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Old 12-06-2015, 07:18 PM   #1
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1994 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
Waynesfield , Ohio
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B van Purchase considerations

I currently have a B190 and am considering something newer of the 2005 - 2009 vintage. Questions I have center around mileage, maintenance, cost of ownership, reliability, and service availability for the Sprinter based chassis.
My instincts tell me to avoid the Sprinter?
Use will likely average 10k miles per year.
Your insights are appreciated.
Marlin
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:25 PM   #2
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Why avoid the Sprinter?

170,000+ miles and going strong.


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Old 12-06-2015, 07:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by droadrunner View Post
I currently have a B190 and am considering something newer of the 2005 - 2009 vintage. Questions I have center around mileage, maintenance, cost of ownership, reliability, and service availability for the Sprinter based chassis.
Before 2009 the Sprinters used by Airstream were the T1N model, i.e. Sprinter 2500. 5-cylinder engine, four wheels instead of six, routinely getting over 20 mpg, no DEF system. Some corrosion issues around seams between exterior metal body panels have been reported by some owners. There is one exhaust component (resonator?) that typically needs replacing once, but only once because the replacement is permanent and the previous owner of your used 2005-2009 model might have already done the replacement. Scheduled maintenance— including oil changes— required every 10,000 miles.

And if the difference in fuel cost between gasoline and diesel worries you, remember that for most vehicles that come with your choice of gas or diesel, the diesel will get about 25% better fuel economy.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:28 PM   #4
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There are just a couple of potential issues with the 5 cylinder engines that you may want to check on. Make sure that the glowplugs have been changed - they can freeze in the head and it can be hard to find someone who can remove them. Fuel injector seals can fail, resulting in a build up of material around the injector that makes them hard to remove. Take the cover off the top of the motor and you should be able to see all of the injectors down to the bottom of the wells that that they sit in. If you can't do it, have a mechanic check these things out. Service the transmission at regular intervals - I do mine about every 40k, twice the 80k recommendation. Otherwise, they are pretty solid and reliable - 200k on my Sprinter.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:57 AM   #5
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1994 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
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Service availability and cost of service

Thanks for your insights. Please do not take the following comments as a slight agains MB who we know make a very good product.
That being said, With a Ford, Chevy, etc. service is available almost anywhere as I found in a remote area of AK in 2013. Talking to a MB owner up there in need of service and unable to locate any close by, I was left with the impression that in non urban areas service availability can be a real issue and is usually considerably more costly than the Chev of Ford? While this will not be the sole factor in my final decision, it is a concern as I enjoy traveling to more remote areas. I read sometime back that MB had or was limiting support to only MB and select Freightliner dealers. If true, service options could become a more serious consideration for me.
Thanks again, Marlin
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Before 2009 the Sprinters used by Airstream were the T1N model, i.e. Sprinter 2500. 5-cylinder engine, four wheels instead of six, routinely getting over 20 mpg, no DEF system. Some corrosion issues around seams between exterior metal body panels have been reported by some owners. There is one exhaust component (resonator?) that typically needs replacing once, but only once because the replacement is permanent and the previous owner of your used 2005-2009 model might have already done the replacement. Scheduled maintenance— including oil changes— required every 10,000 miles.

And if the difference in fuel cost between gasoline and diesel worries you, remember that for most vehicles that come with your choice of gas or diesel, the diesel will get about 25% better fuel economy.
This sums a lot of it up. The engine component that must be replaced pro-actively is the turbo-resonator. They rupture pretty much in every single case that we've ever heard of, but there is an aftermarket replacement and it's not expensive, nor does it seem to degrade any aspect of performance.

My husband and I own a 2007 Interstate, built on the T1N Sprinter. Our experience is that the Sprinter will be the least of anyone's worries!! It's a lot of what that Airstream *did* to the Sprinter that has the potential to cause problems. And my tendency is to assume that what they did to the Sprinter they also did to whatever other models they used for B-vans in those years.

What I suggest for aspiring T1N Sprinter owners is that they read the "repairs" section of my blog and then evaluate their prospective purchases through that lens. If hubster and I had had access to such information prior to our purchase, it might have saved us thousands of dollars on the purchase price and would have also saved us many hours of effort and many DIY-related headaches.

Pay particular attention to the plumbing on any unit you inspect, both black and gray. There are certain units upon which the entire plumbing system seems almost guaranteed to shatter. I had one T1N purchaser, having done his research prior to purchasing his unit, email me the following: "Silly me... thought maybe I would get ONE trip without having to do your fix. After going 1400 miles into our trip we found we had the dreaded gray water connection failure. Even though I checked it before we left and it was fine."

THE INTERSTATE BLOG: REPAIRS
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:00 AM   #7
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I read sometime back that MB had or was limiting support to only MB and select Freightliner dealers. If true, service options could become a more serious consideration for me.
Thanks again, Marlin
Dodge was once the US distributor for Sprinters, before Mercedes started selling them directly. So you can add select Dodge dealers to your list of service options.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:48 AM   #8
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Dodge was once the US distributor for Sprinters, before Mercedes started selling them directly. So you can add select Dodge dealers to your list of service options.
As I understand it, Dodge dealers are generally "Sprinter-certified". The challenge is, everyone knows they are less expensive than MB so the wait times can be catastrophically long - more than 3 weeks at my local Dodge dealer, such that I have never managed to get an appointment there. The OP lists him/herself in Ohio. Perhaps access would be better in that part of the country.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:52 AM   #9
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We have camping buddies with a T1N 4-wheel Spinter-based Interstate. Some things about it I like better than the newer 6-wheeled version- the kitchen and bath at the back. There are other things I like about the newer Interstates- the bed at the back and the front seats swivel. They routinely achieve 21 mpg. Their coach has over 140,000 miles.
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Old 12-07-2015, 06:29 PM   #10
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We sold our 22' 2009 Sprinter Roadtrek Adventurous RS Class B this year.

We bought it used from Fretz in Jan '13, and had two very enjoyable years extended travel.

We did the usual maintenance things; tires, house batteries, oil changes; but the Sprinter chassis was reasonably trouble free.

Ours was a 2500 NCV3, no DEF; and we averaged about 21.0 mpg on the last trip out west to Astoria and points in between.

It was a bit small for us for full timing, but I'd have no qualms buying another used Sprinter.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:01 PM   #11
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With only a few exceptions while on the road, all of the routine maintenance for our Sprinter chassis has been at Peterbilt....my husband said "they service trucks..this is a truck".

Excellent work, never any problems there.


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Old 12-07-2015, 08:19 PM   #12
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I got 3 years out of my Interstate batteries.


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Old 12-07-2015, 08:47 PM   #13
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1994 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
Waynesfield , Ohio
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Thanks

I really appreciate each of you taking time to share experiences and very relevant information. (Some great info here)
I only live about 20 min from the Airstream factory, so coach support is readily available. As a result, the chassis has/had been my main concern. I see there are other things I'll definitely now
want to chech out as well.
Each of you have been a great help. Thanks again,
Marlin
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Old 12-07-2015, 09:55 PM   #14
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T1N's are pretty bullet proof but replacing the resonator is a must if you don't want to take chances. That being said I split the turbo intercooler charge hose this weekend away from home and no chance of finding a replacement. A little duct tape, a couple of zip ties and we were on our way. We drove 350 miles with this repair!. I ordered a replacement from the campground on Sunday, it should he here the end of the week. Interblog makes a good point about the plumbing, it's garbage but overall I love our 2007 on the T1N chassis.
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