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Old 06-16-2021, 07:38 PM   #1
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DEF Head Issue- Spartan / Freightliner

Came across this post over on the Entegra Forum a few days ago. Then today on the Facebook Dutchstar page a whole bunch more Spartan DEF head issues. Not saying that Freightliner is golden here, but seems to be holding up better when it comes to DEF Heads. Some folks are stranded.

This post is by Brett Davis, CEO NIRV-

I read this thread late last night when I got back to my hotel room from a Rally. As those of you who know me know, I donít know which end of a screwdriver to hold, which is why I hold such people as Brobox, LWBAZ, and Cruzer in high esteem. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I am an information junkie. Data always tells the story for me.

I know I had my own observations on DEF Head failure rates, but they would have been antidotal at best. So, out of curiosity I texted our Director of Parts late last night, and received back the information this morning.

Our Director of Parts did a company wide search for the past 18 months by our part number for the Spartan DEF Head, and our part number for the Freightliner DEF Head. This would account for all DEF Heads NIRVC has purchased over the past 18 months for replacement for either a customer pay or warranty claim. Including, whether NIRVC did the DEF Head replacement, or a mobile Freightliner technician replaced the DEF Head on our lot, or we sent the coach to Freightliner for replacement.

For the past 18 months our company has processed 64 Spartan DEF Head replacements, and one Freightliner DEF Head replacement.

While a much smaller number of DEF Head failures than I was expecting to see over the past 18 months, itís still a lot of failures if youíre one of the unlucky coach owners who has been left stranded on the side of the road like I was in Jal, New Mexico for 3 days.

Next, Cummins supplies the DEF Module which controls the DEF Head. Freightliner is contractually bound not to disclose their vendors, as their vendors donít want to be dealing with Freightlinerís customers directly. Notwithstanding, I am at liberty to say Shaw Industries does NOT supply Freightliner with their DEF Heads.

Yes it is true, Freightliner is one of several sponsors of AIM. However, when it comes to data and information, I donít play favorites, because at the end of the day my paycheck is paid by coach owners, and not the manufacturers, or their vendors.

Each of you can draw your own conclusions from the experience of our Service Centers when it comes to DEF Head failures. Iím merely reporting the data for those who are asking for a friend.

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Everything was working fine, until it wasn't.
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Old 06-16-2021, 09:33 PM   #2
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There are people who claim Freightliner is having just as many DEF head unit failures as Spartan. Without debating that specific point, it's important to keep in mind that Freightliner has many times more diesel powered vehicles on the road than Spartan. If we narrow down to just diesel motorhomes (i.e., exclude all the 18 wheelers with a Freightliner tractor and all the regional delivery trucks on a Freightliner chassis), my sense is that the DEF heads on Spartan-chassis motorhomes are failing at a significantly higher rate than the DEF heads on Freightliner-chassis motorhomes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a motorhome on a Spartan chassis, and yes, I've experienced a failure of the DEF head unit. That failure occurred when the coach was about three & a half years old and had about 34,000 miles on it.

This is an emotional subject, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. What is a fact is that, as Brett Davis noted in the post quoted above, Freightliner's DEF head units are not made by the same company that makes Spartan's DEF head units.
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Old 06-16-2021, 10:43 PM   #3
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At this point both FL and Spartan chassis owners are having DEF problems that are effecting their use of their motor homes. We have enough minor problems keep our coach ready for trips but this DEF problem is causing owners the loss of their 2nd year summer travel. Even when some answers start coming up on what needs to be done this problem is going take months to say this is behind us. I would have thought by now since this has been going on for over a year we would have some answers.
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Old 06-17-2021, 03:46 AM   #4
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DEF Head Issue- Spartan / Freightliner

Thanks for bringing that post into the Newmar forum. If there is a more enlightening illustration of the difference between Spartan and FL DEF components, Iíve not seen it.
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Old 06-17-2021, 04:03 AM   #5
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I read that post here a week or so ago and found it interesting as well, if not exactly reassuring. I’m not disputing that Spartan has a more significant share of the problem (although I don know that it does either), but my 2016 Freightliner chassis is on its third DEF “header” (FL’s term for it).

The first was replaced just before I bought it (the previous owner traded it in on an Entegra), then it was replaced again since I’ve owned it. So including the original, it’s on its third one. It also had a DEF pump failure. So that’s a lot of DEF system issues.

The good news so far, daring to jinx myself and knocking on wood, is that I now have over 15,000 miles on the current DEF header (replaced last Nov), and 9,000 since the DEF pump was replaced in January.

My emissions warranty ended on April 29 of this year, so any future issues are on me. Hopefully rumors that Freightliner finally got it right are true. But like everyone else here, I still don’t have a lot of confidence in the system.
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Old 06-17-2021, 04:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by tom chelbana View Post
At this point both FL and Spartan chassis owners are having DEF problems that are effecting their use of their motor homes. We have enough minor problems keep our coach ready for trips but this DEF problem is causing owners the loss of their 2nd year summer travel. Even when some answers start coming up on what needs to be done this problem is going take months to say this is behind us. I would have thought by now since this has been going on for over a year we would have some answers.
Newmar Man
You seem to bash Freightliner at every opportunity. Brett posts some well researched info that puts a positive light on FL, but you do your best to downplay it. I know you're a senior member here and do a lot to help other owners, but the distaste for FL is laughable. I'm very happy with my FL chassis and have no regrets about our choice. Just saying.
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Old 06-17-2021, 01:39 PM   #7
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I am not disputing the results from NIRVC but will point an extenuating circumstance. They do 2-3 x more work on units they didn't sell than ones that they did. NIRVC is also a certified Spartan service center but not a Freightliner one therefore Spartan owners would be more likely to go to them than Freightliner owners. Freightliner will send a tech to fix a Freightliner issue to NIRVC, but the Freightliner service centers are close enough that most people will just go there instead, especially if you hadn't purchased from NIRVC. Is the DEF failure much more prevalent on the Spartans? Absolutely! But I definitely don't think it's at a 64 to 1 rate.
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