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Old 03-16-2016, 06:40 PM   #1
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MB Sprinter Crosswind Assist reviews?

Some of the 2015 and all of the 2016 Interstate owners should have Sprinters with Mercedes' Wind Assist technology. I've mentioned several times that in windy conditions my 2011 is a challenge to drive even after several suspension upgrades (no full air suspension yet). I've seen few posts on this subject so I'm curious to hear some reviews on how it's working. What's the verdict on handling in strong crosswinds, coming through an underpass, around semi trucks at highway speeds, etc.? Thanks
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:17 PM   #2
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The '16 is my first Sprinter and I also have the air suspension option so I'm not able to give a comparison. What I can say is after 8000 miles with some of those in stout cross-winds, the wind is very noticable and you have to remain diligent. Semi passing is also noticable, but no drama. I cam eout of Big Bend with a horrific quartering headwind and I had to drop the speed to ~60 to be relaxed.
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:36 PM   #3
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My 2011 Sprinter 2500 service van had similar problems in cross winds and behind semis. I drive the van from FL to OR and back each year, and it was getting a bit tiring to keep the van on the road thru parts of TX, NM, UT and ID.

I found a viable solution from the Sprinter Store in a larger rear sway bar, rear spring assist pack and Koni shocks all around. Made a HUUUUUGE difference!

Oh, and proper front end alignment also……….
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
My 2011 Sprinter 2500 service van had similar problems in cross winds and behind semis. I drive the van from FL to OR and back each year, and it was getting a bit tiring to keep the van on the road thru parts of TX, NM, UT and ID.

I found a viable solution from the Sprinter Store in a larger rear sway bar, rear spring assist pack and Koni shocks all around. Made a HUUUUUGE difference!

Oh, and proper front end alignment also……….
Agree. I did the Konis, heavier sway bar, and Sumo Springs and it helped a lot. (If I ever get out to Oregon, I'll have them install airbags while you upgrade the solar and batteries!) I was curious about the late model AIs because it doesn't seem like there are as many "wind complaint" posts from the new owners.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
I found a viable solution from the Sprinter Store in a larger rear sway bar, rear spring assist pack and Koni shocks all around. Made a HUUUUUGE difference!

Oh, and proper front end alignment also……….
I have the Koni shocks and keep the front end properly aligned on my 2012 Interstate (2011 Sprinter). But I don't have the larger sway bar or spring assist kit. I've driven in howling Gulf Coast thunderstorms, in high crosswinds coming off Lake Pontchartrain that caused the rear end of a semi's box trailer to change lanes independently of the semi-tractor and nearly swat me like a bug, and in Texas panhandle dust storms. In all of these cases I've had to keep both hands on the wheel, but not white-knuckling the wheel. And I've never been blown out of my lane (yet), though I have been blown almost to the white line at the edge of the lane a few times.

It has been years since I did a back-of-the-envelope wind force analysis for different wind speeds acting on a Sprinter van. I was still working for a living and the number-crunching was on my office computer, so I don't have access to the numbers anymore. But in general terms…

Crosswind handling has a lot to do with the geometry of the van, in particular the sloped nose and squared-off rear end. On a non-EXT model, and looking at a 90° uniformly-distributed crosswind, the center of effort of the wind is not far from the center of gravity of the van, a bit aft of the midpoint of the van. Meaning the wind will try to blow the whole van at once, with crosswind force distributed between front and rear wheels in roughly the same proportions that the van's weight is distributed.

On an EXT model, however, there's an extra 10 square feet of surface area behind the rear wheels, so there's not only a larger total wind force (same wind over a larger area), but the center of effort is moved rearward as well, so that the wind force acts behind the van's center of gravity. The crosswind force acts more strongly on the rear axle than on the front axle and the van will have a slight tendency to weathervane (point up into the wind) when it's blown sideways. The end of the van that experiences the most sideways movement is not the end being steered, and so attempts to straighten out the van only offset you more to the side as you try to get the front end out in front of the rear end.

Thus the EXT models are more in need of crosswind assistance than the non-EXT models, so that computer-controlled differential braking can do what the steering cannot.

At least, that's the way I remember my off-the-cuff analysis running, but it has been a few years and my memory might be fuzzy in that regard. I welcome a reality check from other engineers and ex-engineers here, if their take on the subject is different…
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:25 AM   #6
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Smile shocks and swaybar

I too have done the Koni shocks and swaybar modification. It made a big difference in handling, wind or no wind. Also, make sure to align the front end. A trip to Glacier NP and then to Big Bend NP was proof - much less tiring.
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:29 AM   #7
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I also have the upgraded Koni shocks but just the stock HD sway bars. Mine is an extended length model so as Protag discussed it is impacted by cross winds. The only solution I've found is to slow down when in strong cross winds.
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Old 03-17-2016, 11:07 AM   #8
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I have the SPRINTER STORE heavier sway bar, Koni shocks , and Sumo springs. The difference is like night and day. Should be part of OEM for Airstream Interstate.
Rides and handles like a 50s British sports car. AEW
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Old 03-17-2016, 11:38 AM   #9
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Rides and handles like a 50s British sports car.
Hey, don't get me going!
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Old 03-17-2016, 11:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
I have the Koni shocks and keep the front end properly aligned on my 2012 Interstate (2011 Sprinter). But I don't have the larger sway bar or spring assist kit. I've driven in howling Gulf Coast thunderstorms, in high crosswinds coming off Lake Pontchartrain that caused the rear end of a semi's box trailer to change lanes independently of the semi-tractor and nearly swat me like a bug, and in Texas panhandle dust storms. In all of these cases I've had to keep both hands on the wheel, but not white-knuckling the wheel. And I've never been blown out of my lane (yet), though I have been blown almost to the white line at the edge of the lane a few times.

It has been years since I did a back-of-the-envelope wind force analysis for different wind speeds acting on a Sprinter van. I was still working for a living and the number-crunching was on my office computer, so I don't have access to the numbers anymore. But in general terms…

Crosswind handling has a lot to do with the geometry of the van, in particular the sloped nose and squared-off rear end. On a non-EXT model, and looking at a 90° uniformly-distributed crosswind, the center of effort of the wind is not far from the center of gravity of the van, a bit aft of the midpoint of the van. Meaning the wind will try to blow the whole van at once, with crosswind force distributed between front and rear wheels in roughly the same proportions that the van's weight is distributed.

On an EXT model, however, there's an extra 10 square feet of surface area behind the rear wheels, so there's not only a larger total wind force (same wind over a larger area), but the center of effort is moved rearward as well, so that the wind force acts behind the van's center of gravity. The crosswind force acts more strongly on the rear axle than on the front axle and the van will have a slight tendency to weathervane (point up into the wind) when it's blown sideways. The end of the van that experiences the most sideways movement is not the end being steered, and so attempts to straighten out the van only offset you more to the side as you try to get the front end out in front of the rear end.

Thus the EXT models are more in need of crosswind assistance than the non-EXT models, so that computer-controlled differential braking can do what the steering cannot.

At least, that's the way I remember my off-the-cuff analysis running, but it has been a few years and my memory might be fuzzy in that regard. I welcome a reality check from other engineers and ex-engineers here, if their take on the subject is different…
Excellent analysis!

We have a 2013 short height/short wheelbase 3500 that we ordered from the factory with extra sway assist, but no other mods. We primarily are towing our 6980 lb 28' International behind us, so different crosswind handling challenges. nicely balanced with an Equalizr hitch, we get blown pretty uniformly sideways. We do slow to 55 or 60 and have been able to handle crosswinds up to 45mph. It's not fun, but it's doable.

With more normal wind conditions, the rig handles very well even at Texas (80 mph) speeds. We are affected by large truck bow waves, but only slightly. We definitely feel them but do not have to correct as we get pushed a few inches to one side and then when the pressure releases, we are "returned" automatically to the original position.
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Old 03-17-2016, 03:31 PM   #11
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Isn't it sad you buy a product and have to rebuild it. Don't these manufacturers test their products? I have faced these challenges with RV'S for over 20 years and I think it stinks

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Old 03-17-2016, 04:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by unifreck View Post
Rides and handles like a 50s British sports car. AEW
But the Sprinters don't leak oil or have intermittent electrics.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:38 PM   #13
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Years ago I bought an enclosed car trailer from a British car enthusiast. He had a sticker inside that showed the Lucas light switch positions:

Dim

Flicker

Off
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:45 PM   #14
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Sorry----I should have been more specific, it rides and handles like my TR-3. I actually never had oil leaks or the "Prince of darkness " (Lucas Electric) Gremlins visit me over 90,000 miles. Really miss that car. AEW
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:10 PM   #15
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When I owned a 2010 MB cargo Sprinter (high roof, long wheelbase, 3500 series) I had NO problems driving and / or towing in windy conditions (or while being passed by large trucks).
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Old 03-18-2016, 10:53 PM   #16
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When the weather is windy it is worse to boating than to drive ))).

When you are driving just consider the wind and other environment while passing by the semies, or slow down. This is a big vehicle, and no electronics can eliminate the wind-vs-size factor and make it a sport car.
IMHO.

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Old 03-29-2016, 10:18 PM   #17
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I was driving last night on New Jersey Turnpike with a really high winds, all electronic signs on the highway were giving the wind warning. Yes, on 78 mph with winds there is a challenge to steering in your straight lane, I deactivated the "lane assist" option.
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Old 04-25-2016, 03:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
My 2011 Sprinter 2500 service van had similar problems in cross winds and behind semis. I drive the van from FL to OR and back each year, and it was getting a bit tiring to keep the van on the road thru parts of TX, NM, UT and ID.

I found a viable solution from the Sprinter Store in a larger rear sway bar, rear spring assist pack and Koni shocks all around. Made a HUUUUUGE difference!

Oh, and proper front end alignment also……….
Lew - where would be the best place to have this work done in the Portland/Hood river area?
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Old 04-25-2016, 03:27 PM   #19
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where would be the best place to have this work done in the Portland/Hood river area?
I'm not Lewster— not by a long shot!— but when I bought my Koni shocks, I took them to my Mercedes Benz Sprinter dealer to have them installed. I was having other work done at the same time (RennTech ECU tune, etc.) so the van was going to be in their shop anyway. MB/Sprinter had no heartburn about doing the work.
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Old 04-25-2016, 03:51 PM   #20
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Lew - where would be the best place to have this work done in the Portland/Hood river area?

Sprinter Store. IIRC, they are in Tualitin just south of Portland. They did all of my chassis upgrades.


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