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Old 10-14-2012, 03:04 PM   #15
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The purpose for disconnecting the battery is to allow the memory to drain to reset the Check Engine light. Mechanics have a small battery device or jump the 12v to keep the car radio's memory alive during a battery exchange so if your radio has an anti theft feature, you won't have to input the code and possibly restore any preset stations. Unfortunately doing may also keep the computer's memory alive and so the code causing the light to be on wont go away either.

The light comes on whenever a condition comes up that the computer senses is not normal and should be investigated. Sometimes it is a simple as not fully securing the fuel filler cap. You said you filled up 5 times (after the light came on?) so if it was that it should have reset itself. It is often an emissions related component that turns the light on and often the driver won't notice anything in the operation and drivability of the vehicle but if not fixed, it can lead to damage. I would take it by a dealer or garage and ask them to read the code(s) for you. I've never checked, but some auto parts stores may read it as a convenience as they check batteries and alternators. Sometimes there is only one occurrence which may be meaningless and they can use the code reader to reset the code and then you can go on your way and wait and see if it ever comes back. I had an O2 sensor flag one occurrence of a lean condition. It has never come back in almost a year, so I'm not too concerned on spending any money on it at this time. If you're the DIY type of person, most auto parts stores and places like Sears, Amazon or Harbor Freight sell OBD-II code readers for <$50, but check if it supports your vehicle and most should. OBD-II is a standard interface found on all cars sold in the US since 1996.

The European spec is EOBD and some OBD-II scanners may include that interface and have the internal program to display the specific codes for a Merc.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:21 AM   #16
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I've seen a cigarette lighter plug w/ a 9V battery connected to it advertised as a way to keep any memory devices powered when changing batteries out.

And yes, most auto parts stores will scan free.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:10 AM   #17
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You should have gotten in touch with if you were near Tulsa. My shop that specializes on BMW, Mini and Mercedes could have quarried it for you.
Good to know for the future. But my folks live in Altus, not Tulsa. Same letters, different name, and clear across the state. And since the reason for the visit was my father's deteriorating health, I had other things on my mind than vehicle repairs.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:45 AM   #18
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Sometimes it is a simple as not fully securing the fuel filler cap. You said you filled up 5 times (after the light came on?) so if it was that it should have reset itself.
According to the 2011 Sprinter owner's manual, the "check engine" light doesn't come on from a loose fuel cap; the "low fuel" idot light comes on instead, even if the fuel level is not low.

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It is often an emissions related component that turns the light on and often the driver won't notice anything in the operation and drivability of the vehicle but if not fixed, it can lead to damage.
According to the Sprinter owner's manual, the "check engine" light will come on for an emissions-related problem, but in concert with a message on the dashboard message center, and a countdown timer for the number of starts left before the onboard computer locks the ignition so the vehicle can't be started at all. The whole 1460 mile round-trip, the message center indicated "No messages" even though the light stayed on the whole time.

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If you're the DIY type of person, most auto parts stores and places like Sears, Amazon or Harbor Freight sell OBD-II code readers for <$50, but check if it supports your vehicle and most should. OBD-II is a standard interface found on all cars sold in the US since 1996.
It is a Mercedes Sprinter with a 3-liter turbo-diesel, and came off the Duseldorf assembly line according to the VIN. To the best of my knowledge it doesn't have an OBD-II interface; according to Internet research on various Sprinter forums, different Sprinter models have either a 14-pin or 38-pin EOBD round interface, and in locations that range from the driver's footwell to inside the glove box to somewhere on the passenger seat pedestal to inside the engine compartment. I haven't gone searching for mine yet to see which interface in which location. I will find out soon enough, and order a code reader that will fit it. Maybe not a permanent installation like a ScanGauge, though; for my purposes, something that will read and reset the codes and fits in my toolbox would be fine. A ScanGauge won't tell me a lot that the onboard computer message center won't also tell me.

I don't like driving around with an idiot light lit; however, I had to hit the road for a family emergency. Now that the family emergency is as resolved as it can get, I'll have time later this month to get the system checked out before hitting the road again for next month's camping trips.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:08 AM   #19
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Another gizmo that might be of help to you is a "Carchip". This is a little module that will plug into your OBDII (or equivalent with adapter) port, and like the scan tool mentioned above, it will record driving parameters and capture any thrown trouble codes. I have one in each of my cars, and find them very useful, expecially when I get a mysterious, intermittent CEL that comes and goes, and is never on when I stop by the auto parts store to try to get a reading. The only down-side of the Carchip is that you have to plug it into a computer to download it. You can buy the CarChips online, they are made and sold by Davis. Sears also used to sell them--not sure if they still do. They are also available on Amazon for around $75. Many auto parts store will offer a free CEL reading as well. You might stop by your local Autozone, or Oreilly's and have your system read just to see if there is some code that isn't showing on your message center. Could put your mind at ease.

As suggested in some other posts, you may very well have some intermittent emissions problem, such as a downstream O2 sensor, that isn't really used to adjust the engine performance anyway. If it is just a dicey sensor, then it may make no difference at all. If it really suggests an emissions issue, you could damage your catalytic converter if you let it go too long. One of the nastiest problems I had with my Mercedes sedan was a failing crankshaft position sensor. If the sensor was working, there was no CEL. When the engine got to a magical temperature, the sensor would fail, the CEL would come on, and the engine would immediately stop running. After it cooled down, the CEL went out, and it ran just fine again.

good luck!
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:14 AM   #20
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If it really suggests an emissions issue, you could damage your catalytic converter if you let it go too long.
It's a diesel.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:21 AM   #21
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Woops--I got to babbling about my second favorite topic and put the brain in neutral!
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:47 AM   #22
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Protagonist,

I just recently registered to this forum, although I have been a lurker for quite some time. Never really felt I needed to post.

I wanted to post because I had the same problem you have (I think) earlier this year. I have a 2010 Interstate. When my Check Engine light came on, I took it to a local Dodge dealer where I typically have the oil changed.

The dealer diagnosed the problem as a "downstream" temperature sensor. They (Dodge) could not fix it as they said it was a an emissions warranty issue.

I had to find a Mercedes or Freightliner service center. Fortunately, I found a Mercedes dealer that services Sprinters. Not all Mercedes dealer are able to service Sprinters.

The Mercedes dealer replaced the downstream temperature sensor in about 2 hours. It did not cost anything as it was an emissions warranty issue.

When I originally discussed this with the mechanic, I told him I was planning a long trip with my van and did not want to experience the dreaded "limp home mode". He told me that the temperature sensor was not enough to trigger the limp home response.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:02 AM   #23
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Protagonist,

I just recently registered to this forum, although I have been a lurker for quite some time. Never really felt I needed to post.

I wanted to post because I had the same problem you have (I think) earlier this year. I have a 2010 Interstate. When my Check Engine light came on, I took it to a local Dodge dealer where I typically have the oil changed.

The dealer diagnosed the problem as a "downstream" temperature sensor. They (Dodge) could not fix it as they said it was a an emissions warranty issue.

I had to find a Mercedes or Freightliner service center. Fortunately, I found a Mercedes dealer that services Sprinters. Not all Mercedes dealer are able to service Sprinters.

The Mercedes dealer replaced the downstream temperature sensor in about 2 hours. It did not cost anything as it was an emissions warranty issue.

When I originally discussed this with the mechanic, I told him I was planning a long trip with my van and did not want to experience the dreaded "limp home mode". He told me that the temperature sensor was not enough to trigger the limp home response.
That description matches my experience. 730 miles out, 730 miles back, never once did the engine even hiccup, let alone enter the dreaded "Limp Home Mode." I found a Sprinter dealer in Baton Rouge, about 60 miles away. Just have to set up an appointment and arrange a day off from work, and we'll see what the diagnosis is. Hopefully same as yours.

I'm still going to look into getting an EOBD reader, though.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:11 PM   #24
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This is where it is on my 2008:
OBD Location.pdf
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:55 PM   #25
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This is where it is on my 2008:
Attachment 170352
Same place on my 2011 (2010 chassis).

Not a handy place to hook up my ScanGauge.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:07 PM   #26
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It's a diesel.
It does have a "cat".
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:31 PM   #27
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My recent CEL was also caused by a out of range value from a temp sensor somewhere in the exhaust system. They couldn't tell which one of multiple sensors it was until the vehicle reached ambient temp so I took it in early the next day and waited for them to open. By the time they got around to looking at my rig, the CEL had gone out and they could no longer diagnose the problem to determine which sensor to replace. That was the story anyway. If/when it comes back, I will try another dealer.

Also, FYI, a Scan Gauge II will tell you a LOT more than what you can get from the message center. There are some 28 "gauges" that you can monitor realtime. You can display your choice of any 4 "gauges" at one time. Most of the time I watch these:
Manifold Air Pressure (MAP)
Water Temp (FWT)
Intake Air Temp (FIA)
Engine Loading (LOD)
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:32 PM   #28
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It does have a "cat".
Road Jager
Sort of. That's why it takes DEF. But the DEF system has alarms and warnings out the ying-yang when it acts up, and I haven't been getting any of those.

Occam's Razor, the simplest answer is usually right. The idea that the CEL would come on, but all of the other alarms on the DEF system wouldn't, is indicative that the problem is not related to the DEF system, and there's a different reason for the CEL.

I'll find out soon enough, once I get it to the local Sprinter dealer for a checkup.
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