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Old 07-11-2010, 09:50 PM   #1
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Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

We are looking at purchasing a regular roof 144" Sprinter 2007 or 2008 used to have Sportsmobile convert it and add pop top. We are seeing both the normal diesel and also the regular gas versions coming on the market used, and are wondering if anyone here has a gas engine, or has heard about them as far as practicalities for a base for conversion. I know the mpg would be substantially less, however, the prices are alot lower for the gas version, and we probably won't do enough miles for the difference in mpg to weigh against the initial cost for many years. That being said, what would be the negatives of having a gasoline engine as apposed to a diesel? I know this has been a huge discussion for the other van manufacturers on this forum, but I did not see this discussed yet in the Sprinter section.

As a consideration, the final product would be eventually our major form of transport, because of developing health issues. We would need the full bath and sleeping for comfort, and eventually add a lift. Also, I would be taking my booth and stock around to craft shows, so we would be driving in and out of show set ups. So, would the idle availability make the diesel preferable for show set ups when only staying in place 10 minutes, and then moving it, or to run the idle to use the AC when we feel overheated? We don't want to mess with a generator or propane.

Any number crunching would help. My hubby is a purchase/cost engineer for an auto manufacturer, so numbers mean all to him. He extrapolated an assortment of gas prices, worst case scenerio price wise, and says gas price would not keep him from going that route in our decision. So, I am looking for other reasons that Diesel would be preferable.

Thanks from a newbie.


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Old 07-11-2010, 10:43 PM   #2
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel


Welcome! There is a ton of info on Sprinters over at Sprinter-Source that may help you in figuring out the gas vs. diesel issue. A diesel engine will provide more low-end torque than a gas engine which is what you want when you are trying to get the rig to move.


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Old 07-11-2010, 10:59 PM   #3
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

With the Ford's and Chevies, the diesel vs gas thing can be hashed out to no end. It really just comes down to owner preference.

Here's my take...

With the Sprinter... Diesel is the only way to go, because the gas engine offered was never really designed for a heavy vehicle like the Sprinter, and does not have the power nor longevity for this kind of vehicle. The 3.5L gasoline engine was originally intended for the Caravan, and then later offered in the large sedans, and even later the Wrangler. But it's short on low end torque, and in the Sprinter it will be working harder than in any other application.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:40 AM   #4
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

Thank you for the responses. I have checked a few entries in the Sprinter forum about the gas engine. Of good consideration is that the engine is a variable of an MB engine in use in a good number of cars, and therefore could be worked on in an MB shop without worrying about the mechanics being trained in Sprinters. Also, to be frank, I am not sure how well I would transfer over to a diesel engine. However, the owners, all who praise the vans, are usually using the family mover with lots of seats instead of the heavier load that a full conversion and pop top would add. I was surprised at my husband's support of the gas engine (as I said, the $ trade off for the cheaper van is what sold him) since he buys parts for the other German "white meat" - to borrow a parlance from the pork industry, and is very excited about the new diesels and hybrids he is involved in..... Go figure.

I know the gas is supposed to give you better take off on interstate merging, however, I don't really interstate much. And, I am looking at the wear and tear on the engine from the load.


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Old 07-12-2010, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

I checked with Nancy at the Indiana SMB. She said they had converted a few gas engines, and saw no problem.

Still open to input.


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Old 07-12-2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

One thing you might consider is that MB stopped bring the gas models into the US.

I have diesel and like it more than the gasoline engines I had. The MB diesel is very quite unlike the Dodge diesel trucks that you hear all over the campground when they idle. SMB orders their MB diesels with an idle control so if you are running the a/c while idling you can raise the rpm in order to keep the battery charging.

With the diesel you can use an Espar heater. It feeds off the diesel tank. That means you can drop the entire propane system or opt for a smaller propane tank.

Running down the road at 65 I am hitting 2400 rpm. Just idling along. Not sure about the gas engine rpm. There is no problem with power or freeway entry speed. The diesel Sprinter will get you a ticket just a fast as the gas one will.

The MB dealers I know will not work on a Sprinter just because it is a gas engine. You will still have to find a MB Sprinter dealer.

Lastly, I know gas vs diesel price is not a consideration but in a "normal" world (if we ever return to some semblance of that) diesel would be priced substantially below premium.


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Old 07-12-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

The need for premium gas is something most people don't think about when deciding the cost differential. My Sprinter is diesel and personally I would not want a gas engine.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:14 AM   #8
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Re: Sprinter Petrol Vs. Diesel

Thank you for the input. What ended up squashing this particular cargo van purchase was the lack of rear windows - and this is one set of windows that SMB can not add. So, I doubt we will be considering gas in the long run as I think the low price of this particular van was a fluke.

Also, I did not know about MB no longer bringing them into the states. That alone is a good reason to no longer look at petrol.

I am grateful about the additional info on the MB idling. Noise is a great imposition to place on your fellow travelers in campgrounds and rest areas. We would need to idle and run AC frequently for health reasons. However, since this is only available with the new MB's ordered, and we were hoping to go with a used vehicle to save money, I don't think we will be able to take advantage of that nicer quality.

I also was interested in the Espar, to get rid of propane gas and a water heater for the van.

Thank you to everyone for their assistance and information. I think we are back to looking for a diesel, 2007 or 2008 regular top cargo - but I need to watch for rear windows already installed. We realize we would actually save money by going with the high ceiling rather than the pop top, but for neighborhood regulations and every day driving purposes, the shorter height would work better for us. Plus, they are soooooo cool.


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