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Old 12-26-2016, 01:41 AM   #1
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Default Sprinter Questions

I wanted to get feedback from Sprinter owners, as well as perspectives from owners of other vans. I am looking to get a DIY Camper Van for off road use into remote areas, so I am looking at 4 x 4 solutions.

Which Forum would be most appropriate to post questions? General Discussion or Manufacturers & Models?
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:37 AM   #2
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If you are looking for biased chassis related answers...
Sprinter - Sprinter-Forum


If you just need upfit info
the ProMaster forum has more active builders
http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/index.php


If you want unbiased opinion, this is the place.




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Old 12-26-2016, 02:54 AM   #3
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How far off road and how remote are you planning to venture?

The factory 4x4 on the Sprinter is not going to get you as far off road as something like a Sportsmobile Econoline with a 4x4 conversion.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:09 AM   #4
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Default Sprinter or Something Else

Thank you BBQ. I welcome biased and unbiased viewpoints, so I will try both.

As per Sprinter (4 x 4 ), Transit, GMC/Chevy, or Promaster first thing is what capability do I get at what price. I was advised by a dealer who does sell 4 x 4 conversions and even though he does not sell GMC/Chevy, he recommended going with a steel box frame van, which currently is limited to GMC/Chevy and Nissan. The loss of the E350 is sure making this more complicated. Also I am finding with the 4 X 4 Sprinter other than tires and suspension you are locked in to their brake based AWD ETS. You can not add a locking differential. I am looking at Quiggly and Advanced 4X4 for the conversions.


4x4 Vans : Quigley Motor Company, Inc.

4x4 Van Conversions for Nissan, GM, and Ford Vans

I really like the Sprinter layout, but I would like to hear views re cost of ownership comparison, and then there is the gas vs diesel component which is all the more complicated now considering the DEF/DPF costs and issues of current diesel engines. 20 mpg is an appealing variable in favor of a Sprinter.



I have Sprinter specific questions I will post on the Sprinter Forum you recommended.
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Old 12-26-2016, 04:18 AM   #5
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Gregmchugh - Yes that is what I am afraid of. The 4 x 4 Sprinter can not be upgraded, i.e.. locking differential in the rear. It is basically a high clearance AWD travel van. So it appears it is not something that is going to get through possibly even moderately difficult stretches of road. As noted my previous response to you is getting held up for moderation. I use Quick Reply for those. This one I am using the thread Reply button, to test and see if this will post.
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Old 12-26-2016, 05:00 AM   #6
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Default Sprinter

All right! I can communicate.

BBQ thanks for the recommendations. I like the layout and build quality of the Sprinter, and the other plus is great mileage from the diesel engine. I have been doing a lot of research on the reliability, and likely maintenance costs of diesels. It is a concern. The Sprinter requires 13 qts. of Ester based synthetic oil if you want it to last. Even the best oil (Red Line,Amsoil) should be changed every 5K if you have a turbo in my view. It may be that the extra oil capacity of a truck diesel allows for a longer oil change interval, but I would be reluctant to go much more than 7.5K let alone the 20K that Mercedes recommends.

The Mercedes dealer told me I could expect to pay $1,200 for the 20K service. My feeling is if you properly maintain your Sprinter you will not have issues. I will say there are more things to stay on top of, that will cost more, however I am hopeful that by doing basic things yourself and having an independent mechanic do other service items the costs should be less. Will explore this more on the Sprinter Forum you directed me to.

So I had Jeeps for many years. Just given the size and dimensions of a van and the weight of the interior build, is going to limit this vehicle. I am concerned that a uni-body Sprinter or Transit is not suited for this. I also recognize that the Sprinter AWD system although a good solution for snow and such on the road, is not going to allow for true off road capability maybe even in terms of moderately difficult stretches of trail. So I have to decide if I want essentially a travel camper van that can get me down dirt roads in reasonable shape but are not too steep, muddy, or rutted out - or does having something more robust with greater off road capability fit my requirements. I am looking forward to getting first hand accounts on the Sprinter Forum of what a 4 x 4 Sprinter can do.

I have been in contact with Quiggly, and will be calling Advanced 4X4 tomorrow. I am not a fan of the choice of materials used in Sportsmobiles, and actually having my own custom build and designing it myself is something I am looking forward to.

4x4 Vans : Quigley Motor Company, Inc.

4x4 Van Conversions for Nissan, GM, and Ford Vans

Excuse me if some of this gets posted twice, as I mentioned several of my initial responses here and on another thread never posted. I have been advised that a steel box frame is called for if you want a robust off road vehicle. Then there is the important issue of having the flexibility to upgrade the drivetrain exactly how you want it. Sprinters are limited in this regard, which is why I may not go with one. A locking differential is an important option, and based on videos of the 4 x 4 Sprinter the ETS system does not appear to adequately redirect enough power to the wheel(s) with traction in more difficult situations, but some of this may be related to pilot experience in driving with this particular system. I will hopefully get some experienced feedback on this from the Sprinter forum as it seems to me knowing how and having the right touch on the throttle is key.
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Old 12-26-2016, 01:52 PM   #7
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The Mercedes Benz diesel engines have always require lots of oil in the sump, even the sedans.

Duramax requires 10 qts,
Cummins requires 12 qts,
so MB's 13 qt is not unusually high.

This started from the old days when diesels were high in sulfer content.
The extra oil also works as secondary coolant for the engine.

The extended service interval is good.
MB have must tested the oil quality to make such a recommendation.
They would not knowingly put their engine at risk; warranty cost is expensive.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:00 PM   #8
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Regarding Sprinter's 4x4 capability,
there are lots of videos on youtube,
not just from manufacturers or promoters,
but from owners.
You can evaluate the footages and make your own judgement.

I don't think MB ever promoted their Sprinter 4x4 in the same sentence with their G-wagon.


It is a part time truck based 4x4.

It is more capable than an AWD SUV,
but definitely not the expedition-ready G-Wagon.


AdvanceRV has a video where they drove their Sprinter 4x4 on a flat soaky grass field and promptly got stuck.



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Old 12-26-2016, 02:20 PM   #9
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As has been mentioned several other times, anything with duallies is never going to be very good off road, as they are just too wide to work right. Plus I don't think they have lockable axles on either end, so you have pretty much a two wheel drive. All the expedition and military vehicles use big single wheels and if they need more capacity they add extra axles in line with the other single wheels axles.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:20 PM   #10
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If you consider Ford E series Van check out these guys.
I know a couple of people that highly recommend them.
4x4 Van Conversion kits
Sample here.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:34 PM   #11
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Just came across this new video

I don't know if I want to laugh or cry.

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Old 12-26-2016, 03:36 PM   #12
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This looks tough

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Old 12-26-2016, 03:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
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Just came across this new video

I don't know if I want to laugh or cry.
That video is a joke. There was zero testing of any 4x4 capabilities.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:49 PM   #14
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Sportsmobile is making a model using Econoline cutaways which are still being produced converted to 4x4 by adding their own body which is slightly wider than the Econoline van body. Not sure they would sell one with just the empty body or if you have to get a full conversion.

You seem to have listed all the other options if you want a van with rugged 4x4...
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:51 PM   #15
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since we have another thread on chinooks, they had E350 4wd models.

OP might want to cast a net.

we each have different needs- if I ( not likely) were looking for true off road capability, it would be a 4wd van with a poptop conversion...more clearance, less weight.

my neighbors 99 Ford sportsmobile burned down in his driveway...he kept the running gear and swapped it in under a PW excel model to make his own 4wd class B.


for cost I would expect anything for a ford or chevy to be 1/3rd the cost of an MB.
every nut and bolt and...
the aftermarket is so much more limited


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Old 12-26-2016, 04:34 PM   #16
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I find unbiased to be mostly biased by non Sprinter owners talking about something they don't know diddle about.

Sprinter-Source will give you the widest range of opinion and it is not all biased pro Sprinter.

Here is the first RV Sprinter 4x4. Advanced RV took delivery and tested it in an extremely muddy field that had two feet of snow just a couple of weeks before. I know I was there collecting Maple sap in that jeep.



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Old 12-26-2016, 07:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skutumpah View Post
As per Sprinter (4 x 4 ), Transit, GMC/Chevy, or Promaster first thing is what capability do I get at what price. I was advised by a dealer who does sell 4 x 4 conversions and even though he does not sell GMC/Chevy, he recommended going with a steel box frame van, which currently is limited to GMC/Chevy and Nissan. The loss of the E350 is sure making this more complicated. Also I am finding with the 4 X 4 Sprinter other than tires and suspension you are locked in to their brake based AWD ETS. You can not add a locking differential. I am looking at Quiggly and Advanced 4X4 for the conversions.
In addition to Quigley and Advanced you might consider U-Joint in NC and in particular Agile Offroad in San Diego which makes both custom 4x4 conversions and also upgrade kits for Quigley and Quadvans to provide full on/off road performance.

Also check out SportsmobileForum for a wide range of user experiences on 4x4 van campers. One benefit is that since Sportsmobile builds on Ford E-series, GMC, Nissan, and Sprinter 4x4 chassis equally there are users who have owned two (or more) of the different types and can compare them based on firsthand offroad experience.

And you don't need to have a Sportsmobile to benefit from the forum, they have an active Homebuild section where DIY builders share and compare ideas with Sportsmobile factory build owners.
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Old 12-27-2016, 06:08 AM   #18
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Default Sprinter 4 x 4

Excuse me for having some other priorities to take care of today, but now that I am back, appreciate everyone's input. There was a Sprinter Crew van I was very interested in, and unfortunately it was sold today (not to me). They are hard to come by right now, but I am not quite ready to make a decision just yet.

Davydd and BBQ thanks for referencing the Advanced RV video of the muddy field test. I had not seen it before. I am afraid that does not bode well for muddy roads in Utah during August thunderstorms. Although that red Utah mud can get any vehicle stuck. David how is that Willys built out ? Locking differentials ? Those rear tires are pretty beefy!

I was beginning to move away from choosing a Sprinter because people were telling me you can not upgrade the differentials on the 4 x 4 Sprinters. Also the volume of mechanical complaints online is significant. I am trying to get some first hand knowledge of the long term integrity of a unibody chassis when used regularly off-road. I was told today by someone who shares my fondness for Eaton True Trac Differentials that ARB makes a differential upgrade for the Sprinter. I forgot to write down wether it is an E-Locker or something like the True Trac, but I intend to call ARB directly when they get back from their holiday schedule.

Rockymtnb thank you for your suggestions. Particularly for pointing out the Sportsmobile Forums. I do intend to build the interior myself, in stages as I can afford to add things on. I will start with a bed and cabinets, so I have a place to sleep while traveling and a more secure area to lock things up under the bed which will be in the rear of the van.

It figures by the time I have saved up enough to do this, Ford stops making the E series vans. I just got done waiting twenty years for someone to replace the VW Syncro which the Sprinter sort of does, but not quite. I am not sure the E Series is what I want yet, but it sure would help if I could find and test drive one at the local Ford dealer. I expect I will be able to find a used one somewhere in the next couple of weeks to check out.
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Old 12-27-2016, 01:24 PM   #19
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Are you looking for a 4x4 short Sprinter with low roof?
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Old 12-27-2016, 02:16 PM   #20
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OP, when you say "off road use into remote areas", it might be helpful for you to define for yourself exactly what you mean by that, because it would help your analysis of what you need. There's a world of difference between a mountainous area with muddy old logging roads, and (for instance) what we have in West Texas in the way of old ranch tracks.

And speaking of which, if anyone knows of a vid that specifically evaluates van off-road capacity within the context of departure angle and breakover angle limitations, please post it. Some of these upfitters are lifting, sure, but what specific range of scenarios does that then open up? It's never been clear to me.

Prior to buying our Class B, my husband and I spent some time taking our Toyota minivan deep into both Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, into areas that are typically restricted to Jeeps. It was worth it, but it was slow-going - a time-consuming process of routinely hopping out and dealing with bedrock ledges and other obstructions by piling up small boulders in order to raise the wheels enough so that we could clear.

Looking back on those experiences, I'm having trouble visualizing any Sprinter or similar van handling those kinds of conditions no matter how tricked out it might be. Even lifted, there still remains the severe limitation of the wheel base.
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