Sprinter horrer stories?

27dollars

New member
Hi all,

I am finally in a position to be buying a MB Sprinter, and I'm pretty excited. That said, you sure can find a wide variety of reviews online. Having come from a bulletproof 4Runner w/ 200k+ miles (that will probably easy see 400k), I'm nervous! I've read plenty of posts on this website with completely satisfied customers. Then again, if I look at some of the consumer reviews on Edmunds (see below), it gives me serious pause. You can also pretty easily find stories of folks suing MB under the lemon laws. I even called a reputable service rep from a MB dealership (found from this site!) and he said it's kind of luck-of-the-draw. Sometimes you score and get a bulletproof Sprinter, and other times you have loads of problems and issues. Has that been your experience? Or do you think it's overblown? Is there a "golden year" where Mercedes really got it right?

Any and all advice / help is appreciated

- Edmunds 2017 Consumer Reviews
- Edmunds 2018 Consumer Reviews
- Edmunds 2019 Consumer Reviews
 
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smiller

2008 View J (2007 NCV3 3500)
Welcome to the forum.

You may get a lot of answers and opinions to your post (or maybe only a few since the topic has been re-hashed so many countless times here), but you'll probably see the same wide variety of opinion that you've read elsewhere. But basically... whatever an MB product is it is not a Toyota and being an educated buyer/owner is a necessity (and while there have been many adjectives used to describe Sprinters I don't think that I seen 'bulletproof' used yet ;) ). There's a lot to read on the forum and various searches will provide endless entertaining reading and leave you knowing more than even your dealer does about Sprinters. You haven't indicated anything about your preferences, price range, mechanical experience, etc. and without these it's difficult to provide a tailored answer, but in general you probably want either a pre-2010 model (before SCR/BluTec) or a recent model (last five years or so) because the intervening years seem to have more than their share of expensive problems. And of course you'll see responses from owners of these vehicles who have experienced no problems at all.

If you can provide a little more info on your background and what led you to look at Sprinters then the group can probably provide more directed answers.
 
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27dollars

New member
Thanks for the feedback, Smiller! And all fair points. While I'm not excited about it, I'd spend the full 60k if it meant a 4x4 2020 has fewer issues than, say, a 2016. That said, probably hard to say since the 2020 owners probably haven't racked up a lot of miles? I'm getting it for the typical conversion / weekend warrior & camping vehicle. I plan to do most of the build myself, and really excited to take it to Baja and the occasional cross country trip. All of this said, I'd be thrilled to save some money with a used vehicle if someone could reccomend an earlier 4x4 year. Hope that helps!
 

Vailcomp

Member
I have a 2016 low roof 4x4. The van now has 38,000 and so far no problems. The only thing I don’t like is the way the engagement of the 4x works. Once engaged works good. My past experience comes from several Ford’s with on the fly. Other than that all good.

overall positive experience. Good luck. This forum has been really helpful to me with a great group of people and their knowledge.
 

Roamers

2020 4X4 170 Crew
Just like every other vehicle, Sprinters are not without problems. With 10K and 9 months in ownership, it's biggest problem has finally hit reality. Winter is about over and I live in salt country. The car wash that I have used for years isn't big enough to take the van through.
 

hkpierce

'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
Remember that forums such as this one are biased towards solving problems. I am basically satisfied with my Sprinter (going on 19 years), but my posting ratio of problems v happy are likely 100 to 1.
 

hilld

Active member
Just like every other vehicle, Sprinters are not without problems. With 10K and 9 months in ownership, it's biggest problem has finally hit reality. Winter is about over and I live in salt country. The car wash that I have used for years isn't big enough to take the van through.
Time to invest in one of these I suppose. Attaches to your regular pressure washer wand.

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kcshoots

VanTripping.com
I have owned a 2007 and now a 2016 Sprinter. The 2007 had a couple of minor oil leaks when I bought it used, that I had the dealer fix for about $500 and nothing else over the next ~5 years of ownership. The 2016 has not had any major issue, only item being a temp sensor which was repaired under the longer emissions warranty. Each van has surprised me in their capabilities and would not hesitate to buy another. Forums like this are for sharing ideas and solutions to problems, rarely for just sharing the good stuff, which you will see plenty of on Instagram or YouTube, so you should understand that reading posts on this Forum may appear that its all about problems, because that's what the posts are about but not because there are as many problems as smiles.

As for washing them, I invested in a small electric power washer with a soap dispenser/sprayer which has been excellent for easily washing the van in the driveway.
 

smiller

2008 View J (2007 NCV3 3500)
I'm seeing a ton of DEF issues on some of the older Sprinters. Is that still an issue for 2018+?
You are not being ignored, just that there are literally thousands of posts on the forum regarding DEF/SCR issues and thus a hesitancy to repeat it all. Again, search is your friend ;) As above, remember that people go to the Internet to solve (or complain about) problems so naturally you tend to get a biased view reading forums. But you can tell by the trend that yes, there does seem to be a higher-than-desired incidence of DEF/SCR problems with Sprinters. The main problem is that service of this system is frequently dealer only, and very expensive if out of warranty. It's not a reason to not own a Sprinter as all vehicles have their strengths and weaknesses, just something to be aware of and protect yourself against to whatever extent possible.

Regarding your question, 2018+ models are by definition just a few years old so naturally there are fewer problems due if nothing else to the lower fleet mileage accumulated. But that said, newer models seem to be trending with fewer problems, maybe MB has begun to get a handle on it after a decade. Anyway that's why the common advice to either stay with later model years (and maybe a maintenance contract), or a model before the whole BluTec fiasco (2009 and earlier.) Since you seem to be interested in later models and 4WD then you would be in the former group, and personally I don't think there would be any problem in getting a 2018+ used vehicle and saving thousands over new, if you can find a clean used 4x4. But again, while I don't usually recommend maintenance contracts this might be one of the rare instances where I would, but make sure that it is reputable and includes coverage for emissions systems, an MB-issued product being preferred.
 

SprinterSnale

'05 T1N 3500 - NorCalSprinterCampout
When I look back on my adventure vehicle history over my adult life, 68 VW bus, 1973 Dodge Box Truck, 1985 Toyota SR5 and 1996 Euroway 26' travel trailer, these were all rigs that provided plenty of heartache after100k miles and 10 years ownership. Engine swaps, spinouts, roadside assistance and acquaintances killed in similar rigs.
The 2005 Sprinter is tough as nails and the safest should an altercation occur compared to the latter rigs.
This forum, like many doesn't particularly focus on 'everything went perfect posts', yet this is the case for a lot of us. Never been towed stranded or had a wallet flush of epic proportions in 100k miles. (105 to 205kmiles on the ODO).
That's not year specific data, (though some claim the 04 to 06 are golden units). A properly maintained rig with a known history of maintenance is where to start.
Because Sprinters are different than many vehicles we have driven and serviced in the US, the learning curve is a large proportion of the forum content.
Happy hunting.

(PS. Our other vehicle is a Toyota)
 
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elemental

Wherever you go, there you are.
My experience with my 2017 2500 170" crew van has been mostly good so far. I have just under 30k miles. Conceptually, it is a great vehicle for me because it can haul lots of passengers (I have two bench seats that I install/remove as necessary), lots of cargo, and good combinations of passengers and cargo. It beats the pants off of a pickup truck because it is enclosed and has more cargo area. There are other vans out there, more now than when I first started looking at the Sprinter, but the Sprinter is still a leader for height/volume I believe. Availability of aftermarket conversion accessories was a factor for me as well. At the time I was looking, there were a lot more vendors selling stuff for upfitting Sprinters than any other van.

My van has been reasonably reliable so far. Two problems cropped up, possibly related, in the warranty period. First, I had a differential pressure sensor go bad; this is part of the DPF monitoring/regeneration system. Second, I've had a problem with the DPF regeneration seeming to "short cycle" (regeneration every couple of hundred miles instead of 560 miles are so). I'm in the process of documenting this behavior now for resolution by a Sprinter dealer. Other than that it has been a very reliable vehicle, which is what I expected in the first 30k miles of use. Other than those two issues, I have not had any concerns at all with product quality, robustness, or reliability.

I also have a 2000 Toyota 4Runner with about 245k miles on it that has been extremely reliable (I've owned it since new). If Toyota made a high-roof high-volume van I would have bought it in a heartbeat. Some folks have bought gasoline Sprinters (now that they are available) to avoid the two systems that seem to lead to the most reliability problems, the SCR/DEF system and the DPF system. Gas wasn't available when I bought my van, but I'm cautiously optimistic that the worst of the problems in these systems were in the earlier years (before my 2017 model, anyway) and that although these more complex emissions systems can develop problems, they are much better understood now both in terms of engineering, troubleshooting, and repair than they were when first introduced.

Finally, the 2018 model year was the end of the previous generation, with the current generation coming out starting with the 2019 model year. As with many products, people have reported some interesting teething problems with the new systems on the 2019+ models (called the VS30 on this forum). In addition, for the 2019+ model years MB apparently started building some Sprinters in the US instead of just reassembling them in South Carolina (see "chicken tax" for the reasons why vans manufactured in Germany were being "reassembled" in the US). Some people have experience some issues that were attributed to the new manufacturing location. As of the 2021 model year, one would hope that the teething problems with new systems and a new assembly location introduced with the 2019+/VS30 generation have been worked out.
 

drodio

"Vader" • 2020 170" Crew 4x4
I’m on my 3rd Sprinter: 2015 RWD 144” low roof pass, 2018 4x4 144” high roof pass and now 2020 170” 4x4 cargo (bigger at every iteration!).

The only consistent issue I had was w/ the factory rooftop AC (water leaks) on the first two vans. Skipped the AC on the 2020.

It’s also a bit of a tangential question, at least for me: I am doing a build for a family of 9, with double queen beds in the back and a front bunk bed. I could never even conceptualize doing that in any Toyota (at least with the models they import into the US), so I’d very likely put up with many more maintenance issues than I’ve ever had, just because it’s such a great platform for my use case.

D50DB35F-9748-47D8-9CD7-7D50D2A3E8AA.jpeg399A241C-91E7-4E7C-8749-88171EE29559.jpeg3CCA5B8B-5320-4EE5-9DAC-11FAD453A205.jpeg

So what I’d really recommend is this: How important are moments like these to you and your family? Optimize for that!
 

72chevy4x4

Active member
from what I've read on this forum it can be hit or miss as to whether or not you'll get a reliable Sprinter. My 2008 w/ 228k was fantastic up to 224k then it had a few issues, nothing major though. It never stranded me and I commute 75 miles to work. My 2019 with 14k in 7 months has been fantastic-only issue has been the tires weren't balanced properly from the factory and have been a pia.
 

glasseye

Well-known member
Here's my first encounter with a Sprinter. According to the camera data, it was 2004-03-22 15:43:45.

IMG_4303.jpg

When I saw this, I said to my pal (who shot this picture) "THAT is the perfect vehicle!" *

Five years later, I'd bought my own 2004 Sprinter, nearly identical to this one.

160,000 trouble-free miles, twelve years and multiple transcontinental adventures later, I'm pleased to report that I was right.

It IS the perfect vehicle. :rad:


*DISCLAIMER: I'm a van guy. I've owned virtually nothing but vans my entire life.
 

tinman

Well-known member
We be bought our upfitted 2005 in 2012 with about 30,000 km. Now around 100,000 km., and our longest trip was three months. Most years we take it up the AlCan highway, once all the way to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyuktuk, and we've had it as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. Never had a breakdown. I do my own routine and preventative maintenance with guidance from the forum. I find it easy to work on, with a few additions to the toolbox. The only thing that's failed so far is the AC condensor, which chaffed through due to a mounting fault. I hope and expect the vehicle to last as long as we are fit and willing to travel with it. We haven't driven it in slushy, salty winter conditions, so it's rust-free.
 

Sprinterair

Active member
Most and maybe all MB Sprinters T1N-NCV3-VS30 including Dodge(T1N) -Freight Liner are well know in Germany as US's Harley Davidson .
Good luck.
 

BillyBobSprinter

New member
I hav owned 2004 , a 2005 and 2006 TN1 sprinters: I put 200k + on each of them. Once you get to know a Sprinter, you learn to care for them and they will take you anywhere and are cheap to DYI maintenance. Currently I own a 2005 and 2x 2006. All running strong with regular maintence. I feel like I am driving my old VW van on steriods!!
 

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