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Volvo Diesel Engine Troubleshooting, Part 1

Volvo Diesel Engine Troubleshooting, Part 1

We love diesel engines. We put them in our cars, our boats and use them as electricity generators. One of the reasons we love them so much is because they are sturdy, reliable and durable. However, all machinery can break down, and so can diesel engines. 

Some lines of diesel engines were shown to be quite unreliable, whether due to the poor quality of parts or a mechanical fault. Volvo, however, has a strong reputation as reliable and durable. So, what do you do if your Volvo engine is giving you a headache?

First of all, find a good mechanic. Not everyone can do good Volvo diesel engine repair. In San Diego, PCE is a reliable partner for any kind of mechanical or diesel problem. But before you visit a mechanic, see if you can diagnose the problem yourself. It may not be as big of a problem as it seems at first. 

This little reminder can be very valuable if your troubles start somewhere out at sea, where no mechanic is available. Here are some common faults of Volvo diesel engines.


This problem is broad and can have more than one possible cause. It may be a sign of serious malfunction, but it can just as easily be something minor. Check these options before you chalk it up to engine failure.

·         Clogging – Essentially, any kind of debris you may have picked up along the way, such as sand, dirt, leaves, etc. can block the coolant from circulating properly through the engine, causing overheating. If you have been going through some less than clean waters lately, this might just be your problem.
·         Low coolant levels – If you haven’t thought of checking your coolant levels first, do it now. It may be as simple as that. Powerful diesel engines require a lot of cooling. If you have an insufficient amount of coolant in your system, the cooling will be ineffective and heat will build up over time.
·         Leaks – The bane of any engine, leaking comes as a result of misalignment of engine parts or due to some kind of mechanical damage. Check your engine for any leaks visually.

White or gray smoke

If your engine is billowing thick white or light gray smoke, you can be reasonably sure that you have oil problems. If your engine doesn’t cut out by itself, you should do it immediately. Otherwise, you may wreck your engine. 

Once you have stopped, and the engine has cooled down, check your oil levels. Just like in a car, you need to add the missing oil and let it settle before you check the levels again. That should solve the problem, but if it occurs frequently, you will need to visit a mechanic.

Black smoke

This problem is usually coupled with the loss of power and uneven performance of the engine. The culprit of this issue is the air intake. Diesel engines require a lot of air to run properly. If there is any kind of obstruction to the airflow, it can present any or all of these symptoms. 

Check your intake valves for any debris or clogging. Clean your air filters as a first aid measure, or have them replaced by a mechanic. Similarly, the exhaust part needs to be equally unobstructed. Make sure that the exhaust is not obstructed or damaged.

There are other symptoms which may indicate that your marine Volvo diesel engine needs some attention. If you are not skilled at mechanics, there are professionals who are willing and able to help you. PCE has over four decades of experience with marine mechanics and diesel engines.

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