Volvo Penta & Yanmar Marine Engines

Whether you’re browsing for a new-to-you-vessel, or looking to repower something you already have, you might be faced with the Volvo Penta vs Yanmar marine engine debate.

Both of these engines have developed a solid reputation over the years. You’ll find mariners the world over that are brand evangelists and won’t power a boat with anything other than what they know.

This post will take a closer look at the differences between Volvo Penta engines and Yanmar marine engines.

Volvo Penta

First up, let’s take a look at the Volvo Penta. Volvo Penta has been making marine engines for over a century. It’s part of the Volvo group, which has been a world leader in heavy-duty diesel manufacturing for a long time.

Volvo Penta made a splash in the marine industry when they introduced pod drives to market. The idea is that with pod drives, the engine, shaft, and propellers are all one unit. The pods can also be operated independent from one another for advanced maneuverability.

The traditional mariners among us might turn their noses up at a pod drive. But once you’ve experienced pod drives from behind the helm, and you get a taste of the control they give you, it’s hard to say anything bad about them.

All this experience, expertise, and innovation comes with a price – a Volvo Penta engine is an investment. However, this cost is mitigated by the fact that you have a complete propulsion system in one unit.  

In recent years, Volvo Penta have stepped up their game in terms of engine reliability. In fact, the whole engine block is made from solid cast iron. This translates into a heavy, solid engine propelling you through the water.

Volvo Penta’s are simple and easy to maintain if you know what you’re doing.  It always makes sense to have a professional marine company handle regular preventative maintenance and any repairs.  

Which brings me to my next point; always make sure you choose an appropriate engine for your vessel if you are considering an engine repower.    It’s a complex decision considering weight, power, fit, noise and performance objectives.

Feel free to contact our experienced marine mechanical team to help you choose the right engine for your vessel.


Yanmars are a high-end Japanese made engine with an excellent reputation.    

One of the best things about Yanmar marine engines is that they bring common rail technology to smaller engines. I won’t bore you with mountains of tech talk, but here’s the gist; common rail technology is a direct fuel injection system built around high pressure fuel lines. What this means for you is that you get an engine that provides more power in a more efficient manner.  

In contrast to the cast iron block of a Volvo Penta engine, Yanmar engines are made with aluminum and light alloys. This result is a lighter engine that will power your vessel more efficiently.

Whatever metal your engine is made from, please remember to use a product like Tef-Gel wherever two dissimilar metals meet. Future you will thank you.

Which One To Choose

Brand reputations aside, which engine should you choose?

The bottom line is that it all depends on how you see this engine fitting into your lifestyle and your boat.

If complete control of your vessel is paramount for you or your vessel is already equipped with a Volvo,  consider a Volvo Penta.

The pod drives give unparalleled control in almost any situation, even for less experienced mariners. To get the most out of your pods, you should pair them with joystick controls for one handed operation of your vessel.

Bluewater has locations with experienced Volvo Penta mechanics in Metro Vancouver, Maple Ridge and Campbell River and is ready to support you on your adventures.

On the other hand, if you need a light weight engine or extra horse power in smaller area, or your vessel is already equipped with a Yanmar, consider a Yanmar.  

Yanmar engines come with everything you would expect from a quality Japanese manufacturer.  These engines are top quality and built to last.

The main feature of Yanmar engines is the common rail technology. This technology was developed to help the automotive industry meet strict emissions standards in Europe. This led to increased efficiency in automotive engines, so Yanmar decided to use this technology in their marine engines, too.

Last Call

The bottom line is this: with proper maintenance, and by sticking to the service schedule, any diesel engine will last you a long time, be very fuel efficient and suitable for longer voyages.  Especially if you go with a reputable brand like Volvo or Yanmar.