Cargo vans have variable mileage expectancies, ranging from about 100,000 miles up to 300,000 miles, with some running as long as 500,000 miles., It depends on factors including the make, model, year, maintenance record, and how and where the vehicle is used.
If you are thinking about buying a new or used van, you might be wondering how many miles you can get out of this type of vehicle before it’s ready for the auto recycler.
The factors that I will show you in this article will enable you to work it out.
Here are the essential factors that affect how many miles a van can go before its useful life on the road is over or it needs major repairs that exceed the van’s value.
Some Van Makes, Models, and Years Last Longer than Others
Here are some of the most reliable vans and how many miles you can expect from each, depending on the other factors discussed later in this article.
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
- Ram ProMaster
- Nissan NV200
- Ford Transit
Here are the details on each of these van’s mileage expectancies.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinters Can Do 300, 000 – 450,000 Miles
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has one of the best reputations for achieving high mileage. When well-maintained, these vans routinely reach the 300,000-mile mark, and some are still on the road at 450,000 miles and beyond.
The Sprinter has one of the best consumer ratings for reliability and the lowest number of complaints by people who buy this make and model. The years 2018 to 2020 have the highest ratings.
However, the Sprinter can be expensive to fix when repairs are needed. Among the few reported problems, this model has are breakdowns of the DEF pump and heater, with repair costs of approximately $2,500.
Ram ProMaster Vans Can Get To 250,000 Miles
These vans routinely make it to the 250,000-mile mark, with some buyers reporting that they kept theirs going beyond 450,000 miles.
The 2016 model has exceptionally high ratings for low repairs and high mileage. This van also has a high payload and towing capacity.
Nissan NV200 Can Do Up To 300,000 Miles
The Nissan NV200 is another van with a terrific reputation among buyers for reliability and long life on the road, with top mileage records of 300,000 miles routinely reported by consumers.
The manufacturing years 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020 rank at the top for minimal breakdowns and repair needs.
Ford Transit On Average Does 150-300,000 Miles
The Ford Transit van is another at the top of the list for getting mileage expectancy, with an average of 150,000 to 200,000 miles.
The 2019 model rates as one of the best, and many buyers who take good care of this vehicle say it lasted to 300,000 miles before needing major repairs.
This outstanding reliability and a lower purchase price make this van one of the most popular in the US today.
Maintenance Matters for a Van’s Total Mileage
A huge factor in how many miles a van can stay on the road is how well the vehicle is maintained.
By servicing a van on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule in the owner’s manual, and as soon as you notice any problems, you can significantly increase the mileage expectancy for many makes and models.
If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you can download or view one online for most vehicles or order a copy from the dealer.
The essential basic maintenance for a van includes:
- Keeping the oil level topped off, and changing the oil and oil filter on schedule.
- Maintaining coolant and transmission fluids at the proper levels and changing these fluids on schedule.
- Cleaning and replacing the air filter and spark plugs as needed.
- Getting the vehicle tuned up regularly.
- Paying close attention to dash panel warning lights and getting problems resolved as soon as possible.
In addition, the brakes and suspension system need regular servicing to keep a vehicle on the road for as long as possible. Suspension system breakdowns are notoriously difficult and expensive to repair, so it’s well worth the effort to keep this component adequately maintained.
If you maintain your van according to the manufacturer’s schedule, but you notice fluids leaking under the vehicle or hear it making weird sounds, it’s definitely time to get the problem checked out right away to get the most miles out of your vehicle.
Check that Check Engine Light for More Miles
Many vehicle owners ignore the check engine light when it comes on, and this is a mistake for getting the most miles out of your van.
A check engine light is often nothing more than a reminder that regular servicing is needed. However, it can also be the first indication of a severe problem brewing under the hood.
When a check engine light or any other warning light appears on the dashboard, taking the van to a qualified mechanic and having the problem corrected as soon as possible, can keep your van running for tens of thousands of additional miles.
Your mechanic can use an electronic device to read the warning light code and quickly diagnose the problem. You can also purchase a machine for doing this diagnostic test yourself.
However, the most comprehensive diagnostic code devices are expensive, so going to a repair shop for this is often the best option. In addition, some auto parts stores offer free diagnostics for checking engine lights.
Repairing a van can be costly, but not taking action promptly when a problem comes up can lead to even more expensive repairs, or even a premature end of the van’s useful life.
High-Quality Replacement Parts Extend Its Life
The type of replacement parts you use when a van needs maintenance and repairs can also significantly affect how many miles you can drive the machine before a major breakdown.
For example, if you buy cheap replacement spark plugs, air filters, and oil filters, you might save a few dollars at the time, but you might also be shaving a few years off of the van’s lifetime and total miles it can run.
To get the most miles out of your van, it’s best to avoid buying cheap aftermarket parts. Instead, invest in high-quality replacement parts designed and recommended for your vehicle.
Use the Correct Oil and Fuel for the Most Miles
With gas as expensive as it is today, it’s tempting to buy cheap fuel and save a few dollars. However, each van comes with a recommendation for fuel, and using the recommended octane level will help keep your van on the road for more miles.
The same is valid for oil, radiator fluid, and transmission fluid. The owner’s manual will have recommendations for the best type for each fluid. By following these recommendations, you can keep your van running for more miles.
Weather Conditions Affect How Long a Van Lasts
Another significant factor in the lifespan of a van is the weather conditions where the vehicle is driven.
For example, vans that spend their time in humid areas or locations where they are exposed to salt spray near the ocean, tend to have more problems with rusting.
High and low extremes in temperature can also affect the condition of radiator hoses, tires, and other parts of a van. If you live in and use your van in an area with extreme fluctuations in temperature, keeping up on routine maintenance is even more critical for getting the top miles.
Many areas of the country with cold winters that includes snow and freezing weather apply salt to the roads to melt away the ice.
This salt gets onto components under the van, and it can cause mechanical problems like rust and corrosion. For example, salt build-up under a vehicle can make bolts impossible to remove without breaking them.
If you operate your van in areas with high salt exposure, seasonal undercarriage cleaning can help keep mechanical problems to a minimum and extend the van’s mileage expectancy.
Road Conditions Affect Van Mileage Expectancy
The type of roads you drive a van on can significantly impact how many miles the vehicle ultimately gets.
Driving primarily on paved roads takes much less of a toll on a vehicle than driving on sand, dirt, gravel, or off-road conditions.
If you plan to use your van primarily for city driving, the manufacturer’s recommendations for servicing are probably sufficient.
However, suppose you drive in challenging road conditions. In that case, the van will need servicing at more frequent intervals than the manufacturer recommends to stay in top condition and keep going for maximum mileage.
How the Van is Driven Affects Mileage Expectancy
Another factor in the total miles a van can do is how the vehicle is driven.
If a van is frequently used for short trips, the engine does not get to maximum operating temperature before the ride is over. This type of driving is harder on the engine and transmission, and it can lead to a lower life expectancy for the vehicle.
In addition, vans used for hauling heavy loads or pulling trailers in mud and snow wear out sooner than ones driven without a heavy payload.
Keep the Air Filter Clean for Better Van Mileage
A crucial component for extending a vehicle’s lifespan is the cleaning and replacing the air filter in dusty conditions. For example, if you spend lots of time driving on dirt and gravel roads, you might need to clean out the air filter daily, compared to servicing it only twice a year in paved highway driving conditions.
When the air filter gets dirty, the engine struggles to run efficiently, and it draws more dust particles into the machine that can damage the cylinders, pistons, and rings.
Dusty conditions can quickly take a heavy toll on the engine’s operation, so keeping the air filter clean is essential when driving in these conditions. In addition, a clean air filter also helps with getting better gas mileage.
Regular Oil Changes Helps Keep a Van on the Road
The oil also gets dirty much faster when a vehicle is used in dusty conditions. Changing the oil more frequently if you drive off-road is likely to extend the total mileage of your van.
Oil changes are one of the simplest types of auto maintenance, and one many people can do themselves. However, it’s often less expensive to go to an oil change shop because they buy supplies in bulk, reducing the cost of purchasing these items yourself.
Going to an oil change shop also relieves you of the task of disposing of the old oil responsibly.
However you do it, changing the oil when it’s dirty is a good way of keeping your van on the road for as long as possible.
Rough Roads Reduce a Van’s Mileage Expectancy
Bumpy roads can quickly loosen bolts and engine mounts. Loose bolts cause expensive breakdowns and an early end to a van’s life, unless you take the time to inspect the vehicle and make the needed repairs as soon as possible.
Bumpy gravel roads can also result in rocks hitting the underside of the vehicle and damaging it.
If you use your van for off-road driving on bumpy or dusty roads, frequent servicing can keep it going for much longer.
Tips for Evaluating a Van’s Potential Lifespan
If you are buying a used van, you might wonder what is considered high mileage for the vehicles you are considering buying.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, and researching the makes, models, and manufacture year of the van you’re considering purchasing is the best way to make an informed choice.
Even vans with the best reputation have some models and years with more problems than others. Therefore, it’s good to investigate the track record for the exact make, model, and year you are considering purchasing.
You can investigate the history of a van’s maintenance and repairs by:
- Asking the seller for repair and maintenance records
- Using an online vehicle history service like CarFax or AutoCheck to find out if the van’s record show it has been stolen, in a significant accident, a flood history, and the number of previous owners.
- Ask a mechanic to inspect the vehicle before you buy it thoroughly.
- Take the van for a test drive and watch for any indications of problems such as dashboard warning lights, odd sounds, or problems in how the vehicle handles on the road.
Vehicle history reports are easy to get through an online service and only require you to enter the VIN. These services have a modest fee, but some sellers are happy to provide this report to potential buyers.
However, keep in mind that these reports only list the publicly available information, and some crucial information might not appear in a report. Therefore, it’s always good to have a mechanic inspect the van, even if you have a vehicle history report.
The number of previous owners of a van is also an important consideration. If a van has multiple owners, it’s more likely to have problems sooner than later.
In addition, with numerous owners, you are less likely to get a complete record of how the van was used and maintained.
On the other hand, a used van with only one or two previous owners – especially if they can provide service records – is likely to get more miles before needing a major repair.
Of course, the mileage on the odometer is also an essential piece of information about how many miles you can expect from a used van.
Unless you buy a van with an exceptional reputation for extended mileage and an outstanding service record, a van with over 250,000 miles on it might not have too much life before something significant goes out.
Miles per Year and Van Mileage Expectancy
The average vehicle owner puts between 8,000 and 14,000 miles per year on their van.
If a van is three years old but already has 80,000 miles on the odometer, it has experienced heavy usage. This high yearly mileage could indicate a lower mileage expectancy for the vehicle.
On the other hand, a van that is ten years old with only 100,000 miles on it indicates lighter usage.
You can check this information by dividing the odometer reading by the age of the van to see if it exceeds the average miles per year for vehicle use. If it does, this can indicate that the van might have a lower total mileage expectancy in the future.
The total mileage expectancy of a van depends on multiple factors, including the make, model, and year, the servicing record, and how and where it was previously used.
Researching all of these factors before you buy is the best way to make an educated guess about how many miles a particular van can do before its lifespan is over.