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TheVanLife
11-01-2011, 07:53 PM
My wife and I are in the market for a sprinter we are coming out of a Ford E350 diesel. We are looking for the best year so far I have read that the 2004-06 is the best. We would like to eventually put in a 4x4. What are the pros and cons of going with Dodge, Mercedes or freightliner? Also knowing what you know now about your sprinters what would you change. I greatly appreciate all of your advice and your wisdom thank you for your time.

showkey
11-01-2011, 08:17 PM
Interested in hearing your experience with the E350?

Dodge, Mercedes or Freightliner are all the same product, but dealer support and service will vary widely. Dodge only really carried Sprinter when they were married to MB. My Dodge dealer has been good (good as dealers get).

Chandlerazman
11-01-2011, 10:46 PM
in addition, adding 4x4 is really not a cheap venture let alone finding someone capable of doing the work. If you wait patiently,rumor has it a 4x4 Sprinter is in the works within the next two years.

autostaretx
11-01-2011, 11:42 PM
Adding a 4x4 is expnsive, and will possibly cause any "normal" dealer to claim that they can't fix (whatever), or that it's the 4x4's fault.

Upscale Automotive in Tulatin Oregon (just south of Portland) has done a number of 4x4 conversions here in the US.
http://www.upscaleauto.com/sprinter_store.htm

have fun
--dick

icarus
11-02-2011, 12:08 AM
Turning a Sprinter into a 4x4, especially an older one will make little financial sense, and little practical sense.

Icarus

1hen2ducks
11-02-2011, 12:46 AM
My 2006 long tall is fabulous.
4X4 meh, We handled the dirt tracks of Baja OK.
I haven't had much call to go very far off dirt roads with 158 inch wheelbase

Mike

JAM
11-03-2011, 10:29 AM
What will you be using the sprinter for? I use mine for my electrical contracting biz and the only thing I would change on my 04 140" regular roof is go with the high roof. I would love a newer one because of the tilt steering but my 04 fit my budget well.

TheVanLife
11-10-2011, 08:16 PM
The E350 is great easy to drive does well in the snow mechanically good. Living out of it sucks, cooking on your knees and always hunched over may be fine for some but we are over it. The ability to get up stand up and move around is enough for us to drop the van and join the sprinter revolution.

TheVanLife
11-10-2011, 08:19 PM
We plan on using the Sprinter to live out of for month or so excursions. Camping on the high mountain passes to access the back country. White Water assault vehicle and rock climbing mobile cabin. We would like to be able to get to a bit more places in the Sprinter but I think that we will be limited with the upgrade to the longer body than the E350.

d_bertko
11-10-2011, 09:50 PM
We plan on using the Sprinter to live out of for month or so excursions. Camping on the high mountain passes to access the back country. White Water assault vehicle and rock climbing mobile cabin. We would like to be able to get to a bit more places in the Sprinter but I think that we will be limited with the upgrade to the longer body than the E350.

There are plenty of reasons for getting either generation of Sprinter. Speaking of the first generation, my 02 long,tall suffered from 15" wheels and is much better with 16" wheels now for traction and tire choice. I'd agree that the 04-06 models are a little better but not a game changer.

My previous boat shuttler cum camper was a 94 stretch E250 HD gas job. The Sprinter is much better except for rust resistance and availability of cheap parts and service. Worth the switch because overall reliability is very good.

We are often out for a month or more. Last summer we caravaned across the country with other paddlers and their E250. Traction was similar but I was a bit warier with a longer 158" wheelbase. Loading canoes and kayaks on my walk-on roof rack was perhaps easier than loading their four Yak bars. But it would be a PITA to load mine if I couldn't walk around up there.

Of course, anyone with a van is very popular on river shuttles and multiboat loads get many helping hands.

I have turned around on a couple of river access routes where the fords were going to challenge my furnace and exhaust. And that kind of rough access generally meant the long wheelbase was also coming into play. (The guy with the small Jeep got pressed into service shuttling 6 boats at a time onto terra firmer.)

The really rough roads that were dry enough required some very slow miles. A tall Sprinter will rock violently and the weight is sufficient to challenge its underpinnings.

If you really want the offroad capacity you should build a camper from a Mitsu class3 truck all-wheel-drive cab and chassis.

In another direction, you could buy a couple of those superlight 250cc trail bikes and carry them for many fewer $$$ than a Sprinter 4x4 conversion. And go where no Sprinter (and few Jeeps) have ever gone before. Definitely consider a 170" wb Sprinter if you can limit yourself to most dirt roads.

We carry a come-along and good tow ropes as our poor man's 4wd. That should be pretty easy to rig for anyone that climbs.

We personally think the trade off of more space and good highway mpg vs a shorty offroad vehicle is worth it for extended trips. We almost always put up a 10x10 quickshelter for anything more than an overnight. Always nice to keep the cooking and paddling mess as outdoors as possible.

Our Sprinter DIY has given us many long and short paddling and camping trips. We have year-round capabilities and have kept ours spacious and light without too much frou-frou.

Dan

david_42
11-11-2011, 04:17 PM
The only difference between the three "brands" is the name plates and chrome doohickeys. They all came from the same factory in Germany.

Oregon DMV lists the manufacturer as "Sprinter" because they could not deal with identical vans from three brands. Had to get a new title because of the switch.

Douglas Hicks
11-16-2011, 05:16 AM
The only difference between the three "brands" is the name plates and chrome doohickeys. They all came from the same factory in Germany.

Oregon DMV lists the manufacturer as "Sprinter" because they could not deal with identical vans from three brands. Had to get a new title because of the switch.

Accoridng the Oregon DMV, my FLis a FL, but the Dodge is a Spriner (Not my typo, theirs) The young lady and I are on a first name basis now, after working through the name fiasco.

gregowski
11-16-2011, 04:06 PM
My wife and I are in the market for a sprinter we are coming out of a Ford E350 diesel.
With a T1N high-roof Sprinter, you'll get much better fuel mileage, driveability, and lots more space than the E350.

We are looking for the best year so far I have read that the 2004-06 is the best. There's tons of threads discussing that. If you want a condensed version, I have a year-by-year list of possible mechanical issues and inspection tips in my Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook (http://www.sprinter-rv.com/sourcebook/).

We would like to eventually put in a 4x4.
You'd be looking at at least $20K+ to add this in currently. Do you really need it? Mike Hiscox has some great discussion on the subject with his "Sprinter Expedition Camper":
http://www.sprinter-rv.com/2010/11/27/on-safari-in-a-sprinter-expedition-camper/


What are the pros and cons of going with Dodge, Mercedes or freightliner? If you're looking for a 2004-2006 (T1N) Sprinter, IMHO you might look for a Dodge brand, for at least a couple of reasons: 1) Many Dodge/Chrysler mechanics were not adequately trained on Sprinters, you'll want to make sure that this is not the case for the dealership you're using. 2) Freightliner reportedly has agreements in 15 states limiting who works on their vehicle brand.
Updated list of 177 Sprinter dealerships as of 9/22/2011 in this thread:
http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9341

Also knowing what you know now about your sprinters what would you change. If you mean what would people do differently in their conversion, this thread has some great details on that:
http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6045

Greg

NBB
11-16-2011, 06:03 PM
In another direction, you could buy a couple of those superlight 250cc trail bikes and carry them for many fewer $$$ than a Sprinter 4x4 conversion. And go where no Sprinter (and few Jeeps) have ever gone before.

I'm a fan of trail running shoes. I can go where no Sprinter, Jeep, trail bike, or even most hikers go in just a few hours. 100% access to anything, anywhere. All of the gear for this activity fits in a plastic grocery bag.

True mandatory 4x4 roads beat the hell out of even the best of off road vehicles - a list of which a Sprinter will always be at the bottom. Other than the trivialities of broken ball joints and blown axle bearings - the dust will significantly shorten engine and transmission life. The latter is really expensive. No off roading for this Sprinter. Been there, done that, paid dearly.

johnschroader
11-21-2011, 12:21 AM
Van Life, In many ways Sprinters are the ultimate boating vehicle. Living in a van down by the river is good living. Sent you a pm.