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Mercedes Sprinter Maintenance: Breaking-In Notes

Last updated 2017-08-26 - Send Feedback
Related: Sprinter

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 hours and mistakes by discussing issues up-front. More about Lloyd....

If breaking-in is important, why doesn’t the van come with a bright large red sticker on the dashboard? It’s negligent to bury it on page 116 of the user manual when describing the breaking-in period as “crucial”. The one criticism of Mercedes of Reno that I do have is that the breaking-in period was not discussed and emphasized adequately.

Given the difficulty of getting a clean smog report that requires driving 800 miles or so, plan to spend time properly breaking-in the Sprinter (California residents who buy in California do not have to deal with smog initially).

Do NOT just go drive a new Sprinter 500 miles on the freeway at one speed. A diesel should run for several hundred thousand miles if broken in properly.

When I got my sprinter, I had to drive about 180 miles to get to my camping site, but this did have some variation (45 to 65) and I then had some slow-speed dirt road and then some 35 to 45 mph and then more highway at 65 and then some more slow speed stuff, etc. Perhaps not perfectly ideal, but with reasonable variation. The troublesome thing is that 65 mph spins a 4x4 Sprinter engine at around 2600 RPM, so 65 mph is problematic for break-in. Also, it is hard to keep the RPMs down if forced to drive with the nut cases at 75-80 on the east San Francisco bay area freeways (I had one good size mobile home go by me at about 80 mph). Take back roads and slow it down for break-in.

Page 116 of the 2017 Mercedes Sprinter manual states:

New or replaced brake pads and brake disks only reach their optimum braking effect after a few 100 miles (a few 100 kilometers). Until then, compensate for this by applying greater force to the brake pedal.

For the service life and economy of your vehicle it is crucial that you break in the engine with due care.

  • Therefore, protect the engine for the first 1000 miles (1500 km) by driving at varying vehicle and engine speeds.
  • Avoid overstraining the vehicle and high engine speeds during this period, e.g. driving at full throttle. Do not exceed 3/4 of the maximum speed for each gear.
  • Do not change down a gear manually in order to brake.
  • Try to avoid depressing the accelerator pedal beyond the point of resistance (kickdown).
  • The shift ranges 3, 2 or 1 should only be engaged when driving slowly, e.g. when driving in mountainous terrain.

After 1000 miles (1500 km), you can increase the engine speed gradually and accelerate the vehicle to full speed.

You should also observe these notes on breaking-in if the engine or parts of the drive train on your vehicle have been replaced.

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