Inspection tips for buying a used Sprinter T1N

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Re: Adding high idle switch?

What is the possibility of adding a high idle switch to my 05 diesel ?

Search and ye' shall find. I used "add high idle" in the blue bar search above.

and just for thought...

There were more threads if you duplicate the search. Have fun. vic

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Byron glas1700 reminded me about this over in Yahoo Sprintervan.

Re - 2005
"If you bought the van new, it should be covered under the 7yr/70K mile warranty.
If you are the second owner and you paid Dodge to transfer the warranty within
the 30 day limit, then you should also be covered.

Byron 07 Navion"

Remember to check on any possible warranty left for your purchased Sprinter and to transfer it within the time period allowed or you'll lose it. vic
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
A quick check to see if the A/C on a T1N is low on refrigerant and may need repair soon. (This check may work on an NCV3 model also, but nobody has gifted one to me to use for research and testing yet. :smilewink:)


A few times I've read about the driver side T1N air conditioning top vents running warmer than the passenger side vents. The very top dash vents are after the A/C evaporator coil and before the heater core. That means that they supply either ambient temperature air (cabin and outside makeup air combined) or during summer temperatures, air which has been cooled by the evaporator coil.

My 2004 vents started doing that. Here's my theory.

I believe the ATC is fairly expensive and probably not the culprit. Yesterday I too noticed that my passenger side top vent and passenger side dash face vents blow noticeably colder than the driver side.

I know enough about HVAC to be dangerous. I'm not an expert. Those here at Sprinter-source who I have come to gain confidence in regarding HVAC systems most all recommend evacuation followed by a measured charge. Certainly it is possible to charge a system using the charts and gauges, but that leaves room for error.

Let's try this on for size even though I don't yet know what the duct arrangement is. The two top vents being uneven in temperature to each other in my case is a key. The top vents are after the evaporator, but before the heater core so any coolant control valve or other ATC control isn't involved there as long as the compressor is working.

I may be low on freon, as you may be also. What if our low charge is causing the evaporator coil to not be evenly cooled. Depending upon the distribution of freon to the coil there may be warm spots. The coil fins set up a fairly linear flow in a straight duct. If the ducts to the passenger side come off the top (or one side) and the driver side come off another section then maybe the passenger side is being fed by a colder section of evap coil? Low charge may be causing an uneven distribution of freon in the evap coil and the linear air flow may not mix the temperatures at all.

My thoughts may be a stretch, but I don't think it is heater core/water valve related in my case being that the two top vents are a noticeably different temperature. I won't have time to dig into my Sprinter to help to confirm/deny my theory until next week at the earliest so any thoughts are welcome. vic

I got to checking my A/C. It was low on charge. At 1500 rpm or so it was showing only about 20 PSI on the low side with about 85 F air over the coils. I had a part can of 134a which with immersing it in a hot water bath got me up to 35# on the low side. The top vents are now more equal in output temperature, but the passenger side is still slightly colder. (I know, a measured charge is the proper way to add freon.)

So I developed the APACT Aqua Puttana's Air Conditioning Test. I recommend NAFTA T1N owners occasionally check the temperature output of the top vents by just feeling for the relative temperature with your hand while the air conditioning is operating. If you begin to notice that the passenger side top vent is noticeably colder than the driver side it is an indication that you may be getting low on A/C refrigerant charge. This simple test may help an owner to catch an A/C problem before it fails completely. FWIW. vic
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
A watchout from Dennis of Lindenengineering.

Dennis is always worth listening to. :thumbup:


I see some of the forum contributers are Sprinter possible wannabe owners in search of that "gem".:thumbup:

Please please! --Any of you doing a self pre-purchase inspection do take the time to lift the injector cover and inspect the injectors for--Yes the black death;that euphamism as its is of often called!

Now by itself its not a big deal but the results can get spendy to fix.

Take a customer this week who purchased an '05 TIN a fairly tidy models except for some rust!
It came in for a service, visual evidence suggested it had not had a decent service for some time. Poor starting was a complaint on the J/C -W/O.

Of course as a cursory we always lift the cover! Yes evidence of tarring and carbon deposit welling around several injectors----But the extent was minimal from what I have normally seen. BUT more investigation showed that the carbon had been cleaned off and TWO injector hold down bolts were sheered and simply put back into their holes with glue! The vehcile had obviously been run "as is" for a while due to the evidence of brown/black re-depositing

So what was holding two of the injectors in you may well ask!!! Carbon deposits! And the new buyer having secured a deal drove it back to Denver with the "carbon stiction" , holding them in place. AND
I could see why!
Our tools removed three with a huge amount of force and an oxy gun heating the stems, the last two defying even 15 tons of force on the injector body. Time to stop before really busting something up!

Solution--Off with it head!
That means busting up the valve cover to access the bolts, its means a new set of injectors and gaskets. To recover the head, (although we will fit an in house re-con unit) means the use of a spark erosion (EDM) machine at my local machine shop not only to remove the two remaining injectors but also to remove the broken injector hold down bolt tails.

So in short, do take a bit of time to inspect the area for salesman bodge ups to dispose of the vehicle by clever dress up.
Might save you some $$$$$.
Cheers Dennis

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
A recent link that I found. It is not Sprinter specific, but it does have some general info/links for a couple DIY checks on a diesel engine.

Debunking old Mercedes "Myths"

If you try the blow-by test with oil fill cap off then you should be aware that the timing chain runs right at the fill cap in the Sprinter in-line 5 cylinder engine. That is a spinning hazard and will also fling oil out of the open cap.

I didn't actually do a blow-by test, but I did verify that the bottom of an aluminum soda can will fit to cover the open cap area. Perhaps using that with a couple tightly stretched layers of paper towel will keep the mess down.


Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Some info I found interesting. Thanks goes to ukpooltables. Good for deciphering some of the Euro classification terms. My added info is in blue.

ukpooltables said:
Mercedes Sprinter. Whats the difference? Which model?
Published by ukpooltables

(this was written in approx 2005 before the latest model )

Ok. Im writing this as a sprinter fleet owner and delivery driver that has done over 500,000 miles in sprinters!

There are many variants available as shown below.

swb models approx 7ft behind bulkhead to rear doors.identified by one rear panel

mwb approx 10ft to doors. identified by 2 rear panels

lwb approx 14ft to doors. identified by 3 rear panels.(huge cube but lower payload due to higher body weight)

2 roof heights low and high (standard roof, tall enough to walk around in without hitting your head)
3 NAS OEM roof heights actually. Low = Cab/chassis, Standard = HC (high Cab), High = SHC (Super High Cab)

The model numbers represent the gross vehicle weight (thanks to andrew for correcting me)
Normally the 2-- series was a 2590kg, but could be uprated to a 2800kg GVW - mainly low roof models favoured by builders etc.

the 3-- series has a 3500kg gvw. the most commonly seen.

the 4-- series are twin wheelers 4.2 ?? tonne but can be downrated with new springs and re test. (less room between wheel arches inside too)

the sprinter 3-- series are the most common seen on UK roads. usually high roof models favoured by couriers etc.

The older models 308, 310, 312: diesels

Having test driven a 308 i found it only really suitable for local work, ie carpet fitters etc as it was a bit underpowered for loaded motorway work only a 2.3litre engine! roughly 80hp

The 310 d. 2.9 litres of turbocharged diesel producing a leisurely 110 hp or thereabouts. Available in short , medium or extra long (14ft behind bulkhead to rear doors). This was my first sprinter! Driven 125000 miles in a year. Never let me down! less to go wrong, no abs, slip diff etc on most.

312d. again 2.9 litres leisurely producing 120 hp or thereabouts. Again available in all 3 lengths.has abs, asr etc on this model which makes it a bit safer. a preferable buy if you can find a well looked after one.

I still drive a 312 today. I regard it as more comfortable and leisurely smooth than the newer models to drive due to its torque you rarely have to change down unless into traffic.

Dont write these vans off as old hat, they are still very capable, extremely comfortable for long journeys (believe me sometimes i drive 18 hours a day! and in my old Transit i couldn't do 6 hours.)

Good points: comfort, load space, Smooth gearbox and underworked engine.
Bad points: Sprinters rust! chassis and underside is well protected and stay good but the bodywork paint isnt the hardest and stone chips and scratches soon blister and scab, although superficial this can look ugly.

Sprinters eat front lower ball joints: if doing multi drop local youl probably need to replace these annually, motoway milage every 3 years at a push (from experience my fleet which does mainly motorway miles has lower ball joints every 2 years. The part costs £8 factored but you really cant do this yourself as it requires garage facilities. We pay £150 a pair fitted but our mot station charges £180 a side!

Avoid cheap budget tyres. why? they wear out too quick! I run 4 sprinters. A budget tyre costs roughly £50 fitted.Life span roughly 20- 40 000 miles. A bridgestone duravis tyre costs roughly £70 fitted (but i have a pair on the front of my 312 that have done 190000 miles and arent done in yet. what does that tell you?
(update october 2010. one tyre threw a bit of tread off in 2010 after being on the van since 2002. it had covered 350069 miles. Unbelievable but true. replaced with new bridgestone duravis @ £90.each. Pretty sure the new tyres will outlast the van) annoyingly it had perished but still had 3mm remaining!

stay on top of it with a touch up stick. The body is big and quite expensive to get re painted!

tips: Look for a well looked after example. Service printout history although nice just tells you whats gone wrong in the past. sprinters dont have timing belts so thats good news, ive never had timing chain problems! Change the oil and filter every 6000 miles. i know the service period is longer but the oil is stinking after 6000 miles. Roughly £20 for peace of mind

Things to look out for: Noisy fan belt. usually alternator pulley sprag bearing seizing. (it will drop off soon and leave you stranded) (only £32 from mercs so get it changed) also the hydraulic damper unit tensioner?can cause this along with a worn bushing, cheap and easy to replace.

Rattling from gearbox area. Flywheel dual mass unit. Harmonic Balancer HB£500 approx to buy
Vibration when driving. No.. we thought propshaft too but it turned out to be the expensive flywheel . see above.

Other than that there are 2 main points to note (which means crawling under the van)
There is a mechanical brake compensator at the rear under the van which allows more back brake when loaded. (Does not apply to NAS aka NAFTA 2004 MY and newer. Load compensation is accomplished by ESP system.this requires regular lubrication. If it seizes in the loaded position and you hit the brakes hard the back wheels can totally lock up. ( ive read a few crash reports of this so make sure its checked regularly) it is an open unit and not protected from spray, road salt etc. Solution make sure its free and litterally plaster it in grease

The same goes for the hand brake mixer which again is an open unit which tends to seize up, usually noticed first when handbrake doesnt release properly when put off. Times 10 on this maintenance!:thumbup:

New models sprinter 311, 313, 316 diesels short, medium and long wheel base
Watch the payload you put in them, the long wheel base only has approx 1000kg with full fuel and a driver. You find this out for the first time when pc plod pulls you over and takes you to a weighbridge then kindly takes you to court and issues a hefty fine! again through experience... doh!.

some lutons etc with tail lifts are huge inside but you could only fill them with polystyrene. Use a public weighbridge to find out what you can carry. Go there with no load on but with normal driver and full fuel. You will be amazed at the result.

311: The most popular sprinter on the road now.(mainly due to it having the lowest new buy price) check the specs, there are a lot of imports of this model about.
2.3. litre 4 cylinder injected td pushing out 110 hp

313 2.3 litre 4 cylinder injected td pushing out 130hp rarely for sale because theyre so good. Long distance couriers favour these because you have a bit more hp and a more relaxed drive

316 2.8 litre 5 cylinder injected td pushing out 158 hp . Like rocking horse droppings to find because of very high new price not many around (but i have one :) slightly less payload due to extra engine weight but so torquey that they are a pleasure to drive, especially when your getting boxed in on the motorway and you need fast acceleration, just put your foot down and it pulls like a train. fuel burn averages out about the same as 311 and 313. These also can have so many extras fitted so check the specs.

The main differences between the older and new models:
Gearstick is dashboard mounted on new models (but beware the cables to gearbox need regular maintenance or they stretch and make gearchange sloppy. if left they can leave you stuck in 1 gear which isnt much fun)

New headlamp layout on the front and an air intake mounted into offside wing which looks cool
To be fair to mercs there is probably a lot of other things they put into it but from a driving / owning point of view hardly any difference (apart from a pen holder and a can holder which pops out of ashtray)

fuel burn on all the sprinters i have driven averages out approx the same . expect 450 to 500 miles from a tank fill of 75 litres giving a reserve of 5 litres (most have an 80 litre tank) which is enough to drive in 1 hit.

Bad points:

The bad points on the older vans as above still apply. ball joints, brake compensator etc
additionally they seem to eat heater glow plugs which can be very awkward to change.
Electronic injectors dont seem to last too long and you cant just replace them. you then need to go to mercs and have them callibrated by number as they are precision metering units. A worn injector can cause over fuelling to a cylinder and crack pistons which is engine out and replace...ouch!

Engine management can be a pain. if it detects anything wrong it can put you into limp home mode which is just that. lose enough power to just get up a hill in 2nd gear max 3250 revs. No fun if your 400 miles from home when it happens. The older models never seem to suffer this!

Servicing tips for all models:
regular oil change at 6000 miles I disagree. Mean in Green would disagree also.
lubricate the wiper arm output shafts otherwise they wear and the wipers squeel when on..and i bet you thought it was the blades! I agree. Found the same.

check and lubricate brake compensator unit and handbrake mixer. :thumbup:

have brake disks removed and inspected for cracking on inner section, always seems to happen on inside where it cant be seen easily

Lubricate the spare wheel hanger unit or you wont remove the spare when you need can seize solid (use vinegar to penetrate the rust if seized) My experience in the NE USA is to lube it heavy and often.

[Any] Errors and omissions excluded in my appraisal.

Its written from experience of sprinters not from full technical knowledge but if you find huge mistakes let me know. if you find it helpful. buy me a pint! (loads of people contact me for help with sprinter faults, i'll help where i can but i don't work for mercs! i was a mechanic for 8 years so have a good knowledge of lots of bits and pieces that i have come accross as a mechanic and fleet owner only)

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
As the T1N models age out replacing an engine may be something under consideration. The NAS aka NAFTA 2001 - 2003 with OM612 5 cylinder engine is different from the NAS aka NAFTA OM647 5 cylinder engine as to fueling and some other differences.

A basic stripped engine swap is possible between those models, but not a direct complete engine drop in.

Some info. Thanks goes to azzm3. :thumbup:

Yes the injector connectors are the same and are triggered by OM647 ECU with no issues.
Complete fuel rail from OM647 is also transferred over. You change the front plate where the low pressure pump mounts with one from OM647. Also OM647 high pressure pump is used and it does mount up like its suppose to. In simple terms you strip OM612 to block and head leaving injectors in and dress it up with OM647 components wiring,turbo,rail,pump etc. Everything functions like it should with no warning lights and limp modes (I use DRB3 for all diag on T1n). I have driven swaps like these cross country with no issues.

This is a reply to Aqua Puttana
Do your research before going too far.

Some input from Doktor A.

It appears you are asking whether a 647 long block (cylinder head included) can be used.

The complication you have is mounting and driving the mechanical feed pump and the 612 high pump.

The 647 intake cam lacks the drive extension for the 612 feed pump and the 647 upper chain ramp plate lacks the opening and threaded mounting holes for the feed pump.

The 647 cylinder heads' bolt pattern for the high pump will not allow mounting of your 612 high pump.

Doktor A
And comments by Dennis Lindenengineering that the lower end is ok.
Rule of thumb
Everything above the block is different including the FI equipment .
Simply because the HP injection pump aperture in the head is different the older head and some minor chain guide differences. AND the exhaust valves are sized differently
A follow up: As your luck would have it, I needed to find my stash of 612 pistons for an engine repair.

My hunch was correct, the 612 piston crowns' valve reliefs are sized for the larger diameter tulip heads of the 612 valves and the 647 valve reliefs are accordingly smaller.

Thus it appears risky to bolt a 612 head onto a 647 short block.

Doktor A
As always, clicking on the blue arrow icon within any quote box will take you to the original post/thread.

Another thread discussion of engine swap.

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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
This is a thought that I have for newer model NCV3 (906) BluTec (DEF fluid) Sprinter pre-purchase inspections.

There have been enough threads to indicate that DEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid being mistakenly added to the coolant reservoir (radiator) is not uncommon. The DEF is very corrosive and can cause real engine issues if it is not flushed out in a reasonable time. ASAP is likely best.

My suggestion.
Do a sniff test of the coolant reservoir. If it has a smell of ammonia the chances are good that there is/was DEF in the coolant.
A pH test may still have some value for determining coolant condition.

Any pre-purchase inspection of a NCV3 (906) Sprinter using DEF should include a pH test of the coolant. What should the coolant pH be normally? Good question. I have no idea. Some owners with known uncontaminated DEF Sprinters may be able test their coolant pH. It may be as simple as using a swimming pool pH test strip. That may help to provide a baseline.

DEF may tend to drive the pH low. I thought that DEF (urea) will drive the pH low, but "dissolved in water, it is neither acidic nor alkaline". If it drove the coolant toward base I believe that it would attack aluminum in the cooling system. Pictures that I've seen to indicate that it causes damage to thermostat and other parts which are not aluminum.

Some general pH information is here.
What is coolant pH?

"Simply stated, pH is the measure of the degree of acidity or alkalinity in a coolant. The acidity decreases and the alkalinity increases as the pH goes from 0 to 14. The recommended pH range for coolants is on the slight alkaline side, from 7.5 to 11. Anything at 11 and above would be considered too high. Tests that range from 6.0 up to 7.5 would be considered too low. The pH of fresh coolant slowly decreases with time and use in a cooling system as acids are formed by the oxidation of ethylene or propylene glycol. At low pH ranges, certain metal surfaces are susceptible to acid corrosion, while at high alkaline pH, aluminum surfaces are susceptible to corrosion. Thus, it is important to check the coolant pH periodically to make sure that it is neither too acidic nor too alkaline."

General info.


Added: Archive said:
REBrueckner 09-18-2014, 06:54 PM
After being down and out [after a fall off a step ladder, badly bruised ribs, and a cold to cough,hack, and antagonize those painful muscles] got outside today and did a test.

Short Answer: Swimming pool PH test strips DO work for engine coolant with antifreeze.

My test: Checked my old Taurus coolant: acidic as I suspected,based on test strip color change; it's due for a changing as soon as I can lie dwn and get back up.

Control: Made a 50/50 mix of unused, new, coolant and water out of a new container: It shows
basic, rather than acidic, as it should, according to color change.

We will use this as a preliminary test on engines and gennys in a prospective purchase.
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Another NCV3 problem area to be certain to inspect. A recent thread reminded me about the failing exhaust system brackets.

Did a pre-purchase inspection for an '07 Sprinter with 130k miles. MB of Draper UT did the inspection. "DPF/KAT cracked at the top of the flex pipe." Quoted repair cost of $1,600. A non-MB mechanic said it could likely be welded instead, thus saving a lot of money. But some other posts I've read I think indicate how tricky it can be to get a tight seal with the weld.

Anyone have suggestions or thoughts?

(Also, presume I need to replace the particulate filter as well).

And Dennis has a repair. :thumbup:

I fix this all the time.
You will need a 2,50 inch flex pipe by Walker cost about $100.
Buy one that has tube extensions at either end which you will trim to fit.
Remove the steady bracket , to allow easy stinger access and weld it in making sure you don't touch the flex bubble crimp section of the flex pipe .
Job done for about $250 at a zorst shop,

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Some info from a recent thread.

Here is the advice of a nubie sprinter owner and an old motorcycle mechanic and north woods 'back to the lander' who has run junk all his life. Maybe you know this but I'll write it for others.

Do you have a solid set of tools.
Have you ever worked in the dirt with tools, with a shovel, with a hammer?
Do you like to smoke pot every day?
Do you really want to learn diesel mechanics?
Do you know used car salesmen are never your friends?

Read this:

If you buy a used sprinter you will be doing all of the above but I'd suggest you quit smoking and clear your head.

Now how many vehicles have you crawled under?
Do you know how to check the brake rotors for wear with the wheels on, do you know how to assess the exhaust? Do you now how to evaluate tire wear and the age of tires?

You do? Good, do all that before you buy your sprinter. Pull the oil dip stick and look and smell, is it good?
Check the transmission oil level with the dipstick you brought with you because old sprinters don't have one.

Sit down and read the service records, no service records, don't buy.
When were the injectors last checked?

Now go for a drive, does it drive straight, does the cruise control work?
Do the brakes work
Most important, does the temperature hold at 185-190 F.

Now, does the emergency brake work?
That tells alot about the rear brakes condition.

OK, hook up your scanner after the drive and check for codes.
All OK? Check the lights. Now look at the battery and especially the terminals. look new and clean?
Check the ground strap connections.

Crawl under the vehicle again, is it bleeding?

There is no substitute for low miles and clean service records unless you are a certified sprinter mechanic.
And unless you are rich you will soon be one and if you enjoy that this forum is the best of the best.

I am encouraging you to buy a sprinter and join the collective.
You can check out my real life nubie sprinter adventure in the thread below my signature, it's pretty typical.

I have spent thousands of hours learning about and working on my sprinter.

bill in tomahawk
And check that the CEL, ABS and Glow Plug lights come on and then go out with the ignition turned on but not starting the engine.

If not then they may have been 'disabled' by cutting out or taping over to hide a problem.


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