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Old 05-17-2015, 12:26 AM   #11
dave61
 
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

My thoughts are to solder the connections and do a voltage drop test across all points to make sure there is no hidden corrosion within the cable itself before I buy a new one.
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Old 05-17-2015, 02:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

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Originally Posted by dave61 View Post
My thoughts are to solder the connections and do a voltage drop test across all points to make sure there is no hidden corrosion within the cable itself before I buy a new one.
That would normally be the way I would look at it as well, but given how common the problem is with the early NC3V models and that the current upgraded part can be had for only $70 or so my choice was to just get under the vehicle once and be done with it.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

Excellent evaluation! How many Sprinters were manufactured with this inherently faulty cable installed? How is it that MB has remained silent on this for so long?

Here are photos of the damaged insulation on a 2008 Sprinter, with temporary repairs.

For anyone with any doubts about the criticality of this fault, the exposed ends of the fuse are directly from the alternator output and the main (start) battery! All other metal in the area is ground!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Alternator Y Conductor Damage (1).JPG (52.9 KB, 365 views)
File Type: jpg Alternator Y Conductor Damage (3).JPG (55.0 KB, 348 views)
File Type: jpg Alternator Y Conductor Damage (10).JPG (50.8 KB, 340 views)
File Type: jpg Alternator Y Conductor Damage (14).JPG (51.1 KB, 339 views)

Last edited by wmlog; 05-18-2015 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 05-19-2015, 03:22 AM   #14
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

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Originally Posted by lindenengineering View Post
[/B]

WhaoH Guys
Hold on a moment!
This main battery charge cable is not unique to the 906 Sprinter.
Quite a few MB car lines have it installed as well.
Another car that comes instantly to mind is the c230 Kompressor.
Like this little bugger :-
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q...essor+pictures
Now the resistor unit is located on top of the bell housing and the body. Hidden but gives the same problems and not so nice to remove--It takes out the alternator and charging module when it shorts down! Not like a Sprinter!

Now its clearly an engineering policy from MB to site the device in the main battery cable.
I think its a waste of time but clearly they don't.
Likewise I consider the use of twisted pairs in German car harnesses to be waste of time and "old fashioned" when the Anglo/American/ Japanese method is screening. But they use it and for reasons best known to themselves continue to do so.

In this auto repair business we Pros in the business get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the brands we work on. Just because it has an MB badge on the front don't for one minute think that this piece of bent iron is any different! Its not!

Every manufacturer has recommended PM programs at mileage intervals.
MB at 80,000 miles suggest a check of all electrical harnesses etc. That doesn't mean a cursory look over but an in depth inspection and replace where necessary.

Landrover has similar recommendations like the serp belt tensioner and a very involved service read expensive!
Even Toyota recommends changing the Hybrid coolant pump at 100, 000 miles to prevent converter Hybrid system overheat, and prompting an abrupt shut down in the road!

In fact if you could look now at an Indentifix rogues a gallery of brands and certain mileages you will be amazed at what fails regularly.

This Y cable is just one small irritation and it has been upgraded a few times. BUT MB in this case will not reimburse anyone I am sure, it is regarded as a service item!
If that's OK with you chaps:
Dennis

There are 80 and 90 year old cars that still have their original battery cables.

MB can claim anything they want, we all know that a battery cable is not a wear/service item!

All of our cars (14 to 22 years old) have their OE cables. Even my '67 Camaro has the cables it rolled out of the factory with.

It's absurd (and insulting) for MB to claim that battery cables are a "service item". In which universe? Barring some catastrophic meltdown, battery cables should last the life of the vehicle.

The older style lead battery cable terminals sometimes have to be replaced, but rarely the cable itself. Most newer cars have steel terminals on the cables, which last longer. Corrosion isn't the problem it used to be.

People understand that many parts wear out after a reasonable number of hours or miles. That's expected for a variety of items, including motors; pumps; clutches; bearings; brakes; belts; tires; hoses, etc. Even engines and transmissions may eventually have to be rebuilt or replaced -- but a battery cable?

Nothing's perfect. Some parts fail prematurely. Hopefully under warranty. If not, an if the failure is due to a design/engineering error (not abuse) an ethical company that cares about getting repeat customers will step up, admit their mistake, and fix the problem free of charge.

I am under no delusion that MB is going to do the right thing here. After all, they don't have to. The NHTSA isn't forcing them. Covering the cost of replacing the battery cables that were poorly designed by their own engineers would cut into this quarter's profit. Never mind the incredible goodwill it would generate, and the increase in future sales. Nope, that doesn't matter. All that matters is the present.

It's actually really sad. MB used to be #1 in the world for reliability. They traded with Toyota for first and second place. Now they are toward the bottom of the barrel. In the April Auto Issue of CR, MB is #21 out of 28, based on their reliability and the road tests. Only 20% of their vehicles are "recommended" -- just 1 in 5. The average road test score for MB cars is very high -- one of the best -- they are just very unreliable. MB has 2 of 15 cars in the list of the absolute least reliable production cars in the world.

I guess this Y cable issue should not be surprising. What does surprise me is the big stiff arm from MB.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:43 PM   #15
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

Wow!
Comparing a mid last century vehicle to one of today.
Its like comprising a "charlie choo" steam engine with the French TGV!

I see the Camaro mentioned!
Hmm! 450 CCa battery , tiny 35 amp alternator or dynamo and no modules unless you count the spark module on top of the Delco, wiring harness weighing about 50 lbs tops simple positive switch switches, no need for a Can Bus indeed not a lot of need for anything else it was all basically manually operated.

OK let leave museum pieces behind because they have no relevance and get into this century after all its now 2015 AND there's no going back!
A Sprinter or any modern car!

A 900 cca battery, a small starter motor that punches out huge amounts of power to start your your stinking little diesel engine in few seconds or so crank of cranking. An alternator punching out say 100 amps, about 250 lbs of harness and at last 15 modules all attached it. (Some cars have as much as 52 modules in them)
Gizmos can't forget gizmos, systems, infotainment, telematics, butt heating, split system A/C well the list goes on doesn't it! With us all riding along on the Can-bus otherwise the harness would be about a 1000 lbs I daresay.
Simply put today's car's have to run within a tight voltage parameter of around 13.3 to 14.2 volts. The main circuits include the battery cable are subjected to a huge amount of current flow and in time degrade.

Now at the pointed end of getting grubby in the shop, battery cables get replaced more often than you might imagine! (unless you do this sort of work for a living/profession.)
Its not absurd on the contrary only bringing last century thinking into the argument is

And by the way going and buying some aftermarket parts can end up as being very expensive experience if its not to as spec! That is how crucial some of this stuff is these days.

What I think is questionable is/are German auto industry approaches to some things but putting a protection device in the main charge cable is a propensity not seen on other American/Asian brands for the most part.
You can be rest assured that some chief engineer has deemed it necessary and it is adhered to and regarded as a consumable. A lot of this stuff is to be tossed out at 100,000 miles.
Dennis
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Old 05-20-2015, 07:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

Took a peek under my 2014 I4 and the cable seems to be a straight cable going into the Y. No sign of any fuse.
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Old 05-20-2015, 08:21 PM   #17
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

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Originally Posted by Rensho View Post
Took a peek under my 2014 I4 and the cable seems to be a straight cable going into the Y. No sign of any fuse.
Rensho
Now we are talking about a different animal. In my lesser being opinion a far better van!
For me this is a sweety and clearly MB spenty some time on this 'un before they launched it!
My choice for a commercial van any time.
Dennis
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Old 05-27-2015, 04:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

Adding my Y cable experience to the KB.

After many weird CEL issues that seemed to point to a low voltage gremlin I pulled my Y cable w a mfg date of 5/07 off of my '08 MB 3500 NCV3 and found it in perfect shape. The heat shrink over the fuse was NOT installed over the sleeve material and seemed to be assembled as per spec. Rather than perpetuate the nonsense I just put in a new MB cable since I was under the truck already. Sadly it was not the issue causing my mysteriously numerous yet separate CEL issues.

Ahh the joys of electronical sensor wonderment combined with proprietary MB software. My frustrating search continues as I start to envy the simplicity and reliability of the Beverly Hillbillies simple truck..... sorta. :D

Mike
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Old 05-27-2015, 05:06 PM   #19
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

Dennis
I have to disagree with some of your comments.
While it may be that the battery voltage spec is 13.3 to 14.2, is could easily have been designed to work with 10 to 24V. From the got to get home minimum to the dumb ass winter 24V jump start. It may have cost a dollar or two more but with todays silicon it is just not a big deal to work over a wide input voltage range. Working at the extremes indicates a problem, so every warning on the dash should be flashing but think how happy you would be to go that last 20 miles to a paved road.
Using #2 cable with a 220A alternator is marginal. At full load this drops about a third of a volt to the main battery (not counting any drop in the ground cable).
A non-serviceable hard to examine inline fuse is just asking for trouble.
A single ground strap is also just cheap and asking for trouble.
Ron
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Old 05-27-2015, 08:01 PM   #20
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Default Re: Autopsy: Infamous "Y" cable from alternator to starter to battery

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Originally Posted by RonR View Post
Dennis
I have to disagree with some of your comments.
While it may be that the battery voltage spec is 13.3 to 14.2, is could easily have been designed to work with 10 to 24V. From the got to get home minimum to the dumb ass winter 24V jump start. It may have cost a dollar or two more but with todays silicon it is just not a big deal to work over a wide input voltage range. Working at the extremes indicates a problem, so every warning on the dash should be flashing but think how happy you would be to go that last 20 miles to a paved road.
Using #2 cable with a 220A alternator is marginal. At full load this drops about a third of a volt to the main battery (not counting any drop in the ground cable).
A non-serviceable hard to examine inline fuse is just asking for trouble.
A single ground strap is also just cheap and asking for trouble.
Ron
Ron
Personally I agree with you !
BUT
I am not in charge of specs at MB!
Having worked for several manufacturers I can understand the philosophy of the Chief Engineer and the hand me down of policy.

In short do NOT question the Chief Engineer or his Engineering commitee (in this case the Herr Doktor Whatisface.) Unless you want to suffer the wrath of the Senior Engineering Div!
One of my collegues was severely reprimanded for questioning engineering policy on a big truck --It wasnt pleasant! He was frimly put in his place publically in the factory and he almost lost his job!

Plus the mantra I spout on this forum which has been said & oft stated ! Quote
"What works well here will work in Yankee land"!
Tell those snivelling Yanks to live with it!

If it doesn't, try getting a change at that level on build decisions and attitudes!
It can be like trying to move heaven and earth. These are big companies they move like elephants in most matters of this type.

In short sometimes it pays NOT to rock the boat!
Believe me I have been there & in short I was often told "repeat the policy"! You will treat it like a serviceable item that is the edict from on high. Yessire!
I have even been in a meeting where commercial attaches from different embassys have complained about engineering policy. It can get that elevated.
Dennis
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charging, electrical problem, low voltage

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