These are the Cargo Vans that Last the Longest

The following cargo vans are considered the most reliable, based on complaints, reputation, and number of service campaigns:

  1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  2. Ford Transit
  3. Ram ProMaster
  4. Nissan NV200

The Mercedes Sprinter can easily last beyond 300,000 miles if it’s serviced properly at the right intervals, which is proven by the low amount of customer complaints and few technical service bulletins (TSB).

However, the longevity of a cargo van largely depends on how well it’s maintained.

These vehicles are mostly used as workhorses to carry heavy loads, which puts strain on the engine, transmission, chassis, and everything in-between.

This is why following the maintenance intervals recommended by the manufacturer is a must if you want to have a vehicle that you can depend on for a long time.

And to help you find the cargo vans that last the longest, in this article, I’ll touch on topics such as the:

  • Top 4 most reliable cargo van models out there
  • Least reliable cargo vans that you might want to avoid
  • How to make your cargo van last a long time
  • Factors that affect a vehicle’s long-term reliability


The Top 4 Cargo Vans that Last the Longest

Below I’ve prepared a list of the models (from 2010 onwards) that should serve you the longest, according to customer feedback and official data:


1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

  • Customer complaints: 14
  • Most reliable model year: 2018-2020
  • Weak spots: Electrical system, engine, brakes

The Sprinter is the work van with the least number of complaints and the lower amount of technical service bulletins (TSB) on this list, according to CarComplaints.

Other sources give the new Sprinter high ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

I found only a handful of drivers complaining about the Sprinter while going through the related reliability data, which speaks about the quality of the Mercedes.

The Merc is also a very capable cargo van with 319.1 cubic feet of cargo space and a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds.

Although the 2014 and 2015 models have the highest number of complaints, the 2013 version of the Sprinter is considered the most unreliable due to higher repair costs and other trouble at lower mileage.

However, the worst possible problems associated with the Mercedes sprinter that I came across are:


Faulty DEF heater and DEF pump

  • Average repair cost: $2,680
  • Average mileage that it happens at: 95,400 miles
  • Model: 2013 Sprinter 3.0 V6 automatic

The most costly issue with this vehicle appears to be related to the exhaust system and more specifically, the DEF heater and pump mulfunctioning.

This problem is listed as very severe, and there are 5 TSBs and 1 recall for this particular Sprinter model.


Engine Stops and Stall

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 12,000 miles
  • Model: 2016 Sprinter 3.0 V6 automatic

The specific failure here is related to the engine shutting off when the van stops and the stalls upon acceleration.

I wasn’t able to find more details regarding repair costs and what’s causing this, but this problem has been given a 10/10 severity rating.


2. Ford Transit

  • Customer complaints: 44
  • Most reliable model year: 2019
  • Weak spots: Engine, brakes, electronics

The Ford Transit is probably the most popular cargo van in the US, and it seems like a very long-lasting machine as well.

You won’t find a lot of negative customer feedback, and Consumer Reports gave the 2021 model a high score in predicted reliability.

The highly popular Transit is also quite practical with 404.3 cubic feet of load space and up to 6,400 pounds towing capacity.

Despite being a lasting and capable cargo van, the Transit still has a few major issues to look for:


The AC Won’t Cool Below 70 Degrees

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 8,950 miles
  • Model: 2015 Transit 3.5L Ecoboost automatic

This is an AC/heater malfunction that apparently affects the vehicle’s ability to properly cool the cabin.

Judging by customer feedback, the insufficient cooling is most noticeable at low speeds, and replacing the compressor didn’t help.

However, there’s a lack of information on what might cause such temperature-control problems on the Transit other than a faulty compressor unit.


Bad High-Pressure Fuel Pump

  • Average repair cost: $1,800
  • Average mileage it happens at: 51,050 miles
  • Model: 2015 Transit HD 3.2L Powerstroke automatic

This one is related to the fuel system as the fuel pump is prone to failure and even exploding.

Typical warning signs include white smoke coming out of the exhaust and a Check Engine Light warning on the dashboard.

Fuel pump issues are well-documented, and there was an official recall from Ford for this very reason.


Premature Brake Wear

  • Average repair cost: $900
  • Average mileage ir happens at: 33,200 miles
  • Model: 2016 Transit STD 3.2L Diesel automatic and Transit 250 3.7L automatic

Customers report unusual and premature brake wear, especially on the rotors.

On one occasion, the rotors were completely destroyed at only 30k miles, while the brake pads were just fine.

There are two recalls within the span of 2 years (2017 and 2019) about potential driveshaft coupling failure, suggesting possible damage to the brake lines.


3. Ram ProMaster

  • Customer complaints: 49
  • Most reliable model year: 2016
  • Weak spots: Brakes, electrical system, transmission

Ram’s successful cargo van is not only very affordable, but it seems to be fairly reliable as well.

Despite receiving lots of service campaigns over the last decade, the ProMaster has only a handful of extra complaints than the Ford Transit.

And it’s a really useful vehicle too, with 463 cubic feet of cargo space, a max payload of 4,000 pounds, and a towing capacity of up to 6,900 pounds.

But it still has a couple of notable problems such as:


Loud Brake Squeal

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 5,000 miles
  • Model: 2014 ProMaster

Dealing with squeaky brakes seems to be the most common issue among ProMaster owners that appears at a very low mileage.

Most customers report that the official Chrysler dealer couldn’t offer a real fix as the brake system appeared fine most of the time.

One user even states that he came across a service bulletin that advised against changing the brake rotors and pads as it wouldn’t make the noise go away.


Malfunctioning Parking Brake

  • Average repair cost: $1,440
  • Average mileage it happens at: 45,000 miles
  • Model: 2015 ProMaster 1500 3.0L Diesel automated manual transmission

Apparently, the problem begins when the parking brake won’t release and remain in the ‘lock’ position.

In time this will eat the brake pads, and there wouldn’t be anything left to hold the cargo van when parked.

The problem is worsened by the automated manual transmission (i.e. clutchless manual) that won’t let the driver put the car in gear when parked to keep it from rolling.

Eventually, the costly fix was to replace the entire parking brake system of the ProMaster.


Vehicle Won’t Start

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 1,400 miles
  • Model: 2014 ProMaster 1500 and 2500 V6 automatic

This is an electrical problem, which happens at pretty low milage, and it translates into not being able to start the van on several occasions.

There are no lights flashing or anything that points to the root cause of the problem, from what I found.

And customers claim that the dealer couldn’t find a working solution as even changing certain modules didn’t help.


4. Nissan NV200

  • Customer complaints: 51
  • Most reliable model years: 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
  • Weak spots: Wheels/hubs, tires, electronics

The Nissan NV200 is a compact cargo van with decent practicality and a great reliability record that’s backed by customer reviews.

In fact, Consumer Reports gives the new NV200 a really good predicted reliability score.

But this compact Japanese workhorse is still plagued by some common issues such as:


Premature Tire Wear

  • Average repair cost: $660-$1,340
  • Average mileage it happens at: 16,450 miles
  • Model: 2014 NV200 (all transmissions)

Both front and rear tires seem to wear out prematurely even without driving enthusiastically in a high-speed stop-and-go fashion.

The dealer offers only one tire brand when buying a brand new NV200, and extremely premature tire wear is the biggest problem of this cargo van.

Customers report that the original tires have to be replaced at 10-12k miles as they wear out quite fast.

Apparently, some have managed to fix this problem by replacing the original tires with a different brand.


The Rims are Susceptible to Bending

  • Average repair cost: $750
  • Average mileage it happens at: 18,000 miles
  • Model: 2018 NV200 CVT transmissions

This is more of an isolated case but still something that received a high severity rating on CarComplaints.

It appears that the rims might not be strong enough and are more susceptible to bending than those on other vehicles.

The limited wheel and tire size options due to the wheel wells is another point of criticism.


Cargo Vans with the Worst Reliability Record

Not all cargo vans will last a long time, and you need to know about the less reliable ones when you’re on the hunt for a work van.

The following models (across all production years) have rather questionable reliability records that can mean high repair costs:


1. Ford E-150

  • Customer complaints: 165
  • Most unreliable model years: 2011 and 2013
  • Weak spots: Engine, brakes, transmission

The legendary Ford E-150 is a big and bulky workhorse that can get the job done, although it tends to break down more than other popular cargo vans.

This behemoth has plenty of faults, with the most typical ones being:


Engine Misfire and Stutter Upon Acceleration

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 46,050 miles
  • Model: 2011 E-150 XTR, XLT (3.5L, 3.7L) automatic

Engine misfire and stutter when accelerating appear to be a persistent problem that’s been bothering E-150 owners for years.

According to user reports it’s obviously very difficult to fix as even the dealers state that the issue is not reproducible.

Others say that even replacing the spark plugs and coil on the first cylinder doesn’t help as the exact solution remains a puzzle.


Loss of Power Upon Acceleration

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 91,000 miles
  • Model: 2014 E-150 XTR, XLT 3.5L Ecoboost automatic

This is a specific problem that affects pre-October 2014 E-150s powered by the 3.6L Ecoboost engine.

One customer mentions that the loss of power was accompanied by the Check Engine Light flashing for 30 seconds, although the dealer couldn’t find any fault codes when the vehicle was inspected.

It turns out that the primary cause is a worn primary timing chain that’s highlighted in a technical service bulletin (number 17-0026) and affects vehicles under warranty.


Brakes Squealing, Vibration and Failure

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 25,000 miles
  • Model: 2014 E-150 XLT 3.2L V6 and XLT 5.0L (both automatic)

Customers report squealing coming from the brakes, and apart from some brake dust, the dealer told them the brakes look fine.

Others report serious vibrations that appear when stopping the vehicle.

There are also user testimonials pointing to brake failure caused by a bad vacuum pump, which solved it.


2. Ford Transit Connect

  • Customer complaints: 89
  • Most unreliable model years: 2012 and 2014
  • Weak spots: Transmission, engine

Although the Ford Transit Connect has always been considered the Transit’s smaller brother, the reliability of this compact cargo van is so-so.

The most common specific problems that place the Transit Connect on this list are:


Transmission Failure

  • Average repair cost: $3,110
  • Average mileage it happens at: 45,600 miles
  • Model: 2012 Transit Connect 2.0L automatic

Unfortunately, this seems like a common problem that plagues 2012 models with automatic transmissions.

Some customers report experiencing a failed transmission for the third time, which would be a rather costly endeavor for an out-of-warranty vehicle.

Another person mentions that 3 out of 9 Transit Connect vans in their company fleet had their transmissions replaced due to failure.


Engine Turns off While Driving

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 7,550 miles
  • Model: 2016 Transit Connect (mainly XLT 2.5L automatic)

This is an issue that plagues the Transit Connect and more particularly 2016 models.

Customers state that the vehicle tends to die all of a sudden, which is accompanied by the Check Engine light

Apparently, the engine may shut off unexpectedly both while cruising or during a standstill.

Although some were able to successfully restarted on some occasions, the eventual fix was typically a throttle body replacement.


3. Chevrolet Express

  • Customer complaints: 74
  • Most unreliable model years: 1999 and 2010
  • Weak spots: Transmission, brakes, engine

The Chevy Express might be able to carry 3,323 pounds of payload and tow up to 10k pounds, but it falls short when it comes to reliability.

It’s worth mentioning that the Chevrolet Express is mechanically the same vehicle as the GMC Savanna, so it’s safe to say that their reliability is identical if not the same.

And these are the common faults that this cargo van is known for:


Brakes Leak and Cause Shaking

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 37,783 miles
  • Model: 2012 Express V8

Older Express models tend to suffer from brakes-related trouble such as vibrations and leakage.

Some customers report a violent shake each time the brakes are even slightly applied, while releasing the brake stops it.

Another common issue of the brake system is an internal leak from the master cylinders, hydro boosters, or the hydraulic service brake line.

Some Express vehicles start leaking as early as 30k miles, although replacing the affected parts would usually solve the issue.


Transmission Slipping and Failing

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 64,400 miles
  • Model: 2012 Express 6.0L automatic

The automatic transmission is prone to slipping and even completely failing, with customers citing solenoid number 3 as the first thing to go.

All of this may lead to clutch debris damaging other parts of the transmission and eventually, the entire assembly will need to be replaced.

Technical service bulletin PI 0773 may apply in case of such transmission failure, although the particular Chevrolet dealer should know more about this specific problem.


Engine Won’t Start

  • Average repair cost: N/A
  • Average mileage it happens at: 27,250 miles
  • Model: 2017 Express V6 automatic

There are reports of a bizarre problem involving the engine that wouldn’t start and crank, even though the battery is fully charged.

This problem seems intermittent and difficult to tackle as customers claim that even the official dealer couldn’t find anything wrong with the engine.


Practical Tips to Make Your Cargo van Last Longer

Here are 5 great tips you can utilize to keep your work van on the road longer than usual:


1. Perform Regular and Adequate Maintenance

Do your best to always follow the official recommended service intervals found in your van’s manual.

This way you’ll ensure that your vehicle will be optimally serviced, and you’ll be able to potentially spot any issues early before they turn into big repair bills.

These are the most important service tasks to perform:

  • Change the oil regularly
  • Check the brake system
  • Inspect the entire vehicle periodically
  • Maintain the right tire pressure
  • Replace the battery when it starts dying


2. Check Fluid Levels Regularly

Make it a habit to ensure that your vehicle’s fluid levels aren’t above or below the recommended mark.

This means keeping an eye on the level of the:

  • Oil
  • Coolant
  • Transmission

Ideally, the level of these fluids shouldn’t fluctuate between service intervals.

Any decrease or increase in any of them would indicate a problem that you have to tackle immediately to minimize potential damage to other parts.


3. Use Genuine Parts and the Right Fuel

Don’t be tempted to use cheap aftermarket parts instead of the recommended brand-approved ones for your vehicle.

Replacing genuine parts with cheap alternatives can have a negative effect on your van’s reliability.

Another vital factor is to put the right kind of fuel for your vehicle. If your engine is made to run on premium fuel, it probably wouldn’t operate at its fullest potential if you fill up with regular gas.


4. Keep the Tires at Optimal Condition

I recommend inspecting your tires every now and then for any signs of:

  • High or low air pressure
  • Uneven wear patterns
  • Excessive wear

The more common issue is usually incorrect tire pressure, you can easily fix this by inflating or deflating the tires to the air pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

But if you ever have excessive tire wear, then you might have to rotate or even change the tires.

The condition of your cargo van’s tires is a vital part of its longevity, so don’t hesitate to replace them when they become too worn or beat up.


5. Take Warning Light and Gauges Seriously

Don’t neglect the red/yellow spanner symbol or other warning lights when they appear.

They’re displayed for a reason, and your best bet is to check the owner’s manual or go to an auto repair shop to have your vehicle inspected.

Another important factor is to keep an eye on important gauges such as the engine temperature, battery charge, and RPM ones.

Stopping the vehicle before the temperature gauge reaches the red zone can literally save the engine.


Factors that Affect the Longevity of Cargo Vans

Determining how long a work van will last is rather challenging, although some makes and models have a reputation for being more reliable than others.

A vehicle is typically considered reliable when it rarely or never breaks down by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

However, no cargo van is immune to some sort of mechanical failure, and these are the factors affecting their longevity:


1. Predicted Reliability Ratings

Predicted reliability is a very useful factor to consider when trying to figure out how reliable a vehicle might be.

This rating takes into account the most recent information from the previous 3 years of study survey data for a particular cargo van model to show what the owner’s odds of facing potential problems and costly repairs are.

Eventually, the predicted reliability can have a big impact on how happy you will be with the van in the long run, while also influencing resale value.


2. Equipment and Tech

Modern cargo vans come packed with equipment and high-tech gadgets, which increases the possibility of something breaking down.

Complex optional technologies such as a multifunctional steering wheel, reversing camera with a rear-view mirror display, and electrically folding exterior mirrors might give you headaches in a high-milage cargo van.

That’s why going for a model with a basic equipment level can potentially last longer due to having less tech and gadgets.


3. Brand and Manufacturer

Some automotive brands are known to manufacture very reliable vehicles, regardless of the particular model.

According to Consumer Reports, Japanese brands tend to manufacture some of the most reliable vehicles in recent times.

But every automotive brand has its own black sheep model, and having a prestigious badge on the hood won’t necessarily guarantee long-term reliability.



The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter appears to be the cargo van that can last the longest, based on customer feedback, official service campaigns, and overall reputation.

In fact, a properly maintained Sprinter can easily last over 300,000 miles.

However, a vehicle’s reliability is largely dependant on following the recommended service intervals outlined by the manufacturer.

Cargo vans are usually subject to a lot of abuse due to their ability to carry heavy loads, which makes correct maintenance even more important in comparison to cars.

But even the most reliable cargo van is affected by wear and tear in systems such as the engine, transmission, suspension, brake, and exhaust.