Mercedes vs other brands

thenunzzz

Member
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
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
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.
 

asimba2

2016 4cyl High Roof 144
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!
 

BrennWagon

He’s just this guy, you know?
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.
 

Mike DZ

2016 View 24V (2015 3500)
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.
 

Cheyenne

UK 2004 T1N 313CDi

thenunzzz

Member
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?
 

BBQ Ribs

Member
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.
 

Wheeljack

Member
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.

:2cents:
 

thenunzzz

Member
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.

:2cents:
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?
 

ENMeyer

Active member
I think the choices would be:
Sprinter
Transit
Maybe Nissan NV (a bit of an oddball, but reliable?)

Based on your criteria of cost, I think Transit would be a good choice.

If you do go w/ a Sprinter, just consider that there are tons of them out there running around. I routinely drive (as do others) to very remote parts of the country in my Sprinter and haven't had any issues. I've had it serviced at dealerships and indy shops (Linden). I'm 150k miles into my I4.
 

Wrinkledpants

2017 144WB 4x4
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
Mercedes - they feel like the perfect balance between interior height, length, wheelbase, and interior design. Option for option, they're on par with Ford brand new. Downside is that dealer network can be a challenge if you don't live near one. Parts don't feel like they have the typical german marktup, at least compared to what I pay for Audi and Porsche parts.

Ford - excellent dealer network, ecoboost engine. Downside for me - sizing is goofy (height and wheelbase), small wheels wells, and interior isn't as easy to get in and out of when going from front seat to the rear.

Promoster: best interior space usage - they're huge. Cheapest to buy and great dealer network. Downside: funky axle makes ground clearance a challenge. The trans is super slow to shift due to the auto-clutch design.

Here in the west - you see tons of promasters and sprinters. Very few Transits, but the new AWD option could change that.

I chose the Sprinter due to the sizing, lots of useful options not available on other vans (heated windshield, headlight washers, etc) native 4x4, and I love german cars.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Mercedes - they feel like the perfect balance between interior height, length, wheelbase, and interior design. Option for option, they're on par with Ford brand new. Downside is that dealer network can be a challenge if you don't live near one. Parts don't feel like they have the typical german marktup, at least compared to what I pay for Audi and Porsche parts.

Ford - excellent dealer network, ecoboost engine. Downside for me - sizing is goofy (height and wheelbase), small wheels wells, and interior isn't as easy to get in and out of when going from front seat to the rear.

Promoster: best interior space usage - they're huge. Cheapest to buy and great dealer network. Downside: funky axle makes ground clearance a challenge. The trans is super slow to shift due to the auto-clutch design.

Here in the west - you see tons of promasters and sprinters. Very few Transits, but the new AWD option could change that.

I chose the Sprinter due to the sizing, lots of useful options not available on other vans (heated windshield, headlight washers, etc) native 4x4, and I love german cars.
There must be reasons 5 times more people buy Transits than Sprinters.

We do know it is not for prestige.
 

Wrinkledpants

2017 144WB 4x4
There must be reasons 5 times more people buy Transits than Sprinters.

We do know it is not for prestige.
I'm sure the dealer network has a lot to do with that. And the fact that Sprinters have much higher resale value, it can make used Transits a good value proposition. And we know that people aren't buying Transits because they look good.

I rarely see Transits at TH parking lots compared to Promasters and Sprinters. Same with the Class B/C RV market. My guess it many of the Transit owners are commercial.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I'm sure the dealer network has a lot to do with that. And the fact that Sprinters have much higher resale value, it can make used Transits a good value proposition. And we know that people aren't buying Transits because they look good.

I rarely see Transits at TH parking lots compared to Promasters and Sprinters. Same with the Class B/C RV market. My guess it many of the Transit owners are commercial.
You are correct in my opinion.

I would say most of the Transits are for commercial use.

With some of the new options on the 2020 Transits it appears that Ford is now trying to be more of a force in the personal transportation part of the business and not just commercial.
 

ptheland

2013 144" low top Passgr
DAMN! 2k a year for maintenance/repairs??
I think that number is low. I'd budget $3k a year. Seriously, a Sprinter is not cheap to own.

I bought my van used, with about 90k miles. Over the next two years I had to replace the DEF tank and the high pressure fuel pump (along with associated seals and gaskets and such that get disturbed to access the pump).

The DEF tank was close to $3k with parts and labor. Fortunately, I was on the tail end of the emissions warranty - a month or two left on it. So I didn't have to pay for that one. The fuel pump was about $2k.

At three years now, I've put 20k miles on the van. So I've needed two routine services - those combine to about $1k. And I still need to do brakes, which will chew up several hundred more. And a set of tires is not far away. That's another $600 - $800.

All up for three years and 20k miles, I'll be close to $8k in repairs and maintenance, with $3k of that covered by warranty.


Almost forgot - another $2k for the roof A/C seal in my passenger van. Fortunately, that was again covered by warranty (thanks to a class-action lawsuit covering only California.)
 

ENMeyer

Active member
@ptheland - those numbers seem to be on the extreme end of things. Some comments:

- oil changes are expensive ($140 in parts if you don't find them on sale), but only every 20k miles (I do mine at 10k)
- brakes last a very long time, so they are actually cheap considering you can go 80k plus miles out of them
- roof leak issue really stinks.
- DEF tank and fuel pump are not terribly common replacement items, but that is a good example of how a expensive these vans can be due to being a Mercedes.

I've been thinking of going to a Transit if I decide to sell my Sprinter some day, but then I read this yesterday, and start thinking I'd never buy a Ford hearing this complete BS:

https://www.freep.com/in-depth/money/cars/ford/2019/07/11/ford-focus-fiesta-transmission-defect/1671198001/
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
I think that number is low. I'd budget $3k a year. Seriously, a Sprinter is not cheap to own.

I bought my van used, with about 90k miles. Over the next two years I had to replace the DEF tank and the high pressure fuel pump (along with associated seals and gaskets and such that get disturbed to access the pump).

The DEF tank was close to $3k with parts and labor. Fortunately, I was on the tail end of the emissions warranty - a month or two left on it. So I didn't have to pay for that one. The fuel pump was about $2k.

At three years now, I've put 20k miles on the van. So I've needed two routine services - those combine to about $1k. And I still need to do brakes, which will chew up several hundred more. And a set of tires is not far away. That's another $600 - $800.

All up for three years and 20k miles, I'll be close to $8k in repairs and maintenance, with $3k of that covered by warranty.


Almost forgot - another $2k for the roof A/C seal in my passenger van. Fortunately, that was again covered by warranty (thanks to a class-action lawsuit covering only California.)
I just recently reviewed my Y-O-Y Total Maintenance Cost for the 11.5 years of ownership since new. It is $1730 cad/ $1305 usd. Other than changing light-bulbs, all labour done by shops.
 

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