK engine, although always a bit smoky. Very easy to service on a DIY basis. However, some spares are starting to get difficult, if not impossible, to source.

    Edit: There's a potential problem on some engines with the gearbox splines wearing excessively, leading to a loss of drive. There are several well-proven fixes for this, and most affected engines should have been fixed years ago.
    Last edited by pvb; 16-09-19 at 20:44.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    scotland
    Posts
    3,432

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    Possibly old age now

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    scotland
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    I would ask if the gearbox input spline drive has been changed for the modified part. If not the gearbox would need pulled back and the splines inspected. Not a big job to pull the box back as long as there is good access at the rear of the engine. Every year I pull my gearbox back and simply pack the splines with grease and have had no wear to the splines. Remove the 6 bolts and gearbox comes back couple of inches, just enough to get fingers in. Exhaust elbow needs replacing now and again so ask when it has been last done. Check for water leaks around all pipe connections. Check engine mounts carefully. The heat exchanger mounting to the engine can break at the heat exchanger. These engines are getting on a bit but if it starts easy (using the proper cold start technique) and runs ok you should be fine for a few years yet. Make sure engine is stone cold when testing for ease of starting! Yes, engines aren't the cleanest running of engines and will smoke a bit. No problem getting usual servicing items, but as has been said some of the less common parts are eye wateringly expensive. If engine runs ok it wouldn't put me off buying the boat.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,614

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    Quote Originally Posted by black mercury View Post
    I would ask if the gearbox input spline drive has been changed for the modified part. If not the gearbox would need pulled back and the splines inspected. Not a big job to pull the box back as long as there is good access at the rear of the engine. Every year I pull my gearbox back and simply pack the splines with grease and have had no wear to the splines. Remove the 6 bolts and gearbox comes back couple of inches, just enough to get fingers in. Exhaust elbow needs replacing now and again so ask when it has been last done. Check for water leaks around all pipe connections. Check engine mounts carefully. The heat exchanger mounting to the engine can break at the heat exchanger. These engines are getting on a bit but if it starts easy (using the proper cold start technique) and runs ok you should be fine for a few years yet. Make sure engine is stone cold when testing for ease of starting! Yes, engines aren't the cleanest running of engines and will smoke a bit. No problem getting usual servicing items, but as has been said some of the less common parts are eye wateringly expensive. If engine runs ok it wouldn't put me off buying the boat.
    The Spline problem only affected engines up to a certain serial number

    A google search on should find out all about it and the relevant engine number.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    14,333

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    I have a VP 2002, the two pot version of the 2003, a fantastic wee engine that is a doddle to service and works if you give it clean diesle, clean air and lubrication.
    Cynical Scottish very nearly retired engineer who sails a Gib'Sea 96.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Clyde
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    My last boat had a VP 2003, was new in 1993, fitted with a saildrive. No major issues with it, started very well from cold. Mine was FW cooled. Apart from usual spares such as filters, belt, I kept a spare thermostat, heat exchanger seals and full set of rubber seals used on the cooling water circuit. Reported issues with corroded exhaust elbows, so worth a check. The small nozzle on the thermostat housing (to which the small breather pipe to the header tank is fitted) can become blocked which causes air locks when filling the FW circuit

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Home - Sothampton, Boat - Gosport
    Posts
    10,303

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    I have one. I got it second hand about 12 years ago and (touch wood) it's still going strong in spite of being 30 years old. The right starting technique is vital, and it can take a bit of churning in winter, especially when it hasn't run for a while, but I'm sure that applies to most elderly engines that don't have heater plugs. It's a bit smokey when cold, but no problem once warmed up and mine, at least, never uses any oil. Other than that, all the bits you need to get at are relatively easy, though that obviously depends on installation and it just does what it says on the tin.

    It is an old engine, and like all old engines, some parts are getting hard to find, but, as long as it's behaving itself, an old engine wouldn't put me off buying a boat that was otherwise what I wanted. I might use the age as a bargaining point, and think that I might need to replace it at some point, but that's all. Feed it clean fuel & lots of cooling water, and keep its oil and filters clean and it could go on for ages.
    Steve
    Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    22,859

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    I had a 2002 for many years and as people say, ease of service is a major plus point. Although a well looked after engine can go on almost indefinitely, I would be including the cost of a possible replacement within the next few years in my calculations.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    SW Leicestershire
    Posts
    1,127

    Default Re: Volvo Penta 2003

    Had 2002 for 5 years before replacing it with Beta. Plus points simplicity, ease of access. Cons are noise, vibration and fumes, especially at high revs; cold starts involve starting at near max throttle which I guess is not ideal for bearings. Not worth major overhaul because of cost of parts. TBF it never let me down.

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