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Old 06-14-2019, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default OBD 2 scanner for 2018 Sprinter

I have tried to research this on line and just get confusing info - hoping perhaps someone here can set me straight.

I do have a wifi-dongle type generic scanner that I used with our GMC Duramax diesel and it seemed to work fine.

I gather th Sprinter has a compatible connector but have not had occasion to try using my existing scanner with it.

I have read however that generic scanners are not really much use with the Sprinter as there are many Mercedes specific codes it cannot read.

Seems that scanners that will do the job are very costly - does this mean that we are out of luck and dependent on Mercedes dealers to scan and erase codes, or is there some reasonably economical scanner I should consider?

We have only had our Sprinter (Pleasure-Way Plateau FL) since last September - done about 7000 miles and so far no issues at all, but I read many reports about check engine lights, limp mode, number of starts left etc and if feasible would like to do what I can to prepare!

Appreciate any advice on this subject! Do I just have to forget it and hope there is a Mercedes dealer nearby when i need one - and pay the cost of scanning etc?

If I had a suitable scanner and had problems with -lets say - a malfunctioning
DEF level sensor that put me into the "Starts left" situation, would I be able to reset that en route?


thanks ............. Brian
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Old 06-14-2019, 02:55 PM   #2
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Check out Ultra-gauge. I got one a few weeks ago and am very happy with it.. I THINK they make a model that will work with the sprinters, not sure... (P.S. it's cheaper than scan-gauge)
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:28 PM   #3
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There are four levels of scanner that can be used with the Sprinter, in order of increasing capability and price:

1) Devices like the Scan-Gauge 2 and the Ultra-gauge can communicate with the Sprinter and will report the raw codes at a basic level. However, since they do not know about the MB-specific codes and sub-codes, they at best provide "hints" as to what is wrong, and can often be misleading. They can clear many codes, but this is often a mistake, since this is usually sweeping the problem under the rug.

2) There are "professional-grade" scanners in the $100-300 price range, such as those from iCarSoft. This are what your local garage probably uses. They know more about Mercedes-specific codes and are somewhat more helpful, but still very limited.

3) You an go to eBay and buy Chinese-clone versions of the Mercedes "Star Diagnostics" system. These run on Windows laptops. You can get just the software (very difficult to get running), a hard-drive with the software and Windows pre-installed, or an entire (used) laptop, ready to boot. Unless you are very competent, the third choice is the most practical. You also need a piece of hardware and some cables to interface with the van. Prices here are $100-$1500 or so. These systems are very capable, but have a steep learning curve. They can do a lot of things, but not everything. The reason is that operations that MB considers "sensitive" (such as clearing emissions "n-starts remaining" states, installing and calibrating some hardware, etc) require communications over the Internet with MB, and that is expensive.

4) A REAL MB Star system, including the necessary subscriptions. This costs thousands of dollars up front, and an ongoing subscription, which is too expensive for most independent garages and nearly all DIY owners. With this, you can do anything that a dealer can do--if you know enough (which you probably don't).

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:52 PM   #4
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Thanks Avanti,

That puts things in perspectives and makes me think I should probably just forget about it.

I imagine the scanner I have is probably similar to the scan gauge and ultra gauge devices you mention. I was able to use it with our Duramax not only for fault codes and clearing of same but also along with iPhone apps to set up all kinds of "custom dashboards" for monitoring various engine parameters.

I understand and agree with your comment about not being wise to sweep codes under the rug, but at times it can be helpful to at least now what they are and perhaps judge their importance.

For example on our last long trip with truck and trailer we suddenly got a code of a bad glow plug on one cylinder. Being in Florida - and with still seven good glow plugs - there was no real issue so rather than waste (probably) a whole day of our trip, trying to have it fixed, I just left it until we got home. I did clear the code, but not surprisingly it just came back with every start!

I think with the Sprinter what ot me thinking that it might be nice to have something along was after reading all the problems about false readings of low DEF and then getting into a sequence of only so many starts left - I don't know how common that is and perhaps now MB have improved this situation, but I though that if there was a way to get around that it could be handy in an emergency.

Meanwhile I just keep the DEF pretty much topped up as many folk suggest - though some others say it is not wide to do that! Hard to know what to believe!

The level (3) suggestion sounds interesting but I am no kind of computer wizard - and in any case, a Mac user, so it might be over my head!

Many thanks for your summary .............. Brian.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avanti View Post
There are four levels of scanner that can be used with the Sprinter, in order of increasing capability and price:

1) Devices like the Scan-Gauge 2 and the Ultra-gauge can communicate with the Sprinter and will report the raw codes at a basic level. However, since they do not know about the MB-specific codes and sub-codes, they at best provide "hints" as to what is wrong, and can often be misleading. They can clear many codes, but this is often a mistake, since this is usually sweeping the problem under the rug.

2) There are "professional-grade" scanners in the $100-300 price range, such as those from iCarSoft. This are what your local garage probably uses. They know more about Mercedes-specific codes and are somewhat more helpful, but still very limited.

3) You an go to eBay and buy Chinese-clone versions of the Mercedes "Star Diagnostics" system. These run on Windows laptops. You can get just the software (very difficult to get running), a hard-drive with the software and Windows pre-installed, or an entire (used) laptop, ready to boot. Unless you are very competent, the third choice is the most practical. You also need a piece of hardware and some cables to interface with the van. Prices here are $100-$1500 or so. These systems are very capable, but have a steep learning curve. They can do a lot of things, but not everything. The reason is that operations that MB considers "sensitive" (such as clearing emissions "n-starts remaining" states, installing and calibrating some hardware, etc) require communications over the Internet with MB, and that is expensive.

4) A REAL MB Star system, including the necessary subscriptions. This costs thousands of dollars up front, and an ongoing subscription, which is too expensive for most independent garages and nearly all DIY owners. With this, you can do anything that a dealer can do--if you know enough (which you probably don't).

Hope this helps.

Are the Chineses clones of decent quality for Sprinter? The GM tech 2 clones appear to be very spotty on if they work or not.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
Are the Chineses clones of decent quality for Sprinter? The GM tech 2 clones appear to be very spotty on if they work or not.
They are all over the place, and are constantly changing. It is really hard to generalize. I bought a turn-key system including a used laptop. It was not too hard to get up and running, and seems to work fine with my MY2014 Sprinter. How well it would work with a newer van, I have no idea. Others have reported a lot of trouble getting started--there are lots of different systems out there. Even when working properly, you have to understand that these are VERY complicated, professional tools. MB techs go to school to learn to use it.

I have had good luck doing things like diagnosing wheel-sensor failures, enabling features on the radio head unit, printing out my DPF regen history, and similar operations. As I said, though, you CANNOT cure a "n-starts remaining" condition due to a DEF system malfunction, at least without having much more skill than I have. You can, apparently, add 5 starts to the count. That is the main reason I bought the system--haven't had the pleasure of trying it, yet, though. I see no evidence that MB has solved those problems with the emissions system. As I have discussed in another thread, I consider the reliability of these systems to be abominable. The basic engine is rock-solid and will likely last forever. The flakey add-ons are a nightmare.
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