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Old 01-31-2018, 03:16 AM   #1
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Default Sprinter popularity: what am I missing?

First-time buyer here, trying to make sense of all the options out there. One thing really puzzles me. A great many forums and blogs that I read are moaning about the maintenance woes and expenses of Sprinter vans, and particularly their diesel engines. To go by what these say, regular maintenance is 10x more expensive than for a gas engine, breakdowns into "limp mode" are perilous, and qualified repair places are thin on the ground. Of course, one always sees the most negative stories, so I'm pretty sure a lot of that is exaggeration. But even discounting for that, there does seem to be at least some truth there.

Yet, at the same time, Sprinter seems to be by far the most common chassis used in production models. More than half of the manufacturers I've looked at build only on Sprinters, and many of the rest clearly prefer it. So what am I missing? Why would a seemingly reviled platform also be the platform of choice?

Thanks in advance...
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:31 AM   #2
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First-time buyer here, trying to make sense of all the options out there. One thing really puzzles me. A great many forums and blogs that I read are moaning about the maintenance woes and expenses of Sprinter vans, and particularly their diesel engines. To go by what these say, regular maintenance is 10x more expensive than for a gas engine, breakdowns into "limp mode" are perilous, and qualified repair places are thin on the ground. Of course, one always sees the most negative stories, so I'm pretty sure a lot of that is exaggeration. But even discounting for that, there does seem to be at least some truth there.

Yet, at the same time, Sprinter seems to be by far the most common chassis used in production models. More than half of the manufacturers I've looked at build only on Sprinters, and many of the rest clearly prefer it. So what am I missing? Why would a seemingly reviled platform also be the platform of choice?

Thanks in advance...
I would say some of that criticism stems from the fact that is basically a German Van rather than a home grown ,in the majority of cases Ford derived Van
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:48 AM   #3
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Why would a seemingly reviled platform also be the platform of choice?

Thanks in advance...
Watching this with interest as I am trying to figure out the same thing especially after testing driving a gas promaster and a diesel sprinter and vastly preferring the drive of the latter.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:04 AM   #4
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.

Sprinter got in the game from pure luck in timing.

In late 1990, Chrysler got into trouble and was sold to Daimler-Benz.
Benz stopped the Dodge van production and imported the Sprinter as a replacement.

Ford wanted a new van, but was somehow late in coming up with a replacement.
The GM van was good, but rather long in the tooth.

That gave the Sprinter lots of opportunities to gain market share.

The market crash in 2008 handed Sprinter another opportunity -- the RV sales were down. The manufacturer could not build the volume, so they had to build the value. The Mercedes Benz brand gave them that perfect leverage.

That's my take.
YMMV

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Old 01-31-2018, 04:48 AM   #5
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what to make of this?

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:04 AM   #6
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Sprinter for long partnered with VW and VWs Crafter and MBs Sprinter hold had sales in EU. When Fiat acquired Chrysler, the Sprinter was not included, Dodge got Fiat Ducato - Promaster and MB continued sales of Sprinters in NA under their own brand. Today VW has its own. GM could have taken Opel van but sold Opel. Sprinter and Fiat with its siblings (Citroen and Peugeot) are very popular in EU. In NA Ford will most likely continue it lead.

Sprinter is a commercial vehicle, if it is treated with care 500,000 miles is possible.

Recently a fellow on a different forum with 144 WB 4WD lost CV joint, big saga, terrible MB, 2016 so still on the warranty, perhaps.
He changed his tires to large diameter directly violating manufacturer recommendation printet in the manual. But the story is very loud, no update on it yet.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:14 AM   #7
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Yes, that's one of the articles I was referring to in my question. It is 2 years old, but the points it raises are echoed in quite a few other places. It does seem as if the Sprinter can be very costly to maintain and repair.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:25 AM   #8
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Half truths.

It is true that MB maintenance costs more.
It is true that when the emission system goes, it can be expensive. (Not just for MB, but Cumins and GM and Ford as well).

But his claims are just way overboard.
If you look deeper, you will notice that he is not telling you a lot of details, especially on how the trucks are driven.

Most people just ignore his whine.





ps. I prefer to stay away from diesel. I Like Mercedes; I used to drive an S-Klasse. I might consider a gas Sprinter. Well, maybe not. LOL. I like to have a van that anybody can service.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:55 AM   #9
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Half truths.

It is true that MB maintenance costs more.
It is true that when the emission system goes, it can be expensive. (Not just for MB, but Cumins and GM and Ford as well).

But his claims are just way overboard.
If you look deeper, you will notice that he is not telling you a lot of details, especially on how the trucks are driven.

Most people just ignore his whine.



ps. I prefer to stay away from diesel. I Like Mercedes; I used to drive an S-Klasse. I might consider a gas Sprinter. Well, maybe not. LOL. I like to have a van that anybody can service.
Ditto. Well maintained van, no changes, right oil, recommended ratio of highway to city driving to activate soot filter cleanup and it will last. Ask FedEx. We have no idea how he maintained his vans.

Internal combustion engines are reaching a cost point which can exceed market willingness to buy including gas engines. MB system is complex but if well maintain it will last, fact is if it breaks it is expensive.
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Old 01-31-2018, 07:11 AM   #10
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I really find this discussion super, and you folks are really up on all of it, but I have a few questions. People talk of the longevity of the MB or Sprinter Diesel, but what happens when someone is in some small town, far from a Dealer, and diesel mechanics are not available? Somewhere in one of the discussions about this earlier, someone brought up the guy at Class B Warned – Well, This Hasn't Gone Well and his problems and how RT finally resolved it; I have been reading a few folks on FB who seem to be having, what I would consider major headaches getting their RV's repaired in a timely manner. I am a GM gas type, happy as a pig, but feel for the people who put out $100+K and have breakdowns, delays....that could be a bad tasted in the mouth. When I bought this time I thought of the Sprinter, but have not a clue about diesel engines, and the nearest guy for service is 85 miles away....I called and said I had a Sprinter and needed to get the oil changed...would be about a week or so before I could be handled. That brought me into reality of the road and needing service, even after your warranty is gone.
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Old 01-31-2018, 11:24 AM   #11
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.

We are diverging a bit...

That's why I would never buy a Roadtrek.
You are buying not just the RV,
but the people behind it.

Things break, we all know and accept.
But in the past few years, I have noticed many owner complaints on the internet, that RT have not been able (or willing) to repair their problem RVs in a timely fashion. Nobody wants to spend $150k to buy a non-functioning RV. Some have to wait for months (or years) to have the problems sorted.

I would rather pass up the leading-edge technology and rely on the old tried and true.
KISS and you will live a long and happy life.

http://classbwarned.com/?p=230

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Old 01-31-2018, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quick and dirty answer: MB had more than a 10-year head start. Now that they have competition, they are trying to clean up their act.

I drove a Mercedes 220D for 450,000 miles. Even after 24 years, the doors still closed with the thunk sound of quality. My son's new Sprinter sounds like that. I hope he makes it to 450,000.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:18 PM   #13
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A friend of mine had a MB Winnebago motorhome and at a campout he asked me to look at his water separator for diesel engine. He asked if I thought that I could change out the water separator that lies between the V of the engine. I do most of my on maintaince and thought that I could do it. He told me that every 20K miles that the water separator filter had to be changed and the dealer charged him $200 for this simple service. He had to drive 80 miles one way to have this service done. He has since sold his MH because of age (84).

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Old 01-31-2018, 04:34 PM   #14
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Their is really no debate that Sprinter is the best looking and in most cases, best driving platform option. I fell in love with them immediately when they arrived in the US market. So... why have I never owned one?

1. I don't want a diesel... especially now with many states putting in rules for bio-diesel that looks to void your warranty.

2. Too many quirky problems. Once I started reading the Yahoo board for the Winnebago View some years back - which had the most knowledgeable group on the web on the Sprinter - I started to back away.

3. Finding service. I was living in North Dakota where, at first, I had a good Dodge garage who sold and serviced Sprinters. But by the time I was looking to buy, MB had dumped Chrysler and suddenly I had no service. The only ND MB dealer, 300 miles away, had just started servicing Sprinters. I called all the closer Freightliner service centers and every one of them said that they would not service Sprinters... but but but I said, "MB owns you" ... they still said no. There was only one service center available in MN, but not in the cities. There were very few centers in the prairie states - many states with none... still pretty much true.

Off the list went the Sprinter when I was reading about having to be hauled 100-400 miles to get service when they died on the road.

4. Although it was obvious that the vast majority of owners were thrilled with their Sprinter Class B/C, as a single - non-mechanical - female who travels alone, I didn't want to take the chance to get one of the bad ones. Not long after I made my decision, two of my female RVing friends traded their Sprinter based rigs for exactly the reason I made my decision. After two breakdowns two trips in a row, they bailed.

I currently drive a Chevy... my next will be a Promaster.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:50 PM   #15
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The old Mercedes T1N diesel engines were bullet-proof. They got great mileage and excellent torque. Also, you could let a diesel engine idle for hours without damage, meaning you could use the heater all night, if necessary. And the Mercedes build quality was such that the doors and heater etc all worked really well and felt solid.

Sometime around 2009, new emissions requirements came into play. Basically, the diesel exhaust gets routed back through the engine. If you run the engine hot most of the time (i.e., more freeway than stop-and-go), you are probably OK. But for a delivery van, that emissions system is dreadful because soot builds up and clogs the system. Hence the rant that has made multiple rounds on the internet.

I have a gas-powered Mercedes car. The windshield wipers are $45/pair and an oil change is $130. There was no dealer in my town so when I got bad fuel, I had to rent a trailer, winch up the car and tow it 120 miles to the nearest dealer. Since it had to be left overnight, I also had to make two trips, meaning I was on the road for four hours. It is a solid, well-made car and I love it, but it's expensive and inconvenient and I will never own one again.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:11 PM   #16
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Mumkin and others point out the very reasons why I have passed on buying a Sprinter based RV. I would personally not be willing to spend so much more to have a MB label on the front and then be subject to a long tow to the nearest authorized dealer and service. We have a fine and large MB dealer just about eight miles from my home. Problem: won't work on Sprinters. Tell you to go to Freightliner. So, in a metro area of a million and half people with lots of MB cars buzzing all over the place you are really limited to service on your Sprinter during warranty. There are lots of good local garages that can service Sprinters, but the old warranty problem pops up every time for me.

No question they are absolutely ideal to power a B but I always suggest to potential buyers to get online and figure out where they will be hauled if they have a problem and to go online and check out the official Sprinter service centers not only near where they live but also where they want travel. Take a look at NM, CO, WY, MT, AZ, UT and look at the distances if you break down and how many authorized service centers are in states like those and a lot of others.

Also, how many of us really plan on driving our rigs a 100,000 miles before we trade? I think I will just stick with a chassis that can get warranty or post warranty service in virtually any county seat town in the country if I need it in our travels.

Paul
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:21 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=Also, how many of us really plan on driving our rigs a 100,000 miles before we trade? I think I will just stick with a chassis that can get warranty or post warranty service in virtually any county seat town in the country if I need it in our travels.

Paul[/QUOTE]


Probably a lot more than you think, although it is likely not the first or even second one they are buying. As Mumkin mentioned in another discussion, a lot of first time buyers are buying again very quickly, often multiple times until they learn what they want and need. Then they likely settle in and keep it for the 100k miles. We are still on our first and only RV at 9 years, and have no plans of changing.
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Old 01-31-2018, 06:20 PM   #18
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The old Mercedes T1N diesel engines were bullet-proof. ...
.
Caveated with an advisory to change the transmission fluid, and change it the right way (ensuring a proper flush, not a partial), at approximately 40,000 miles. This is not what the service manual says, but it's what my local Sprinter shop recommends (our area has a dedicated MB shop exclusively for Sprinters, and a separate facility for cars). On the T1Ns, they mostly see transmission problems due to lack of servicing, is they claim. That's the most common reason for non-bullet-proof performance.

Ours is a 2006, the last model year with that older type of engine. We don't intend to give it up until the wheels fall off the van.
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Old 01-31-2018, 08:53 PM   #19
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In Europe where high roof vans are common the Fiat Decota is the most common RV van. The reason for the popularity of the Sprinter in the US is because it WAS the only high top van available.....I for one cannot wait to get rid of my diesel Sprinter.
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Old 01-31-2018, 10:55 PM   #20
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On our trip West this year we met a camper with a Sprinter with some really weird problem. I don't quite remember the details because they were parts not found on vehicles I've worked on, but my memory was that she had 12 more hours before the thing quit completely, and she was hoping to get to Salt Lake City before then.

So, I was feeling pretty smug in my ProMaster, that is until I got to Seattle. All I wanted was an oil change, but don't really trust Jiffy Lube and ilk. So I called the nearby Ram dealer. "We're sorry, but our ProMaster mechanic went on vacation." I said, "But it's just an oil change." So, the service person went away and came back and said, "OK, we found someone who can do it, but it'll be two weeks." So, I called the Ram dealer in Everett, not that far away. "We're sorry but our ProMaster mechanic moved to Las Vegas," and then the same routine about finding someone but it'll be two weeks. I even tried the Seattle version of Jiffy Lube, and their garage door wasn't tall enough!

And note that I only called dealers who said they worked on trucks. Quite a few Dodge dealers don't work on ProMaster at all. And this was a big city! I bought the ProMaster partly on the conventional wisdom that there were SO many more Ram dealers than there were Mercedes dealers.

I now think most buyers don't really give it much thought. I have a friend with a Roadtrek SS/Agile built on Sprinter, and I asked him about this, and he had clearly never heard there were problems and never had any himself.
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