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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody. Some of you, maybe many of you, know me as an early Promaster adopter, and technical quasi-guru. I think I hold the current high mileage record here - one of my vans has 429,000 miles, the other 409,000.

I have helped a couple board members out with various problems, and provided some random advice for others. And I think I have a handle on the pattern failures/wear items with the Promaster, after so many miles.

So here's an idea me and my circle have been kicking around - a Promaster specific repair shop. Imagine a shop that, unlike the dealers, didn't look at you like you stepped off the moon when you need a repair, or charge you out the nose, or make you wait 3 weeks while they ponder your problem. Or at least wasn't afraid to work on the thing.

Imagine if that shop already knew what part numbers you needed and where to get them. Imagine if you said "my engine has a misfire" and they didn't say "you need a new engine for $5000" [you actually just need a cylinder head for $300]. Or if you said "it's leaking oil" [heat exchanger, $100] or "the oil pressure light is on" [oil sender $30] or "it's stuck in 2nd gear" [solenoid pack $130]. "the front end is clunking" [strut bearing $100].

You see where I am going with this. A Promaster centric repair shop/business. Here's what I could bring to the table:

Repair: One of my buddies already has a 4 bay auto repair shop, and can lift a Promaster, unlike the dealers. He works with me on my vans already. Between he and I, we have pretty much done everything on the van that wears out, including suspension, trans, alignment, engine, computer, latches and locks, and misc repairs. Given a reason, there's nothing stopping us from having the same ECU scanner that the dealer has, enabling us to do everything they can including keying new PCMs and radios, or encoding new ignition keys.

Towing: I don't really want to go into the towing business, but I have aquired a tow dolly, and will soon modify it such that it will be wide enough to tow a Promaster. I also have a flat trailer that's big enough for a long wheelbase Promaster. When you need to tow it, you'll find that nobody rents anything big enough for our vans, short of gigantic 10,000lb trailers designed for earthmoving equipment that cost $300/day.

Knowledge: with humility, I can say that I know quite a bit about our vans. I've done engines swaps, tranny swaps and repairs, brakes, wheel bearings, sensors, struts, etc already. I also can plenty of advice on things like tire brands, oil, filters, maintenance schedules, and most importantly...warning signs for when something is going to fail.

Parts: I've compiled quite a bit of knowledge about what parts are common from other Pentastar vehicles. Example: dealer gets $640 for an alternator, Autozone gets $420 for a junk Chinese rebuild. But there is an old school company 2 miles from my house that will rebuild your alternator BETTER than new for far less than $300, and turn it around in 2 days. The dealer charges $1000 to replace your alternator. I can do that job in under an hour for under $400 all in.

Location: I am in Akron Ohio, which is conveniently central to many of you. About an hour south of Cleveland.

Anyway, we are kicking around the idea. I want to call it something silly like Promaster Hut, but the name doesn't really matter. I just wanted to post about this idea and see if there is much interest. Judging from what I see on the expediter forums elsewhere on the net, it seems like many people are convinced that the Promaster is unreliable. It's isn't. The problem isn't the van, it's the nitwit dealers and ripoff repair shops. 800,000 miles plus for me is evidence of that.

Let me know what you think. I am open to any and all suggestions or advice. Don't be shy. And don't be afraid to be critical. I look forward to what you all have to say. Thanks. - Kip-on-Truckin'
 

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Fantastic idea Kip!

There is a Sprinter guru (he used to live in Pittsburg) in SC that has done much the same thing for 15 years and is very successful at it. More than once I made a special trip 600 miles each way to have him work on it when I owned a Sprinter.
 

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Great location! There is a guy in Toledo doing the same with sprinters. I traded in my "14" in July with 532,000 miles. Had all maintence done at dealers on that one. Very interested with my "18".
Facebook has 3 expedite pages and also expeditorsonline for input and business.
 

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I agree you know more about these vans than any one I have met at the three dealer’s I’ve been to. I’ll be stoping on my semi-annual migrations to get service done. That area works for me. At this time I am considering:
Fluid change on my diesel’s clutch (yes I know you didn’t think about diesels) I am understanding if you wouldn’t want to do this.
Tires?
Slider door adjustment.
Headlight adjustment (another weird one)
reset the TPSM to 50 psi.

How about something origional for a name like..... Promaster Garage?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Promaster Pros isn’t bad. But Promaster Bell is funnier.

I didnt want to get ahead of myself, but the longterm 3rd leg of the stool would be custom stuff and accessories. It would be nice if tgere was ONE place that had swivel seat bases, Citroen grills, a template on sale for cutting hardwood floors, a similar one for wall panels, precut insulation as a kit, euro wheels, precut window tint and shades, LED light upgrades, the new $200 chinese Espar knockoff, etc.

All the stuff that gets rehashed on this board basically.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
RD - the diesel is a different animal, but I certainly feel competent enough to change fluid. We have a tire machine and a wholesale tire supplier, so that’s easy too.

The “answer” is if you can afford the best, the Michelin M/S2 is it at $220 or so. If you want the best cheaper tire, I’m sold on the Mastercraft Coursers at $120. 80% of the Michelins at 50% the price.

You dont need to come to me for any of that stuff, but plan on stopping by for aiming your lights and lubing your doors.
 

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Great idea!! My daughter lives just outside Cleveland (Solon), so I would arrange my service work when I come out to visit.
 

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Love the idea. Eurocamper drops ships everything, so you could be like him. No inventory cost. Heck, advertise here, and we’d all buy accessories from you, because you’re a true Promaster Pro.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Good ideas, everyone. It’s in the beginning stages right now, but I think it could be viable. It seems to me that there’s “a guy” in many of the automotive niches. I’ve heard about Sprinter gurus in Chicago and Pittsburgh. There a guy in Washington state that’s the guy for diesel benz’s (Mercedes Source).

But as of now, my buddy and Inare just a regular auto repair shop, that happens to have a lot of knowledge about Promasters. If you are ever passing through Akron, plan to drop by!
 

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When I owned my VW vanagon camper van I had to take it to specialists to have everything done, that sucked! The vanagon turned out to be more collector car than practical vehicle. Then I bought a ford e series van and was in heaven, parts were cheap and virtually any shop could work on it and it was rock solid reliable. There are no ford econoline specialty shops even though it has been the most popular van in US history with a 56 year production run and 80% of the US van market (wikipedia)! Now onto the PM which appears to be much much better than the vanagon but definitely not quite ubiquitous enough to be able to source parts and service everywhere like the ford e-series.

Point is, I really really hope Kip's shop is not necessary but Kip and lots of you certainly think it is and this scares me a little.. Im really glad that Kip is willing to get into this business and hope its successful for him and hope someone opens a similar buisness in my area (Front Range, CO) where there are lots of PM camper vans and certainly a market.
 

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afox,
I get your point but FCA probably sells more promaster vans each year than VW made campers from their inception.Kip will not kill the repair business for any dealer even his local one.
Now the diesel is another matter. I posted to Kip about the diesel to have him think about how to handle them. Someone needs to take that on and get the tools to doe the service it will sometime need. Perhaps someone can get Euro parts to change the ATM over to a clutch, analyze the emissions, rebuild or source transmissions, half shafts, timing chains, whatever it needs. This is more like the VW and I hope a similar solution happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Re Toledo: lemme guess...Yark. That was the first place I got robbed $1000 for a leaking oil cooler. Wasnt leaking, and wasnt $1000 worth of work.

It’s experiences like THAT that make me want to try.
 
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