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Old 12-29-2016, 07:28 AM   #1
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Default Sprinter - Operating Costs & Maintenance

Hello,

I would like to get an idea how much it costs to own a Sprinter. In particular a 4x4 Sprinter although RWD experience is welcome. Details like mileage, regular maintenance (Brakes, Oil changes, Fuel Filter), and unexpected repairs - particularly expensive surprises.

I know Mercedes recommends oil changes every 20K, but I checked with a couple of the well known Ester-Synthetic Oil brands and they offered that 18K or once a year is possible, but a 10K-12K oil change interval is worth considering.

In short if I buy a Sprinter how much more money do I need to set aside (per year) to keep driving it?

Thanks...
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:23 AM   #2
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:45 PM   #3
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson


That article is full of hidden information, I am surprised that people are still quoting it.


Who were driving those vans? temps? contractors? full time employees?

How were the vans driven? stop-and-go? long haul?

How much idling were done?
How much short city driving vs long stretch highway?

Did they clear the filters per instruction after long idles?


I see a complaint, but not much data.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:40 PM   #4
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson
The experience shown in that article is not representative of typical usage, go to Sprinter Source for good info. Sprinter is not a cheap vehicle to own but not as bad as that article.
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Old 12-29-2016, 02:01 PM   #5
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OH NO, not that chestnut again. I agree that you shouldn't lose sleep over that nonsense.

You will get opinions all over the spectrum concerning oil-change intervals. As far as I can see, NONE of them have data behind them. I follow the MB specs to the letter, as do a great many other people, without obvious issue. Lots of folks get hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles on these engines while following these specs.

Now, there IS a real concern about finicky emissions systems, mostly associated with the DEF system. They are not particularly reliable, and can lead to the dreaded "count down to no-start" conditions. All of this is covered under the extended emissions warranty, so it isn't really a cost issue as much as potential inconvenience.

If you want to set an upper limit on cost of maintenance, MB will gladly sell you a pre-paid maintenance plan, so you will know the costs up front. However, it will cost you a lot less to do it yourself, or to have a local garage do it. Sprinters are very easy to service, for the most part.
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:16 PM   #6
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Default Fatal Flaws of Sprinter

Yes I read that a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say that article and some other articles and posts online kept me from buying a Crew Cab Sprinter 4 x 4 that was configured just the way I want. Someone else snapped it up. I am still trying to figure out the best vehicle for my budget and requirements. The Sprinter looks to offer better mileage, is 4x4 ready (up to a point), and I like the size and design. It is expensive but not that much more than a Transit or other alternatives once you add a more capable 4x4 drivetrain to the latter. Note a Nissan NV2500/3500 with 4x4 conversion and the Nissan 5 year 100,000 mile warranty is looking like the best value in a rock solid chassis. The dimensions of the Nissan are what are keeping me from going in that direction (Standard van height is too short inside for a camper van & the tall one is too tall for off-road in my opinion). Ideally I would like a more capable 4x4 drivetrain, but I think a Sprinter can satisfy most of my requirements, and may actually offer better traction and handling on the road in snow and bad weather. Sprinters are used now by just about every major class B RV manufacturer so it would seem they are working well for many people. Although I am here to find out if I am wrong, or to identify common issues to keep an eye on, in addition to just finding out what people's experience is with their Sprinter.

I have come back around to feeling like I can probably handle these issues mentioned in the Fatal Flaws article, after discussing them with experienced independent Mercedes (diesel) mechanics. I get the impression that these are issues you are going to face with current diesel engines/DEF/DPF smog systems regardless of make or model. This article speaks to the issues in the Fatal Flaws article:

BlueTec Diesel Issues/Problems | Stephens Service Center - Sacramento's Best Mercedes-Benz Service & Repairs

I have a German sedan (not Mercedes) that I bought new 15 years ago, that currently has 280,000 miles on it. It is a gas turbo engine AWD car. I have driven it all over North America including a recent cross country drive with 265,000 miles on it. The key thing is I know how to take care of it. I know what to look out for, and I know when something is not right. I have a single mechanic who works on it, who knows it, and whom I have faith in. When I hit the road I am pretty certain as I can be that the car is ready and will not let me down. Like a Sprinter good luck finding a mechanic in rural Nevada, Utah, or rural California for that matter, who can fix anything if it breaks down. So I have 100 mile road side assistance and one day I may have to tow it 300 miles to the nearest dealership. Have not had to do that yet but when and if it happens, I can honestly say not bad for 15 years and 300,000 miles. Still my car is gas not diesel and I know how a damn sensor can end up getting you towed even though there is basically nothing wrong. It has been impressed upon me and I agree, do not buy a Sprinter without the maximum extended warranty, because in 150,000 miles there are going to be repairs like the DEF tank, likely failure of components that are not robust enough for regular dirt road use over time, and other gremlins in the diesel exhaust system. If you know your vehicle, if you have a good mechanic, you should be able to stay on top of this stuff and be able to recognize when things need attention before they leave you stuck on the side of the road.

By the way re: oil service intervals, which are related to engine wear and tear, and ash accumulating in your DPF. I spoke to a couple of the top brands in Ester based synthetic oils and was told to change the oil at least once a year or 18K miles on the outside. They also offered that changing it between 10K - 12K miles is worth considering. So I would say get the best Ester based synthetic oils and change it every 10K, or even 7.5K if you drive for six weeks through the mountains and regularly taking off down dirt roads.

So back to getting some information from Sprinter owners so I can compare and get an idea of an expected range of the cost of operating a Sprinter. One key variable I would appreciate peoples experience with is having basic service done by an independent mechanic as opposed to a dealership which tend to overprice necessary service and you have no idea who is working on your vehicle. Also hope to get a few folks relating their mileage with the 3 liter six diesel with a loaded/built out van and or towing a trailer.
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:33 PM   #7
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Everything I have seen compiled about the MB emissions system suggest that a lot of the problems up until 2014 were:
Not using proper MB approved engine oil;
Letting the engine idle and thus preventing the regen cycles;
Not using clean/approved DEF and not keeping it topped up;
Letting crystals/gunk fall into the DEF when filling;
Using fuels with more than 5% blends.

Theres a good thread over at the Sprinter Forum, with owners telling the mileages they have on their vehicles. Some pretty impressive numbers. We only have 10K on our 2.1 Litre / 7 speed and no problems. But I have heard the sixes do have a few more issues.

But who really knows...
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:36 PM   #8
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OH NO, not that chestnut again. I agree that you shouldn't lose sleep over that nonsense....

... Now, there IS a real concern about finicky emissions systems, mostly associated with the DEF system. They are not particularly reliable, and can lead to the dreaded "count down to no-start" conditions. All of this is covered under the extended emissions warranty, so it isn't really a cost issue as much as potential inconvenience.
The diesel emission system problems are not limited to Sprinters. Just search some of the other forums for Ford Powerstroke and GM Duramax problems. All diesels since 2010 have these systems and they remind me of the early 70's gas engine emission systems - problematic.

VW tried to get by without these systems by cheating, but got caught.
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Old 12-29-2016, 09:24 PM   #9
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By the way re: oil service intervals, which are related to engine wear and tear, and ash accumulating in your DPF. I spoke to a couple of the top brands in Ester based synthetic oils and was told to change the oil at least once a year or 18K miles on the outside. They also offered that changing it between 10K - 12K miles is worth considering. So I would say get the best Ester based synthetic oils and change it every 10K, or even 7.5K if you drive for six weeks through the mountains and regularly taking off down dirt roads.
1) You might want to get advice from somebody who is not trying to sell you anything. There is ZERO objective evidence that the MB recommended intervals are not perfectly adequate. If you don't believe it, get your oil tested at whatever interval you see fit. But please don't waste our precious remaining oil based on internet hearsay or self-serving advice by corporate marketeers.

2) It is VERY important to use only MB approved oils. If they don't have the R228.51, R229.31 or R229.51 certs on the can, do not buy them. These highly-engineered oils are key to these extended oil-change intervals, and to the health of your DPF.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:01 AM   #10
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Default Sprinter - Diesel DEF & Service Intervals

Roxy4x4 regarding, "Letting crystals/gunk fall into the DEF when filling;" I have a picture of DEF snow surrounding the DEF cap on a new Sprinter on the lot that I popped the hood on. It certainly illustrated the problem of people who do not know any better, getting their hands on your vehicle and not treating it correctly. This is basic stuff, and not knowing any better than to rinse off spilled DEF is careless and sloppy. If this is how a vehicle is treated when it is new and they are trying to sell it, then it calls into question if they will exercise the care necessary to avoid the simple mistakes that can lead to expensive repairs when you take your vehicle in for service.

Avanti - Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to the care of their vehicle. For me if I am the owner of any engine with a turbo, let alone a hot running turbo diesel, I am going to play it safe with my oil change intervals. When the manufacturers of the best racing motor oils made, say yes you might be ok with changing their oil once a year or 18K but a 10K - 12K interval is a safer bet, then the latter better fits my comfort level. In addition I have checked this with mechanics I know who work on diesel engines who are adamant regarding not going beyond 10K, so I am going to change my oil more frequently than Mercedes recommends without hesitation. My car with 280,000 miles on it had a recall on the engine for oil sludge because the manufacturer originally stated you could use regular non synthetic oil. Engine failure at 100,000 miles was not uncommon. After issuing the recall they changed their tune and stated synthetic oil only and shortened the oil change interval. Once again I have never had a problem because I had good advice from the beginning and used top of the line synthetic oil and changed it every 5K. Regarding Mercedes Benz spec, I can assure you Mercedes Benz does not posses some secret motor oil that out performs what is readily available and arguably better than what they are selling. I may be wrong but I am not aware of Mercedes Benz having an oil refining operation. I assume they are getting it from someone who does produce motor oils to meet their spec. I am aware of the following brands of oil for those who are interested that are second to none and include oils that meet and exceed Mercedes spec.

https://www.redlineoil.com/products.aspx

Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil Products | Shell ROTELLA®


AMSOIL Synthetic Diesel Motor Oil, Engine Oil

An explanation of the latest standards:

What is PC-11? Now Called CK-4 & FA-4 | Shell ROTELLA®
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:44 AM   #11
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Default Clarification

I wanted to clarify the following statement I made so as to not ruffle any feathers of the many excellent mechanics in rural areas:

"Like a Sprinter good luck finding a mechanic in rural Nevada, Utah, or rural California for that matter, who can fix anything if it breaks down."

I meant it is unlikely you are going to find a mechanic who regularly works on and is familiar with a Sprinter or some European sedans like the one I have. Having said that if you ever get stuck around Bishop, CA on 395 in the Eastern Sierras I recommend Warren's Auto Repair. My alternator kicked the bucket after 225,000 miles. I checked out a couple of other garages in town first including one that expressly works on European cars. Be careful ! I am grateful that one of them was honest enough to tell me that they just did not want to touch it because they were not familiar with my car. The owner of Warren's is an experienced hand and the other guy working there is very capable too and cares about his work. They overnighted an alternator from the dealership and had my car back on the road the next day. I am glad to report the critters left my tent and gear alone up on White Mtn. while I was stuck in Bishop.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:02 PM   #12
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Here is another website that speaks of the sprinter costs.
Continuous DEF Problems with Sprinters | Page 5 | Expedite Trucking Forums

I personally know 5 people that had sprinters. 3 of them are boat owners and told me their sprinters cost more to maintain than their boats did. I will never buy a sprinter.

I wish the best for the current sprinter owners.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:33 PM   #13
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I fully realize that this thread is turning into yet another oil rant, and also that I have zero chance of changing your mind. My only goal is to address the record for the benefit of others who might be influenced by unsound and dangerous advice.

Let's look at your arguments:

1) "I am going to play it safe with my oil change intervals."
My problem is not with "playing it safe", it is the source of your beliefs about what constitutes "safe". You are entitled to your own "comfort level", but not to your own facts. How do you know that the MB-specified intervals are not "safe"? I guess you don't really mean "safe", you mean "safer". But, how safe is enough? if 10K is better, wouldn't 5K be safer still? But then, why not 3K, or 1K, or 400 miles (which is what the Model T required). The problem is that as far as you have told us, your numbers are being pulled out of the air. You cite "the manufacturers of the best racing motor oils". But, where did THEIR numbers come from? Do they collect statistics about every drivetrain their products may be used in? Oh, and by the way, are you really talking about published documents, or are we talking about some guy who answered the help line? Citations, please. I won't even bother to comment on the "mechanics I know who work on diesel engines."

2) "My car with 280,000 miles on it had a recall on the engine for oil sludge because the manufacturer originally stated you could use regular non synthetic oil. Engine failure at 100,000 miles was not uncommon."
What exactly is your point? Perhaps that engineers can make mistakes? This is certainly true, but what possible relevance does this have to your oil change intervals? If the manufacturer of your unnamed vehicle can make mistakes, so can the "manufacturers of the best racing motor oils" and so can mechanics you know. We live in an imperfect world. The question is who is most likely to be right. Of everyone we are talking about, is it not plausible that the engineers who designed the specific vehicle in question and the company who sells, warrants, and services millions of these vehicles might have the best numbers?

Finally, and most importantly:
3) "I can assure you Mercedes Benz does not posses some secret motor oil that out performs what is readily available and arguably better than what they are selling. I may be wrong but I am not aware of Mercedes Benz having an oil refining operation."
What on earth are you talking about? Where did I suggest that you should buy your oil from MB or that you should only buy MB-branded oil? What I said was that you must use only an oil that meets the BEVO specs R228.51, R229.31 or R229.51. If you are claiming that you can ignore these specifications as long as you are using an oil that is "second to none", then you are giving advice that I sincerely hope no one follows. It has nothing to do with who refines the oil or with quality. It has to do with engineering specifications. These oils have very specific properties, and it is exactly these properties that help make the MB extended oil change intervals safe. The oils you list may be "second to none", but if they do not have the appropriate BEVO certs on the can, they MUST NOT be used in a Sprinter.

Again, I know you are going to do whatever you want. And, if oil were an renewable resource and it was only your pocketbook at risk, then I would totally support your right to do so. But, it ISN'T renewable, so we all have a responsibility to our kids not to waste it. Unnecessary oil changes waste unbelievable amounts of precious oil. This is not "playing it safe", it is unethical.


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Avanti - Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to the care of their vehicle. For me if I am the owner of any engine with a turbo, let alone a hot running turbo diesel, I am going to play it safe with my oil change intervals. When the manufacturers of the best racing motor oils made, say yes you might be ok with changing their oil once a year or 18K but a 10K - 12K interval is a safer bet, then the latter better fits my comfort level. In addition I have checked this with mechanics I know who work on diesel engines who are adamant regarding not going beyond 10K, so I am going to change my oil more frequently than Mercedes recommends without hesitation. My car with 280,000 miles on it had a recall on the engine for oil sludge because the manufacturer originally stated you could use regular non synthetic oil. Engine failure at 100,000 miles was not uncommon. After issuing the recall they changed their tune and stated synthetic oil only and shortened the oil change interval. Once again I have never had a problem because I had good advice from the beginning and used top of the line synthetic oil and changed it every 5K. Regarding Mercedes Benz spec, I can assure you Mercedes Benz does not posses some secret motor oil that out performs what is readily available and arguably better than what they are selling. I may be wrong but I am not aware of Mercedes Benz having an oil refining operation. I assume they are getting it from someone who does produce motor oils to meet their spec. I am aware of the following brands of oil for those who are interested that are second to none and include oils that meet and exceed Mercedes spec.

https://www.redlineoil.com/products.aspx

Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil Products | Shell ROTELLA®


AMSOIL Synthetic Diesel Motor Oil, Engine Oil

An explanation of the latest standards:

What is PC-11? Now Called CK-4 & FA-4 | Shell ROTELLA®
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:39 PM   #14
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Here is another website that speaks of the sprinter costs.
Continuous DEF Problems with Sprinters | Page 5 | Expedite Trucking Forums

::

I wish the best for the current sprinter owners.

Nothing new. This is the same case.

That's the same guy with the same story as the link in the earlier post.
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Old 12-30-2016, 04:00 PM   #15
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There’s as many if not more ‘success stories’ with Sprinters citing 300K, 400K and more for miles and low upkeep costs. If you want to find negative feedback you can find it. My point was that if you treat the engine properly (don’t do what many do with wrong oils, poor fuel quality, idling, etc) you have a much better chance of not falling into the need for emissions repairs. We can only imagine what people do (or don’t do) to their engines.

There are apparently some differences in repair issues between the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder engines and with the EGR before 2015. So lots to think about...
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Old 12-30-2016, 05:35 PM   #16
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I tend to watch the local Craigslist to get a feel for the lifespan of various vehicles of interest to me, and the vans are one of the areas I look at. Stuff tends to show up on Craiglist fairly often as it nears the end of it's service life, so seems to be a pretty good indicator. The also usually have information about engine, transmission, rear end, and other issues that have been done, so you see what does tend to fail.

Sprinters are getting into the 300K+ range, several have showed up, some had transmissions replaced, a rear axle replaced, one new engine, in the ones that I saw. Huge Minnesota rust issues on most of them, either showing or they had new paint and repair.

Ford Econoline gassers probably have the most high mile stuff showing up, with lots in the 200s and some in the 300s, but there are also lots of Fords on the road so no surprise there. Similar range of issues that had been repaired in them as the MBs.

There aren't as many of the Chevies around so less show up, and are also similar to the Ford gasser in the miles they get to and repairs that have been done.

Very few Dodges out there so very few on Craiglist. I do know of a couple of Roadtreks that are approaching 300K, though. All seem to need transmissions by then, some rear axles, all major steering work, but few engine issues.

I really don't see anything that would make me believe that the Sprinters have "legendary MB reliability and service life" compared to the other brands, and also don't see them as falling apart a whole lot either. No huge differences in the other brands, either, so no great revelations or support for "X" brand is way better, or way worse, for any of it. MB repairs to major components is likely to be more expensive, though, I would think, even if done by non MB shops.

One thing that I would say is to not really put a lot stock in the recommended service intervals for any of the vans used in Class b applications. Essentially all b's are in the "severe service" category due to all the weight, mountains, towing, high temp areas, etc, so that is a given IMO. This changes a lot of things if you are trying to figure maintenance costs.

The other thing that may be even more of a hit on intervals for maintenance would be if you have and engine generator, and how you use it. Repeated starts by an autostart and long, hot, high load, idling cycles are going to fowl oil, be hard on EGR and DPF systems, may be detrimental to catalytic converters, spark plugs, etc. I think the jury is still out on how much this kind of use is going to affect the units, but I would expect it to be highly variable because some will be idled a lot, and in the heat, and others are going to driving as they charge with the engine generator, which may, or may not, be a lot easier on things.

DPF issues are going to be just diesels, but EGR could be also include gassers. Oil dilution, especially from a lot of cold starts in cooler weather, or prolonged idling, probably would be more likely in diesels than gassers, I do think that some periodic oil testing to determine what is appropriate for change intervals would be a good idea for all types used for engine generator use with lots of idling. Catalytic converter plugging or failure would be primary in gasser, I would think. Adding lots of starts to the use pattern will cause more wear, IIRC lots of experts claim something like 70-80% of wear comes from starts.

Only time will really tell how they all do, and we know that all brands will get varying reviews from owners, just as it has always been.
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Old 12-30-2016, 06:25 PM   #17
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Good post booster. One thing I remembered regarding rust issues on the Sprinter vans. Apparently, the ‘commercial white’ painted vans have experienced rust issues more than the others. Again, apparently, the commercial white paint process is a simpler application which does not protect like the other ‘real’ colours, such as used on the RV chassis... The last time I was in Vancouver I noticed hundreds and hundreds of Sprinter vans being operated for courier services, work vans, etc. If you consider how many of these vans are getting idled for periods of time, one can see in part why emissions failures are happening. Until the diesel technology can catch up with the government clean air requirements the emissions system will be vulnerable.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:40 PM   #18
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Good post booster. One thing I remembered regarding rust issues on the Sprinter vans. Apparently, the ‘commercial white’ painted vans have experienced rust issues more than the others. Again, apparently, the commercial white paint process is a simpler application which does not protect like the other ‘real’ colours, such as used on the RV chassis... The last time I was in Vancouver I noticed hundreds and hundreds of Sprinter vans being operated for courier services, work vans, etc. If you consider how many of these vans are getting idled for periods of time, one can see in part why emissions failures are happening. Until the diesel technology can catch up with the government clean air requirements the emissions system will be vulnerable.

The rust issue is only on the older T1N Sprinter (pre-2004).

The current variant is ok.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:49 PM   #19
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The rust issue is only on the older T1N Sprinter (pre-2004).

The current variant is ok.
Thanks for the clarification. Good to know.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:54 PM   #20
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Definitely later than 2004 on Sprinter rust

2006 dodge sprinter 2500

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