Cautionary Tale - Idling and the near death of an '08 Sprinter

big_d

New member
Howdy,

I have five Sprinters, two of which are the newer (NCV3) model. Our oldest vehicle just hit 250,000 miles, and we haven't had any major problems with it. But our 2008, which is at about 140,000 miles, just had major surgery. It will end up costing $4k-$5k. I thought I'd share my experiences so you don't have to experience my recent experience.

All our vehicles run back and forth between Central IL and ORD. They have a nice, easy trip that's mostly interstate miles. Brakes typically last more than 150,000 miles and Michelins tend to last about 100,000 miles. In other words, this is low-stress work.

Unfortunately, they do some idling at both ends - as the vehicles do a pick-up loop through town, and at the Airports and suburban malls we serve. I never really thought much about Sprinter idling, even as I've been pretty aggressive about preventing idling of full-sized buses.

We recently started slicing and dicing our gps data in more useful ways. At the end of every trip, the driver prints out a report that starts like this:

Sprinter 101
Speeding in 1 out of 2045 samples. Max speed = 72.1 mph.
Stopped 421/2045 samples. Time idling: 19:45

5 Idle Events:
10:56 AM (3:15)
11:15 AM (3:30)
11:22 AM (5:45) (Excessive idle time)
01:54 PM (3:15)
04:58 PM (4:00)
HGI Stops:
ar 10:43:48
dp 11:00:18
4.4 mph NW, 40.1432 x -88.1890 at 19:35:10 (2010-05-01) [3 sats] (engine off, t)
0.6 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:34:55 (2010-05-01) [3 sats] (engine on, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:34:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:34:25 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:34:10 (2010-05-01) [8 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:33:55 (2010-05-01) [8 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:33:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:33:25 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:33:10 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:32:55 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:32:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:32:25 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:32:10 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:31:55 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:31:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
0.0 mph --, 40.1432 x -88.1889 at 19:31:25 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine off, t)
9.9 mph N, 40.1431 x -88.1890 at 19:31:10 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
6.8 mph E, 40.1429 x -88.1895 at 19:30:55 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
14.9 mph N, 40.1423 x -88.1897 at 19:30:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
18.0 mph E, 40.1420 x -88.1905 at 19:30:25 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
41.0 mph N, 40.1406 x -88.1915 at 19:30:10 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
39.2 mph NE, 40.1383 x -88.1928 at 19:29:55 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)
41.0 mph N, 40.1361 x -88.1942 at 19:29:40 (2010-05-01) [9 sats] (engine on, t)

and has one line per 30 seconds.

When we started getting these reports, I realized we were wasting mucho $$ on idling. Drivers were typically turning in trip reports with 40-60 minutes of idling. We've gotten most drivers down to almost zero idling, but not everyone is cooperating as well as we'd like.

A couple weeks ago, our '08 got very sick: poor acceleration, check engine light, power surges, etc. We took it to our wonderful dealer, Napleton Dodge of Lansing, IL. They cleaned the particulate trap, thinking that would solve all the problems. It did not. They dug deeper and found that the various sensors in the intakes had been messed up by oil in the intake. They thought that the problem was due to overfilling of oil.

I checked our oil purchase records against our maintenance records, and it looked as if we've using oil at about 12.5 quarts per 5000 miles (crankcase capacity). The engine has not required top-offs between services, and drivers are not allowed to add oil. I was quite baffled by the overfiling theory.

We talked to our dealer a bit more today, and the consensus seems to be that oil builds up in undesirable places when the engine idles excessively. When they heard we were idling nearly an hour a day in 10-15 minute bursts, they were aghast. Yup, they said, that's your problem.

Luckily, our '09 only has about 25k miles on it, and about 10k came after we started clamping down on idling. Hopefully, we won't have a huge repair bill in 100k miles.

If the dealer is right, I think it might be a good idea for everyone to avoid idling their Sprinters unnecessarily...
 

big_d

New member
Here are two pictures of intake manifold...

Here's what happens when you idle your sprinter 1/6 of the time.

We feed this Sprinter Mobil 1 5w30 ESP.

Just say no to idling!
 

big_d

New member
Just heard from the dealer again. Turbo is bad. He wants to use an aftermarket (rebuilt) turbocharger from "Turbocharger Pros". OEM turbo is something like $2700, while rebuilt one from TP is $1100 or so.

Does anybody have any experience with turbo replacement?
 

ChristianQc

New member
Just heard from the dealer again. Turbo is bad. He wants to use an aftermarket (rebuilt) turbocharger from "Turbocharger Pros". OEM turbo is something like $2700, while rebuilt one from TP is $1100 or so.

Does anybody have any experience with turbo replacement?

I changed mine in November. I paid for a new one $ 1,500 + $ 200 core + $ 35 for Shipping to Canada from QualitySprinter. Just a little problem for shipping. Their package was not sufficient for the transport. The protective bubble, that they put to protect it, were really not sufficient given the significant weight of Turbocharger. The mechanic (in Quebec) who replaced my turbo charged me 8 hours.
Christian
 

shanemac

Active member
I learned first hand during this early winter idling these vans is a no no...i knew but still did it. I mean it was -35c and colder most days so it was freeze or hope i don't do to much damage. Luckily i had just a few limp modes and problem cleared its self up after i stopped idling.... period..well maybe 5 mins. big_d are you running any fuel additives? Also you must find higher idle times during winter compared to summer unless the summer is real hot...unless some drives don't care either way? Wonder if i should pop for a high idle function on my next sprinter if it would reduce issues like this?

That is some nasty carbon/sludge/gunk/$$$$$
 
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big_d

New member
big_d are you running any fuel additives?

Nope, just Shell diesel.

Also you must find higher idle times during winter compared to summer unless the summer is real hot...unless some drives don't care either way?

We'll see what happens when it gets hot. All the drivers know we can see when they're idling and for how long, and they've been told to knock it off.

Wonder if i should pop for a high idle function on my next sprinter if it would reduce issues like this?

I am very interested in that option. Does it keep the head temp high enough that sludge doesn't build up, or does it just keep the freon compressor spinning faster?
 

Altered Sprinter

Happy Little Vegemite
If I were you I'd switch to 229.51 0W-40 Castrol edge sport,this is a BP product And use an aftermarket upper cylinder lubricant cleaner to negate the black Yogurt
Richard
DSC01021 (Custom) (5).JPG

DSC01019 (Custom).JPG

corrosion.gif

cpi  c1-4 plus3symbolexp.jpg

E908E708comparison.jpg-.jpg
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
...
Wonder if i should pop for a high idle function on my next sprinter if it would reduce issues like this?

I am very interested in that option. Does it keep the head temp high enough that sludge doesn't build up, or does it just keep the freon compressor spinning faster?
I don't know about the ramifications of operating for long periods of time with the high idle engaged. I do know that it can be added to a T1N after the fact by installing a switch and getting the function turned on using a DRBIII dealer type scan tool. (Perhaps a DAD will work too?) Whether adding high idle is that easy on an NCV3 can be answered by others. I know that a DRBIII or DAD do not interface with an NCV3 at all.

All that said, thanks for the documented information and this informative thread. vic
 

Altered Sprinter

Happy Little Vegemite
Proven Mobil 5W-30 will fail with a Sprinter


mobil6.jpg

VICOSTY.jpg
Look for contaminated fuel reside
DSC00003.JPG
Richard
 

Nbulken

New member
Makes me wonder how much longer my '04 T1N will last, I spend about 4 or 5 hours on a typical day idling while doing the computer portion of my job. (I drive around and take photos, then do data entry) Some days I'm moving all day, but many days I'm just parked and photoshopphing images and typing (tomorrow for example, will see about 6.5 hrs of idling).

I just turned 108,000 tonight when I pulled into the driveway tonight.
 
I am also wondering. I spend many hours per day in mine. It is setup as a mobile office for insurance claims. Except in mild temperatures, I never turn mine off.

At Hurricane Katrina, Until they finally got the electricity back on, I left it running for 5 weeks. Worked in it all day and needed the air conditioner all night.

What exactly does idling do? Looking at the photos only shows black gunk. How would one know it it was caused by idling or just normal combustion?
 

jdcaples

Not Suitable w/220v Gen
The theory, I believe, is that under low RPMs and low combustion temperatures, more soot is created than under the opposite conditions; and those are the conditions of idling.

-Jon
 

big_d

New member
Update: Repair bill was $4920.

Is that Castrol product appropriate for an NCV3...with all the emissions stuff on it?

I don't understand the post re: Mobil 1. The pictures seem to support using Mobil 1, but the message seems to do the opposite.

As for the person with the T1N question, I've got three '06 T1Ns and they were doing lots and lots of idling, and they're all fine (and > 200,000 miles on the odometer).
 

Altered Sprinter

Happy Little Vegemite
Castrol is appropriate for a NCV as to meeting all requirements for both ACEA and Fuel economy.
especially in low and high temps situations. Mobil oils pics were available as ref/ basically to keep a Sprinter engine lean you need a high performance oil to maintain to OEM specs, where oils let you down is in both low and high temp operation. resulting in carbon,build up/
cast.jpg
Richard
 
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Chandlerazman

New member
Once in a while, I'll push my van to it's design limits with the rev counter at the 4k mark. With that said, I'm sure whatever crap was building up has been blown out and into the DPF....Another issue to eventually deal with down the road.
 

suzieque

New member
It seems diesel owners often leave their diesels idling (big rigs as well as regular pickup trucks with diesels), I wonder if sprinter owners just assume they can do the same thing but the emissions system on the new diesels doesn't handle excessive idling (>5 min) very well.
 
Question,
Intake manifolds usually get gunky, or yogurt like when dealing with exhaust recirculation. Usually. EGR.
The pictures above are much worse than what I am repairing at this time with a burnt valve.
Oil vapor would have to contribute to the problem above and thus I would be curious about the crankcase ventilation.
I have not researched this circuit but plan to while my engine is apart.
It is disappointing we cannot let our diesels set an idle like my truck driver heroes did when I was a kid.
As mentioned above, that was the lesser evil rather than turning the engine off and letting the oil get so thick that the battery and starter took all the punishment to restart.
Back to the question,
I wonder if 1 oil has more...vapor characteristics than another?
I would think un-happy EGR circuits and excessive oil vapor could give us what the picture shows.
Any thoughts?
Michael
 

Altered Sprinter

Happy Little Vegemite
Question,
Intake manifolds usually get gunky, or yogurt like when dealing with exhaust recirculation. Usually. EGR.
No I repute The problem is a chemistry change at low temps
The pictures above are much worse than what I am repairing at this time with a burnt valve.
Oil vapor would have to contribute to the problem above and thus I would be curious about the crankcase ventilation.
Crank case vapor is a combination of both fuel and oil not being burnt off at between 5 Celsius below,
Temputure is not at full operating viscosity indicator Temp gauge shows 40 c at 5celsiuis little heat in cabin if any.
I have not researched this circuit but plan to while my engine is apart.
A simple 3 in one diagnostic EFI test way test will show circuits are open Voltage but will not show Temp.
It is disappointing we cannot let our diesels set an idle like my truck driver heroes did when I was a kid.
As mentioned above, that was the lesser evil rather than turning the engine off and letting the oil get so thick that the battery and starter took all the punishment to restart.
Back to the question,
I wonder if 1 oil has more...vapor characteristics than another?
I would think un-happy EGR circuits and excessive oil vapor could give us what the picture shows.
Unless you have full access to MB diagnostic and the dollars to pay for a two way temperature check for back probing to check a circuit,you can test for either positive or negative supply to a sensor or ECM/ECU with a EFI probe or volt meter.
Try running a test at idle and watch alt voltage plus battery temperature,one will find it is below MB's voltage rating unless you are set for a High idle set and lower fuel pi bar injection 1200


Any thoughts?
Michael
As an example of oil failure at low rpm on a 4 cylinder engine with 75 thousand kilometers,
The vehicle was fully maintained by the dealer ship to OEM specs using 5w-30
currently it's under investigation as to a prefect diagnostic report at 55 thousand kilometers However at 75 K the engine was almost destroyed,conclusion was the wrong oil had been used.
Now waiting on an independent test to confirm.
but no engine would look like this with 20 thousand k's or 12 thousand miles inside of 4 months.

DSC01034(1) (Custom).JPG
High concentration of Carbon from valves, burning crown of piston
DSC01036(1) (Custom).JPG
Piston walls scored past white metal all 4 pistons replaced
DSC01038(1) (Custom).JPG
excessive vanish and oil sludge built up on piston.
DSC01040 (Custom).JPG
Cams destroyed
DSC01041 (Custom).JPG
Rear bearings were shot ,rings lost compression, valves burnt, injectors needed cleaning, and head completely resurfaced,crankshaft need to be resurfaced.

This vehicle was under warranty.And deny liability. The dealership quoted 7 grand I had it professionally redone for 3 grand it now runs 0W-40 and is being serviced by an outside certified Mechanic.
11th May two identical sprinters Ambient temp 3-5 Celsius running on 15W-40 Temp gauge did not even reach 40C,no cabin heat, high concentration of crankcase vapor.
Second sprinter running on 0W-40 SuperSyn Temp gauge reached 60 c no vapor from crankcase
Oils play a critical part with high performance engines such as our sprinters
I'd rethink your strategies for longevity.
Richard

 
Good Stuff, I love it.
Hey I have no problem with adjusting my strategies, this is the automotive world and it is a requirement.
I read over your post once and will have to read over it 2 or 3 more times to fully absorbed it and I will follow your lead.
I am especially interested in understanding the oil failure you talk about.
Your in-depth understanding is most welcome to me.
I will investigate more and thanks for the lead.
I just wanted to reply that I like it.
One question, your oil failure is quite convincing, do you feel the EGR has very little to do with the carbon/soot build up in the intake?
By the way, I do have full access to MB diagnostic and would not hesitate to use it in order to help anyone here if I can.
And again, thanks a lot,
Michael
 

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