Looking for a used Sprinter? There are a few important things to look out for, says Dan Powell of Honest John Vans.
A solid and dependable van, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is an attractive proposition for any builder in need of a large and practical workhorse.
The model (that we’re focussing on here) was launched in 2013, as part of a major revamp for the Sprinter range. As part of the extensive revisions, over the previous Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz improved economy and emissions, added new safety tech and mildly refreshed the van’s looks. This Sprinter would motor on until it was replaced with an all-new model in 2018.
The 2013 changes were instrumental in maintaining the success of the Sprinter, making it a strong seller against the Ford Transit, and winning plenty of awards in its life. Built in Dusseldorf, Germany, it’s worth noting that the Sprinter had a factory twin (not quite identical) wearing VW badges as the Volkswagen Crafter. Payloads vary depending on model, ranging from 714kg through to 2,550kg.
The entry point currently to Sprinter ownership is around £4,000; at that price you’ll be looking at high mileage models, deep into the 100,000+ mile sphere with many having double that. Don’t rule them out as inexpensive workhorses, though, as high miles doesn’t necessarily relate to a tough, abused vehicle.
Spend £8,000 and above and you’ll get into newer, lower mileage vehicles, again the choice being expansive, though in every price point you’ll do well to find anything other than white examples. Spend over £10,000 and the choice is newer still, with light use and excellent order throughout.
The mainstay of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter engine line up is the 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel. The engine line up were badged the 210 CDI for 95PS, 213 CDI for 129PS, 216 CDI for 163PS, with the 190PS V6s getting 219 badging.
The ‘2’ on the badging denotes 3.0 tonne Gross Vehicle Weight changing that to ‘3’ signifying 3.5 tonne, ‘4’ for 4.6 tonne and ‘5’ for 5 tonne. From 2016 all EU Sprinters were switched to EuroVI emissions ratings.
All Sprinters were fitted with Mercedes-Benz’s ASSYST service computer, which brought flexible, needs-based servicing to the Sprinter. It would assess usage and schedule services accordingly. For short-drop vehicles service intervals would be shorter, while longer-haul users would have lengthier intervals between services and oil changes. These could be as much as 37,000 miles or two years.
From 2016 Mercedes-Benz introduced national service pricing in the UK, with a small ‘A’ service on the Sprinter costing just £130, right through to a comprehensive full service for £445. An approved used service plan, costing around £17 was offered to Sprinter owners, too. Independent garages offer a full service in the region of £250, with interim servicing costing about £140.
What to watch
The paint on Sprinters has always been an issue, and while newer models don’t tend to suffer quite as much, always do a thorough inspection of the bodywork before buying. And try to have stone chips and any deep scratches in the paintwork repaired to prevent any corrosion.
Listen for any unusual puffing sounds from the engine, as the seals around the high pressure diesel injectors can leak. A full repair will be in the region of £500. Any wandering or knocking from the suspension points to worn bushes. Similarly, if there’s uneven tyre wear the suspension alignment is likely to need checking.
The propshaft – all Sprinters are rear-wheel drive – can fail at around 100,000 miles. Have it checked, and listen for any rattling, particularly when pulling away.