Mercruiser vs. Volvo parts availability


Feb 14, 2024
Hi all,
I am considering a new boat that has a Volvo penta engine. I currently have a mercuiser but it's very old, a pre-alpha. The penta is a AQ271c.
I don't want to open the "merc vs volvo" debate in terms of which one is better, but one thing that people tend to say is that Volvo is more reliable but parts are harder to get and more expensive.
Given that I have a pre alpha merc, I struggle a little to find parts and I don't want to make it HARDER to get parts. So I guess I'm asking, how does volvo compare to specifically a pre alpha in terms of parts availability and cost?

If we're talking, like, a 10% bump in price and parts are still accessible but you might have to order them online instead of walking into a west marine, that's fine. I already have to order most of my parts on eBay :)

But if prices are like 10x and you can't even order them when you need one, that's pretty bad.


Scott Danforth

Grumpy Vintage Moderator still playing with boats
Staff member
Jul 23, 2011
first, welcome aboard

the AQ271C is a 1988 manufacturing year. it is a 275hp 5.7 liter V8 coupled to a DP290 or DP290a or a DP-A drive that is 36/37 years old. it is the small tilt pin version

parts are mostly available, however pricy. some are = to Mercruiser in price. some are 10x mercruiser price, some you need to order 10 pcs and you only need 1. Some parts will come from europe

Additionally, because its a much older drive, most of the mechanics that used to work on these have long since retired. so you may have to do the work yourself.

If you do the work yourself, you will need a factory service manual for the drive at a minimum.

that being said, they are a fairly robust drive, much closer in design to the Merc Bravo, than the MC drive you are used to. I know I abuse mine (however I also have a complete spare)

the square tilt/trim meter for the PTT is NLA. there is an aftermarket version out there yet to be proven.

some things to expect because I have BTDT:
  • the seals in the trim cylinders will need to be replaced. this can be done with the drive installed, and the transom shield still in the boat. however does require pin spanners, and the ability to rebuild a cylinder hanging from the blind end.
  • the PDS bearings may need to be replaced. this requires the removal of the PDS housing.
  • if the bellows maintenance has not been kept up. plan on a new u-joint shaft and to reseal the transmission. this requires new crush sleeve and shim kit.
  • the white metal raw water inlet casting lasts about 2-3 years. so stay on top of the annual drive maintenance.
  • the rubber engine mounts will be near the end of their life.

my recommendation. buy a boat/drive no older than 10-15 years old.


Staff member
Jul 18, 2011
You might be able to answer that for some specific Volvo parts and compare to the equivalent parts on an Alpha drive.

As an example . . . this hose lists for $190 in V-P, but you can get it for $170 ish.
Screenshot 2024-02-14 at 3.47.32 PM.png

An equivalent Mercruiser may require 2 hoses, but only around $130 total.

So, estimating a 10% uplift to own a V-P might be a bit low . . . I think 30-50% is a safer number.

And . . .

+1 to what @Scott Danforth said.


Vice Admiral
Apr 20, 2014
While the dog clutch is not sexy it is hard to beat a Merc Alpha for parts availability and low cost of ownership. Gen 2 which is current production came out in 91, so plenty of older boats with them installed.

Of course this only works for boats up to about 22 ft before they tap out to a more robust drive being needed...

Lou C

Supreme Mariner
Nov 10, 2002
In addition to what's been said, keep in mind that sooner or later you will have to fix something you can't do yourself, so find out if marine repair shops will work on a Volvo that age. If no one will do it, I think it's risky.