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Mercedes Sprinter: Installing a Higher Capacity Fuel Tank (ACGB Tanks)
Photographer and cyclist and Mac expert and software engineer Lloyd Chambers is available for consulting on general Sprinter considerations at his usual consulting rates via phone, or in person in the Palo Alto, CA area. Save yourself months of planning and costly mistakes by discussing issues up-front. More about Lloyd....
Fuel cans and the like in my view are a problematic solution: unless kept outside, they emit a stink. Plus they are a hassle to fill and cycle through the fuel periodically, require external mounting, etc. Junk cluttering up your Sprinter in space better used for gear.
The only elegant solution to having more fuel is a larger fuel tank. Not a dual fuel tank with a pump system, but a larger fuel tank.
How does it make sense to carry 2 or 5 gallons extra fuel in fuel cans when it can be 21 gallons or even 26 gallons more fuel?
A larger fuel tank increases the odds of refueling at the lowest possible cost. But it is more than that: a larger fuel tank brings vastly increased range, and a considerable decrease in time wasted refueling.
For example, on my fall trips in the frigid mountains, I idled the Sprinter about 50 hours per trip (40 gallons of fuel) over a 2-week period. It cut my time down in the White Mountains—I ran low on fuel due to temperatures well below freezing (I needed heat and charging of large batteries). For those touring the United States, fuel stops at reasonable cost can be hundreds of miles apart. And if towing or a heavy build, the larger tank might be all but a necessity.
For some, a larger fuel tank will pay for itself over the life of the vehicle, and that’s not counting the considerable reduction in time wasted refueling nor the range or convenience or idling the engine for power and heat.
Where I travel frequently (Eastern Sierra), diesel #2 can be $5.00/gal in Bridgeport, $4.50/gal in Lee Vining, and $3.39/gal in Bishop. Fill 'er up with 40 gallons and I just saved 40 X (4.50 - 3.39) = $44 = about $55 in fuel savings every 1000 miles. Not every fill-up would be in Lee Vining at $4.50 a gallon of course, but in theory one year’s usage (12000 miles) means $660 in fuel savings. The tank pays for itself in 3-5 years, plus the convenience and range are far superior. The main thing is knowing that filling up can be deferred for about 900 miles (for a 47 gallon tank). It’s peace of mind also.
Update 06 Feb 2018: the 180 liter / 47.5 gallon ACGB tank for my 2017 Mercedes Sprinter 144" wheebase 4xR is ordered. I plan on having Mercedes of Reno install it (ask for service manager Kwanny and please let him know that you heard about it at Lloyd Chambers' WindInMyFace.com). I’ll report on the install and so on once it is done.
Larger fuel tank details
The solution could not be more elegant: remove the original tank, put the larger tank in, utilizing the stock fuel tank and stock fuel pump and fill it up just as with the stock OEM 26.4 gallon tank.
- The Sprinter with 144-inch / 3.2 meter wheelbase accepts up to the 180 liter tank (47.55 gallons), which is 21 gallons and 80% more capacity than the stock 26.4 gallon tank.
- The Sprinter with 170-inch /3.6 meter wheelbase accepts up to the 220 liter tank (52.8 gallons), which doubles the capacity of the stock 26.4 gallon tank.
- There is a 140 liter / 37 gallon fuel tank, but it seems a bit pointless versus getting the largest tank unless perhaps the Van Compass skid plate for the stock OEM fuel tank can still be fitted (unknown).
The tank swap works just like the stock fuel tank, keeping the OEM fuel pump and connectors. As with the stock tank, the fuel gauge is not very accurate—I can burn off 2 gallons from full and the gauge doesn’t budget, and the Sprinter wants me to refuel with 6 gallons left. For an 80% larger tank, the low fuel warning will come at about 10 gallons remaining! But that’s not the fault of the tank; it’s a wildly inaccurate fuel gauge.
My contact for purchase within the USA is in the UK. Please tell Marc that Lloyd Chambers at WindInMyFace.com sent you. Regrettably, ACGB has no presence in the USA as of 2018, but that might change in late 2019.
Key Account Manager
ACGB +44 79 67 22 71 06
Installation and costs
The Van Compass skid plate for the stock OEM fuel tank must be removed and cannot be installed over the replacement tank. Field reports suggest that the replacement tank with high-grade 3mm aluminum is very strong and will dent if hit seriously. How and why one would be driving a Sprinter at speeds high enough to crack a metal-walled fuel tank are unclear since anything capable of doing that would have to be 20 inches high or so on the 4X4 Sprinter.
Mercedes dealers should be able to install the tank in about 1.5 hours with experience according to ACGB. Mercedes of Reno balked at first, but the service manager gave me the go-ahead and I plan on having it installed there.
For USA Sprinter owners as of 2018, shipping and custom fees are a large part of the cost—as much as a bit more than half the cost of the tank itself! That is a serious cost, but until ACGB starts building tanks in the USA, those costs (air freight and customs) are unavoidable.
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