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What Turbo Issues Should You Expect On Your NCV3 Sprinter?

If you own a second-generation (NCV3) Mercedes Sprinter, then you're likely driving one of the two turbodiesel engine options. These vehicles are popular as commercial and recreational vehicles, but they aren't immune to their fair share of trouble. Both the emissions system and the turbochargers are common failure points.

Although these engines are reliable and failure is far from guaranteed, it can pay to understand common issues related to the turbocharger. Recognizing these problems can help you to avoid additional damage and more costly repairs.

Is the Problem the Turbocharger?

Turbochargers are relatively complicated components exposed to significant stress, but they also tend to be surprisingly reliable. In many cases, turbocharger problems aren't necessarily due to a failure in the turbocharger compressor itself. Instead, issues often arise with the associated plumbing or fitting. Your turbocharger needs a variety of hoses for carrying oil and air to maintain adequate boost levels.

If your turbocharger can't maintain expected boost levels for any reason, your vehicle's computer will trigger limp mode. Limp mode severely limits your van's performance, which can give the impression that your turbocharger has failed. Fortunately, this is rarely the case, and further investigation will usually help you narrow down the component responsible for the issue.

Where Should You Expect Failures?

Turbocharger-related failures on Sprinter vans typically occur in the boost hoses that move air between your exhaust and intakes. Turbochargers work by using exhaust energy to spin an air compressor (the turbocharger). By compressing air, you can push more of it by volume into your engine, ultimately generating more power.

Turbocharger systems require significant plumbing, however. Hoses must carry exhaust air to the turbocharger, and additional hoses move intake air from the turbocharger to an intercooler and ultimately to the engine's intake manifold. Like any other hose in your engine bay, these can develop leaks over time.

If your Sprinter suddenly loses turbocharger boost or goes into limp mode, a hose is a far more likely culprit than the turbocharger unit itself. Failed seals where the hoses connect to various turbo system components are another probable cause. Anything that creates an air leak will limit boost and trigger your van to enter limp mode.

How Can You Resolve Turbocharger Issues?

Always work with a shop that has experience dealing with Sprinter vans if you suspect you may have a turbocharger issue. Inexperienced technicians may take the much more costly route of simply replacing anything that seems suspect. A skilled shop should investigate the problem thoroughly, ruling out more straightforward (and cheaper) issues such as leaky hoses.

Whatever the ultimate cause, it's a good idea to stop driving your van if it enters limp mode. You may cause additional damage by pushing your engine, potentially turning a cheap fix into a much more expensive problem. Taking your Sprinter in for an evaluation is the best way to get back on the road without facing an expensive repair bill.

For more information, ask your mechanic about your Mercedes Benz Sprinter repair options.