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Old 12-29-2016, 06:28 AM   #1
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Default Sprinter - Operating Costs & Maintenance

Hello,

I would like to get an idea how much it costs to own a Sprinter. In particular a 4x4 Sprinter although RWD experience is welcome. Details like mileage, regular maintenance (Brakes, Oil changes, Fuel Filter), and unexpected repairs - particularly expensive surprises.

I know Mercedes recommends oil changes every 20K, but I checked with a couple of the well known Ester-Synthetic Oil brands and they offered that 18K or once a year is possible, but a 10K-12K oil change interval is worth considering.

In short if I buy a Sprinter how much more money do I need to set aside (per year) to keep driving it?

Thanks...
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:23 AM   #2
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:45 AM   #3
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson


That article is full of hidden information, I am surprised that people are still quoting it.


Who were driving those vans? temps? contractors? full time employees?

How were the vans driven? stop-and-go? long haul?

How much idling were done?
How much short city driving vs long stretch highway?

Did they clear the filters per instruction after long idles?


I see a complaint, but not much data.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:40 PM   #4
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This article can give you an idea of costs for a regular sprinter.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fatal...-tom-robertson
The experience shown in that article is not representative of typical usage, go to Sprinter Source for good info. Sprinter is not a cheap vehicle to own but not as bad as that article.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:01 PM   #5
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OH NO, not that chestnut again. I agree that you shouldn't lose sleep over that nonsense.

You will get opinions all over the spectrum concerning oil-change intervals. As far as I can see, NONE of them have data behind them. I follow the MB specs to the letter, as do a great many other people, without obvious issue. Lots of folks get hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles on these engines while following these specs.

Now, there IS a real concern about finicky emissions systems, mostly associated with the DEF system. They are not particularly reliable, and can lead to the dreaded "count down to no-start" conditions. All of this is covered under the extended emissions warranty, so it isn't really a cost issue as much as potential inconvenience.

If you want to set an upper limit on cost of maintenance, MB will gladly sell you a pre-paid maintenance plan, so you will know the costs up front. However, it will cost you a lot less to do it yourself, or to have a local garage do it. Sprinters are very easy to service, for the most part.
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:16 PM   #6
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Default Fatal Flaws of Sprinter

Yes I read that a few weeks ago, and I can honestly say that article and some other articles and posts online kept me from buying a Crew Cab Sprinter 4 x 4 that was configured just the way I want. Someone else snapped it up. I am still trying to figure out the best vehicle for my budget and requirements. The Sprinter looks to offer better mileage, is 4x4 ready (up to a point), and I like the size and design. It is expensive but not that much more than a Transit or other alternatives once you add a more capable 4x4 drivetrain to the latter. Note a Nissan NV2500/3500 with 4x4 conversion and the Nissan 5 year 100,000 mile warranty is looking like the best value in a rock solid chassis. The dimensions of the Nissan are what are keeping me from going in that direction (Standard van height is too short inside for a camper van & the tall one is too tall for off-road in my opinion). Ideally I would like a more capable 4x4 drivetrain, but I think a Sprinter can satisfy most of my requirements, and may actually offer better traction and handling on the road in snow and bad weather. Sprinters are used now by just about every major class B RV manufacturer so it would seem they are working well for many people. Although I am here to find out if I am wrong, or to identify common issues to keep an eye on, in addition to just finding out what people's experience is with their Sprinter.

I have come back around to feeling like I can probably handle these issues mentioned in the Fatal Flaws article, after discussing them with experienced independent Mercedes (diesel) mechanics. I get the impression that these are issues you are going to face with current diesel engines/DEF/DPF smog systems regardless of make or model. This article speaks to the issues in the Fatal Flaws article:

BlueTec Diesel Issues/Problems | Stephens Service Center - Sacramento's Best Mercedes-Benz Service & Repairs

I have a German sedan (not Mercedes) that I bought new 15 years ago, that currently has 280,000 miles on it. It is a gas turbo engine AWD car. I have driven it all over North America including a recent cross country drive with 265,000 miles on it. The key thing is I know how to take care of it. I know what to look out for, and I know when something is not right. I have a single mechanic who works on it, who knows it, and whom I have faith in. When I hit the road I am pretty certain as I can be that the car is ready and will not let me down. Like a Sprinter good luck finding a mechanic in rural Nevada, Utah, or rural California for that matter, who can fix anything if it breaks down. So I have 100 mile road side assistance and one day I may have to tow it 300 miles to the nearest dealership. Have not had to do that yet but when and if it happens, I can honestly say not bad for 15 years and 300,000 miles. Still my car is gas not diesel and I know how a damn sensor can end up getting you towed even though there is basically nothing wrong. It has been impressed upon me and I agree, do not buy a Sprinter without the maximum extended warranty, because in 150,000 miles there are going to be repairs like the DEF tank, likely failure of components that are not robust enough for regular dirt road use over time, and other gremlins in the diesel exhaust system. If you know your vehicle, if you have a good mechanic, you should be able to stay on top of this stuff and be able to recognize when things need attention before they leave you stuck on the side of the road.

By the way re: oil service intervals, which are related to engine wear and tear, and ash accumulating in your DPF. I spoke to a couple of the top brands in Ester based synthetic oils and was told to change the oil at least once a year or 18K miles on the outside. They also offered that changing it between 10K - 12K miles is worth considering. So I would say get the best Ester based synthetic oils and change it every 10K, or even 7.5K if you drive for six weeks through the mountains and regularly taking off down dirt roads.

So back to getting some information from Sprinter owners so I can compare and get an idea of an expected range of the cost of operating a Sprinter. One key variable I would appreciate peoples experience with is having basic service done by an independent mechanic as opposed to a dealership which tend to overprice necessary service and you have no idea who is working on your vehicle. Also hope to get a few folks relating their mileage with the 3 liter six diesel with a loaded/built out van and or towing a trailer.
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:33 PM   #7
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Everything I have seen compiled about the MB emissions system suggest that a lot of the problems up until 2014 were:
Not using proper MB approved engine oil;
Letting the engine idle and thus preventing the regen cycles;
Not using clean/approved DEF and not keeping it topped up;
Letting crystals/gunk fall into the DEF when filling;
Using fuels with more than 5% blends.

Theres a good thread over at the Sprinter Forum, with owners telling the mileages they have on their vehicles. Some pretty impressive numbers. We only have 10K on our 2.1 Litre / 7 speed and no problems. But I have heard the sixes do have a few more issues.

But who really knows...
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by avanti View Post
OH NO, not that chestnut again. I agree that you shouldn't lose sleep over that nonsense....

... Now, there IS a real concern about finicky emissions systems, mostly associated with the DEF system. They are not particularly reliable, and can lead to the dreaded "count down to no-start" conditions. All of this is covered under the extended emissions warranty, so it isn't really a cost issue as much as potential inconvenience.
The diesel emission system problems are not limited to Sprinters. Just search some of the other forums for Ford Powerstroke and GM Duramax problems. All diesels since 2010 have these systems and they remind me of the early 70's gas engine emission systems - problematic.

VW tried to get by without these systems by cheating, but got caught.
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Old 12-29-2016, 08:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Skutumpah View Post
By the way re: oil service intervals, which are related to engine wear and tear, and ash accumulating in your DPF. I spoke to a couple of the top brands in Ester based synthetic oils and was told to change the oil at least once a year or 18K miles on the outside. They also offered that changing it between 10K - 12K miles is worth considering. So I would say get the best Ester based synthetic oils and change it every 10K, or even 7.5K if you drive for six weeks through the mountains and regularly taking off down dirt roads.
1) You might want to get advice from somebody who is not trying to sell you anything. There is ZERO objective evidence that the MB recommended intervals are not perfectly adequate. If you don't believe it, get your oil tested at whatever interval you see fit. But please don't waste our precious remaining oil based on internet hearsay or self-serving advice by corporate marketeers.

2) It is VERY important to use only MB approved oils. If they don't have the R228.51, R229.31 or R229.51 certs on the can, do not buy them. These highly-engineered oils are key to these extended oil-change intervals, and to the health of your DPF.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:01 AM   #10
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Default Sprinter - Diesel DEF & Service Intervals

Roxy4x4 regarding, "Letting crystals/gunk fall into the DEF when filling;" I have a picture of DEF snow surrounding the DEF cap on a new Sprinter on the lot that I popped the hood on. It certainly illustrated the problem of people who do not know any better, getting their hands on your vehicle and not treating it correctly. This is basic stuff, and not knowing any better than to rinse off spilled DEF is careless and sloppy. If this is how a vehicle is treated when it is new and they are trying to sell it, then it calls into question if they will exercise the care necessary to avoid the simple mistakes that can lead to expensive repairs when you take your vehicle in for service.

Avanti - Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to the care of their vehicle. For me if I am the owner of any engine with a turbo, let alone a hot running turbo diesel, I am going to play it safe with my oil change intervals. When the manufacturers of the best racing motor oils made, say yes you might be ok with changing their oil once a year or 18K but a 10K - 12K interval is a safer bet, then the latter better fits my comfort level. In addition I have checked this with mechanics I know who work on diesel engines who are adamant regarding not going beyond 10K, so I am going to change my oil more frequently than Mercedes recommends without hesitation. My car with 280,000 miles on it had a recall on the engine for oil sludge because the manufacturer originally stated you could use regular non synthetic oil. Engine failure at 100,000 miles was not uncommon. After issuing the recall they changed their tune and stated synthetic oil only and shortened the oil change interval. Once again I have never had a problem because I had good advice from the beginning and used top of the line synthetic oil and changed it every 5K. Regarding Mercedes Benz spec, I can assure you Mercedes Benz does not posses some secret motor oil that out performs what is readily available and arguably better than what they are selling. I may be wrong but I am not aware of Mercedes Benz having an oil refining operation. I assume they are getting it from someone who does produce motor oils to meet their spec. I am aware of the following brands of oil for those who are interested that are second to none and include oils that meet and exceed Mercedes spec.

https://www.redlineoil.com/products.aspx

Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil Products | Shell ROTELLA®


AMSOIL Synthetic Diesel Motor Oil, Engine Oil

An explanation of the latest standards:

What is PC-11? Now Called CK-4 & FA-4 | Shell ROTELLA®
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