Fixing a broken Sprinter antenna

The radio antenna on Sprinter vans is badly placed and flimsy. It’ll break if you drive under low branches, wash the van, or let snow build up over it. Luckily, if it snaps off at the base, there’s a fix.

I had read about people breaking their Sprinter antenna off. I thought it must take some effort, but then I did the same thing when I was washing the van. I just knocked it with a soft bristle brush and it snapped straight off.

The antenna/aerial is made of flexible wire, but the base is a rigid plastic. That plastic must be either really thin or really fragile, because it breaks very easily. My antenna, and others I’ve seen, seem to break off while still attached to the metal insert in the plastic base.

This is a bigger problem than it might seem, because there’s a hole from the antenna base right in to the van. Water can and will get in there, into the headliner, then down on to the dash area. Not good.

To fix it, you can either buy a new antenna assembly ($130 for the 2002-2006$160 for the 2007-2013, $185 for the 2014+) or fix it with some plastic epoxy (under $10 from Amazon).

Broken antenna re-glued with masking tape to hold it down

Yes, I thought you’d want the fix option too. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Unthread the (broken) threaded part of the base from the actual antenna.
  2. Thread in a well greased M6 bolt. The grease will stop epoxy from gluing this bolt in place. Don’t get grease on the gluing surface though.
  3. Epoxy the broken part with the bolt mounted in it back on to the roof mount using a SMALL quantity of epoxy. We used Loctite Plastic Bonder Epoxy. The metal antenna connection in the base is sprung from underneath so that the antenna can make a good connection. It’s going to push back up at you when you re-attach the broken piece. You’re going to have to tape it down well while it sets. Don’t get epoxy on the metal contacts, or the antenna won’t connect and you won’t get good reception.
  4. Once it’s set up, unthread the M6 bolt and re-attach your antenna.
  5. Apply a nice layer of Marine Goop or similar sealant around the repair just in case it wasn’t watertight.
  6. Drive until you do the same thing next time.

Update: Although it’s unlikely, you might just have broken the antenna whip. If the base is still in one piece, you can get a replacement mast from Amazon.

11 Replies to “Fixing a broken Sprinter antenna”

  1. sadly my antenna departed with the chunk to I have to replace the base. Dont want to drop the header so I may try grinding off the old base and using a pressnut on the new one.

    1. I think it would be less work (and less chance of damage) to drop the headliner. It’s not that hard.

      If your van has a reading light console mounted in the headliner, you might be able to just remove that and get to the antenna from there. Otherwise, you only have to unclip the “A” pillar covers, remove the tops of the B pillars, and undo the screws for the sunshades/shelves. Then the headliner just drops down, leaving you plenty of room to get to the antenna area.

      Any mention of the word “grinding” in combination with something so close to an area of external paint is worrying. Good luck though!

      1. I just found a leak in the overhead light console, then realized the antenna had snapped off when a foot of snow slid off the roof last week. I pulled the lamp covers and was able to press two stainless spring clips on the passenger side and the whole unit detached from the liner, exposing the base of the antenna.

        My GPS stopped working and there was water on the circuit board : (
        I’m drying out the board right now, so we’ll see if it’s fried.

        Meanwhile, I found the antenna whip and it still had the female socket which snapped off the antenna base. I’m looking for a replacement base, and possibly a new GPS circuit board. Bummer.

        1. It seems to be a real problem. Maybe the German engineers had never experienced snow when they designed it?

          Good job getting to the antenna mount through the console. It seems that you don’t have to pull the whole headliner if you want to reach the bolt and remove it.

          I think you can only buy the unit as a whole chunk from Mercedes. Because you found the socket I’d suggest that you at least try the glue method to get it back together again, if your circuit board works. It’ll be much easier to glue it back together while it’s off the van.

          Fingers crossed for you with the circuit board.

  2. I too snapped off the antenna on a 2016 MB Sprinter van. I was shocked at how easily it came off. While washing the van hit with brush(not very hard at all!) and snapped off. Tried the $6.00 fix and is working very well.
    Much easier than removing the headliner.
    Thank you for sharing this fix, very much appreciated.

    1. Glad you found it useful, Gary. I think Mercedes could easily solve this problem with thicker plastic and a springier antenna if they chose to. In the meantime, glue is your friend!

  3. The fix worked really well until the dealer gave me a complimentary wash for lack of good service, and snapped it off again. I did not notice right away and the antenna is nowhere to be found. So now I’m forced to buy a new one. Has MB upgraded to a better antenna? I’m worried this is only going to last a few months!

    1. Dealerships really should know how fragile those things are!

      When we bought a new antenna it was no better than the original. Be sure to use your original antenna part number or your vehicle VIN when you order a new antenna because there are different models depending upon whether you have GPS or not. We wrote more about changing the antenna out in this post.

      We did also consider changing to a shark fin style antenna, which would be much less likely to snap off, but we haven’t done that yet.

  4. Thanks, and I agree dealers must know how fragile they are. I was surprised there was not a better replacement. MB installed the same poorly designed antenna. To get to the base they did not have to remove the headliner, just a small center part with the lights.
    Had some rodent damage to wiring fixed at the same time. S. Calif rodents love the wiring on this vehicle!

  5. I’m glad to hear that it’s possible to epoxy these. But that only gets us back to the original state (almost) which is a weak part that will most likely break again. I discovered mine had been snapped off by snow this morning. I’m just going to place a piece of black gorilla tape over it as a temporary weather seal while I devise an improvement.

    I’m thinking a shark fin antenna cover, with a hole drilled for the OEM antenna mast, glued over the OEM assembly would be a simple reinforcement solution.

    1. Glenn, the antenna really is the weakest link in a Sprinter. Let us know if you try the shark fin option. We looked around for shark fin covers that were large enough. There aren’t many out there.

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