Converting to 4x4, has anyone?

Napabavarian

New member
I know there are a few companies that offer the service, I wondered if anyone has done their own? Perhaps get a load of parts from a European junkyard.

I'm in the market for a CDI sprinter now and would like to convert it in a couple years, no huge hurry.
 

jbrownmxr

Member
You’d be taking on a monumental task. Could I be done? Sure. Would it be worth the effort? Nope. Just adding the Factory tow package was a pain in the ass. I can’t imagine adding a Factory 4X4 system. If you want a 4WD sprinter then buy one. It’ll be far cheaper and easier than building one.

My 2Cents...
 

4wheeldog

2018 144" Tall Revel
I agree with Jbrownmxr. This ain't your granddad's Chebbie, where you could swap components to as you liked.
These things are sold with intricately interconnected systems.......Integrated on a ECU based level that just does not lend itself to changes.
If you were to do this, it would be best to start with a T1N. Which means you would be investing in a bunch of very used parts to start with.
But at least those parts would not be as particular about working with other parts, as a new one would be.
 

ForWorkAndPlay

2008 144 OBERAIGNER 4x4
I have a 2008 sprinter with an Oberaigner 4x4 conversion done at their factory in germany. The previous owner spent nearly $20k to do this but it was the only option to get a 4x4 sprinter in 2009... if I had the budget I would have bought a newer factory 4x4 sprinter just for the sake of knowing everything could be fixed or replaced at the local dealership with ease but this was the only way I could afford a 4x4 (admittedly I also find it cool to have a relatively unique van)

As for your question about doing your own, before buying my van I had contacted vancompass about the likelyhood of them developing a 4x4 conversion using oem parts now that 4x4 sprinters are sold in the US... their response was pretty straightforward “the cost and time to import the parts from germany and to execute the work wouldn’t be worth it with 4x4 vans already available” and finding used 4x4 sprinter components in the US is very unlikely with the limited number of 4x4 vans sold here.
It’s a cool idea and “if” someone were to find a totalled 4x4 sprinter it might be worth the work from a diy stand point to swap all components and electronics to another van.

- Neil
 

Wrinkledpants

Active member
I know there are a few companies that offer the service, I wondered if anyone has done their own? Perhaps get a load of parts from a European junkyard.

I'm in the market for a CDI sprinter now and would like to convert it in a couple years, no huge hurry.
Who in the US is doing this? Only place I know of is Whitefeather, and it seems like the few that are out there have a number of issues that were never ironed out.

I don't believe this is a DIY project unless you have extensive time, money, and experience with tuning German ECUs.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
NCV3 - Either you have factory support, or you can fluently modify mercedes module coding. Not really much in the middle, unless you want to toss some solid axles (and huge lift) under the van. Even then you are going to have to do some programming wizardry or at least some CANbus frame modifications in order to use low range.

The aftermarket conversions from europe are a good option (not cheap). If you could source a front 4x4 subframe, it would be possible to install a generic divorced Tcase, but you would still need to work out a low range fix. The other issue is that the 4x4 uses abs/traction control in lieu of locking diffs. The front driveline may not last long with a locked center diff.


T1N - Definitely more reasonable. But only if you can get the factory parts (never sold in the USA) and still not super common in europe. There were several variants, but one variant has 4hi/4lo with no center diff, locking rear diff was available. The front diff is about as strong as the rear (unlike the NCV3). Electronic-vacuum actuated, 5 speed manual, divorced Tcase. The front diff input flange is too large to fit the NAG1 trans without some fab work (not major).

Otherwise you will have to toss some solid axles under it, and figure out a way to make the auto trans work in low range (coding required).

Vancompass did a prototype where they used the front diff and integral transfer case from an Mercedes ML SUV. The gear ratio and T-case were mostly compatible, but they ran up against the low range TCM issues. There design used a bunch of custom work to bolt up the ML subframe. This setup was full time AWD with a 50/50 torque split.
 
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Napabavarian

New member
Do locking rear differentials play havoc with the computer too? I was thinking or either mechanical cable activated or air locker, that can get you through most places with good weight and tires.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Locked rear differentials will make the ESP freak out at higher speeds. I have not heard any feedback from folks who have one (no aftermarket unless you swap axles).

At low speeds you might get ASR activation, hard to tell, as it is dependent on the control algorithm.
 
I wouldn't touch that idea with a 10 foot pole, and I will modify just about anything. For the issues I have already had with the sprinters electronics, I cant imagine trying to get it sorted out. The only way I would even consider doing that is ditching the factory ECM and going to a standalone like an AEM Infinity. Leaves you in the realm of something else which you will have to invent the wheel for and you will likely have to give up things like ABS brakes.

If you have infinite time, are exceptionally mechanically inclined and a talented programmer then anything is possible, but is it worth it?
 

jessejames49us

New member
I got a quote from White River ...$25k, so I have to agree with the consensus, better to buy new or wait for the used 4x4 Sprinter of your dream to happen. You'll be in line behind 100's of other, though. I also read that the parts that MB uses are from the ML production line but that doesn't help if you don't have the proprietary MB software to use it. I also seen some Facebook posts where 4x4 owners are having problems either getting into or out of 4x4.
 
^^ Good luck getting any of that stateside. There was someone on this board at one point who had tried to get Oberaigner to agree to modify his USDM sprinter and they wouldn't touch it even if he shipped it. I think they are worried about homologation requirements, though I am not sure why. Im sure you could get them to mod a van, but you might have to tell them a couple white lies about where the van will end up.

I got a quote from White River ...$25k, so I have to agree with the consensus, better to buy new or wait for the used 4x4 Sprinter of your dream to happen. You'll be in line behind 100's of other, though. I also read that the parts that MB uses are from the ML production line but that doesn't help if you don't have the proprietary MB software to use it. I also seen some Facebook posts where 4x4 owners are having problems either getting into or out of 4x4.
There are horror stories abound of whitefeather conversions having serious problems. They stick a solid axle under the front and I think the ensuing problems with the electronics give people fits.
 

ForWorkAndPlay

2008 144 OBERAIGNER 4x4
My 2008 with oberaigner 4x4 conversion has their central diff lock... as for getting them stateside, the previous owner spent a year pestering them with emails before they agreed to do the work and that was back in 2009... i doubt they would go through that again now that we have 4x4’s in the US
 

Farfrumwork

Member
Looks like Oberaigner offers lockers as well as gearing modifications. They say the ESP stays functional and is only briefly disabled when locking.

I can't see why a rear locker would interfere with the ESP/ASR if used in low speeds (as you would with a locker). Both rear wheels would be moving exactly the same so no slip would be detected... unless the steering angle is accounted for, in which case it might give fits if it expects one of the wheels to be 'off' in rotation with regard with the opposing wheel.

We could possibly disable the ESP/ASR with the illusive 'dyno mode', but it would be best to be able to just hit the air locker for the rear and climb out of the sand/mud/rocks, then unlock...

We would still need to overcome the fact that Inglhaut (who makes a rear locker diff) won't even reply to emails from the USA (at least mine).
 

tneuer

New member
I've got a Whitefeather 4x4 Conversion and you definitely don't want to go with one of Craig Jackson's conversions. It has taken me years to repair the work he has done.
The guy is a real hack.
Here's a photo of the newest problem I've had to take care of.

This is the high pressure side of the power steering hose and how he adapted it to fit the Mercedes power steering pump to his steering box. It rubbed against the power steering pulley and the ABS controller causing 2 leaks. The hose had also rubbed against the AC line which ruined it, a $500 part plus a recharge.

Tom
 

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therabbittree

New member
Uni-Van is doing Ford Superduty Dana 60 front and Sterling 10.5 rear 4x4 conversions. They are in florida. Using Atlas transfer case. Heard he was working on some coding but it was driving around. Id prefer those axles with unlocking hubs and factory electric lockers offered. Parts are easily sourced.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

SvenOz

New member
I can't see why a rear locker would interfere with the ESP/ASR if used in low speeds (as you would with a locker). Both rear wheels would be moving exactly the same so no slip would be detected... unless the steering angle is accounted for, in which case it might give fits if it expects one of the wheels to be 'off' in rotation with regard with the opposing wheel.

We could possibly disable the ESP/ASR with the illusive 'dyno mode', but it would be best to be able to just hit the air locker for the rear and climb out of the sand/mud/rocks, then unlock...

We would still need to overcome the fact that Inglhaut (who makes a rear locker diff) won't even reply to emails from the USA (at least mine).
Hi there

I’ve had contact with Igllhaut, Obereigner and Achleitner. All 3 the responses are basically, ship your van to them, pay the circa 20000 plus Euros and they will convert it. In the case of Obereigner it needs to be a brand new van, not used. They won’t just do a locker. They will not sell parts, fullstop, even won’t sell an entire rear axle with locker in it at any over priced huge margin. I even tried getting parts at a price that includes their fitting labour and profit, but no go.

If you want locked rear, it’s probably easier to do a axle swap and chop and weld with something like G Wagon or Dana 60 to put the sprinter ends on. Don’t plan on diff ratio swap on the 4x4# either because of that front diff you won’t be able to, let alone the Merc electronics complexity.

Cheers
 

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