MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

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MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby irish86 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:48 am

I am looking for perspective from other's experience. Looking at two different boats - one has a pair of MerCruiser 496 Mags and the other a pair of VP 8.1. I hear from some that VP are more reliable, but when they do need work the parts can be harder to get and are more expensive. I similarly hear that for the Merc, parts are more readily available and less expensive, but that the engines are less reliable and require work more frequently. I have been reading a lot of different blogs and review sites and no surprise am seeing both sides of the discussion. Any opinions from this group? Especially interested if there are any things I should absolutely be aware of or stay away from for either engine.

Thanks
John

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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:04 am

Few things, its the ford vs chevy type argument. Both make a good product, and you get a lemon on both sides from time to time. Other times they work great for the owners.

That being said, Regal like VP for the most part, because they aren't part of Brunswick, which owns many other boat manufactures as well including a main competitor Sea Ray. They will use them if ordered with Merc engines in them, so you do have the option. The biggest factor should be what does the dealer service and are certified for? This is the biggest question that needs to be answered. If your dealer is a Merc people then that answers your question.

They both have pluses and minuses, from technology to engine blocks. Typically overall the Merc's are a bit cheaper and for the money get more features like the Axius feature set is better, and will cost much more to get in VP. ;)
Thanks, Chris

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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby lg260ss » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:37 am

The 496 and 8.1 are essentially the same engine.

What drive systems are we talking about?
Inboards or Sterndrives?
What year? This makes a big difference with Merc. Before 2006, Merc had some pretty major issues with corrosion on Bravo 3 outdrives. (even in fresh water) They have since added additional anode protection to help with the issues.

Volvo has had issues with the fuel pumps on these engines with paint clogging the fuel system

Do you plan on maintaining them yourself?
If so, the Volvo Impeller is much easier the replace
The rest of the maintenance is about the same.
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby Muddy Blues » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:50 pm

I can't comment on which is better, but I can share my experiences with VP over the last 16 years.

My last 3 boats have been VP powered. The first 2 were purchased new: 1) 2002 twin 5.0 GXi SX, 2) 2007 5.7 GXi SX. I am the 2nd owner of boat #3) 2007 8.1 Gxi DP.

My VP related issues are as follows:

1) Boat #1: Failed fuel pump on one engine after about 4 years.
2) Boat #2: SX Drive replaced at the 9 hour mark. No cost to me. Apparently metal fragments from the mfg process got into the drive, caused lots of damage to bearings and what not as the frags flowed around with the lube. I got a newer/better model drive out of the deal (exhaust out of cavitation plate instead of prop hub). No cost to me.
3) Boat #2. Fuel Injection issues that lg260ss described. These parts are very expensive, and you often times have to buy the entire assembly to get the part you need. Luckily VP covered the parts even though I was out of warranty. It still cost me a lot of $ and time, and ruined a July 4th vacation that was planned around boating (including rented slip that I could not use). There is another member on this site that is still struggling with an 8.1 motor that was replaced when a FI issue destroyed his pistons (running too lean?). I don't know what years or motors have the issues. My symptom was a very loud (and hot) fuel pump.
4) Boat #3. Power Steering issue - plastic cap cracked allowing PS fluid to escape. Simple and cheep fix, still running on original PS pump.

Boat #4 is on order for 2019 delivery with a VP 380.


Hope this helps.
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby irish86 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:14 am

lg260ss wrote:The 496 and 8.1 are essentially the same engine.

What drive systems are we talking about?
Inboards or Sterndrives?
What year? This makes a big difference with Merc. Before 2006, Merc had some pretty major issues with corrosion on Bravo 3 outdrives. (even in fresh water) They have since added additional anode protection to help with the issues.

Volvo has had issues with the fuel pumps on these engines with paint clogging the fuel system

Do you plan on maintaining them yourself?
If so, the Volvo Impeller is much easier the replace
The rest of the maintenance is about the same.


So the Merc is a 2010 with Bravo 3 Sea Core drives and the VP is a 2006 with standard XDP drives. My gut tells me that in spite of the low hours on the VP (under 300) I may be looking at a drive replacement - but a good survey and inspection with confirm/deny that concern.
John

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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby cbsmith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:36 am

Don’t touch a Volvo 8.1 with the composite XDP drives. Either get the seller to replace them or walk away. The big block engine kills them.
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:38 am

Yes you can figure at least $20-30K+ for drive replacements as new transom shields are needed as well. According to VP you need about 10hrs of shop time to do the engines. That can really be + or - depending if the people have done the swaps before. The XDP's with 8.1 will break all sorts of stuff in the drives. like the casings as well. Myself I would gamble on the newer with Mercs if it were me, the sea core drives will help quite a bit with corrosion issues.
Thanks, Chris

2012 - Regal 35 Sports Coupe - Twin VP 5.7GiCE-300-P - DP-SA - SOLD
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby Texdoc8953 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:52 pm

The issues are well documented.
Stay away from XDP drives. Especially with the big blocks.
No more needs to be said...
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby irish86 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:25 pm

Thanks for all the help!
John

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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby alanber » Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:35 am

Late too the party ,
experience with both
Having a single mercruiser on my 21 ft fishing boat .
I also own a Regal 2860 with twin 4.3 . Volvo Penta
I try too do my own repairs when possible .
parts for the Mercruiser , available from a number of after market mfg . on line, dealers . Most common was Sierra .
Volvo Penta is another story . Nothing is interchangeable
Regal used twin 4.3 Volvo Penta on my 2004 Commodore model 2860
Working on these engines impossible
Since I can do my own work I find I must hire others too do the work , I cant get too areas too preform any work
Kills me too pay labor too guys with less knowledge then me
Parts are only Volvo/ Penta over priced , list pricing from dealers
My first experience after boat purchase was 2 fuel cells .
Has not stopped , this year purchased new long blocks .
My regal is like a new boat might be selling too get a boat more suited for cruising , not sure .
Cant afford new and have no desire too buy used starting the repair all over , SO MIGHT KEEP . DONT KNOW ( venting )
I use Regal weekly and keep repairing when needed .
Steering actuator leaking fluid , only a volvo penta part, no after market
contacted a company that does steering rebuilds for Mercruiser & outboards They advertise on Ship Shape TV ,
Could not help , they do not rebuild Volvo Penta , must buy new
Recent water hose purchase , $ 75 bucks for a 10 dollar hose . Had no choice bends in hose too fit .
water circulating pumps
power steering pumps
Volvo Penta manifolds & risers
List goes on & on
I had a lot of bad luck with volvo penta and never will go with them in future
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby gofast24 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:56 am

Sounds like you are having a lot of problems, are you using a pleasure craft rated engine (s) for a commercial fishing vessel?

My experience on my 4160 with 2X VP 8.1's, ZF "V" drives, 900 hours on it and 18 years old =
No problems with engines, throttle body, injectors, fuel pumps, still original spark plugs, ZF transmissions, no corrosion, starters, alternators, ECU's, water cooled exhaust manifolds/risers, etc. Nothing!
We seldom run at WOT after getting vessel on plane, have religiously maintained the engines and transmissions, full synthetic 10W-40 lube oil/change at 100 hours, OEM fuel and oil filters, ZF V drive fluid and filters changed at the recommended 300 hr intervals (actually just cleaned the original filters and re used at the next 300 hr intrval) , etc.
Only problems to date are vacu flush toilets, gen set (a single 16 MFD capacitor that cost me $640 to have some guy take 3 hours to figure out!), bilge pumps, sump pumps, halogen lighting (replaced all with LED equivalent), canvas, anchor windlass, multiple switches, fwd and aft HVAC units (control boards) , audio system speakers/ wiring and amps, galley fridge control board, engine starting and house batteries (typical/ not worried about those),cabin roof vent windows leaking, electric bow window vent motor failing, 3X circuit breakers failing (two on the HVAC units/ Regal installed 15 amp breakers for the two units that both had a minimum ampacity required of 20 amps/30 amps respectably) ,fresh water pump, guess you are getting my thoughts on the VP engines not being any problem :) , it's the rest of the vessel that has been a PITA!
Happy New Year!
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby alanber » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:02 am

Hello , GO FAST , NO NOT COMMERCIAL , Never indicated I was just a old retired guy that has the time too use boat often .
I am based out of Fl .
Regal stored a marina at ocean . Has twin IO , Kept in yard . In yard on a cradle I have ability too work on boat
When I want too use marina launches and offers courtesy slips for in/out customers few days which is a nice feature , Few marinas offer this ,
This way Regal stays clean , bottom not painted , and lower units stay clean with no barnacle growth
I live inland 74 miles each way . When I go too boat I stay over a day or two . Really love marina life , hanging , talking too other boaters , When I go back home after a few days I need too get back
Purchased Regal 4 years ago . Good deal . Regal gets me back into a larger boat something wife & I can do togerther . So called good deal is long gone . Boat is almost a new boat . I take boat out every time I am at marina but don't make the 25 miles journey too fishing grounds
Regal is not a fishing boat , I like too drop a line , I fish off swim platform , wife sits on rear seat dropping a line , IF I catch anything great ,
Really stinks for fishing . ( have my walk around Whaler for fishing ) but having 2 boats is insane and really both have too go ,
I stay close too shore basically too conserve fuel burn which is 1 gallon a mile on plane .
Came with a 3 axle disk brake trailer that supports 15200 lbs Boat & truck I am 52 ft down road . I am 9 thousand lobs with fluids , 9.6 beam, Have wide permits
If I towed instead of leaving at marina would use seldom . towing this beast is not fun , too many idiots on road but trailer is great handles fine ,
Only tow for service , A nice feature having a trailer , not held hostage by marina ,

WHen engines was out for new long blokcs last year I was able too get too generator . Prior too that service was almost impossible blocked by port engine .
Did major service . FIred up ran fine . GUESS WHAT , Kohler Generator with 255 hours has engine winding issues . Grounding , BAD
Port engine has too come out AGAIN too get generator out
Another kick in the ass with this boat , Seldom use generator and hate too spend 6 thousand PLUS too rebuild WOuld be better not having a non working generator
I have made many few day journeys .
ON the 2004 Commodore , cabin is beautiful but boat is a weekender A person like me with time too use boat A weekender has limits
Time too consider a different styled boat , but what is the next boat ?
I have had bad luck with Volvo/ Penta Parts are costly and only Volvo Penta Double engines, double trouble
Even the electric conversion pump on the head CRAPPED OUT , THIS BOAT WONT WIN OUT , I WILL
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Re: MerCruiser or Volvo Penta

Postby gofast24 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:35 am

Sorry to hear about your problems, seldom if ever do we hear about folks with Regal's and VP's that are really happy with their vessel! Same with customer reviews on Amazon etc. i may be one of the few that likes my 4160 other than the typical ancillary problems that go with a 17 year old vessel. Just cant complain about the hull or VP engines in general, its all the little stuff that is a PITA but not too expensive to repair/replace.

Also, Happy New Year to you and all ROF members!
looking forward to change oil/filters in a month or so and start boating again with this now 18 year old vessel!!
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