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Old 05-22-2022, 05:10 AM   #1
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Default New Sprinter Based RVs Reliable?

I've looked at Sprinter-based RVs now for a few years and have been taken aback at how much trouble they did have with DEF issues. Is this still the case or are the new vans rock solid now?

I keep running across the axe grinders in the internet that scare me off.
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Old 05-22-2022, 12:24 PM   #2
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DEF is needed for any Diesel engine now be it a Sprinter or those pickup trucks hauling trailer RVs. The DEF issues are resolved for the most part. You would have to be pretty stupid to ignore and have a countdown and limp home experience everyone complains about.

The tank is 4.8 gallons. The filler has been moved out of the engine compartment toward the front integrated with the grill so it is easier to fill and has a spill cup surround with a tube to channel DEF onto the ground.

The dash shows a visual gauge in 1% increments of how much is depleted. When you get 2.5 gallons down a warning message comes on. You can then top off with a standard 2.5 gallon container sold at auto stones, Walmart and some gas stations.

The warning on the dash comes up repeatedly and you can drive 1,000 miles before a countdown of 10 starts before a limp home of 7 mph occurs. MB has made it so as I said pretty stupid to ignore. I am getting about 7,000 plus miles between fills with my 2020 Sprinter.

As for Sprinters they are rock solid in reliability. The diesel engines will go on for years and miles. I prefer their design and attention to detail and I think they have the best cab area and seats where you drive. I’ve had four over 17 years. As long as semis haul goods and pickups still sell, there will be diesel. My only complaint is the pump handles are dirty so I have a glove in the driver’s door to deal with it.
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Old 05-22-2022, 03:20 PM   #3
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Here is how I looked at it when we bought our Sprinter in 2017. In our opinion, it was the best van at that time for an RV from many standpoints. It was the best looking van, had the most comfortable seats, it was designed with the brackets for an easy installation of a second alternator, it had easy fuel tank taps for a highly reliable diesel furnace (huge advantage over propane), etc.. Our converter also didn’t really want to work on anything else other than a Sprinter. It also had a 100,000 mile emissions warranty which would probably cover us for as long as we would keep it. We didn’t buy it with the intention of keeping it for 15-20 years or far more than 100,000 miles. So far it has been highly reliable. I maintain it very carefully including regular fuel filter replacements. I probably wouldn’t buy a used Sprinter though with far more than 100,000 miles on it. I do most of my own maintenance but when we do need to take it in for something we use our local Freightliner dealer and they have been great.
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Old 05-22-2022, 03:39 PM   #4
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………………………. it had easy fuel tank taps for a highly reliable diesel furnace (huge advantage over propane), etc……….
I agree with huge advantage but not with highly reliable. I like my Airtronics D2 because it is quiet and has low temperature swings. My Hydronic D5 is very loud. Both are finicky. During my recent trip EasyStart Timer didn’t recognize either one of them, it took a few power cycles to get them to work. Both need firing chamber and its components maintenance which LPG furnace doesn’t need. Ask anyone how they like to take these diesel furnaces a part, I don’t.

If I would do another conversion, I would very seriously consider some of the new comers like Truma or Propex.
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Old 05-22-2022, 03:59 PM   #5
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"Sprinter" and "rock solid". Now THERE are words that you don't often see in the same sentence.

Beware!
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:03 PM   #6
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"Sprinter" and "rock solid". Now THERE are words that you don't often see in the same sentence.

Beware!
Actually, it is often rock solid, steady, no motion. For us our Sprinter in Texas was rock solid.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:48 PM   #7
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I replace the atomizer screen and fuel filter on my Espar D2 every fall which takes about 15 minutes and it has worked perfect for me. On the other hand, my propane water heater has been nothing but grief. Since I don’t need propane for heat, I just refilled my propane tank for the first time in 5 years,
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:56 PM   #8
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Sprinter diesel emissions systems can be problematic like they are on all road diesel engines since 2007. Just check out any forum on Ford, Chevy, Ram or heavy-duty diesel trucks. Earlier Sprinters (pre-2019) did not give the operator information on DPF regenerations or the amount in DEF tank, until it was near empty. That didn't help reliability.

I have over 150,000 miles on my 2012 Sprinter V-6 diesel. It has been mostly trouble-free and never left me stranded. The DEF system once acted strangely with a 16-start countdown with a full DEF tank, but the error cleared after a few restarts. Recently the EGR valve gave me some trouble, but I got it replaced under the new extended warranty.

I'll probably replace my current Sprinter with another one. For my use the Sprinter offers a better cab design, more load capacity, and a longer wheelbase option. My chosen upfitter only builds on Sprinters. Also, DW prefers a Sprinter - happy wife happy life.

Transits might a better choice in USA if you want to avoid the complexity of modern diesel emissions systems. I think MB biggest mistake in USA market is not offering a lager more powerful V-6 gasoline engine, like the Ford Eco-boost. Transits sales are over double compared to Sprinters in USA market. There are also many more Transit dealers for service across the USA.
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:03 PM   #9
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I agree with huge advantage but not with highly reliable. I like my Airtronics D2 because it is quiet and has low temperature swings. My Hydronic D5 is very loud. Both are finicky. During my recent trip EasyStart Timer didn’t recognize either one of them, it took a few power cycles to get them to work. Both need firing chamber and its components maintenance which LPG furnace doesn’t need. Ask anyone how they like to take these diesel furnaces a part, I don’t.

If I would do another conversion, I would very seriously consider some of the new comers like Truma or Propex.
How about Timberline for diesel heating?
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:04 PM   #10
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It seems you own the MB Sprinter's that come from from the problem years?
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:27 PM   #11
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Here is how I looked at it when we bought our Sprinter in 2017. In our opinion, it was the best van at that time for an RV from many standpoints. It was the best looking van, had the most comfortable seats, it was designed with the brackets for an easy installation of a second alternator, it had easy fuel tank taps for a highly reliable diesel furnace (huge advantage over propane), etc.. Our converter also didn’t really want to work on anything else other than a Sprinter. It also had a 100,000 mile emissions warranty which would probably cover us for as long as we would keep it. We didn’t buy it with the intention of keeping it for 15-20 years or far more than 100,000 miles. So far it has been highly reliable. I maintain it very carefully including regular fuel filter replacements. I probably wouldn’t buy a used Sprinter though with far more than 100,000 miles on it. I do most of my own maintenance but when we do need to take it in for something we use our local Freightliner dealer and they have been great.
Would you feel comfortable taking the Sprinter into rural Canada and Alaska? We intend to go back and forth from Florida to Alaska every year.
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:29 PM   #12
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It seems you own the MB Sprinter's that come from from the problem years?
I see no objective reason to think that the problem years have ended. Sprinter powertrains are very reliable, but the DEF system is a disgrace. The VS30 system is basically identical to the NCV3. Yes, the displays are fancier, but that is about it. Some of the sensors have been updated yet again due to the class action program, but we are up to Version 6 of several of them. Why should we think they got it right this time? My MY2014 was a dream for two years before the nightmare began. The VS30 has only been around for 3 years, and sure enough the DEF trouble reports are starting to come in. The ONLY reason we are updating to a new Transit is because we will never again trust our Sprinter to be reliable. You may feel differently if your primary concern is financial. The federally-mandated emissions warranty is excellent. But if you are worried about ruined vacations then (as I said) beware!

Hardware failures happen on a normal curve. You will of course find people with trouble-free vans. But, go over to the Sprinter group and look at the situation with a statistical eye. Are you feeling lucky?
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Old 05-22-2022, 07:10 PM   #13
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How about Timberline for diesel heating?
Timberline is based on Russian made furnace, similar maintenance due to soot generation in any diesel fueled furnace.

Due to current politics supply of diesel heaters could be questionable. See this thread. https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...tml#post138365
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Old 05-22-2022, 09:05 PM   #14
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We recently sold our class A and decided to buy a class B due to changes in our lifestyle. I started my research:
I really liked the sprinter vans. I was shocked to find out that DEF froze, which means your battery will have to keep the DEF tank warm while you’re not running it in the winter. The next thing I found out was you need to find a Mercedes dealer in your area that will work on it, many will not - even recall stuff. I was once again shocked! I also knew some people with Sprinter vans. There are a number of web sites that list vehicle complaint for every year, make, and model. That was interesting reading too.

We had a business that ran between 10 and 12 Chevy 3500 vans from 1988 to 2017. We replaced them every ten years after which the vans had a ton of miles. We rarely ever had a van out of commission. Due to the wide geographical region we covered, each guy had his van serviced where and as he saw fit, we had no company policy or maintenance schedule. We never had a Chevy dealer refuse to work on our company vans.

Due to my experience I bought a older used Roadtrek on a Chevy chassis. BTW I am not a fan boy of GM products.

If I HAD to buy a brand spanking new class B, I really don’t know what I would buy…
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Old 05-22-2022, 09:36 PM   #15
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. I was shocked to find out that DEF froze, which means your battery will have to keep the DEF tank warm while you’re not running it in the winter.
I guess the hundreds of thousands of semi trucks with DEF tanks have to stop driving across the northern states and Canada in the winter now. Also Amazon, UPS, FedEx and myself will have to stop using our Sprinters in the winter unless we keep them running 24/7. Thanks for informing us of this valuable information you read on the internet.
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Old 05-22-2022, 09:42 PM   #16
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Freezing temperature is 12F, thawing should bring it back to usefulness. https://www.cfindustries.com/globala...s_na_final.pdf
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Old 05-22-2022, 09:52 PM   #17
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I guess the hundreds of thousands of semi trucks with DEF tanks have to stop driving across the northern states and Canada in the winter now. Also Amazon, UPS, FedEx and myself will have to stop using our Sprinters in the winter unless we keep them running 24/7. Thanks for informing us of this valuable information you read on the internet.
All of those are driven every day aren’t they? They are not stored like some people do with RVs in the winter when a heater could deplete a battery over a couple days.
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Old 05-22-2022, 09:55 PM   #18
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DEF freezes at +11*F so the tank in the van will freeze in the winter, but the heater is big enough to melt it fast enough to be able to start the engine and go right away.


They do say to not fill the tank to full in the winter as the DEF expands like water does when it freezes and can break the tank.
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Old 05-23-2022, 02:14 AM   #19
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This has been a longstanding and contentious issue. I don't believe that the "problems have been solved" but i do believe that things have gotten better. I disagree with the way MB nerfs a vehicle when the exhaust system reports an issue. There are still problems with the sensors, but they have gotten better, at least as far as i can tell.

One problem is that all we have is anecdotes. Davydd can be reliably relied upon to report that he has not had problems. Avanti will always take the other side based upon his experiences. One can still find plenty of negative anecdotes in sprinter forums and elsewhere, but people tend to report problems and do not report that everything is still fine. If it bleeds, it leads.

My own view after following this for many years is that the newer Sprinters are not so much better than the newer Transits that it is worth risking the hassles of maintaining (and finding a place to maintain) a Sprinter. The last thing i want on a trip is having to deal with trying to get my home, the thing i am relying on in the moment, serviced on the road. But i can respect people who have different priorities and who come up with a different conclusion. I can also respect people who like the dimensions of a Promaster, but to me that chassis is hopelessly out of date.

Speaking of anecdotes, at least this issue is less full of fluff than the issue of preventing rodents from eating through your rig and wiring. People report "i have thing X and i haven't had a problem." Later you read, "i have thing X and rodents chewed everything." The same is true of thing Y, Z, etc. I have developed the opinion that we just don't know what will prevent rodent intrusions other than maybe, maybe lights, but even that, who knows what will deter the little bastards.
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Old 05-23-2022, 08:29 PM   #20
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DEF freezes at +11*F so the tank in the van will freeze in the winter, but the heater is big enough to melt it fast enough to be able to start the engine and go right away. . . . .
Thanks for the extra info. RTRanger is misinformed. Since this thread is about Sprinters it needs some clarification about DEF system in cold climates. Yes, DEF does freeze, there is a heater in the tank and the supply lines to the SCR. But the heater does not need to melt the DEF to start the engine and drive away. The diesel engine will start and run just fine without DEF. DEF is used for emissions compliance and the requirements allows a time period after start before the DEF systems needs to be fully functional.

I've had my Sprinter in Minnesota during winter many times. Once with -20 degF temps - DEF system worked just fine.
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