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Old 05-24-2022, 06:05 PM   #1
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Unique DEF Head Failure...but potentially SERIOUS!

With 43,125 miles on my purchased new 2016 Anthem 44B built on a Spartan K2-450 chassis manufactured in 2015, I had assumed that mine may not be as susceptible as newer models to the chronic DEF head failures. And to some degree, this assumption may have been accurate. However, the failure mode of my DEF head was different than others which I have read about and, though hard to imagine, potentially more dangerous that a 5 mph deration on the side of a 75 mph freeway!!

After recently crossing Monarch Pass in Colorado pulling a 9,000# car trailer (a long heavy pull at high elevation) the dreaded Check Engine light lit up. Everything was running OK, all gauges were fine but the light remained lit but not blinking...we continued a few miles to our scheduled RV site in Buena Vista, Colorado. I was wishfully hoping that the Check Engine light had something to do with perhaps a high exhaust temp warning or some other issue related to going up and over the pass under heavy load.

The next morning I called Spartan with the fault code from the dash display...the code was 3031-4 with no other message included. The description of the code was "Aftertreatment 1 Diesel Exhaust Fluid Tank Temperature Voltage Below Normal, Or Shorted To Low Source". Though with no guarantee, the Spartan tech suggested that my DEF head was likely in the process of failing and that I should get to a Cummins shop as soon as I was able to have it replaced.

I made an appointment with a Cummins shop in Denver and made the trip from Buena Vista to Denver yesterday AM hoping to make the 130 mile trip without a derate. Based on the Spartan tech recommendation and the fact that I didn't want to wait in Denver while waiting for a new head to arrive, I had already ordered a new DEF head from Spartan and had had it sent directly to this shop. Everything ran fine but when I got within about a mile from the Cummins shop, the engine was still running fine but I looked in my rearview mirrors to see a light cloud of smoke coming from the back of my coach. Fortunately I was actually on the correct exit for the shop so I pulled off and immediately pulled into the Cummins driveway, shut everything off, grabbed my fire extinguisher and headed to the rear of the coach. I found no smoke, no fire and no visible sign of any fluid leaks hitting any of the hot exhaust system. I explained this chain of events to the Cummins technician, confirmed their receipt of the new head and asked that as he was replacing the DEF head that he look closely for any source of a fluid leak which could have caused the smoke. I was amazed and a bit upset a few hours later when he presented me with the results of his inspection.

Image #1 attached is an orientation of the DEF head installed on my coach...this mounting location may be unique to my 2016 Athem 44B. During his inspection the tech had unplug these wires and connected them to the new head to see if this cancelled the Check Engine light...it did! Before his inspection, this wiring harness was laying neatly along the top of the DEF tank.

Image #2 attached is the serious part of this saga. The source of the head failure does not appear to be the normal chip or sensor issue but rather an extreme heating and/or failure of the DEF head wiring harness as a result of an almost direct blast of diesel exhaust caused by the failure of a flexible coupling...the red arrows point out the failed coupling and the source of the heated exhaust. Obviously, continued operation of the coach in this condition could likely produce a highly undesirable outcome!!! The tech opined that the plume of smoke I had seen was from the heated exhaust hitting a light film of oil somewhere in the engine compartment. Though I regularly check the engine compartment for signs of any oil leaks or residue, it had been two days and over 600 miles since my last inspection.

We have ordered a new flexible coupling from Spartan which they had in stock...perhaps having it readily available suggests this may not be the one and only failure of this type. The new head gets installed with the new coupling as soon as it arrives so I should be back on the road within a couple of days.

I plan to send the images above to Spartan for comment...since it seems to me that this type of failure could easily result in a serious, dangerous and potentially deadly incident, they owe affected Anthem owners a remedy other than just another "flexible coupling" of the same design in the same location.

I suggest that owners of my generation Anthems on K2-450 chassis take a quick look at the condition of the flexible exhaust coupling discussed and shown above...this may save you some time and trouble down the road.
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Old 05-24-2022, 09:26 PM   #2
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Jim

This is just a first comment and I will try to find the other places something similar has been posted up here tomorrow. You can try the search box at the top of the forum and enter ENTEGRA: Flexible exhaust pipe Anthrm Aspire and see what you get.

That flexible exhaust coupling has been the subject of several prior threads.

I'll see what I can find. It appears that long hard climb up the Rocky Mountains was too much for you Exhaust. Sorry but not too surprised.

PS: Nice graphics and pictures!

Gary
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Old 05-24-2022, 10:10 PM   #3
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Would you happen to have the part numbers of the replacement DEF head and the exhaust coupling? Your pictures look to be the same as my 2015 44b Aspire and might come in handy some day...

Thanks!

John
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Old 05-25-2022, 04:20 AM   #4
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This would be one of the previous threads you are looking for:

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f278/ser...re-490438.html
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Old 05-25-2022, 05:58 AM   #5
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Sure sorry to hear your experience. I hope you will send your post to the NHTSA in the form of a complaint.

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f258/def...sa-518276.html
Maybe one of these days they will think these problem are more serious than powers seats that don't have a fuse installed. Yeah, I have a recall for just that, but have had two DEF head failures as the have thousands of others. Now turbo clamps and crossovers causing serious damage to some coaches.
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Old 05-26-2022, 01:06 PM   #6
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Just one more exhaust bellows failure.

yours is one of many failures of this coupling. It is not a matter of if but when it will fail. POS design from Spartan to be cheap. Cummins owns all the exhaust hardware on both sides of that coupling but farms the coupling out to the chassis company so that they (Cummins) are not responsible for the warranty and failures. This is technically an emissions related failure so it should be warrantied and designed to last 100K in that application but Cummins plays dumb as a skunk. No help from them at all. they just blame it on Spartan.

Mine failed and the final bill for melted DEF tank, wiring harnesses, batteries, battery cables, etc. was almost $10,000. Cummins nor Entegra would offer any assistance and in fact delayed the repair by not having many of the repair parts. It took me almost three months to get the coach finally put back together and running with no DEF problems.

Interestingly my specific VIN was on a recall notice from NHSTA for the exhaust crossover but Entegra just repeated the "out of warranty" and cummins the same. I apparently wasn't contacted about the recall "because I was the second owner." I was told that if I had bought the coach new I would have been covered!

This is a serious failure and will happen to all those couplings eventually. Anyone with a 12-16 should replace it immediately as a matter of preventive maintenance.

Interestingly at the Cummins Bridgeway shop near my home my coach sat in the parking lot for 2 weeks waiting to get into the bay dedicated to this specific repair. One failed cornerstone was in the bay and another was ahead of me. By the time my coach was in the bay there were two more waiting in the parking lot for the same repair. This failure is epidemic yet Spartan, Cummins and Entegra act like it is the first time they have heard of it when you call them. Total BS on all their parts. Worse than crooks. Liars all of them. They only care to help you if you have a brand new coach under warranty. Excuses is all you get after that if you can't afford to trade in every year or two.

I could go on forever with this rant. I found the same failure on a Cummins in a Tiffin with a Spartan chassis using a borescope to check it this past winter at our winter RV park. Everyone in the industry (including the people that make the coupling) knows of this problem but all they do is finger point. Spartan buys the cheapest part they can get.

BTW....Entegra must have a glimmer that the coupling failure might cause a problem as they put a heat shield around it which was broken into 4 pieces by vibration in 30K miles. The broken heat shield rubbing on the coupling could cause the bellows to fail. The heat shiel is useless but at least it covers the part making it impossible to inspect without extreme measures! LOL

Good luck as you are one of many with this failure.
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Old 05-27-2022, 10:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jestal View Post
yours is one of many failures of this coupling. It is not a matter of if but when it will fail. POS design from Spartan to be cheap. Cummins owns all the exhaust hardware on both sides of that coupling but farms the coupling out to the chassis company so that they (Cummins) are not responsible for the warranty and failures. This is technically an emissions related failure so it should be warrantied and designed to last 100K in that application but Cummins plays dumb as a skunk. No help from them at all. they just blame it on Spartan.

Mine failed and the final bill for melted DEF tank, wiring harnesses, batteries, battery cables, etc. was almost $10,000. Cummins nor Entegra would offer any assistance and in fact delayed the repair by not having many of the repair parts. It took me almost three months to get the coach finally put back together and running with no DEF problems.

Interestingly my specific VIN was on a recall notice from NHSTA for the exhaust crossover but Entegra just repeated the "out of warranty" and cummins the same. I apparently wasn't contacted about the recall "because I was the second owner." I was told that if I had bought the coach new I would have been covered!

This is a serious failure and will happen to all those couplings eventually. Anyone with a 12-16 should replace it immediately as a matter of preventive maintenance.

Interestingly at the Cummins Bridgeway shop near my home my coach sat in the parking lot for 2 weeks waiting to get into the bay dedicated to this specific repair. One failed cornerstone was in the bay and another was ahead of me. By the time my coach was in the bay there were two more waiting in the parking lot for the same repair. This failure is epidemic yet Spartan, Cummins and Entegra act like it is the first time they have heard of it when you call them. Total BS on all their parts. Worse than crooks. Liars all of them. They only care to help you if you have a brand new coach under warranty. Excuses is all you get after that if you can't afford to trade in every year or two.

I could go on forever with this rant. I found the same failure on a Cummins in a Tiffin with a Spartan chassis using a borescope to check it this past winter at our winter RV park. Everyone in the industry (including the people that make the coupling) knows of this problem but all they do is finger point. Spartan buys the cheapest part they can get.

BTW....Entegra must have a glimmer that the coupling failure might cause a problem as they put a heat shield around it which was broken into 4 pieces by vibration in 30K miles. The broken heat shield rubbing on the coupling could cause the bellows to fail. The heat shiel is useless but at least it covers the part making it impossible to inspect without extreme measures! LOL

Good luck as you are one of many with this failure.
Al,

Is the new crossover bellows any better than the old one?
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Old 05-27-2022, 10:58 AM   #8
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Just being preemptive here...
Has anyone done the crossover bellow change themselves? On my 2015 it looks to be a straight forward task other then the accessibility aspect....can this be accomplished from the hatch above the engine or do you need super long arms to reach those clamps,?

John
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Old 05-27-2022, 11:06 AM   #9
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Al

There is not one word of your rant that I would challenge. The "weasel density" is also epidemic in the RV Motorcoach industry. I've moved from a Spartan enthusiast to a Spartan critic. Their corporate cowardice is breathtaking. I wonder how little money they are making as the best explanation to their behavior (to me) is impending bankruptcy.... they may not be, but..... it sure is the way they act !!!! Corporate "head" completely buried in the sand.

Screw the customers ..... save corporate profit !!!!

Never again....

Gary
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Old 05-27-2022, 11:31 AM   #10
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No sir you are not alone!! We left Las Vegas end of march(Wednesday ) 70 miles north low DEF light came on, i stopped and checked level OK.I called Spartin and was told " hit the top of the DEF head with a rock"??? OK i did and sure enough light went out. 200 miles north light came on again, remember i am on a 2 lane highway with a 70 mph speed limit. i again stopped and tapped on the head, light out. We got to a little town (LUND population 250)DEF light on check engine light and instant De-rate with no warning!! 1 MPH. We then limped to a safe place to get off the highway. Called Spartin again was told to read them the codes, I did they said find someone to come and replace the head and clear the codes. Ely Nevada was closest town and had a repair shop come out and replace the pump the next day. The part showed up on Friday and they came out BUT was missing the new wiring harness! For 3 weeks we waited in that parking lot for the correct parts to show!!! This is and was a total failure on the part cummins and spartin. This should be an emissions warranty item. The end result was a nightmare that cost me 3k +. I love my entegra but we may soon go back to a chevy truck and a 5 th wheel. Oh and yes i filed a complaint with NHTSA but we all know where that email will go!
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Old 05-27-2022, 12:18 PM   #11
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No sir you are not alone!! We left Las Vegas end of march(Wednesday ) 70 miles north low DEF light came on, i stopped and checked level OK.I called Spartin and was told " hit the top of the DEF head with a rock"??? OK i did and sure enough light went out. 200 miles north light came on again, remember i am on a 2 lane highway with a 70 mph speed limit. i again stopped and tapped on the head, light out. We got to a little town (LUND population 250)DEF light on check engine light and instant De-rate with no warning!! 1 MPH. We then limped to a safe place to get off the highway. Called Spartin again was told to read them the codes, I did they said find someone to come and replace the head and clear the codes. Ely Nevada was closest town and had a repair shop come out and replace the pump the next day. The part showed up on Friday and they came out BUT was missing the new wiring harness! For 3 weeks we waited in that parking lot for the correct parts to show!!! This is and was a total failure on the part cummins and spartin. This should be an emissions warranty item. The end result was a nightmare that cost me 3k +. I love my entegra but we may soon go back to a chevy truck and a 5 th wheel. Oh and yes i filed a complaint with NHTSA but we all know where that email will go!
It is almost criminal that the NHTSA will issue recalls for power seats installed without a fuse, but let items like your experience continue to slide. For the life of me, I will never understand that. Your situation is in the upper 10% of "what if's". Three weeks in a parking lot for a DEF issue is insane.
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Old 05-27-2022, 01:10 PM   #12
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possible DIY

The exhaust bellows is fairly straightforward to change by itself. It is a PIA working thru the hatch in the floor in the rear of the coach but definitely doable if you are handy. I'd give it a difficulty rating of 6 or 7 due to the reach required and force necessary to pull things into place.

You do NOT want to have any residual torsional load on the bellows section so it needs to be lined up before clamps are tightened. If you do this yourself order new clamps and new gaskets along with the new bellows section. Hardest part is getting past the flimsy Entegra heat shield they had added although in my case it was so broken from fatigue all the parts fell off and out of the way with no effort. You will notice that the parts Cummins is responsible for on either end contain bellows also and that they went with the insulated stainless braid armor with crimped end rings! Cummins knows what the connector should be but lets Spartan but a much inferior part in there under the excuse that "they did not know."

The newer bellows is a bit more robust as it is partially solid stainless tubing with a shorter bellows section. This is a bit good and bad. Less bellows means any movement puts a little more stress on each convolute but the straight section minimizes the bouncing and slinky effect with the 19 inches of straight bellows in a horizontal position.

Due to the extensive collateral damage I incurred I had the unit towed to a Cummins Bridgeway shop 4 miles from my house. The towing bill for 4 miles was almost $600 and they did over $2800 damage to the coach despite my best efforts. I also assumed someone would offer some help given the extensive thermal collateral damage. WRONG

It is a bit funny ( sad way) that the supplier of the bellows offers a HEAVYDUTY replacement part at 3 times the cost which includes thicker material and an overlay of fiberglass damping mat with a final outer layer of woven stainless steel wire with crimped end caps. Having worked with these type couplings at an OEM for many years the part with the insulation and stainless woven cover should have automatically been the OEM part so it is a sad testament to Spartan's cheapness and Entegra's lack of oversight and testing to allow the flimsy full bellows part they built the coach with.

Given the myriad problems I have had with the coach and Entegra I am on the fence to sell. If I keep it I WILL be putting the maximum heavy duty piece in place for the future


To add insult to injury the DEF tank, wiring and sending unit are not serviced. If needed you get current production parts. Soooo....due to timing I got one of the sending units everyone was having trouble with as a replacement. That took an extra amount of effort and trial and error to get the system to play nice. I took the coach on test hops when it was done and syphoned Def out of it and added DEF to see if the level and quality sensor worked. A Cummins engineer had to reprogram my ECM to work with the new Def head which had changed from 2013 to the replacement.

Hint: if you need to be towed lift the front of the coach until the wheels are off the ground to help the wrecker get the stinger under the front end to lift on the tires. I did not figure this out in time to avoid bending the front crossmember which tweeked the frame rails so the generator could not be moved on its tracks. The wrecker company did repair this it their fab shop which took an extra day working with them to get things right again.They also paid for the exterior rear view mirror they tore off at the fiberglass mount. I remounted and rewired that myself. Also remove the front cover as has been mentioned many times as well as the generator exhaust pipe which has not been mentioned as the wrecker bent and flattened it, too. I had to have a new one fabricated at a muffler shop as Onan(Cummins) could not provide a replacement for 4 months.
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Old 05-27-2022, 02:08 PM   #13
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All great info...thanks!
I think I'll check into the heavy duty bellows on Monday

Thanks!
John 2015 44b
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Old 05-27-2022, 07:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jestal View Post
Mine failed and the final bill for melted DEF tank, wiring harnesses, batteries, battery cables, etc. was almost $10,000. Cummins nor Entegra would offer any assistance and in fact delayed the repair by not having many of the repair parts.
Quick questions: Would an extended warranty cover this?
Our coach has had previous owners. Question: How do I know if this part has been replaced?



Be safe

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