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Old 08-08-2014, 07:02 PM   #1
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Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

I am looking for owner feedback to see if my issue is an isolated problem, or if they all do this.

We have a new sprinter that sportsmobile west installed a penthouse on. No interior conversion, just top, bed and awning.
On the return trip from fresno, I assumed the rattling noises came from the folding ladder they provided.
I removed the ladder and the bed from the van, and the problem persists.
In town, at low speeds, on normal road surfaces, the van rattles.
Loud banging rattles.
It sounds like something metal wasn't attached, and bangs against something else metal.
All latches are tight, there is nothing loose in van, awning is closed, etc.
Is this normal?
I don't want to remove the grayish-purple velvet they covered the penthouse parts with to poke around on my own.
I have hand checked anything I could see or feel, including the awning.
The Awning, FWIW, has only two brackets to attach it to van, would three make more sense? The thing supposedly weighs 100 pounds?
The weight of the penthouse (I was told 500 pounds!! All up top..gulp!..COG much? ...) was enough to "mellow" out the drive or the van, less wandering, etc.
It is very annoying to drive this van around town, and the fear is something is about to fall off is there.
The van will be back at smb soon to take care of some other issues, and I want to know if they will be able to tighten this down.
Van made empty cargo van noise before penthouse conversion, but not this kind of noise.
Any feedback from owners is greatly appreciated.
If we would have been able to test drive a van before purchase, and that van made this much noise, we would have gone a different direction.
I don't like rattles, that is why I bought a German van, and not a 25 year old ford cargo van with a couple hundred thousand miles on it.
Thanks for any feedback!
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:19 PM   #2
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Manual lift PH I'm guessing?

Both of mine have always rattled around on pothole hits, railroad crossings etc... Think it's something to go with the big ole coil springs banging around up there when not under load like when the top is raised.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:03 PM   #3
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

If you have J-Hooks like the Ford penthouse try reducing the tension of the clamping. This makes a difference for me but I have never been able to figure out why.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:54 PM   #4
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

If the manual lift mechanism is the same as it has always been, there is a chance that there are extra chain links for adjustment attached to the spring that are not under tension. Perhaps they didn't get some sort of insulating wrap and are rattling in the spring channel? Additionally, the helper springs could rattle if not wrapped appropriately.

Make sure they know about the rattle when you bring your rig back to SMB so they can check it out.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:11 PM   #5
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Thanks for all the info.
Penthouse is power, as they said they only do power tops now.
Awning is noisy when the slider door is closed?
Looks like we will deal with it until the van is back in fresno, and then see if they can do anything about it.
The springs seem like they could be a source, as the noises sound like that could be the source.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:41 AM   #6
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Check out this thread - similar issue:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=14317

(it is a post or two down from the trip report post)
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:15 AM   #7
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Rockbender, thanks for the link.
I am hoping it is something as smile as that.
Van is headed to fresno to get work done this week, hopefully they sort out the rattles too.
Van went down a dirt road in utah two weeks ago and the noise was awful.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:03 PM   #8
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Hi sorry to hear about the rattle. I have 2012 sprinter SMB pop top from Fresno and have put 12K miles on it, some on rutted unpaved roads in AK and we do not hear any rattles from the pop top as of our last adventure a week ago. we did have a rattle in back near the sliding door a while back, but it turn out to be a seat belt the had partially fallen into the well below the rear seat - the buckle rattling on the heater housing.

some trouble shooting suggestions:
Do you have any accessories on the roof, like solar panels and/or roof rack? Have you checked them for feeling snug and secure? Are your poptop latches snug when you set them? Have you inspected the slots in the fabric were the roof braces move in to see if there is any thing that looks out of place (with the top up)?

good luck, hope it is something easy to correct
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:48 PM   #9
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Spenard: thanks for the info, I hope ours gets rebuilt to be as rattle free as yours has been.
I hope the problems get solved, as it is the loudest vehicle I have ever owned to drive around town in. I have owned some pretty old POS cargo vans and trucks and cars....nothing loud like this.
Van rattles totally empty, no bed, no ladder, no cargo, no junk in glovebox, etc. empty.
I drove the brand new van 2000 miles before the top was installed, and no rattles then.
I had the thule tracks installed on roof, but nothing mounted on them yet.
We have a fiamma awning that was installed at the same time as the top, that thing rattles when you shut the slider, but that is a different noise issue. I checked the awning mounting bolts and they seemed tight, so I am not sure what is going on with that. I haven't opened the awning, except when I picked up the van at SMB. I expect a $1,000 awning to not sound like it is falling off everytime I shut the door.
The van is going back to fresno next week to have the top removed to repair some serious paint and rust damage (long story....not finished) so hopefully it gets put back together correctly this time around.
I think someone forgot to bolt something together or left a metal tool inside the top when it was being installed. Empty beer cans? Who knows what happened there.
I haven't peeled any fabric back inside to investigate further, as I don't want to be held accountable for any further damage to the van.
I have only opened the top less than ten times, and it seemed to work as well as it is designed to.
Hopefully all the issues that this van has will be sorted out, and we can enjoy ownership a bit more than we have so far.
I love the way the sprinter drives, so if this van needs to be replaced, it would most likely be with another sprinter.....with the high roof.
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:50 PM   #10
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Re: Brand new sprinter penthouse loud rattles.

Latches always snug.
Little safety pins in place also.
It is a power top so maybe that is part of the issue?
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