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Old 06-03-2015, 01:11 AM   #1
big_d
 
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Default Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Hi All,

We took delivery of our 12th Sprinter (since 2004) in February. It's at about 12k miles now.

We had an interesting situation today.

Our Sprinters run about five 300 mile trips each week. Each trip involves turning the engine off and restarting it about 16 times. We top off the DEF tank weekly, and also at 5k and 10k service, so that our drivers never, ever have to mess with DEF.

When DEF supply is exhausted, the computer freaks out and gives the driver a certain number of engine starts before it will refuse to start. That's pretty unnerving, especially when you get down to the last start. The only time that has happened to us (before yesterday) was when a vehicle was malfunctioning. The DEF tank was full all along, but the Sprinter started freaking out. It took the good dealer we work with several days and much gnashing of teeth to diagnose and repair the problem.

Yesterday, our new Sprinter threw a low DEF warning as driver was nearing the end of his 300 mile trip. He advised our mechanic, who was only able to add about a quart of DEF before the filler neck overflowed. So clearly we were not low on DEF. The driver and the mechanic both stated that there was no countdown message on the dash.

We have a Mercedes Sprinter dealer very close to our garage, Parkhill Imports. We were really excited when they first started handling Sprinters a year or two ago, because it meant we could get repairs done locally instead of driving 110 miles to Stoops Freightliner in Indianapolis.

But we quickly learned that Parkhill does not have the experience or expertise to quickly diagnose and fix Sprinter problems, and we found their customer service skills sorely lacking. For instance, it was not uncommon for the service manager, Mike Lawson, to dodge calls and not call back. Also, getting repairs done quickly is clearly not a priority for them. We'd make an appointment for service, take the Sprinter there, and see it parked on their lot for days before they'd attempt a diagnosis.

Nevertheless, we continued to allow them to attempt warranty repairs now and then, because we figured the downside was limited: If they screwed up the repair over and over, they'd foot the bill, not us.

We took our new Sprinter there today around 9 am. By 10 am, they had the "repair" completed. When I went there to pick it up, they stated that the repair is not covered by warranty and demanded $220 for the repair. Their shop rate is $110/hr, so that's 2 hours of labor for a vehicle they had in their possession for about an hour.

I spoke with Service Manger Mike Larson about the bill. His position is that if the DEF tank is run dry (not the case here), the customer is responsible for resetting the alarm. I explained that there is no chance that the DEF tank ran dry. He *claimed* that the dashboard countdown was active and said that proved that the DEF tank had been dry.

If the countdown had been active during the prior trip, there would have been enough starts during that trip and/or the final trip (about 16 starts per trip, remember) to beach Sprinter. Since Sprinter could therefore have not run low on the prior trip, it would have had to run low on the final trip. But it only took a quart to top off the tank after the final trip.

Clearly, this guy can't imagine that DEF level sensor, computer, or something else could fail. But sensors and other stuff fails on our Sprinters all the f-ing time.

Anyhow, my main reason for coming here is to find out two things:

1) # of starts permitted after start countdown timer begins counting.

2) How long the delay is between low DEF dashboard light and beginning of countdown.

3) Exact capacity of DEF tank on a 2015 Sprinter 2500 with V6.

I'd like to have this information in order to argue this matter more effectively.

Thanks in advance for any information y'all can provide.

Since we purchase something like $2,000 in parts/supplies from them each month, I also tried to get the parts guy, Bill, to straighten out Mike for us. We asked Bill if he likes having our parts volume and told him that we'd like him to help us solve the service problem. Bill didn't give a rat's ass about the parts volume and refused to discuss the matter. Wow. What a nice dealership!

If you ever break down in Central, IL, don't coast into Parkhill Imports. Head for Stoops Freightliner in Indianapolis.

Here's the invoice

http://www.suburbs.com/parkhill_scum..._111_fraud.pdf

And a video


Last edited by big_d; 06-03-2015 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 06-03-2015, 01:22 AM   #2
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Even if you do let your tank run low. Once you fill the sensor picks it up and cancels the countdown. This happened to me once. What it was is the sensor picked up some moisture and it had to be removed and dried. Otherwise I'd say you have a screwwyy sensor. BTW that is covered under emission warranty.
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Old 06-03-2015, 01:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

there are TWO levels of DEF warning. You are supposed to get an early warning message AT LEAST 1000 miles before the countdown thing starts. Not unnerving at all. Lots of us believe that it is best to wait for that warning before refilling. There is anecdotal evidence that too-frequent fillups an confuse the twitchy sprinter computer's sensibilities. (I am NOT saying this is true--just reporting a theory that some people have).

There are several DEF tank sizes available with the V6 engine. You need to look at your build sheets. All I4s have 4.75 gal. DEF tanks.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Thanks for that information. I learn something new every day...

So we were in the first level - no countdown. The dealer stated that tank has a capacity of 18 liters, which is about 4.75 gallons. I'm surprised he got that right.

Clearly we've got a bad sensor if it thinks DEF is low when the tank has 4.5 gallons in it. Not sure why the service manager at Parkhill Imports can't wrap his head around that.

The big bummer here is the we wasted all this energy on nothing. Fixing the symptom (alarm) without fixing the root cause (bad sensor, perhaps) guarantees that the problem will come right back.

Last edited by big_d; 06-03-2015 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:07 AM   #5
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Quote:
Originally Posted by big_d View Post
Anyhow, my main reason for coming here is to find out two things:
1) # of starts permitted after start countdown timer begins counting.
2) How long the delay is between low DEF dashboard light and beginning of countdown.
3) Exact capacity of DEF tank on a 2015 Sprinter 2500 with V6.
• DEF level warning strategy
• The first warning displayed on the instrument cluster is triggered at a
remaining DEF level of 1.5 gallons = 5.5l or approx. 2,500mls
• The second warning, in combination with displaying the # of remaining engine starts (countdown from 20), is triggered at a remaining DEF level of 0.8gallon = 3.0l or approx. 1,360mls. In addition a signal will sound.
• If an operator “ignores” both warnings and still drives the vehicle until the last remaining “engine start” is reached or “used up”, the engine will not start and the operator then will be advised to fill up at least 2 gallons of DEF to ensure to get beyond both warning levels.

• In order to meet the strict 2010 EPA / CARB emission standards for Diesel powered engines Sprinters will require the use of a SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system. The SCR system is an exhaust after treatment that significantly reduces (over 80%) NOx (Nitrogen Oxide).
• Aside of sophisticated electronic controllers and sensors the SCR system requires a catalytic converter and a non-fuel reducing agent called DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid).
• DEF is a mixture of Urea (33%) and water (67%).
• DEF is stored in the vehicle in the DEF tank which features the SCR pump, temperature control, level sensors, etc.
• DEF has a limited shelf life that is influenced by ambient temperature and humidity, as such DEF degradation as well as DEF level in the SCR tank are important factors to meet the emission standards.

DEF tank location on Sprinter Cargo & Bus.
• Tank location under the floor right hand side behind B-pillar • Tank volume 6.6gal. = 25L
• Tank features drain plug
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Here's a related question:

What did the dealer gain here? If he gets paid the same hourly rate by Mercedes for warranty repairs as he collects from end-user, what was his incentive to screw around here? What did he gain by not submitting it as a warranty repair, as he clearly should have?

These guys really dug in, and they're completely wrong. They lost any future warranty repairs and all of our parts business. For what, I don't know.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Quote:
Originally Posted by big_d View Post
Here's a related question:

What did the dealer gain here? If he gets paid the same hourly rate by Mercedes for warranty repairs as he collects from end-user, what was his incentive to screw around here? What did he gain by not submitting it as a warranty repair, as he clearly should have?

These guys really dug in, and they're completely wrong. They lost any future warranty repairs and all of our parts business. For what, I don't know.
I can't speak for Mercedes, but most dealerships try to stay out of warranty work if they can.

Mercedes warranty probably does not pay as much as you do for an hour of labor.
Mercedes warranty probably does not pay as much as you do for parts.

both of these numbers can be dealer specific. the dealer I work for has re-negotiated its warranty rates on both of those front at least twice over the last decade.

Mercedes warranty has a defined labor time (book time) for most jobs, so they can't round .8 up to an hour. you do not, so .8 easily becomes a whole hour, and one hour can just as easily become two.

so, in summation, there are at least three factors that make you a more profitable customer than warranty is.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

Just a few comments.
Always remember dealerships are only as good as the folk that work in them.
The experience as you have discovered can be vastly different from one to another given a set of service problems.

The same can be said of any service provider even the health care business. So keep that in mind.

The DEF system on these vans is clearly an add on or afterthought and the wiring harness for a chem application is a bit wanting. Communication can be a bit sketchy at times and give unexpected faults . So in giving an element of doubt the dealer isn't entirely at fault. Its not really a nice system, some of manufacturers config it better!

The dealership, any dealership runs on cost center principals.

The parts dept is separate to the service dept. I do about $2000/day in parts business with one local dealer. They are very helpful in the parts side, but I can tell the service department is less than "friendly" to my disposition as an Independent since I am talking away their exclusivity. I get a visit from their fleet servicing rep from time to time, but I can tell he is on a scouting mission to see how many rigs are in the shop.

In your shoes I wouldn't expect you to get any slack even if you purchased a million bucks worth of parts a day from this dealership--any dealership and that's the way it is.

My position is to get the best dealer parts supplies at the best possible discount and try not to deal with the dealer servicing divs ; which in many places, not just MB service centers is less than fwnedly!---As you have discovered !

My suggestion is to simply move on and use the alternative dealership you have found and take your parts business with you.
Best of luck
Dennis

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Old 06-04-2015, 05:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Low DEF False Alarm & Another Really Bad Mercedes Dealer

How's this for excellent customer service?

I called early this morning and left another message for Mike Lawson.
I was in [physical] therapy when I got a call, here is the message that was left:
"Mike P***, this is David Parkhill calling, as long as there is bull****
on the internet about Sullivan Parkhill, we will not sell you parts or
provide any service on your fleet of vehicles. That's your answer. Have a
good day."

Dave Parkhill is third generation Parkhill kid, if I recall correctly.

Last edited by big_d; 06-04-2015 at 06:49 PM.
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