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View Full Version : Buying a van rant


kudu
07-10-2019, 09:23 PM
This is purely a venting post.

Thought today would be the day that I joined the club. After months of searching I thought I finally found the perfect van. An 04 3500 140 high top, well maintained, clean, 170k on the clock, new turbo and MAF and the seller agreed on only $5500. Score. Countless pictures of the van and questions later I booked the two hour flight to where it was located with the expectation of driving it home. She looked great. Seller could not have been nicer and was very knowledgeable about the van and T1Ns in general. I test drove it, went though most of the pre purchase inspection tips, and was about to punch the ticket. Then I noticed a little rust under the driver side step. After lifting up the plastic, it showed the ugly truth. She was rusted through. The cargo area has lined with a truck bed liner type material with plywood on top of that. A little rust treatment had clearly been done, but the cover up and the newly discovered holes up front had me too worried to purchase. I couldn't take up the wood and inspect underneath, but the chance of it being one big rust bucket was too high. I had to walk away. At the airport now, scrolling through Craigslist looking for another and feel like I won't ever find what I am looking for at a decent price. Damn it I just want to find a van!

NelsonSprinter
07-10-2019, 09:41 PM
I've never seen pics of the cargo area floor rusted thru, wonderful undercoating there underneath anyways, and rust at the door step is common and fixable. Still sounds like a deal to me , sight unseen. You can still see if there was major repairs from underneath

glasseye
07-10-2019, 09:51 PM
Agree with Nelson. That's hella cheap if it's only a little bit of rust. 170K miles isn't bad.
Go back and crawl around under it. :cheers:

Midwestdrifter
07-10-2019, 10:26 PM
The step well rust generally isn't structural. Though there is varying stages. Usually a basic treatment, followed by gluing in a patch panel will do the trick. Should easily be hidden under the step.

BrennWagon
07-10-2019, 10:46 PM
Kudu, go back and crawl around under the van and check for major rust, then check the roof and if the seams aren’t rusted and there’s nothing major underneath then you’ve probable found your ticket into the club. It sounds like a great deal to me and I agree that the drivers step isn’t a big deal and easily fixed

Bobnoxious
07-10-2019, 11:07 PM
Kudu, go back and crawl around under the van and check for major rust, then check the roof and if the seams aren’t rusted and there’s nothing major underneath then you’ve probable found your ticket into the club. It sounds like a great deal to me and I agree that the drivers step isn’t a big deal and easily fixed

:thumbup:

You can learn how to repair rust.

lindenengineering
07-11-2019, 12:01 AM
:thumbup:

You can learn how to repair rust.

Yes its called Gringo Beans Welding (Soldaduras Frijoles Gringos) by the Mexican techs I have employed !:lol:

Seriously though this thread emphasizes the fact that you need a Tech savvy Sprinter guy to inspect it BEFORE you buy.

And as footnote the best body guys are Columbians/Loatians the latter being great with paint .

Dennis

Gabe Athouse
07-11-2019, 12:10 AM
Yes its called Gringo Beans Welding (Soldaduras Frijoles Gringos) by the Mexican techs I have employed !:lol:

Seriously though this thread emphasizes the fact that you need a Tech savvy Sprinter guy to inspect it BEFORE you buy.

And as footnote the best body guys are Columbians/Loatians the latter being great with paint .

Dennis

Iíve never understood the concept of a comprehensive pre inspection by a shop. When I sell a vehicle I canít be bothered to let it go out of my sight to an inspector whoís job is to find things for the buyer to nag me down on. Especially if the price is a good deal. If you want that kind of safety net you need to buy from a dealer, and pay twice as much.

lindenengineering
07-11-2019, 01:37 AM
Iíve never understood the concept of a comprehensive pre inspection by a shop. When I sell a vehicle I canít be bothered to let it go out of my sight to an inspector whoís job is to find things for the buyer to nag me down on. Especially if the price is a good deal. If you want that kind of safety net you need to buy from a dealer, and pay twice as much.

Well if you are going to flog it and you have a buyer, its only understandable that the buyer should ask for a qualified person to inspect it. If the declared condition is commensurate with the age, mileage & condition then an honest inspection should not present a problem.

Again its caveat empter for the buyer, and based upon an inspection you can get the good ol Anglo Saxon meeting of the minds , if not both parties walk.
As they say in the trade there's a butt for every seat
Dennis

Aqua Puttana
07-11-2019, 02:41 AM
As has been noted in the posts above, of itself the rust under the step well plastic isn't a deal breaker in my mind. The drain under the plastic is a marginal design. Water can accumulate and accelerate rusting.

Any repair looks great after the plastic step well assembly is back in place. The step well metal integrity isn't that critical to body integrity. A 16 - 18 ga. sheet metal patch secured with pop rivets is a practical repair. (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35844)

If the rest of the van was good as to rust, it may have been fine to purchase the truck.

:2cents: vic

The Grand Tour
07-11-2019, 04:54 AM
Iíve never understood the concept of a comprehensive pre inspection by a shop. When I sell a vehicle I canít be bothered to let it go out of my sight to an inspector whoís job is to find things for the buyer to nag me down on.

If a seller refuses to allow a PPI, it usually means that he's afraid that someone will find out what he's trying to hide, and it's never good.

By performing PPI's, I have saved a LOT of people a LOT of heartache, by protecting them from unscrupulous sellers.

ions82
07-11-2019, 08:57 AM
Seems like the engine and transmission would've been worth nearly $5,500. It will be difficult to find a "perfect" van at that price. I paid about that much for a retired FedEx unit, and I feel as though it's about the best I could've hoped for (even though it needs a fair amount of parts/work/investment.) A rust-free T1N that has been cared for is likely to cost closer to $10K (or more.) I hope someone else here snaps it up at that price!

Aqua Puttana
07-11-2019, 01:48 PM
Seems like the engine and transmission would've been worth nearly $5,500. It will be difficult to find a "perfect" van at that price. ...
I agree completely. 170k isn't a bunch of miles. A bit below average, but it still is 15 years old. You don't get pristine for 5500 bucks. You get a daily driver or a DIY restore project if more is wanted. You don't get a truck to expect that dealership maintenance is a worthwhile mode.

In North America other more recent year Euro vans are now getting to the age of being a prospect for conversion projects.

:2cents: vic

tetonraven22
08-02-2019, 08:31 PM
I'm in a similar situation, but I didn't walk away! Bought a 2006 3500 158"WB yesterday with only 164K miles on it for $9900 that I knew needed some work (and it does) but the mechanic just told me that the rust situation is SERIOUS in the cargo bed and they don't even want to explore the extent of the damage because that would make it inoperable and I need to get it home. I'm so bummed. I feel like I was scammed! I don't think the buyer knew, either, he took it to a regular mechanic who of course had no idea what he was looking at and basically said "yeah, I don't know, drives fine, looks ok!" and I didn't insist on an inspection from a Sprinter mechanic before buying it because I checked all the things I had heard about - turbo clunking, "the black death," smells, leaks, roof seam rust, a few other things - and expected to need to change fluids (I do) and fix the AC (fan belt needs changed) and the ABS system (yup), but the floor was covered in plywood and I didn't know to look under it! It LOOKS fine.

I've got a guy back home (8hrs from a Sprinter mechanic) who is ready to rip out the entire floor for me, treat the rust, and then has a welder buddy who will replace it with sheet metal. I'm so nervous to see what's actually underneath. Does anyone have experience with this? Is "serious" "we don't know the extent of it" spreading rust in the cargo area repairable?!

Midwestdrifter
08-02-2019, 08:44 PM
If the underbody looks good, you likely just had a chemical spill get under the floor. Several users have had similar. It can be fixed.

If the damage is has not compromised the area around the leaf spring attachments, you can likely just use scab patches. Welding, rivets, or good adhesive are acceptable. Then just put the floor back over. No one will ever know or care.

Nautamaran
08-03-2019, 02:12 AM
Agreed - though you’ll want to heed that bit about the rear spring mounts - those need to be sound.

A good part of the body strength derives from the frame rails, but the floor pan is important too. Still, it can be patched as required. Once the rust is neutralized I’d use an adhesive and rivets to avoid hot work damage to the underbody coatings.

-dave

and why do I keep reading this thread’s title
as “buying a rat van” :smilewink:

Garandman
08-03-2019, 10:18 AM
////Does anyone have experience with this? Is "serious" "we don't know the extent of it" spreading rust in the cargo area repairable?!The van I bought was used as a painter's truck on Cape Cod for 13 years. There was one rusty area under the floor, the size of your palm. Rocker panels were much worse.

Don't jump to conclusions! We spent thousands repairing rust: and three people tried to buy it while it was still at the body shop!