Inspection tips for buying a used Sprinter T1N


Well-known member
Search: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 check inspect deal buy advice

First a fitting quote from JD Caples before you read my tips.

While problems detailed in forum postings (and entire threads!) are real and quite unnerving, they are not necessarily representative of everyone's ownership experience.

If you like the van, buy it.


An unabashed advertisement. If you find the style of this thread helpful I have some others.

Tips for New to Sprinter Owners

Stoopid Things condensed

Cheap Tricks condensed

Check Engine Light DTC MIL Codes List

Limp Home Mode comments

Trailer Wiring OEM Harness vs. Light Module

Tools - Quality, Special, Dodge, MB, Mercedes, Hose Clamp

20170727 Edit:Add your vehicle info to all your posts automatically!!!!!It will help you to get answers. Thank you.

The most direct method is probably in your "Details".
In the Blue bar above click "Quick Links".
Scroll down to the "Custom User Title" box.
Click in that box and type in at least your Sprinter MY (Model Year).
Scroll down to the "Save Changes" box. Click on that and you are done.
Whatever you enter will be displayed at the bottom of your member icon.

The other place is in your "Signature".
In the Blue bar above click "Quick Links".
Select "Edit Signature".
Scroll down to the text box which looks like what you use to add a post to the forum. Type in at least your Sprinter MY (Model Year).
Scroll down to "Preview Signature". If the preview looks like what you want, scroll down to "Save Signature", click on that and you're done.
Whatever you enter will be displayed at the bottom of every one of your posts.
(If signatures don't display go back to "Quick Links" and "Edit Options" to allow signature display.)

T1N's go up to and including 2006 model year except for some RV conversions which may have T1N running gear in later models. Before anyone that's looking to buy a T1N continues I recommend you read the Sprinter Wiki link created by Sikwan (in the blue bar above).

There is a danger in highlighting some of the problems associated with the Sprinter and directing people to the various threads discussing those problems. It is easy for it to appear that ALL Sprinters have problems. I'm very happy with my 2004 used Sprinter with 225,000 320,000+ miles. I have had very few problems with my Sprinter (knocking wood). There are many happy Sprinter owners that never post in forums. The good news is that these forums are invaluable for DIY, helping to resolve problems, and general information.

The following are some things I have learned from various forums about used Sprinters. These are in no particular order. Most engine comments refer to the diesel engine, not the less common gasoline variety. I would hope others will add posts to make this write up more helpful for anyone looking for a used T1N. Perhaps specific comments related to the various RV brands and installed conversion equipment would help?

Injector black death leakage. From what I gather the fuel injector hold down bolts get loose or the seals erode.... for whatever reason and the injector seals begin to leak. This allows combustion products to escape and build up. This is easily inspected by pulling the plastic cover that shields the injector assemblies to inspect for discoloration or black lava like deposits around the injectors (5 mm Allen head fasteners). Black lava indicates major failure. Pouring a bit of soapy water on the injector bases will show bubbles if it is in early stages. (Spritzing window cleaner won't work... don't ask.) This may be an expensive thing to repair. Dealerships will typically replace the head for broken hold down bolts (if they break). Doktor A has a more reasonable repair which can be performed without removing the head.

Link related to injector failure and inspection:

2011/09/12 edit:
Injector seal leakage is not a reason to totally dismiss buying a Sprinter. If the mileage isn't too high just replacing the bad seal may be a good response. Given very high mileage you might consider replacing all injectors because a bad injector can lead to other more major problems. Injector/seal replacement is very possible DIY.

A recent thread in which Doktor A replies to indicate that "Black Death" can look very bad, but may actually just be one injector leaking.

Looking at buying, and is this the black death?

My experience changing injectors DIY. What happened to me is probably as bad as it gets.:bash: Others have changed seals with little problem.

Remove Pull Replace Install Change T1N Fuel Injector


Glow plug failures.
The glow plugs themselves are not expensive, but they have a history of seizing into the head and making replacement a major repair.
2011/02/15 edit: I feel there is good news related to glow plug removal. Mine came out without any real problems. This thread has what I did for removal. YMMV.

My Experience Changing Glow Plugs

The Engine Control Unit (ECU) or ECM Engine Control Module is designed to monitor the glow plugs and related control circuit. It is not uncommon for the monitor circuit to show a false fault in the glow plugs. Glow plugs should never be repaired/changed based only upon the ECM fault information codes. There are tests which can be performed to check the glow plugs. Glow plugs may not be critical if you never use the diesel in very cold temperatures. It is reported that the glow plug fault indications are more reliable in the NCV3 models.
2011/02/15 edit: It is possible to modify the glow plug module and correct most failures by adding wiring and individual glow plug fuses. This helps to avoid an expensive parts replacement.

Link related to glow plugs:

Having the ASSYST option to help with maintenance schedules is a plus. The ASSYST monitors mileage, oil condition, and other Sprinter functions to help determine what maintenance intervals are appropriate for your use. Not an essential option, but nice to have.

Link related to ASSYST:

The Sprinter remote door locks can be troublesome.
Make certain they are all in working order. Sometimes the repair is an easy cleaning of the door contact units, but not always.

Turbo Resonator 2004 - 2006. Many people recommend that the heavy RV conversion Sprinters install a Riordan turbo resonator replacement. On heavily loaded vehicles there is a history of OEM plastic turbo resonator failures before the Q5 modified resonator. It is probably best if you have a Q5 version of the resonator. They come with a Q5 sticker that may still be on the resonator. A new plastic OEM resonator is around $50.00 for the part. A Riordan aluminum replacement is about $140.00 for the part. Installation is not a bad DIY given the correct tools.

Sprinter NAG1 transmission.
2010/10/19 edit:
The comments regarding the NAG1 transmission below may be a bit out of date in some respects, but I think still basically valid. My more recent ideas and comments regarding the NAG1 transmission can be found near the middle and end of this more recent post. It is my opinion only.

The Sprinter NAG1 transmission seems to be sensitive to having proper fluid and proper level?? Try to verify that the proper Mercedes Benz (MB) approved transmission fluid is installed. From Dodge the approved fluid is Crossfire/Sprinter in a black plastic bottle. Even with OEM at this time there are 3 versions of fluid. Some recommend the MB spec #MB236.12, or the newer MB236.14 is even better. There are not many common brands of transmission fluid in the USA that meet the MB236.12 or MB236.14 specs for the NAG1 transmission. ATF+4 is not correct. The original Operator Manual is always the official reference, based upon that there is technically nothing wrong with using MB236.10 spec ATFIII fluid.

Added 20161008:
I've since been convinced that whether MB236.10, MB236.12, or MB236.14 fluid is used any of them will cure a shudder problem that is related to old, spent fluid. The newer spec fluid may help with RSN, but in my mind that is even questionable eg. MB236.10 vs MB236.14 fluid. The MB236.14 fluid was developed for a newer/different transmission than the NAG1. MB236.14 fluid is backward compatible to the NAG1, not required. (Similar to MB229.5 engine oil and MB228.5 engine oil.)

Even with proper fluid the NAG1 has a Rumble Strip Noise (RSN) quirk which is a light chattering vibration under low loads. I believe the general consensus is that RSN is an annoyance, not a mechanical problem as such. A heavy shudder around 2000 RPM under load probably indicates that the transmission fluid may be in use beyond the required change interval. The heavy shudder is cause for concern. Doktor A has an inexpensive cure for RSN.

Check the metal transmission lines for rusting. My 2004 lines were beginning to rust near the radiator. I smeared grease on mine to help halt the rusting. Others have reported similar rust on older Sprinters.

Some links related to the NAG1 transmission are here:

Rumble Strip Noise Transmission Drive Train Shudder

Check that the heater fan works on all speeds.
The heater resistor commonly fails. The indication of failure is that only high speed will work on the fan. Not a big deal, but worth checking. The heater resistor is about $40.00. Installation is a DIY project. No special tools required.

"If the fan works in all speeds [and flow is still low], it is not the resistor pack.
Instead, most people dont know there is a cabin air filter installed under the hood that never gets changed and causes a lot of air restriction." credit to Skydiver007

Related link here:

Driveshafts and universals. Make certain that a mechanic checks the driveshafts and universal joints for problems. The driveshaft and universals are only sold as a complete assembly by the dealers. Unlike most USA made vans this is a fairly expensive repair. There is at least one company that retrofits Sprinter drive shafts and sells them on a core return basis. After that the universal joints can be changed out individually. This is not an endorsement of that repair route. I'm just pointing out that it's an option to buying a new driveshaft assembly.
Added: Dorman offers a complete 3 piece assembly. Approx. $650.00 for 118 or 140, more for 158 WB.

Fuel line clips. Inspect the fuel line clips are still holding the fuel lines in place. The clip failure is not an expensive repair, but worth checking. If the plastic lines are flopping free they can wear through and begin leaking. I repaired mine by using black cable ties to secure the plastic lines back up into the remnants of the broken clips.

Please feel free to add posts and information. I hope this helps to start a flow of information. vic
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Well-known member
Wire Chafing

This probably applies more after a Sprinter purchase, but I figured it's worth adding.

There has been some history of wire bundles chafing through and causing problems with grounds, erratic operation, and trouble codes. The chafed wires do not necessarily blow fuses.

Related link
Complete power loss

As I recall I found some areas I felt needed attention around the battery tray and over on the air filter side. Another area that has been posted by others is around the injector cover area.

My solution was to add cable ties for better support, or cut some short pieces of fuel hose or heater hose, slit them down and install them over the wire bundle to add chafe protection.

Be careful that you don't create new problems when you're doing this. I tracked a wire down in the area of my injector cover that I thought was a potential problem. After pulling it out enough I found I had disturbed a perfectly good installation that had a plastic shoe protecting it. I had one heck of time getting it back together properly. Hope this helps. vic
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For 2002- 2003 Sprinters, I would suggest an inspection of the EGR valve, which usually needs to be replaced every 70 thousand miles. A failing EGR valve will drip oil and will distribute a black oily film over the driver side of the engine (intake manifold, oil filter cap, etc.). The part is not too expensive by MB standards ($ 600.) and very easy to replace.


'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
A failing EGR valve will drip oil and will distribute a black oily film over the driver side of the engine (intake manifold, oil filter cap, etc.). The part is not too expensive by MB standards ($ 600.) and very easy to replace.

EGR dripping sooty oil is normal and not an indication of imminant failure.


Well-known member
A bit more explanation about u-joints.

"To the best of my knowledge the u-joint condition inspection should be the same as any other common u-joints. The seals should look good, no grease leaking out or spatter, bearings are free/not sloppy, no heavy clunks from the drive train when shifted from forward to reverse and back again. All standard things your mechanic will check (I presume).

The problem, and the reason I mentioned it in the Inspection Tips, is that it is not a cheap thing to repair with OEM parts. As a DIY guy if I found a prospective used Sprinter with bad u-joints, based upon "normal" experience I wouldn't think of it as a costly repair. I think it's important to know that it is a big ticket repair and therefore a bigger bargaining chip for the buyer.

That said, the T1N drive shafts seem to go many miles before problems. AP/vic"

The original thread is here (go to post #9):

Hope this does some good. AP/vic
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Well-known member
The tires specified to fit Sprinter 15" wheels are a bit harder to find than for the 16" size

Thanks to brucetheparishiltonfan for this observation.

Post #3 here:

20101108 edit: Apparently the 3500 dual rear wheel NAFTA Sprinters come with OEM load range D tires. That should open up a bunch more tire choices for the 3500 than was previously thought.

Exhausted the search option for new 3500 tires please help.

A quote from the single post #15. Thanks goes to Doug and Sailquik (Roger).
All of the tires that come as OEM ex factory original equpment (Continental Vanco Four Season 195/70-R15 C) and (Goodyear Cargo Vector 195/70-R15 C) are
Load Range "D" rated tires!
Says so on all of the Contiental Vanco 190/70R15C tires on my van.

Some folks here on the forum have been confused that they are Load Range C by the "C" in the description/nomenclature moulded on the sidewall of the tire, which is the way German "commercial" or "Cargo" tires are specified.

"They did not come from the factory with them ("E" rated tires). As long as the tires meet load rating , are rated for dual use , correct for the rim size ( Dia. and Width), do not rub against each other or rub body work there should be no problem."

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Well-known member
A Couple Checklists to Help

I read in another post where someone had reviewed this Inspection Tips thread before purchase, but forgot to check for a fairly expensive issue. I can see where that can happen while looking over your potential new ride.

I was going to put together a complete checklist to help others in the future. I then realized I'd be reinventing the wheel so I stopped that nonsense. Here's what I came up with. Hope it does some good. AP/vic

Used Sprinter Inspection Checklist

I suggest reviewing the information contained on this website for general used car tips:

They include a general checklist here:

Here is a Sprinter specific checklist to use in addition to the above. This checklist is based upon my thread "Inspection tips for buying a used Sprinter T1N" here:

Sprinter Specific Checklist

* Remove the cover and inspect the injectors for leakage.

2014/12/20 Edit: you will need a 5 mm Allen wrench for this. A socket type Allen is best because the rear fasteners are close to the fire wall. Another on the left is deep. If the cover doesn't come up with reasonable force, check that you got all the fasteners. On my 2004 OM647 engine there are 3 on the left and 4 on the right.

As a further check you may also want to take along a bit of soapy water to squirt in around the injector seals. You can get that from your hotel bathtub, or perhaps make a little dish washing detergent (or shampoo?) and water mixture. Generally just looking for evidence of black residue is sufficient.

* Check for a filter minder to verify if the Sprinter has ASSYST.
Another quick check is to press the "mi" button on the instrument panel to scroll the miles indicators. If you see an icon with one or two wrenches above a mile number, the Sprinter has ASSYST.

* Check that all the door locks and remote windows operate properly.

* 2004 - 2006. Try to verify the turbo resonator is a Q5.

* Remember to check for any heavy rumble in the transmission during your road test.

* Check that the heater fan works on all speeds.

* Check the drive shaft universals. They are an expensive repair.

* Inspect the fuel lines are not sagging down and worn through.

* On older models check that the transmission lines are not terribly rusted. The fittings sieze into the radiator making line changes dangerous to radiator health.

* Are there 15" or 16" wheels?

* Check Under the Passenger Side Floorboard for the OEM Jack and Tool Kit

* Remember to transfer any warranty before 30 days pass.

For Fleet/Delivery Vehicles: Turn on the radio and hit the station presets. If all you find is heavy metal and "young people" music it is likely that the vehicle was driven by younger drivers. Even with a well documented maintenance program you may be buying trouble because they like to "cowboy around" as my Oklahoma born uncle described it so well. No maintenance program can void the effects of abuse.

Kick the tires so they'll know you're a professional. (Sorry...couldn't resist.)
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Well-known member
Jon (JDcaples) recently posted what I feel is a great overview of what a Sprinter is and some of the differences between the NAFTA T1N and NCV3 models. This single post should provide plenty of information for anyone looking to buy a Sprinter.

Re: 2006 vs. 2007 (US)?

If a post doesn't have the other thread posts available the original thread can be accessed by clicking the link in the upper right corner.

Thanks goes to Jon for this thoughtful and informative post. vic
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Well-known member
Adding Options to a Sprinter

Some of this applies to both T1N and NCV3, but I figured it was worth including here so people will know if an option is worth/possible to add to a used vehicle. It's from the Stoopid Things Page 6 Post #59

Text is here:
Add OEM Factory Order Options NCV3

Many options available from the factory are not easy or affordable to add after the fact. Some are not a practical possibility even if money is not an object. This thread will lead to more detail. It is directed to NCV3 owners, but much applies to T1N models. Thanks goes mostly to JD Caples.

2011/09/04 edit:
Some recent NCV3 info about options.
standard items for 2011? need some clarification

If you don't order the trailer wiring package with a new Sprinter you cannot easily add a harness and get the TSP Trailer Stability Program option. It's not the end of the world, you'll just be towing a trailer in regular mode. Some more info is here.

2011 trailer brake controller

Post is here:
Re: Stoopid things I shoulds known!!

As with all single posts the original thread can be accessed from the link in the upper right corner of the single post.

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Well-known member
Check Under the Passenger Side Floorboard for the OEM Jack and Tool Kit

The OEM jack design includes a two stage piston to get a high enough lift. An aftermarket replacement jack which fits the bill is not easy to find. It's not a deal breaker, but make certain you either get the OEM jack with the vehicle or get enough off the purchase price to allow for it.

A link with some discussion is here:

Suitable OEM bottle jack replacement?

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