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Old 01-04-2016, 04:22 AM   #1
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Default Is tire alignment a common problem for Sprinter Vans?

In replying to another post, I thought I would start this new thread so I don't hijack the original thread, so here it goes:

After about 17,000 miles on our rig, we noticed a tire wear pattern that concerned us. Basically the front tires were wearing on the outside considerably more than the center and the inside.

Our Sprinter dealer, Lynnwood Mercedes in Lynnwood, WA) said the rig might need alignment, and since they didn't do it there, they sent us to a tire shop down the road a bit (actually QUITE a bit).

Anyway, it cost us $150, but we consider that as money well spent since there was a noteworthy change in the way our 2013 GW Legend SE tracks the road.

Here are a few of the things I found out:

(1) The tire dealership said that they get a bunch of Sprinter Vans in for this service, and they all but eluded that nearly every Sprinter out there needs that service.

(2) Again, according to the tire dealership, the original tires used on Sprinter Vans are not very good quality. (I think they are "Continental", but I'm not sure.)

I'm just wondering if it is common for Sprinter vans to go out of alignment when being shipped, or if the addition of the RV stuff puts them out of line. Can anyone address that issue?

If all, or most of them need it, shouldn't it be a warranty type of item? I wasn't going to submit it because who knows what we might have done in the 17K miles that we've owned it, but if everyone is experiencing this, MB or the outfitter (GW in our case) should cover it.

Does anyone else have experiences or thoughts on the matter?


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Old 01-04-2016, 02:51 PM   #2
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Most Sprinter RV conversions need a front end alignment after all the weight of the conversion is added to the vehicle. The Sprinters leave the factory with front end aligned on an empty vehicle. A few RV manufacturers do the alignment after the conversion, but most don't. Best to get it realigned at the weight you normally drive with.

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Old 01-04-2016, 02:59 PM   #3
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lack of alignment will be more noticeable by removing hands from the wheel on a level ( not crowned) road and seeing if the van wanders.

wear like you describe can be from the weight of the van pushing to the outside on turns.
so could be tire quality- tires unable to resist the wear from this scrubbing, or just a result of the weight carried.

If the van tracks straight, I don;t think you have a problem which an alignment adjustment can solve.

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Old 01-04-2016, 03:36 PM   #4
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Outside wear is usually a sign of too much toe in. Sometimes too much positive camber. As mentioned, the added weight of the conversion is often the cause, as is settling of the suspension parts as they wear in. I think all the brands of vans have the same issue, but many folks don't notice unless it gives odd tire wear. A good alignment would be a positive thing for any new class B after the 5K miles, so the wear pattern can be seen.
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:27 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses everyone. My question is, whether this is something one should ask to be reimbursed for under warranty--and others haven't really addressed that question.

Personally, I'm on the fence about that issue. At 17,000 miles and nearly 3 years, it is entirely possible that we could have done something to knock it out of alignment. But, given our conservative driving, that seems unlikely. Since the tires don't wear immediately, that also seems to favor the argument that the rig wasn't aligned properly when we first got it new.

From what others have written here, it sounds like the addition of the heavy motorhome part of the rig can throw it out of alignment, so one would expect that as part of the outfitting, the outfitting companies should re-align it after the installation of all the "stuff".

I doubt any of the smaller companies would have alignment equipment, so they would probably have to pay nearly the same as the end customer to get it done. It is possible that they just send them out without being re-aligned, and pay the claims when a customer complains. The problem is that the total cost to people like me, the final customer, is not just the $150 + tx. I also have two front tires with abnormal wear on them which will probably have to be replaced sooner than if the alignment was done by the outfitter.

On another thread on this forum, someone wrote that they did get the warranty to pay for one rig's alignment at 10,000 miles, but were denied it on another rig at 25,000 miles. At 17,000, we are right in the middle of those two numbers.

So, if I hear others correctly. If I am going to file a warranty claim for the alignment, it should be with outfitter and not Mercedes, right?

At this point I feel that it might be appropriate to do so, even after 17K miles. Do others feel this way, or do you feel I would be unreasonable to submit such a thing?

Please let me know how you feel about this issue.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 01-05-2016, 12:03 AM   #6
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Check your warranty book. For my 2014 Sprinter, wheel alignment is warranted for 12 months or 12K miles.
Formerly: 2005 Airstream Interstate (Sprinter 2500 T1N)
Now!: 2014 Great West Vans Legend SE (Sprinter 3500 NCV3 I4)
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:12 AM   #7
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You are pretty high in mileage and very high in time, I think, to have a warranty claim, but it never hurts to ask. Be sure to tell them that it handled OK the entire time, without changing, so the only indicator of the error in alignment would be the tire wear and that takes miles. They may or may not bring up all the extra weight in the van from the conversion.

As a reference point. When we bought DW's Mercury Tracer in 1997, nearly all of them we test drove pulled to the right. The dealers stated they don't/won't align them before delivery if you are buying one, and that it would have to be warranty after purchase and within the first 30 days and 1000 miles. We thought that was pretty weird and unprofessional, but we eventually found one that drove well.

I totally agree that the manufacturers should be getting them aligned after the conversion. It would be in their best interest to have them drive the best they can for test drives, but I guess saving $100 is more important to them.
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:52 AM   #8
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Your outfitter was Great West Vans, Sterling, or whatever they called themselves. That is a dead end, no? I think you would be wasting your time pursuing that angle.
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Old 01-05-2016, 03:11 AM   #9
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I had no issue getting Mercedes to cover the alignment on our current van at 10k miles. Had to show the dealer where in the manual it says 1yr/12k miles is covered. I did have to argue a bit with the Mercedes rep to get the tires replaced though before he approved it. (Incidentally, my choice on brand. Went Firestones)
It's common knowledge that RV makers recommend an alignment somewhere in the 5 to 7k mile range on a new one. All 4 I've owned it was recommended by the selling dealer.
To me trying to get anyone other than the owner/driver to pay after say 12k miles is passing the buck so to speak....
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Past RV's: 2013 WGO ERA 70A, Chevy PW Lexor
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Old 01-05-2016, 03:36 AM   #10
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To make sure that the Sprinter parts of my new Agile were correct, I had it in the local MB dealer first thing the day after I picked it up. At the top of my check list was to confirm the alignment was correct which turned out to be fine. Then they fixed the 3 recall notices and the whole visit was free, plus some good coffee.


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