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SteveR777
11-24-2016, 01:50 AM
Greetings all,
First time posting on any forum so sorry if I'm in the wrong place.
So, I think I've finally convinced myself to buy a Sprinter van. Have been driving Toyota trucks for the last 20 years and have been extremely happy with the reliability factor but need more room. I love everything about the Sprinters but have no real experience with diesel engines and have found a ton of conflicting information about the Sprinters reliability. Then found this site and in it some hope that this may be a great vehicle. It would need to be a daily driver (only vehicle so, short trips to the store etc..) in New England, used to haul tools and materials for various side jobs I do and take a trip to Florida once a year.
Looking at the 02-06 model years cause that's what I can afford and if I'm understanding all the info right they seem to be the most reliable/economical to operate. Would like your experienced opinions on whether or not you think it would suit those needs as well as what to look out for before buying one. Are there any red flag signs I should walk away from? The used 2500 high top 140's I'm looking at have between 100,000 and 200,000 miles on them and are in the $10,000-$15,000 price range.
Thanks in advance, any and all insights are appreciated!!

joelanderson81
11-24-2016, 03:49 AM
Hi Steve,

New owner, new to the forum as well. My 2 cents...take the time to do your research. Get familiar with black death, blow by, turbo issues, EGR, etc. I purchased a van sight unseen and only wish I would have read the in depth tutorials beforehand. A number of issues are easily identified.

The amount of knowledge and willingness to help on this forum is second to none. Best of luck in your search.

NelsonSprinter
11-24-2016, 04:58 AM
1st of all you'll need to find not only a mechanic who wants to and can work on it, but a mechanic who is very experienced on them. Without one, it is a gamble, as they are nothing in any way like Toyotas, so recommend against buying one without one. Watch for severe rust around windshield

Lotus54
11-24-2016, 03:26 PM
I'm a recent sprinter owner, but did quite a lot of reading before buying.
Obviously take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt, but when you see a lot of people with the same issue seems reasonable to expect the possible issue to occur with many of the vehicles.

From what I've read, it seems many of this age can have rust issues when from places like where you live. I'd look carefully at that, since along with the obvious stuff, it makes almost any maintenance an extra hassle (rusted bolts, fittings etc).

I have had mechanic jobs (although mostly motorcycle now) but fairly minimal diesel (and most of that quite old, commercial ones) but many of the systems are the same as gasoline or quite similar, with associated much higher pressures etc.
So the suggestion of finding a mechanic with Sprinter experience seems excellent, perhaps taking any potential vehicle to that person before purchase to check out. The hour or two of shop time will be worth it (either in lower purchase price, or walking from very expensive repairs).

I would look carefully at all the 'standard systems' (brakes, suspension, cooling, exhaust) to make sure time, mileage and the elements have not caused too much damage. Things like flexible brake hoses, coolant hoses etc can be bad just due to age. Even though it is recommended to flush brake fluid every two years, almost nobody does it. Might want to budget a full brake restoration (replacing hoses and flushing at minimum).

I can't really comment if one in the price range/mileage will do what you want reliably. But certainly a good one will.
There is something to be said for buying one cheap that needs some of the 'regular issues' addressed- BUT often only if you do it yourself and have the time/capabilities. Plus there will always be more things that need to be done.

Just my thoughts off the top of my head.

Mark

Aqua Puttana
11-24-2016, 04:02 PM
In case you haven't stumbled upon this thread.


Inspection tips for buying a used Sprinter T1N
http://www.sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5174

:cheers: vic

SteveR777
11-24-2016, 04:47 PM
Thanks Joel,
Hope your experience wasn't too bad!
Am definitely trying to educate myself and am grateful for the information and community on this forum in that regard.
Best of luck with your purchase moving forward!!!

SteveR777
11-24-2016, 05:29 PM
1st of all you'll need to find not only a mechanic who wants to and can work on it, but a mechanic who is very experienced on them. Without one, it is a gamble, as they are nothing in any way like Toyotas, so recommend against buying one without one. Watch for severe rust around windshield


I'm a recent sprinter owner, but did quite a lot of reading before buying.
Obviously take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt, but when you see a lot of people with the same issue seems reasonable to expect the possible issue to occur with many of the vehicles.

From what I've read, it seems many of this age can have rust issues when from places like where you live. I'd look carefully at that, since along with the obvious stuff, it makes almost any maintenance an extra hassle (rusted bolts, fittings etc).

I have had mechanic jobs (although mostly motorcycle now) but fairly minimal diesel (and most of that quite old, commercial ones) but many of the systems are the same as gasoline or quite similar, with associated much higher pressures etc.
So the suggestion of finding a mechanic with Sprinter experience seems excellent, perhaps taking any potential vehicle to that person before purchase to check out. The hour or two of shop time will be worth it (either in lower purchase price, or walking from very expensive repairs).

I would look carefully at all the 'standard systems' (brakes, suspension, cooling, exhaust) to make sure time, mileage and the elements have not caused too much damage. Things like flexible brake hoses, coolant hoses etc can be bad just due to age. Even though it is recommended to flush brake fluid every two years, almost nobody does it. Might want to budget a full brake restoration (replacing hoses and flushing at minimum).

I can't really comment if one in the price range/mileage will do what you want reliably. But certainly a good one will.
There is something to be said for buying one cheap that needs some of the 'regular issues' addressed- BUT often only if you do it yourself and have the time/capabilities. Plus there will always be more things that need to be done.

Just my thoughts off the top of my head.

Mark

Thank you both for your input.
Lotus, your'e right about the rust issues around here on pretty much ANY used vehicle, an unfortunate reality of New England life.

Nelson, I really wish Toyota had something similar available in North America!!!

I should say that while I'm not a mechanic I'm also not helpless. I make a good parts changer if I know what the issue is. I don't have access to a Sprinter specialist but I do have a friend who is an independent Mercedes mechanic and has the willingness to work on a sprinter. He admits to being biased towards the Mercedes brand but said he would buy one before considering any other van. He admits it's partly because he can do the work himself!!
He also advised finding one cheap and fixing it myself (with his help). There is a certain appeal to taking that route and having a vehicle that I have a "relationship" with, I just don't want to be in the driveway every weekend for the foreseeable future.

SteveR777
11-24-2016, 05:32 PM
In case you haven't stumbled upon this thread.


Inspection tips for buying a used Sprinter T1N
http://www.sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5174

:cheers: vic

Thank You!!!!
I had not stumbled upon that thread and will certainly check it out!

BenJohnson
11-24-2016, 06:00 PM
Hi Steve,

Keep in mind these are older high mileage vans and on any high mileage vehicle all kinds of components wear out. You will find a number of threads where people post a lot of issues (like me), and others cite that they have had no problems. It appears each one is unique. Get the van checked carefully before you buy.

Here is my two cents:
- these vans are good for a DIYer. If you have to take it to a mechanic, it will cost.
- make sure to get a mercedes specific diagnostic tool: Autel, iCarSoft are two popular ones. MB Star/DAD/DRB are the professional ones. See the scanner sub-forum for details on these scanners.

FYI - here is what I have done to my high mileage van in the past few years. Again - I love this van. Easy to drive, easy on gas, comfortable, perfect for a guy with a dirt bike/mountain bike.

Repair Summary in 200,000 miles.
• Turbo hose and sensor
• Front and rear rotors, brakes
• Tie rod
• Alternator
• Glow plugs
• Turbo
• Heater distribution unit
• Steering rack
• Shocks
• All suspension bushings
• New tires
• Serpentine belt and ilders
• Harmonic balancer
• Injector seals (black death)
• Transmission conductor plate and o ring
• Battery
• Dash Vent Louvers
• In the next year or so I will need the TRANSMISSION rebuilt
• In the next year I will be replacing AC compressor, condenser and dryer
• Never ending surface rust
• Injector return line ($200USD)

outbound
11-24-2016, 06:51 PM
hey ben...
i have same model/year, that i bought with 205k on it,
that has had some of this list performed (by the prev/only owner/driver)
(cont below)


Repair Summary in 200,000 miles.
• Turbo hose and sensor
• Front and rear rotors, brakes
• Tie rod
• Alternator
• Glow plugs
• Turbo
• Heater distribution unit
• Steering rack
• Shocks
• All suspension bushings
• New tires
• Serpentine belt and ilders
• Harmonic balancer
• Injector seals (black death)
• Transmission conductor plate and o ring
• Battery
• Dash Vent Louvers
• In the next year or so I will need the TRANSMISSION rebuilt
• In the next year I will be replacing AC compressor, condenser and dryer
• Never ending surface rust
• Injector return line ($200USD)

and if it's not prying too much?

could you share with us WHEN all this stuff was done? (and maybe costs)
as in: mileage and/or dates/years into your ownership (assuming you bought it new)
when the repairs became necessary.

this would be VERY HELPFUL to those of us hoping to get at least another 100k
before the expected or unexpected 'wallet flush' (as LinDen puts it ;)

mostly since 'forewarned is fore-armed' and with wallet flushings getting more prevalent,
we all need all the warnings we can get.

TIA!

:bow:

SteveR777
11-25-2016, 01:09 AM
So all this has me thinking. I've also been looking at other diesel vehicles, the Ford 6.0 econoline among them. From what I understand, from the factory these motors were full of potentially disastrous issues. However, for a few thousand dollars they can be "bulletproofed" by replacing the questionable parts with aftermarket replacements. Things like head studs, egr cooling systems and additional oil/coolant filters and radiators can be done up front to produce a now "bulletproof" engine. Am wondering if anything similar has/can be done with the known faults in the t1n.?? Maybe just buy a beater and a re-manufactured motor from the start??

Midwestdrifter
11-25-2016, 01:31 AM
None of the T1Ns known/common issues are disastrous expensive, at least not as expensive as the 6.0 ford motor. The mechanics of the core I5 engine are very strudy, and have no major flaws) The vast majority of failures are related to bolt on parts as they age/wear. A few like black death and injector problems can be more expensive. A few parts with known flaws are the harmonic balancer, which often has a short life due to rubber cracking, leaking O-rings at the transmission socket, and the 04-06 turbo resonator which has a cracking seam. The resonator and transmission socket have been updated to remove or reduce failure. Most of the "fixes" for bulletproofing and I5 are related to regular maintenance. The I5 engine was used for many years in other countries before it came here, and it was a mature platform.

Honestly most of the situations with the engine Beyond Economic Repair fall into three categories.


Cooling system failure resulting in cooking the engine. Sprinters cool very well when the system is working properly. They have less extra capacity than domestic vans with huge radiators, so when the system deteriorates it can go downhill fast.

Fuel system damage from badly contaminated fuel (Can result in engine damage through stuck injectors)

Damage due to improper method (or sometimes just bad luck) when repairing moderate problems such as broken exhaust studs, leaking injector seals, or fuel system issues,


There is not a large aftermarket for these vans in the USA. The following are my suggestions for avoiding most major issues.


Regularly service and inspect the belt drive and cooling system (every 100k miles is good). This means checking the alternator clutch, idler pulleys, tensioner, water pump, and harmonic balancer. Clean the radiator/intercooler/condenser. Check the radiator fan clutch.

Service the fluids on a regular schedule. This includes the coolant

Regularly inspect the engine wiring harness for chafing, and the injectors seals for leakage. Every oil change is a good interval.

Install a secondary fuel filter (spin on ones are nice) that has water separation media. This will reduce the risk of damage if you pump fuel that is heavily contaminated with water.


Sprinter electrical systems are not as well protected as fords. By protected I mean the harness sheathing and connectors. This makes them a bit more prone to electrical issues. There are a few known weak areas that will affect some sprinters with regards to the wiring. The most common is the Fuse block number one, which can develop weak contacts with the wiper/blinker and ECU relays. This can cause some odd symptoms. Thankfully a new fuse block is less than 150$, and can be swapped in less than 30 minutes. A bit of contact grease, and a sharp eye can save lots of trouble with the engine compartment harness. A common issue is that mechanics/owners will work on the van and disturb the harness. If they don't put the plugs or harness back correctly it can chafe or water can get into the plugs.

The I5 engine itself is quite robust. Clean oil, air, fuel, keep it cool, and it will provide long service.

Flatheadfever
11-25-2016, 02:48 AM
If you are close to the border you might consider buying in Quebec or Ontario. I paid 9500cdn for a 06 less than 100k miles 118" with maintenance records and 2 sets of tires that's less than 7 grand usd.