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Old 11-02-2008, 11:32 PM   #1
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Questions regarding Sprinter/Interstate

I'm an RN and drive between 50-100 miles, 5 days a week to work for 12 hour shifts. I have 2 Mercedes that I split the milage between. About a month ago I was looking around on the internet and ran across the Interstate and fell in love with the looks and the idea of this type of veichle.

My question is what is the fesability of using this as a daily driver? I understand the I-5 Turbo can get a realistic 20 plus MPG. I mentioned the Mercedes history to state my knowledge of the pricey maintenance, but reliabilty of their engines and final drive. I am thinking how nice it would be to have some 'things' with me each time at work....sodas, dry grocery items, change of clothes, my gym stuff. Then the idea of having this sort of room for pick up from school, trips to Walmart ( 35 miles from my home) with my 2 children. The TV, with possible video game hook up, or movies.

What is your input over this line of thinking. Would love to hear from you guys that have these.
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Old 11-03-2008, 09:34 AM   #2
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The Interstate is based on a vehicle used a lot for in-city delivery. That implies it should not be that difficult to adapt to driving it in a commute. Long drives are generally a good way to wear a vehicle. I don't think the vehicle should suffer extraordinarily from this use.

As you noted, a van can have a lot of advantages if you are away from home for a lot of each day. Having a toilet ready to hand can be a life saver, especially if commuting with kids. Being able to take a nap in your own space during the day can also be a luxury.

You'll never know until you try it but I have found a B-Van to be very nice to have for the reasons you mentioned in long day visit (but not commute) situations.
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Old 11-03-2008, 09:39 AM   #3
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Sprinters

I'm a trailer guy but like the Sprinter for many reasons. I do not know what one would be like as a daily driver, but as a long commute vehicle and RN hours it could be just the thing. Diesel fuel cost would be a negative factor. So here are a few photos of some on the road.
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:06 PM   #4
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In the end a truck is more expensive, and it is slower (for reasons of safety). Be sure that you have access to a shop that is competent in maintenance and repair of this drivetrain/suspension, I have heard some bad stories about return trips, botched diagnoses, etc, with the Sprinter. The vehicle itself is great, by all descriptions, but one must be aware that it can be OOS (out-of-service) at inopportune times.

The CPM (cents-per-mile) is high on a commercial delivery vehicle in comparison to a private car, and this is usually reflected in initial purchase price. A car may be lucky to achieve 150m miles in private service before reliability becomes an issue, and a commercial vehicle is EXPECTED to give 350m miles of reliable service (or, time; per an hour meter). Repairs and maintenance will be high, and the RV components higher yet.

An RV, as we all know, is great, but miles take their toll. Stop-and-go, constant service may be hard on the rv-specific componentry.

I would look into purchase as a capital expense, and hope that depreciation, etc, will offset costs. If there is a way to "make money" with it, then that is all to the good.

With a certainty, an RV is not ever a vehicle in which one can "hurry"' from place to place. The center of gravity is high, and the handling dynamics poor. Consequently, there will no "making time" while driving.
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:15 PM   #5
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Marie's daily driver is a B van. In fact, she is just returning from running an errand in it as I type this. She's also a nurse, and we have found the "facilities" very useful while driving. Also, if traffic is too bad, you can pull over and take a nap while waiting on things to clear out.
It is a '92, and has over 130,000 miles on the odometer.
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:19 PM   #6
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I previously owned a 2005 Leisure Travel Van - sprinter / mercedes and drove it 24,000 in 16 months. From Ohio, we traveled all over the US and Canada, etc. The vehicle was my second vehicle. Believe it or not, I averaged 24.4 mpg during the time we owed the vehicle. I believer leisure Travel builds a great product. Best of Success in your hunt.
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:37 PM   #7
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I commute in my Interstate and get 21 mpg. Keeping it below 70 saves lots of gas. I have a great place to do lunch or whatever at work. I also tow a 1970 safari 23 foot and still get 15 mpg, although long grades sometimes have me driving with the semis. zz
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Old 11-03-2008, 02:27 PM   #8
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I also tow a 1970 safari 23 foot and still get 15 mpg, although long grades sometimes have me driving with the semis. zz
Those overpasses are rough...
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:14 PM   #9
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With 120,000 miles on my '04 Sprinter 2500, the following episode will be of interest to you.

It is my service van (8000 lbs loaded weight) which I also use as my TV for my '06 19CCD (4500 lb max weight).

It has run well, with scheduled maintenance, a couple of brake replacements and normal fluid/filter changes.......untill this summer.

It started when a replacement harmonic balancer failed, taking the front section of the crank with it. Luckily, MOPAR covered the entire repair of a new crank and mainbearings, seals, etc. ($6500+) under their colateral damage provision for warranty replacement parts.

Then, the engine would not start (for the first time in 4 years), and I had to be towed by 2 trucks (a flat bed for the van and an F-250 for the trailer) 110 miles to Ogden, UT to the closest Sprinter dealer, where they found a loose cam timing sensor plug that shut down the ECU and high pressure fuel pump........$800 total with the tow.

Next, I start to hear a whistling noise on heavy acceleration, and suspect that it is the turbo, so I stop in to a Sprinter dealer in Brighton, CO after the Balloon Fiesta (just outside of Denver) and have them check it. Needs a new turbo (bearings are shot) to the tune of $2600.

Now I'm headed back to FL and the lights start to dim somewhere between Amarillo, TX and Dallas, so I check the battery voltage....9.9 VDC. I suspect that it's the alternator. I stop at a rest area for the night and use the 300 amp hour Lifelines that I have in the back of the van that are powered by my AM Solar 400 watt system with a 2000 sine wave inverter and plug in the battery charger and go to bed.

The battery is back up to 12.1VDC (still low, but workable) and the van starts. It's off to the next Sprinter dealer in Ft. Worth, which is a 2 hour drive. I watch the battery voltage drop as I drive, about 0.1 VDC every 12-15 minutes. Soon, it's below 11 VDC and I'm hoping to reach the dealer.

As the sun rises further in the sky, the solar charging system takes over and the battery voltage actually starts to rise again (thank you AM Solar), and I make it to the dealer with no other problems. They take me right in and you guessed it....needs a new 150 amp alternator...............$1200.

OK, so I'm now on my final leg of the return journey to FL and I finally hit I-10 in Louisiana, stopping for fuel just West of Baton Rouge. I head back on the road and just before the I-10/I-12 split on Baton Rouge (about 12 miles), the trans gives out. The motor starts revving like a clutch has just gone bad. Another double tow to a Sprinter dealer only 6 miles away (the tow bandits got me for $455 this time) and I camp out in the dealer lot until tomorrow morning (Sat.) and wait 'till they open.

I get a very cool reception, unlike all of the other dealers I encountered, and am told that they 'might' be able to look at it on Wed. As I find this totally unacceptable, I look for the next Sprinter dealer along my route, and I find oner in Slidell, LA, just off I-10 and about 80 miles East. I call the dealer and they tell me to get it there and they will look at it first thing Monday morning. Another tow (this time buy one flat bed with a rear hitch system) and a very professional driver. $500 this time.

Now I'm in Slidell and the trailer is locked in the dealer's security lot with the van, and I'm at a hotel with a rented car. Having nothing to do on Sunday, I realize that I'm only 30 miles or so from New Orleans, so I mosey down to the 'Big Easy' and spend the entire day walking the French Quarter, enjoying some great food and awesome street jazz.

It's now Monday morning and the dealer says''''yup'''''', you need a new trans and it will be $6500 plus installation. I get on the web and find a Mercedes only re-builder and have him FedEx one of his units to me for $2600 delivered, so I'm still ahead of the game here.....3 year/60 K warranty.

Tuesday morning and the dealer pulls the trans waiting for the FedEx deliver. It arrives just after 10:30 as promised, and I'm back on the road by 4:00.

I arrive in Marco Island late Wed PM, and that's the end of the story....for now!

It seems that this particular Sprinter decided to let everything go just after the 100,000 mile mark and within a 1 week period. It has always been properly serviced at Sprinter dealers and never overloaded.

Do you think that I am still confident of the abilities of this van??????

While it is the perfect set-up for me and what I do, I will have to run this van right into the ground now to get the $10,000 back out of it that it just cost me. Do you think I will replace it with another????????????

It is my distinct opinion now that the van is highly over rated as far as the capacity of the engine and transmission to do what they say it will, which is carry 3000 lbs of cargo and tow up to 5000 lbs. Why else would so many major components fail in a very short period of time.

B-Van Sprinters are heavy (about the same weight as mine loaded, so beware if you intend to put a lot of miles on it. A necessity is a second transmission cooler (it comes with one that is obviously not up to the task), and a manual transmission would be ideal, but not available in the US.

Think twice before you invest in one!

This coming from a former 'died in the wool' Sprinter enthusiast.
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:38 PM   #10
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I considered a similar unit (Roadtrek) before we bought our Classic 30' recently

My "better half" talked me out of it because she was convinced (In hindsight, I agree) that it just would not give us enough clothes storage space for 6-8 week trips, and that contrary to my suggestions, would be way too awkward to park to use as a daily driver.

We presently use a 1/2ton extended cab pickup as our daily driver, and my wife, who drives much more locally than I do, even finds it to be tough to park (length and visibility.) let alone a 24 ft - or whatever it is - Sprinter van.

if you get serious, maybe it would be worth taking a test drive to park in a typical mall carpark to see what you think if you intend using it as a daily driver.


Brian.


(PS - in terms of storage space, its amazing how your perceived needs change with age! When our kids were young, all four of us used to pile into a VW Westphalia
camper, somehow we found space to pack all our clothes and an add - a - room tent, and go on four week trips with it. Now that the kids are long gone, a 31' AS plus a truck with a cap on the box seems not enough space for the two of us! What the heck happened!!)
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Old 11-03-2008, 06:56 PM   #11
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
With 120,000 miles on my '04 Sprinter 2500, the following episode will be of interest to you.

It is my service van (8000 lbs loaded weight) which I also use as my TV for my '06 19CCD (4500 lb max weight).

It has run well, with scheduled maintenance, a couple of brake replacements and normal fluid/filter changes.......untill this summer.

It started when a replacement harmonic balancer failed, taking the front section of the crank with it. Luckily, MOPAR covered the entire repair of a new crank and mainbearings, seals, etc. ($6500+) under their colateral damage provision for warranty replacement parts.

Then, the engine would not start (for the first time in 4 years), and I had to be towed by 2 trucks (a flat bed for the van and an F-250 for the trailer) 110 miles to Ogden, UT to the closest Sprinter dealer, where they found a loose cam timing sensor plug that shut down the ECU and high pressure fuel pump........$800 total with the tow.

Next, I start to hear a whistling noise on heavy acceleration, and suspect that it is the turbo, so I stop in to a Sprinter dealer in Brighton, CO after the Balloon Fiesta (just outside of Denver) and have them check it. Needs a new turbo (bearings are shot) to the tune of $2600.

Now I'm headed back to FL and the lights start to dim somewhere between Amarillo, TX and Dallas, so I check the battery voltage....9.9 VDC. I suspect that it's the alternator. I stop at a rest area for the night and use the 300 amp hour Lifelines that I have in the back of the van that are powered by my AM Solar 400 watt system with a 2000 sine wave inverter and plug in the battery charger and go to bed.

The battery is back up to 12.1VDC (still low, but workable) and the van starts. It's off to the next Sprinter dealer in Ft. Worth, which is a 2 hour drive. I watch the battery voltage drop as I drive, about 0.1 VDC every 12-15 minutes. Soon, it's below 11 VDC and I'm hoping to reach the dealer.

As the sun rises further in the sky, the solar charging system takes over and the battery voltage actually starts to rise again (thank you AM Solar), and I make it to the dealer with no other problems. They take me right in and you guessed it....needs a new 150 amp alternator...............$1200.

OK, so I'm now on my final leg of the return journey to FL and I finally hit I-10 in Louisiana, stopping for fuel just West of Baton Rouge. I head back on the road and just before the I-10/I-12 split on Baton Rouge (about 12 miles), the trans gives out. The motor starts revving like a clutch has just gone bad. Another double tow to a Sprinter dealer only 6 miles away (the tow bandits got me for $455 this time) and I camp out in the dealer lot until tomorrow morning (Sat.) and wait 'till they open.

I get a very cool reception, unlike all of the other dealers I encountered, and am told that they 'might' be able to look at it on Wed. As I find this totally unacceptable, I look for the next Sprinter dealer along my route, and I find oner in Slidell, LA, just off I-10 and about 80 miles East. I call the dealer and they tell me to get it there and they will look at it first thing Monday morning. Another tow (this time buy one flat bed with a rear hitch system) and a very professional driver. $500 this time.

Now I'm in Slidell and the trailer is locked in the dealer's security lot with the van, and I'm at a hotel with a rented car. Having nothing to do on Sunday, I realize that I'm only 30 miles or so from New Orleans, so I mosey down to the 'Big Easy' and spend the entire day walking the French Quarter, enjoying some great food and awesome street jazz.

It's now Monday morning and the dealer says''''yup'''''', you need a new trans and it will be $6500 plus installation. I get on the web and find a Mercedes only re-builder and have him FedEx one of his units to me for $2600 delivered, so I'm still ahead of the game here.....3 year/60 K warranty.

Tuesday morning and the dealer pulls the trans waiting for the FedEx deliver. It arrives just after 10:30 as promised, and I'm back on the road by 4:00.

I arrive in Marco Island late Wed PM, and that's the end of the story....for now!

It seems that this particular Sprinter decided to let everything go just after the 100,000 mile mark and within a 1 week period. It has always been properly serviced at Sprinter dealers and never overloaded.

Do you think that I am still confident of the abilities of this van??????

While it is the perfect set-up for me and what I do, I will have to run this van right into the ground now to get the $10,000 back out of it that it just cost me. Do you think I will replace it with another????????????

It is my distinct opinion now that the van is highly over rated as far as the capacity of the engine and transmission to do what they say it will, which is carry 3000 lbs of cargo and tow up to 5000 lbs. Why else would so many major components fail in a very short period of time.

B-Van Sprinters are heavy (about the same weight as mine loaded, so beware if you intend to put a lot of miles on it. A necessity is a second transmission cooler (it comes with one that is obviously not up to the task), and a manual transmission would be ideal, but not available in the US.

Think twice before you invest in one!

This coming from a former 'died in the wool' Sprinter enthusiast.
wow.......that's a sobering story.

What do you think will happen to the Van line with the rumored merger with GM? How about a van that size with an Isuzu diesel and allison transmission?

Lew, what is your opinion about one of our forum friends planning to head out on the open road with a 28' trailer and a sprinter loaded up with a small car on a flatbed? It seems completely overloaded to me and by now he has probably discovered as much. I have always liked the sprinter, but it is a light duty truck in most ways and does not seem to hold up well.

Thanks for the info.
Gary
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:10 PM   #12
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wow.......that's a sobering story.

What do you think will happen to the Van line with the rumored merger with GM? How about a van that size with an Isuzu diesel and allison transmission?

Lew, what is your opinion about one of our forum friends planning to head out on the open road with a 28' trailer and a sprinter loaded up with a small car on a flatbed? It seems completely overloaded to me and by now he has probably discovered as much. I have always liked the sprinter, but it is a light duty truck in most ways and does not seem to hold up well.

Thanks for the info.
Gary
If you're talking about Sergei (smokelessjoe), he is using the 3500 dually, which has a higher stated capacity, but has the same engine and tranny. I am sending him a copy of this thread with my suggestions for increasing the longevity of his TV.

Funny you mention the Isuzu, as I have just started looking at their W class cab-over trucks, along with the similar Mitsubishi-Fuso line. A short wheel base model with an Allison and a custom body combo might just do the trick for what I need. Now I just have to find the $40-50K to pay for a new one......
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:24 PM   #13
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I've got a 2006 Sprinter 2500, and I absolutely love it. It's a 10 passenger van, and we use it as a daily driver. I also used it to tow a 1961 Ambassador about 300 miles, but I will be putting a tranny cooler on it before I do anymore serious towing. I've had it almost 2 years, bought it new in 2007 as a leftover, and at almost 35,000 miles it has been almost trouble free. It did have a sensor (MAF I think) go bad at around 25,000 miles. Replaced and back on the road in 30 minutes at Carbone Dodge in Utica, NY. I'm getting 26mpg. When I bought it, it was only getting around 22-23mpg so I guess it's starting to break in. I love my van.

Sorry to hear the story about all the troubles Lewster had. Seems like an incredible run of bad luck, and I feel for you. Losing confidence in a vehicle is never a good feeling. Just wondering Lewster, how reliable was your van up until you had all the troubles?
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:28 PM   #14
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Not mentioning names.....but let's hope where there is smoke the is not fire. Same transmission with much more weight. I owned a W series for many years and it was a great truck. Here is a picture of a combo I took awhile back. bigger truck, bigger trailer. I still would not haul a small car on this size truck.
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