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What the Serial Number Tells Us about Your Volvo Penta Marine Engine

What the Serial Number Tells Us about Your Volvo Penta Marine Engine

If you own a Volvo Penta marine engine you’ve no doubt noticed a metal tag engrossed on the engine or the outdrive. That metal tag contains the serial number and the engine identification. Whenever you contact a marine engine service to schedule routine maintenance for your Volvo Penta or have your engine inspected or repaired, the staff will ask you for the serial number first.

But why is that?

The serial and engine number can tell us a lot about you Volvo Penta marine engine. Some owners have difficulty identifying the exact model of their engine or the year it was produced, while the answer was coded inside the serial number and engine identification all along.

But the current identification method was not always the same. Engines produced prior to 1993 were painted red. The serial number was different than the ones on the modern engines. First of all, the serial number had a prefix meant to tell you if the engine is inboard or sterndrive or inboard/outboard drive. Inboard engines were marked with MB or BB, while sterndrive engines were marked with AQ.

Next, the serial number would feature a horsepower rating number or a displacement. Finally, the serial number would contain a letter which indicates the year of production and the production version. So if the serial number looked like this AQ125B, we would know that your engine was sterndrive engine with a 131 shaft HP and its year of production was either 1986 or 1987.

Engines in the 1990’s

However, the serial numbers changed in the early nineties, and the system was based on displacement I instead. The engine model would have a three-digit number and a letter. So if the number was 430, the 43 means that the displacement is 4.3 liters. The third number designates the model control. So engines marked with 430 and 432 both have a 4.3-liter displacement but differ due to the third number. These engines were manufactured up to 1993.

Between 1993 and 1998 Volvo produced their engines in partnership with OMC. These engines were painted in dark charcoal. Even though they were marked OMC Cobra, these engines were in fact produced by Volvo. Their serial numbers started out with a two-digit number followed by a letter string which indicated the model and year of production.

So for example, in an engine with the serial number 4.3GSPNCA the 4.3 tells us the displacement. The letter G identifies the engine as a General Motors block. An F means that the engine was made by Ford. This was followed by a letter that noted the fuel system and fuel output. The S tells us that the engine is superior output, while L stood for limited, X stood for exceptional. Uppercase I meant that the engine was carbureted, while lowercase i stood for fuel injected engine.

The next letter would designate the steering system. The P in this particular model designates power steering, while M stood for manual steering, X stood for exact steering and I stood for inboard steering. The NC following it designates year of production. The year of production was determined by a two-letter code. In this case, the engine was produced between 1996 and 1997. Finally, the A designates the service code for version control, and the letter is randomly chosen. Engines marked with CE were those that meet certain emission prerequisites.

Engines in the 2000’s

Engines produced after 2000 were once again painted red and featured a new identification method. The first two numbers designated the displacement, while the letter following them would indicate the engine block supplier.

The fuel output is identified by either one or two letters following the supplier code, in which case the lowercase I designates fuel injection. So an engine with a designation code 5.7GXi-B is a 5.7 liter one, with an exceptional output and fuel injection. The final letter indicates the production version, where in this case B stands for the second version.

Volvo Penta Injector Repair and Maintenance

If you are having trouble with your Volvo Penta and looking for a reliable Volvo Penta Injector repair expert, PCE is the leading marine diesel engine repair shop serving San Diego and the surrounding area. With over four decades of experience, PCE was even named the US Navy’s trusted partner.

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