Saturday, December 2, 2023

MENU rescues reader from maddening Sprinter repair issue!

Last month, reader Peggy E. read an article we published in 2021. The story was how RVers were being affected by an illegal emissions control scheme cooked up by Mercedes-Benz for Sprinter vans. While the company never admitted guilt, they did settle the matter, which alleged the company had installed emissions devices that made it appear their rigs were EPA complaint. Mercedes agreed to replace emissions equipment of affected vehicles. Peggy’s Winnebago Era was one of those affected by the Mercedes recall. Technically, this isn’t a “recall” but a settlement, but for ease we’ll use the term “recall.” Regardless of what you call it, Peggy was having big problems, and wrote a plaintive post on the website.

“If I do the fix, my RV will no longer be an RV”

Peggy’s 2014 Era was built on a 2013 Mercedes Sprinter chassis. She knew she was having trouble when her Check Engine Light kept coming on, and her rig would go into “limp” mode. When she took the rig to the local dealer for the Mercedes recall, the dealer told her that essentially, when the recall was completed, her self-contained RV would no longer be. How’s that? The dealer said that part of the emissions system was routed around the RV’s holding tanks. To perform the recall work, those tanks would have to be removed, and that after the work was completed, the tanks could NOT be reinstalled. “If I do the fix, my RV will no longer be an RV,” Peggy wrote. “No usable toilet, shower or sinks. Anyone else have this scenario? I don’t know what to do.”

Mercedes recallPeggy had already turned to the dealer that sold her the Era Class B unit—Camping World. After contacting someone in the Mercedes organization, the friendly folks at Camping World said there was nothing they could do. The bewildered RVer had already been told that removing the tanks would set her back between Five and Eight Thousand Dollars.

When Peggy appealed to Winnebago’s Owner Assistance group, she was brusquely told that hers was not a Winnebago issue. Maybe, the representative said, she could get help from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. That agency bounced her to the Federal Trade Commission. After a long ordeal of filling out the FTC’s online complaint form, she got to the bottom and found out the agency couldn’t help individuals like her. If there were enough complaints, then maybe, just maybe, they could do something.

Keep paying until the Mercedes recall can be done

Peggy found herself “in the soup.” Not only was her Winnie her RV, it was also her daily driver—she had no other vehicle to rely on. She was also sitting on the loan she took out to buy the RV. She was understandably upset, and felt she had no way out. The only way to keep her rig going until the Mercedes recall was completed was to pay the Mercedes dealership $200 to reset her rig’s computer every time it went into limp mode. is “well-connected”

What’s an RVer to do? We think she took a good step in contacting us. It was, admittedly, a problem we’d never heard of. Happily, we have a well-connected group of writers. One of them reached out to Winnebago. Yep, they’d heard from Peggy. And sorry, nope, it wasn’t something that Winnie could help with. But the next call, this time to a higher-up in the Mercedes-Benz organization, yielded some hope. While the Mercedes representative had never heard of a situation where a holding tank system couldn’t be reinstalled, he said he’d look into it.

It wasn’t long before the call came back. The big van building company said it would pay for the Mercedes recall. Further, they’d pay the recalcitrant dealer to either remove the tanks, or would shoulder the costs of doing so. The dealer Peggy had been dealing with near her home was Walser Mercedes-Benz of Wichita, Kansas. But when Mercedes corporate called Walser and asked them take on the tanks, the answer was a flat “No tanks!”

Since the Wichita dealer wouldn’t budge, the next closest cooperative Mercedes dealer was in Kansas City—a three-hour drive from Peggy’s home. Again, her Era was her only set of wheels. So, Mercedes said it would pick up Peggy’s ailing Era and transport it to Kansas City, have the work done, and then tote it back home. Meanwhile, Mercedes would pick up the tab for a rental car as long as the RV was away from home. Total cost for the Mercedes recall work to Peggy? Zero dollars.

“Friends in high places”

Mercedes recall
Peggy’s rig — soon to be restored

Peggy says she got a call about all of this in mid-June. “I received a call from the Mercedes liaison, Joshua, today,” she relates. “He said I must have friends in high places because due to that ‘higher up’ guy you contacted, Mercedes is willing to help me out.” We’re thrilled that Mercedes has done the right thing for Peggy, and we’re just happy that the folks at were able to have a hand in it. We’re not equipped with a “magic wand,” but sometimes we can rattle the right cages and get things moving.

If you have a seemingly insurmountable RV problem, like Peggy did, let us know. We might be able to help you out.



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Neal Davis (@guest_242685)
5 months ago

Glad that you could add your “thumb” to the scales of justice and get the “balance” to result in Peggy’s van getting fixed. It is amazing the things that RV dealers do. Life certainly can be stranger than fiction.

Bonita (@guest_242532)
5 months ago

Hello, Awesome Advocates! I have a problem that perhaps you can help me resolve. I ordered a Gypsy trailer from in September of 2021. They require half the total cost of the trailer up front, $3,915 in my case. My trailer was estimated to be ready for me in June 2022. Their policy is that after the purchase, they will only be in communication with me when they start work on the trailer. I attempted to cancel the order in December 2022 and they told me that they have to make it and then sell it for me to get my money back so I didn’t cancel. One year after the first estimate date, I have yet to receive either the trailer or my deposit. Unfortunately, I waited too long to reach out to Discover to ask them to investigate it for me. How long is reasonable to wait for a trailer? I bought a different (used!) Aliner in April of this year, but I’d really like my money back for the one that never materialized. Is there any recourse for me? Thanks!

Bill (@guest_242099)
5 months ago

My main question of this article is what sort of emissions work would even require holding tank removal? I know there might be fuel lines or exhaust components in that area that could be involved in emissions but my understanding is this recall mainly concerned the electronics that were installed to “fool” the testers.
I can also understand Mercedes not wanting to work on a second party modified unit. (Try to get a Ford dealer to do any drivetrain warranty work on a class A, B or C motorhome. I’m told it can only be done at a Commercial Ford Truck Center if at all).

Ken (@guest_242122)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill

The “recall” involves replacing the SCR catalytic converter and both NOx sensors on older models like the 2013. The ERAs tanks block access to removal of those components. At the dealership where I was the Sprinter Shop Foreman we would have the clients take it to the RV dealer across the street to remove and replace the tanks on their dime. Never had issues or been instructed to NOT reinstall them.

Jake (@guest_242576)
5 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Whose dime is “their”? Meaning, who are you referring to? Mercedes should’ve paid for the RV dealer to remove and reinstall the tanks. It’s their fault since they sold these vans to an RV manufacturer to make RVs.

Linda (@guest_242047)
5 months ago

Thank you to the folks at RV Travel for stepping in and being able to help this lady! Great job!

Bob S (@guest_242030)
5 months ago

Great work RVTravel!

david (@guest_242029)
5 months ago

Sounds like a racket to me, install inferior equipment, falsify emissions documents and then charge $200 for CPU resets x 1000’s, that’s a cash cow. I could see them not wanting to fix “their” fraudulent contraption and also not make it known to others. I was looking into purchasing a Sprinter for a build, guess who will not be purchasing a Sprinter. Thank you for helping and sharing.

Jack (@guest_242007)
5 months ago

Emission systems on diesel vehicles are fraught with peril. Once they pass a certain age/ mileage you are on your own & NO extend warranty will cover. Sad because they are great engines otherwise.

Tim Bradbury (@guest_241985)
5 months ago

Dear Peggy In 2022 my wife and i had the problem the limp mode go into effect when we were in Texas. we are from Iowa and had to be towed from Bastrop to Georgetown TX and that was not cheap! Mercedes of Georgetown took very good care of us once we got it there and never said one thing about dropping tanks, and yes we have the 2013 view. What has upset me is there was supposed to be a refund check sent to us after you get the recall done and it never showed and yes all paper work was done by Georgetown! It would have been nice to at least recoup some of our loses as we were down there due to my wife’s cancer!

Brad (@guest_242091)
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bradbury

Hi Tim – you were supposed to fill out paperwork provided on a Mercedes website by a certain date last year. I jumped through many hoops to get my check and they made an exception past the date. Maybe RV travel with work its magic with Mercedes for you and give them a nudge to help a guy out.

BTW – my MPGs dropped by 2 after the recall so they should be reimbursing you. Good luck!

Bob M (@guest_241978)
5 months ago

Good Job to all who helped.

Jim Johnson (@guest_241972)
5 months ago

Very sadly this kind of customer service is becoming the norm in multiple industries. But sticking to RVs, I was very fortunate to accidentally get an ear from a Keystone executive – it only took 3 months of banging my head against the wall. I was trying to replace 5 year old furniture from Lippert same size. Wasn’t looking for a handout. The furniture wasn’t in Lippert’s retail catalog, but still used in new RVs. I got a couple ridiculous offers of too big furniture from the catalog, but in most cases never even got a response from my many contacts to dealers, retail parts suppliers, or Lippert. It took one exec (Keystone) talking to another exec (Lippert) to make anything happen.

Tom H. (@guest_241969)
5 months ago

Sometimes it is “who you know”

Tom (@guest_241966)
5 months ago

The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Another awkward moment between chassis manufacturer and RV maker. Shame on Mercedes-Benz cheating.

Seann Fox (@guest_241961)
5 months ago

Finally someone (RV Travel) is replacing the defunct (not so) GoodSam RVer assistance. I joined GoodSam (life member) before Makeus Lemonaidus took over the organization

Last edited 5 months ago by Seann Fox
Julie (@guest_241959)
5 months ago

Is she the only one in the universe that has this RV? Surely others had to go through the same thing? Be interesting to know from Winnebago how many of these were manufactured: “2014 Era was built on a 2013 Mercedes Sprinter chassis”.

Spike (@guest_242014)
5 months ago
Reply to  Julie

My question as well. Has this action by Mercedes for one customer been communicated back to the appropriate executive at Winnebago that might actually put down their morning donut and coffee and aggressively rattle some cages at Mercedes on a larger scale???

In the Fortune 100 company I spent my career at, the VP of Global Supply Chain had a lot of power dealing with suppliers. In fact, our suppliers were contractually obligated to indemnify for any costs of issues their product caused.

And in this case it was an outright fraud perpetrated by Mercedes and Winnebago does nothing?

Bill T (@guest_241957)
5 months ago

I don’t remember reading if they reinstalled the tanks after the recall work was done. Did they?

Tom H. (@guest_241968)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill T

I was wondering the same thing

Michael Butts (@guest_242009)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill T

I’m curious about that, too.

Diane McGovern
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill T

Hi, Bill, Tom and Michael. According to the Mercedes rep, the repair is pending, but when it’s done everything will be back in working order.👍 Have a good night. 😀 –Diane at

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