Mercedes Sprinter T1N – Front towing / lashing eye failure.

I was called out today as a quick favour to assist in recovering a vehicle that was stranded with a blown turbo a few miles from the clients base.  Being happy to be asked to ‘ride shotgun’ in the disabled vehicle on a rigid bar tow was something that I had done many times before so was unconcerned of what lay ahead.

We arrived at the carpark where the van had been standing overnight and coupled up the rigid bar to the towing eye to the front of the vehicle and to the pin and eye tow bar on the L200 tow vehicle.  This is common practice for both the AA and RAC for short distance recovery.  We had also purposely chosen a time when the roads would be at their quietest to carry out the recovery.


Adjusting the drivers seat in the Sprinter so I could see over the tow vehicle is essential, as it takes any surprise out of any manoeuvres the towing vehicle may make during the journey. So off we set – navigating about 5 miles of winding country lanes before we hit the dual carriage way back to base.  Obviously the ignition was in the on position to unlock the steering and allow brake lights and indicator signalling without the engine running.  The brakes and steering are very unresponsive due to overall weight of the van and the lack of power assistance in both cases.


We made it out onto the carriageway and maintained a steady 45 mph on the straight clearway.  Then something happened that came straight from a TV comedy or big screen production… BANG! The towing eye gave way from the chassis and the towing vehicle ripped off completely the front of the Sprinter and proceeded to drag it some way up the road.  We both coasted to a stop and surveyed the damage.  After the initial wonderment of what had actually just happened, we both enjoyed probably one of the funniest moments of the last five years, before lashing the front crossmember with the elasticated tow rope and covering the remaining couple of miles back to base.

As we discovered at the roadside, what had actually happened is the towing eye had been completely ripped from the chassis due to corrosion of the weld points.  As it parted company with the chassis, the eye that extends through a cutout slot in the plastic front bumper skin had dragged with it the complete front – totally detaching it from the vehicle.


I suppose in light of the fact that corrosion played a big part in this release, I for one will always double check the condition of this vital welded section before using it in any towing or lashing situation – It would have been a more interesting time if this had given way in any other place than on a straight clear road.  I have always used this towing eye as a transportation hook, on Both commercial vehicles and cars ( aka – RAC and AA recovery) and I would like to make the point in this posting that: No matter what your vehicle, Mercedes or otherwise, if it is more than just a few years old it would be a good practice to go and have a look and satisfy yourself that everything is absolutely in order!


However this is probably one of those moments that I will keep remembering for a very, very long time… 😉

2 thoughts on “Mercedes Sprinter T1N – Front towing / lashing eye failure.

  1. Hi
    Great website , I have a 2008 , sprinter 515 auto , I travelled some 200 klm last week , and when I stopped the engine , it would not start up again , the lights came on on the dash , but nothing . So I left the van for about an hour or so , and went back at it again , and it started , no proem , this had happened me again after a long journey , any idea what my problem might be ,

    1. Hi there Dennis,
      It could be as simple as a starter motor fault. I am presuming that you do not get ‘start error’ displayed in the dash binnacle. If so look for a key related problem, damaged faulty key. If no error shown have a look here as there is some common problem that a few guys have pinpointed to a SAM unit.

      If reading that you cannot start the vehicle while the glow light is not illuminated, indicates a start condition problem – as the glow plugs/module would not normally inhibit in any way the starting of the vehicle. If this is the case and no turning of the key even cranks the engine, then have a look here for a possible solution. I knew I had read about this somewhere and it seems more common than you at first think. These guys seem to have pinned it down to a front SAM or its connected Relay.

      Just another thought – it may be start inhibit circuit playing up from the selector lever. When it next does not start, move the gear selector through the gears and back to N. It may be a dirty switch in the selector mechanism (You did not state if it was a Sprintshift gearbox, so I assumed full auto) This inhibit is in place to prevent you starting the van in gear and normally only allows a start/crank in Park or N.

      Hope that helps a little, I hope I have understood you correctly.

      All the best

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