The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a top choice for workhorse utility vans and van life camper builds. With a diesel engine, a Sprinter van will easily see a lifespan of over 300,000 miles. As long as you stay on top of regular maintenance, the longevity of a Mercedes Sprinter will serve you well. However, these vans are not devoid of some major common issues. Here are the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van problems that are expensive to repair.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van maintenance and service costs
Sourcing Mercedes-Benz parts is a potentially tricky task, and even if you find them, buying the needed auto parts gets expensive. The difference between servicing a Ford Expedition will cost significantly less than service for a Mercedes G-Class. The comparison is clear. While you will feel the Mercedes-Benz difference in the Sprinter’s handling––especially maneuvering on city streets––the other side of that coin is that maintenance costs tend to be higher for the Mercedes van and Mercedes-Benz vehicles in general.
According to Jalopnik, the only piece of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that is locally sourced is the battery. Every other part is shipped internationally and reassembled here in the U.S., with only so many parts in stock at a time. So, if you need to order one, the wait might be longer, and it’s not like they are shipped for free. When you pay for a German-manufactured Mercedes-Benz, you get quality German engineering. However, you also have to deal with the high cost of those quality parts and craftsmanship.
This is especially true of any Mercedes-Benz vehicles past the 2008 model year, as U.S. diesel regulations changed around that time, and the way Sprinters were built was altered, making repairs much more expensive. Tom Robertson with A. Blair Enterprises Inc. employed a fleet of Sprinters over several years. On LinkedIn, he explains these changes as “an extremely complex and expensive exhaust system to comply with our government regulations.”
Sprinter vans are complicated
These complicated systems of the van are predominantly where the Mercedes Sprtiner problems come from. Sure, on the outside, Sprinter vans look simple, tough, and like they require low maintenance. However, when you get to know them better, you find that they are needy and require a lot more attention than you thought. Additionally, the price of bestowing adequate attention on these complicated systems adds up big time.
For example, the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) pump is comprised of a DEF temperature sensor, level sensor, tank, and control unit sensors and actuators. When these parts fail––and they usually do once the engine has clocked 100,000 miles––they can cost anywhere from $600 to over $1,000 each to replace.
Maintenance is dealer exclusive for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans
Adding to the expense of owning a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, these complex systems are so intricate that it’s near impossible to find anyone to work on them. You’ll want a Mercedes-Benz certified mechanic at an official Mercedes-Benz dealership. Kristen with Bearfoot Theory says, “Because the computer on these Sprinters is so complicated, most regular mechanics won’t touch them, leaving the dealer as your only option when you have an issue.”
For this reason, she recommends that if you buy a Sprinter van, the extended warranty is worth the cost. Her warranty covered repairs on the two Mercedes Sprinters that she has lived in because she invested in extra coverage. Kristen recommends the Sprinter for the van life experience. However, a commercial fleet of Sprinters investing in extended warranties for, say, half a dozen work vans doesn’t make for a very appealing expense report.
There are many compelling reasons to buy a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. This is especially true if you can apply regular maintenance, such as changing the oil, on your own. However, if you are thinking about buying a Mercedes work van, it’s good to know that there is a chance these vans require consistent and costly upkeep and repairs. That way you can keep your Mercedes Sprtiner reliability up on the road.