That $#%&^ SKREEM UNIT!

bikerjoe

New member
So I now have a new F150 4WD and $600 per month payments, because my good ol' reliable (?) 2004 Sprinter began to have electrical gremlins. :yell:

It all STARTED with the passenger door electric lock. When the truck was new, I would push the remote, and the doors would lock, and the horn would beep to confirm that the doors were locked.

Then the beep suddenly disappeared one day. Then I noticed that the passenger door would lock, and then UNLOCK. Using the key became increasingly difficult as the mechanism fought me to actually LOCK the door.

Then the doors would not lock at all. They would lock and then unlock, and I'd have to lock them manually.

So I took it to the dealer. He spent a lot of time on it, and his mechanics THOUGHT they found the problem. $3,200.00 later, it seemed to work, but when I got it home, it only took a few days before the gremlins started up again.

so I had it towed back again. Daimler-Chrysler got in on it, and they were trying to determine the cause of this problem that NOW surfaced as a "START ERROR" on the odometer readout. The truck would give me this error, and I'd turn the key off, wait ten to sixty seconds, and with the passage of time, several minutes before trying to start the truck again. Sometimes it would start. Other times, I'd get the START ERROR message on the odometer.

The service manager called me one day. "Joe, your truck is really challenging. It just STARTED ITSELF in the parking lot. We didn't touch it. We just heard it start and wondered who was moving a vehicle out there. We had to come out with the key to open the door to turn the ignition to ON and then OFF again before it would stop running. I've never seen this behavior in a Sprinter ... "

So they finally decided, "It can only be the component that NEVER goes bad ... the SKREEM UNIT!" I asked them if they named it the "SCREAM UNIT" because that is what owners do when they learn what it costs to replace it. I replaced that, along with some other pieces. The truck worked, so I drove it home.

A bit of time passed, juuuuust past the warranty period of the SKREEM UNIT, when the problem resurfaced. I decided to not put another penny into this truck, and hence, the new F150 is now parked in my garage.

The truck has sat outside for ... eight months now. The battery is dead. I will ASSUME that any electronic 'memory' of its previous life are also dead. I am going to charge up the battery one more time, and see if the truck REMEMBERS that it is a Mercedes, and not some Russian utility vehicle.

If it fails to start, then it is outta here!

Joe
 
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
...

The service manager called me one day. "Joe, your truck is really challenging. It just STARTED ITSELF in the parking lot. We didn't touch it. We just heard it start and wondered who was moving a vehicle out there. We had to come out with the key to open the door to turn the ignition to ON and then OFF again before it would stop running. I've never seen this behavior in a Sprinter ... "
...
Seems like a wiring harness issue, ignition switch contact, or maybe tail light assembly type problem to me.

... So they finally decided, "It can only be the component that NEVER goes bad ... the SKREEM UNIT!" ...
Joe[/QUOTE]
To my knowledge the Bosch ECM aka ECU has a reputation for being durable. The SKREEM system has casued quite a few owners to SCREAM.

At one time GDE offered a work around for the SKREEM. They no longer do Sprinter engine computer "tunes", but they may still do a SKREEM defeat.

Good luck with your now old T1N. It may just not be worth the money and effort to resolve the problem(s). That is especially true at dealership repair pricing.

:cheers: vic
 
Lucky me. My 06 2500 with 225,000 miles or so has somehow escaped any problems. In fact, the only failure I have had was an egr on a road trip to the central valley of Ca. Fresno area.

Ever since,. I make sure to downshift for a few miles and run at 3,000 rpms. This has nothing to do with the scream, haha, failures and living in the mild southern Ca. temps, I suspect avoids many of the problems you in the cold have to deal with. Keeping oxidation buildup on some electrical contacts could be helpful, but I suspect there might be some other causes for these Skreem issues.

I have never regretted buying my 06 model year and cannot imagine replacing it with a newer, more complicated model. Then again, I tend to keep my vehicles forever. My around town 88 Volvo wagon may not be pretty at almost 300,000 miles, but damn if it isn't always reliable and has been for twenty years. They are both keepers.
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
As far as i know, the SKREEM cannot initiate an engine start.

According to the manuals, the sequence is that the ECM gets/initiates the request, and then *asks* the SKREEM if it's happy with the RFID chip that it's seeing. If the SKREEM says "yes", then continued running is authorized.

There's a tweak here ... if you have the remote door key option (RKE), the ECM will happily *start* the engine before waiting for the SKREEM's response. If it doesn't get the SKREEM's OK, it then kills the engine.
My "mechanical" (no RFID chip) key *can* start my Sprinter, but then it dies a very few seconds later (3?).

If you don't have RKE, the ECM will *not* crank the engine until the SKREEM says "OK".

Given your symptoms, i'd blame the ECM. The SKREEM could certainly also be at fault, but i'd suspect collateral damage.

--dick
 

bikerjoe

New member
Seems like a wiring harness issue


Joe
Funny you should mention that.

WITHOUT getting into politics I will say that the folks on the LEFT who were demanding reduced dependency on foreign oil back in the 70's are responsible for this. :bash: You see, the auto industry responded by changing from petroleum based PLASTICS TO COAT THEIR WIRES to a VEGETABLE OIL BASED plastic.

Well, over time, the squirrels and mice and such have learned that the coating on automobile wires TASTES GOOD. They have passed this knowledge down to their young, and now some 50 years after the oil wars of the 70's, the rodents now jump up into engine compartments to chew the coating off of wires!

This causes vehicles to burst into flames for no apparent reason, and it causes all manner of electrical gremlins. People here use chicken wire to try to seal off access to the wires under their vehicles!

About three years before the Sprinter had this START ERROR problem, I had the vehicle towed to a dealer to replace a huge wiring harness. Apparently while it was parked outside of my beautiful Kentucky home and I was away on a vacation, the rodents chewed my wires BARE. Fortunately there was no fire, but the truck would not start or run, so I had it towed in. The dealer told me, "The rodents now KNOW that wire coatings taste good." That was a $2,800.00 repair.

I watch as rodents crawl under my truck and jump up into the engine compartment. I wondered WHAT could be of interest up there! DAMN! I have gone through a tub of .22 trying to kill as many of them as I can, but they KNOW. It is in their DNA now. So the only solution is for manufacturers to change to some horrible tasting wire coating, but they probably won't do that.

To my knowledge the Bosch ECM aka ECU has a reputation for being durable. The SKREEM system has caused quite a few owners to SCREAM.

At one time GDE offered a work around for the SKREEM. They no longer do Sprinter engine computer "tunes", but they may still do a SKREEM defeat.

Good luck with your now old T1N. It may just not be worth the money and effort to resolve the problem(s). That is especially true at dealership repair pricing.

:cheers: vic
I have thrown in the towel. The truck is for sale as is, and I now have a nice F150 4WD to pay for. I park it INSIDE whenever possible!

Joe
 
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bikerjoe

New member
As far as i know, the SKREEM cannot initiate an engine start.

According to the manuals, the sequence is that the ECM gets/initiates the request, and then *asks* the SKREEM if it's happy with the RFID chip that it's seeing. If the SKREEM says "yes", then continued running is authorized.

There's a tweak here ... if you have the remote door key option (RKE), the ECM will happily *start* the engine before waiting for the SKREEM's response. If it doesn't get the SKREEM's OK, it then kills the engine.
My "mechanical" (no RFID chip) key *can* start my Sprinter, but then it dies a very few seconds later (3?).

If you don't have RKE, the ECM will *not* crank the engine until the SKREEM says "OK".

Given your symptoms, i'd blame the ECM. The SKREEM could certainly also be at fault, but i'd suspect collateral damage.

--dick
Well, this one started itself. It did not shut off. They had to open the cab and use the ignition key to stop the engine. Don't worry. They couldn't figure out why either. This was BEFORE the SKREEM unit was replaced though. There WAS a spare key fob in the left knee pocket, so it was in the proximity of the ignition.
 

bikerjoe

New member
As far as i know, the SKREEM cannot initiate an engine start.

According to the manuals, the sequence is that the ECM gets/initiates the request, and then *asks* the SKREEM if it's happy with the RFID chip that it's seeing. If the SKREEM says "yes", then continued running is authorized.

There's a tweak here ... if you have the remote door key option (RKE), the ECM will happily *start* the engine before waiting for the SKREEM's response. If it doesn't get the SKREEM's OK, it then kills the engine.
My "mechanical" (no RFID chip) key *can* start my Sprinter, but then it dies a very few seconds later (3?).

If you don't have RKE, the ECM will *not* crank the engine until the SKREEM says "OK".

Given your symptoms, i'd blame the ECM. The SKREEM could certainly also be at fault, but i'd suspect collateral damage.

--dick
Those are the alphabet modules I was talking about in another post. :thinking:
 

bikerjoe

New member
I don't know what he was talking about, but a Sprinter mechanic in California told me this particular Sprinter was originally built as a cab and chassis to be an ambulance. He said he believes it has "the little black box" that monitors the battery level, which presumably may be needed to run life support equipment. He said that when the battery reads low, the truck will start itself to maintain power at the proper level. I searched the Net for ANY evidence of this and found nothing. But who knows ... This truck has so many little black boxes ... but they DO smoke weed in California!
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
Meade did/does sell an option called the "parametric (or programmable) special module" (PSM) ... which allows user (or user's agent) programming of almost anything ... it could certainly command a sequence such as you say.

If you enter your VIN to a free site like https://www.datamb.com/ you'll be shown (and can download as a PDF) your "datacard" ... the options MB built into *your* Sprinter.
Look for the PSM (in 2019 the code was ED5 )

I wrote my "ECM starts it" reply on the assumption it was a "normal" Sprinter. Ambulances do have whacko add-ons.

--dick
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Funny you should mention that.
... You see, the auto industry responded by changing from petroleum based PLASTICS TO COAT THEIR WIRES to a VEGETABLE OIL BASED plastic.

Well, over time, the squirrels and mice and such have learned that the coating on automobile wires TASTES GOOD.

... DAMN! I have gone through a tub of .22 trying to kill as many of them as I can, but they KNOW. It is in their DNA now. So the only solution is for manufacturers to change to some horrible tasting wire coating, but they probably won't do that.



I have thrown in the towel. The truck is for sale as is, and I now have a nice F150 4WD to pay for. I park it INSIDE whenever possible!

Joe
I agree with the vegetable based insulation comments. It's unlikely manufacturers will change the chemistry. Stacked bricks of .22 shells isn't enough. They multiply like rabbits, taste similar, but other than their hind quarters offer little to cook.

Selling sounds like a reasonable response, although unfortunate.

... There WAS a spare key fob in the left knee pocket, so it was in the proximity of the ignition.
In my experience the RFID key chip needs to be in very close proximity to the ignition switch.

...

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
... But who knows ... This truck has so many little black boxes ... but they DO smoke weed in California!
:2cents:
I would consider that critical information. Those modifications may be the root of all evil as to your problems.

Good luck with your new truck. :thumbup:

Thanks for the information.

:cheers: vic
 

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