This is What a High Mileage for a Ford Transit Is

This is what’s considered high mileage for a Ford Transit cargo van:

Ford Transits beyond 150,000 miles are typically considered high mileage, although a Transit that’s properly taken care of can last up to 300,000 miles.

The life of the Transit is estimated to be 150,000 miles, while some owners report going for 10-15 years before doing any extensive repairs.

The Ford Transit is considered a reliable cargo van, although the expected lifespan of the particular model depends on two primary factors:

  • Proper maintenance
  • Driving style

You can’t abuse your cargo van, skip oil change intervals and expect it to last hundreds of thousands of miles.

To help you buy a high-mileage Ford Transit cargo van in good condition and keep it that way, in this article I’ll cover the following topics:

  • Things to consider when buying a high mileage Ford Transit
  • Common Ford Transit problems, including the worst model year
  • The reliability ratings of the Ford Transit models
  • The service intervals of the Transit’s main parts
  • Factors that affect the Ford Transit’s longevity
  • Practical tips for prolonging a Ford Transit’s life


Consider This When Buying a High Mileage Transit

Here I’ve rounded up 5 important things to consider when buying a high mileage Ford Transit:


1. Highway Miles are Better than Town Miles

A lot of miles on the dashboard tell only half the story, as it’s important to find out how these miles were generated.

A high-mileage Transit that was predominantly used on the highway might be in better shape than a cargo van that’s been exclusively used for short around-town trips.

That’s because generating highway miles means more consistent engine oil lubrication and improved burning off any carbon build-up.

So even if a relatively new Ford Transit model has lots of miles on the clock, that’s not necessarily a bad sign and might in fact be a blessing in disguise.


2. Don’t Neglect Pre-Purchase Inspections

It’s absolutely necessary to have a qualified mechanic inspect the vehicle before you put money on the table, especially if it’s a high-mileage van.

Here are the main things that a professional mechanic should check:

  • Undercarriage for indications of rust
  • Tires for any signs of uneven wear
  • Fluid levels
  • Engine compartment
  • Hood, doors, and truck’s alignment

After that go for a test drive and listen for any unusual sounds such as weird squeaks and rattles.

I’d suggest only proceeding to purchase if your mechanic gives you the green light and if the Transit feels okay to drive.


3. Be Aware of the Necessary Repairs

Just like any high-mileage vehicle, a Ford Transit with lots of miles on the clock will most likely have one or a few parts that need to be replaced.

Various parts that are susceptible to wear and tear, such as hoses, brakes, belts, electronics, and the suspension might need some work done before the vehicle is in optimal condition.

But some of the bigger repairs can usually be predicted as you already know that the Ford Transit transmission typically lasts about 150,000 miles.


4. Know the Maintenance Service Intervals

Always make sure to check the Transit’s maintenance record so that you know whether or not a big service is just around the corner.

And if there is one, ask your mechanic to give you a quote on this service work.

You can then use this expected service cost to negotiate a lower price, especially as the vehicle will most likely be out of warranty unless an extended warranty is in place.


5. Do Your Homework on the Seller

Another important aspect to keep in mind when buying a high-mileage Transit is who is actually selling the vehicle.

If you’re buying the vehicle from a dealer, go online and search for any relevant information about them. .

Look for any negative feedback or bad reviews, while also focusing on what people say about their high-mileage vehicles.


Common High Mileage Ford Transit Problems

The most problematic model year of the Ford Transit cargo van is the one from 2015, with the worst category being engine-related issues, according to CarComplaints.

Before buying one, keep in mind that the 2015 model has a total of 17 different problems as reported by owners, and the common components that usually break the most are:

  • Engine
  • Brakes
  • Transmission
  • AC/heater
  • Windows

And these are the 4 most common specific problems of the Ford Transit cargo van:


1. A/C Won’t Cool Below 70° F

  • Most affected model year – 2015
  • Severity rating – Really awful
  • Average mileage – 8,950 miles
  • Typical repair cost – N/A

One owner states that the A/C compressor can’t sufficiently handle the split system in hot weather.

It seems that the job of running two evaporative coolers in hot temperatures can be too much for its single compressor, and the owner suggests Ford upgrade the radiator evaporative size.


2. Premature Brake Wear

  • Most affected model year – 2016
  • Severity rating – Pretty bad
  • Average mileage – 33,200 miles
  • Typical repair cost – $900

Owners report issues mainly with the rear brakes as the pads and rotors are susceptible to premature wear.

One owner says they had to replace the rear brakes twice, with the first replacement occurring at 18,000 miles.

There are even reports of the brake rotors being completely shot at only 30,000 miles, although the pads were okay.


3. Loss of Engine Power

  • Most affected model year – 2016
  • Severity rating – Fairly significant
  • Average mileage – 4,750 miles
  • Typical repair cost – N/A

This seems to be a known problem of some Ford Transit models that are powered by the 3.7L V6 unit.

Owners describe a very sudden and unexpected loss of power while driving on the highway.

On one occasion, the root cause of the problem turned out to be a body throttle failure.


4. The Windshield is Prone to Chips and Cracks

  • Most affected model year – 2017
  • Severity rating – Fairly significant
  • Average mileage – 5,950 miles
  • Typical repair cost – $70

There are reports that the central lower part of the front windshield is susceptible to stone chips.

One owner reports having multiple chips on their windshield, and that’s without the driver tailgating other vehicles.

Thankfully, the typical associated repair cost is quite low at $70.


5. Throttle Body Failure

  • Most affected model year – 2016
  • Severity rating – Fairly significant
  • Average mileage – 5,800 miles
  • Typical repair cost – N/A

This common issue affects vehicles powered by the 3.7-liter V6 unit, particularly the 2016 models.

Owners claim that the service department at Ford is well aware of this problem and that they’re replacing throttle bodies left and right, even on other Ford vehicles such as the Explorer.


This is How Reliable the Ford Transit Really Is

Before you commit to buy a Ford Transit, I’d strongly recommend looking at the corresponding reliability ratings of each model.

To find out how reliable the legendary Transit really is, I’ll highlight the reliability ratings of each Ford Transit model on RepairPal.

Note that the reliability ratings mentioned below are based on the cost, frequency, and severity of the associated repairs of each model.


Ford Transit 350

  • Reliability rating – 3.0/5.0 (average)

Based on its reliability rating, the Transit 350 model is the 6th most reliable cargo van out of a total of 21.

Some important things to consider are the higher than average ownership cost of this Ford Transit version and the more frequent repair shop visits.

Here’s a breakdown of the main reliability aspects of the Ford Transit 350:

  • The severity of repairs – The vast majority of the Ford Transit 350 repairs aren’t very serious. There’s only a 12% probability of a major repair, in contrast to the 16% average for cargo vans.
  • The cost of repairs – The average overall yearly repair cost is $888, which is lower than the cargo van average ($963).
  • The frequency of repairs – Owners of the Transit 350 are subject to more frequent visits to the repair shop at 0.8 repairs annually on average, compared to 0.5 for other work vans.


Ford Transit 250

  • Reliability rating – 3.0/5.0 (average)

The Transit 250 is the 12th most reliable cargo van among 21 entries.

It also suffers from more expensive repairs and more frequent auto repair shop visits than its rivals.

This is a breakdown of the reliability aspects of the Transit 250:

  • The severity of repairs – Your chance of facing a major problem with the Ford Transit 250 is only 13%, which is lower than the 16% average for the segment.
  • The cost of repairs – Owners pay $947 on average per year, while other cargo van owners pay $963 on average for annual repairs.
  • The frequency of repairs – As a Transit 250 owner, you can expect more frequent unscheduled repairs at an average of 0.9 times annually, while the segment average for cargo vans sits at 0.5 times per year.


Ford Transit 150

  • Reliability rating – 3.0/5.0 (average)

The Ford Transit 150 sits in the middle of the Transit pack in terms of reliability rating as the 8th most reliable model among 21 work vans.

However, it has the highest yearly repair costs of all Ford Transit versions with a high repair frequency, although the severity of the repairs is low.

Here’s a closer look at each reliability factor:

  • The severity of repairs – Facing a severe repair with the Transit 150 is rare, with a chance of 11%, while the industry average is 16%.
  • The cost of repairs – Owners of the Ford Transit 150 pay $972 on average per year, compared to an average of $963 for other cargo vans.
  • The frequency of repairs – Unscheduled repairs are quite high for the Transit 150 at 0.8 times per year, while other cargo vans visit the repair shop for unexpected repairs 0.8 times on average per year.


The Service Intervals for a Transit’s Main Parts

If you’re looking to buy a high-mileage Ford Transit, you’d definitely want to know how often you’re expected to service and/or change the following important parts:


1. Brakes

Brand new brakes on a Transit will usually last for 150,000 miles if you don’t abuse them too much.

But as previously mentioned, there are reports of premature wear on the brake pads and rotors, so keep this in mind.

But the good news is that they’re not that expensive to replace as new brakes will set you back by approximately less than $200.


2. Transmission

The automatic transmission of a Ford Transit would typically last about 150,000 miles if it has been properly serviced.

These transmissions are known to be reliable, and if you follow the official service intervals, they can very well last the van’s lifetime.


3. Spark Plugs

A Ford Transit’s spark plugs usually last around 100,000 miles.

The spark plugs are a vital part of an engine as they provide the spark that ignites the air-and-fuel mixture that produces the explosion, which gives power to the engine.


4. Battery

The traditional battery that’s installed on new Ford Transits will last about 6 years.

You can extend the life of your van’s battery by always turning off all lights before you exit the vehicle.

A new battery for your Transit will typically cost you between $48 to $182.


5. Tires

Brand new Ford Transit tires will usually last between 60,000 to 80,000 miles if properly looked after.

You can prolong the life of your tires by making sure that they’re always adequately inflated, and you can also rotate the tires to ensure that they’re wearing out evenly.


Factors That Affect the Ford Transit’s Longevity

When you consider buying a Ford Transit, these are the things that can have an obvious impact on how many miles it will last for if you become the owner of one:


1. Not Engaging the Parking Brake when Parked

It’s recommended to always engage your parking brake when your cargo van is parked to avoid unnecessary strain on the transmission.

That’s because when you park without using the parking brake, your cargo van’s weight rests on a little metal part inside the transmission called the parking pawl that’s prone to wear.

Just don’t forget to disengage the parking brake when you drive off, otherwise, you may damage the brake rotors.


2. The Amount of Fuel in the Gas Tank

Some drivers prefer filling only a quarter (or less) of the gas tank due to the cost of the fuel.

I know I’ve done this personally to avoid spending too much on fuel by filling up the tank to the max.

But driving with low fuel may lead to fuel pump issues as this component is cooled by the fuel in the gas tank in modern vehicles.

This can potentially lead to replacing the fuel pump, which would be much costlier than topping off your gas tank.


3. Keeping High-Revs on a Cold Engine

Revving a cold engine is counterproductive to a van’s longevity, even if it helps it warm up faster.

If you keep a cold engine in high revs, the engine will be exposed to accelerated wear as the old isn’t warm enough to properly lubricate the engine and its components.

Instead of revving to warm up your vehicle’s powerplant more quickly, just let it idle for several minutes and abstain from driving hard.


4. Driving with Unnecessary Weight

It’s easy to forget about those heavy boxes in the cargo area if you’re used to regularly transporting things.

But all the added weight puts extra strain on your Transit’s engine, suspension, drivetrain, and other systems.

Unless you absolutely need to carry them at all times, remove any heavy items sitting in your cargo van to improve its longevity.


5. Shifting from Drive to Reverse while in Motion

Remember, always make sure that your vehicle is at a complete stop when changing from drive to reverse and vice versa.

Shifting from D to R while your vehicle is still moving puts unneeded excessive strain on the transmission.

There’s a reason why you need to press the brake pedal first before you can change gears.


6. Hard Acceleration and Braking

Putting the pedal to the metal may sometimes be needed, but keep in mind that it uses much more fuel and increase the wear of the engine parts.

The same applies to hard braking, which although unavoidable at times, will wear out your brakes’ rotors and pads.

Just try to drive carefully by gently accelerating and braking, which will preserve different components, including the brakes, engine, and drivetrain.


7. Braking Non-Stop While Going Downhill

You’re probably used to pressing the brake pedal all the time while going downhill, but that’s not ideal for your vehicle’s longevity.

Yes, it might help you slow down quickly if needed, but it puts a lot of strain on your van’s braking system.

The better option would be to just put the gearshift to Manual mode (M), and the engine will automatically put the car in either 2nd or 3rd gear, but you can upshift or downshift if needed.

This will make your Transit brake naturally part of engine braking, which will spare your brakes.


Pro Tips to Extend the Life of a Ford Transit

Buying a high-mileage Ford Transit means that you need to properly take care of the vehicle for it to serve you well for a long time.

And here are 12 important tips that you can implement to help prolong the lifespan of your Ford Transit cargo van:


1. Change the Oil at the Right Intervals

A modern engine cannot operate without oil as it’s responsible for cooling and lubricating the delicate parts of your Transit’s engine.

And it’s meant to be changed at regular service intervals that are specific for each vehicle.

Failing to change your oil on time will lead to decreased efficiency and eventually engine failure.

So always follow the manufacturer’s recommended intervals for an oil change to prevent engine damage and increase the lifespan of your cargo van.


2. Check Fluid Levels on a Regular Basis

Your Transit has a number of fluids that have to be replaced after a specific period.

The fluids affecting your vehicle’s performance that you need to keep an eye on are:

  • Engine oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Radiator coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid

Make sure to check the fluid levels between service intervals.

Note that if you’re driving a Ford Transit with an all-wheel-drive you’ll also have to check the transfer case and differential fluids.

Go to your vehicle’s user manual to find out how often you need to check the fluid levels between service intervals.


3. Replace The Filters Frequently

Changing your Ford Transit’s air, fuel and oil filters regularly is vital if you want it to serve you for a long time.

These filters are designed to protect your cargo van’s engine by capturing any debris before they end up in the engine components.

The owner’s manual has the guidelines showing when you have to change a particular filter, although it depends on where you live.

For example, oil and air filters are typically changed once per year.

But driving in a highly polluted area means that you’ll probably need to change your air filter twice a year as a dirty air filter will lead to reduced MPG and performance.


4. Keep an Eye on the Tires

Driving with tires in a good condition and at the correct air pressure will have a positive impact on your vehicle’s driveability, safety and fuel efficiency.

Make it a habit to drive with properly inflated tires all the time, and you’ll find the specific air pressure figures in the manual.

Another important tire-related thing to check the tire tread depth.

Driving with tire tread depth that’s below the officially recommended level will increase the chance of tire blowout.


5. Employ a Careful Driving Style

Accelerating and braking aggressively is the exact opposite of what you want if prolonging the lifespan of your Ford Transit is your goal.

By driving more enthusiastically, you’ll inevitably increase the wear and strain on various parts of your cargo van.

But driving more carefully will reduce engine strain and the overall wear that your vehicle is subject to.


6. Don’t Put Off Pending Repairs

Turning a blind eye on parts that need replacing can only worsen any problems and potentially lead to more expensive repairs.

For example, driving with a water pump that’s on the way out may overheat the damage and some pretty huge repair costs.

Whether it’s the dreaded Check Engine Light or squeaky brakes, always fix the problem while it’s still relatively small, before it develops into massive repair bills.


7. Read the Entire Owner’s Manual

Although owner’s manuals tend to be rather long, they still contain lots of valuable information that’ll help you extend the life expectancy of your Transit.

By reading it in its entirety, you’ll know when to change what part, how various features work, and even other helpful tips.

The owner’s manual is also the first thing to go to when a warning light appears on your dashboard.


8. Don’t Delay Fixing Windshield Chips

Getting a windshield chip isn’t that rare, especially if you do a lot of highway driving.

Thus, it’s easy to shrug it off and continue driving as you feel like it’s not worth replacing the entire windshield for such a small chip.

But even the smallest windshield chip can quickly develop into a huge crack that’ll produce noise and leak wind into the car.

So if you notice any kind of chip on your windshield, head to the nearest auto repair shop and get a new windshield to avoid further problems.


9. Fill Up with Quality Fuel

The type of fuel and the octane number has a major impact on your cargo van’s overall performance.

Regardless of whether it’s gas or diesel, poor-quality fuel may decrease your engine’s longevity as fuel interacts with various engine components.

Don’t be cheap when filling up your Ford Transit, as it’s recommended to only go for high-quality fuel.


10. Avoid Using Cheap Parts

Sooner or later, some of your Transit’s parts will have to be replaced due to the normal wear and tear process.

Make sure to replace the bad parts with genuine, brand-new ones that aren’t cheap copies of the original parts.

Don’t try to be cheap – only replace old parts with quality new ones, even if they’re more expensive.


11. Consider Keeping Your Van in a Garage

If it’s an option, storing your Ford Transit in a garage is a great idea for improving its longevity.

It will keep it safe from the elements and any damage to the paint or body that may result from this.

Also, the vehicle won’t be completely covered in ice and snow each winter, which is convenient, and it preserves the cargo van’s exterior.


12. Keep the Interior and Exterior Clean

Keeping your cargo van clean on the inside and outside will extend its life span, especially when it comes to the resale value.

Washing the exterior year-long is important, especially in the winter when road salt is applied, which may lead to rust.

But maintaining your Transit’s interior is equally important as stained and stinky seats can negatively impact your driving experience.



Overall, high mileage for a workhorse such as the Ford Transit is usually considered as anything above 150,000 miles.

But the ordinary run-of-the-mill Ford Transit can last well beyond 150,000 miles and up to 300,000 if adequately serviced.

This legendary Ford cargo van is generally considered to be a reliable vehicle, although the specific reliability of the given model depends on how its driven and maintained.

There’s a reason why the Ford Transit is a real best-seller in the USA, although it still has its flaws.

However, opting for a high-mileage model can be a huge gamble, so you need to know what to look for when buying one.

This includes checking the vehicle’s repair records and history, including how and where the Transit was driven by the previous owner/s.

And once you’ve purchased a high-mileage Transit, remember that one of the most important things for increasing the longevity of your vehicle is to service it properly.