Volvo D13 Engine Problems, History, Specifications, & Solutions

The Volvo D13 engine is a powerful turbo diesel engine with a stunning performance. Its intercooler and twin-turbo features deliver plenty of power for hauling heavy loads. The Volvo D13 also comes with eco mode, which helps reduce exhaust emissions and enhance fuel economy.

Though the Volvo D13 is a powerful diesel engine for trucks, it has drawbacks. In this article, I’ll outline common Volvo D13 engine problems and how to minimize the problem. You’ll learn the Volvo D13 engine specs and the vehicles that use it. But first, let’s see the history of this engine.

volvo d13 engine life

Volvo D13 engine explained

So far, the story of Volvo isn’t just about visioning, manufacturing, and refining their vehicles. They deploy ground-breaking technologies and innovations.

The Volvo D13 is a powerful, robust, and reliable diesel engine manufactured by a European car manufacturer since 2005. The D13 was manufactured to replace the D12 Volvo engine, and it is used in several heavy-duty applications, including trucks, marines, and other commercial vehicles.

While the Volvo D12 engine is powerful, robust, and reliable, Volvo saw the need to improve it. That’s why the D13 was manufactured with a focus on increasing fuel efficiency, reducing emissions, and improving engine performance.

The Volvo D13 engine quickly gained popularity when Volvo introduced it into the market due to its performance, low emission, high fuel efficiency, and reliability. It also features Volvo’s patented VEB+ engine brake, which enhances the stopping power and reduces wear on the brake systems.

The Volvo D13 is a six-cylinder, 12.8L diesel truck engine with an overhead camshaft, twin-entry turbo, high-pressure unit injector system, and water-cooled exhaust manifold designed to meet future industry demands. The D13 offers 375 to 500 horsepower and 1,450 to 1,850 torque at 1,000 RPM, enough to meet every trucking demand.

Due to Volvo D13’s reliability, the engine is used in several commercial applications, including trucks and marines. The vehicles that use the Volvo D13 engine are Volvo trucks such as Volvo VNL and Volvo VNR, Mack trucks such as Mack Anthem and Mack Granite, and Prevost such as Prevost X3-45 and Prevost H3-45.

What are the Volvo D13 engine common problems?

Undoubtedly, the Volvo D13 is a reliable and safe engine. However, it has its flaws like other truck engines. These prominent issues will start coming through the door after you hit 500k miles with the engine. So, it’s nothing you should worry about. Here are the common problems you’ll eventually encounter.

Injector cups

The injector cups fail more often than it should. When it does, you’ll experience Volvo d13 bad injector symptoms, which include hard starting, slow power, and improper air-fuel ratio. These are all indications of failed injection cups. However, you won’t notice these symptoms all the time, but they’ll be there in most cases.

The injector cups usually fail prematurely because the D13 engines do not have lower O-rings to seal the injector. Instead, they have an injector seal at the bottom of the cup. As the injector moves, it’ll lose its seals over time, eventually leading to air-fuel ratio issues, Volvo d13 acceleration problems, and other issues.

Filter housing issues

The D13 engine has internal check valves on the filter housing. These check valves fail often. However, the check valves on the filter housing usually fail after covering 500k. So, don’t worry if you are considering getting a new truck with a D13 engine.

Turbo issues

The D13 Volvo engine experience turbo issues over time. When the Turbo fails, the Truck computer will log a DTC actuator fault code on its memory. That code tells you that the turbo is not opening and closing as predefined by the manufacturer. Always address the root cause of any other logged Volvo d13 engine codes on the truck memory when diagnosing the truck for turbo issues.

The turbos on D13 Volvo engines have veins inside, which accumulate carbon build-up over time. The carbon build-up will not allow the veins inside to freely open and close the actuator when necessary.

Sometimes, the actuator issues could result from electrical problems, and that’s why you need to consult a certified technician to diagnose and rectify the root cause of the problem.

Crankcase pressure issues

Another notable 2009 to 2018 Volvo D13 engine problems is crankcase pressure issues. A crankcase pressure issues usually come on when the crankcase sensor goes bad.

The D13 Volvo engine has an oil level sender unit in the crankcase that sends the particular oil level to the Truck powertrain control module to know the engine oil level in the truck. That fails pretty much at times. So, that’s one of the 2010 Volvo D13 engine problems you should look into as well. It is also common with other D13-year models.

The crankcase filter housing usually leaks when you cross the 500k miles benchmark. So, you should inspect and replace it once you cover 500k miles. If you ignore it, there will be motor oil leaks in that area, causing a lot of mess on the truck.

After treatment system

Most trucks have after-treatment systems. One of the common Volvo diesel engine problems as well as other trucks, lies in the after-treatment system. You’ll often have low NOX, which is not converting the nitrous oxide to the required level. Usually, the dozer on the DEF will be clogged. The injector dozers for a D13 engine fail often.

EGR system issues

Another Volvo D13 marine engine problem is the EGR failure. This is also common with the D13 engine on trucks. You’ll either have EGR system leaks, a clogged EGR cooler, or a clogged EGR differential. The EGR system issues usually occur after covering 500k miles. 

Thankfully, all you have to do in most cases is to pull the EGR cooler and clean the accumulated carbons.

Clutch issues

Another 2012 Volvo D13 engine problem will see coming through the door is clutch issues after covering 500k miles. This happens to all Volvo D13 engine models, but they experience clutch issues at 600k miles or so, depending on the driver’s driving style.

On the D13 engine, the clutches are on high-shift transmissions. You can’t just replace the clutch. You’ll replace the clutch, the clutch actuator, and the air module for the clutch actuator, and many other components.

Oil leaks

Oil leaks are one of the common D13 Volvo engine problems on high-mileage trucks. You’ll have oil leaks from the valve cover and leaks from the crankcase filter housing.

Electrical issues

The D13 Volvo engine features advanced electrical issues like car sensors, wirings, actuators, and control modules. Whenever there are issues with the wiring, sensors, modules, or the car software needs an update, it’ll cause electrical problems in the truck.

Electrical issues in trucks can lead to poor acceleration, increased emissions, and engine misfires. Regular inspection and maintenance of the electrical system will help prevent electrical problems in cars and trucks.

There may be more issues you’ll experience on a D13 Volvo-equipped engine, but these are the common issues across all trucks with the D13 Volvo engine.

How do you Minimize the Volvo D13 engine problems?

All car and truck engines develop problems over time. It is just a matter of time. While you can’t stop these engines from becoming faulty, you can prevent or minimize avoidable issues.

Cultivate regular maintenance culture

Volvo has a regular maintenance schedule that the manufacturers recommend for the D13 engine to keep it running at peak performance. Some of this maintenance includes regular engine oil and filter changes and inspections on the EGR, fuel, and turbo system to track and fix issues at the early stage.

Carrying out these maintenances and inspections will help minimize or prevent avoidable issues from arising.

Use premium parts and components

Always stick with the recommended parts, fluids, or components for your vehicle. For instance, always use the recommended oil for your Volvo D13 engine during oil changes. Using low-quality oil will result in poor lubrication, poor engine performance, overheating, or excess exhaust smoke from the tailpipe.

Hire well-trained drivers

Driving styles can determine how long car parts will last. For instance, aggressive driving with automatic braking will surely reduce the lifespan of the brake pads. The same applies to the engine. Starting and stopping the car properly, not idling the engine too long, clutching correctly, and avoiding aggressive driving will minimize certain engine problems.

Check out your engine

Your car and its engine should be your friend. Master how it behaves and acts once you notice something wrong. For instance, if you know how your engine sounds, you can easily detect when something is wrong by noticing the change in sound.

The change in sound could be that something is lose or damaged in the engine. It could also mean there’s improper oil lubrication. Checking your truck engine includes:

  • Checking the oil level.
  • Running oil analysis.
  • Visual inspection of other engine parts.
  • Reading logged engine codes.

Plus, pay attention to warning signs. Always diagnose the truck whenever you notice a warning sign.

Fix problems at an early stage

Identifying engine problems is not enough. You have to fix it as soon as possible to prevent a small problem from escalating to a major one. Of course, this will help you prolong the engine’s lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: How long do D13 engines last?

According to John Moore, a Volvo powertrain product marketing manager, a Volvo D13 engine life is about 1.2 million miles with B50 ratings, the same with D11 engines. This means that 50% of all D13 Volvo engines will cover 1.2 million miles before requiring a major engine parts replacement.

Q: How good is the Volvo D13 engine?

The Volvo D13 engine has balanced power and efficiency, making it an ideal engine to guarantee confidence on the wheel. Vehicles equipped with this powerful engine are graced with unique performance and breathtaking power of up to 500 horsepower and 1,850 torque at 1,000 RPM.

The engine is also solid and reliable, as it can travel 500k miles without requiring a major repair. If John Moore’s claim is true, 50% of Volvo D13 engines can cover 1.2 million miles without requiring significant repairs. This is an insane performance.

Q: How many Litres is a D13 engine?

The Volvo Penta D13 diesel engine is a straight six-cylinder, 12.8L, with an overhead camshaft, high-pressure unit injector system, twin-entry turbocharge, and a water-cooled exhaust manifold.

Q: Is Volvo D13 a Detroit engine?

No, the Volvo D13 is not a Detroit engine. The Volvo D13 is a powerful diesel engine manufactured by Volvo and is in their truck engine line-ups. On the other hand, Detroit engines are manufactured by Detroit Diesel Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America. While both Volvo and the Detroit Diesel Corporation produce quality truck engines, they are not the same.

Q: What is the difference between Volvo D13 and DD13?

Volvo manufactures the Volvo D13, while Detroit Diesel Corporation manufactures the DD13. They have vital similarities in performance but differ in power output. For example, the Detroit DD13 produces a minimum horsepower of 350, while the Volvo D13 outburst 375 hp. The same differences apply to their torque.

Q: How often to change oil on Volvo D13 engine?

Generally, Volvo recommends changing the motor oil on Volvo D13 engines every 25,000 miles. Since the D13 is used on several trucks, it’s better to stick with the recommendation in the owner’s manual. Some may require you to change the oil early or longer than 25k miles. Also, always ensure the oil level stays at the recommended level at all times to prevent causing engine breakdown.

Q: How many horsepower is a D13?

As explained early, the Volvo D13 engine has breathtaking horsepower. Its entry-level comes with 375 horsepower and 1,450 lb-ft of torque at 1,000 RPM. While this is enough to keep you confident behind the wheel, it has a version that can boost up to 500 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque at 1,000 RPM.

Q: What is the max HP for Volvo D13?

As pointed out early, the Volvo D13 diesel engine has different versions with different horsepower and torque. It has 375 to 500 horsepower and 1,450 to 1,850 lb-ft of torque. The max HP for Volvo D13 is 500 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque at 1,000 RPM.

Final Words

The Volvo D13 is a powerful and reliable engine in the Volvo engine line-up with stunning performance, horsepower, and torque. It is widely used in the trucking industry due to its power and performance. However, the engine has its flaws like every other engine. The Volvo D13 engine problems include turbo failures, electrical issues, injector cups, filter housing leaks, EGR failures, etc.

Thankfully, these problems start coming through the door after covering 500k to 600k miles. The best part is, even after coving this benchmark, you can also minimize these problems to save money on repairs and extend your engine’s life by religiously following the guidelines suggested in this guide.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

Recent Posts