Need advice ASAP - should I buy 2002 FL sprinter (cargo)?


New member
I'm new to the Sprinter world so any help you can give right away would be greatly appreciated. I just went and looked at a 2002 freightliner sprinter today. Yes, I'd love a new one, but simply don't have the money. My past vehicles have been a ford e250 cargo van and a GMC 3500 box truck (awesome truck!) Only problem with the box truck is having to go through the DOT weigh stations. I travel cross country and am carrying art for sale at art festivals. I'm also a woman traveling alone and am concerned about breakdown issues and finding available, knowledgeable mechanics if I do.

Here's the Sprinter info:
2002 freightliner
2500 high roof, shorter wheel base
Transmission replaced at 175,000 miles
Odometer: 206,774
Asking price: $8200

The owner got a pre sale inspection last week which showed the following:

- "AC needs service"
the blower worked fine, although didn't seem to blow as hard as my other vehicles, and it
seemed to need coolant. Wondering if shooting a can in there would work.)

- "Found turbo leaking oil"
I have no clue here. I looked under vehicle to see if any other fluids were leaking and saw

- "License plate lights are out"
Wish they had mentioned if it was a bulb, fuse or other type of issue

- "Has idle surge - suggest further inspection"
I did not detect this at all on my extended test drive and 20 minute idle in parking lot.

- "AC air box has been duct taped"
Sounds weird, I know. Previous owner was going to convert the van into an RV. I suspect
from what I saw that a little plastic clasp broke off in one spot and he taped in the area. Other
brackets were in place.

The guy who is selling it bought it to move here from another state and to use it while he and his girlfriend went around buying furniture for their new home. He says he loves it, but sees no need to keep it.

Here's what scares me:
(1) all the Internet horror stories.
(2). It's filthy inside. - the current owner is a twenty-something guy, really laid back but super smart computer engineer. So maybe he doesn't really care. However, I think it was like this when he bought it to move here. Meaning the guy who was going to convert it to an RV was a sloppy pig. Not sure if that really means all it implies, because my husband, a bona fide old hippy, is a total slob in his work truck, but maintains it like its the Queen's crown jewels.

I'd REALLY appreciate any help or opinions ASAP. Thanks so much!


Erratic Member
"shorter wheel base" ... do you mean the 118" (both cargo side window cutouts the same size) or the 140" (rear side window is larger)?

If you're worried about being stranded far from available service and parts, the Sprinter may not be a great idea.
Your service options are limited to a few Dodge/Chrysler dealers who still service their old customers, a few Freightliner dealers, and about 100 Mercedes Sprinter dealers (who may well be the best and cheapest service option).
There are a few non-official servicing folks, but they're few and far between. Buying into an AAA+ RV package may be worthwhile. (then convincing them it's an RV).

The $8200 seems a little high (recent other posts have had much newer, lower-mileage Sprinters for about $13000).
((the thread was titled something like "how about this one?" ... if i can find it, i'll edit this message to have the links))

Here's the thread:
..follow the links to see competitive Sprinters.

Where (vaguely) are you? That would help in terms of locating vehicles.

good luck
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Own a DAD ODB2 Unit.
If you are mechanically inclined, it may be a reasonable deal. If you are going to be dependent on local service people for all of your work, it may cost you a fortune to address service issues (ie. dealers often charge 10 times what it would cost you to do the same service - like changing trans mission fluid). The parts and service manuals for the 2002 thru 2006 Sprinters are online and available for free.

If it's a 2002, its a Freightliner and any Dodge Dealership that services Sprinters will be able to work on it (it is basically the same as a 2003 Sprinter, except, there are a few parts that are not the same - however, these parts are available from Berry Dodge, or Europarts Sd), but may not be allowed to do warrenty work on it in your state (there is an intake manifold recall for 2002/2003 Sprinters - was it done on the one you are looking at?).

I have a 2002 and am comfortable driving it pretty much anywhere, but, I do 99% of the maintenance on it, and am proactive in service (and have been on all of my vehicles, pretty much for the last 30 years - I don't like any surprises while on a trip). I was in Las Vegas this past July and Memphis Tennessee 2 weeks ago - no problems on either trip. I travel a lot in the mountains of Colorado during the year - My Sprinter is a well maintained vehicle, and I drive it almost every day.

I paid $8500 for my 2002 in 2010, with 155K miles on it. It had minor issues with dashboard vent damage and some rust at the rear doors (someone had backed it into a building at one time). I have put around 30,000 miles on it since (and used the combined knowledge of this forum to address most issues, as well as contributed to it many times).


Haulin' A** since 1974
My 2005 van was a bit filthy too, but a good scrubbing really made it shine. My cleaning is still ongoing because there is a LOT of surface area in a van. But I have gotten 98% of the grime off.

My main advice if you buy this or any used Sprinter, know your values. The market is good for sound T1Ns, so pay a fair price, but no more, according to condition and mileage. Do not over pay: you will also need to replace all oil, filters, belts, etc both to give yourself peace of mind on the road, and buy some to carry along for spares on the road.

More on prices: see post #24 in this thread

Next main advice: this forum is a huge help. Subscribe and participate. It's like going to Sprinter School!

On the AC blower weak flow - just replacing the cabin filter should fix the amount of air being let thru the vents?

The turbo oil drip - may indicate some minor maintenance is needed. New hose or clamps for a start. If there is a turbo resonator on a 2002 model, they collect old oil over time, and maybe it is cracked and weeping?

License plate lights out - may simply be due to dirty connections at the door switches? (My 2005 uses two "festoon" bulb which I plan to replace with LED versions).

AC housing duct tape - likely just giving assist to some weak velcro tabs?

Cheers! :cheers:
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