How Reliable Mercedes Sprinter Vans Are, All the Details

Mercedes Sprinter Vans are among the most reliable vehicles on the road today. However, the first and second-generation models have their flaws. Parts and labor are also expensive if you need to repair them.  

The Mercedes Sprinter is one of the most popular vans in the US. This incredibly versatile vehicle is great for van-life conversions, road trips, and commercial applications.  

The Sprinter’s efficiency and spacious interior give the van an edge over the competition. Most people that own one end up buying a second. Is it blind brand loyalty, or is the Mercedes Sprinter really that reliable? Read on to find out.  


A Large Van that Other Vans Are Measured Against 

The third-generation Mercedes sprinter continues to set the benchmark for reliability against which its competitors should be measured at.  

The van’s engine runs for 300,000 miles or more with proper maintenance and care. It’s not unheard of to meet Sprinter vans that cross the 500K-mile mark.  

The Mercedes Sprinter isn’t perfect though. There are areas where its closest rivals, such as the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster, present fierce competition.  


It Has Had Some Safety Recalls  

Mercedes sprinter vans are very reliable, but in the past, some models were found to have some problems. However, the company quickly recalled all the faulty model vans and fixed them.  

For instance, a few years ago, more than 1,700 Mercedes Sprinter vans in the US and Canada were recalled because they had a problem that affected the High Beams Assist feature. 

The feature in some models could leave the driver without the ability to switch off the high beams. The function could get stuck when the camera malfunctions due to software problems.  

The only way you could deactivate the high beam was by turning the rotary switch for lights to “manual headlights” from the position “automatic headlights”.  

Alternatively, you could turn the ignition. 

Similarly, there was a recall of about 4,100 vans that included Sprinter vans. The recall was to fix a problem on seats that could prevent the seat-mounted side airbag from opening correctly.      

According to the manufacturer, these vans are fitted with electrically adjustable front swivel seats. The seat wiring harness was not properly mounted or routed within the seat frame  and could be damaged  on the seat position adjustment  

As a result, the side airbag may not operate correctly, making the airbag deploy inadvertently or even deploy improperly during a crash. 

Another recall included a Mercedes Sprinter Van that had a problem with the rear braking system.  

There was a leak on brake fluids that dripped into the housing of the parking brake. As a result, the air was getting into the hydraulic brake system making the brake pedal soft. 

A brake pedal that lacks firmness could lead to a braking malfunction that could spell a disaster if it’s not addressed or resolved.   

NHTSA has comprehensive safety standards for vehicles are require automakers to recall any equipment or vehicles with defective to safety-related issues.  

You can use the Van’s VIN number to know if it’s a recall model and if the problem has been fixed.   

With the VIN search tool, you can tell if the van has been repaired following the recall. If your van has no unrepaired recall you will get a message ”0 Unrepaired recall associated with the VIN” 


Repair Costs Are Higher Than Other Vans  

Maintenance schedules are critical to keeping any vehicle in top shape, including the Sprinter. Mercedes provides a limited warranty for three years or 36,000 miles, typical of cars in the large vans class.  

The powertrain warranty is significantly higher than other competitors, totaling five years or 100000 miles. You can also consider other extended warranty options such as the six years or 120000 miles and the seven years or 140000 miles coverage.  

Mercedes also provides two servicing checks for the first three years or 36000 miles, whichever comes first. Keeping the van in top shape ensures that the Sprinter delivers outstanding performance and reliability.  

Compared to other large vans, the repair costs of the Mercedes Sprinter are significantly higher. Spare parts and labor works are typically costlier than the Transits. Investing in extended warranty options can help keep your costs low.  

The costs to maintain your Sprinter van may depend on various factors, including the model year, specific spare parts used, and whether you hire a mechanic or DIY.  

On average, owners can expect to spend an average of $18,634 within the first ten years of service.  


Common Problems that Affect the Mercedes Sprinter Vans 

Older Models Have Reputation For Getting Rusty  

Over time, the Mercedes Sprinter has picked up a nasty rap sheet for rust. The issue isn’t restricted to the vans, but most Mercedes product lines from the 90s to 00s.  

A small but costly design flow from the Mercedes team affects the quality build ratings of the Sprinter. The manufacturer used fewer coats in a cost-saving measure and switched to water-based paints. The changes offered little protection to the vehicle’s metal frame, resulting in rust issues. 

While Mercedes has made significant improvements in its second and third generations, individuals wishing to invest in older second-hand models of the Sprinter may have to face the rust menace.  

To be on the safer side, consider treating your van with an anti-rust solution, no matter which model year of the Sprinter you purchase. Rust spreads pretty fast. Handling any rusting spots before they get out of hand is a  must.  


2006 – 2018 Models Get Failing Oil Cooler Seals  

While the 3.0 L diesel engine has proven to be a powerful and reliable motor, it has an Achilles heel which is the design of the oil cooler seals. All first and second-generation models (2006-2018) of the V6 turbo-diesel engine battle this issue.  

The cover gaskets are the most common culprit for the oil spill on your driveway.  

You may need to find out the torque requirements for your model before tightening them up. You may need to visit the dealership for a thorough inspection of the vehicle to verify the source of the leak. 


Tips for Increasing the Sprinter’s Lifespan 

You can increase the service life on the Sprinter van through proper maintenance and care. Here are quick tips to help you get the most out of your Mercedes Sprinter. 


Follow Manufacturer’s guidelines on servicing.  

Staying up to date with scheduled maintenance can help keep the van running smoothly.  

Mercedes recommends a motor oil change every 15000 miles, or one year for gasoline units. Diesel engines require an oil change every 20000 miles.  

Sprinter vans need a transmission oil and filter replacement at 40000 miles and subsequently for every 60000 miles for diesel engines. Gasoline engines require one at 30000 miles.  

Diesel engines need a fuel filter replacement every 20000 miles or yearly, whichever comes first. You can find additional maintenance requirements in the owner’s manual for your van.  

Sticking to the scheduled servicing can help you identify any issues early enough and work to rectify them. This can significantly increase the reliability of your Sprinter van.  


Keep the Fluids Topped Up  

The Sprinter van requires frequent top-ups of the different fluids, including brake fluid, motor oil, engine cooler, and windshield cleaning fluid. Keeping your vehicle well lubricated can increase its service life.  

The oil requirement in your vehicle may differ, depending on its model year and engine size. You can consult the owner’s manual to determine what your specific Sprinter requires.  

Diesel engines with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) need a low SAPs oil. SAPs refer to Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus, and Sulfur.  

Using oils with SAPs can result in filter blockage, one of the most common complaints about Mercedes Sprinters.  

DPF failure results in the van burning through fuel quickly. Worse, it may end up damaging your engine and transmission. Picking the proper fluids for your model is also important when topping up.  


Avoid Excess Weight 

Exceeding the recommended gross vehicle weight can place significant strain on your van’s chassis and powertrain. It is not uncommon for van life enthusiasts to max out on the recommended weight, severely overworking the engine.  

A lighter vehicle may reduce unnecessary pressure on the engine and transmission, resulting in increased longevity of the van.  


Rotate Tires Regularly 

Commercial hauling or family road trips can have the Sprinter van clocking several hundred miles a day with a heavy load. The amount of weight placed on the tires can quickly wear down the tires.  

You need to keep a strict tire rotation schedule to increase the service life. Plan a tire rotation every 6000 miles or six months. Maintaining the correct tire pressure is vital to keeping the load manageable on the Mercedes Sprinter.  

Additionally, you should fit your vehicle with the right type of tires. Most sprinter vans require heavy-duty tires to match the demands of the terrain you drive on. Going cheap on the tires will only reduce the van’s reliability.  


Look Out for Manufacturer Recalls 

You need to be on the lookout for vehicle recalls that affect your Sprinter’s model year.  

Recalls fix defective parts for free, thus significantly increasing your van’s longevity and reliability. However, the main reason is to remove issues that can be really serious. 


Solve Problems as Soon as They Appear 

Tiny issues on your Sprinter van have the potential to explode into huge cash wormholes. You should get your vehicle to a service station when the warning lights start flashing on the dashboard.  

Additionally, you need to watch out for any oddities in the sound and feel of the van. Is the engine making funny noises? Does the clutch feel sticky while braking?  

Identifying issues early enough can help you solve them before they get out of hand.  


Keep Service Records  

The best way to get the most mileage out of your Mercedes Sprinter is to journal all your mechanical and software upgrades. Keeping a record of items replaced, their cost, and their expected lifespan can help you monitor your van’s depreciation.  

The records are also vital for your car resale, showing your potential buyers about the van’s service history. Digital journals can create reminders that inform you when your sprinter is due for a check.  


Mercedes Sprinter Service Intervals  

The manufacturer recommends service intervals at 20000 miles for the diesel version and 15000 miles for the gasoline-powered engine. You can keep your production high, with the vehicle spending more time on the road than the dealership’s garage.  


How Many Miles They Reliably Last For 

Mercedes Sprinter vans are famous for their longevity. The vehicle’s service life depends on age, mileage, and the maintenance schedule adopted by the owner.  

Sprinter vans can last well over a decade. The odometer may read way beyond the 300,000 mark with proper maintenance. Diesel engines are typically more reliable than their gas counterparts, raking over 400K plus miles.  

With proper care, you can run your van for approximately 150000 miles before needing the first major repair or overhaul. The incredible durability of the Sprinter means that you can fetch better sales prices when reselling your fleet.  



The Mercedes Sprinter is one of the most reliable vans in the market. The durable engines easily surpass the 200K miles mark without needing many major upgrades or repairs.   

The diverse layout options allow Sprinter enthusiasts to pick the ideal van for their personal or business needs.  

Sprinter van owners can also look to increase the reliability of their vans through proper maintenance and care. Prompt repairs, as well as on-time service checks, can increase your van’s life on the road.