2003 2500 Starting Issues (over 300K miles)


New member
As soon as I hit 300,000 miles on my 2003 2500 SHC I started having starting issues. My battery is plenty healthy and it cranks okay but never turns over. When I've towed it to my local Sprinter shop (1 hour away), it starts up fine. This has happened several times since Christmas and it is currently sitting in my driveway, refusing to start. We live in Los Angeles where it rarely gets below 60 so I couldnt blame the cold the first time it happened. But when we drove it to Oregon for xmas I had a feeling it would strand us - and it did. We blamed it on the 30 degree cold and had it towed to a local shop. They agreed to let us keep it inside overnight to see if the heat would solve it and it did. It started up and we drove it 16 hours home without shutting it off. When we got home everything was fine for about a week and then it happened again. I got it towed to the shop and they had zero issues with it, the computer didn't recognize any sensors failing and they kept it for a week; trying to start it in the early morning cold, hoping to recreate the problem. They couldnt find an issue so they just replaced the fuel filter and I came and got it. Now it's been a month since the last time it crapped out. I was out of town for three weeks and asked my girlfriend to start it every once in a while while I was gone but the first time she tried, it refused to start.
My guesses: there's a sensor that is randomly failing? Whenever it gets towed, it jostles around the initial pump in the fuel tank enough to get going?
The only consistencies are that when it gets towed, it starts. Temperature doesnt seem to have much to do with it and like I said, the diagnostic doesn't flag anything. I'm desperate to figure this out.


Engineer In Residence
Does the tach move when cranking and no start? If not the crankshaft sensor is going bad. Camshaft sensors can go bad as well, but will usually throw sync code, and sometimes limit RPMs to something like 3500? I would double check that number.

What is the age and history on the injectors? Have you checked the fuel pressure with a scanner when cranking? Have you performed a leak off test on the injectors?

Have you scanned the van for pending or stored codes? There may be a useful hint.


New member
Great suggestions! I'm getting it towed to the shop again next week. They think it's either a sensor or injectors but we haven't wanted to start chasing the problem without any certain answer. I imagine the sensors and injectors are all original. I've had the van since 173,000 miles and I haven't changed the injectors.


Well-known member
I would suggest you look closely at the engine wiring harness.

Notable areas are where the harness is wrapped around the fuel filter base and the steering column rubbing on an adrift section of harness.
Lifting or pulling of the rig "on the hook" for towing in many causes the engine to move from its normal sitting position, and therefore allowing a circuit re-connection or high resistance relief.
Not uncommon.
Remember with all Bosch systems if there is no crank sensor signal the PCM will not come into life and the whole system will remain dormant until excited by a signal.


New member
I checked the harness and jiggled it and all seems fine. No fraying or obvious issues from look/feel. When cranking, the Tach does move but not very much. It probably registers 300 RPMS.


Erratic Member
Anything over 200 rpm when cranking is probably OK.


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