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Old 07-20-2018, 11:06 PM   #1
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Default Mercedes Benz Sprinter reliability and quality

As we research a class B van we’ve come across a lot of criticism of Mercedes Sprinter vans, and diesel vans.
Many seem to question the reliability of diesels, the availability of places to provide service and warranty repair, and complain that service, oil changes etc are expensive.

We find this somewhat surprising since there are so many Sprinters driven commercially by many companies including major delivery companies, so why would they pick expensive diesels when they could opt for gas driven?

We see quite a lot of Sprinter class B vans on our travels. We’ve been looking closely at the Hymer Aktiv, the Travato L models and we’re now taking s. Loser look at the Sprinter vans. We like a lot of the features, especially the Ekotrek with a lot of the electrical features which enhance boon docking and self reliant power. Spare tire underneath, and many of the modern features we have in our 2017 Santa Fe as far as cruise control, lights, lane assist, TPMS, navigation, blind spot, back up assist etc
Realize that they cost more but do you get more?

We’d like to hear from owners of Sprinters as to whether the diesel and MB criticism has any validity, particularly Ekotrek owners.
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Old 07-20-2018, 11:31 PM   #2
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You will find a lot more information on the Sprinter forum.
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Old 07-20-2018, 11:55 PM   #3
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I have owned two Sprinters-based RVs: A MY2004 T1N and a MY2014 NCV3, both purchased new. You are probably not interested in the T1N, so I will limit my comments to the NCV3:

Sprinters are wonderful vehicles; Refined, comfortable, flexible, and robust. Service is not intrinsically expensive. Expensive oil and filters are balanced off by the current 20K mile service intervals, and routine service is very easy. It is true that a percentage of Mercedes dealers charge crazy amounts of money for basic service, but (a) many do not and (b) there is no need to get such service done at a dealer. A good local garage can do it just as well, and if you are so-inclined you can do it yourself even better.

Of the negatives you list, I think two of them have validity:

1) Although the basic systems are very reliable (and this includes the fancy electronics), the BlueTec emissions systems are a disaster. Everything you read about their very high failure rate is true. Out of warranty repairs can be very expensive, although the federally-mandated emissions warranty applies, so cost is less an issue than hassle. MB seems to be putting effort into improving the sensors and other emissions components, and there is some sign of progress. But the issues are still very real.

2) In many parts of the country, MB dealers capable of dealing with Sprinters are few and far between. You can almost count on having an emissions failure in the middle of a precious vacation, and the nearest dealer can be pretty far away. If the vehicle is under warranty, they will tow you for free, no matter how far. But it is obviously a huge hassle. If you call ahead to a dealer, they will tell you that they can't help you for two weeks. However, if instead of calling, you just show up and look at them with doe eyes, they will usually take you the same day or the next. But, be prepared to spend a few nights camping in a dealer parking lot. Also, many Freightliner shops do Sprinters, including warranty work, so things aren't quite as bad as they look.

Both of these issues are real and need to be taken seriously. However, do not think that the grass is all that much greener with other marques of diesel vans. All of the OEMs are facing the same emissions challenges, and not all Ford dealers are equipped for full-sized vans.

Would I buy another Sprinter? Probably. But I would (a) look carefully at the alternatives and (b) try very hard to buy a gas engine instead of diesel. We are all waiting to see what MBUSA will be offering by way of a gas Sprinter for MY2019.
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Old 07-21-2018, 12:01 AM   #4
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You will find a lot more information on the Sprinter forum.

... and probably more discussion of troubles as that forum is where many people go to get tips on fixing their Sprinters. I've had mine, an Airstream conversion, for over five years and 100,000+ miles. I've been to Alaska and all over the USA and Canada in my Sprinter. No more maintenance issues than my previous Dodge and Ford vans. The Sprinter is easier to drive and has more useable power with the V-6 turbo-diesel. The key to any modern diesel is proper periodic maintenance.

There are also many other Sprinter owners on this forum.
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Old 07-21-2018, 12:18 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. Exactly the types of response we were looking for.
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Old 07-21-2018, 02:12 AM   #6
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If the vehicle is under warranty, they will tow you for free, no matter how far.
That's good but who is they? Does Mercedes include towing expenses during the warranty period? And if so, for which periods? Aren't Some of the emissions warranty provisions as long as 8 years?
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Old 07-21-2018, 02:17 AM   #7
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Would I buy another Sprinter? Probably. But I would (a) look carefully at the alternatives and (b) try very hard to buy a gas engine instead of diesel. We are all waiting to see what MBUSA will be offering by way of a gas Sprinter for MY2019.
I thought that at least for 2019 that the gas engine option was a four banger and that Mercedes has advised their upfitters against using this engine in building Sprinter RVs
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Old 07-21-2018, 02:44 AM   #8
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That's good but who is they? Does Mercedes include towing expenses during the warranty period? And if so, for which periods? Aren't Some of the emissions warranty provisions as long as 8 years?
Yes - Mercedes provides road side assistance coverage for basic three-year warranty. I know because I used it after a dealer messed up my first fuel filter change at 20,000 miles. I've NEVER gone back to that dealer and now with over 100,000 miles I've had no significant problems, only normal maintenance. I did have the rear axle differential pinion seal replaced during 80,000 mile service as it had a small leak, leaving a spot on my driveway. I've also had the Poly-V belts on engine replaced at 90,000 mile service, a normal preventative maintenance item.

My observation is that the Sprinter likes to be driven often at highway speeds. Most problems I've seen on forums are from people who don't drive much and store their Sprinter RVs for many months each year.

I use mine as a second vehicle and put on about 20,000 mile per year.
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:26 AM   #9
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Yes - Mercedes provides road side assistance coverage for basic three-year warranty.
Actually, what they say is that you get roadside assistance if your vehicle is "under ANY Mercedes warranty":

Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance - Eligibility and Coverage
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:27 AM   #10
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I thought that at least for 2019 that the gas engine option was a four banger and that Mercedes has advised their upfitters against using this engine in building Sprinter RVs
Could be. I haven't been paying close attention.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:11 AM   #11
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Yes - Mercedes provides road side assistance coverage for basic three-year warranty. I know because I used it after a dealer messed up my first fuel filter change at 20,000 miles. I've NEVER gone back to that dealer and now with over 100,000 miles I've had no significant problems, only normal maintenance. I did have the rear axle differential pinion seal replaced during 80,000 mile service as it had a small leak, leaving a spot on my driveway. I've also had the Poly-V belts on engine replaced at 90,000 mile service, a normal preventative maintenance item.

My observation is that the Sprinter likes to be driven often at highway speeds. Most problems I've seen on forums are from people who don't drive much and store their Sprinter RVs for many months each year.

I use mine as a second vehicle and put on about 20,000 mile per year.
We have the 2011 Sprinter 3500...V6 turbo diesel engine....
For some time of the year it does sit idle.... I take it out every two weeks or so for a 30 minutes exercise on open road....and this fall going back across the USA......

We're going across the North Rim of the Grand Canyon next week...and make shorter regional trips around...100 miles.. radius...

You should definitely try and keep it mainly on the road... thrives there...
But, that doesn't mean you need to take it out every day....

YES... emissions system is a weak spot..had mine completely replaced under warranty....

Here's the good... nothing is quite like driving the Sprinter... once you have driven the Mercedes Benz Sprinter... you're going to use this as a benchmark for the other vehicles and in my opinion...they don't compare.... I drove a couple of others..the Ford Transit is not as repsonsive and it has a bigger engine...go figure????

You're just going to have to try all these for yourself....

My standard is...if you don't like driving it...then you're NOT going to be happy.....I'd rather put up with a few annoyances to experience the joy of driving the Sprinter....

Others will have a different view.. I understand and that's your choice.....
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Old 07-21-2018, 04:20 PM   #12
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I thought that at least for 2019 that the gas engine option was a four banger and that Mercedes has advised their upfitters against using this engine in building Sprinter RVs
The 2019 gas engine option for the Sprinter is the M274 turbocharged inline 4 matched to the new 9G-Tronic nine speed transmission.

The Mercedes Master Upfitter Guide doesn't limit the gas powertrain for any specific use, such as RVs, but it is available only on the lighter 1500 and 2500 chassis and not available on any of the extended length (24 ft), 3500, 4500, or cab cutaway chassis combos.

So the gas engine won't be available for larger Class B units such as the Winnebago Era, Airstream Interstate, Roadtrek Adventurous, etc. But it could be used for smaller units like the RT Agile or PW Ascent. Whether the RV manufacturers choose to offer it will be up to them.
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Old 07-21-2018, 04:36 PM   #13
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The 2019 gas engine option for the Sprinter is the M274 turbocharged inline 4 matched to the new 9G-Tronic nine speed transmission.

The Mercedes Master Upfitter Guide doesn't limit the gas powertrain for any specific use, such as RVs, but it is available only on the lighter 1500 and 2500 chassis and not available on any of the extended length (24 ft), 3500, 4500, or cab cutaway chassis combos.

So the gas engine won't be available for larger Class B units such as the Winnebago Era, Airstream Interstate, Roadtrek Adventurous, etc. But it could be used for smaller units like the RT Agile or PW Ascent. Whether the RV manufacturers choose to offer it will be up to them.
My 2012 RS Adventurous is on the Sprinter 3500 with dual wheels..it is pretty heavy....
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Old 07-22-2018, 12:40 AM   #14
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Default Mercedes Benz Sprinter reliability and quality

Quote:
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Actually, what they say is that you get roadside assistance if your vehicle is "under ANY Mercedes warranty":



Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance - Eligibility and Coverage

Yes - the "Limited" warranties only. The new vehicle limited warranty is three years. Extended limited warranty is some thing you can purchase. This does not include the longer Special Extended Warranty on the engine or emissions systems.

From your link:
"Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance Eligibility Chart (Effective 1/1/2014)
If your vehicle:
- Is under any Mercedes-Benz warranty (New Vehicle Limited Warranty, Extended Limited Warranty, Certified Pre-Owned Warranty)"

Edit Correction - I just read my warranty document and I can get it towed if engine dies within the five year engine warranty period. Provided the defect is one covered by the warranty. That is nice to know as I still have a few months on the engine warranty.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:15 AM   #15
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...You are probably not interested in the T1N....
Well, shoot, (s)he SHOULD be interested in the T1N.

OP, my Sprinter mechanic has 11 years of working daily on Sprinters, in a dedicated Sprinter-only shop. He says that, if he had a million dollars, he'd own a 2006 Sprinter. No other choice of vehicle. It's the later models that had problems with reliability, not the T1N. Especially not the 2006.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:20 AM   #16
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Hmmm....why would your mechanic need a $1million?!

Yikes...Iíve heard people say that theyíre expensive but....🤪
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:29 AM   #17
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Well, shoot, (s)he SHOULD be interested in the T1N.

OP, my Sprinter mechanic has 11 years of working daily on Sprinters, in a dedicated Sprinter-only shop. He says that, if he had a million dollars, he'd own a 2006 Sprinter. No other choice of vehicle. It's the later models that had problems with reliability, not the T1N. Especially not the 2006.
I totally agree that MY2006 was the pinnacle of Sprinters when it comes to reliability. Totally bulletproof. It's funny: When I owned a T1N it seemed so complex and high-tech. Now that I own a NCV3, I look back at the T1N as so simple and straightforward.

All that said, though, I don't miss the noise and relative crudeness of a T1N's ride. With a NCV3, you can sometimes forget that you are driving a truck. Not so with a T1N.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:51 PM   #18
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...I don't miss the noise and relative crudeness of a T1N's ride. With a NCV3, you can sometimes forget that you are driving a truck. Not so with a T1N.
Airstream did a crappy job of outfitting the T1N's cab. We pulled up that ridiculous thin fabric that they put on the floor and did a custom carpet job on the cab using a marine grade of carpet plus underlayment (here). That dramatically improved the noise. Then we added sound deadener to both cab doors (here) and also Dynamat and a radiant barrier above the cab headliner (no blog post). To improve the front end, we recently installed Koni struts (here). I also got the alignment tweaked. Previously we'd also put Koni shocks on the rear, as well as an upgraded sway bar.

Those measures helped dramatically. It has not morphed into a luxury vehicle by any means, but neither is the NCV3 a luxury vehicle. Air Forums people still screech and wail about the roughness of its ride. It's still a cargo van at heart.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:15 PM   #19
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I agree with the positive comments regarding T1N Sprinters. I have a 2004, and it just seems bullet-proof. The 5-cylinder turbo diesel has adequate power and I get low 20s mpg on the highway. I love not having to buy DEF, and not worrying about some hiccup in the emissions system ruining my day.
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Old 07-22-2018, 06:12 PM   #20
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So.....back to the original question. Many people say steer clear of Sprinters, diesels, and expensive/difficult to find maintenance.
If I was looking at a current Sprinter van should I avoid them in favor of Promaster and ztransit chassis?
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