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Themajickman
02-04-2014, 06:30 PM
I just purchased a 2007 Dodge sprinter 2500 passenger van and had it modified with a lift and tiedowns that serves as my handicap vehicle. I ride in the back in my wheelchair and I realized after my first ride that it was totally brutal on my body and kidneys especially. I would like any suggestions on how to soften the ride. It's my understanding that airbag suspension runs about $8000 which is completely out of the question. Also, since my van was "born" as a passenger van rather than a cargo van it already has the softest Springs available so, new Springs would not be helpful. My next area would be maybe tires. Does anybody have any suggestions about different tire sizes, etc. etc.?



The ride is so rough that I would sell the darn thing if I can't fix it

OrioN
02-04-2014, 06:45 PM
What are your current tires, and the tire pressures front & rear?

Do you know if the the van had any spring modifications done to stiffen?

72chevy4x4
02-04-2014, 07:55 PM
do passenger and cargo van's have different springs?

check the air pressure. Tires make a difference-there is a chance that getting a new set of Michelin's (my choice) would help.

ctmcdaniel
02-04-2014, 08:43 PM
Yeah, give us some air pressure numbers to work with.

Where exactly do you ride in the back?

How much does the lift equipment weigh? Or what the total amount of weight the van is carrying when it's beating you up?

Can you describe the nature of the roughness? Give some examples?

Mrdi
02-04-2014, 08:46 PM
The farther forward you can move the smoother the ride
You could also ADD WEIGHT TO THE BACK TO DAMPEN THE"JUMP".

CJPJ
02-04-2014, 09:23 PM
I can tell you that riding behind the rear axle is always the worst ride, the bumps are amplified back there. Your ride will improve by positioning the chair forward of the rear axle.

Themajickman
02-04-2014, 09:27 PM
What are your current tires, and the tire pressures front & rear?

Do you know if the the van had any spring modifications done to stiffen?

My current tires are Michelin LTX M/S 245 x 75 x 16. And they have about 80% tread left
no modifications have been made to the Springs to my knowledge

Themajickman
02-04-2014, 09:30 PM
do passenger and cargo van's have different springs?

check the air pressure. Tires make a difference-there is a chance that getting a new set of Michelin's (my choice) would help.

according to this company I spoke with apparently cargo vans and passenger van do have different springs. And, I do have a set of new Michelin's. Air pressures were said about 65 pounds. I'm thinking of trying to lower the air pressure and see if that will help

Themajickman
02-04-2014, 09:46 PM
Yeah, give us some air pressure numbers to work with.

Where exactly do you ride in the back?

How much does the lift equipment weigh? Or what the total amount of weight the van is carrying when it's beating you up?

Can you describe the nature of the roughness? Give some examples?

as soon as I get back home I can work with some air pressure changes to see if the ride improves without adversely heating up the tires.
I ride a little bit in front of the rear axle offset a little to the left of center line. We leave in the rear set of three seats so I ride in front of them.
Me, my chair and the equipment weigh 750 pounds (approximately).
The roughness is like riding on a solid tire and no suspension.

The farther forward you can move the smoother the ride
You could also ADD WEIGHT TO THE BACK TO DAMPEN THE"JUMP".

I really don't have a option as to where I can sit because the tiedowns are fixed in the floor. As it is there is barely room to squeeze between my feet and the front seats so I really can't move much more forward.

I can tell you that riding behind the rear axle is always the worst ride, the bumps are amplified back there. Your ride will improve by positioning the chair forward of the rear axle.

Thanks, but I'm riding in front of the rear axle.

I think my best bet is to try different air pressures once I get out of the hospital and see how that works..

Old Crows
02-04-2014, 10:00 PM
FWIW,

Man that just sucks.... We gotta get you a gentler ride.

I'd set the tires to the pressures shown on the driver door placard. No need to go higher... That's the recommended pressure for the rated load.

I'm assuming you are seated either over or behind the rear axle....???? That's not the smoothest ride in any vehicle. Really bad on one with heavy springs and shocks.

Can you move farther forward? Possibly midship between, or nearly so, the two axles. With the Sprinter's flat floor you should be able to get farther forward... Oops! Do you have a second row seat?

That would be my start points.

My RV on a 2500 chassis rode pretty well except for the sofa about 20" from the rear doors. It was kind of bouncy depending on road surfaces. Much smoother between the wheels! Honestly... I don't think changing springs, air bags, shocks will make a whole lot of difference in the ride over or behind the rear axle.

Old Crows
02-04-2014, 10:09 PM
Questions answered in another post... OK, so you are midship just behind the front seats and in front of the second row seating. That sounds really good... Where you want to be.

IIRC, Michelin LTX have a stiffer sidewall than other brands. So, check your TPs when you get a chance. Stiff sidewalls and over pressure will give you an oxcart ride.

Mrdi
02-04-2014, 10:18 PM
The vans have a propensity to hop in the rear if there is no weight in the back.
The truck is suspended to carry load.
Put several hundred pounds of (sand/cement/large girls) in the very rear.
My favorite is several large ladies who sing harmony.
This will eliminate much of the hop. :thumbup: Too hip.

Old Crows
02-04-2014, 10:28 PM
The Michelin XTLs.... Were they the original equipment tire?

SullyVan
02-05-2014, 02:06 AM
Second the idea of weight in the back. My T1n rattled around badly back there until i built the rv into it. Smoothed right out with the extra weight.

If you still get ba bad ride, your chair placement got me thinking....

Put your chair or chair anchor platform on some heavy weights, which are suspended above the floor by air bags or some other shock absorbing devices.

Brian12345
02-05-2014, 06:03 AM
The Michelin XTLs.... Were they the original equipment tire?

I doubt it but those tires are a great tire. Smooth, quiet, and tread wear is outstanding. That was a oem tire on my lincoln aviator and bought 3 sets of them because they are so good. No way that tire is causing a bad ride unless they are over inflated by 100 psi..lol

NelsonSprinter
02-05-2014, 06:17 AM
I would try 50 PSI front and rear for a comfort ride

OrioN
02-05-2014, 06:24 AM
I would try 50 PSI front and rear for a comfort ride

Na.. Uh... Anything less than 60 rear will trigger the TPMS

Themajickman
02-05-2014, 09:57 AM
Questions answered in another post... OK, so you are midship just behind the front seats and in front of the second row seating. That sounds really good... Where you want to be.

IIRC, Michelin LTX have a stiffer sidewall than other brands. So, check your TPs when you get a chance. Stiff sidewalls and over pressure will give you an oxcart ride.

sorry it takes this long to post but since I'm in the hospital my computer access is limited.
oxcart ride is exactly how I would put it

The vans have a propensity to hop in the rear if there is no weight in the back.
The truck is suspended to carry load.
Put several hundred pounds of (sand/cement/large girls) in the very rear.
My favorite is several large ladies who sing harmony.
This will eliminate much of the hop. :thumbup: Too hip.

it's not so much that it hops but it's very rough when it hits a bump or something in the road.

The Michelin XTLs.... Were they the original equipment tire?

I'm not sure if they were the original brand tires were not. These are not the original set because it has 58,000 miles on it and these are brand-new

Second the idea of weight in the back. My T1n rattled around badly back there until i built the rv into it. Smoothed right out with the extra weight.

If you still get ba bad ride, your chair placement got me thinking....

Put your chair or chair anchor platform on some heavy weights, which are suspended above the floor by air bags or some other shock absorbing devices.

that sounds a great idea however, it's not recommended to modify or change the mounting system for the wheelchair due to safety reasons.
Na.. Uh... Anything than 60 rear will trigger the TPMS

I was thinking of lowering the air pressure but I didn't realize that below 60 pounds would trigger the TPMs darn because I was thinking of going down to like 55.
I want to thank everybody for their feedback so far. It looks like I'm going to be here in the hospital for a while. As soon as I get back on my feet (in my chair rather) I'll do some experimenting in but everybody know how it comes out.

Walter Clark
02-05-2014, 12:31 PM
I don't know about all years but with my ' 12 I can set my tire pressures wherever I want then initialize the tpms to that.

Also, with my 2500 empty I find the 300# of sandbags I put over the rear axle for snow traction improves the ride immensely.

Sent from my Galaxy S4

Old Crows
02-05-2014, 03:53 PM
No worries Majick! Write when you can..... Ok.... Maybe a couple more questions...

Is it the sharp up and down bumping, jerking that's a problem?

Or, is it the roughness, vibration, un-smoothness in general?

How does your chair sit in the van? Is it on a track/ pad system or does it just roll on the floor and then is tied down?

Does your chair have pneumatic tires like many I've seen?

Could there be an issue in how the chair is being secured? Understand you don't want it coming adrift in an accident or while you are moving but the pneumatic tires on your chair should be able to dampen some (or a lot) of the small vibrations and jerkiness. If the chair is cranked down really tight that would keep the tires compressed where the don't flex enough. OTOH, if it's not tight enough it may allow the tires to be too springy and amplify the jerkiness.

Maybe another thought... How is your driver? Smooth and graceful? Or, candidate for the Daytona 500 and demo derby? The driver doesn't feel as uncomfortable as a rear passenger. Slower speeds and anticipating road surfaces should give a smoother ride. Just sayin! They got to be this smooth.....

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uw2qPLEgKdQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Duw2qPLEgKdQ

Graphite Dave
02-05-2014, 04:09 PM
sorry it takes this long to post but since I'm in the hospital my computer access is limited.
oxcart ride is exactly how I would put it



it's not so much that it hops but it's very rough when it hits a bump or something in the road.



I'm not sure if they were the original brand tires were not. These are not the original set because it has 58,000 miles on it and these are brand-new



that sounds a great idea however, it's not recommended to modify or change the mounting system for the wheelchair due to safety reasons.


I was thinking of lowering the air pressure but I didn't realize that below 60 pounds would trigger the TPMs darn because I was thinking of going down to like 55.
I want to thank everybody for their feedback so far. It looks like I'm going to be here in the hospital for a while. As soon as I get back on my feet (in my chair rather) I'll do some experimenting in but everybody know how it comes out.

The TPMS does not need to be used. I believe all that will happen is the warning light on the dash will display. Since Mercedes did not put a sending unit in the spare tire and I rotate all 5 tires, I have traveled about 30,000 miles with the light on. Nothing else appears to be affected except the light displaying. Kind of fun to watch the computer try to figure out what is happening. It is not consistent about when the light first appears. Try the lower tire pressures and ignore the warning light. Be sure to be old school and check your tire pressures manually.

Aqua Puttana
02-05-2014, 04:43 PM
I just skimmed the thread, so...

Did I miss it or has nobody suggested new shocks? 2007 may need them.

I personally find the NAPA Monroes on my T1N to be fine. In this case it may pay to invest in Konis or Bilsteins. A search from the blue bar above will get all kinds of opinions on shock brands.

For your needs you may need to go softer on your tires than "normal". Without heavy loads the tire pressures relative to overheat become a bit more forgiving.

Here's to a quick recovery so you can get out and experiment. :cheers: vic

glasseye
02-05-2014, 05:29 PM
If Sprinters have a weak point from the driver's perspective, it's the relatively stiff, harsh suspension. I guess that this is mandated by the tall body, anticipated cargo loading and, in the T1N case, narrow track.

When I first drove my 04 (used, but with under 10K miles) I was appalled at the jarring ride. Expansion joints in concrete roadways were particularly annoying. Tire pressures as delivered on the factory Michelins were 65 psi, as per factory specs, but that spec assumes a heavy cargo load.

Since Sprinter was empty, I decided to lower the tire pressures to 50 psi. The ride was MUCH better. Encouraged, I further dropped them to 40 psi on all four corners, where they have stayed for nearly five years. This was in Phoenix in July and temperatures were about 115F, so I continuously monitored the tire temperatures. I noticed no significant rise in tire temps.

Nearly 70K miles later, the ride is still good and I see no ill effects on either tires or handling.

Frito is a camper and I carry about 1000 lbs of equally-distributed cargo. I do carry 30 gallons of water behind the rear axle and I notice the difference when the water's half gone. I once carried about 500 lbs of asphalt shingles behind the rear axle and the difference was remarkable. As others have said, if you can ballast the rear end, you'll smooth out the ride significantly.

Regarding your choice of vehicle, I have a buddy who's a 30 year quad. He drives a lift-equipped F*rd E350 and lusts after my Sprinter, particularly so when we both fill up with fuel.

Old Crows
02-05-2014, 09:39 PM
I just skimmed the thread, so...

Did I miss it or has nobody suggested new shocks? 2007 may need them.

I personally find the NAPA Monroes on my T1N to be fine. In this case it may pay to invest in Konis or Bilsteins. A search from the blue bar above will get all kinds of opinions on shock brands.

For your needs you may need to go softer on your tires than "normal". Without heavy loads the tire pressures relative to overheat become a bit more forgiving.

Here's to a quick recovery so you can get out and experiment. :cheers: vic

Thinking out loud here... Adding weight behind the axle.... That could help... Not much experience with that but Calypso rides easier with a full water tank. Maybe a little less jiggly now that I think about it. The trade off is dragging around slightly more weight and slightly more fuel burn. That's an acceptable trade for better ride control. OK...so how about a water blivet in the rear? A cheap trick! Here's one that's 2x3x8" @ 25 gallons. Filled it would add about 208lbs. Easy to remove if not needed. Could add water a bit at a time to trim it out. A couple three gallons of RV water system antifreeze fixes freezing problems. Leaks?

http://www.erosionpollution.com/flexibletanks.html#construction

New Monroe dampers might be the hot tip, Vic. Plus significantly lowering the TPs to the 40-50 range like Glasseye suggests. Ballasting ... Got to think about that. Might be a good cheap work around. What would the "Crazy Russian Hacker Do?" :popcorn:

Brian12345
02-06-2014, 04:27 AM
I don't know about all years but with my ' 12 I can set my tire pressures wherever I want then initialize the tpms to that.

Also, with my 2500 empty I find the 300# of sandbags I put over the rear axle for snow traction improves the ride immensely.

Sent from my Galaxy S4

Walter I'm curious how to do that with the tps

3mbusa
02-06-2014, 06:12 AM
I have been thinking about your problem for several days now and how it might relate to the ride issues we had with our 2012 MB 3500 Sprinter van conversion. We run a total weight right at 10,000 lbs. against a GVW of 11,030 and we had ride issues. Just to get my two cents worth in, here are some of my thoughts based on our experience:

Lowering the tire air pressure below specs. resulted in maneuvering problems like mushy cornering and feelings of loss of control.

While I think adding some baldest would be good; putting it behind the rear axle causes a “tail wagging the dog” syndrome – amidships would be a great place.

Changing to the Koni adjustable shocks would work wonders and the adjustability would afford some options. Our MB dealer said (off the record) that all Sprinters have terrible shocks. In fact I bought the Konis from the Sprinter Store in Oregon and the MB dealer installed them for us.

Lastly, and particularly if you add baldest, a pair of Sumo helper springs will really soften the ride. They are not really springs at all, but encapsulated closed cell form blocks that replace the factory spring travel stoppers. They act much like air suspension with a dampening effect and really take out the harshness. The rear set cost about $177 for a pair; but I would also recommend the fronts to stop the Sprinter pourposing (sp?) effect.

Good Luck with your upcoming hospital event. :thumbup:

72chevy4x4
02-06-2014, 02:01 PM
I didn't pick up on your riding in the back until reading a second time.

lowering the tire pressure at least as a test to rule out the tires being the contributing factor should help. Is it possible the upfitter modified the springs during the installation?

You seem to be describing a spring issue and not a shock issue (damping the rebound)-is that correct?

Walter Clark
02-06-2014, 02:49 PM
Copied from a PDF of the operators manual (I have the 2011 edition but it is listed by MB as for the 2012 at: http://www.mbsprinterusa.com/files/manuals/2012_Mercedes_Benz_Sprinter_Operators_Manual.pdf): Note: Buttons described within ( ) are shown as icons in the manual with no simple ASCII equivalent so I substituted text. Button descriptions within " " are also displayed in the manual as icons but with equivalent ASCII text which I show in the quotes.

Vehicles without steering wheel buttons
1. Turn the key to position 2 in the ignition lock.
2. Press the "M" menu button on the instrument cluster repeatedly until the following message is displayed: +CAL- TPMS
3. Press the "+" button on the instrument cluster.
The following message is displayed: OK TPMS
The tire pressure monitor activation process has begun. The tire pressures measured for the individual wheels are stored as the new reference values, provided that the tire pressure monitor considers them to be plausible.
If you wish to cancel the activation process:
1. Press the "-" button or the "M" menu button on the instrument cluster.
The activation process is canceled automatically if 30 seconds elapse with no input.

Vehicles with steering wheel buttons
1. Turn the key to position 2 in the ignition lock.
2. Press the (page next) or (page previous) button on the steering wheel repeatedly until the standard display (> page 77) appears.
3. Press the (up arrow) or (down arrow) button on the steering wheel repeatedly until the current pressure of the individual tires is displayed, or the display shows the following message: tire press. displayed after driving for several minutes
4. Press the "O" reset button on the instrument cluster.
The following message is displayed: Monitor current tire pressure?
5. Press the "+" button on the steering wheel.
The following message is displayed: tire press. monitor reactivated
The tire pressure monitor activation process has begun. The tire pressures measured for the individual wheels are stored as the new reference values, provided that the tire pressure monitor considers them to be plausible.
If you wish to cancel the activation process:
1. Press the "-" button on the steering wheel.


Additional comment: I use rear snow tires all winter without any TPMS sensor in them. The TPMS warning comes on every time I use the van but nothing other than the warning light being on happens. If I drove the van a lot in winter I would have added sensors to these wheels too but I dont and for the little use it gets in winter I can live with the TPMS light being on.

vitola231
02-06-2014, 03:03 PM
I think your OK lowering pressure, I'm running like 48psi all around. I have gathered that the TPMS just looks for tyre that is out of line with the rest in way of pressure. I am this low because I switched from factory tyres to 18" XL series tyre that has max 50PSI. The ride is nice, they are low rolling resistance and I find I'm driving mostly empty now. Wife's land rover ways around 800 pounds more than the sprinter and it runs on P tyres not LT. I would also suggest that the passenger van originally has a few hundred pounds of seats in back, still a high load rated 3/4 ton vehicle.

vitola231
02-06-2014, 03:09 PM
http://sprinter-source.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=124&pictureid=635

surlyoldbill
02-06-2014, 03:54 PM
It's hard to make a LIGHT COMMERCIAL TRUCK feel like a passenger car. The Sprinter is a commercial truck, regardless of the Mercedes star on the front. Lower tire pressure helps a lot with Sprinters, I am currently running 50/60 in my usually empty van. At the rated 80psi, which the tire shop of course went to, even expansion cracks on the highway felt like hitting a curb (watching for tire wear indicating too low pressure). New struts and shocks might help. Weight in the back smooths the ride; I was hauling about 1000lbs of cement a couple days ago and there was zero bounce from speed bumps.

The BEST ride in a vehicle is exactly between the front and rear axles, where the vertical change is half what it is over either of the axles. Take a look at cars/trucks on the road and you'll see that the seats are often in that sweet spot, especially "sports" cars.

Themajickman
02-21-2014, 04:05 PM
Finally got released from the hospital and had the opportunity to try the ride again. I had my son install some Koni adjustable rear shock absorbers and set them at the softest setting. Then I had him lower the air pressure from 65 psi to 45 PSI on all four tires and boy was I surprised! The ride went from brutal to being totally acceptable. What a pleasant surprise!! The shock absorbers let the Springs work a little bit better and the air pressure definitely made the bumps tolerable. After riding 2.5 hours on the interstate I was no worse for the wear. I have gone from wanting to sell the sprinter to definitely going to keep it!!

I want to thank everybody for their valuable suggestions and help.
Boy am I relieved

:rad:

72chevy4x4
02-21-2014, 05:57 PM
not sure of your setup, but are you able to park the wheelchair on a foam mat to further isolate vibrations? I bet someone could create a 'sandwich' out of memory foam with a piece of plywood attached on top to act as the solid surface-might be too high at that point...best of luck.

Themajickman
02-22-2014, 06:58 PM
not sure of your setup, but are you able to park the wheelchair on a foam mat to further isolate vibrations? I bet someone could create a 'sandwich' out of memory foam with a piece of plywood attached on top to act as the solid surface-might be too high at that point...best of luck.

I don't know how practical it would be to try to create additional cushioning for the wheelchair considering that it weighs (with me) close to 550 pounds. It needs to be firmly secured to the floor of the van with tiedowns to be sure it doesn't become a very heavy projectile. I also need to be tied in with a three point seatbelt which has his own tiedown points.

I am actually very pleased with the way it rides now with the new shocks and lower air pressures. The only other option I have would be changing to a airbag suspension which runs about $8000 so it's definitely out of the question financially.

PS, I finally finished the conversion from dodge to Mercedes-Benz grill and badges. Will add pictures as I get them

surlyoldbill
02-22-2014, 09:21 PM
Majik, are you driving or riding? A friend has a chevy venture set up for him to drive with hand controls, he's jealous of my Sprinter. I'm sure you're aware of them, but he has the bird's mouth plate on the bottom of his chair that goes on a post mounted to the floor and then locks in place. Maybe you get one of those set-ups so you don't have to go through all the tie down attachment process.

For my friend, a Sprinter wouldn't work so well because he is required to park in a garage according to his HOA, and the Sprinter wouldn't make the clearance. One of the reasons he got a Venture was because it was the smallest thing that still allowed him to get in/out on the ramp with clearance for his head (tall torso).

Themajickman
03-02-2014, 12:06 PM
Majik, are you driving or riding? A friend has a chevy venture set up for him to drive with hand controls, he's jealous of my Sprinter. I'm sure you're aware of them, but he has the bird's mouth plate on the bottom of his chair that goes on a post mounted to the floor and then locks in place. Maybe you get one of those set-ups so you don't have to go through all the tie down attachment process.

For my friend, a Sprinter wouldn't work so well because he is required to park in a garage according to his HOA, and the Sprinter wouldn't make the clearance. One of the reasons he got a Venture was because it was the smallest thing that still allowed him to get in/out on the ramp with clearance for his head (tall torso).

I do not drive, and my chair is strapped down using adjustable tiedowns rather than the bird's mouth plate as you call it. Apparently my chair was incompatible with that type of lockdown system.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. The only next step would be to play with the adjustment on the koni shocks to see if I can improve the ride even more.

Mrdi
03-02-2014, 02:57 PM
Interesting comment regarding the Konis
My 144 Cargo is lightly loaded with about 3=400 lbs evenly distributed.
My rear Konis are set on the lighter end of the spectrum
I still get bounce
Comments regarding rear Koni setting and load would be appropriate here.

Old Crows
03-02-2014, 07:10 PM
Improved ride! Good to hear.... Before tinkering with the shocks, which IRRC, are already at the softest setting... Go one Lb less pressure (cold) (45 > 44) in the rear. Only one! Maybe a 1/2 Lb if you can manage it....

That will put a little more flex in the rear tires' sidewall to absorb more of the energy from the road imperfections.