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Old 11-15-2014, 09:51 AM   #41
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Re: Factory Sprinter 4x4

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Originally Posted by 86Scotty
Fedex has lately been buying F250 4x4s (with 5.4 engines, never a diesel domestic for some reason) and putting a cargo box on the back of them for the last few years, for rural and snowy routes. It's hard to believe they are going to shell out this much money for 4x4 Sprinters, but I can believe it. All in the name of looking green vs. getting something that will better do the job. Our Sprinters get beat down hard, and quickly, and the mechanics all hate them. I mean they HATE them. They long for the early 5-cylinders that were relatively easy to maintain, vs. the newer V6/Bluetec/DEF models they now have the unfortunate task of maintaining. They stay broken. They may be a perfect vehicle for OTR (hot shot/expedite) use, but they are destroyed by everyday start/stop driving. The chassis fall apart too quickly compared to the tough old Fords. They all have check engine lights on, constantly. I'm sure the 4x4s will be even more of a nightmare, even more complex. Fedex won't support their mechanics with the proper tools and training when they buy them, they will just pull them out of service for the first few years taking them to an MB/Freightliner/whatever dealership to let them do the hard stuff. This way our mechanics are glorified secretaries and shuttle drivers, and the green looking company has their drivers driving rental van (2wd domestics) while the expensive, but green 4x4 Sprinters sit at dealer maintenance. It's a joke. Sorry to be so negative. It drives me nuts.
Here's another thing. Fedex, and I bet UPS and whoever else, never trains or even mentions to an employee how to drive a 4x4. Most employees don't know that hubs even have to be locked in. They know nothing about the vehicles they drive, unless they just happen to be the kind of guy who might know from personal experience, and that is not a prerequisite for being issued one of these vehicles. A majority of guys I know, sorry to say, don't know where there fuse boxes are. So they get torn up and misused, and they break, and they sit.
None of this has anything to do with a Sportsmobile 4x4 Sprinter. Nothing at all. It's just they way I see things happen, everyday. 10 years from now someone like myself might be able to afford a used, beaten down, rusted out, former fleet owned 4x4 Sprinter, but I won't, because I know better. If you can get one new, enjoy it.
Very helpful info, thanks.

It is difficult to find favorable commentary online, or hard data, that supports Sprinter reliability. Even adjusting for web forum bias, much of what I can find echoes the comments above. And I know two owners (anecdotes) that curse the day they became Sprinter owners (one bought a Dodge and another an MB).

What puzzles me is how this squares with what appears to be good unit sales and growing fleet market share. Is poor reliability a myth? I find it hard to believe that customers, especially fleet buyers, will keep buying a lemon because that takes $$$ right off their bottom line.

Rob
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Old 11-15-2014, 10:27 AM   #42
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Re: Factory Sprinter 4x4

Rob, I can't figure this out either. It really puzzles me. I really do try to leave my bias as a big company/huge fleet employee out, but I just really don't get it. I should probably premise what I'm about to say with the face that my Dad was a diehard 'old diesel Mercedes' owner and I'm not a 'buy Murican' diehard. We had several older Merc diesel sedans and wagons when I was growing up, and they were tanks! They were heavy, solid, tough, and dependable if maintained. Nowadays, I am a BMW club member and recovering fanatic. I have never had any interest in American cars really, but my experience in the past 15 years with domestic trucks and vans has made me pretty biased, as well as driving Ford vans at work. That said, when I was still driving a van at work, I was way stoked to get one of the first Dodge branded Sprinters in 07 or so. It was an inline 5-cylinder, which I'm told is basically a hopped up turbo version of the old bulletproof 5 cylinder diesel Mercedes has built for decades. I had no problems with it for the 100k miles I drove it. They eat headlight bulbs, and I mean positively EAT them. As in, one about every two weeks. Our mechanic gave me a big box of bulbs since I became really adept at switching them out fast, so I was the 'headlight bulb' guy for lots of our Sprinter drivers when he was busy. Also, I baby my vehicles. I had very little trouble with that van. I don't slam doors and I don't beat on any vehicle I expect to get me somewhere. At that point I thought the company was really going in the right direction. Then came the V6 Sprinters. I never had one, but have never heard anything good. Also, all of our Sprinter's interiors and doors are falling apart. They are really just not cut out for daily abuse. Also, more and more, I'm seeing badly rusted Sprinters in fleets, mostly hot-shot guys on the highway, with horribly rusted bodies. I never see this in the Ford vans. Before a Sprinter I put several hundred thousand miles on an old boxy 1989 Econoline, and in my mind that is the gold standard of durability. Positively unbreakable. Simple. Easy to work on, but never need anything. Problem with them , of course, is the old straight 6's got lousy mileage.
Sorry for the long post and I don't mean to hijack. I don't really think the 4x4 Sprinter is a lousy idea for personal use. In fact, it looks to be quite perfect if it's within someone's budget. My rant has all to do with fleets buying them without being prepared. And I don't think they will ever prepare (as in, train the drivers and mechanics). To me it makes much more sense financially for a company to buy tough domestic 4wd trucks where they need them and deal with the slightly worse fuel mileage.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:23 PM   #43
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Re: Factory Sprinter 4x4

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Originally Posted by 86Scotty
Rob, I can't figure this out either. It really puzzles me. I really do try to leave my bias as a big company/huge fleet employee out, but I just really don't get it. I should probably premise what I'm about to say with the face that my Dad was a diehard 'old diesel Mercedes' owner and I'm not a 'buy Murican' diehard. We had several older Merc diesel sedans and wagons when I was growing up, and they were tanks! They were heavy, solid, tough, and dependable if maintained. Nowadays, I am a BMW club member and recovering fanatic. I have never had any interest in American cars really, but my experience in the past 15 years with domestic trucks and vans has made me pretty biased, as well as driving Ford vans at work. That said, when I was still driving a van at work, I was way stoked to get one of the first Dodge branded Sprinters in 07 or so. It was an inline 5-cylinder, which I'm told is basically a hopped up turbo version of the old bulletproof 5 cylinder diesel Mercedes has built for decades. I had no problems with it for the 100k miles I drove it. They eat headlight bulbs, and I mean positively EAT them. As in, one about every two weeks. Our mechanic gave me a big box of bulbs since I became really adept at switching them out fast, so I was the 'headlight bulb' guy for lots of our Sprinter drivers when he was busy. Also, I baby my vehicles. I had very little trouble with that van. I don't slam doors and I don't beat on any vehicle I expect to get me somewhere. At that point I thought the company was really going in the right direction. Then came the V6 Sprinters. I never had one, but have never heard anything good. Also, all of our Sprinter's interiors and doors are falling apart. They are really just not cut out for daily abuse. Also, more and more, I'm seeing badly rusted Sprinters in fleets, mostly hot-shot guys on the highway, with horribly rusted bodies. I never see this in the Ford vans. Before a Sprinter I put several hundred thousand miles on an old boxy 1989 Econoline, and in my mind that is the gold standard of durability. Positively unbreakable. Simple. Easy to work on, but never need anything. Problem with them , of course, is the old straight 6's got lousy mileage.
Sorry for the long post and I don't mean to hijack. I don't really think the 4x4 Sprinter is a lousy idea for personal use. In fact, it looks to be quite perfect if it's within someone's budget. My rant has all to do with fleets buying them without being prepared. And I don't think they will ever prepare (as in, train the drivers and mechanics). To me it makes much more sense financially for a company to buy tough domestic 4wd trucks where they need them and deal with the slightly worse fuel mileage.
Scotty, you clearly have a lot of van experience. Mine is limited to only our SMB.

But there is no question that my personal cost/benefit matrix leans heavily in favor of reliability over other factors. Having owned an SMB for ten years, this bias has only grown stronger with time. I have no time for trips to the dealer, and often go places where the cost of a breakdown would be HUGE. Vacation ruined, vehicle recovery expense, huge time sink, personal safety and most costly of all, a very POd wife

Next time around, my choice will weight reliability and ease of service 10x versus other factors. I think that may give the nod to the new Ford Transit in 3-5 years. We'll see.....

Rob
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:15 PM   #44
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Re: Factory Sprinter 4x4

Ref, we've yet to purchase a Sprinter type vehicle so I can't comment on them. I wonder if the shop will slowly adopt them. The biggest problem is mounting ladders on them and it will probably take a specific rack to house and lower them. The guys seem to prefer the Chevy AWD gas powered vans right now and those have seemed to hold up well. Our dept uses the 550 cutaway with 6.7 PSD. The drive train has been fantastic but the damn things are always in the shop with engine issues. Most are still under warranty but loosing your truck for weeks at a time doesn't go over well. The funny thing is I'm running the older 6.4 and it's been fine since falling out of the warranty. I think our biggest problem is the engines are started at 7AM then shut off at 3:30PM 5 days a week except on OT, idle for long periods, and we drive them hard from cold starts responding to emergencies, but hey we only get a couple months of weather below 30* so I really don't know why the issues. The 6.7 might be a great engine for the average driver. Just not sure how the Sprinters will hold up to all day use. Time will tell I guess.
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