If you are in the market for a Sprinter base vehicle camper van, you have probably wondered just how many miles a Sprinter van is good for.
A sprinter van that has been well cared for and that consistently gets regular maintenance can last for 300,000 miles or more, depending on the model of the van. Sprinter base vehicle RVs are typically a type of class B motorhome created and sold by a variety of RV manufacturers.
Continue reading on to learn more about what type of issues a sprinter van can have, how often they require serious and costly repairs, and which sprinter on the market is considered the best in its class.
What is a Sprinter Van?
A sprinter van is a Class B motorhome that is designed and built by the Mercedes Benz company. The Mercedes Sprinter van was created in 1995 as a replacement for the Mercedes TN Van that was originally deployed in 1977. While its inception in the mid 1990s was lackluster at best, there has been a renewed interest in the van with the influx of bloggers and travelers that want a manageable RV.
The sprinter van is a larger van than traditional passenger vans and is considered a cross between a passenger and cargo van. Many sprinter vans are purchased with the intention of using a conversion kit and turning the van into a fun, easy to drive, camper van.
Sprinter vans that have gone through conversions usually feature a bed, kitchenette, small dining area and storage for camping gear. Not all sprinter vans undergo conversions, however. Many sprinter vans are often used by repair companies and small package delivery services, such as Amazon.
Do Sprinter Vans Have a lot of Problems?
While the Mercedes Sprinter van is quite reliable, there are a few common issues with these vans that you should note if you are looking to purchase one. The first, and most common issue with the Sprinter Vans is that the exhaust flex pipe of the Sprinter van is known to fail and cause engine problems.
The pipe generates a hot exhaust leak, causing the flex pipe wire to melt. The heated exhaust can also cause the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) nozzles and, in certain cases, the DEF lines to melt. This causes the engine to stop down until the flex pipe is replaced. The exhaust flex pipe has been known to cut out around 100,000 miles so you can be prepared for this once your odometer is getting close.
Other Common Sprinter Van Issues
The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) filters the exhaust particulates to prevent black smoke from escaping the tailpipe of the Sprinter. Foreign particles might obstruct the DPF and cause the exhaust flow to be interrupted. If the exhaust does not exit the engine, you will experience performance bottlenecks and possibly a total engine shutdown.
Check Engine Light
If you receive a check engine light while on your delivery route or in the backwoods camping, the Sprinter van may be informing you that the DEF heater has failed. The DEF heater is used in conjunction with the DEF/AdBlue tank, which can solidify if not heated by the DEF heater. Freezing often occurs only during the frigid winter months.
Glow plugs, rather than spark plugs, are used to start the Mercedes Sprinter diesel van’s engine. These plugs, like spark plugs, deteriorate and fail with time, or they can be damaged. The advantage of glow plugs is that they last far longer than spark plugs because they only light up when the van is started.
Less Common Sprinter Van Issues
On Sprinter vehicles, oil leaks, notably oil cooler leaks, are widespread. Oil leaks are most usually caused by the oil cooler gasket and changing the gasket can resolve the issue. Oil cooler leaks, however, must be fixed as soon as possible. This is because the oil pours out of the gasket and onto the engine’s cooler seals. If not fixed immediately, the oil spillage could result in even more costly repairs.
Rumble Strip Issues
If you have ever driven over rumble strips, you are familiar with the Sprinter “Rumble Strip” noise issue. Low or improper transmission fluid might cause your vehicle to sound and feel like it’s driving on a rumble strip. However, the more usual culprit is a worn-out torque converter clutch, which can be rebuilt.
Countdown to Engine Failure
Aside from freezing in cold temperatures, the DEF/AdBlue system can also cause an early startup countdown. This is the number of times you can restart the Sprinter’s engine. You will not be able to start the van once the countdown hits zero. This issue is also caused by faulty DEF and NOX sensors.
Are Sprinter Vans Expensive to Maintain?
The short answer to this question is yes. Sprinter vans made from Mercedes Benz are notoriously expensive to maintain. The reason for this is two-fold. First, Mercedes Benz is a German luxury brand. Like with any other foreign-made luxury vehicle, the parts and pieces that are necessary for repair are expensive.
The second reason that the Sprinter van is expensive to maintain is that Mercedes Benz has a monopoly on the repairs for it. This means that in order to repair a Sprinter van, you must take it to a certified Mercedes dealer for parts and repairs. Parts and service on the Sprinter vans can add up quickly and if the shop is backed up, you may be waiting for a while for it to get repaired.
How Reliable are Sprinter Vans?
In general, the Mercedes Sprinter van is quite reliable, it is a luxury brand after all. Once your van ticks over to the 100,000-mile mark, however, you will most likely start to see several issues creep up. The expensive parts and service for necessary repairs, coupled with the possibility of a long wait time means that most people opt for an extended warranty on their van.
Should I Get an Extended Warranty?
Purchasing an extended warranty from the dealer, which covers well-documented failures, can save a lot of time in the service department and potentially thousands of dollars in repair bills. The only cost is the initial warranty price at the time of your van purchase.