Aqua Puttana's Cheap Tricks - Nothin' Fancy Here


Well-known member
My Experience Changing Glow Plugs
(4 out of 5 so far) (5 out of 5 ain't bad!)

I guess this qualifies as a Cheap Trick. It's certainly cheaper than a dealer doing it.

I was very nervous about my impending glow plug change.

20121223 edit. It can go well. (Not that mine didn't. Just a couple were a bit sticky.)
Video to get started:

The place Coast2Coast went to swapped all 5 Glow Plugs in under an hour.

The DAD scan showed errors on 4 of the 5 Glow Plugs before. After changing all 5 Glow Plugs and clearing the Engine errors, we got a clean bill of health from the DAD scan.

Here are some pictures of the effort.
As with all quotes, the original thread/post can be accessed by clicking on the blue arrow icon within the quote box.

Maybe my experience will help someone else to figure out a good method.

I found I had only #1 and #4 glow plugs left working. With 3 each working last winter I didn't have problems with starting until it got down below -5F. This year with only 2 each working I had problems at 10F, but it did start after a few tries. I didn't try to change out the glow plugs with only 2 each bad because I'd heard a few horror stories about glow plug removal. Being down to only 2 each was too much for even me to ignore.

2011/11/13 edit: I do use Power Service Diesel Fuel Antigel additive regularly in the winter, more sporadically in the warmer months. I'm convinced that it helped me to get started in the lower temperatures even with bad glow plugs. FWIW. vic

20130123 Edit: If you use anti-sieze on the glow plug threads DO NOT USE COPPER BEARING PRODUCTS. Ceramic grease or Nickel bearing high temperature products have been mentioned as possibilites. Remember that anti-sieze on the threads may affect torque values.

I found glow plugs on eBay for $65.00/set of 5 which were MB boxed. I thought they'd be Bosch, but it turned out they were Beru 11.5 volt MB #A 001 159 49 01. Of the 5, 4 each were made in Germany, 1 each was made in Ireland (Thanks Max!:thumbup:)

I have a 2004 OM647 engine with about 213,000 miles. The injector cover is off for other reasons. I think having that cover out of the way made glow plug access a bit better, but I haven't done it any other way for comparison. I was able to remove the electrical connectors with my angled needle-nose pliers. After reading about glow plugs shearing off I wanted to reduce any side loading to the glow plugs. I was going to use a "T" tap handle adapted to my socket, but I found my actual 1/4" drive "T" handle in an old toolbox. It made me feel better about applying torque using that handle to help keep even stress.

Here is a picture of the tools I used to change my GP. One 1/4" drive tee handle. One 1/4" drive 6" extension. One 1/4" drive 3" extension (needed for #1 position to clear the intake). One deep well 10 mm 6 point socket. One 6 1/2" angled needle-nose pliers.



With a 25F ambient temperature today I used cardboard pieces to block my radiator and get the coolant temperature a bit past 180F. I drove around some to make certain the temps were really up in the engine.

I started with #2 GP. It came out hard and squeaking. I needed to use very short (1/8th?) turns out and in for quite a time before it started coming out decently. #3 was quite a bit easier. #5 wouldn't come loose with the max torque I was willing to use. I will attempt that one this summer when I can get the engine temp up more. Because #2 and #3 went well I tried #1 and #4 even though they were still OK. They both removed with little trouble.

All the removed GP's were Bosch. I don't know if they were original for the engine. They all seemed OK out of circuit using an ohmmeter to check continuity. When I applied 12 volts to them the two good ones glowed and the two bad ones dragged down the voltage on my test supply. My guess is that there is a ballast resistance of some sort so continuity never goes completely open even when they are no longer glowing. Doktor A's fused lead test must be the only accurate way to check.


Do not apply more than 4.4 v to your NCV3 3.0L diesel v6 engine's glow plugs.

This guidance is in every service publication you'll find on our engines. Per jdcaples

I installed the 4 each new Beru glow plugs using high temperature never sieze. I'm relieved that the change went as well as it did. I'm still hopeful a higher engine temperature will make #5 decide to give up without issue.

Glow Plug module fuses can be replaced externally or internally. The internal solution requires less soldering talent.

Glow Plug Module Fix

2003 glow plug module dissected

2010/12/29 edit: Another thread with the MB tool info included thanks to Altered Sprinter Richard.

Glow plugs for 2006 sprinter 3500

Glow Plug/Module Change PDF for NCV3
View attachment Dodge-NCV3-GlowPlugInfo.pdf
(NCV3 owners need some love too.:hugs: Thanks goes to Jon.)

FWIW. vic

Note: Access to the glow plugs on the OM612 engine NAFTA 2001-2003 is a bit different from the OM647 and may require a 1/4" drive universal or other additional tools to access the glow plug hex. If a universal adapter is used I feel it is very important that it be kept as straight as possible to avoid side loads on the glow plug body.

Update: I had to run about 30 miles round trip to a store today. I placed the cardboard in the radiator and took off. Last night I was thinking about how little leverage I really had with the 1/4" drive Tee handle and how much it helped to keep the stress on the glow plug more in line. Armed with a bit more courage I put a bit more muscle into the #5 GP on a little hotter engine. It broke loose and I now have 5 of 5 changed out.

Torque Spec thanks to TH43.
The '03 service manual states that on assembly, the glow plugs should be torqued to 115 lbs-in.

This is the first time my MIL has been out during the winter for a while. I really wish they wouldn't have included the GP fault in the MIL triggers, but I guess they needed to let you know somehow? I'm a happier camper now. vic

As general information.

OM612 NAS aka NAFTA 2001 - 2003 engines.
A glow plug system failure is generally indicated by the glow coil icon on the dash coming on at odd times. The MIL aka CEL aka ECU light on the dash will not automatically be triggered.

OM647 NAS aka NAFTA 2004 - 2006 engines (and newer for that matter)
A glow plug system failure is indicated by the MIL aka CEL aka ECU light on the dash being triggered because the glow plugs are part of the submitted emissions design approval. During the time I operated with failed glow plugs I did not notice any odd glow coil light appearances on my 2004.

Even with known bad glow plugs I did notice that the MIL would stay off all summer once the DTC's were cleared. When ambient temperatures were low again the glow plug related DTC's and MIL would retrun. I believe that if the ambient temperature isn't low enough, for some reason the ECM doesn't notice that the glow plugs system is in trouble. Maybe, if you can wait for warm weather the DTC's can be cleared and the light will remain off during your inspection.

As Dennis outlined, the glow plugs are used for for start cycle smoke reduction all the time in the newer engines (OM647 included). So a bit of smoke upon startup could be related to a bad glow plug.

Changing the glow plugs on the OM647 engine isn't necessarily a terrible job. Some general information is here.
(edit:same thread as this one)
As with all quotes, the original thread/post can be accessed by clicking on the blue arrow icon within the quote box.



What vic said, plus anti-seize will reduce the torque value because you have reduced the coefficient of friction. The values in the manual do not specify using anti-seize, so it should be considered the dry torque value. Reducing by 20% will be safe. The GP torque value is 115 in/lbs or 9.58 ft/lbs or 12 N-m. ...

A decent torque wrench will set you back less than $100.00., more than worth the investment considering the possible consequences, plus a good tool for future jobs.

... 20% less than 9.58 ft/lbs is 7.664 (to carry it out to ridiculous decimal places).
So try 92 in/lb, 7.7 ft/lb, 9.6 N-m
When in doubt try to convert torques into numbers you can work with, or any other units that don't make sense.
I just did the whole set in my 2006 shorty. #1 was corroded and tight, but worked with it carefully along with shots of PB blaster and warm engine, resting time when it seemed to get tighter and it came out with an hour work. #2 snapped off, 3,4,5 came out perfectly. I had bought this kit last year in preparation of this happening, and it worked fantastic. Can't see any reason to ever pull the head.
And watched this video beforehand:
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Well-known member
Some additional information about glow plugs

20131202 Edit: It was mentioned that the glow plug testing procedure isn't easy to find.

We have such short memories here. A simple test from Herr Doktor himself for T1N glow plugs which uses a simple jumper wire with 20 amp in-line fuse. (Not to be used on the 4.5 volt [or there abouts] NCV3 glow plugs though.)

That is not the easiest or most accurate test for open glow plugs.

See my old original post for making a simple fused glow plug test wire.

Connect to each glow plug pin socket in the engine harness connector at the glow module, one at a time. Simply brush the clip you would normally clamp to the battery + post, across the + post, for each glow plug pin test.

Pins are numbered on back side of plug with an accurate glow plug location.

A strong, harsh spark (if you're quick) or a blown fuse (if you're slow) indicates a failed shorted plug.

A gentle brush of sparks ,and no blow 20A fuse in 10 second, indicates a operating glow plug.

NO sparking indicates a open circuit glow plug.

Easy to see in strong daylight.

Doktor A
As always the original post/thread can be accessed by clicking the blue arrow within the quote box.


Back to my original information post....

The diagram of the glow plug shows where the seal is made down near the combustion chamber. It also shows the "control winding". I believe it is that control winding that makes checking glow plugs with an ohmmeter ineffective so you need to use Doktor A's 20 amp in-line fuse lead test.

I also think that the distance between the threads and the seal ridge is one of the reasons it is best to remove the glow plugs with the engine hot. I say this because the expansion of the aluminum head is most likely greater than the expansion of the steel glow plug body. When the engine is hot that relieves some of the tension between the threads and the seal. This is as opposed to a spark plug where the sealing shoulder and metal seal is right at the threads of the steel spark plug body so contraction of the aluminum with a cold engine is then your friend. I have no data to back this observation up.





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Well-known member

I was very nervous about my impending glow plug change. Maybe my experience will help someone else in the same situation.

I'd be nervous too, given the problems reported with this procedure. Glad it went well and thanks for the most excellent report.:thumbup:



A Dad owner with a '03
Just a quick "Cheap Trick" I use while working in the finished interior of the van these days. While striving to work clean I use magnets to catch the metal shavings while I drill and hack holes in the van.

It catches about 90% of the shavings.



Well-known member
Power Steering Fluid MB 236.3 spec

Sprinter power steering fluid meeting MB 236.3 spec is not readily available in auto parts stores. Contrary to what would be expected, getting it from a Mercedes dealer may be the best price option. Apparently ATF +4 may not be best to use even though some Sprinter manuals name it? Thanks goes to bobinyelm.

"The BEST part is that if you want to flush and refill, the stuff (MB Part 000 989 88 03 10 has been superseded in the USA by MB B-Q 1 46 0001 ) is only $7.80/quart, compared to over $10 for 10 ounce containers of the Gunk PS Fluid and Redline PS Fluids that specifically list Sprinters.
It's amber in color, smells exactly like Dexron ATF to me, and the MB computer shows that it meets "service fill" requirements of all MB vehicles since 2000."

More info/discussion can be found here if interested.

Factory Fill Power Steering Fluid


2011/10/24 Edit: Here's a page from my 2004 OEM manual which shows some more common alternatives for some of the fluids if you are stuck.
Completely unrelated to power steering fluid, but it is related to my OEM manual page:
Everything I've read in other forums has indicated that there is no problem using DOT 4 or 5.1 brake fluid in a Sprinter if you stick with a two year change schedule. The basic chemistry is the same as the OEM fill. With a 2 year change the fluid will stay dry. If the brake fluid stays dry, then the higher wet boiling point offered by the Mercedes Benz fluid has no real advantage. YMMV. One thing for certain, DO NOT USE silicone based brake fluid (DOT 5). The system is just not designed for it. About the only ones using silicone fluid is the U.S. military and I hear they are looking into getting away from it. :idunno:


A dirty little secret is that 30,000 miles and about 1 1/2 years ago I sucked out what power steering fluid I could from my reservoir and refilled with Lucas Power Steering Stop Leak. No problems so far.
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Well-known member
Milk crates for camping.

The Cheap Tricks haven't been flowing lately. We did come up with one which may help others who only occassionally tent camp as we do.

When we headed down to Florida I used milk crates to pack some of our stuff in. The idea was to have some stacking ability during packing and then once empty, to use the crates on their sides for shelf modules. It actually worked very well. When they were in shelf module duty I used just a couple cable ties to secure them to each other and prevent sliding around/off.

Here's a picture of our refrigerator used with two crates. I used a piece of old Corian as a countertop, but plywood would work just fine and be lighter to pack. The Corian worked great, but is heavy. :bash: Pieces of wood block adjusted the height from the crates.


We purchased a camp kitchen from BassPro on the way past Ft. Lauderdale to save shipping. (Bass Pro stores can only hold items for 24 hours so call ahead in that time period.) $129.99 We felt it was well worth the price. It folds up into reasonable size. What we liked about this particular one was that it had a small undrained plastic sink which could stay in place and still leave some counter space. Some other designs with large sinks meant you needed to choose between a sink or countertop. We used 3 gallon buckets for serious dish washing.

The crates added well to the camp kitchen. It came with a rather flimsy wire low shelf. Not strong enough to really load up, so a big wasted space. We set two crates side by side and cable tied them to the wire shelf and high up on the sides to each other. That strengthened the wire shelf and gave us compartmental storage with a higher shelf area formed by the two crate tops. Our plastic shoe box storage containers fit on that shelf perfectly. These pictures were not intended to highlight the crates, but I think they show the concept.



We have a tradition of hanging our coffee cups. I cut a couple 1/4" dowels about 4" long each and tied them on to a short line. (Actually an old boot lace... this is Cheap Tricks.) We put the doubled middle of the line through a grommet or around a post and pass the ends through to secure them up high. All you do then is stick the dowel through the handles and let the cups hang. It seems like a dumb little thing, but the cups were always a pain to store.


Apparently you can't camp in Florida without displaying a lighted flamingo with motorized wings. Meet Flappy. (The world according to my wife.)


Have fun. vic


E-track Rear Deck Bed Support

Some Bed Platform Support Ideas/Options


A bit of a luxury, but we find it works great.

Air Lock Tents
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Well-known member
Muffler Exhaust Pipe Repair

After every time I repair a muffler system on my vehicles I find myself vowing never to do it again. Crawling under the vehicle having rust flakes falling onto my head, hair, into my mouth etc. is a real pain. It just seems such a shame to scrap an entire exhaust system if it is just one weak link which fails.

My Sprinter exhaust had the typical Achilles heel failure at the muffler connection. The weight of the muffler hangs by the manifold and a rubber exhaust pipe hanger unit. The muffler itself is unsupported. My exhaust pipe rotted out at the weld where the heat of welding changes the metal, right at the muffler. Here's a picture of the failure area. Thanks for the pic goes to Baldeagle.


Beacause the rest of the system looked fine I couldn't resist repairing the pipe. I had a short, maybe 4" long, piece of 2" exhaust stub on hand. It can be purchased from Advance Auto for a few bucks. After filing off the inside burrs [off the inside of the OEM pieces] I found it slipped right into muffler outlet. I wanted to drop the tailpipe to insert it, but rusty support bolts stopped that process because I didn't want to make more work.

I marked the pipe with a marker stripe where I wanted the break to line up and inserted the stub into the muffler. I then aligned the pipes and used my pocket knife to slip the stub back until the mark showed up in the break. I wrapped the joint with some stainless steel duct tape (aluminum tape would do) to seal it up. After that I crushed the exhaust pipe tight onto the stub with a 2 1/4" pipe clamp to keep the stub from sliding out of position. A worm drive hose clamp around the ss tape right at the muffler helped stabilize the tape seal.

I believe that repair would support the muffler properly, but I didn't want it flexing around. I added a cradle support to my muffler with monel baling wire and strap to support the muffler.

It's about $10.00 for the 2" pipe stub and 2 1/4" clamp. Additional cost if you need to buy aluminum or stainless steel duct tape and such. That stainless steel tape sure is nice to have on hand for repairs. I've used it on many different things.

The job went very well. I think it was worth the effort to extend the service life of my exhaust system. YMMV. vic

Cat Converter Repair Using a Stub
2012/03/05 edit: So we were lashing the boat dollie to the idling Sprinter for a short slow tow when the Sprinter engine noise changed. Looked under to find the catalytic converter had dropped down from the header pipe. I've promised myself not to repair exhausts too many times, but we need to get home from Florida and an exhaust system would be expensive, if I could even find one in the Keys. Off to Advanced Auto for a 2" OD x 3" repair pipe and a heat activated exhaust repair bandage.

I needed to cut the 3" stub down to be able to slide it in and move the pipe ends together. I first marked a black marker center line and inserted the pipe fully in. A knife point slid the pipe back out to the center mark. I then wrapped the insert pipe with some picture wire to keep it in place. Then followed with the tightly wrapped bandage. A couple wraps of picture wire and a worm drive hose clamp and we were good to go.

I used a couple S hooks from a truckers bungee to anchor a steel perf strap hanger with a baling wire joiner under the converter pipe up to the frame for some additional support. (DO NOT USE STEEL PERFORATED STRAP as a sling. It rusted and caused the muffler body to rust prematurely. A ss or monel wire sling is the better choice.)

The cat exhaust parts seem to be stainless steel. It looks like the welding process at the joints changes the structure of the metal so it rusts there? Anyway, I'm hoping (again) that this is a fairly long term fix. Added: 20190816 - Still werkin'.

20130808 edit:
Another issue is that if the pipe separates the stud can slip out of the rubber hanger mount and then you lose the entire pipe assembly. I added some baling wire around the stud and rubber mount to act as a keeper. That cheap baling wire keeper fix saved me once already. vic


An actual picture of the baling wire.



I've had some success using a wire wrap (baling or picture wire) over the exhaust repair tapes to help keep them sealed in place. The repairs on my 2004 have some leakage. So far I've not noticed any problems with that.

As an aside. The ultimate exhaust repairs were when I had access to woven asbestos cloth tape with silicate of soda aka water glass as "glue". That stuff was used around metal furnacing equipment for repairs. It added to the already prevalent asbestos dust from the brake shoes I was changing. :rolleyes:

The asbestos replacement ceramic tape with silicate of soda is a good substitute.

I also include an over wire wrap with the above method. If you use sodium silicate aka water glass wear eye protection and proper gloves. It is very caustic.

:cheers: vic
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Well-known member
Darn good, Vic.:thumbup: Tossing the entire system because of a small leak does not compute.

I wonder if a pre-emptive support under the muffler would be a good idea? It appears that flexing is the enemy. I'm gonna crawl under there today.


Well-known member
I wonder if a pre-emptive support under the muffler would be a good idea? It appears that flexing is the enemy. I'm gonna crawl under there today.
I think additional support is not a bad idea. Using baling wire and strap as I did was a quick fix which may transfer noise to the frame. A rubber mounted cradle hanger design might be worth considering.

Another repair I considered was three right angle straps right at the pipe outlet. My plan was to use a ss screw to attach each short leg to the face of the muffler. I was then going to use a 2 1/4" or 2 1/2" muffler clamp to hold the other legs of the straps to the pipe and provide additional support at that weld. That could certainly be added before failure.

In my case being that the pipe had already separated, the inside pipe stub seemed the better repair. To be honest I don't know if my exact exhaust system failure is common to our Sprinters. I suspect it can be, but I have only one instance to draw upon. The inside stub repair was so easy to install that just having the stub, clamp and tape on hand may be cheap insurance. The clamp was $2.69, the stub about 4 bucks, and the ss tape is good for other emergency repairs too so it's good to have on hand.

I once used ss tape to cover a rotted body panel. Some tape, black paint similar to the vehicle color and the hole was history. Of course soon after that the entire vehicle was history anyway. :idunno: Have fun. vic


Well-known member
Spare Parts Storage
A friend of mine was going to toss a welding rod case into the trash. It's a very nice case with an o-ring seal and all so it is water tight. I rescued it and now use it for under hood spare parts storage. It holds quite a bit.

The case tucks in above the air filter box. The bungee keeps it from bouncing around. It wouldn't fall out even if it did come loose.

Maybe a weld shop would just give you one of these cases?
Maybe not. I guess they sell them separately, the rod normally doesn't come in them. Apparently some have divider sections so you need to check for that, mine doesn't have any partitions.



Since we've meandered to spare parts... These are my T1N spares, but the NCV3 shares most of them in basic design, just of a different variety.

I believe most people can travel just fine with their Sprinter and not have any spare parts at all. I also believe that most expediters carry at least some tools and materials if they are at all mechanically inclined. I've always carried tools and spare parts. I like to think I'm somewhat independent so that helps support my delusion. I don't travel without my DAD, dedicated computer, books and cell phone with Doktor A's number saved on it.

I carry a bunch of misc parts in a welding rod holder above the air filter. It is tightly sealed, fits nicely and doesn't take any extra room away from inside the truck.

Here's what I fit into it.

The list:
O2 Sensor (one which I removed for setting a plausibility code, but still basically works.)
Boost Air Temperature Sensor (BTS)
Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP)
Camshaft Position Sensor (CMP)
Engine Coolant Sensors (ECT)
87 Relay (used/common to many positions)
Idler Pulley

and because there is room in the container...
Glow Plugs (2 ea. OK, but used)
Misc. Clips

Here's the parts pile.


Here's the Harbor Freight Welding Case on sale for $4.99. (I'm quite certain that Autostaretx Dick will not be buying this one. :tongue:)

No longer in stock.

Electrode Storage

Most of the things I carry are either used OK spares or relatively inexpensive. Many are OEM parts which I watched until the price was right on eBay. A bad cam sensor or crank sensor will stop you dead in your tracks and may not be available except by special order and shipping. If you carry the part with you then most any mechanic can install it for you once properly diagnosed. If you check the prices I think you'll find it's pretty cheap insurance. Besides, if you have the part with you, that part will never fail. Not that I'm superstitious at all... knock/touch wood. FWIW. vic
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Well-known member
Intermittent Starter Test Method and Starter Change Info

This was posted for an NCV3 start problem, but the test lights should work for any vehicle. It's a neat rather inexpensive test light method that should work on any vehicle. Thanks goes to Frankia.

Problem fixed finally. The RV has been to different dealers multiple times and either they didn't do anything saying no problems found or they just say they cleaned the contacts. But still the problem existed occasionally. Mostly after car hadn't been used much. So I finally started to study the starter system by my self. I ordered the Repair manual DVD mentioned on this forum.

Checked all the components that are part of the start-system. Problem was finally found from either the solenoid or the starter. I built a "diagnostic device" of my own. Two indicator lamps, one connected to the solenoid input and one connected to the solenoid starter side terminal.

When ever the problem occurred there was voltage on the solenoid input but not on the solenoid starter side terminal. So the solenoid was not connecting, it was just clicking. First I took the old starter out in order to examine the solenoid but it cannot be opened on the contactor side. So I just ended up exercising it tens of times with direct cable from battery. This helped and the starter worked few weeks just fine. But then the problem came back and I ended up replacing the whole starter.

Starter is extremely easy to replace. It took me under 30 minutes to take it out, even the first time. All you need is a 10mm and 13mm wrenches and a number 14 star-socket.

Disconnected battery, removed the small solenoid input cable and thick cable coming from battery. Then the starter can be removed by removing two star-bolts.
The original thread is here:
Intermittent starting problem

I presume the listed tools for a starter change are the same for a T1N. vic
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'02 DIY adventure van, 300K miles (210K by me)
Spare Parts Storage- another option

I carry a small MSR fuel bottle on my motorcycle as it has a 2-gallon gas tank & no reserve, and in my search for a secure way to hold/hide it I found a bike thread that mentioned this "operator's manual canister":

Since they're only $5, I picked up a few and two now have a home on my Sprinter. They're mounted on the roof rack next to my solar panel, one holds 4 straps for ramps/kayaks & the other some metric wrenches & ratchet with key sockets. Easily mountable, and waterproof- would also work under the hood or chassis too.


Well-known member
Oops. I didn't know they changed the dash so much a tissue box wouldn't fit. That's bad for me because I like having my Altoids within reach for when I need my fix. vic
Thank you for the suggestion. My 2011 Sprinter doesn't have that much room on top.
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Well-known member
Redneck Sprinter Chipped Key

Contact Lockrob for a key to accept the chip. His solution makes my solution not worth the effort. :thumbup::thumbup:

I can send you a shell to match the original just pull the transponder out of your and put it in,Have it cut and go.The shell is about $XX.XX. ****Edit:Check with him for price. It is cheap enough!***
Don't even bother doing what I did to attach my door key to the broken OEM key. (Although I will say that my keys are still working fine as of 6/2015. May2017)

A heads up.

I bought a similar transponder key from Amazon. I figured that I could get the key cut locally and then install the OEM chip from one of my Redneck repaired OEM keys.

When I took the key to the lock local locksmith he said the key was steel and it would ruin his cutting blade. I asked if anyone local would cut the steel key. His reply was that the keys were stamp cut. He didn't know anyone local to do it.

I mentioned that I guess that I'd just hand cut it. His reply was "Good luck with that." Needless to say by using some key files and a caliper I now have a properly working hand cut steel key.

So if you plan to buy a key blank only, before purchase make certain that you have a local locksmith that will cut a steel key. We may have someone local to do it. I didn't check to see if what the guy told me was true.

:2cents: vic


First some background.

I will say to always, always, always carry at least two T1N Sprinter keys on vacation with you. I took only one with me to New Orleans. I meant to, forgot to bring the other (known already to be cracked) spare OEM key and left it home. It wasn't on my list.:doh:

After sailing with the one and only chipped ignition key in my zippered pocket I came in to find the key in two pieces in my pocket. Inspection showed that the OEM keys are plated steel. It appears my 2004 OEM "good" key was cracked under the plating and had rusted to the point of breaking in half. It was being carried in an otherwise empty pocket against my leg when it broke. I don't have thighs or buns of steel so it broke while being pushed against some pretty soft stuff.

Fortunately I had brought a brass "door only" key with me by dumb luck. I was able to hold the plastic key bow (head) near the SKREEM antenna and use that brass door key after I cut it back deep enough to fit into the ignition. I got "Start Error" unless the key chip was held close and in proper position when starting. Explain that method to the hotel Valet parking attendant!! :bash: (I finally did cut the key stub off the plastic handle to make it easier for alignment.) FWIW. vic

Original post here:

Now the Cheap Trick with apologies in advance to professional locksmiths like Nebep who will soon be shaking their heads disapprovingly.

I figured the DL YM19 brass key I had cut for my doors could be permanently attached to the OEM handle with chip. I figured correctly.

First I relieved back the DL YM19 bow (handle) so it would insert completely into the ignition switch. I then inspected for the chip position in the black plastic so I didn't drill through it. DO NOT DRILL ON THE SIDE WHERE THE CHIP IS!!! I next lined up the brass YM19 key to the plastic to mark and drill. For the first key I drilled both holes to fit inside the original stamped hole. On the second key I drilled a second 1/8" hole in the brass key to separate the fastening. This made it easier to install the pop rivets and held the parts together better.

I then used some small brass washers and 1/8" diameter, 1/2" long pop rivets to join the parts. To keep things smoother I cut off the pop rivet ends and peened them flat. A bit of filing and wire brushing took off the sharp edges.

The two pieces I needed to join together.


All the parts that I needed.


The second attempt with fasteners spaced further apart. It made for a neater job and easier pop riveting.

Edit: Further thinking. Were I to do this again I'd change my methods and make it a neater looking job. When I drilled the holes for the separated fasteners the center hole drilled through the metal key end. I'm thinking I know that drilling the two holes for 6-32 tapping and then use oval head screws. The one screw may only be threaded into plastic, but the other would be tapped into the steel and be very strong. For my second repair two threaded screws peened to lock on the brass key side and all is good.


The screw/tapped attachment method looks a bit better. Both keys have that mod now.


I still do plan to get a key cloned, but so far I haven't found a local person to do that. If you are in the same situation then maybe this will work for you too. It's not so pretty, but it works. Have fun. vic

Edit: Still using my redneck keys. They are fine. Expending the effort needed to get a clone key is unlikely.

Edit: There have been reports of cloned keys from locksmiths going fo as little as $50.00 US. The cheapest I found in my area was $75.00 with $100.00 or more being typical. A "cloned key" is one in which the locksmith reads the chip information from your existing key and transfers that to another chipped blank. Your vehicle then recognizes it as one of the keys already programmed into the vehicle security module.

If you purchase a key from a dealership that new key will have a unique chip code and will need to be programmed into your vehicle memory. For security reasons they will likely also erase the lost or broken key chip information so that old key will no longer work.

T1N Sprinters are limited to 8 each keys programmed into memory. You can have as many cloned keys as you wish because those keys will be recognized as just one of the OEM keys.

An alternative. The gray colored (in T1N's) encapsulated chip inserted into the black plastic is very durable. It can be carefully removed and re-installed into another key blank. I have seen those blanks advertised on eBay. A locksmith will need to cut the blade of the key.

Some related door key information is here Post #132.

2011/11/27 edit:
If you find a local locksmith who has the door only key blanks at good price, buy a few extra. My guy ran out. He now needs to charge $5.00 per blank. His supplier minimum order is 10 each. He doesn't really want to order that many because demand is low. The blanks are actually for older Mercedes models. He's checking with other locksmiths for old stock for me though.

My experience with a broken key is that the chip needs be very close to the antenna, not just somewhere around it. - If you look closely at the key you will see a small gray insert in the black plastic. (Thanks for that info Nebep ) That is the chip. It can be carefully pried out and then that tiny piece may be more easily taped near the SKREEM antenna.

20120206 edit: I have verification on the chip proximity being critical and not just my 2004. I worked on a 2003 passenger Sprinter which had a broken fob and cobbled on key blade. Unless the key fob was positioned in the up position I got "Start Error". When the fob was up and close to the antenna all was well.

Note that there are differences in the "Start Error" response.
The RKE Keyless FOB will crank and stall within 2 seconds.
The SKIM standard unit remains immobilized and not crank at all.

More detail is here.


Speaking of keys, Amazon has an inexpensive steel key listed for Sprinters. ($2.11 ea. as of now.) It does not have a chip, but does have a chip holder so an OEM chip may be able to be installed. It works as a door key.

Interestingly the key blank inserts into all of my 2006 doors and most of the 2004 doors. For some reason it doesn't insert completely into the rear 2004 door lock. I may try dressing the nose of the key blanks a bit to see if that helps with the rear door.

I've been a little worried about removing the OEM chip. It appears that it is well protected by a plastic holder so digging a bit to lever it out should be fine.

Photo courtesy One Call A/C. :thumbup:


From another recent thread.

I can't answer your chipped key with proof of ownership question except that maybe it would be worth it to go to a dealership and avoid aggravation.

... The work and blanks are not good.
I hear you. :thumbup:

I've purchased T1N keys that have the plastic chip holder from Amazon.

Some come as steel keys. Our local locksmiths will not cut steel keys because they own the key machine. Some Ace hardware or other box stores MAY cut them because the employees don't know any better. (It beats the hell out of the cutting wheels and adjustments.) I've hand copied a couple steel keys now using key files and a caliper.

One brass key I purchased wouldn't even insert into the lock. The center portion was too thick. I milled that key to proper size and had it cut by a locksmith. All seemed good until after a short time I noticed that it was not wearing well. When compared to a MB17 blank the Amazon brass blank had little meat to it.

I have since returned to using my Redneck M17 key blank that is attached to the OEM plastic handle stub. The light duty key is now a spare. My plan is to hand cut another 2 dollar steel key. That takes some luck.

I feel compelled to admit that my first hand copy attempt works flawlessly. My 2nd hand cut steel key works, but needs a bit of jiggle on some cylinders. I hope that 3rd time is a charm. (I do have 2 ea. blanks though.)

There are definitely different levels of quality in the blanks available from Amazon. I suspect that applies to eBay also. The MB17 blank is a solid choice, but won't accept a chip. The Redneck method does work though, as does the glued chip hack.

Redneck Sprinter Chipped Key

Only one ignition chip key? Nervous?

:cheers: vic
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Well-known member
Someone suggested that I should include this homemade tool in the Cheap Tricks. It does look like it can be made fairly easily. Just a reminder that the Cheap Tricks thread is open for anyone to post infomation which they think should be included here. I intended this as a resource for everyone. Perhaps I shouldn't have included my name in the thread title? :idunno: vic

Wheel Speed Sensor Puller - Homemade

Thanks goes to schwarzwaldsprinter - Sven.

Thread with details is here:

DR. A Tech Alert- Rear wheel speed sensors

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Well-known member
Turbo Hose Plastic Sensor Holder

This is more aggravation avoidance than anything else. And maybe some cost avoidance by not breaking parts.

When I bought my 2004 140 Dodge with 172,000 miles there were no service records. It did come with some misc. parts though. I assumed that the turbo hoses were OEM. Turns out I was wrong about the upper hose which goes directly into the intake manifold. When I dug out my Q5 resonator I ran across a brand new lower hose and plastic Air Intake Temperature Sensor and Boost Pressure Sensor holder. I know now that those parts come in a complete assembly with the manifold intake upper hose. Apparently the previous owner purchased the parts, but they only replaced/installed the manifold long hose which had failed (as I probably would have done also).

This is the hose with my added cable ties.



This is the assembly.


Anyway, as long as I was installing the new Q5 TR I figured I'd go all the way and install the sensor holder and lower hose too. I did have a bit of oil around the existing hose and holder which I think was just because the hose clamps were a bit loose. Installation of the new hose and holder appeared that it'd be pretty straightforward. I removed the grill and driver side headlight pod to access the lower hose at the intercooler outlet. Loosened the hose clamps, everything was going well until I ran into the brass inserts and steel fasteners.


The clip type Air Intake Sensor removed without incident. One bolt of the Boost Sensor removed easily. The other remained stuck in the sensor spinning the brass grommet, but allowed the sensor to come up and release from the housing.

Next to the headlight pod there are two fairly large button head star bolts which hold the plastic sensor holder in place. They thread into brass inserts set into the plastic support arm. Not a bad design except that my van has lived its entire life in the winter road salt northeast. The top bolt removed easily. The bottom one spun, and spun, the insert in the plastic. I finally wedged a large screwdriver between the sheetmetal and the plastic arm and levered while twisting the bolt. That quickly popped the insert out of the plastic. The assembly was now free, but the brass insert needed Vice Grips to spin it off the bolt.

Not bad. I greased everything up (especially the brass inserts) and installed the lower hose and holder. That bolt being stuck in the boost sensor bugged me. I knew I could just put it back into the new holder, but I wanted that stupid bolt free. Any guesses as to what happened next? In trying to remove that bolt I broke the little nipple and O-ring assembly which seals into the sensor holder. What a dummy. Solvents and glue didn't work. Fortunately I was able to use an o-ring that I fit just inside a copper crush washer to act as a temporay seal method. (Without the copper crush washer as a retainer the o-ring would probably deform and blow out. It seals fine.) The new sensor is about 50 bucks and on its way.

Boost Pressure Sensor Seal Repair For Dummies

Why bore you with all this B.S.? I suggest removing and greasing the bolts and brass inserts so you avoid what I ran into. The Boost Sensor sits right out where access is easy. (See diagram above.) The plastic arm bolts/inserts aren't so easy to access, but once the headlight pod is out for any reason it would take just a minute to remove and grease the bracket bolts and brass inserts. If they are stuck already, just spray them with penetrating oil and try them next time. I really recommend doing this for those Sprinters that live in road salt areas like mine does. Oh yes, snug up all the hose clamps while you're in there too. FWIW. vic

Some pictures of the bolts are in this thread. Thanks goes to HKPierce for the pics. :thumbup:

And cBird7 for this info. :thumbup:

For future refference if any other naive/ not mechanicly inclined 20 year old is searching this in the future: the plastic "hose joiner" is bolted to the body using a T45 Torx screw, The hose clamps are a 8mm bolt (or screw driver but good luck with that).
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