Used Mercedes Benz Econic: 12 issues to know before you buy
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The Econic was always intended to lead a hard life from the day it was first released, and is therefore both designed and built pretty robustly. Inevitably, however, the more clever any manufacturer tries to be, the more things can potentially go wrong. So it’s mainly the more unusual features of these trucks that cause the problems, along with the nature of the work with for which they are being used, rather than the basic vehicle itself. Here are the things existing operators told us to look out for.
As mentioned in the main text, the Allison transmission is ideal for stop/ start work but does not perform well over any kind of distance. PowerShift 3 is far better for these applications, but be aware it was only available as an option on Econic from 2016 onwards.
2. Grab equipment
There have been various reports of mystery failures on grab equipment and bodywork. Check it’s operating before purchase.
On rear-steer models, the pump behind the cab may begin to leak when the axle has been put under stress.
If the vehicle is fitted with a camera system, there is usually a column mounted stalk which allows the driver to switch between views. Indicating left or right should make the appropriate camera come on automatically, but a common, intermittent fault can prevent this from happening reliably.
Reportedly, the micro-switch within the bi-fold nearside doors may cause problems if the glass has not been fitted correctly after breakage.
The same full-length panoramic door may also reach a point where it starts to shudder on operation, or even get completely stuck. If so, it may just need lubrication, but with three different buttons or switches available to operate the door, the problem is often the switchgear.
If the lock mechanism screws for the driver’s door handle become loose behind the door cover, the lock may not work. Also, if not adjusted correctly, the same happens. This can easily be seen on operating the handle as you should be able to open the door with one finger at the bottom of the handle. If badly adjusted, the door can only be opened with the full hand at top of handle.
8. Steering column
Look out for damage to the bottom of the steering column – usually caused by crew wearing heavy safety footwear and inadvertently kicking it. Educate drivers to avoid in future.
9. Brake pipes
On vehicles built between 2015 and 2018, the rear-axle brake pipes may chafe on the propeller shaft when the suspension is at its lowest position. Ensure this is checked as there is a fix available.
10. Air suspension
The Econic is a fully-air suspended vehicle. If the vehicle is fitted with a grab and this is used without the legs being deployed first, the stress put on the air suspension pulls the inner suspension bag away, resulting in failure. Be aware, however, that this isn’t visible as it sits inside the outer rubber airbag casing.
Issues arise in those vehicles which don’t travel any real distance and need manual regeneration. On later models, the control for doing this is within the dashboard menus rather than on a switch, so drivers find it difficult to initiate. On those vehicles that do have a switch, drivers often flick it to the ‘off’ position, unaware of the problems this may cause. Full driver training and education is vital to avoiding/solving this issue.
Unfortunately the Econic suffers the same issues with the AdBlue system as other vehicles that use it – sensors and pumps being the main source of faults.