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Old 11-24-2014, 03:42 PM   #1
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Smile Sprinter engine reliability?

I am interested in a Sprinter type motor home but wonder how reliable the Sprinter really is. Current Diesel engines are not as reliable as they used to be. The Sprinter has a complicated, small 3-liter turbo charged, after cooled engine that needs DEF fluid and pushes an 11000-pound van. I just bought a new 2500 Ram Diesel Truck to pull an Airstream Trailer. This was a mistake, I really don't want to have a long rig or pull anything behind me. I want to get a class B camper like an Interstate or Roadtrek. Non Extended. I have a sour taste with Mercedes Diesels, because I once owned a 300SDL Diesel and it was the worst car I ever owned with tons of engine problems.
I like to ask Interstate owners about how many miles they put on their camper and what kind of possible Sprinter related problems they encountered. Are you concerned about not finding a Sprinter Dealer for repairs when you are on the road? At 73, I want to retire and drive with my wife around the US in a reliable camper.
Thanks, Gerhard
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Old 11-24-2014, 03:57 PM   #2
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Never a bit of trouble in nearly three years and 19,000 miles. The 3-liter turbo-diesel runs very well. It's quiet, too; quieter than the onboard Onan generator!

I got the RennTech ECU tune through my local Sprinter dealer because I wanted a bit of extra horsepower and better fuel economy when pulling a toad, but lots of folks here on the Forums get by just fine without the ECU tune, so it's definitely optional. With the RennTech ECU tune, I routinely get 20mpg at 60mph when not towing, and 19mpg at 60mph towing my 3500-pound-GVWR Honda toad. That's about a 2mpg improvement over my fuel economy without the ECU tune.

The DEF requirement isn't exactly onerous; you'll add about 2 gallons every 8000 miles or so, and you can buy it relatively cheap at Walmart (never buy it from Mercedes Benz; they sell it by the liter and it costs a fortune). Price on the DEF works out to less than 1 per mile.
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Old 11-24-2014, 04:01 PM   #3
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If you want a wide coverage of users try this forum:

Sprinter - Sprinter-Forum

It covers all Sprinter users.
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Old 11-24-2014, 04:06 PM   #4
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I have only put 7000 miles on my Airstream EXT (2013), but it has been flawless....until the dealer performed a software upgrade and screwed up my speedometer reading. Other than that it has been a champ. My highway mileage runs 17-21mpg depending on load. Surprised at the ample power I have at all speeds. DEF is a minor item, and available at all auto-parts stores and Walmart.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:17 PM   #5
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I have about 24K on mine w/ no problems. My DEF tank holds about five gallons. I get it at Sam's in 2.5 gallon containers w/ a nice pour spout which is very handy since MB elected to put a very small opening for the DEF fill. The five gallons takes me about 10K miles which is less than $0.03 per mile. YMMV

The oil & filter change is probably the most onerous since it uses about 13 qt. of Mobil 1 ESP which runs about $8/qt depending on any specials.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:31 PM   #6
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You are correct that all modern diesels are overly complex compared to gasoline engines due to emissions system requirements.

I have put over 45,000 miles on my Interstate Sprinter in two years. No problems with vehicle other than a flat tire in inner dual. But getting a knowledgable Sprinter dealer is a challenge. The one I first used in Baltimore area caused me to be towed in after a botched routine fuel filter change at 30,000 miles. I now go to Sun Motors in Mechanicsburg, PA - one of the best Sprinter service dealers in the USA. I think the Sprinter service will improve over time as Mercedes is making a commitment to keep this vehicle in the US market. Personally I wish they offered it again with the gasoline engine.

You will be hard pressed to get a better vehicle than a Sprinter if you want a Class-B van. If you can wait awhile the new Ford Transit will be available in small B-van conversions. The basic Transit has a gasoline engine. However it is a new European designed van and dealers probably won't be up to speed on repairing them for a few years.

Some might say get a Ford E van based RV if you want reliability. But my experience with the E-350 I used for years to tow my old Airstream trailer indicates they are no more than average on reliability. The only truly reliable vehicle I've ever owned is my current Toyota Prius.

If you want a tied and true design for a new Class-B van the only current choice is the Roadtrek based on the Chevy van. There are older B-vans on Ford and Chevy vans if you go the used route.

Hope this is useful,


- - Mike
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
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But getting a knowledgable Sprinter dealer is a challenge.
Fortunately you're not limited to Sprinter dealers. Freightliner dealers also can handle Sprinter repairs and service. When Sprinters were first imported into the US, they were sold through Freightliner.

However, even though Dodge used to carry Sprinters as well back when Chrysler was partnered with Mercedes, once the two companies went their separate ways, Dodge had to give up handling Sprinters, so they're not really a choice for Sprinter service.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:53 PM   #8
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My Dodge dealer can still service Sprinters (cheaper than my MB dealer) but I wonder about Freightliner being up to speed on the new ones w/ the 3.0 V6.
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:13 PM   #9
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Around 12,000 miles on mine and not a single issue. On a recent 7700 mile month long trip I averaged 18.4 MPG driving mostly 65-67mph. Seems like more and more Mercedes dealers are handling Sprinters due to their popularity as work vans as well as people movers. My prior rv was also a Sprinter chassis and the only problem I had with that one was a turbo hose failure but MBZ has since redesigned the turbo hose. (I do carry a spare). My company has been using a 2003 Sprinter passenger van (5 cyl) with no engine or transmission issues in 11 years. I swear by them.
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:21 PM   #10
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I have driven a Sprinter since 2004 and have a combined 265,000 miles between my 2004 and my 2011, which is at 103,000 miles. The newer Sprinters are far improved over the older style with the 5 cylinder engine. My '04 had myriad problems like needing a turbo, alternator and transmission over a 5 day period in 2009 at 115,000 miles. This was after replacing the entire bottom end under warranty after a replacement harmonic balancer that was installed by Dodge failed. Luckily it was still covered by MoPar's 90 day replacement parts warranty!!! At 160,000 the #2 cylinder developed a hole in it's piston and that was the end of the '04.

The 2011 is smoother, more powerful and so far.......much less trouble but we'll see going forward from here. There was nothing out there ( both Ford and Dodge (FIAT) now have Sprinter clones) when I needed another van after losing the engine on my '04.

Fuel mileage is not as good with the '11, but I still get 17-21 MPG fully loaded (this is a service van) on long trips (FL to OR and back each year) at posted speed limits or slightly above. I am currently averaging 16-17.5 MPG in town, again, fully loaded. I pulled a 2500 lb cargo trailer to FL this fall and got an actual fuel consumption average of 15.1 MPG, again at or slightly above speed limits.

*NOTE* when on the road cross-country, I usually drive a minimum of 12 hours/day. I have never driven a more comfortable vehicle for long distance travel than either of the Sprinters.

No real complaints so far. Had several small warranty issues that were corrected by Mercedes, which services the rig while in FL. When in the North West, service work is either by McCoy Freightliner in Portland or Sprinter Store in Tualitan. Very satisfied with both!!
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:47 PM   #11
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I'm on my second Sprinter-based RV. You can add me to the happy camper list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 73shark View Post
The oil & filter change is probably the most onerous since it uses about 13 qt. of Mobil 1 ESP which runs about $8/qt depending on any specials.
True, but OTOH, current-production Sprinters have 15,000 mile oil-change intervals.
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I'm on my second Sprinter-based RV. You can add me to the happy camper list.


True, but OTOH, current-production Sprinters have 15,000 mile oil-change intervals.
Lucky you.

Edit: Oops, I guess it's the owner's of the newer ones. What's the change interval on the 5 cyl.?
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:34 PM   #13
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The 2015's are going to have a 20,000 mile service interval.
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