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Buyer’s Guide

If you are considering buying an Upgraded Mercedes-Benz Vito, V-Class or Sprinter, here are some tips that you should probably be aware of:-

1. Ensure the vehicle has a secondary chassis plate which clearly defines who has modified the vehicle and the ‘E’ number of their approval. It should be located next to the Manufacturer’s original chassis plate under the bonnet or inside one of the front doors.

2. Ensure the vehicle is not overweight. It is impossible to upgrade the interior of a vehicle without adding weight and each vehicle has a maximum gross weight set by the Original Manufacturer. If this limit is exceeded, your insurance and warranty will be invalid. It is not safe to operate an overweight vehicle. In simple terms, you must deduct 75 Kgs from the Gross Vehicle Weight for each seating position to work out the net vehicle weight without passengers. A converted V-Class with a GVW of 3100 Kgs should weigh no more than 2650 Kgs with 6 seating positions. A 3500Kg Sprinter with 8 seats should weigh no more than 2900Kg without passengers.

3. Driver’s Partition – If the vehicle you are interested in has a Driver’s Partition, it is a Mercedes-Benz requirement to pass an ISO load Partition test. This is designed to protect the Driver and Co-Driver in the event of an accident.

3.1 Driver’s Space – Most aftermarket Driver’s Partitions restrict the space available to the driver. From a safety and comfort point of view, it is imperative the Driver can fully adjust their seat to optimise their driving position. Make sure you sit in the Driver’s seat and if you have a driver or security guard, make sure they try-before-you-buy.

4. Seats – If the seats have been upgraded you will want to see proof that they have passed a Pull Test in the vehicle to European M1 Passenger Car Status. This ensures that the seat, seatbelt and seat base fixings are strong enough to withstand a crash.

5. Headrests – there is a legal requirement for a headrest to have a minimum height of 800mm from the base of the seat to the centre of the headrest. If the vehicle you are considering has particularly low headrests due to the seats being non-standard, they will be of no use in an accident and illegal.

6. Electrical Upgrades – If a vehicle has electrical modifications the entire vehicle should be re-submitted for EMC Test. This ensures that the installation will not affect the correct operation of the vehicle’s systems (ABS, Traction Control, Throttle, brakes etc).

7. Crumple Zones – When upgrading a vehicle, no equipment should be placed between the inner and outer skin of the vehicle. Manufacturers spend considerable effort ensuring that vehicles are safe in a side impact (indeed any impact) and the space clearly given between the factory side furniture and outer skin of the vehicle is designed with this in mind. Installing additional equipment in these areas like safes and coffee machines detracts from the vehicle’s ability to protect the occupants in an accident. This practise is absolutely prohibited by the Original Manufacturer.

8. Approvals/Homologation – If the converter you are considering claims they are ‘Approved’ or ‘Homologated’, ask by whom? It’s easy to speak with the Original Manufacturer or check their Type Approval and confirm this.

9. Warranty – If a potential converter claims that the Original Manufacturer’s warranty remains unaffected by their conversion, check with the Original Manufacturer.

10. There are three ways for a modified vehicle to be registered in the UK. The first is to complete the conversion after the vehicle has been registered which avoids the legalities of Electrical Test, Crash Test and any other form of safety inspection. This should be avoided. Secondly, there is IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) which does not conduct any physical testing of the various modifications to the vehicle. Its is a visual inspection. This should not be confused with Type Approval. Lastly, there is European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval which is the route all major manufacturers take. It ensures that every modification to the vehicle is comprehensively regulated and tested to ensure the safety of the Driver and Passengers. Senzati Vehicles are the only converter with European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval and Mercedes-Benz Approval.

Senzati® refer to our approvals as Golden Handcuffs. Although European Type Approval and Manufacturer Approval limit the alterations we can do to a vehicle, it does absolutely ensure that Driver and Passenger Safety are not compromised. It also ensures that the vehicle will operate correctly throughout its life and that maintenance and serviceability will not be compromised.