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Old 10-01-2006, 11:02 PM   #1
Zach Woods
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Default Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

http://www.upscaleauto.com/
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Old 11-08-2006, 06:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store Testimonial

From YahooSprinterVan, testimonial re UpScale Automotive in Tualatin, OR (near Portland)

#34497 From: "josephsokalski"
Date: Wed Nov 8, 2006
Subject: John Bendit at Upscale Automotive works magic!

John on Monday morning (10/9/06) suggested I go to Tonkin Dodge for
the alternator replacement, even though he sells the 150 Amp.
alternators, because my Sprinter was still under warranty. This was
an introduction into the quality of the hospitality I received and
work that he would do on and for my Sprinter over the 12 days I was
camped at his shop. We had planned on 3 days of work for him to
install: The spring assist kit, Koni shocks, 1 1/8" anti-sway bar,
Class 4 hitch and wiring, transmission cooler kit, gages for tranny
temp, boost, and pyrometer, Odyssey AGM starting battery, safe Stor
under passenger seat, and insulate the headliner. I added a Xantrex
Link 10 battery monitor to the gage list due to my problem with the
alternator failure without a warning light, and a switch to control
charging the batteries from the alternator or ProSine's charger.
This will enable me to use the dash sound system and charge the
engine battery while hooked up to 120 volt AC or when the Onan 2500
LP generator is running. This evolved into a custom designed gage
panel. I later asked John to install a Prodigy brake controller, do
the 30K service, and replace the awful front pads and rotors.

On Tuesday morning, John took me for a ride in his "Mighty Mouse"
Sprinter and I discovered his improvements were awesome. The
acceleration and handleing were like a sport truck, and he threw it
into corners that were scary, and the ESP light on the dash would
flicker as the Sprinter's computer made the vehicle follow the
driver's steering inputs. I knew that I had come to the right place,
even though I had no plans for competitive driving with my RV
conversion.

I gathered the Xantrex Link 10 parts from Rogers Marine in Portland
and Upscale began work on my Sprinter in the afternoon. On Wednesday
evening the suspension parts were installed and I had witnessed
Upscale Automotive drop the rear grey water tank in order to install
a bolt necessary for the Curt hitch. Of course it cost extra, but I
was delighted to find that John and Upscale did not engage in
the "quick & careless" approach that was so disgusting at Dodge
dealers. At Upscale I found "good enough" was never John's view of a
job. He wanted all of his work done right. When he reinstalled the
grey water tank he corrected the mount and seals that he thought were
sloppy when it was initially installed on the Sprinter. Finally, I
found someone who cared enough to do excellent work, and he worked 12
hour days to do it.

On Thursday, Car Toys installed a Pioneer AVIC N3, backup camera,
iPod interface, Aux. DVD player, Bluetooth interface for the cell
phone, 4" dash speakers, subwoofers and amp., and an alarm system.
They knew their stuff and did good work, but were too good at
upselling their stuff and I went away with an exceptional sound
system that I thought was too expensive and not what I really
needed. They managed to install all the most expensive versions of
the stuff they had before I knew what was happening. However, it all
works and I am trying to get over the feeling that I was taken
advantage in a moment of weakness (at last I found people who knew
the Sprinter and how to properly install accessories). The next day,
Camping World installed a KVH R6 satellite dome and 13'2" Horizon
case awning.

John worked through the weekend and on Monday to install the 4 gages
and 2 switches in a custom panel in the headliner where the dome
light had been. The dome light was relocated above the gages in the
headliner. The previously uninsulated space above the headliner was
filled with foil bubble wrap. ... We road tested the Sprinter and
it handeled great. A test with a Diesel Power module showed added
smoothness and power that removed the impression that the engine was
working hard to move my now 7,800 pound Sprinter. There was a power
reserve that was felt as a surge in acceleration at 60 MPH with only
a slight additional depression of the pedal. After some power
acceleration and handling tests John felt the grinding front brakes
signaled something was wrong, and we went back to his shop.

We scheduled Wednesday (10/18/06) for installation of a Prodigy brake
controller (after reading about the headaches with trailer wiring I
trusted only John to do it right, and he did), 30K service, and brake
inspection. I observed him retorqueing the bolts of the Sprinter's
frame, etc., puting others poor wireing workmanship into plastic wire
looms, and cleaning up a wiring rats nest left around the battery by
other people. He did a careful and lengthy inspection under and
around the Sprinter and replaced all the filters. I could see that
John did the work he charged for, not like other dealers who charged
for work they did not do (like, carefully inspecting the brake
rotors, topping off fluids correctly, actually testing and inspecting
the Sprinter at service intervals).

On Wednesday, John found the front brake pads were severely burned
and the right pads had notable cracks from the pad surface to the
steel backing; at 28,400 miles the rotors were too thin to turn and
warping. The pads were still about 5/16" thick, but the mismatched
pads and rotors had led to the impending destruction of the front
brakes. Over the past 2 years, I had complained about the grinding
brakes to 3 dealers and had been kissed off with the "they all do
that" BS, and so warranty or not I had John replace the pads and
rotors with his best stuff. I also bought the air vent kit, Ease
Scan Tool, and transmission dip stick.

On Friday morning, some burned out lights were replaced, and then I
headed S/B on I-5 toward home. The drive home was a pleasure and
uneventful. The suspension upgrades made the trip a more relaxing
drive. I used to have to constantly keep making small steering
inputs to keep the Sprinter going in a straight line down the road.
The Sprinter now tracks much better, and I found that it is now
barely pushed by the bow wind of passing SUVs and vans. The shaking
from turbulence behind an 18 wheeler is also about half of what it
was. The rain grooves in the freeways in the Los Angeles area do not
move the Sprinter around like they used to either. The helper
springs raised the rear to where the Sprinter now rides level (no
more tail draging) and I think it was enough to transfer more weight
to the front where the tires can better hold the intended path down
the road. I think the stiffer sway bar keeps the rear from adding
wandering input to the steering too. The Koni shocks have eliminated
the bouncey feel so when I take a rest break I do not feel the motion
continuing while standing on solid ground. My bouncy tail drager was
no more, my Sprinter was renewed and better.

The Diesel Power module seems to have provided added reserves to the
engine. When a steep grade required a down shift to 4th gear I could
feel a more firm down shift and a new definite surge in
acceleration. Previously a downshift to 4th made more engine noise
and a gradual increase in speed. I noted easy but brisk acceleration
from a rest stop back to the 70 MPH road speed, and the boost gage
showed a peak of about 23 PSI, with a quick drop to 19 PSI at shift
time, on such runs.

I ran into heavy gusty head winds toward the South end of Calif's.
Central Valley on I-5 which made it difficult to determine what the
mileage benefit may be. I also found that the push from the gusty
winds was only about a quarter of what it had been before. It was
much easier to hold my lane position and required much less steering
inputs and teeth clenching concentration. I also found I was not as
tried after 2 hours of driveing as I had been before the suspension
improvements. The shudder on hard 1st gear acceleration has
diminished to about half of what it had been. It is still noticable,
but I now rarely need to use hard 1st gear acceleration. I do notice
turbo lag from idle when stepping hard on the accelerator. More
modest acceleration does not exibit a similar turbo lag.

The gages indicated to me the engine may now be loafing at the 60 to
70 MPH speed range. When the ambient air temperature was about 65
degrees, the transmission temperature would stay about 150 to 160
degrees, the engine temperature was 190 degrees, the EGT was between
650 and 700 degrees, and the boost gage read between 11 and 14 PSI.
I could feel more acceleration at highway speeds when I just eased
the pedal down a little. The Sprinter used to feel like it was
doing about all it could when at 70-75 MPH highway speed before the
Diesel Power module was added. And, it was comforting to be able to
monitor the voltage and amperage from the alternator and know it was
working as it should.

In climbing the S/B I-5 Grapevine I noted the ambient air temp was
84 degrees, I was running between 55 to 65 MPH depending on traffic,
the tranny was in 4th gear, the engine was at 215 degrees, the tranny
at 200 degrees, the EGT temp was 925 degrees (post turbo), and the
boost gage showed around 20 PSI so all the temperatures and Sprinter
engine parts were looking good despite working hard. I also now can
see when the turbo temp. is low enough (below 350 degrees) to safely
shut down. I used to think that when the engine temp. was about 190
degrees the turbo must be cool enough for shut down but I learned
that is not always true.

Thanks again John for the fine work you did on my 2004 long tall
Sprinter, (2005 Vista Cruiser G-26 RV conversion). ... I will be looking for news about the 3" exhaust system, and under frame mounts for a pair of 8D AGM coach batteries.
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Old 02-27-2007, 09:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

As I've mentioned elsewhere, John at The Sprinter Store was very helpful with suggestions to improve my Sprinter handling including settings for the Koni shocks which were definitely better than Koni's recommendations. This saved a lot of work especially with the struts. He was very patient in helping me on several calls and the delivery of the shocks/struts and an aluminum turbo resonator substitute was prompt and included useful installation instructions.

Thanks, John--My next order went in yesterday.
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Old 06-02-2007, 01:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

I am new to this forum. I previously posted this on the View/Navion Site under "Files".

A Visit to the Sprinter Store for After Market Parts and Accessories

My wife and I just spent the morning with John at the Sprinter Store http://www.upscaleauto.com/sprinter_store.htm in Tualatin Oregon. The Sprinter Store is a subsidiary of http://www.upscaleauto.com/ and both are located in the same
facility. Upscale Automotive has been in business for 23 years. The place is small (10,000 sq. ft.) and neat as a pin. It is a full service facility that specializes in
Sprinters. He has worked for the last three years developing various Sprinter after-market accessories. He is very enthusiastic about Sprinters and is a fanatic on safety and engineering. He owns his own Sprinter Van which he uses for work and for camping. He is very invested in producing and selling only the best of products for the
Sprinter/View/Navion and Sprinter based vehicles. He works on ambulances and all sorts of Sprinter configurations. He has engineered and produced many innovative after market products for the Sprinter/Navion/View. He for example developed a relocation kit for the rear air bag levelers on the View/Navion and showed me how the factory air bags were installed at an odd angle on the springs. John feels the air bags should be mounted over the axle. You can see this modification on the website along with a number of other suspension and performance enhancing after market products.

He has further developed additional suspension upgrades that are designed to improve handling and sway. There are pictures on their site http://www.upscaleauto.com/sprinter_store.htm that show the various upgrades available to the suspension. We have opted for more springs, sway bar, improved shocks, moving of the air bag levelers in the rear. I received an email today reporting on the progress of these modifications.

I wanted to see this facility as it is close to home and though we really appreciated dealing with Robert from Sprinter Accessories in South Carolina, our experience with
who I believe to be the owner was just awful. He told me that he wanted his business to stay small and that he wanted to deal with dealers primarily. All parts ordered from
Sprinter Accessories were delivered at different times and I am still awaiting delivery of a swivel for the passenger seat from Sprinter Accessories. It has been a month since I
first ordered. I was told by someone at Sprinter Accessories, maybe the owner, that I could not have a refund and he was extremely pushy and rude to me. I would never
again do business with this company again. To be fair to all aftermarket sellers of Aftermarket Sprinter Parts, they are mostly produced in Europe and shipped to the U.S. The supply chain can and often is disrupted by inspections, customs etc. John told me for example that the seat swivels that he installs are in transit as we speak.

I talked with John at The Sprinter Store regarding his ordering system and suggested he put a direct online payment system on his website and install a 1 800 number. He told me that his operation is still too small (which it is) to be able to afford these features at this time and was apologetic about this aspect of his business. His experience shows that most people have many questions and would prefer to call anyway. His ordering system though is more streamlined than is the system used by Sprinter Accessories. The Sprinter Store does accept Credit cards were Sprinter Accessories does not. I have also found Sprinter Store to be incredibly responsive and proud of their operation. John very much wants to respond to the needs of View/Navion owners.

I took our 06 View H into the Sprinter Store http://www.upscaleauto.com/sprinter_store.htm for an install of swivel seats and a front trailer hitch receiver for launching our 15' Alaskan aluminum boat, aprox 1,200 lbs,
tongue weight aprox 100lb. We do not want to back our motor home down a boat launch and want instead to launch with a front hitch. I have looked and looked for such a hitch and the Sprinter Store carries one that is used for bicycles etc.

I was also interested in a front nudge bar as there is a lot of very important stuff right behind the plastic and sheet metal front of our View. There is virtually no protection from even the slightest nudge to the front of the View/Navion/Sprinter. I would invite all of you to take a close look at this issue.

We found that the receiver John sells would handle the light load of our boat. It is designed for loads up to 500lbs. One could theoretically carry a small motor cycle on it. John was very careful to point out and said over and over that LARGE boats and trailers should not be launched with this receiver. He said he would not launch his large boat with it.

John happened to have the front nudge bar sold by Sprinter Accessories in his shop. Someone had purchased it and wanted him to install it. He refused to install it without
additional structural modifications and he showed me why. (I am the son of and brother to Journeyman Machinists and Mechanics) The mounting brackets for it are made of what in my opinion (and Johnís) very flimsy material that looks like would pretzelize with even a small impact. I was shocked. I had been ready to order this product sight unseen from Sprinter Accessories. I have concluded that the current nudge bar available on the web is primarily cosmetic and has very little real value to protect the front end from even
the smallest impact.

John showed me a prototype combination nudge bar/receiver/skid plate that he has designed for the View/Navion/Sprinter. It is made of quality materials and attaches to many points on the frame as opposed to three small bolts holding the other flimsy nudge bar that we looked at. We ordered one immediately so that we could have
both nudge bar, trailer hitch receiver and skid plate. John said that it would cost more to produce a high quality front nudge bar/receiver/bike/motorcycle carrier but would do so
if there was significant interest from View/Navion/Sprinter owners for such a device. He estimated the cost to be in the $900 - $1,000 range. He said that the cost may be lowered if he could have a number manufactured at the same time. We are
buying one. If anyone else is interested in a high quality nudge bar that will really protect your vehicle then please contact him and let him know so that he can have the parts
manufactured for yours at the same time as he is doing ours.

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Old 06-03-2007, 08:44 PM   #5
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Question Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

Why do they ask for the VIN# when placing an order with The Sprinter Store?
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Old 06-04-2007, 01:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

Each sprinter has different set ups, 'six of' possiable combinations per unit, so the Vin number is required to identify the model you have to cross match the correct part number, it's a Mercedes-Benz marketing ploy for their data to track what sells but it works , like which brakes do you need, The Vin number shows your model and which brake is required via cross referencing the VIN .
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Old 06-04-2007, 04:29 AM   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Upscale Automotive / The Sprinter Store

Thanks.

Learn something new every day.
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