Does it makes sense to add a diesel fuel prefilter or second filter/water separator for South America?

outwestbound

Observer
Hi. I have a 2006 Sprinter 3500 chassis with a 2.7L, I5 turbo diesel engine with about 77,000 miles. I'll put about 30,000 more miles on it in South America. The vehicle has spent it's life in the US burning ULSD. Based on fuel quality and moisture content in SA, does it make sense to add an inline prefilter or second fuel filter/water separator for a 12-14 month trip in South America?

Thanks for any advice.
 
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luthj

Engineer In Residence
Some reading on this thread. Post 9 has some details on my filter setup.
https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=45146

Here is how I mounted it. I don't think you need 2 filters. A single would do well.
https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=442616&postcount=157

I would suggest a filter than can be easily changed, like the spin-on unit I used in the above thread. Your sprinter can handle an extra 4 micron filter in that large size without issue.

This filter is a good choice. 10 micron, water seperation media, and drain to allow checking for water or cloudy fuel. Carry a spare. This type of spin on filter is used on many types of heavy equipment. So equivalents should be available the world over with some looking about.
https://shop.donaldson.com/store/en-us/product/P551001/20570

You could also go with a 3 micron with water seperation and drain such as P553207. This would likely mean you would not need to change your engine mounted filter for a VERY long time. I have 3 micron pre-filtration, and I have over 65k miles on my engine mounted filter. This filter is annoying to change compared to the easy spin-on filters.
 
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J!m

Active member
The filter used in the defender has a water drain on the bottom. It can be plumbed in line easily and mounts with two bolts.

LR also have a “pre-filter” that is also a good idea, although I haven’t been to South America with mine yet, I would think the second pre filter (which is serviceable, not disposable) to be a good idea. That is also a water separator. They put one pre filter per fuel tank and they both feed (via selector) to the main spin on disposable filter (which has a water drain) under the hood.

I change my fuel filter filter very other oil change and have never gotten any water out of it from domestic fuel. It has a two quart capacity (roughly) and when I change it I fill it with Howie’s to clean the pump and avoid any air ingress. The housing also has an air bleeder on the top.
 

rblackwell

Adventurer
Hi. I have a 2006 Sprinter 3500 chassis with a 2.7L, I5 turbo diesel engine with about 77,000 miles. I'll put about 30,000 more miles on it in South America. The vehicle has spent it's life in the US burning ULSD. Based on fuel quality and moisture content in SA, does it make sense to add an inline prefilter or second fuel filter/water separator for a 12-14 month trip in South America?

Thanks for any advice.
At a minimum you should carry spare filters and be able to change one yourself.
While our experience is now a bit dated (2009/10) we got bad fuel between Nasca and Cusco that required an unscheduled fuel filter change.
We were driving a 2007 Silverado Duramax and filters for that vehicle/engine were not available in South America (according to the GM dealer in Santiago Chile). Thankfully we were carrying some spares.
While Sprinters are pretty common in South America finding a new filter "in an emergency", or in remote places, could be difficult.
 

outwestbound

Observer
At a minimum you should carry spare filters and be able to change one yourself.
While our experience is now a bit dated (2009/10) we got bad fuel between Nasca and Cusco that required an unscheduled fuel filter change.
We were driving a 2007 Silverado Duramax and filters for that vehicle/engine were not available in South America (according to the GM dealer in Santiago Chile). Thankfully we were carrying some spares.
While Sprinters are pretty common in South America finding a new filter "in an emergency", or in remote places, could be difficult.
Thanks. This issue has been on my mind as something to consider improving. As it stands now, I am able to change out a filter and bought 4-5 extras that I would carry. I've had some great posts here and I need to do my homework before responding with questions. My biggest concern is improving filtration and water separation WITHOUT increasing the probability of fuel system failure because I added something.
 

outwestbound

Observer
Some reading on this thread. Post 9 has some details on my filter setup.
https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=45146

Here is how I mounted it. I don't think you need 2 filters. A single would do well.
https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=442616&postcount=157

I would suggest a filter than can be easily changed, like the spin-on unit I used in the above thread. Your sprinter can handle an extra 4 micron filter in that large size without issue.

This filter is a good choice. 10 micron, water seperation media, and drain to allow checking for water or cloudy fuel. Carry a spare. This type of spin on filter is used on many types of heavy equipment. So equivalents should be available the world over with some looking about.
https://shop.donaldson.com/store/en-us/product/P551001/20570

You could also go with a 3 micron with water seperation and drain such as P553207. This would likely mean you would not need to change your engine mounted filter for a VERY long time. I have 3 micron pre-filtration, and I have over 65k miles on my engine mounted filter. This filter is annoying to change compared to the easy spin-on filters.
Thanks again! It's hard to tell in the picture, but my biggest concern is creating a point of failure due to bottoming out and damaging the canisters. I have some reading to do. My current understand is that my OEM system is a single canister that filters and separates water. You eliminated this and tied the line with the water in fuel sensor into the new system you installed, in the form of 2 canisters (1 filter, 1 separator). Or, did you use the new PFF1001 as a prefilter, leaving your OEM unit in place. Sorry for my ignorance.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
The T1N sprinters are tolerant of water contaminated fuel (for a common rail diesel), they can still experience rapid injector ball seat erosion with emulsified water contamination. This is not a signficant problem on mechanically injected diesels (up through 2000 or so).

I left the factory fuel system untouched. I Disconnected the feed from the plastic fuel pipe and connected to my new fuel filter. then connected a second line from my added fuel filter to the factory fuel filter. This modification can be reversed in less than five minutes.

This retains the Factory water and fuel warning as well as the fuel preheating and air bleeding functions.

The water separation media on the added filter serves to coalesce emulsified water. This allows it to settle out into both filter housings and reduce the risk of it getting passed into the fuel pump.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
It is important to note that the fuel pressure on the low pressure side in your vehicle is approximately 60 to 75 PSI. So only filters that are rated for this pressure should be used. The spin on filters I recommended above are rated for 100 PSI and work fine.

There is no risk of bottoming out the fuel filter as I have mounted it. I have dragged my van to some crazy places and have never come close to damaging it. Filter itself is located about 5 inches above the bottom of the transmission which is the lowest point in that area.
 

outwestbound

Observer
It is important to note that the fuel pressure on the low pressure side in your vehicle is approximately 60 to 75 PSI. So only filters that are rated for this pressure should be used. The spin on filters I recommended above are rated for 100 PSI and work fine.

There is no risk of bottoming out the fuel filter as I have mounted it. I have dragged my van to some crazy places and have never come close to damaging it. Filter itself is located about 5 inches above the bottom of the transmission which is the lowest point in that area.
I understand how specific and important PSI is, so thanks. I understand how you're set up now. I'm going out now to pull some 30amp cable under the rig for my inverter, so I'll check out your install location. After review, I can see that budget creep is becoming problematic for me, but fuel is a biggie. I don't know if there is a more economical solution that has a meaningful impact on fuel quality.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
The filter, hose, and fittings are about 60$.

Many people operate for extended periods with no serious fuel issues. As long as you're prepared to change your factory filter after a tank of bad fuel you should be good.
 

ShearPin

Adventurer
I’ve had some bad fuel experiences in Mexico/Central America over the years. These issues resulted from unregulated fuel sellers in areas where fuel was difficult to come by. Hey - if there’s a homemade sign on the road or everyone in town knows who is selling it - I wasn’t the only one to get caught out (laughing at myself). This is fuel dumped out of Baja race jugs, ex-mil trailers or pulled from 50 gallons drums with a hand pump.

My informaiton is dated (2004 Honeymoon was the last trip in Eore the ‘74 Land Rover), but I have a trip south planned for next summer in a newish diesel vehicle that I have setup in a similar way (300tdi Land Rover diesel). My setup...

1 - Pre-tank fuel filter for fuel from unregulated sources. I use a stainless “Baja Fuel Fiter” I bought at a marine retailer. It’s a 3 stage filter to remove particles, algae, and water before it can be introduced to the tank. I use this for highly suspect fuel only.
2 - Diesel sedimentor. I have used disposable, in-line filters for my petrol Land Rover in the past; they are cheap, pack light and easy to replace. But - get some high-sediment fuel and you could use them up quickly. For my diesel, I chose a sedimentor. Sedimentors remove water and large particles without the use of a filter medium. Rather than replace an element - you simply drain. Having one of these prefilter means less worry you are going to use up heavy and bulky traditional diesel filter spares.
3- Diesel fuel filter. I use the longest/high capacity with a bottom drain available. I have a small Racor w/water separator on my petrol Land Rover - did it’s job. On my diesel, I use the factory head and am not brand specific on the variety of filter canisters available. Carry atleast 1 spare.

I am anticipating better fuel infrastructure, and I am wiser and will be supervised by my wife and daughter on our next trip. Regardless, my Series Land Rover with a carburetor was easy to fiddle with. Diesel’s are not as forgiving - worth some preparation.

Henry
 

outwestbound

Observer
The filter, hose, and fittings are about 60$.

Many people operate for extended periods with no serious fuel issues. As long as you're prepared to change your factory filter after a tank of bad fuel you should be good.
Thanks so much for your help. I'm a little short on time, so my mechanic is looking into this for me. Where I get hung up is on DIY fabrication because I don't have those skills or equipment and my mechanic doesn't do that. I'm assuming you built the bracket. If I decide to do something like you did, I do have a person who could build the mount for me, then my mechanic can hook it up. My mechanic asked if my 2006 model OM647 has a fuel pump is continuous or alternatively, feeds the system on demand. I have no idea.

There are several matters on my "non critical list" including this fuel filter/ water separator augmentation matter and the espar. At some point, I may run out of money, time or both and have to punt on some stuff.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Your sprinter has an electric pump in the tank which feeds fual at 60+ PSI to the HP pump on the engine. This electric pump runs whenever the ignition is on.

I did make that mounting bracket. However a simple bracket could be made with a few bolts and a piece of aluminum angle stock. A hack saw and drill would be needed. There is no need to mount exactly where I mounted, anywhere in that general area would work well, as that is where the plastic fuel feed pipe connects to the rubber hose which runs to the factory fuel filter.
 

outwestbound

Observer
Your sprinter has an electric pump in the tank which feeds fual at 60+ PSI to the HP pump on the engine. This electric pump runs whenever the ignition is on.

I did make that mounting bracket. However a simple bracket could be made with a few bolts and a piece of aluminum angle stock. A hack saw and drill would be needed. There is no need to mount exactly where I mounted, anywhere in that general area would work well, as that is where the plastic fuel feed pipe connects to the rubber hose which runs to the factory fuel filter.
Thanks. A "hack" saw sounds right for me. I'm a hacker. ha ha My brother and I (I hold the dumb end of the tape) can work with typical angle but we don't have a welder, which is our typical hang up. I can solve the Black-Scholes equation, but just a raw beginner at automotive mechanics, metal fabrication and electronics, but I'm learning fast. Got to start somewhere! ha ha
 
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