Yanmar or Volvo?

It took Oscar and Simon, the mechanics in Torrevieja, about half an hour to get to the bottom of our engine issues. We have a broken flange, probably broken by loose engine mounts. Initially, they were in doubt if the manifold was broken because the engine starts very reliably and doesn’t make weird noises. But as they took it apart they had never seen a manifold that was that far gone. We basically had three options:

1. Search for the (used) parts on eBay or order them from a secondhand Bukh dealer. This could take a long time and cost either 3000 euros for new parts or much less if we find it online somewhere.

2. Get a second hand engine. We got estimates of 5500 euros for a Volvo from 1999 or a newer Yanmar for 8000 euros (prices excluding all parts and labor).

3. Get a new engine. We got estimates of 10k euros for Volvo (including labor but not parts) and the same price for Yanmar (excluding labor and parts).


Revive the Bukh?

We already decided that we won’t be patching up the old Bukh again. We had contact with several Bukh distributors and just couldn’t see how we would get the parts. It would be madness to put that much money into a 35-year-old engine and not knowing which other problems are waiting for us. We googled for second hand parts but didn’t find any. This engine is a dead-end road which we have already put way too much time and money into!

Buying Second Hand?

The price is tempting. But does a 20-year old engine add any value to the boat? We think if we buy a second hand engine, that’s money we lose and we won’t have any guarantee that it will run trouble-free. We will get guarantee with the local dealer, but we don’t plan on coming back to Torrevieja so that’s a bit of a problem. We did think long and hard about this option, but decided that this doesn’t fit our situation right now.

Re-Power: Yanmar or Volvo?

Great, we’re getting a new engine! It will hopefully add some value to the boat and we can have a more relaxed continuation of our trip. We can’t wait to push that button and hear the low growl of a quiet new motor! But what brand will it be? We found Yanmar and Volvo dealers here in Torrevieja. We did a good old price – time – quality comparison on the quoted D2-40 Volvo and 3JH5E Yanmar engine.

The Volvo was a bit cheaper, as the labor was included in the price of the new engine. For the Yanmar, we would have to pay for the labor separately and also we would have to install a new exhaust system, adding to the costs. They both give 2+3 years guarantee worldwide.

The delivery and installation time is also very important to us. It was a big downside of the Volvo that it would take up to three weeks to be delivered. The Yanmar was in stock in Barcelona and could be delivered within days. Both the engines would take 1-2 weeks to be installed.


I’ve roamed the internet and found some negative user experiences about the Volvo D2-40, which has a design flaw which makes some parts rust away way too quickly. Some people complain about starting issues and everyone complains about the price of the spare parts. Almost all Yanmar owners confirmed their reliability and the world-wide availability of spare parts. I haven’t read any negative user experience on the 3JH5E with shaft drive, only someone complained about the ridiculously big exhaust.

I compared the prices of the most common spare parts and it is correct that the Volvo parts cost up to twice as much as the Yanmar ones. Volvo is a lot better in terms of emissions, Yanmar is so bad that they have to rebuild their engines. In 2018, they are not allowed to sell the 3JH5E engine anymore. That’s maybe also a reason we got a big discount on it.

As you can imagine, we were leaning more towards Yanmar at this point. It is probably a good idea to replace the exhaust anyway. We made an appointment with the Yanmar specialist to get a more precise quote. After he visited the boat and measured everything he mumbled something like ‘mucho, mucho mano horas’. The final quote that followed almost made us change our minds. We figured, we can always opt for Volvo and are not tied to Yanmar at all, but we don’t like the long waiting for the Volvo. So we pokered a bit with Yanmar, offered to help with the mucho mano horas and negotiated a big discount with one phone call. Yanmar it is!

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5 thoughts on “Yanmar or Volvo?

Add yours

  1. Bad news! We re-engined our Moody 425 2 years a go with a Beta 50. Its been excellent, worth giving them a call…! they also do a 43 Hp. The 50Hp sips 2L/hour at cruising speed (5.5-6knots) and will push us along at over 8 if we need to…50hp was 5000 pounds new.


    1. Too late! The Yanmar is already in! Sounds great though, I am going to do some research on the Beta 43 as well. We did only focus on the Volvo and Yanmar because there are suppliers here in town.


  2. Could the new engine also save you money on fuel consumption?
    I’m very currious how it will perform! Hopefully you earn it back after 10.000 miles 😋✌🏻


    1. Hi Harmen! Well, the old Bukh was pretty fuel efficient. We would average 1,7L/h. But we wouldn’t be going very fast and our batteries charged 5x as slow as with the new one. We’re curious to see how much the new one uses, for electricity we should use it way less!


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