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Old 09-20-2021, 02:46 PM   #1
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Sprinter DEF

Hi, We purchased a new 21 Winnebago ERA built on a 20 Sprinter chassis This year in April and because of extended medical issues and other commentments it has sat all summer and only used it a couple of times at local campgrounds. My question is, it still has over a half of tank of diesel ( which I will fill up) and a full tank of DEF. Is there a place to drain the DEF out (don't know if the factory puts in good DEF) and replace it with ultra DEF or just not worry about it for the 6 month winter storage?

Thanks for all the input!!
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Old 09-20-2021, 05:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadbottom View Post
Hi, We purchased a new 21 Winnebago ERA built on a 20 Sprinter chassis This year in April and because of extended medical issues and other commentments it has sat all summer and only used it a couple of times at local campgrounds. My question is, it still has over a half of tank of diesel ( which I will fill up) and a full tank of DEF. Is there a place to drain the DEF out (don't know if the factory puts in good DEF) and replace it with ultra DEF or just not worry about it for the 6 month winter storage?

Thanks for all the input!!
Educate me what's DEF ? based on your comments I'm guessing you are referring to anti freeze if installed by the factory in your radiator I would think its of the correct standard other wise they would have suggested changing it. Interested to know what others suggest.
Good Luck
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Old 09-20-2021, 06:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadbottom View Post
Hi, We purchased a new 21 Winnebago ERA built on a 20 Sprinter chassis This year in April and because of extended medical issues and other commentments it has sat all summer and only used it a couple of times at local campgrounds. My question is, it still has over a half of tank of diesel ( which I will fill up) and a full tank of DEF. Is there a place to drain the DEF out (don't know if the factory puts in good DEF) and replace it with ultra DEF or just not worry about it for the 6 month winter storage?

Thanks for all the input!!
Some of the more expensive versions of DEF (Ultra, etc) have additives that they claim help with this and that but are totally unnecessary. Just buy name brand DEF, less than one year old, and stored inside at less than 80*F. I avoid the cheapest and don't buy in to the claims of the most expensive.

I also avoid bulk (pump) DEF because of my own experiences. You’ll hear arguments for and against it - both seem to have their merits. Since it has a relatively short life expectancy I only buy box DEF, check the date code, and observe how its been stored. Then I test it before it goes in the tank. Its about the best you can do.

As for changing it, thats a good idea if its been sitting all summer. DEF degrades in heat - the life expectancy is something like 3 months at 80 degrees, and one month at 100. As DEF degrades the ammonia concentration increases and its corrosive properties are damaging to the sensors in the tank, which will leave you stranded when they fail. So letting it sit over the winter with old DEF would not be a good idea.

A quick sniff test will tell you all you need to know. Open the tank and smell it (quickly - you are smelling ammonia) and then smell some freshly opened DEF. Good DEF will smell mildly of ammonia. DEF that is degrading will smell noticeably more strongly of it. This by the way is normal - DEF works by converting to ammonia under heat in your SCR, and ammonia reacts with NOx and converts it to nitrogen ad oxygen (air). So its supposed to do thet but not in the tank.

You may or may not have a drain plug, but it is easily syphoned out. I use about 5’ of clear 5/8 tubing - 5’ so I dont risk injesting any. You could also use any one of the many fluid transfer pumps available - either powered or manual.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:08 AM   #4
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Boy wasn't I barking up the wrong tree on my ignorance about DEF I have just read what it refers too and is a fuel related issue not antifreeze as I had thought. I'll make sure In read up on something I wasn't aware of before trying to answer a question. Good job much smarter people than I were able to help answer you're question.
Good Luck
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:25 AM   #5
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Boy wasn't I barking up the wrong tree on my ignorance about DEF I have just read what it refers too and is a fuel related issue not antifreeze as I had thought. I'll make sure In read up on something I wasn't aware of before trying to answer a question. Good job much smarter people than I were able to help answer you're question.
Good Luck
Onebrit
I didnt know much about it either, other than trying to adapt scrubber technology to vehicles seemed like a questionable idea, until I owned one. The first was a ‘17 F250 diesel. Since it had been trouble free since day 1, I thought this was no big deal and I could just dump in any DEF and not worry about it.

Then I bought my Freightliner/Cummins coach, and wow! Multiple failures, spending Thanksgiving stuck in a Freightliner parking lot, being stranded on Christmas day, being in limp mode in the middle of New Mexico many miles from a shop.

It was the school of hard knocks, because the manufacturers and dealers conveniently forget to mention how fragile and poorly engineered these systems are, not to mention the scarcity of replacement parts.

So like so many others, I had to learn the care and feeding of these fragile systems, how to baby them along, how to retrieve and interpret codes, what DEF to buy and what to stay away from, and how to test the stuff, how to avoid costly repairs and being stranded, not to mention separating a lot of myth from fact.

So you are not alone. Unless you've been on the side of the highway with little or no shoulder, in the middle of the night without cell service, when its 29* out and you're missing an important family event, you wouldn't have any reason to know about it, much less how severe the situation is.
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:53 PM   #6
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Winnebago Era

Thanks for the good info, I think I will error on the safe side and drain and put some fresh DEF in before winter storage. Thanks again
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Old 09-21-2021, 04:17 PM   #7
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Thank you for your kind words, I was expecting further comment about my ignorance. You certainly educated me to a point, I'll be sure not to comment on something I had no knowledge. You certainly went to some lengths explaining your experience and have helped Leadbottom make the right decision and hopefully avoid future possible breakdowns.
Kindest Regards
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Old 09-24-2021, 03:12 PM   #8
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Thanks for the good info, I think I will error on the safe side and drain and put some fresh DEF in before winter storage. Thanks again
you don't need to drain the DEF. But you do need to take the MH out on a small trip on the highway, about 50 miles will due. If you don't have a way to force a REGEN then you need to get it to perform a REGEN before putting it up for the winter.
Don't worry about the DEF, as long as it is in the DEF tank it's OK. What ever you do, don't wasted money on DEF antifreeze, it's a farce and can harm your engine.
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Old 09-24-2021, 05:07 PM   #9
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you don't need to drain the DEF. But you do need to take the MH out on a small trip on the highway, about 50 miles will due. If you don't have a way to force a REGEN then you need to get it to perform a REGEN before putting it up for the winter.
Don't worry about the DEF, as long as it is in the DEF tank it's OK. What ever you do, don't wasted money on DEF antifreeze, it's a farce and can harm your engine.
A few quick points here:

• DEF and regens are unrelated. Regens happen in the DPF with the injection of diesel IF there is excessive soot build-up AND insufficient exhaust heat. DEF is injected into the SCR where exhaust heat causes the urea to release ammonia which reacts with NOx converting it to nitrogen and oxygen.

• Additional regens will not help with DEF related problems. There is no immediate need to preform a regen - it happens based on the % soot load that accumulates in the DPF from normal operation of the vehicle. More stop and go and low speed driving will create more soot, but it is a gradual process, the system is designed to preform regens based on resulting exhaust pressure and, unlike DEF, not a cause of concern for a stored vehicle.

• DEF degrades with time alone, and degrades faster with heat. So DEF stored over the winter but used within one year should probably be ok. DEF stored in the tank over the summer definitely has the potential to degrade beyond system parameters measured by the DEF quality probe and cause a derate, and worse can damage the sensors causing the rig to essentially stop. The official position seems to be that as DEF degrades the only concern is a reduced urea concentration causing increased DEF usage. However in practice, as stated above, the other effect is increased ammonia concentration and this has proven to be damaging to the tank sensors.

• Mercedes probably has a better system than Frieghtliner and Spartan and may not suffer from these insufficiencies in design and manufacturing, and Mercedes has extended theit emissions warranty to 8 years - a commendable move on their part. But regardless of these points, the threat of being stranded is enough for me to err on the side of caution.

• DEF begins to freeze around 12 degrees F but the built-in DEF heater returns it to a liquid state when the vehicle is operated. The official position is that there is no cause for concern for low DEF temps however I have had problems twice driving in temps in the teens and I suspect the DEF began to freeze in the lines causing a low DEF pressure reading.

• Ive never considered DEF antifreeze but its an interesting concept. I agree that additives are unnecessary and probably not worth the risk and I prefer to just go where its warm.
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Old 09-25-2021, 09:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by R.Wold View Post
A few quick points here:

• DEF and regens are unrelated. Regens happen in the DPF with the injection of diesel IF there is excessive soot build-up AND insufficient exhaust heat. DEF is injected into the SCR where exhaust heat causes the urea to release ammonia which reacts with NOx converting it to nitrogen and oxygen.

• Additional regens will not help with DEF related problems. There is no immediate need to preform a regen - it happens based on the % soot load that accumulates in the DPF from normal operation of the vehicle. More stop and go and low speed driving will create more soot, but it is a gradual process, the system is designed to preform regens based on resulting exhaust pressure and, unlike DEF, not a cause of concern for a stored vehicle.

• DEF degrades with time alone, and degrades faster with heat. So DEF stored over the winter but used within one year should probably be ok. DEF stored in the tank over the summer definitely has the potential to degrade beyond system parameters measured by the DEF quality probe and cause a derate, and worse can damage the sensors causing the rig to essentially stop. The official position seems to be that as DEF degrades the only concern is a reduced urea concentration causing increased DEF usage. However in practice, as stated above, the other effect is increased ammonia concentration and this has proven to be damaging to the tank sensors.

• Mercedes probably has a better system than Frieghtliner and Spartan and may not suffer from these insufficiencies in design and manufacturing, and Mercedes has extended theit emissions warranty to 8 years - a commendable move on their part. But regardless of these points, the threat of being stranded is enough for me to err on the side of caution.

• DEF begins to freeze around 12 degrees F but the built-in DEF heater returns it to a liquid state when the vehicle is operated. The official position is that there is no cause for concern for low DEF temps however I have had problems twice driving in temps in the teens and I suspect the DEF began to freeze in the lines causing a low DEF pressure reading.

• Ive never considered DEF antifreeze but its an interesting concept. I agree that additives are unnecessary and probably not worth the risk and I prefer to just go where its warm.
Yes, you are correct.
I was informing them of the 2 things that he needed to do because of their situation. The lack of running the engine and the DEF question.
But thank you for pointing that out for those that may not know.

Diesels are made to run and run hard and they need that especially with all of the extra crap they have put on them now. If you were to run 100% Biodiesel then you would regain your lubricity that was lost when they went to 15ppm Sulfur. But the issue with that is the Quality of the biodiesel that you might get could contain too much water and or methanol and other by-products.
But this is a whole other subject for another discussion topic.
Just remember, run your diesel and keep it lubricated with good oil
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Old 09-26-2021, 05:54 PM   #11
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How do you test DEF? I read the smell test, but is there a sampling kit much like testing pool water?
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:20 PM   #12
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You test it with a refractometer. It may be overkill because Ive read that if the urea concentration is low, it will just use more of it, and if its high it doesn't matter. But Ive also read that the DEF quality sensor is looking for between 32% and 33% and if its off, it will start the derate process.

I don't know what to believe, but a refractometer is $25 at Amazon, or a little more elsewhere if you prefer, and it takes about 15 seconds to test it. So I do it because being stranded by an emission system is not pleasant.

But I also have heard very little about Mercedes systems having DEF problems. That might just be because Im not paying attention to them, but it also might be because its a better system. My Ford 6.7 seems to need no special handling at all. It just runs with no issues.

Heres the $25 Amazon refractometer at Sears for $43
https://www.sears.com/generic-amtast...r/p-A100477867
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:25 PM   #13
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And speaking of oil, it’s important to run “low ash” oil to keep your DOC and DPF from plugging up prematurely. No big deal if you do your own oil changes because you are in control. But it seems most people have their oil changed for them and assume the shop is using the correct oil. So look at the specific oil requirements for you rig and have the shop confirm that the oil they are using meets the low ask spec as well as all the rest.
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:31 PM   #14
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Yes, you are correct.
I was informing them of the 2 things that he needed to do because of their situation. The lack of running the engine and the DEF question.
But thank you for pointing that out for those that may not know.

Diesels are made to run and run hard and they need that especially with all of the extra crap they have put on them now. If you were to run 100% Biodiesel then you would regain your lubricity that was lost when they went to 15ppm Sulfur. But the issue with that is the Quality of the biodiesel that you might get could contain too much water and or methanol and other by-products.
But this is a whole other subject for another discussion topic.
Just remember, run your diesel and keep it lubricated with good oil
Bio diesel always makes me nervous for the reasons you pointed out but I didn't know about the lubricity benefit. Confuses the issue a bit. According to Cummins B20 is perfectly acceptable but they also point out that the the blend spec is critical. So I try to avoid it.
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