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Old 03-02-2016, 12:18 PM   #1
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Sprinter won't start after storage (Battery/alternator?)

I'm trying to start my 2014 Sprinter after several months in garaged storage where the coach batteries were kept charged. The van won't fire up and is giving a red error message "Battery / Alternator Start Engine" followed by rapid clicking noise coming from the glovebox area.

The only similar error message in the Sprinter manual is "Battery / Alternator Visit Workshop" which generally means an alternator failure.

Is this as simple as the engine battery going dead over the winter or is there a more serious alternator problem?
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:38 PM   #2
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Engine battery dead!
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:39 PM   #3
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On a side note, COSTCO is selling small Lithium Ion Battery Jump Boxes for only $59.99 and they are handy to have around.
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:11 PM   #4
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Could be a bad battery connection but saying it was in storage points to a dead battery as mentioned. I'm sure there are small loads that draw off the battery while in storage but all batteries suffer from self discharge. A small maintenance charge is a good idea or just give the batteries a boost from time to time. If your hearing a clicking noise chances are the starting battery or batteries are not too far gone and can be charged up. A good time to check the battery connections as well. As for storage it's important to top them off from time to time especially AGM's. Those will suffer damage if they sit below 100% for several months but provided they have no load on them, AGM's have a long shelf life. Make sure they do not fall below 12.8v for long periods of time.
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Old 03-02-2016, 06:25 PM   #5
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In my experience newer vehicles and especially German vehicles don't like to sit around without the batteries going dead. I would add a battery tender or solar panel to that under hood battery.

Does the van have a security system? That's a battery drain for sure.

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Old 03-03-2016, 12:02 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. It was definitely the engine battery. It took some trial and error to get it jump started. One of those lithium-ion "smart" starters connected to the terminals in the engine bay wasn't enough. I also tried running daisy-chained jumper cables to the engine bay -- and nothing.

After seeing some suggestions online, I took the driver's floor apart to reach the physical battery. This is the best spot to jump from since the current has the least resistance. I used heavy 4-gauge jumpers while revving the engine of a 4-cylinder donor car and the Sprinter fired right up. Left it on high idle then drove for an hour and it still starts.

I will definitely be sure to drive the van more during the winter. But I have an email into SMB Texas asking if the battery separator should have prevented this. The house batteries were charged every few weeks, always staying at 80-90% SOC. My understanding was the separator will kick in extra juice if the engine battery is struggling. Anyone know if the 12V master house power needed to be on or off for this to work?
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:04 PM   #7
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Better to put a battery tender on both the engine and house batteries for long term storage and optimum battery life.


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Old 03-03-2016, 02:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned5555 View Post

I have an email into SMB Texas asking if the battery separator should have prevented this. The house batteries were charged every few weeks, always staying at 80-90% SOC. My understanding was the separator will kick in extra juice if the engine battery is struggling. Anyone know if the 12V master house power needed to be on or off for this to work?

Probably depends on the separator model. At least with the Blue Sea 7622, provided it sees a charge potential (from either side) the separator should close and charge both battery systems. I removed the self jump start feature on my old Surepower unit and went with the 7622. Several of the Blue Sea models have control features built in such as full time open or closed modes, an automatic mode, lock out, and a trip out safety mode.

I'd test the separator. If you have a model with lockout feature, make sure it's set up for automatic operation and hasn't tripped or is in the open position. I also believe in monitoring and having a good gauge so you can read what is going on. If your charger is supplying a low amperage maintenance charge it is possible that what pulled down your engine battery is pulling more than what the charger is outputting. I would want to see if the shore charge is actually making it to the engine battery and at what rate.
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Old 03-03-2016, 06:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pntyrmvr View Post
Better to put a battery tender on both the engine and house batteries for long term storage and optimum battery life.


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I agree. $20 and you're done.

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Old 03-07-2016, 12:01 PM   #10
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Not quite the same problem but I had no luck starting my 2011 Sprinter while getting ready for our annual Florida trip. I ran it on high idle for 30 minutes about 10 days before and it seemed to be running fine. We live in Iowa and it can get cold and the day I wanted to start it and move it to get ready it would not start. Not a battery problem since I had 14V. Since it had been about 0F night before I thought maybe gelled diesel since I had last filled it up in fall before stations start winter fuel supplement. I had put some anti gel in myself so I thought it would be fine. It got above freezing the next day but still nothing. Decided to have it towed into MB dealer since I had no idea what to do. They changed two fuses, the fuel filter, and replaced all glow plugs and glow plug controller (glow plug stuff under engine warranty, $925). Seemed to run fine after. Lesson? Check fuses.

By the way, we started smelling diesel in Tennessee and knew there was a fuel leak by Atlanta while sitting in fumes in very slow traffic. Found a dealership in Jacksonville where the tubes in and out of the fuel filter had to be replaced. Disappointed with original dealer work in Iowa but at least we were not charged for the leak repair in Jacksonville although there was some delay getting the new hoses. Bill
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