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Old 04-22-2021, 08:48 AM   #1
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T1N T-21 recall and axle seals

As all of you who have T1Ns know, there is an emissions recall called the T-21 recall that has to do with the operation of the EGR valve. On the '04s, like mine, the recall bricked so many instrument clusters that Chrysler ran out of the repair stock of them, and the EPA granted a waiver for those of us who hadn't yet had the recall done. The waiver lasted a little less than a year. In March, I got notice that "repair parts" were once again available and that the recall was still necessary.

So, I finally dutifully called my local Dodge dealer who ordered the parts and set up the appointment. The parts are now a wiring harness addition for some VIN number '04s (specifically BY VIN) that would (ostensibly) prevent the damage to the instrument cluster. As it turns out, mine didn't need the part.

The dealer did the ECU re-flash, test drove the van and told me it was ready to go. I drove down and picked it up and got it all the way up to 45mph to merge into 75mph traffic on I-80. It was a little frightening. I got it up to about 67 on the down-hill and dropped to 57 on the next uphill. I got off at the next off-ramp and returned to the dealer. The mechanic drove it and said it'd performed fine when he test drove it, but agreed something was really wrong.

As the entire point of the update was to reprogram the EGR valve's operation, that was the first place to look and sure enough, the EGR valve was stuck closed. Two days and a number of contacts with Chrysler later, Chrysler agreed to warranty the $1000 EGR valve and the part was installed. I picked it up yesterday and the throttle response is quite different. Neither better nor worse, particularly, just different. Unlike before the re-flash, you can really feel the turbo boost come on.

To the next point... I have a driver's side rear-axle seal leaking. I bought the seal OEM and my local mechanic pulled the axle and then found that not only could he could not get it apart to replace the seal, but he didn't have a bearing press large enough for the axle. So during the same session with Dodge and the T-21 recall, they agreed to do it, and then figured out THEY didn't have nor could they get the special tools required. In their defense, this particular Dodge store never sold Dodge Sprinters.

I called three Freightliner stores, and four other Dodge dealers, and even though they had all once sold Sprinters, none would service them any longer.

I widened my search and called Smart Mercedes in Davenport, IA and they don't have a lift wide enough to get a Sprinter with running boards on it. Carousel Motors in Iowa City wasn't particularly interested, but said they were booking into July because of the more recent Mercedes emissions recall. I called dealers in Springfield IL and Appleton WI and Mercedes-Benz of Des Moines in Urbandale all of whom have Sprinter shops. I had to leave messages for the Springfield and Appleton dealers, but Des Moines had an opening on May 3rd and scheduled it while I was on the phone, so I took it. Springfield returned my call; Appleton has not.

So... the lesson here for we '04-'06 T1N owners is that we are apparently officially orphaned by Dodge and Freightliner now for any large-scale, special-tool repairs, at least here in Iowa. Two years ago when I bought my van, I called Mercedes corporate, and they didn't want anything to do with me, telling me to call Dodge. Now apparently, Mercedes is more willing to accomodate us... which they should since they're all just re-badged Mercedes vans anyway... but such are the politics of automotive branding.
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Old 04-23-2021, 04:50 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by 85MH325 View Post
....I have a driver's side rear-axle seal leaking. I bought the seal OEM and my local mechanic pulled the axle and then found that not only could he could not get it apart to replace the seal, but he didn't have a bearing press large enough for the axle. ....
This is an excellent thread - thank you. There is so much to unpack here.

To this first point, hopefully a simple one: What are the symptoms or manifestations of this seal leakage? How was this condition discovered on your vehicle?
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Old 04-23-2021, 01:15 PM   #3
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This is an excellent thread - thank you. There is so much to unpack here.

To this first point, hopefully a simple one: What are the symptoms or manifestations of this seal leakage? How was this condition discovered on your vehicle?
That's the easiest part of the whole story. Axle seal leaks are easy to find; rear-end oil leaks out on the backing plate, making it look wet. I had an '07 Nissan Titan pickup. They were famous for the rear-end vent clogging and blowing out the seals through over-pressurizing the axle. Mine had the same issue.

Other than eventually dripping nasty rear-end oil on the ground and draining the rear end (which is bad... REALLY bad...) there's really no other problem. Reasons FOR axles seals failing could be an old rubber seal that just got hard, or an axle bearing going bad allowing for an eccentric orbit of the axle that wallows out the seal, or as I said above, a clogged axle vent that allows over-pressurizing of the axle, blowing the seal on one or both sides. OR there could be wear or corrosion on the axle seal surface or seal itself that may necessitate a new axle half-shaft. THAT would also not be good, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, I have a friend who has a specialty diesel tuner shop with a dyno and the whole bit. I have him do my regular services, and inspections in between. He found rear end oil leaking out onto the backing plate during the last inspection, but knew HE didn't have the equipment necessary to pull the axle.
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Old 05-04-2021, 04:06 PM   #4
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Axle Seal replacement Update May 4, 2021

May the Fourth be With You.

It apparently is not with me.

I got the van into Mercedes Benz of Des Moines in Urbandale at 8am yesterday as arranged. I got a call about 2pm yesterday from the service advisor who said that they will need an inner seal and bearings which are available from warehouses in Chicago. What was NOT available from the warehouse in Chicago or anywhere else in the US is the mandrel used to press the bearings off and on. THAT tool must be ordered from M-B in Germany and, from their experience, will take 8-10 WORKING days to get to the dealership.

The good news was that there was nothing in the rear end that would indicate the necessity at this time for doing both sides.

The parts and labor estimate is $1350. I have no breakdown on that. Seems a little high to me, but I don't know what their shop rate is now either.

So the van sits in Des Moines waiting for parts and tools. I returned the 120 miles home today.

More as the saga unfolds.
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Old 05-06-2021, 09:51 AM   #5
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Bummer. Feel for you.

You might try Goerend Transmission in St. Lucas, Iowa. They may not have the capability to replace your seals but might know who can if you continue to run into further issues. Iíve spoken to the MB dealership up in Rochester, Minnesota who seemed to be more knowledgeable to MB problems and repairs too.

Itís sometimes difficult to find shops who can get our Interstates on their hoists just to start.

I had sent an email to the service guy at Carousel to get on the list when the NOX replacement recall came out, I can see that didnít get any attention. I havenít bothered getting on the list yet as I felt it might be better to let some of the hiccups work through before ripping our exhaust back off again in less than one year. Sounds a bit like the issue I had when they replaced it and the check engine light went on at the gas station or after they replaced our EGR valve it stumbled around as soon as I took it from the shop and they had to replace the DEF fluid tank heater also. Wonder how far they go to test these vans after repairs? Around the lot? I try not to bad mouth shops as they donít have an easy job even with that said. They have also gotten us in fairly quickly, but I think their service might need a little sharpening.

The other part of the problem is it sounds like Dodge/Mercedes-Benz could do a better job of passing on repair information to the dealers. They should have known it took a special mandrel from MB/Dodge to begin with.

Sorry for your luck. Hope your repair ends up getting done quickly and correctly in the end once your tool arrives.
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:03 PM   #6
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Bummer. Feel for you.

The other part of the problem is it sounds like Dodge/Mercedes-Benz could do a better job of passing on repair information to the dealers. They should have known it took a special mandrel from MB/Dodge to begin with.

Sorry for your luck. Hope your repair ends up getting done quickly and correctly in the end once your tool arrives.
Thanks for the commisseration.

The Daimler-Chrysler divorce was messy. When I first bought the van a couple of years ago, I called Mercedes with some questions, and they wouldn't even talk to me. They referred me back to Dodge. In those days, most Freightliner shops seemed to be the preferred shops for the T1Ns, but as I said, none of the Freightliner shops in eastern Iowa will even work on them any more.

Now of course as my van is 17 years old, there aren't any Dodge techs who even have experience working on them. I even had a Dodge service writer tell me he didn't know what it was!

Coralville MB told me they might be able to get me in... in July because of the Blu Tec recalls being stacked up. They weren't particularly encouraging or helpful.

I agree that any MB dealer (or Dodge dealer) who is willing to service an Interstate ought to be able to pre-research what they need to perform any particular job. It's frustrating to get half-way into it and have them tell you they need special tools they didn't know they needed.

The T-21 emissions recall hadn't been performed on my T1N when I bought it yet, and I let it go on my T1N for the two years I've had it now because of all the problems. And mine was no exception... it bricked the EGR valve, but fortunately Chrysler took care of that as part of the recall. I can't imagine how problematic the Blu Tec recall can potentially be!
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