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Old 03-18-2013, 12:24 PM   #1
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Potential purchase questions

I have been a long time outsider looking at both Sportsmobiles and converted Sprinter vans and am now getting very close to a purchase. I have found a local Sportsmobile and am seriously looking at purchasing the van but I have some hesitation given some of the readings I have been doing, specifically on the Badger Trek site (http://www.badgertrek.com).

Some background on the purchase. The van has a 6.0L and with the pop-top roof. It is a (1) owner with little 4WD use in its lifetime. For us, the main use of the van would be to allow us to get out and stay out for long on both mountain biking and skiing trips here in Colorado. We would get some of the use of the 4WD here in CO when we are out MTB'ing (getting to the trailheads and camping) but wont be doing any 'serious' off-roading in the van. We will use the van in the winter so insulation and cold start-up are vital.

I am most concerned with reliability of the van as I will have the family with me for most trips.

So my questions are, after reading the 'potential purchase' posts on this forums:
1. Are there any specific items should I have checked out (motor, tranny, brakes) prior to purchase more so than others?
2. Are there any specific years or features I should try and avoid in one of these vans?
3. Does the 6.0L still have issues with reliability? I have had a 7.3L in a truck before and it was great but the 6.0L when it came out was wrought with issues if I remember.

Thanks ahead of time.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:53 PM   #2
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Re: Potential purchase questions

I have a 6.0 w/SMB conversion. My experience is similar to Badger's. That said, I love the stupid thing, spend way too much time and money on it and I'm waiting for it to leave me for someone thinner and younger.

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Old 03-18-2013, 01:02 PM   #3
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Re: Potential purchase questions

About 6.0L reliability, some upgrades (~2K $$) can provide about the same level of reliability as the 7.3L.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:21 PM   #4
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Re: Potential purchase questions

Thanks you for the replies. The amount of work that Badger Trek owners have done to the van is pretty amazing especially given that their van was new and the cost factor. I hate to say it but right now I am not getting a great feeling about a purchase of a SMB.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:57 PM   #5
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Re: Potential purchase questions

My 6.0 is an 06. Prior to 06 some of the engines had Turbo problems. Several upgrades were made and I have been turbo problem free. One thing I should have done was to use a fuel additive (cetane booster) which Ford claims is why I had an EGR failure as well as an injector failure. Other engine problems have been HPOP sensor, IPR sensor, Fuel regulator, and power steering vacuum all of which required a tow except for the fuel issue. I've had other tows that were inflicted causes not attributed to the engine or Ford products. I don't know if Ford truly upgraded any of the parts but said they did on most of the times it was in the shop. I have yet to have any more repeat problems but would like to replace the EGR valve/cooler with a better one. The Cetane booster seems to be doing its job.
The 6.0's a good engine if you dump money into it to make it a good engine. As it is, I get fairly good mileage provided I keep the speeds down, it crawls better when rock climbing, and sounds like a real engine (YMMV). I also prefer the Espar products and have had little trouble with them; others may disagree on this but I use mine all the time especially as an engine warmer and cab heater. Nevertheless, nothing beats a good rated sleeping bag as a backup.
BTW, my van has been in low temps and it doesn't like it much. Plan to drain the water system in winter weather below 25 degrees although I've ran it wet in 8*. The pipes froze even while driving but the Espar kept the cab warm with the top up. I don't know much about the propane systems only have been with several folks when they had problems at altitude.
If I could do it again I would be hard pressed into looking at the V-10. I do plan to "bullet Proof" my 6.0 and after that I'll be more trusting of it. For now I carry a Sat phone and hope I don't have to call in a mechanic or a company to extract me off the mountain top. I keep my fingers crossed and so far I haven't been stranded by a sensor for over 20000 miles. The Vacuum booster failure can happen on any rig equipped with one and why Badger changed his. Just be aware that any vehicle can have problems. It's not an SMB issue. Unless you plan to do some heavy rock climbing, usually there is a way to get you out via a tow. The bigger the vehicle the harder it will to be pulled out while on a difficult trail. Normal forest service roads are not generally a problem.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:16 PM   #6
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Re: Potential purchase questions

Thanks Dave. The main use of the van will simply be for general camping in mild terrain. Right now our vehicles just dont allow for much 'dirt' travel to where the trail heads are. We have made do but want to get something where we dont have to always rent a place to stay in for a few days we are out in the mountains. Given that statement, we wont do much off-roading but just want the reliability to travel on normal dirt roads and highway between the towns.

I have seriously been looking at the Sprinter vans as they dont seem to have the same number of issues I have read about with the Ford/SMB's but then I might not be looking deep enough there.

Sounds like what I knew, which was each vehicle will have its own issues, the SMB's just allow you to be farther away when an issue arises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
My 6.0 is an 06. Prior to 06 some of the engines had Turbo problems. Several upgrades were made and I have been turbo problem free. One thing I should have done was to use a fuel additive (cetane booster) which Ford claims is why I had an EGR failure as well as an injector failure. Other engine problems have been HPOP sensor, IPR sensor, Fuel regulator, and power steering vacuum all of which required a tow except for the fuel issue. I've had other tows that were inflicted causes not attributed to the engine or Ford products. I don't know if Ford truly upgraded any of the parts but said they did on most of the times it was in the shop. I have yet to have any more repeat problems but would like to replace the EGR valve/cooler with a better one. The Cetane booster seems to be doing its job.
The 6.0's a good engine if you dump money into it to make it a good engine. As it is, I get fairly good mileage provided I keep the speeds down, it crawls better when rock climbing, and sounds like a real engine (YMMV). I also prefer the Espar products and have had little trouble with them; others may disagree on this but I use mine all the time especially as an engine warmer and cab heater. Nevertheless, nothing beats a good rated sleeping bag as a backup.
BTW, my van has been in low temps and it doesn't like it much. Plan to drain the water system in winter weather below 25 degrees although I've ran it wet in 8*. The pipes froze even while driving but the Espar kept the cab warm with the top up. I don't know much about the propane systems only have been with several folks when they had problems at altitude.
If I could do it again I would be hard pressed into looking at the V-10. I do plan to "bullet Proof" my 6.0 and after that I'll be more trusting of it. For now I carry a Sat phone and hope I don't have to call in a mechanic or a company to extract me off the mountain top. I keep my fingers crossed and so far I haven't been stranded by a sensor for over 20000 miles. The Vacuum booster failure can happen on any rig equipped with one and why Badger changed his. Just be aware that any vehicle can have problems. It's not an SMB issue. Unless you plan to do some heavy rock climbing, usually there is a way to get you out via a tow. The bigger the vehicle the harder it will to be pulled out while on a difficult trail. Normal forest service roads are not generally a problem.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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Re: Potential purchase questions

I'm not sure I would say Sprinters have less problems. They are just more consistent so they are easier to diagnose and happen on a regular basis. Big one is the transmission is pretty much a wear item. It lasts 150k tops, and costs about $6k to replace. The other area of concern is brakes. Brakes are a little undersized, so heavy Sprinters can wear though them fast, and a full brake job is kinda spendy, since the back doesn't have slide-off discs. But more importantly is Sprinters do not have a factory-approved 4x4 option. WhiteFeather does it, but you'll be a little more limited on where you can take it vs an E-series conversion.

Not every 6.0 has problems. But its a total crapshoot, and some problems give ZERO warning up until the point the van suddenly loses power or stalls. The bigger problem areas (cascading oil cooler failure which can cause catastrophic engine failure) do give early warning if you know what to look for, but that doesn't mean it will start in a place where you can address it.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:47 PM   #8
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Re: Potential purchase questions

Well I would definitely look into a 4x4 Quigley at a minimum. Is there a reason why you must have a diesel? Sprinters have been know for trouble as well. 4x4 is there for snow as well as mud and although some companies offer a 4x4 the ride height might be an issue on forest service roads. The V-10 might be a gas hog, but if you don't use it around town all the time, it's a rock solid engine. My diesel only provides good mileage on flat ground or downhill situations. You can also look into a Chevy...a nice one just sold not too far back. Plenty of pictures at my website listed below in my signature.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:48 PM   #9
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Re: Potential purchase questions

One thing to consider is camping in the winter. We had a 2006 with the 6.0 (only problem was the vacuum pump going-out) but with 3 or 4 of us camping in the snow it was tight and with the penthouse up, staying warm could sometimes be an issue. Also, when the snow was really falling I was always concerned with build-up on the roof. However, if it's just 1 or 2 people with the top down it was great!
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:54 PM   #10
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Potential purchase questions

I'm not mechanically inclined but there's enough noise from 6.0 owners/mechanics I know and don't know that makes me never want to buy a 6.0.

When looking for my smb I narrowed it down to Ford 7.3, Chevy Duramax, Ford V10 or nothing at all in that order.

My 7.3 smb is the 2nd 7.3 vehicle I've owned with over 200k miles with great luck so far. I've had many other 7.3s from 95-2003, f-series and excursion. Love them all. Oil change, good fuel, good to go.
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