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Old 09-01-2014, 08:34 PM   #71
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Holy cow, Batman. That makes for a long day. Good luck on the problem being solved simply.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:03 PM   #72
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The MB manual says that you should remove the drive shaft if towing for more than 30 miles. Did you?
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:10 PM   #73
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Hi, well that sounded like a nightmare to me. And four hours late for vehicle that it's going to sit a few days before they look at it was a really poor excuse to put it off for another day. Too bad that the keys got locked inside; And a decent tow truck driver should know all about automatic door locks. Auto door locks have done this for decades, ask any car wash. Ironically, many times a non-start vehicle was towed to our dealership and as soon as it was disconnected from the tow truck it would start like nothing ever happened. Towing from the front, on a rear drive vehicle could cause transmission damage if the driveshaft isn't removed. He probably should have put the rear wheels on dollies. Sometimes tow trucks are a necessary evil. GOOD LUCK.
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The MB manual says that you should remove the drive shaft if towing for more than 30 miles. Did you?

Hi, exactly.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:14 PM   #74
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Hey, it is probably something worth checking... Tranny issue by improper tow method is bad Ju-Ju.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:29 PM   #75
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The MB manual says that you should remove the drive shaft if towing for more than 30 miles. Did you?
No. It also said not to exceed 31 mph. The tow was between 40 and 45 mph the whole way.

Given the endless litany of what else went wrong and how late it was getting to be, to be perfectly honest I wasn't prepared to crawl under it myself and disconnect the drive shaft after the front end was up on the wheel lift, and the tow truck driver was all "I've done this before and it's not really necessary. Don't worry about it." So, yeah, there may have been damage. Or the manual may have been overly conservative and I got lucky. I told MB about it when I was checking the vehicle in. Just one more thing to wait and see about.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:02 AM   #76
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Hi, chances are that you won't know what the trans damage is until later on. There is no rear pump on modern automatic transmissions so no lubrication to spinning parts. Extension housing bushing, tail shaft bushing, and thrust washers/bearings and more could be damaged. First symptoms might be drive line vibration. Metal shavings will work their way into the rest of the trans and could do further damage or interrupt valve body actions. Yes, the tow truck driver has done this before and never heard about it because the trans failed later on and the connection was never made. Your options, in my opinion, is to let the dealer know how it was towed. And maybe ask for the transmission pan to be removed [major trans service, not a flush] and inspected for excessive shavings. [a tiny bit is normal]
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:08 AM   #77
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Hi, I would contact the tow company and let them know how your vehicle was towed and they will be responsible for any damage. Time to document all of this. I hate to even guess as to the cost of that trans.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:13 AM   #78
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What a mess, Protag.

I'm sorry for it, and hope it shakes itself out without too much more difficulty.

I agree, you need to document all of this, every conversation, every piece of paper. Get a pad of paper, go back to the beginning, and get it down while it is all fresh in your mind. Clip everything together and keep it together. IMHO.

We have carried AAA for years, and have had good experiences with them and those they send out.

Good luck,


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Old 09-02-2014, 10:14 AM   #79
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That's not how it works. The anti-theft system remains intake, at least in the Drone system.

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Check with your installer, once you pick one.

It's possible that in order to make remote start work, the installer will have to disable the anti-theft ignition lockout in order for the van to be able to start without the ignition switch detecting the correct chipped key.

Weird to think that one might have to disable a factory anti-theft device while installing an aftermarket anti-theft device…
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:45 AM   #80
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That's not how it works. The anti-theft system remains intake, at least in the Drone system.
Thanks for the info. I did say "possible" and "ask your installer." If the system one chooses doesn't require the anti-theft ignition lock-out to be disabled, that's great.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:50 AM   #81
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PROTAG
I'm not an expert, so take this with some salt, but when I drove AAA trucks and towed anything, it was always on its rear wheels with automatic in neutral. Even big vans like the Sprinter.

The auto industry generally overbuilds just for such occasional contingencies. (Conversely, they know what the max is and cut it in half just to be safe when informing the buyer.) I've been a tech reporter and editor in the auto industry and can honestly say the SAE and automaker guidelines are way conservative.

Chances are pretty good (don't hold me to this) that towing the Sprinter with the driveshaft connected for the distance and speed you traveled is HIGHLY unlikely to have caused transmission damage. Just don't make a habit of it.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:02 PM   #82
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Some installers will take the spare chipped key, break the shank off, and hide the rest under the dash for remote start applications.
I was concerned about being locked out due to a lost key, so here was my remedy: I purchased a key blade from my dealer ($20) and keep it in a small combination lockbox attached to the hitch. The key blade only opens the driver door but I have a complete set of keys hidden inside the coach. $20 bought me a lot of peace of mind!
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:43 PM   #83
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You can get the tranny a BG service which carries a two or three year warranty, can't remember which. Saved my son a lot of money on a 2004 Tahoe that I had done when I owned it and there was no hassle. Just had the dealer that did the service confirm w/ BG.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:44 PM   #84
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First update from the dealer…

They were able to get into the van without difficulty using some kind of inflatable device inserted between the top rear corner of the door and the frame, and inserting a plastic-coated hook to lift the door latch.

Naturally the chassis battery was stony dead after sitting all weekend with the key on, so they're replacing the battery, free of charge.

The starter fuse was blown (no surprise there), but that was only the start of the troubleshooting. The van originally came with a 15amp starter fuse and there was service bulletin issued calling for it to be replaced with a 20amp fuse. When the 10,000 mile service was performed, they replaced the 15amp fuse with a 20amp fuse then, so the fuse that blew was a 20amp fuse. Now they're concerned with why it blew a 20amp fuse, so that's what they're trying to find. I'm all in favor. Some places would just replace the fuse and say, "Okay, you're good," without tracking down the underlying cause.

I reiterated my warning about the improper towing procedure, and they'll be dropping the transmission oil pan to take a look.
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