118" driveshaft replacement in late 2021

sarl_cagan

2006 118" SHC
My Sprinter came with all kinds of issues... right when I think I've solved one issue, another one rears it's ugly head. My goal is to serve up some information that I thought could be useful for those in a similar position in the future.

Background (or see my original post HERE): I've now got a whine and a vibration in my 2006 118" SHC. Sure enough, the pinion gear DID have a rough life and was confirmed chipped. I just had the diff totally rebuilt and while the old noise grinding noise is gone, I still have some whining and some vibration. I *think* some of this vibration is RSN. But it seems like maybe it's not just that. (it could also be a bad transmission...) The local Sprinter shop recommended replacing the center support bearing as the likely culprit... I'm not getting any "clunks" so my thoughts are that the U-joints can't be THAT bad themselves... but what do I know? I cannot feel any movement in the U-joints themselves. I don't have the means currently to remove the driveshaft and feel them in an unconstrained state to confirm. Doktor A's post is ringing in the back of my mind here.

(edit - added sound clip) HERE is a link to the noises I'm currently hearing (for some reason called SE 52ND AVE 3).
- at the beginning of the clip, you'll hear what sounds like a classic "bomb dropping" whistle... that's the high pitched sound. There's another sound that is more of a lower pitched whine. Both of these are on decellation. (NOTE: the "bomb dropping" whistle is also on acceleration and is purely speed related).
- at 0:19 I hit a bump. Unrelated.

(edit - added link to my carrier bearing video) HERE is a link to the carrier bearing video I made (a little harder to hear the sounds due to the motor.

SO, instead of *just* replacing the center support bearing, I thought I'd look into bulletproofing the whole thing with a new driveshaft *with* replaceable U-Joints. I've spoken with the Sprinter shop ahead of time and they are nice enough to agree to install this for me. I know (and understand why), the usual course of action would be to install an OEM driveshaft (with non-replaceable U-joints).

To the best of my knowledge, the OEM part numbers for a 118" WB driveshaft are the following:
Dodge: 05129034AA
Mercedes-Benz (translated from the Dodge number using the "Chry to MB" PDF: A9014108606

Edit: HERE is an older thread with some good info as well.

Below is a snapshot of my research and what I believe are the options out there right now (Nov. 2021):

Option 1 - sort of) Powertrain Industries (Reno, NV) seems to be the "go-to" here... BUT it seems they have transitioned to only wholesale stuff. They seem to outsource their "consumer" work to a place called Driveshaft Pro. As a normal guy (with no commercial account number) I was kindly (not joking here) told by Powertrain Industries to call Driveshaft Pro directly. (edit: a live - as of today - link HERE)

Option 1A) Driveshaft Pro (Gardena branch) seems willing and able to ship parts in 48 hours (fastest option so far). This is my first choice right now. The current cost is ~$650 ($590 + shipping). The warranty here is 1 year unlimited mileage. (edit: a live - as of today - link HERE)

Option 2) Driveshaft Services of Portland - Their website has a special Sprinter callout... but they don't do the work themselves any more and outsource to... Powertrain Industries. Bummer because this would have been really convenient and local if they still made them. Nuts!

Option 3) Wholesale Imports - I read a post about a (140" WB) replacement purchased here. This is the least expensive option at $604 including shipping. Lead time was a bit longer at 4-5 days. They claim made in the USA and a warranty is also 1 year unlimited miles. (edit: a live - as of today - link HERE)

Option 4) Driveshaft Specialists of Texas - I have seen multiple references to this outfit here on this forum so I gave them a call. Super helpful... but also stated that they are not willing to make these any more due to challenges fitting the center support bearing. There were fit issues of some sort... not impossible to fit... but more difficult and because of it they were getting a lot of returns. This lead to them not wanting to deal with it any longer. The 118" might be an exception to this. I was also pointed to Powertrain Industries again. Sounds like this could still be a potential option, but with some asterisks and a slightly longer lead time. I was told the parts were available though.

Option 5) Dorman - Part number 936-404. If purchased at Autozone (for $766.99) , they offer a "limited lifetime warranty". I asked for further details on this.. like if a u-joint goes bad in 10 years, I can get the driveshaft replaced? The answer at the local store was "yep". Shipping could be very quick to the store. I'm unsure how to feel about this as a whole. You can also get this on Amazon. I called Dorman to ask about warranty and was told that the warranty is determined by the retailer that sells the driveshaft.

Option 6) Mercedes-Benz - my cursory search shows that many places don't have the OEM (non-replaceable U-joints) in stock.

Option 7) replace my carrier bearing with OEM... and hope to a deity that its not my U-joints and won't be any time soon.

edit: Option 8) Drive Shafts Inc in Tulsa OK - One more shop I found from an old thread. I did not call them myself... so no updated info as of today.

SO, Am I approaching this in an acceptable way? I have a hard time gauging quality for any of these options.

I hope this summary helps others in a similar situation. I also welcome any comments and/or recommendations you all might have. Anyone else gone through this recently?
 
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jrod5150

Well-known member
For some odd reason all my driveshaft issues have been with 118 vans. On the last one which was a real pain it had a sort of tinging sound at idle along with some vibration etc. I knew someone with a used 118 driveshaft. Part swapped and the tinging at idle was gone. Vibration seemed gone as well but after a week or so it seemed to return. Heavy line shop I use diagnosed it has the rear end. I happened to have a 118 rear end laying around so swapped it, same issue. Finally the shop decided to drill the RSN mod and that fixed all of the issues. They were not happy about the rear end labor of course :sneaky: but I still paid them for the labor and they gave me a really good discount. Moral of the story is start with the easiest if there's no smoking gun. Id recommend you perform the RSN mod if you haven't yet then the driveshaft.

Good job digging up driveshaft options and posting them. Personally id avoid dorman unless its made in a place other than Chinese
 
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sarl_cagan

2006 118" SHC
For some odd reason all my driveshaft issues have been with 118 vans.
Weird! 🤔 (hmmmmmm..... I can’t help but think of THIS again... but truthfully it could be a totally different entirely unrelated solution to a different problem...)
Edit: interestingly, it does specifically mention the medium and shorter wheelbase vans. (2 piece instead of 3?). I wonder which vans this applies to and which it doesn’t. What could be the variation? Anyways... maybe entirely unrelated.

I've asked the local shop if they do the RSN modification. We'll see!
Thanks for the input @jrod5150
 
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Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
If I had a 118 with driveshaft issues, I would just have a new one piece shaft made. You need two flange yokes, which are available in 1350 I think. Then a 4" steel or 5" aluminum tube with integral slip joint. Any driveshaft shop should be able to do it for reasonable cost. I would say 500-800$ depending on your region.
 

ECU

Well-known member
Having 400,000 miles on my u-joints, I'd think that they don't fail that often. Sealed at the factory and all that.
 

wanderingkiwi

2006 118” SHC
It's interesting, I'm following in your footsteps with my 118" SHC

I'm also getting my diff rebuilt on Dec 2nd to fix a failing pinion bearing.

I'm also leanding toward replacing the driveshaft on mine as well but for different reasons. My sprinter has a RV tow dolly kit with a driveshaft disconnect mechanism which I really would like to eliminate. Unfortunately this requires a whole new driveshaft.

I called Driveshaft Specialists of Texas last week and they told me that all parts were in stock and they could have one build in a couple of weeks. In theory I do like their use of maintainable Spicer U joints, however their solution also requires a non OEM sized carrier bearing/fitting.

I'm about to contact MB to see what the pricing and availability of the OEM shaft is. I'm sure I'll put me off the whole idea haha.

I don't care that the MB U joints are pressed and not replaceable as I expect a new shaft to be good for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Anyway thanks again for all the leg work you've done on this subject, hoping we can both quit the whiney 118 club soon!
 
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wanderingkiwi

2006 118” SHC
I'd imagine this would have a market if you were to remove it and offer it for sale.
Yeah I'm in two minds about it. It could be potentially useful if I needed to be towed a long distance, touch wood I won't.
But part of me just wants to simplify things as much as possible. It's a bit rusty and could with some restoration work.
 

sarl_cagan

2006 118" SHC
Sealed at the factory and all that.
Kind of like our "sealed for life" transmissions? :LOL: Who knows what the PO did to my van before me.

I'm following in your footsteps with my 118" SHC
I called Driveshaft Specialists of Texas last week
@wanderingkiwi what are the odds! Good luck to you over there.

I'm about to contact MB to see what the pricing and availability of the OEM shaft is.
If you can, please post what you learn.

Also, not to derail my own thread here... but post a photo of that decoupler if you can/want... just for fun.
 

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