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The Competition Discussion of other vehicles similar to the Sprinter; Transit, Promaster, etc.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:51 AM   #1
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Default Mercedes vs other brands

Hello,

I am going to build out a van to live full time and travel, but I am having a hard time figuring out which van is the best choice for me. I am super careful with decisions like this and do a lot of research before I decide. My main concern is cost of course, I worry about big out of pocket repairs at the dealership. It seems like the Ford Transit and Dodge Promaster have the advantage of taking them to any mechanic whereas the Benz has to be serviced/repaired at the dealership. I prefer the longer wheelbase and the Benz appeals with the 170" to have more space to build.

I have been driving Toyota for a while now, so reliability is a huge luxury to me. I have been reading a lot... it seems that the 4 banger 2014-2016 MB sprinter is great. My friend has a 2015 144" I4 and he likes it. I just worry about being in the mountains and having a major problem.

Questions of concern: (I have read about the T1N and NCV3 by the way)
- Why choose the Mercedes, which I guess can only be serviced/repaired at a dealership, over the alternatives?
- Are high mileage sprinters risky? 100k, 200k, 300k.
- Is the T1N even with high miles a safer bet than the new computer heavy NCV3?

Thank you!

Scott
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Drive all the possible choices first. That should narrow down the number of choices. Maybe even rent one for a few days. Big dollars so a bit spent up front will help you decide and avoid a mistake.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Being used to Toyota longevity as well, I had a difficult time deciding on a van. To make a long story short, I felt like the 2.1 4 cylinder Sprinter would give me the best service life of all of the other available options.

None of these vans are Toyotas. The way I see it, if I'm going to have a problem with the Sprinter it will more likely be an exhaust sensor under the van versus a transmission or other major drivetrain part. Also, the fuel savings of 23-27 MPG versus 15-16 MPG on a gas rig is an absolute substantial savings. My lifetime average is 24.6 MPG, but this morning as an example I got 27 MPG on my heavy-traffic city commute.

I do my own regular services to save money. It's easier on the van than any other vehicle I've owned. I can't comment on your question about T1Ns as I have never owned one. Good luck!
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Regarding T1N’s, they’re excellent vans but time is taking it’s toll. If you’re someone who likes wrenching and chasing electrical gremlins and rust, you may be very happy with a T1N. If you’re planning on having services done by a dealership or private shop you’d probably be best served with a newer model as qualified T1N techs are a dying breed.

So far as high mileage is concerned, I’d take a T1N with 250K over an NVC3 with the same mileage, simply due to the complexity and expense of exhaust system repairs on the newer models, and the straight five engine is arguably easier to work on than the V6.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenunzzz View Post
Hello,

I am going to build out a van to live full time and travel, but I am having a hard time figuring out which van is the best choice for me. I am super careful with decisions like this and do a lot of research before I decide. My main concern is cost of course, I worry about big out of pocket repairs at the dealership. It seems like the Ford Transit and Dodge Promaster have the advantage of taking them to any mechanic whereas the Benz has to be serviced/repaired at the dealership. I prefer the longer wheelbase and the Benz appeals with the 170" to have more space to build.

I have been driving Toyota for a while now, so reliability is a huge luxury to me. I have been reading a lot... it seems that the 4 banger 2014-2016 MB sprinter is great. My friend has a 2015 144" I4 and he likes it. I just worry about being in the mountains and having a major problem.

Questions of concern: (I have read about the T1N and NCV3 by the way)
- Why choose the Mercedes, which I guess can only be serviced/repaired at a dealership, over the alternatives?
- Are high mileage sprinters risky? 100k, 200k, 300k.
- Is the T1N even with high miles a safer bet than the new computer heavy NCV3?

Thank you!

Scott
It sounds like you have established some decision criteria (reliability, ease of servicing, cost of servicing, initial cost, etc). I would suggest identifying any other criteria, weighting them (e.g. initial cost is three times as important as ease of servicing) and then collect data. Data collection may include test drives or forum posts such as this - but only you can decide what criteria are important to you.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenunzzz View Post
Hello,

I am going to build out a van to live full time and travel...

... - Is the T1N even with high miles a safer bet than the new computer heavy NCV3?

Thank you!

Scott
A T1N with super low miles would be my choice over an NCV3 any day!!!

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Old 12-04-2019, 02:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Quote:
Originally Posted by asimba2 View Post
Being used to Toyota longevity as well, I had a difficult time deciding on a van. To make a long story short, I felt like the 2.1 4 cylinder Sprinter would give me the best service life of all of the other available options.

None of these vans are Toyotas. The way I see it, if I'm going to have a problem with the Sprinter it will more likely be an exhaust sensor under the van versus a transmission or other major drivetrain part. Also, the fuel savings of 23-27 MPG versus 15-16 MPG on a gas rig is an absolute substantial savings. My lifetime average is 24.6 MPG, but this morning as an example I got 27 MPG on my heavy-traffic city commute.

I do my own regular services to save money. It's easier on the van than any other vehicle I've owned. I can't comment on your question about T1Ns as I have never owned one. Good luck!
So you don't have to take them to a dealership to get repairs? It seems like people make it seem you have to take them to a dealership. I get simple stuff like oil changes and such can be diy, but is it necessary to take them to the dealership?
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

After browsing this forum a few years, I was conflicted and was fearful of a huge repair bill on a used vehicle.
I looked really hard at the used market, however I don't believe the prices justified the risk involved in buying a used vehicle, especially if it was a really good deal, maybe unless your a serious DIY guy.
For peace of mind, I instead purchased new and for extra security I got the extended warranty.
Looking back 3 year later, I'm only at 25k, the extended warranty was comforting but overkill, my limited time the I4 is solid.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

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Originally Posted by thenunzzz View Post
So you don't have to take them to a dealership to get repairs? It seems like people make it seem you have to take them to a dealership. I get simple stuff like oil changes and such can be diy, but is it necessary to take them to the dealership?
It really depends on the repair. The issue is the lockdown on the electronics for certain things that need SCN (software calibration number) coding or other higher level electronic update or manipulation. That said, there are independent shops out there with the capability, knowledge, and electronics that can do anything the dealer can. Then there are many that can do 95% of the things, and so on down the line.

I've done most of the repairs on my van, and used the dealer as needed. I think for an NCV3, you should budget $2K in annual repairs. Some years would be less, others could be more. But they are not a cheap vehicle to run, especially if you are getting one with 100K plus miles and no warranty. I've had my van for about 3 years... bought at 99K miles for $19k...I've put about 25k miles on it and have spent about $4k in maintenance and repairs. Like many others, I had some expensive DEF-related repairs that ate up about $3k of that. But I am not disappointed or surprised, and I love the van and the way it drives.

The other thing that is important to note is people don't typically sell vehicles with no issues. Often they are sold due to issues, and these vans are no exception. So having a PPI done by a reputable and experienced shop will catch many big ticket items, and probably pay for itself in many cases.

The T1N is much more repair-friendly, but is becoming a bit long in the tooth as they've not been produced since 2006. You can get a pre-DEF NCV3 2007-2009 which is probably a pretty good idea as you only need to potentially deal with the DPF. Also, I wouldn't be scared of high miles if it was mostly long trip highway miles, as that is pretty easy on a vehicle, especially a diesel.

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Old 12-05-2019, 05:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes vs other brands

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheeljack View Post
It really depends on the repair. The issue is the lockdown on the electronics for certain things that need SCN (software calibration number) coding or other higher level electronic update or manipulation. That said, there are independent shops out there with the capability, knowledge, and electronics that can do anything the dealer can. Then there are many that can do 95% of the things, and so on down the line.

I've done most of the repairs on my van, and used the dealer as needed. I think for an NCV3, you should budget $2K in annual repairs. Some years would be less, others could be more. But they are not a cheap vehicle to run, especially if you are getting one with 100K plus miles and no warranty. I've had my van for about 3 years... bought at 99K miles for $19k...I've put about 25k miles on it and have spent about $4k in maintenance and repairs. Like many others, I had some expensive DEF-related repairs that ate up about $3k of that. But I am not disappointed or surprised, and I love the van and the way it drives.

The other thing that is important to note is people don't typically sell vehicles with no issues. Often they are sold due to issues, and these vans are no exception. So having a PPI done by a reputable and experienced shop will catch many big ticket items, and probably pay for itself in many cases.

The T1N is much more repair-friendly, but is becoming a bit long in the tooth as they've not been produced since 2006. You can get a pre-DEF NCV3 2007-2009 which is probably a pretty good idea as you only need to potentially deal with the DPF. Also, I wouldn't be scared of high miles if it was mostly long trip highway miles, as that is pretty easy on a vehicle, especially a diesel.

DAMN! 2k a year for maintenance/repairs?? And 4k for 25k miles, what did you have to do? Is there anything else you would recommend? what do you think about the RAM Promaster?
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