FAQ Autark Runner

We answer this question with a resounding YES! At best, we would monitor the construction more closely than with the Autark Runner.

We rate the build quality as good. We were satisfied and had no problems that would have hindered or even jeopardized our trip.

The problems we had were all of a minor nature.

Bed area

Repairs / adjustments had to be carried out in the bed area. Corner joints had to be reinforced with an aluminum angle because wood was not fastened to wood, but to a plastic edging. The seating group extension (to turn the sitting position into a reclining position) had to be adjusted so that it worked.

Drawers and flaps

The two heavy food drawers in the kitchen had to be repaired. Some of the extracts did not hold up.

The battery compartment was not well ventilated. Here we widened the ventilation opening. The shoe drawer is also ventilated.


Even the plastic push locks did not hold up with the heavy food drawers. We had to improvise here. The battery compartment was not ventilated well enough, which is why we significantly enlarged the cut-out in South Africa. At best, metal push locks could have helped here.


We had absolutely no problems with the electrics. However, in some places there were unlabeled “flying fuses” that could have become a major handicap in the event of a malfunction. This was due to the fact that we had not received a circuit diagram (electrical schematic).


There were some fixtures that were no longer accessible after the walls were installed, e.g. some drains. I don’t know how a repair can then be carried out.

Sliding doors

The single sliding doors in our Sprinter were installed in such a way that they would have had to be destroyed for repair. In fact, we had problems with it because sometimes we could hardly put them back on because the sliding layer (Velcro) was worn out, even though we cleaned the aluminum rails in which the doors ran with a vacuum cleaner every day.


As no suitable odor traps were installed and the waste water pipes led through a relatively large opening in the floor directly into the waste water tank below, it often stank terribly in the vehicle.


Windows, flaps and doors in the superstructure were well dust-tight. But it was definitely not the false floor. The opening between the floor and the waste water tank described above also allowed a lot of dust to enter the false floor and the area under the kitchen.

For southern Africa: YES. However, the tank contents should be checked carefully before departure. In our case, the additional diesel tank was far too large and severely restricted the rear ground clearance. We had ordered a 120 liter tank – but a 180 liter tank was installed. Unfortunately, we only discovered this in Namibia, which is why we had to have an additional aluminum tank built there, with the corresponding circulation. This tank conversion cost us about 3 weeks of travel time.

The Mercedes Sprinter, built in 2015, with Euro 5 and 162 hp is a mature vehicle and it has never let us down on 48,000 km in southern Africa, even on bad off-road tracks. We can highly recommend this vehicle.

We had installed a Goldschmitt auxiliary air suspension, but it didn’t prove its worth. It was not up to the task. Probably only developed for European roads.

On the advice of Mercedes Benz Windhoek, we had these removed and then replaced them with an additional spring leaf on the left and right of the rear axle from the company
in Kriens / Switzerland and that was a brilliant experience. Stable handling and a vehicle that does not sag at the rear even when fully loaded!

NO – we absolutely do not recommend the Mercedes Sprinter with a gross weight of 3.5 tons. There is simply far too little payload for long-term travel.

We recommend ordering a version with 3.88 tons, 4.1 tons or, even better, 4.6 tons directly from the Mercedes factory and then, if necessary, unloading it to 3.5 tons. In any case, the vehicle was also to be supplied by Mercedes with single tires at the rear. So don’t accept promises that the 3.5-ton truck could be loaded up to 3.8 tons.

We expressly do not recommend the 5-ton truck with twin tires, even if people have driven it through Africa. On the one hand, the choice of tire size for a 5-ton truck with twin tires is very limited. As a result, it is not possible to achieve sufficient ground clearance, which decreases even further when deflating in sand/mud. In addition, the twin tires at the rear mean that you can only deflate insufficiently, which is essential in deep sand/mud – and you pull a second track with the twin wheels, which ties up additional power.

Of course, the all-wheel drive cannot be ordered directly from the factory. But as the Oberaigner company is also part of the Mercedes group, it is no problem to have the Sprinter converted to four-wheel drive there. See also under “All-wheel drive”.

The argument put forward by fitters is that the Mercedes original all-wheel drive can be repaired in any Mercedes workshop worldwide. But this is only true to a limited extent, because the Sprinter models sold in Europe are not necessarily known in other countries far away from Europe, and not in places where all-wheel drive versions are not imported anyway. That’s why Oberaigner can repair an all-wheel drive just as well, should it ever be necessary.

The original Mercedes Sprinter all-wheel drive is designed for European conditions, for example for the mountains in winter. Its reduction ratio of just 1:1.6 is not a real off-road reduction ratio. For the terrain and bad tracks all over the world, the reduction ratio should be around 1:2.5 to 1:2.8. Especially with such a high vehicle, it would be very important to be able to drive through difficult sections slowly, very slowly , in order to master them.

Today, we would definitely choose an all-wheel drive from Oberaigner,

  • with proper off-road reduction,
  • genuine differential locks
  • and large wheels for more ground clearance (e.g. 255/85 R16)

Of course, this is associated with additional costs, but you also get significantly more.

However, the conversion would have to take place before import into Switzerland.

For the occasional drive on a more rugged gravel road in Europe, or to get out of a wet meadow, the original all-wheel drive seems to us to be sufficient. But what do you know about the travel desires that suddenly arise once you’ve acquired a taste for it?

In Switzerland, the
offers an excellent, customer-oriented service. Even as a “Mercedes Sprinter only” customer, you are treated well. We also received competent answers to our questions by email from southern Africa (e.g. which engine oil we should buy).

In southern Africa – especially in South Africa and Windhoek – we were always served in a friendly and courteous manner. Super service. Not everything was even charged.

No, we didn’t have to carry out any repairs, but we had the vehicle checked more often, had all the oil changed halfway through and had the Bieri springs we had brought with us fitted.

We assume that Mercedes Commercial Vehicle Service also does such good work in other parts of the world.

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