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Old 06-22-2020, 12:34 PM   #21
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I think a lot of the consternation concerning the Sprinter diesel emissions system is overblown. The truth is that the culprit is the low quality of diesel fuel in North America compared to Europe where Sprinter vans are ubiquitous. I have owned 2 diesel vehicles (both VWs) with advanced emissions systems similar to the Sprinter's, one was at 70,000 mi when I sold it and the other was at almost 90,000 mi when I sold it and I never had a single emissions issue with either vehicle, absolutely nothing.

All I did to avoid emissions system problems was use a quality diesel fuel additive (I chose Opti-Lube XPD) when filling up, 4-5 oz per 10 gallons of fuel. A good additive fills in what is missing from the crappy diesel the is sold in most of the USA. It adds conditioners that help to protect your high pressure fuel delivery system and to keep your particulate filter cleaner for longer. It also improved my fuel economy a bit. The only caveat is that it is best to start using a diesel additive when the vehicle is new, before any damage is done, but it can help at any mileage. Also, frequent air and fuel filter changes as well as oil changes are extremely helpful. I changed oil in my diesel vehicles every 8000 miles, using only high quality fully synthetic oil, and the air and fuel filters ever 16,000 miles. I do my own maintenance, which makes it a lot less costly.
1) Mercedes forbids the use of any fuel additives, with the exception of cold-weather anti-jel

2) Can you point to any published sources that present data to back up the claim that US highway diesel does not consistently meet MB specs?
[EDIT: Excluding the forced biodiesel in MN.]

3) DPF issues have little to do with the BlueTec failures that plague Sprinters. It is unfortunate that this system limits our ability to idle for long periods, but this is simply a limitation that must be accepted. If the recommendations are followed, the DPF system works fine.

4) Please explain how poor fuel or following the OEM oil-change intervals can cause the kinds of BlueTec failures that we are talking about? These failures are clustered around various sensors and their associated electronics, the DEF-fill reminder system, DEF delivery, DEF tank heaters, and similar. Neither fuel nor oil gets anywhere near these systems. Bad fuel and/or lubrication issues could cause internal failures in the powertrain, but by all accounts Sprinters are very robust in this regard, and such failures are rare. The problem is emissions.

P.S. -- your reference to VW emissions systems is pretty funny.
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Old 06-22-2020, 12:57 PM   #22
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Agree 100% with Avanti. My 2013 has had nothing but problems with the emissions since day 1 (Ok - day "whatever" at 700 miles). Many interrupted vacations trying to find Sprinter dealers to reset the "n" starts left countdown to death. Once you find a repair center (hundreds of miles away most times), try getting an appointment in less than 2 weeks. Our very first 3 month trip had us visiting 5 service centers in 3 different states. We finished the trip by scheduling appointments at 9 additional service centers ahead of time on the rest of our route. If we made it that far; we would cancel a day or two before the appointment. Our second cross country was better; only 1 stop at a MB dealer in 12k miles. Only have 55k miles on it and I lost count of the number of NOx sensors that were replaced. Bottom line is that we are afraid to drive it anywhere. Good ride, great cab AC and plenty of power. Had it to 48 states and 14 MB dealers so far for emergency repairs. Wanted to do the Alcan; but, couldn't do it on 10 starts. My "consternation" is definitely "not overblown". It is well earned.
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Old 06-22-2020, 01:20 PM   #23
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From one who owns one: DON'T BUY AN M-B SPRINTER!

Expensive to fix and maintain. Can't be serviced but at a handful of M-B dealers nationwide. Suspension breaks easy on BLM or Forest Service roads. Wheel covers fly off unless zip-tied. Sensors are always going out. Computer problems. Not to mention the bio-diesel arguments.

Positives: Fuel Economy Average of 15mpg or better. Good acceleration.

This is not to say we don't love our Pleasure-Way Plateau. We love the floorplan and the quality that Pleasure-Way provides. This is the reason that we have kept it despite the chassis.

Why so many manufacturers choose the Sprinter chassis is beyond me. If the Plateau would ever need to be replaced, we would definitely go back to gasoline power because of the experience.

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Old 06-22-2020, 01:43 PM   #24
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"Positives: Fuel Economy Average of 15mpg or better."

I have never understood that as an advantage of some kind. Spinters cost more, period.


"Good acceleration."

I suppose, maybe, but compared to what? A gas van. All 3 vans with 4 different gas options will walk off and leave a sprinter at a stop light having from 49 to 75% more power!

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Old 06-22-2020, 02:08 PM   #25
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avanti, I was thinking the same thing about the gas-powered Sprinter, but I understand Advanced RV has decided they are likely too underpowdered to be practical. If they won't work in the flat midwest I wouldn't want to make the climb from Phoenix to Flagstaff in one. If you've heard something different I'd be real interested in hearing about it! Thanks for the input!
That's the message I got from ARV including a shorty van on the 2500 chassis. So I didn't pursue it. I've never got the 10 start countdown in over 160,000 miles of DEF driving. I've got the low DEF warning numerous times. Just heed and head to a Walmart or auto store as soon as possible even in the Area 51 Nevada desert.



Encouraging sign going with diesel. In northern Minnesota we filled up here. Diesel was consistently cheaper than gas.

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Old 06-25-2020, 04:34 PM   #26
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There are only two types of Sprinter owners: those who have had an emissions system failure, and those who have not yet had an emissions systems failure.

Speaks for itself when the current system is so good that the manufacturer completely redesigns it for the next generation.

https://www.daimler.com/innovation/diesel/om656-2.html

Love the ride and size of the Sprinter. I believe the diesels also run cooler than gas. I am always pleasantly surprised when I pop the hood. Left Phoenix on a 111 degree day, drove to flag at around 70 mph, both AC units cranked with not a sign of overheating. Passed a lot of gas powered RVs sitting letting their engines cool off or babying their engines up the mountain.

That said, terrible turbo lag which will continue until we get a 48v start stop.
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Old 06-25-2020, 04:49 PM   #27
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But, we would never buy another diesel-powered vehicle of any make.
Different strokes for different folks. I would not buy another gasoline powered vehicle, unless there is no choice. Sadly, VW certainly has done that in the US.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:10 PM   #28
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If I recall there was an issue with the DEF system that impacted some vans produced early in the previous model's early production runs. By 2015/16 the issue had been resolved. Lots of debates about diesel vs gas but no question the Sprinter is a rugged, well designed machine with capabilities/size/driving characteristics that other vans just can't match.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:23 PM   #29
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If I recall there was an issue with the DEF system that impacted some vans produced early in the previous model's early production runs. By 2015/16 the issue had been resolved.
Can you provide a referenceable source that provides data to support the claim that the issue has been resolved? I do not believe this to be true.
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Lots of debates about diesel vs gas but no question the Sprinter is a rugged, well designed machine with capabilities/size/driving characteristics that other vans just can't match.
On the contrary, there is a very big question concerning the reliability of current Sprinter production. I guess it depends on whether "rugged" includes the emissions system, which has historically most certainly not proven itself to be rugged.

It used to be the case that the Sprinter had features "that other vans just can't match." This accounts for its previous success in the RV world. Happily, this is no longer true.
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Old 06-25-2020, 06:54 PM   #30
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I had 2 major emission issue with my 2013 Sprinter, DEF heater/sensor and NOx sensors. DEF problems I would squarely place on MB under-engineering; temperature sensor, electric heater, really, this is 21st Century and urea is not aqua regia.

NOx sensors are complex, development begin 30 years ago by VW for gas engines, and application for DEF injection control is about 20 years old. I currently have the latest and the greatest NOx sensors and hope they will last for a while. Basis for NOx and O2 sensors are similar, NOx sensor has 2 electrochemical solid-state chambers and NOx is measured indirectly via O2 measurement. All gas engine use O2 / Lambda sensors an no one complains. I hope NOx sensors for DEF will get there as well, perhaps mine are already there.

My problems didn’t sway me away from diesel, but, if benefits of gas would equal diesel, I would choose gas engine. Neither gas nor diesel technologies are stagnant, ideally, we would have an electric van with fuel cells powered by poop.
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Old 06-25-2020, 07:03 PM   #31
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My issues with Sprinter diesels are not just due to my perception that they are less reliable than the competition (although I believe that to be true). There are two more issues that compound the problem:

A) In many parts of the country, getting a Sprinter serviced can be a real challenge, and as a practical matter dealer service is all but required to address many simple problems.

and
B) Mercedes' approach to ensuring prompt repairs of emissions problems is (to me) unnecessarily and unacceptably onerous. I am talking about the excessive use of limp modes and the "n starts remaining" condition. It is true that the presence of enforcement mechanisms is federally mandated, but the details are not and Mercedes has made very poor choices, IMO.

It is the combination of all three issues that has pushed Sprinters below the "acceptable" level for me.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:58 PM   #32
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I can only speak for for the model year I actually have experience with - 2016. Can't directly speak about reliability of other models. I'd take speculative discussions from anonymous internet commentators (including me) with a grain of salt, especially from people not experienced with the models in question.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:42 PM   #33
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My issues with Sprinter diesels are not just due to my perception that they are less reliable than the competition (although I believe that to be true). There are two more issues that compound the problem:

A) In many parts of the country, getting a Sprinter serviced can be a real challenge, and as a practical matter dealer service is all but required to address many simple problems.
………………………...
In my case Midland Texas was the closest dealer, but it was over 2 hours drive even though there were other MB dealers close-by except they were not servicing Sprinters, so yes having closer dealer would be nice.

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………………………….
B) Mercedes' approach to ensuring prompt repairs of emissions problems is (to me) unnecessarily and unacceptably onerous. I am talking about the excessive use of limp modes and the "n starts remaining" condition. It is true that the presence of enforcement mechanisms is federally mandated, but the details are not and Mercedes has made very poor choices, IMO.
………...
Our problem happened 2000 miles away from home and n-starts limit forced us to stay in the absolutely unplanned city of Midland. Neither of the failures would cause additional equipment damage so instead n-starts emission enforcement some kind of home-dealer repair could have been use. We know local dealers and most likely they wouldn’t resource to extortion on warranty repair as we experienced with Midland’s dealer.

We like Sprinter a lot, but we have Honda Accord for 5 years, oil changes prompted by engine management $35/change at the dealer, average gas mileage >30mpg, best Hwy mileage 42mpg, main expanse unrepairable flat tire, and no limp-home experience. The biggest issue, can’t justify replacing it.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:55 PM   #34
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The biggest issue, can’t justify replacing it.
Yeah, I have the same problem with a 2005 Toyota Sienna with 160K nearly trouble-free miles. When will these Japanese learn?
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Old 06-25-2020, 10:00 PM   #35
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I too drive Hondas and put many many years and miles on them. Usually end up trading them in at 10+ years out of boredom - they still run great.
Mercedes diesel engines have been produced for decades (mostly commercial vehicles but also passenger) and are legendary for longevity. (I recently parked next a Sprinter owned by an expediter - 600,000+ miles - needed new engine and transmission and service manager had to talk owner out of fixing it.)
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Old 06-25-2020, 10:15 PM   #36
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Sprinter or not generates a lot of interesting discussions. It seems like a decision tree narrows things down to issues which might eliminate or only leave a sprinter. Things like; how many seats? van build or expanded cab on frame? back country 4x4? towing capacity? sleeping berths? and gas or diesel? propane? generator?

I think a Sprinter gets sketchy if one needs an expanded build on cab on frame or back country 4x4. The Sprinter is attractive for it's standup height and length but this causes extreme flex on rough roads. The Sprinter body handles it fine, but cabinetry not so much.

Diesel opens up the possibilities of eliminating a generator and propane if you are able to live within the constraints.
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Old 06-25-2020, 10:23 PM   #37
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Diesel opens up the possibilities of eliminating a generator and propane if you are able to live within the constraints.
Isn't it the other way around? You can idle a gasoline engine just fine for very long periods. Not so with a modern diesel.
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Old 06-26-2020, 12:01 AM   #38
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True. I was focused on the propane being possibly eliminated by a diesel hot water heater / boiler, I suppose someone might try that with gas.
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Old 06-26-2020, 12:11 AM   #39
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True. I was focused on the propane being possibly eliminated by a diesel hot water heater / boiler, I suppose someone might try that with gas.
Definitely. Espar hydronic heaters are available in gas versions.
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Old 06-26-2020, 12:16 AM   #40
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That is good to know. Having played around, in former times, with gas and diesel to burn old brush piles I would rest less easy over one using gas. But that is just me.
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