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Old 06-26-2012, 12:38 PM   #1
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Sprinter one-ton towing/non-towing hwy mpg?

We're going to replace our 2000 Suburban 3/4 ton (300hp@4800/355torque/3.73 differential) with a Sprinter one-ton (188hp@3800/325torque@1400rpm/4.12 differential) to tow our 28 ft Ocean Breeze (6100 dry/7300 max/6900usual weight) because Sprinter requires the one ton to tow anything up to 7500 lbs (the 1500 and 2500 are only rate to tow 5000, and more would void warranty even though transmission and engine are the same for all three models.) The Sprinter actually generates considerably more torque to the rear axle than the Suburban due to the taller differential.

Has anyone had any experience with the Sprinter 3500's towing this weight Airstream long term? Any transmission challenges? What kind of highway mileage should we expect towing? Highway mileage not towing? (65-70mph)

Thanks!
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:03 PM   #2
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Hi Gecko,

Lots of good information here on this other forum about sprinter.
Sprinter - Sprinter-Forum

Not sure I would attempt it.

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Old 06-26-2012, 05:38 PM   #3
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There are a couple of people on here who tow regularly with the Sprinters. Smokey Joe and Lewster. Hopefully they will chime in shortly.

I have never towed with one, but I have driven both the box van and a Winnebago View a fair distance. My over the road mileage was routinely in the 20-22mpg range along the I-95 corridor which is fairly flat. I have a buddy that makes regular runs up the I-81 corridor between VA and PA. He reports 18-21mpg.

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Old 06-26-2012, 07:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gecko View Post
We're going to replace our 2000 Suburban 3/4 ton (300hp@4800/355torque/3.73 differential) with a Sprinter one-ton (188hp@3800/325torque@1400rpm/4.12 differential) to tow our 28 ft Ocean Breeze (6100 dry/7300 max/6900usual weight) because Sprinter requires the one ton to tow anything up to 7500 lbs (the 1500 and 2500 are only rate to tow 5000, and more would void warranty even though transmission and engine are the same for all three models.) The Sprinter actually generates considerably more torque to the rear axle than the Suburban due to the taller differential.

Has anyone had any experience with the Sprinter 3500's towing this weight Airstream long term? Any transmission challenges? What kind of highway mileage should we expect towing? Highway mileage not towing? (65-70mph)

Thanks!
Gecko,

I would NOT do it again!! Having towed a new '06 19CCD (that is considerably lighter than the specs of your stated trailer) with an '04 Sprinter 2500 and now owning an '11 Mercedes 2500 Sprinter, you are asking for a significant amount of problems towing a 6900 lb. trailer with a Sprinter........ANY Sprinter.

After towing the 19CCD (scale weight between 3800-4200 lbs.) for 4 years, I lost the turbo, alternator AND transmission in a 5 day period at 115,000 miles. No warranty of course! And this is after replacing the entire bottom end at 95,000 miles after the replacement harmonic balancer failed and took the keyway of the crank with it.

Am I towing anything with my new Sprinter???? NO! Will I, perhaps, but only until the extended warranty is up. The new V-6 diesel is far improved over the old inline 5, but the transmission is the same as in the old van. I would wait until the new 7-speed trans comes out in the '13-'14 Sprinter before even considering it!

Every person I have spoken to who has towed a significant weight trailer (and ALL were under 5K) has had either major engine or transmission problems.

Research it and be the judge. This is just one person's extended use report. And for mileage, a solid 20MPG loaded (around 8K on a regular basis) and 11-13 towing the 19CCD. This at 70-75 highway miles on cross-country trips between FL and OR. The new van gets between 16-19 loaded (8200 lbs) on cross-country trips. You need to be virtually empty to achieve over 20 with the V-6 and stay under 70 all the time! I've done it, but don't consider that 'real-world driving'.
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:07 AM   #5
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Research it and be the judge. This is just one person's extended use report. And for mileage, a solid 20MPG loaded (around 8K on a regular basis) and 11-13 towing the 19CCD. This at 70-75 highway miles on cross-country trips between FL and OR. The new van gets between 16-19 loaded (8200 lbs) on cross-country trips. You need to be virtually empty to achieve over 20 with the V-6 and stay under 70 all the time! I've done it, but don't consider that 'real-world driving'.
I'll second that. I haven't towed anything with my Interstate, which was a 3500 Sprinter before Airstream had their wicked way with it. On a trip from New Orleans to Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas, with a fair amount of elevation changes, I got 18.5 mpg at 50~55 on Scenic Byway 7 headed up, but a measly 16.5 mpg at 65~70 on I-40/US-65/I-55 on the way back. In the seven months I've owned my Interstate 3500, I have yet to see 20 mpg even once, though I do manage to top out at 19.2 mpg headed east/west along the Gulf Coast on flat terrain.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:27 AM   #6
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Thanks for chiming in, everybody. Any more direct links to other people who have towed with Sprinters? Lewster, can you point us to any more comments, positive or negative?
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:43 AM   #7
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I know that 'Smokeless Joe' on these Forums is using the 5 cylinder, 3500 Sprinter cab/rail chassis as his tow vehicle (towing his wonderfully renovated Argosy) while the Sprinter chassis is a flatbed for his Mini Cooper which rides piggy-back on the Sprinter. They are quite a sight as they are all painted black and Pepper White (Mini color) to match.

YOu might send him a PM and get his real-world experiences.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:03 PM   #8
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Hello Gekco, this is Smokeless Joe chiming in...

My experience may not be real world enough to provide a devinitive answer to your questions as I bought the 2006 Mercedes Sprinter Cab and Chassis new, near the begining of my renewal of a 1976 Argosy, but never got out on the road until 4 years later. The truck still has less than 10,000 miles on it.

The first big trip I made was 173 days to 38 cities and towns the the US South. The figures are back in Toronto but I seem to recall the MPG average was something like 17.8 over the entire trip. This is everything combined, city and highway, with and without the trailer.

I may have had the advantage of Lewster warning me about his troubles. After he burned out his transmission he PM'd me recommending I buy an after cooler and an after market replacement for the turbo resonator. The original from the Dusseldorf, Germany factory was plastic and had a history of burning up, putting the truck into limp mode. Lewster went through 5 of them!

I bought the transmission cooler and aluminum resonator from the Sprinter Store in Portland, Oregon. Later, I bought the Scan Gauge II from them after reading about it on the Sprinter Forum. This was a simple 10 minute install that I did when I was in New Orleans at Christmas.

I consider this the best thing I've ever had for driving. Following the advice given on the Sprinter Forum, I try to keep the Percentage of Load (LOD) below 75% at all times, by shifting down.

I am very heavily loaded, running at 14,500 pounds combined when the truck is rated at 15,200. The only problem I have had is pulling up serious grades. On one steep mountain between Georgia and North Carolina I was slowed right down to 15 mph. I stopped the truck a couple of times, motor running in nuetral for a couple of minutes, to let things cool dow.

This week I am having installed a German made diesel power modual from Sprinter Store and two guages on the dash, transmision temperature and EGT. These I got from Geno's Garage in Cummings, Georgia on the recommendation of new friend Big Ed Moeller from South Carolina, whom I met at a rally in Georgia.

I guess I'm figuring that the hundreds of dollars spent here is preferable to the many thousands that will be spent after a burned out transmission.

If you have more ways to monitor your systems you can adapt your driving to limited or precvent damage.

Regretably, the Scan Guage cannot report the transmission temperature as Mercedes Benz will not share their proprietory codes with them.

About deciding on a truck, remember that you can read about failures with Ford, Dodge, GM and Chevy here too, maybe even more than Sprinters because there are more of them in use in North American.

Keep in mind too that the Sprinter is not a new thing. It is a time tested German engineered vehicle, perhaps the most widley sold in the world with well over a million units sold in 130 countries. You can see this evry night on the news from the hot spots of the world, Sprinters in use by police, ambulances and other emergency workers.

Sergei

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Old 06-28-2012, 12:01 PM   #9
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Thanks Lewster and Sergei

Sergei, the info is very helpful. How much does your Argosy weigh? We're 6100 dry, 7300 max, and tow at about 6900 lbs. It sounds like when you were slowed to 15 mph on that steep grade, the transmission when into safety mode, if MB has such a thing. That happened to us once with our Suburban towing up a prolonged steep grade in New Mexico.

We are perfectly willing to slow going up steep grades in the summer with the Sprinter 3500, but for safety sake, we want to be able to hold preferably 50mph and at least 40mph.

As far as the plastic parts, my understanding is that Mercedes upgraded these sometime after the 2006 model year--is that correct?

From a handling standpoint, the 3500 seems every bit as solid as our suburban 2500. The suburban's torque of 355 coupled to 3.73 diff actually yields a little less to the rear wheels than the Sprinter's 325 with the 4.11. But the horsepower of 300 compared to the MB's 188 even with the differential advantage, is not close. So our concerns are:

Is there enough torque/hp to hold to at least 40 and hopefully 50 on sustained 7% grades in summer heat towing 6900 lbs of Airstream?

Is the transmission strong enough to go 100,000+ miles (about 15k miles per year, towing 35% of the time)? (We will change transmission fluid every year regardless of mileage, as we do for the Suburban)

Is the 6 cyl diesel strong enough to last for 150k plus miles with this kind of load? We are not abusive in driving, working hard to get good mileage, and trying very hard not to punish the engine and transmission. We change oil every 3k miles regardless of manufacture's schedule, and transmission fluid annually regardless of miles driven.

ScanGauge sounds like a great idea--I can't imagine towing without the Suburban's standard transmission temp gauge--but I've heard that it voids the warranty, which seems like a big no-no. So ironically, it seems like something to add AFTER a transmission failure and after we're off warranty.

We love everything else about the Sprinter, and think it's a perfect complement to the Airstream, with the volume interior we need for our lightweight but voluminous sports equipment (we'll be carrying no more than 500 lbs in addition to driver and passenger in the Sprinter). We've heard of an Interstate 144" 2500 towing a 34' classic across the mountains in Eastern Canada, and being able to hold 85 kph (53mph) up 8% slopes. Not a load I would tow with any Sprinter, personally, but this is a reputable source.

Thanks again for your help. And I hope others will chime in, too.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:30 PM   #10
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The trailer runs around the 5000 pound mark.

I don't know if the truck slowed to 15 mph because a safety overrode it. I don't think so though. I was just unwilling to exceed the 75 % of load mark and the heavily loaded truck maybe just didn't have the juice. Neither did I have any way to know the transmission fluid or exhaust gas temperatures so I opted just to stop my pull for a couple of minutes.

As I write, the power module and gauges are being installed in a nearby town. In a week or so I'll head out for a summer in Newfoundland. We'll see if the driving experiences will be different on that trip.

My heavy load means that I don't have any jack rabbit get a ways. It takes me a little while to get up to speed too. That doesn't bother me a bit. I am not one that subscribes to the the notion of needing to enter freeways at speed or keep up with traffic. I mostly follow the posted speeds and they are mostly 55 mph for trucks in your country, if I remember.

Logic and observation tells us that speed kills, not driving carefully to conditions. Ask any cop about that.

I often see big trucks low gearing their way uphill and I have no desire to prove anything to anyone by whisking by them.

I don't know if the turbo resonator has been changed in more recent models. You can probably find out on the Sprinter Forum. Or maybe Lewster knows. The Sprinter Store in Oregon will know for sure. John, the guy that owns the place, answers his emails. I've even talked to him on the phone. He will know.

About your several other questions I don't know the answers. If the story you were told about the Interstate towing a trailer in Eastern Canada is true that can provide a kind of answer.

There are lots of morhome conversions on Sprinters out there; hundreds if not thousands. They must be heavy as well.

You started the thread by saying you are buying a Sprinter so most of your questions are probably just second guessing yourself. Maybe time to listen to Steve Jobs who once said " Don't let your inner voice be drowned out by the opinions of others."

Sergei, still trying to type on the iPad.
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:06 PM   #11
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Lew,

You mentioned waiting until the new 7-speed trans come out about a year from now. My understanding is the new 7-speed is paired with a 4 cylinder diesel with twin turbos. The 4 cylinder will have more hp and torque than the current 6 cylinder diesel. The current diesel with the existing 5 speed will still be available as an option.

I wonder if the 4 cylinder will do the job?

Barry
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:36 PM   #12
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Lew,

You mentioned waiting until the new 7-speed trans come out about a year from now. My understanding is the new 7-speed is paired with a 4 cylinder diesel with twin turbos. The 4 cylinder will have more hp and torque than the current 6 cylinder diesel. The current diesel with the existing 5 speed will still be available as an option.

I wonder if the 4 cylinder will do the job?

Barry
My dealer didn't mention the twin turbo set-up, but if it has more HP and torque, why not? After all, all of the large, hi-HP diesels from Cummins, Detroit and Mercedes used in Class 8 and 9 over the road trucking are 6's, so a large 4 with the added boost of twin turbos should do the job nicely in the Sprinter. Problem with the current 5-speed trans is that it a slush-box and IMHO, the weak link in an otherwise very nice package. I wish they would offer the 6-speed manual that is available in Europe!

Plus, Ford is bring their Euro large Transit van to the US with a bunch of configuration possibilities as an eventual replacement for the E-series vans. Should be interesting to see how Mercedes responds.
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:07 PM   #13
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My experience:

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MPG @ 60 mph highway = 21.5
MPG @ 60 mph highway with 5 x 10 v-nose empty enclosed trailer = 15.5
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:05 PM   #14
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Question Sprinter vs GMC

Interesting discussion. I'm thinking of selling my GMC 2500 HD diesel and buying a pre dpf Sprinter to pull my 19' Airstream. The problem we have is our travelling companions that go with us to Scottish support events. We don't want to leave them in the campground in the trailer all day so we take them with us when allowed. Ideally we drive to an event, park the bambi in the campground and drive the Sprinter to the event. fire up the A/C and visit the pets during the day making sure they get their breaks along with ours. Saw the new gas Chevy Airstreams at Alumapalooza...then again I think that it would be easier to fix the GMC than the Sprinter...thoughts?
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