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Old 04-14-2021, 02:14 PM   #1
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Spare DEF Head

My 2019 Aspire 44R has not had any DEF problems so far. In reviewing the many reports of problems, I am beginning to feel the need for a spare DEF head to reduce the possible delays on the road. My coach was built in March 2018 and I am not sure what the latest (or best) replacement would be. Also, does anyone have a suggestion for the best price available for the spare?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-14-2021, 03:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnhill View Post
My 2019 Aspire 44R has not had any DEF problems so far. In reviewing the many reports of problems, I am beginning to feel the need for a spare DEF head to reduce the possible delays on the road. My coach was built in March 2018 and I am not sure what the latest (or best) replacement would be. Also, does anyone have a suggestion for the best price available for the spare?

Thanks in advance.
Ok so here’s the deal on that. You can buy a spare (freightliner calls it a def header, not sure about spartan) but it won’t do you any good if you can’t reset emissions codes, other than having the part on hand. There are a lot of code readers that re-set most codes, but not all re-set de-rate codes resulting from “low def” which could meant a lot of things other than low def.

So if you are going to go down this road, you would also want a spare def pump, because those fail too and throw the same code as a bad header, doser, filter, or of course, low def.

So just having a spare def header won’t necessarily get you back on the road. I think your better off just replacing the filter annually (I’ve decided the three year, 300k mile maintenance interval doesn’t apply to RV use), being careful not to overfill or let your def tank get below 1/4, and only put in fresh def.

For fresh def you need to understand the date code, and also be confident about how it has been stored. This also precludes bulk def, which some will argue is fine, but I’ve had two episodes right after buying bulk def so it’s a no-no as far as I’m concerned. Also good to get a refractometer and test the stuff before you dump it in the tank.

The other thing about a spare def header is that it may become obsolete next week when gen 7 or whatever comes out. Everyone knows this is a fragile system and it’s constantly under revision as improvements are developed.

So if you want to spend the $900 on a spare that’s fine - just don’t expect it to necessarily bail you out if you go into derate, because it may not be the header, and even if it is, you may not be able to re-set the system.

To compliment a spare def header, your best bet is a laptop with Insite, or maybe one of the code readers that claim to re-set derate codes. I have OTR ( https://otrperformance.com/ ) which claims to re-set de-rate codes ($600 annual subscription), but I don’t know if it actually does. A laptop with Insite will, but you’ll also need the training and it’s a $1200/year subscription.

Hope this helps....
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Old 04-14-2021, 04:28 PM   #3
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JMO after have two DEF heads replaced. Why carry a spare? Spartan now overnights them to a repair person/station. Warranty is for 5 year. If the new Gen 6 turn out to be as problematic as the previous DEF heads, why purchase something that might be a continued problem? JME.
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Old 04-14-2021, 05:53 PM   #4
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A failed DEF head is just another one of the 50 different problems that you can have that are "trip-ending" failures and problems. Then there are another 40 "trip-significantly-delaying problems". I've had several of the trip ending failures and several significant-trip-delaying. And each time, I had no choice but to cancel my plans or delay whatever I had planned. There was no way I could buy enough stuff to carry in the basement that would avoid those when they happened.... With a motorcoach, I have learned to just deal with the problems when they occur. My wife has been disappointed that we are not going to do what we have planned or when we have planned to do it so many times that she has said heatedly on way more than one occasion .... "THAT'S IT..... WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO THIS ANY MORE.... GET RID OF IT"

But we get the repair and either make new plans or forget what we planned. Happily enough..... then the things start going our way and we have the great time that we bought the coaches to have and have the time of our lives and enjoy our decision to buy coaches..... And the good time have been way more than the times that drive you crazy.

My advice is, keep your money in your pocket. Make your plans and put them into force as much as you can. If they get ruined, then try to get over the anger and frustration in a reasonable time, and have another three fingers of scotch and understand that there will be a new day tomorrow. Sit back... start to smile, and tackle tomorrow as it gets there.

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Old 04-14-2021, 06:25 PM   #5
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Good advice Gary. The same advice I have had to give myself when I have flown all over the world. Sometimes travel plans go off track because of weather, flight problems, etc... How I handle the challenges is the part that I control.

I keep telling myself it is ok with each new little motorhome issue I face. We are learning as we go. And overall we love it.
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:11 AM   #6
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I purchased a spare gen 6 def head. They are not cheap; $700+, and a code reader so I can clear the code(s). I carry a good array of tools with me, and I'm pretty handy. The last thing I want is to be stuck overnight or longer with three dogs and a cranky wife. So far, I have to needed it, but I like to be prepared
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:46 AM   #7
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I purchased a spare gen 6 def head. They are not cheap; $700+, and a code reader so I can clear the code(s). I carry a good array of tools with me, and I'm pretty handy. The last thing I want is to be stuck overnight or longer with three dogs and a cranky wife. So far, I have to needed it, but I like to be prepared

Same here.

The only reason some of the post are more positive about just having it fixed is the fact that def heads are in stock. Just wait until it fails and there is a 3 week wait.

31 yrs rving and owning way too many coaches I have only been towed once. I enjoy knowing I can keep the rig going and do repairs on the way. There is nothing worse then having to rely on others to get me repaired and on the road.
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Old 04-15-2021, 09:37 AM   #8
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My emissions warranty expires at the end of is month. At that point I might invest in Insite ($1200/year) and take the emissions system class. I’m not convinced my OTR equipment will re-set a de-rate after repairs are done, although they claim it will. It will tell me what’s wrong, in detail, so for now I’ll keep using it. When that subscription expires ($600/year), I’ll re-assess.

As for spare parts, I’ll stock a spare def pump ($340), and filter ($40), but will still probably hold of on a new def header to see what happens with the current gen. Ive had about 7000 trouble free miles since the last episode in January and I attribute that as much to my efforts at proper care and feeding of the system, as anything. This last time it was the pump, not the DEF header, but the result was the same: the system detected “low def” and went into de-rate.

So rather than try to stock every part that might leave me stranded, I’m leaning towards good analytical ability since I will be doing the work on it myself after the warranty expires. Coping with these systems is a work in progress, and your best strategy is to really understand them.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:20 AM   #9
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Another idea, since yours is a 19, call Spartan with the last 8 of your VIN# and see if your coach had a Gen 5 or 6 DEF head. 5's seem to be more problematic than the 6's. Some of the 19's were shipped with Gen 6 installed, others were not so fortunate.
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Old 04-15-2021, 03:23 PM   #10
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Another idea, since yours is a 19, call Spartan with the last 8 of your VIN# and see if your coach had a Gen 5 or 6 DEF head. 5's seem to be more problematic than the 6's. Some of the 19's were shipped with Gen 6 installed, others were not so fortunate.
And then there were the REALLY lucky buyers who got a '21 with a Gen 5 DEF head. Not mentioning any names...
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Old 04-16-2021, 05:58 AM   #11
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And then there were the REALLY lucky buyers who got a '21 with a Gen 5 DEF head. Not mentioning any names...
Yup, my 21 CS had a gen 5. It crapped the bed while NIRVC was prepping it. Glad it happened there and not when we were on the road home
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Old 04-16-2021, 06:52 AM   #12
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And then there were the REALLY lucky buyers who got a '21 with a Gen 5 DEF head. Not mentioning any names...
It's already been determined I am not Spartan's favorite customer, why stop now. Last good Spartan chassis I have owned was the 2002 Travel Supreme. No DEF problems, straight steering, quite rear end gears and never in for chassis work of any kind in 11 years.
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Old 04-16-2021, 07:38 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the great suggestions!
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Old 04-16-2021, 09:28 AM   #14
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Duane, my coach came off the line right before yours. Mine was the last Ď18 off the line and yours, based on the timing, was probably one of the first Ď19ís. Like you, Iím not sure I will have a problem but I did have my DEF checked when I had the coach in for its annual NYS inspection. It was good so Iím just hitting the road and hoping for the best.

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