Sprinter or Transit?

gtholden

Member
My ’05 T1N was routinely used to go from Albuquerque to Tao’s, Red River, Wolf’s Creek, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Silverton, as well as Crusty Butt, Breck, Cooper, and other skiing places, in the snow. In four winter seasons, I used snow chains once, to get unstuck and then took them off and drove four hours home in deep snow. My wife and I would see the Big three trucks, C, F, & D, most 4x4’s, creeping up and down snowy roads and we’d just pass them by with NO issues. Three winter seasons in Alaska, with three winter runs through the Yukon, NEVER got stuck. Stuck in a historical blizzard between Amarillo and Albuquerque for 36 hrs in snow so deep that when I opened the sldiding door to let my lab out to pee, I had to lift her on top of the snow so she could make her way out, and down, to find her spot. Next morning, behind three truckers, we crept up out of that situation, driving with a tow dolly and car on it, and leaving behind thousands of other stranded drivers.

Why did I sell my T1N! I loved that van, and it was the perfect skiing, camping, traveling rig I’ve ever owned. BTW, it’s still being used on a regular basis today, by a good friend, albeit he is having so tranny concerns. If I could buy a brand new T1N, exactly like the one I had, I’d jump on it in a NY minute!
How many miles is on your older T1N that your friend has? My '05 is just about to turn 140K. I've put some money into this past 6 months (glow plugs, water pump, new coolant hoses) but pretty reliable otherwise. Whenever I get a big ticket repair, I always consider selling and getting something newer, but then reality settles in and I realize I can't really afford the newer vans. It's a little noisy but I do like driving it. Getting ready to head out to Colorado in a couple of weeks with new shoes on it. Should be fun!
 

OffroadHamster

Active member
Im not naïve enough to think Ill get hundreds of thousands of trouble free miles out of my NCV3, but I also recognize that my operating cost across the life of the van will not be substantially more than other large vehicles I have owned. The van is easy on tires, easy on fuel, relatively easy on oil changes, absurdly easy on insurance (registered as an RV), oddly easy on brakes. When a big repair bill does crop up, ill just remind myself that I am amortizing it over the life of the vehicle.

Versus my last rig ('15 F150 2.9 4x4), I expect to save roughly $10,000 on fuel, insurance, routine maint and tires by 100,000 miles (over the first 40K it cost me $4626 less to operate than my f150 according to my spreadsheet). That pays for a lot of sensors and emissions equipment when they crap out.

I fully expect to own this van for 20 years, a big statement for someone who has owned north of 30 vehicles in ~18 years (my wife and I currently have 5, the van is the longest held, though certainly not the oldest by a country mile or two).

I may be a little bit of an outlier, my second car (the first I drove as I was still building my "1st" car) was a van. I may be a bit nostalgic for vans :geek:
 

asimba2

ourkaravan.com
Versus my last rig ('15 F150 2.9 4x4), I expect to save roughly $10,000 on fuel, insurance, routine maint and tires by 100,000 miles (over the first 40K it cost me $4626 less to operate than my f150 according to my spreadsheet). That pays for a lot of sensors and emissions equipment when they crap out.
@OffroadHamster, that's how I figure it too. My diesel van was about $2.5k more than a gas Transit (the diesel option for the Transit made it more expensive than the Sprinter), and the 24.5 MPG vs about 16 MPG for the Transit really adds up over the lifetime of a vehicle. (It's hard to put a value on the 550+ mile range, which is particularly nice in places like Baja.)

The MB powertrains are pretty solid. Personally I'd rather have to replace some easily-accessible exhaust component or sensor than have to drop a transmission or deal with engine work. It seems like the 7-speed trans and 4 cyl diesel aren't "opened up" very often.

If buying a new van today I would still consider a Transit, but so long as only gas engines are offered I would have a hard time taking that big step back.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
my operating cost across the life of the van will not be substantially more than other large vehicles I have owned. The van is easy on tires, easy on fuel, relatively easy on oil changes, absurdly easy on insurance (registered as an RV), oddly easy on brakes. When a big repair bill does crop up, ill just remind myself that I am amortizing it over the life of the vehicle.
This is probably correct, but only if you assign little or no cost to unscheduled downtime or time spent stranded on the roadside due to some trivial failure. If you are a fleet operator or a retired couple who have thrown away their calendars and alarm clocks, this may well make sense.

This is why the "Sprinters must be OK because Amazon keeps buying them" argument is specious. Fleets, by definition, comprise many fungible vehicles, and they have the logistical skill to keep up with common failures with minimum impact. They don't really care much about reliability per se. Rather, they care about bottom-line financial costs which, as you say, are probably not out of line.

But, if you are a tradesperson whose livelihood depends on a particular van, or if you are an RVer dependent on precious vacation time, the calculation is very different. For individuals who value their time (and don't live for free biscotti), Sprinters are very expensive vehicles.

I fully expect to own this van for 20 years
Good luck with that.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
The MB powertrains are pretty solid. Personally I'd rather have to replace some easily-accessible exhaust component or sensor than have to drop a transmission or deal with engine work. It seems like the 7-speed trans and 4 cyl diesel aren't "opened up" very often.
I agree, except that changing most of those "easily-accessible exhaust components" require a trip to the dealer for coding and learn-in.

If buying a new van today I would still consider a Transit, but so long as only gas engines are offered I would have a hard time taking that big step back.
Interesting. For me, having the opportunity to free myself from all the DEF nightmares is pretty much the ONLY reason that I will most likely abandon Sprinters next time around.
 

asimba2

ourkaravan.com
Interesting. For me, having the opportunity to free myself from all the DEF nightmares is pretty much the ONLY reason that I will most likely abandon Sprinters next time around.
Has Ford gone to dual injection yet on the 3.5 and EB? Ford was holding out on those changes for the Transit, for some reason. The direct injection valve deposits would be a big concern for me.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I think operational costs are not much different between a diesel Sprinter and a gas Transit. Sprinter gets more MPG of usually more expensive fuel. No DEF cost with gas engine. 10,000 mile service was $350 for Sprinter and $60 for the Transit. Sprinter parts and repairs are more expensive than the lowly Transit. Diesel Sprinter conversion got 18.5 mpg and the same conversion weight Transit gets 15 mpg.

My Transit has been more reliable than my sold 08 Sprinter..

A major difference is how the vehicle drives. Transit is more like a car. Transit is faster and handles better. I pay a price for acceleration. You can not have both high MPG and performance.

Having service available in every other town is important if you travel outside of a large city.
 

OffroadHamster

Active member
The fuel cost really depends on locality. Here in CA diesel has a huge tax disadvantage vs gas, but the second I cross into NV or AZ diesel is substantially cheaper. Diesel fluctuates more than gas does too. My van has averaged $712 less per 10K miles traveled than my F150. While not huge it is substantial and it accounts for price variability of both gas and diesel.

As far as good luck on 20 years of ownership, ive got less than 16 to go, and I can already tell you that certain facets of the van are substantially superior to a big 3 pickup: Interior durability, body corrosion / paint / general fastener design/durability. Unlike my f150, in the first 40K miles I have not had to replace a rear differential, a carrier bearing, front pads and rotors, have the transfer case removed and serviced, or replaced first set of aftermarket all terrain tires. With 35K on my tires and approximately 50% worn, tires alone will save me $2000+ in the first 100K. Add in 7K in fuel, $600/yr in insurance and you can ignore the marginally lower maintenance cost in arriving at substantial operational saving. Even if I run into a $10k bill the day I cross 100K miles, im probably still up a couple grand. YMMV

I also am not a fleet driver. I dont make frequent stops, idle for long periods of time, drive it like i stole it, drive it abusively, drive it as if it is not mine, have corporate fleet techs vs MB master techs working on my van, etc etc. And I assign no cost to downtime, its a 5th vehicle with only 2 household drivers.
 

OffroadHamster

Active member
I think operational costs are not much different between a diesel Sprinter and a gas Transit. Sprinter gets more MPG of usually more expensive fuel. No DEF cost with gas engine. 10,000 mile service was $350 for Sprinter and $60 for the Transit. Sprinter parts and repairs are more expensive than the lowly Transit. Diesel Sprinter conversion got 18.5 mpg and the same conversion weight Transit gets 15 mpg.

My Transit has been more reliable than my sold 08 Sprinter..

A major difference is how the vehicle drives. Transit is more like a car. Transit is faster and handles better. I pay a price for acceleration. You can not have both high MPG and performance.

Having service available in every other town is important if you travel outside of a large city.
I agree with the benefit of the more easily serviceable transit. That's big.

They must have made substantial change to transit chassis and suspension since 2017. When I was test driving them, the transit handled like a steaming pile of shit compared to the sprinter (and the stock sprinter has perhaps the worst shocks imaginable)
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I agree with the benefit of the more easily serviceable transit. That's big.

They must have made substantial change to transit chassis and suspension since 2017. When I was test driving them, the transit handled like a steaming pile of shit compared to the sprinter (and the stock sprinter has perhaps the worst shocks imaginable)
Interesting. I have had the exact opposite experience. My Transit is a first year 2015.

I did make a major improvement on the 2008 Sprinter by adding a larger rear anti-roll bar to dial out a lot of understeer. Transit came without any rear anti-roll bar so I added one expecting improvements but it did not make much difference on the Transit.

I think the better Transit handling is due to the McPherson strut front suspension instead of the Sprinter fiberglass spring.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Interesting. Now I feel like I need to go drive a transit again....
I did improve the Transit by discarding the small original 235-65-16 tires and replaced with with larger 245-70-16 tires.
Even before the tire change I thought the Transit handling was significantly better than my 08 Sprinter.
 

klempak

New member
I think operational costs are not much different between a diesel Sprinter and a gas Transit. Sprinter gets more MPG of usually more expensive fuel. No DEF cost with gas engine. 10,000 mile service was $350 for Sprinter and $60 for the Transit. Sprinter parts and repairs are more expensive than the lowly Transit. Diesel Sprinter conversion got 18.5 mpg and the same conversion weight Transit gets 15 mpg.

My Transit has been more reliable than my sold 08 Sprinter..

A major difference is how the vehicle drives. Transit is more like a car. Transit is faster and handles better. I pay a price for acceleration. You can not have both high MPG and performance.

Having service available in every other town is important if you travel outside of a large city.
Oil change will be more expensive on diesel than on gas. Diesel require DEF gas does not. So far I see reliability issue with diesel engine and 4x4, I have not heard anything about Sprinter gas engine yet. Perhaps it would be better to compare GAS Sprinter to GAS Transit.
 

Boxster1971

2012 Sprinter 3500 Ext
. . . 24.5 MPG vs about 16 MPG for the Transit really adds up over the lifetime of a vehicle. (It's hard to put a value on the 550+ mile range, which is particularly nice in places like Baja.) . . .
The range capability of the Sprinter with 4-cylinder diesel also appeals to me. Only Transits with available 31 gallon fuel tank and non-turbo V-6 could get close to same range if they get about 18 mpg.
 

synergy_58

2009 Navion and 2015 Crew
How many miles is on your older T1N that your friend has? My '05 is just about to turn 140K. I've put some money into this past 6 months (glow plugs, water pump, new coolant hoses) but pretty reliable otherwise. Whenever I get a big ticket repair, I always consider selling and getting something newer, but then reality settles in and I realize I can't really afford the newer vans. It's a little noisy but I do like driving it. Getting ready to head out to Colorado in a couple of weeks with new shoes on it. Should be fun!
GH, the owner, has about 150k on it I’m guessing. I saw him about a year ago and he had around 140k then. I built the interior, added the roof top AC, a Webasto heater, cabinets, bed, refer, etc, oh and windows, as it started as a cargo. It’s well insulated too. It was my DD and long distance travel Pod. We call it Pod1. GH also owns an ’06 Navion, ’05 chassis. I upgraded to the ’15 model with the 4 cylinder. I didn;t need to sell, just that GH wanted it so bad, so I passed it on. I always have a hard time rehoming a vehicle. Wish I could keep them, most of them anyway. My DW drives a 2007 LX470, last year of that body style and she loves it. We will likely keep that till it drops.

I’m up and down about a new purchase, and which direction to go in. I can see both MB and Ford creating a “customer need” service oriented need for all services to be done by them, what with all the new technology. I sure as heck wouldn’t begin to know how to diagnose issues envolving the numerous CPU’s on board. Best I could do is oil/filter change, air filters, and the like, simple stuff. Because of these newer advancements, I’m not sure I want to go newer. Newer is not always better, just more money and more hands off stuff that needs dealer servicing.

Colorado. Can hardly wait to be back in the US hitting the road again! Have fun!
 

OffroadHamster

Active member
Oil change will be more expensive on diesel than on gas. Diesel require DEF gas does not. So far I see reliability issue with diesel engine and 4x4, I have not heard anything about Sprinter gas engine yet. Perhaps it would be better to compare GAS Sprinter to GAS Transit.
Did you even read what I wrote? Sure "AN OIL CHANGE" will be more with diesel than gas. But cost of oil change per mile is actually less.

Having owned an ecoboost F150 I have to disagree. UOA from blackstone showed a maximum interval of 5000 miles on the 2.7L V6. At 10K interval in the sprinter the blackstone report is showing the oil still has some legs and i'm moving to a 12K mile interval. 6qt every 5K vs 13qt every 12+ K is pretty close and favors the sprinter.

Even accounting for DEF the sprinter is substantially less to operate. Maintenance costs generally favor gas engines. However my experience is that, at least to date, the sprinter is a thrifty vehicle to operate.

And least anyone take me wrong: I am a Ford guy. At one point in time I had a Ranger with a sticker that said "Rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy". If I am counting correctly I have owned 7 Fords, 1 Mercury, and 1 Ford masquerading as a Mazda. But as loyal as I am to the brand, I like my Sprinter :cool:
 
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autostaretx

Erratic Member
The 144" WB 2008 Sprinter turning radius is 47.6' and the 148" WB 2015 Transit is 48.0' so about the same.

The 170" WB 2008 Sprinter has a turning radius of 54.6'
(late to the party...)

RADIUS?!?!?!?

Egad .. my 118" wheelbase has a 32 foot DIAMETER turn (curb-to-curb ... wall-to-wall is a skooch over 35 feet)

--dick
 

ches

Member
Egad .. my 118" wheelbase has a 32 foot DIAMETER turn (curb-to-curb ... wall-to-wall is a skooch over 35 feet)
Dick- I am with you there also. I can do a u-turn on just about any 2-lane highway. I don't slow down very fast under normal circumstances so I am always doing U-turns for missed turns. We travelled in Mexico a lot some years ago and we could go down any narrow street and cut very sharp city turns. MB got that part right.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
(late to the party...)

RADIUS?!?!?!?

Egad .. my 118" wheelbase has a 32 foot DIAMETER turn (curb-to-curb ... wall-to-wall is a skooch over 35 feet)

--dick
My 71 Triumph motorcycle can do it in about 6' :)

FYI the 130" WB Transit turning radius is 42.9'.
 
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klempak

New member
Did you even read what I wrote? Sure "AN OIL CHANGE" will be more with diesel than gas. But cost of oil change per mile is actually less.

Having owned an ecoboost F150 I have to disagree. UOA from blackstone showed a maximum interval of 5000 miles on the 2.7L V6. At 10K interval in the sprinter the blackstone report is showing the oil still has some legs and i'm moving to a 12K mile interval. 6qt every 5K vs 13qt every 12+ K is pretty close and favors the sprinter.

Even accounting for DEF the sprinter is substantially less to operate. Maintenance costs generally favor gas engines. However my experience is that, at least to date, the sprinter is a thrifty vehicle to operate.

And least anyone take me wrong: I am a Ford guy. At one point in time I had a Ranger with a sticker that said "Rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy". If I am counting correctly I have owned 7 Fords, 1 Mercury, and 1 Ford masquerading as a Mazda. But as loyal as I am to the brand, I like my Sprinter :cool:
I believe I did not read what you wrote since I was replaying to Graphite David post.
Anyway you are right about cost of oil change per mile.
All I am trying to say is that people are pointing out sprinter reliability and how difficult is to find mechanic who will work on MB Diesel engine. I just feel that if you got Transit with Diesel engine you would have exactly same issue with reliability and finding mechanic. Look what happened to Promater Diesel engine ..... total failure. Therefore I feel gas engine should be compared with gas engine.
 

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