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Old 11-03-2018, 08:28 PM   #1
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Truckers' DEF pumps?

How easy is it to fill a Sprinter's DEF tank using the DEF pumps I've seen at a few middle-of-nowhere gas stations and truck stops in the midwest and mountain west? It's less than half the price of the DEF we can buy at Home Depot, but...

Maybe this is a stupid question, but the parallel universe of fill-up stations for truckers scares and confuses me, what with the lack of credit card readers or strange fleet-based payment systems, the giant nozzles, and the super-fast flow rates. When I was once obliged to use one, the truck-sized nozzle for diesel actually fit into the sprinter just fine, but it came out so fast it back-splashed violently, tripped the cut-off prematurely, and we ended up at least 5 gallons shy of full.

So I'm wondering whether the same thing would happen filling the DEF, but with even worse consequences, since the tank is only 5 gallons total, it's directly inside the engine compartment, and DEF doesn't smell quite as flowery as diesel, so if there's a major spillage we're going to be smelling like urine for the next few thousand miles.

Am I being silly?
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:46 PM   #2
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Used truck stop def pumps a few times. Makes a mess of your engine compartment. The spillage already at the def/diesel truck island is enough to keep me away. Not worth it. I went back to the trusty old boxed urine (which truck stops usually sell anyway).
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:10 PM   #3
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I’ve got send them a few times here in Oregon without a problem. My DEF fill is right next to my diesel fill. Not sure where it is on your Sprinter.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:41 PM   #4
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My DEF fill is right next to my diesel fill. Not sure where it is on your Sprinter.
On the 2017 Sprinter, at least, you pop the hood and fill it pretty much the same as refilling the windshield washer fluid, except it's not transparent so you can't tell when it's almost full.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:52 PM   #5
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Aha, that could make it more challenging. The ones I’ve used to have a cutoff just like a regular fuel filler once the tank fills but inevitably you’ll probably spill some into the engine bay. DEF seems to wash off pretty easily with water but I’ve only had to do it on the side of my van, oh and my shoes....those jugs of it are ridiculous. I swear I splatter about 1/4 of it everywhere each time I use them.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:03 PM   #6
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As long as you have somewhere, like a truck stop bathroom with a sink, to clean off if you splash some on yourself, I'd just give it a try.

Sure the urea feels a little strange, but it's totally safe. I also cleans up fine if you get it on yourself, your clothing, or some part of the vehicle.

How much DEF does a sprinter go through? My only experience with it is in a tiny BMW engine. There it's like 2 gallons every 8 or 9 thousand miles. I'd have to go through a lot more to bother optimizing cost over convenience.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:58 PM   #7
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Another data point in the discussion... I only fill the DEF tank at truck stops. I've never used the jugs in over four years of ownership. The DEF nozzle fits snugly in the fill pipe under my Sprinter's hood. The pump stops when the DEF tank is full. No spillage. No jug to deal with. No worry that the entire jug will fit. Generally better price than the jugs. Just my two cents.
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:20 PM   #8
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OP, you aren't being silly. If you're using one of the major chain truck stops their equipment is usually maintained rather well. The cut off levers and generally every part of the pumps work fine. For slower fuel flow just don't pull the trigger all the way. Go to the first notch or so. You'll still fill quickly. On the DEF the nozzles and spouts on vehicles (and trucks) are uniformly sized.

As for credit at the pump every truck stop I've ever fueled at has it. If it's an old mom and pop that doesn't have pay-at-the-pump I'm not fueling there anyway because I worry about how long their diesel has been sitting in the underground tanks. You don't want old diesel.

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Old 11-04-2018, 08:44 PM   #9
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As for credit at the pump every truck stop I've ever fueled at has it.
Here in the west, I have occasionally pulled into a fueling station and discovered it was one of those fleet based closed system stations the OP mentioned. There may be 20 or more pumps, but usually no one is using them. You have to be part of a commercial fleet that has a contract with the fuel distributor to use their pumps. And that requires a special key or key card to access. It's pretty disappointing to exit the freeway, take a round-about route to get there, only to discover you can't actually use it!
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Old 11-04-2018, 09:22 PM   #10
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How much DEF does a sprinter go through? My only experience with it is in a tiny BMW engine. There it's like 2 gallons every 8 or 9 thousand miles. I'd have to go through a lot more to bother optimizing cost over convenience.
On our 4x4 Sprinter, it's more like 1 gallon per 8 or 9 hundred miles, give or take. Yeah, the cost difference isn't that big a deal, just the range anxiety of being somewhere inconvenient to clean up after a mess. We just did a coast-to-coast road trip and back, with 8000 total miles over the course of a month, so this crossed our minds a lot.

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Another data point in the discussion... I only fill the DEF tank at truck stops. I've never used the jugs in over four years of ownership. The DEF nozzle fits snugly in the fill pipe under my Sprinter's hood. The pump stops when the DEF tank is full. No spillage. No jug to deal with. No worry that the entire jug will fit. Generally better price than the jugs. Just my two cents.
Great, that's all I really needed to hear. I'll try it next time. We don't have a local station that has DEF pumps, we just run across them at random on road trips.
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