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Old 02-07-2014, 12:12 AM   #1
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Default Espar Booster Heater Help

I have the factory Espar booster heater (not auxiliary options) on my 2004 T1N 140. But in the two years that I've had my (used) van I have not run it. It occurred to me that I should figure this out since the temps have been in the teens around here for the past couple of days.

After starting the vehicle, I engaged the power for the booster heater and absolutely nothing happened (except the red led light turned on for the power button). I have read through numerous threads including the Espar files but the information is quite scattered. Is there a concise summation of troubleshooting and repairing the booster heater? Odds being odds, what are the three most likely reasons that the unit would not function at all? There is only a 1/4 tank of gas right now, is that enough to have the booster run if it was working?

My mechanic skills are very basic but I can normally muddle through the simple things.

Thanks!
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

Pull it out, use 1/2" black pipe to connect the hoses and take the espar apart. Clean it well. Test the fan and the glow plug with a 9v battery. Make sure everything is working. Mine just needed a good cleaning.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

Yes, the heater (at least the Aux heater) has a fuel-level sensor, and 1/4 tank is its cut-off point.

The booster heater (once you turn it on) should wait about 15 seconds or so, and then start making a quiet thup-thup sound (under the floor under the US driver's seat) as it starts "pumping" fuel.
About a minute or so later, it will try to ignite.
That can take a while (i think it gives itself at least 3 minutes), and then exhaust should start coming out of the US driver's front wheel well.
Once it ignites, there will be a (kind'a) quiet-but-getting-louder roar as the "barn burner" gets going.

It may not start once the coolant gets above 180 F.

--dick
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

I was in your shoes a few weeks ago. Bought my van used and the booster never worked.
I wish I took pics when I worked on mine last week - I can describe it from my head because I can visualize each step since it was easy, but now not too clear when I try to put it to words.

1. Read this thread to learn some more: http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18131
2. Verify your electric coolant pump works - if not, easy to replace and I got the ebay one for $60. You can put 12V to the leads and listen if it spins.
3. Make sure it is not a blown fuse to your booster heater.
4. Call Ray at esparparts.com and order the gasket and seal 20.1820.99.0001.0A - you will need this to put your espar heater back together.
5. Once the gasket arrives, pull the heater out - pull the front grill, driver's headlight assembly, then you will be sitting there staring at it. Don't try just from above.
Although it sounds like a bunch of work to get to it, it is not. Just have a good torx set and a metric socket set. Careful with the intake air tube, mine was in good shape and was able to reuse it, exhaust - not so much.

There are two coolant lines to the espar, if you plan to drive the van with it out (like I had to), you will need to connect the lines.
If you do have a bad electric coolant pump, you can use the old one and the hose clamps to keep all your coolant from flowing out. Or a 90 degree hose barb.

6. Take apart the espar. Also - easy, and give it the burner a good cleaning. Brake cleaner, carb cleaner, I even used some of my gun cleaning solvents and a tooth brush.
Scrape away all the gasket material, as well as the seal between the combustion chamber and burner. Clean the carbon from the screen wick in the "D" shaped opening in the burner.
Clean the flame sensor and glow pin.
Check the fan motor that it's not siezed, I sprayed mine with electrical contact cleaner. Then a drop of light oil on the motor shaft.

7. After a thorough cleaning (post some pics here and I can let you know what my opinion is of clean), put it all together.

8. If the exhaust pipe is charred, you might need a new one. Mine was so burnt on to there that it crumbled apart. Link to the cheaper ebay one is in the thread above.

9. Top off coolant, as I lost about a quart or so in the in and out process.

I did this process, started the van and hit the booster button. After about 30 - 45 seconds for the glow pin to warm up, it started up for me. Lots of smoke at 1st as stuff burns off, but now I use it couple times a day with these temps. Love it!

Good luck, hope that it just needs a cleaning or pump, as they are cheap fixes and well worth it. We'll chime in to walk you through it if you get stuck.
If it is a bad dosing pump, I can't help - mine was good and I didn't have to change it.

Rob.

Last edited by Kubbie; 02-07-2014 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 02-07-2014, 03:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

Thanks Rob; I read through the post that you linked and saw that you were in the same boat. Similar to you, I'm trying to get down to brass tacks and not go down to many rabbit trails with all the posts. Your post here is a good summation and I will try and apply it and see what I can work out. First things first, I'm going to fill the gas tank, cross my fingers, and see what that yields.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

This rabbit hole has a video in the first post which I found very accurate and helpful.

The German site also has some good pictures.

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30384

This one lists the tools needed among other things.

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30427

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Old 02-08-2014, 06:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

After trying to order parts from esparparts.com online and having Paul call me, I would suggest that anyone ordering from them for the first time should call and order over the phone. Saves alot of confusion.
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

The owners manual says that the aux heater will run down to about 4 gallons in the tank (p.131) I believe this is true for the heater booster...i have run it a little below 1/4 tank. I thought it was limited by standpipe?
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Type2Teach View Post
After trying to order parts from esparparts.com online and having Paul call me, I would suggest that anyone ordering from them for the first time should call and order over the phone. Saves alot of confusion.
Good suggestion.

On-line didn't work so great for me either. I ended up on the phone too. vic
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Old 02-08-2014, 07:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Espar Booster Heater Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by davisdave View Post
The owners manual says that the aux heater will run down to about 4 gallons in the tank (p.131) I believe this is true for the heater booster...i have run it a little below 1/4 tank. I thought it was limited by standpipe?
Yes, you are correct. The standpipe goes through the fuel level sensor.

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