At this point we have had five nuisance issues and three major difficulties. Nuisance difficulties first: the first was a broken LED light (which the dealer replaced); the second was the broken latch which holds the refrigerator closed (the dealer has ordered a replacement part); the third is the Instant Hot switch cover had the top screw hole stripped, so the switch cover flops around a bit (the dealer recommended we use a larger screw); the fourth was that we were missing six of the eight license plate screws (this was a problem because they were not standard LP screws, and none of the local auto parts stores carried them, so the dealer mailed us the six missing screws); and finally, number five, the seat belts were not installed so we had to perform the two-hour round trip (plus wait time) for the dealer two install the seat belts. In addition to these issues, there were two Mercedes Benz recalls for the sprinter chassis, so we got to meet the Morristown, NJ MB Sprinter personnel, who seemed to do a good job.
Now for the major technical difficulties: First we were convinced that the batteries were not charging properly by idling or driving, and we also suspected the solar panels were not charging. Since we weren’t charging the batteries when driving for hours on our various trips, this was causing secondary problems with the Webasto and running the AC for more than a brief time. Thirdly, we needed to follow-up on the “Coolant Low—Stop Engine” that had appeared on our most recent trip back from Boston. This would be an issue for Mercedes-Benz rather than our dealer or Roadtrek. Still, we were keeping both in the loop about our difficulties.
We had barely sat down at the customer lounge at Mercedes-Benz, when the service advisor came to find us and told us that the “Low Coolant” message was due to the serpentine belt being shredded and wrapped around the fan which had caused the alternator fail. At least this explained why the batteries were not charging by driving or idling.
We immediately contacted Roadtrek and were able to connect their service representative with the Mercedes-Benz service advisor to confirm what needed to be done, since Roadtrek had modified the alternator to allow it to charge the coach batteries. Since there would be additional parts involved, we could not wait for the work and the courtesy car took us home, but not before visiting the parts department where we purchased Mercedes-Benz seat covers, as well as the recommended coolant and oil—the parts specialist said we needed to use for the best performance from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.
We also asked about changing the oil. Karl had noticed that the oil looked dirty when he checked it after our trip to Boston. According to the service technician, with diesel engines, the oil appears just as dirty after 1 mile as it would after 10,000 miles. His recommendation was to change the oil every 7,000. This is quite different than the dealer recommendation of 20,000 miles, but we trust Mercedes-Benz to give us the best information since they are responsible for servicing the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Chassis on which our Roadtrek is built.
There was some follow-up e-mail between Mercedes-Benz and Roadtrek. The work was more extensive than originally thought (belt replacement and realignment of the alternator). We actually needed a new secondary alternator which had to be provided by Roadtrek. So our Roadtrek was at Mercedes-Benz for nearly two weeks and we finally picked it up on June 1st.