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Discussion Starter #1
Not that anyone would care, however I will post my thoughts on the PM. This is not intended to be derogatory but just my personal views/opinions/findings

Last week I was at one of my clients doing electrical work. (Dodge Dealer). It was joked upon that I should buy a ProMaster and ditch the Sprinter van by my fleet guy. Of course, the Sprinter is adding up the miles and the thought of a new van wouldn't be a bad business decision I thought.
I would prefer a diesel and will wait for one. I put my Sprinter on CraigsList and immediately, received interests. There are a couple of people looking at it tomorrow. My dealer is willing to give me 19.5 on the trade. I put the ad in for 19.5 in hopes it might help someone.

I stopped by the dealer to test drive the van for a couple of days. Yes, they are good about giving me vehicles for test drives as I have a relationship with them.

The 136" low roof van appeals to me as it is more HOA friendly over the Sprinter of which I started to receive letters of complaints on. I park the van in the sideyard behind a locked gate. The height of it is visible from the street which bothers the HOA board members. For the last 5 years this hasn't been an issue. Must be new members on the board...Who knows.


Anyway, I find the V6 very peppy and powerful on the short version of the van. I was most impressed with the power. Having said that, I am a diesel convert and will wait for the new mill to arrive.
The seat height and bulkhead are two annoyances or rather discomforts. My van has the three seat option. The bulkhead does not allow rear seat travel or reclining. It does help keep things quiet.

The steering wheel feels like driving a bus in the upright position. It isn't too bad once you get used to it. The interior is full of small nooks and crannies on the dash which in Arizona get full of brown dust easily and thus make it hard to keep clean. The van had a low entry level radio which was of poor sound quality. There was no noticeable squeaks or rattles in the 100 miles I put on it so far.

My beef on this van had to do with the build quality. This is no Sprinter after all and I get it. You would think in this day and age, there would not be misaligned panels.
The body panels had poor fitment and welding done. This was evident when the sun shown down along the sides from the rear. (Late afternoon sun) The gas filler door was askew, the center body seal had waves in it where they were welded together. The driver side door did not sit flush along the bottom edge. Some of the creases in the stampings reflected light as if there were dents. I took some pics of what was easily visible to the camera.

The fleet manager told me this was an early production van that was hand built before they got the assembly line going. Not sure on the validity of that statement but I hope the future vans are better.

Fuel mileage was not horrible and averaged somewhere around 17-18 with a lead foot and empty load. The engine has plenty of satisfying power. There was a good feeling of the van being planted to the road and drove spirited. I am not a big fan of FWD and this is no exception. The FWD became most evident on the sharp turns including U-turns where I could feel the CV axles at their most maximum deflection and drag. Not a bad thing, just something I noticed and wonder about longevity in this application.

Overall, I compare this to my Sprinter and for the cost savings, this is actually a good van. It did what I asked it to do with no complaints. With more options, this would feel like a suitable replacement for my Sprinter.



It does fit through an 8' high garage door. I had to remove the antenna to clear the door frame which had about 3" to spare due to the slope of the driveway. My garage has the shaft mounted door openers so there is nothing in the center of the doorway.

















Sideyard parking:












Interior:












Issues I found:



Lower driver side door gaps:













Misaligned body at roof (Center)











Fuel filler side:






Overall, I do like this van and will still order the diesel version. I hope they finally get the build a little tighter. It's a very capable van. I would defiantly recommend a wood floor or something to protect the metal. I dropped a small roll of wire and dented the floor. It's fairly thin and I can understand the construction is based on fuel savings.
 

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Thanks for the review. It is too bad they don't make a low roof 159, it looks as if you could squeeze into your garage...

Regarding panel gaps, my old VW Vanagon Doka is like that. The sheet metal was built upon a modular approach so that the pickup shares many panels with the van version.

With the Promaster, that means exposed seams, that they fill with seam sealant (caulk).

One thing to be concerned about is over the long term, the paint can crack where the body sealant is between the panel joints.

Here is a good article about exposed seams:
http://www.gowesty.com/library_article.php?id=1655
 

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....cut.......

It does fit through an 8' high garage door. I had to remove the antenna to clear the door frame which had about 3" to spare due to the slope of the driveway. My garage has the shaft mounted door openers so there is nothing in the center of the doorway.







....cut......
Chandler, how difficult was it to remove and reinstall the antenna, and by how much would it not clear an eight-foot garage door?

A garageable lower-roof van obviously offers some advantages not only with Home Owners Associations but also as a means to protect it against the weather, keep it clean, secure, and so on. For camping (which is what I'm interested in) there will be a Penthouse Roof option by at least one RV manufacturer that pops up to give stand-up room while parked. However, I'm now concerned about your comment about having only 3 inches of clearance. I was thinking that a 90-inch-high van would have a little more clearance -- perhaps enough to provide for the pop-up roof which normally adds 4 or 5 inches to overall height.
 

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True, but the bigger van will hold more troops for going after the HOA complainers.
Yeah, HOAs can be a pain. They haven't said anything about my Ford van but it doesn't look like a camper. When I did own a class C RV I did get a letter for parking it overnight while preparing for a trip. And that's allowed, so go figure what motivates these guys. Having said that I want some reasonable restrictions to protect home values.

I just can't see paying what a new Class B van camper cost and then park it outdoors. Not where I live anyway. Another important factor to being able to park a low-roof camper van inside a garage is that people won't know as easily when we are gone for extended periods. I don't like telegraphing that I'm gone when my van isn't parked in driveway. I'd feel better if it never got parked there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Chance, my garage opening is 96" exact. When the van is backed up, the canter of the driveway tilts the rear up a little which in my case, lose a couple of inches. The van was also unladen. I had 4" at the rearmost edge of the van and the opening of the garage door. My garage door completely goes above the framework to give me the maximum clearance.

I used a 4' ladder on the driver's side and reached over to the center mounted antenna. It just unscrews easily. I am sure it would have damaged the roof if the antenna was backed against the house.

Incidentally, I put my Sprinter on CL and it sold today at full price. Now I only have the little Nissan NV200 cargo van to work out of. Not an easy feat coming from an extended Sprinter!

Also, the 159 EXT van is a tad shorter than the 170" non extended Sprinter.
I wish they did offer the 159 in a low roof. Dealer says it'll never happen. I am 5'8 and can stand upright in between the steel support beams. I still have to duck slightly when walking through the van.
 

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FIAT does not offer the Ducato 159" in a short roof version, so your dealer is right. They do have an extra tall version, in case you want to piss off your HOA....:p

Also, the 159 EXT van is a tad shorter than the 170" non extended Sprinter.
I wish they did offer the 159 in a low roof. Dealer says it'll never happen. I am 5'8 and can stand upright in between the steel support beams. I still have to duck slightly when walking through the van.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Someone did something to the rear axle to lower the van? I was wondering about that. I know this sounds stupid, but I hate the long beam axle under the rear being visible. Looks cheap to me on such a large vehicle. Being an independent contractor, I have my peeves :cool:
 

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Someone did something to the rear axle to lower the van? I was wondering about that. I know this sounds stupid, but I hate the long beam axle under the rear being visible. Looks cheap to me on such a large vehicle. Being an independent contractor, I have my peeves :cool:
There is a European company that makes lower-floor chassis for cutaway and cab Ducatos that use what appears to be an independent suspension with air as springs. Not only would it eliminate the beam axle from sight, but it offers the potential to kneel the suspension. That feature could be used for added garage door clearance. Based on what I've seen it may even be possible to drop the high-roof van to under 96 inches at the rear. The front can also kneel with air suspension but I'm not sure it could drop 4 inches.
 

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If you want to lower the rear suspension, you can also buy the leaf springs of a Ducato.
The Ducato has thinner leafs and when heavily loaded the suspension works just with the rubber elements. It's quite lower than the Promaster, almost in the lighter versions (2900-3300 kg).
The heavier versions (Ducato Maxi 3500-4000 kg) have the same suspensions of the Promaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have a spring & axle shop close by. When I get the van, I will exploit their knowledge. I can't see any reason why the van has such massive space at the wheel wells. Suspension travel only looks to be about 6-8" from the leaf to the rubber stopper.
 

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I have googled one report on a UK Motorhome site that says the cost is about $10k for a full 4 wheel air suspension setup, they raved about how great it was:
http://www.motorhomefacts.com/ftoptitle-106707-fiat-ducato-alko-tag-x250-full-air-suspension.html

But, also just looking at parts cost to put the factory FIAT Ducato air rear suspension on the rear wheels only, there are the following components that must be replaced/introduced:
Spring pan
Panhard bar (yes the air suspension has a panhard bar!)
Air springs
Dummy leaf springs
ECU & harness (this is a dedicated unit separate from the engine ECU)
Level sensors (1 for each side)
(it looks like the shocks & beam axle can be adapated, and you need the 3500 option for the anti-roll bar)

Total parts cost is 4000 euro, or about $5500.

That's a lot of money, not counting installation, it would nice if the factory option would be available, as I am sure it would cost $3.5k or slightly lower.

id imagine air setup would be close to 10 grand?
 

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Has anyone looked into getting the required components from a European dismantler to build your own rear air suspension out of used Ducato parts? It seems like us 'Mericans could take advantage of the popularity of the Ducato as a source of used parts.
 

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I have just notice something. The Ducato's exhaust is off to the side behind the drivers door.
The Promaster is out the back.

So in order for the exhaust not to get flattened in a complete bottom out
the cog is bigger and there is an indent in the pipe for the square axle.

That means less travel if both vans sit at the same height.
See picture .
 

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I looked at that difference a while back because the exhaust could get in the way of what I wanted, and thought it could be modified if not illegal. Later found that Winnebago seems to have gotten approval of rerouting exhaust to side like Ducato but just ahead of rear wheel.
 
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