Most Common Problems With Volvo Penta KAD44

In 1907, Volvo Penta, initially known as Penta, manufactured its first marine engine, the B1. After Volvo acquired Penta in 1935, the brand became Volvo Penta. 

It was in 1991 when Volvo Penta introduced its KAD concept to the world. They initiated the KAD42, which later became the world’s most selling diesel Aquamatic. 

The engine produces an incredible amount of power and torque due to its mechanical compressor and turbocharger. As a result, the vehicle accelerates impressively fast even at low revs. In this article, we are going to share with you some of the most common problems with Volvo Penta KAD44 that you need to watch out for so that you can take proper actions accordingly. Let’s get the ball rolling. 

The Volvo Penta KAD44 Engine

The Volvo Penta KAD44 EDC was not introduced until 1997, seven years after the KAD42. From 1997-2004, the engines have been manufactured in different specifications. The KAD44P, the KAD44P-A, the KAD44P-B, and the KAD44P-C are some of them. 

Designed to rival gasoline competitors, these engines provided unsurpassed performance. Besides, as marine diesel engines operate in harsh saltwater, they are specially designed to withstand that. 

Because of the remarkable performances of their engines, Volvo Penta is highly reputed in the USA. However, with the sheer performance, Volvo Penta’s KAD44 does come with some drawbacks. 

4 Most Common Problems of Volvo Penta KAD44 Engines:

1. Revs Remain Limiting to a Certain RPM 

Volvo Penta KAD44 has been notorious for being comparatively underpowered. Although this engine has the power to spare, there is one critical area that may cause an issue. 

No high revs are heard from the engine. According to some, the speed increases as expected up to half throttle. Although the speed has changed only slightly after half-throttle, not much of it was noticeable. 

From 0 to 10 knots, the engine appears to work perfectly without experiencing any problems. Once it reaches 3000 RPM, however, the throttle starts to lose power and then doesn’t respond at all. 

The revving issue may be a result of a calibration problem. However, Volvo Penta KAD44 doesn’t lose its calibration that easily. Yet, a recalibration can be a valid solution to the problem. 

Altering the turbo o-rings on the air intake line can also work wonders. Oftentimes, engines don’t come with the right size, which is why checking the size is extremely crucial. 

2. Engine Fails to Start at Time to Time 

Having trouble starting is another Volvo Penta KAD44 problem. Volvo Penta KAD44 starters are reportedly disengaging only after 1.5 seconds for many users. Particularly with Vintage 2000 Volvo Penta KAD44’s, this issue is very common.

Surprisingly, there is no wrong with the starter, which happens to work perfectly. Even when the battery cables are clean and secure, the problem tends to occur. 

Several users have reported doing swaps of the relays in their EDCs, but that did not help. It is not clear why the starter keeps getting cut off. 

It has been noticed that the engine does turn slower compared to other engines. In the case of a battery switchover, however, linking the batteries together increases the turn speed. 

When the problem is still in its early stages, engaging the changeover switch may be a good alternative. As time goes on, however, the problem may deteriorate, and this will not help. 

Fortunately, some have found cutting the power to the ECU has proven to be workable. Although this may sound to be a hassle, it still may give you the enjoyment you want. 

3. Overheating of the Engine

Overheating is another issue that occurs with the Volvo Penta KAD44. Even though the Penta is an incredibly powerful engine, overheating can greatly diminish its performance.

The computer shuts off the RPM whenever the engine experiences a heating issue. This results in you losing significant speed on your boat. This can be baffling, since the heat exchanger, oil cooler, and aftercooler may have all been operating perfectly at the time. 

The possible heating issue may occur because of a few reasons. Insufficient water flow is one of them. Other causes can be unable to exchange heat or improper system maintenance. Such issues have been recorded quite often with the KAD44. 

The airbound of the cooling system can be another possible reason for the problem. Leaking seals is the main reason for this issue. The leaks lead air to enter the system. Finding the leaks and fixing them is quite simple too. 

As well as the gauge, there could be other problems with the engine. To verify whether the boat has heated up, use an IR temperature gun during an alert of overheating. 

4. Disengagement of Turbo-Charger at Higher RPM 

There has been yet another very frustrating problem about the disengagement of the turbocharger. At a higher RPM, the engine tends to disengage the turbo-charger and will not engage at all. 

According to one user, the Penta KAD44 ran smoothly up to 2800 RPM. Once the speed had reached 14-15 knots, the supercharger decided to disengage. And then the process is repeated constantly, disengaging and reengaging. 

Some, however, claim that their KAD44 reengages after the disengage only when the engine has been loaded. This causes a significant drop in the RPM. As the RPM continues to increase, the problem occurs again. 

Star port engine getting overloaded is another issue that is associated with this problem. As these events occur, the rpm will fall, and the supercharger will engage.

Retracting the trim tabs until the clutch engages and disengages a few times solves the problem in some cases. From that point on, the speed increases steadily as the RPM rises. If not fixed, consulting a mechanic is a wise move.  

General Pros and Cons of the Volvo Penta KAD44:

Volvo Penta, which started as Penta, manufactures some of the best engines in the market. Following Volvo’s purchase of Penta in 1935, they created the finest engines to this day. 

Their performance is what drives the users, and their reliability is what makes them loyal. Moreover, they have introduced a number of innovative and technological products over the years. Their popularity is not surprising.

Although we have discussed the 4 problems that Volvo Penta KAD44 engines can have, they still have many advantages


  • The engine is supercharged for low RPM and turbocharged for high RPM. This allows the engine to provide excellent power, no matter what the speed of the boat is. 
  • Effortless to fix, the KAD44 is easy to maintain as well. Hence, it has proved the engine to be more dependable in the long run. 
  • Despite its speed, the engine does not consume as much fuel as its competitors. Also, this engine outperforms all gasoline engines in its class in terms of power.


  • Revs Remain Limiting to a Certain RPM
  • Engine Fails to Start at Time to Time
  • Overheating of the Engine
  • Disengagement of Turbo-Charger at Higher RPM

Final Verdict

Before you purchase a Volvo Penta KAD44, you should carefully consider its pros and cons. Even with its shortcomings, this is still an extremely powerful engine from a reputable brand. 

Based on the advantages this engine will allow you to have, buying this will not be a mistake. Thanks to its strength and functionality, you won’t regret buying it.

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