View Full Version : Won't start, can't read fault codes...

John Green
08-21-2013, 11:26 PM
Hello from Australia, I have a drama with my 413CDI with Sprintshift transmission after it was detailed. The engine bay was (carefully) cleaned with a high pressure cleaner. It was started and when put into reverse the following happened:

- Reverse lamps went on.
- The gear indicator on the dash (N,D,R, etc) went out
- It was not actually in reverse as it would not drive.

Turned the engine off, checked a few fuses and relays including the sprinter shift pump. Tried to start it again and nothing, won't start.... Rung friend who has a MB Star diagnostic unit with the Sprinter adaptor, he came around and we found the following:

- Can't communicate with any of the modules? CDI, Transmission, ABS, etc
- Still thinks it is in reverse, but it isn't.
- Trail fitted another Sprintshift module, which brought the gear indicator on the dash back to life and showed N, reverse lamps now off.
- Still wont start.
- Test starter relay inputs, find no signal from CDI module? Manage to start engine by bypassing the relay.
- With engine running, can't put it into gear.

So the short version is that we can't read any codes and at a guess there is still some issue with the signals in the CAN thinking it is in Reverse, so it won't allow me to start it? :idunno::idunno:

Any magic thoughts on this?

08-22-2013, 12:47 AM
If you haven't done so already, write down your radio code if you don't already have it somewhere.
Disconnect the battery negative terminal for about 15 minutes.
Reconnect the battery negative terminal.
See if your computer has "rebooted".
A solid power off reboot may be all that it takes to reset things.
If it fixes the problems, great....re enter the radio codes and you are on your way.

John Green
08-26-2013, 10:48 PM
Hello again, have had the battery off overnight with no results. The inability to read codes is the weird thing. Can anyone explain how the codes are collected by the MB Star system? I presume via the CAN.

Our current theory is that the CAN is damaged somewhere, so it thinks it is still in gear and can road the codes??

Aqua Puttana
08-27-2013, 12:40 AM
.... The inability to read codes is the weird thing. Can anyone explain how the codes are collected by the MB Star system? I presume via the CAN.

It depends. You didn't mention a model year.

NAFTA 2001 - 2006 T1N Sprinters use K-line to communicate. The NCV3 models use CAN communication. If my memory is correct there is some anomaly with the NAFTA 2007 NCV3 as to communication compared to model year NAFTA NCV3 after that.

There have been reports of aftermarket electronics being improperly installed so that the CAN bus is connected to the unit. That can interfere with the scan tool communications. Trans fluid contamination on the TCM connector will also interfere so it doesn't take much. vic

A Canned Posting Add-on

Please take the time to add your vehicle info to all your posts automatically!!!!! It's easy to do. It will help you to get answers. Thank you.

Here's how to do it.

The most direct method is probably in your "Details".
After you are logged in click on "Private Messages" (or “Quick Links”) in the upper right corner.
On the left side under "Your Profile" click on "Edit your Details".
Scroll down to the "Custom User Title" box.
Click in that box and type the information.
I suggest “Vehicle year – NAFTA or 311, etc.” depending upon your location.
Scroll down to the "Save Changes" box. Click on that and you are done.

Another place is in your "Signature".
Click on "Private Messages" (or “Quick Links”) in the upper right.
On the left look for "Setting and Options".
Click on "Edit Signature".
Scroll down to the text box which looks like what you use to add a post to the forum. Type in the information you want.
I used “NAFTA 2004 OM647 140 2500 Std Roof >259,000 mi. DAD”
Scroll down to "Preview Signature". If the preview looks like what you want, scroll down to "Save Signature", click on that and you're done.

I don’t know what objection anyone could have to adding their model year and Sprinter detail information permanently. (You don’t need to include your location.) Consider it this way. Members of the forum will try to help you. Do you think that it is fair for one to expect anyone to dig up your vehicle information before they reply? You only need to add the info once using the guide above and you’re done. Sorry if I'm being too straightforward for some.

Can't see Signature and Avatar Info?
Go to Quick Links in the blue bar above.
Click "Edit Options".
Scroll to "Thread Display Options".
Look to see if "Show Signatures" and "Show Avatars" are checked.
Click on them if not.
Go down to "Save Changes".

Thanks. vic

08-27-2013, 12:53 AM
Magic thoughts:
The pressure washer loosened a wire connection, grounding cable or exposed a frayed cable that is killing signals somewhere.

08-27-2013, 01:50 AM
Well, you can download the 2006 US Sprinter service manual from http://aie-services-2.net/Sprinter/
The pages in the 2003 manual look almost exactly the same.

Section 8w-18 covers "bus communications"... and shows which modules share communication wire pairs.
The TCM, SLA and ECM share their pair with lots of other modules (pg 8w-18-6) ... that's the CANbus.
Spraying water under a Sprinter's hood/bonnet is *not* a good idea... the glow plug module (for example) is lurking beneath the battery, and the complex brake controller is under there, too.

They also send signals (or at least can be scanned) via the K lines that go to the scanner socket.
Does the DRB-II think the old shifter is in "R", or can it interpret it correctly?
Since the ECM thinks it's in reverse, it's not going to offer to start the Sprinter (N or P only, please).

Check all of the modules and major connectors (such as the instrument cluster) for a loose connector, or debris having gotten blasted into them.
Check the glow plug module and brake assemblies (which includes the ABS and ESP systems).

good luck

08-27-2013, 01:54 AM
Just had the same thing happen tonight. Suscribing. Light pressure wash and it would crank but not fire. Then nothing.

09-27-2013, 11:09 AM
Hi guys, just wondering if you found the problem with the not starting.
I just washed my engine bay, and guess what, no gear indicator light on dash, no crank.
Let us know how you ended up.

Aqua Puttana
09-27-2013, 12:57 PM
Let us know how you ended up.
First let me extend you a hale and hearty welcome to the forum. 54733

It's too bad nobody followed up with their solution(s).

It wouldn't take too much water on the contacts somewhere to affect the communication between modules and the communication with the scan tool.

I would try blowing some air around the various electrical connections and harnesses. Make certain the air is dry and doesn't have slugs of water with it. I suppose that there is a danger of driving the moisture deeper by using that method.

An electric heater under the van blowing up into the engine bay with the hood closed may also help to accellerate the drying process.


09-27-2013, 01:59 PM
I've had problems with water getting into connectors and causing things not to work (My Turbo Actuator also had water related issues where it sort of worked when it was raining out, but worked fine when it was dry).

I have my doubts about 'carefully' and 'high pressure' cleaning. You can get water into all manner of connectors - you may need to unplug each connector (one at a time) and use a blow dryer (like used for drying hair) on each to get the moisture out. Get some electrical contact cleaner (in a spray can) and apply to both sides of the connector before re-assembly; otherwise you may end up with corrosion issues that will just get worse over time.

On my Sprinter, I wrapped each dried connector plug with black tape (where possible) because there was a path into the connector from the back side for water (and I was having issues when it rained). My Sprinter has serious issues with bad connections when I first got it. I cleaned every connector I could reach and its quite reliable now.

Depending on what got disconnected/shorted out as a result of your cleaning process, you may need a dealer (or someone who has a Sprinter compatible ODBII reader - these are few and far between) to reset any errors that were created. Since you can't read any codes, this implies short circuits are still in the system - some connectors will take a long time to dry out without manually pulling them apart to dry them out. Others will end up with corrosion issues that will require some sort of cleaning.

You may also have created new shorted areas where the wiring harness is strapped to the chassis/engine parts - there are some places where the wiring harness can get chaffed and wears thru insulation, causing intermitant, or full time shorts.

I use a spray can of engine degreaser and my garden hose (no spray head at all) to clean my car engines as I have had problems after someone pressure cleaned them in the past (Gas car engines - my Sprinter is the first Diesel I have owned).

09-27-2013, 02:35 PM
I've used my pressure washer on my engine with no problems, BUT I'm clever enough not to hit the electrical connections directly. Always a risky proposition to intruduce water where it isn't supposed to go.

09-28-2013, 01:25 AM
I washed mine with a garden hose not much pressure and thought I was being careful, but guess not.
thanks for the welcome and responses. hope to hear from john in canberra

John Green
03-28-2016, 06:59 AM
Ooop, looks like I never posted up the end result.

I believe it was two faults. The first was the gear recognition module on the top of the gearbox. The other had to be a random water based fault in the wiring as it magically disappeared after a few weeks and we could read fault codes.

It also had an aftermarket Sprintshift pump in it that struggled to keep up the right pressure so it was also replaced.