modern diesel for overlanding in developing countries - post your solutions

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
This has been a giant puzzle for me lately. My wife and I were really into getting a Sprinter 4x4 but if I invest $100K I really want to be able to take wherever I go. As far as I can't tell, all of the newer diesel requires DEF which is not available outside of North America (correct me if I am wrong).

So either an older diesel or a new gas engine is more likely to happen.
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Christian,
This is the conundrum of traveling outside N. America with a diesel platform rig. The most important thing to know is the year of manufacture. The year or years of the changeover to Urea canisters and D.E.F. tanks in the exhaust was 2006-2007, depending on the make. Since that time the smog police have increased, or should i say mandated a decrease in exhaust particulates, especially soot (carbon) to mfgrs. You can run on 3rd world diesel but it is only low sulfur content, not ultra low sulfur. There are sites which explain the result if you run Mexican diesel in a D.E.F. laden truck. It is also kind of sad that I have a 2001 Dodge Cummins diesel which has only a free flow muffler in the exhaust and can run on 3rd World fuel, but I have decided not to travel to Mexico or south any more. So, with a change of paradigm, and if you are not too old, you might look for a pre-2007 4WD diesel pickup package that already has a small and light truck camper on the back as a suitable alternative. The cost will be, more or less, about half of the going price for a built up Sprinter, and be a lot less maintenance. We've had our rig for 16 years and have enjoyed hundreds of nights 'in the box'. We can travel over any road; in any weather; hole up in the box during any season; and get the best night's sleep we ever get. It's simply a great remote travel/touring setup. I bought the truck new with a manual transmission; bought the Lance Camper used for $6500; and spent a lot of money up armoring the drivetrain to survive anywhere in the hemisphere. The aftermath of a flash flood in Death Valley: No problemo.

I wouldn't try this in a Sprinter: Mengel Pass in Death Valley N.P.

regards, jefe
 
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sg1

Adventurer
I have been traveling in Africa and Latin America for the last 7 years and I have seen many modern diesels with serious problems. Usually it was a blocked diesel particulate filter or problems with sensors or the engine management system. Unfortunately Sprinters seem to be especially prone to develop problems. Not all the travelers I met with modern diesels had problems. I guest is about 50%. The longer the trip the more likely are problems. DEF seems to be available in many places. Personally I wouldn't do a longer trip to 3rd world countries with a modern diesel.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
All the newer diesels with emissions (SCR, EGR, DPF) will run into problems with diesel fuel quality in 3rd world countries. Even the venerable Toyota diesels, which are now being sold with EGR and DPF's in developed markets, have been known to have reliability issues. Toyota, and other global companies will actually sell older diesel engines, which are pretty much devoid of any emissions controls, to the 3rd world markets because they know modern emissions won't hold up in those areas.

Toyota and other diesel makers have their hands tied when it comes to these emissions controls. The world's major governments increasingly expect cleaner running engines. The developing nations will eventually start requiring cleaner engines too; they simply can't afford to keep polluting their environment at the rate they currently are. So, eventually, fuel quality and emissions controls will have global support. In the mean time, do what @Mundo4x4Casa suggested: buy an older diesel vehicle for global trips.
 

SSF556

SE Expedition Society
This has been a giant puzzle for me lately. My wife and I were really into getting a Sprinter 4x4 but if I invest $100K I really want to be able to take wherever I go. As far as I can't tell, all of the newer diesel requires DEF which is not available outside of North America (correct me if I am wrong).

So either an older diesel or a new gas engine is more likely to happen.

You can a buy a 2007 or a 2008 Sprinter with the V6 OM642 diesel engine and then remove the DPF. There are tuners out there that have deletes. The OM642 is a great engine and should provides years of reliable service.
 

Muddled

New member
DPF and SCR systems have only started coming in force over the last couple years in Aus (catching up to the rest of the world).
However the pre DPF model of my vehicle was rated for ULSD only. Dealership hype or is the fuel system (pump, fuel rail etc) likely to be compromised from high Sulfur content fuel.

Very curious about anyone travelling internationally with a DPF System in place as I am now setting my sights on shipping overseas in a few years and would be at a significant loss to sell and rebuild to do so.
 

rock_shoes

Observer
DPF and SCR systems have only started coming in force over the last couple years in Aus (catching up to the rest of the world).
However the pre DPF model of my vehicle was rated for ULSD only. Dealership hype or is the fuel system (pump, fuel rail etc) likely to be compromised from high Sulfur content fuel.

Very curious about anyone travelling internationally with a DPF System in place as I am now setting my sights on shipping overseas in a few years and would be at a significant loss to sell and rebuild to do so.

Common rail means the size of the hole(s) on the end of the injector will be very small (much smaller than you would find in an indirect injected motor like the 4m40 in a Gen 2 Paj or a 1HZ in a 70 series). ULSD is less likely to contain particles of a size that may foul common rail injectors. That's most likely why the manufacturer recommends ULSD even in vehicles that are pre DPF and SCR. If you're at all concerned about fuel particulate a secondary filter to protect your direct injected/common rail motor is a reasonable solution.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
I can only speak for US derived trucks (not pickups). But my general summary for use with USDL as well as HSD is:
Up to 1998/9 mechanical injection.
Up to 2004 electronic injection with no emissions crap.
2004-2006 EGR which will cause issues but manageable (at a price)
2007-2010 DPF and the early ones especially are problematic. As the mechanics have become more educated finding the problem has become easier.
2010 onwards are where the real issues start. This is where the EPA mandated that emissions problems must initiate “limp” mode. Couple this with the DEF and all the associated failure points and you are asking for trouble.

The sweet spot is 1999-2003 Cummins. If you need to go into the other years get something towards the end of the development cycle. I.e. 2006 or 2009 where hopefully they have sorted out the teething problems before they were manufactured.

Another method to consider if you have a truck with regen mode and are traveling through areas with HSD is to have at least 2 separate tanks. Maintain only ULSD in one tank. When you need to do a regen switch across to the ULSD tank to do the burn and then switch back. Only use the ULSD tank for burns and fill with only a know quality diesel.
 

AUM

New member
So with regards to a modern diesel, would the issue solved by simply removing the DPF and related sensors?
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
So long as it is accompanied by a tune that makes it all work, yes, you can ditch the entire system.

Passing smog depending upon where you live though, or voiding warranties may be a concern though.
 

dlh62c

Explorer
So with regards to a modern diesel, would the issue solved by simply removing the DPF and related sensors?

You’ll need to do your homework regarding the hardware. Often DPF’s serve as the muffler, simply replacing it with a straight pipe won’t work.
 

Cayenne-958-TDI

Active member
Another issue with tunes, at least on ours, is that both the engine & transmission ECUs need to play nice. I have seen many engine tunes but have not seen a tuner do both.
Mexico is making progress and Pemex says it is switching to ULSD. I have not seen where they or competitors have ULSD other than major markets. Pemex lost their sole franchise due to their not supplying ULSD as promised. Totally understand that others like Shell are getting established in large population centers first. Looks like they will be good country wide to get 15ppm after 31-December 2018 - if the date does not slip again.
From the link: https://www.dieselnet.com/standards/mx/fuel.php
"2016 Diesel Fuel Specification (NOM-016) - NOM-016 defines two grades of diesel fuel:
• Automotive diesel for use in on-road vehicles, and
• Marine and agricultural diesel
The regulation specifies two different sulfur content limits for automotive diesel fuels: 15 ppm maximum for the larger metropolitan areas, the Mexico-US border and 11 transportation corridors, as well as for imported diesel; 500 ppm maximum for the rest of the country until December 31, 2018 after which the maximum sulfur content shall be 15 ppm for all of Mexico."
 

nickw

Adventurer
All the newer diesels with emissions (SCR, EGR, DPF) will run into problems with diesel fuel quality in 3rd world countries. Even the venerable Toyota diesels, which are now being sold with EGR and DPF's in developed markets, have been known to have reliability issues. Toyota, and other global companies will actually sell older diesel engines, which are pretty much devoid of any emissions controls, to the 3rd world markets because they know modern emissions won't hold up in those areas.

Toyota and other diesel makers have their hands tied when it comes to these emissions controls. The world's major governments increasingly expect cleaner running engines. The developing nations will eventually start requiring cleaner engines too; they simply can't afford to keep polluting their environment at the rate they currently are. So, eventually, fuel quality and emissions controls will have global support. In the mean time, do what @Mundo4x4Casa suggested: buy an older diesel vehicle for global trips.
This is why I like Petrol....
 

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