View Full Version : Engine Miss or Transmission Problem Climbing Hills

08-15-2013, 03:49 PM
I'm the new owner of a 2005 140" high top with 94K miles. Just took it on its first long trip and noticed something that I'm trying to understand.

The Sprinter has an engine miss or shudder or hesitation occasionally when climbing hills. The van is lightly loaded... just a few hundred pounds. The problem doesn't happen every time I climb hills. It seems to happen more often at highway speeds. Basically it is one or sometimes two hard jerks. Feels like hitting a big expansion joint in the pavement. Like the engine is missing, or the transmission is attempting to downshift and then deciding against it.

I tried searching the forums, but I don't even know how to really describe the problem, so my searches aren't producing useful results. Does anyone recognize the symptoms I'm describing? I'd love to at least have an idea of what I'm dealing with so I can more accurately investigate/diagnose/repair the problem.


08-15-2013, 09:34 PM
Step one: watch the LOD and MAP readouts on your ScanGauge (or DashDaq or UltraGauge)

Step zero: *buy* a ScanGauge ($160 at many auto parts stores) (or similar (UltraGauges are much cheaper))

Your turbo system could be leaking air when the MAP (manifold absolute pressure) gets up to its high range (32+ psi)
Your IAT (Intake Air Temp) sensor may be flaky (watch IAT on ScanGauge)

*or* your Sprinter may have "set a P code", many of which the ScanGauge (DD,UG) can read.
I'd love to at least have an idea of what I'm dealing with so I can more accurately investigate/diagnose/repair the problem.
...and a diagnostic instrument is the first (zeroth) step to doing that...

(it could be any of dozens, if not hundreds, of causes... the engine mounts may be worn, allowing the engine to shift when tilted up... and perhaps pinching some wiring or kinking some wandering small hose, etc.etc.)
(is the /!\ anti-skid indicator on your dash flashing? (meaning the sprinter is "helpfully" applying a brake or two))

08-15-2013, 10:37 PM
Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I know that I need some sort of diagnostic tool. I've read here about the DAD units, but apparently they are all sold out (and quite expensive too). What I haven't seen is the definitive recommended tool for budget users. I realize that anything short of a Mercedes computer will have limitations, but which $100 or $150 tool has the best bang for the buck with a Sprinter? I was looking at some of the phone/computer based tools -- DashCommander comes to mind -- but even the wifi or bluetooth OBDII interface is quite expensive. And I haven't seen anyone raving about the results with those either.

ScanGauge II seems to be the defacto standard. Though if I can get by with the ScanGauge E or the UltraGauge, I'd be happy with those.

And I should have mentioned, I did watch the dash carefully one or two of the times, and none of the ABS or anti-skid or traction control lights were coming on (or any other lights for that matter).

Ok, get a tool, check for P codes, MAP and IAT. That's a good start. Thanks!

08-15-2013, 11:39 PM
I have the same problem with my 05 158" high top.It's your

08-15-2013, 11:55 PM
Sorry it's your torque converter. Change your trans and torque converter oil , use the proper M B oil and filter. Drive 100 miles, It will be as good as new.

08-16-2013, 12:15 AM
Buy a Scan Gauge or Ultra gauge. Scan gauge is available Over the counter at most auto parts stores, about $125 Ultra only on line, about $75. Prefere the Ultra.


08-16-2013, 12:29 AM
Like I've noticed before; the same symptoms seem to show up at the same time for a lot of us, across the country!

I noticed a shudder and delayed shift from 3rd to 4th on the trip I just took over the Sierra. I've noticed it before in the last few months, it seems to happen only in that gray area where the van is deciding if it wants to shift or not. Accelerating makes it go into one gear or the other, depending on the situation (hills, flats). I had pre-emptively purchased the tranny service kit and dipstick a few months ago, and will change my fluids the first chance I get. I had the tranny serviced at the dealer for the first (and only) recommended change, which I think was at 60k. I'm at 195k now.

08-16-2013, 01:12 AM
Thanks everyone.

Yeah, it could be the transsmission/torque converter. The previous owner ran it almost out of trans fluid because of a leak at the electrical connector. Mechanic "serviced" it. Charged for 7 quarts of the legit Mercedes trans oil. When I got it, the trans was 3 quarts overfilled. Makes me think maybe they never drained the torque converter? Anyhow, driving just 10 miles caused the overheated trans fluid to blow out the filler tube and all over the engine. The trans filler tube cap was gone. It was driven less than 20 miles in this condition. Hopefully no permanent damage? Anyhow, I replaced the leaking electrical connector. It is also topped off with some trans fluid that NAPA claimed was a perfect replacement. Can't remember the fluid type right now, but it wasn't MB or Crossfire. Shouldn't be much in there, but still...

So I'll just get the full transmission kit from Europarts. Any recommendations on Fuchs vs. MB from Europarts?

And I'm going to get an Ultragauge. Need the tool no matter what, though hopefully the transmission is the problem.

08-16-2013, 03:01 AM
driving just 10 miles caused the overheated trans fluid to blow out the filler tube and all over the engine. The trans filler tube cap was gone.

BRINGS TO MIND : a recent thread were the Sprinter caught fire. The owner was driving home from a serviced oil change. Apparently the tech spilled oil while filling the engine. The alternator is underneath the oil fill neck, same proximity as the trans filler tube. BE careful!


08-16-2013, 03:35 AM
Do you recall what RPMs and speed you were running when this fault occurred.
Sounds like you were pulling up a bit of a grade, but at what speed 45 mph...55 mph...65 mph....75 mph?
If < 65 mph have you considered manually downshifting your Sprinter to lighten the load on the engine and
drive train.

08-16-2013, 05:40 PM
Hi Roger,

Speed was in the 55-65mph range, so engine RPMs were low 2000s. Yeah, I probably should have downshifted to 4th. The van is lightly loaded and didn't seem to be struggling. Once I get an ultragauge, I'll be able to watch engine load and know for sure when to downshift.

But in any case, the kicking is still a problem. I could certainly believe claysprinter's assertion that it is a problem with the torque converter due to insufficient/impropper transmission fluid. So I need to fix the problem in any case, but I'm sure you are right that it is occurring when I stress the drive train.

08-16-2013, 07:35 PM
Your other option on transmission fluid is SHELL ATF 134. You can get it direct from your local SHELL distributor for about $6 a quart. I change my fluid at 30,000 mile intervals, so I bought 3 cases to save money.