2003 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 2.7L turbo diesel
Great van if properly cared for
Glow plugs seized in cylinder head ($5K).
Front leaf spring ($1K).
Rear main leaf (both sides) cracked ($1K).
Parking brake (never worked).
Ball joints (3 times, both sides) ($750).
Rear driver's side door split ($2K).
Standard consumables (brakes, tires, etc).
Overall it has been a great van. The cylinder head replacement was due to a previous owners neglect and the "Authorized Sprinter Service Center's" poor judgment in deciding to snap off three of the five glow plugs in trying to replace them. Therefore, requiring the head be replaced.
The front leaf is a composite transverse piece that is just not up to the task of Illinois roads, and gave up quite early. I have since replaced it with an aftermarket steel one that is doing just fine.
The rear main leaves are cracked right down the center line (across not length-wise) on both sides. This occurred at roughly the same time. I do not overload my van, although that's very easy to do given the enormous interior volume. Possibly more neglect from the P.O.
The ball joints are getting to be quite a royal pain. Every time I take the van in for an alignment (different shop each time), they claim the ball joints need replacing. Even the Sprinter service centers. They all refuse to align the van unless the ball joints are done. I will be learning how to align the van myself here soon.
Tire wear has not been great, but not the worst I have encountered either. One pair of cheap Hercules tires has lasted right at 55K miles.
The rear door was split, on the inside right by the striker bar for the other door, when I got it. This turns out to be a very common problem with the first generation vans. I had a body shop reinforce and fix it to the tune of $1993.58, because they would not seal otherwise.
The van has however done everything that has been asked of it and has never left me on the side of the road. I have used it to deliver alcohol (liquids in glass bottles are not light), move myself from state to state twice, and as a daily driver because there was nothing else. Always starts up and gets me from point A to point B. If given the chance I would buy a Ford E-350 again. Parts are easier to find, less expensive to buy, and I can do all the maintenance myself. I think that I just got a van that was already abused and at the end of its reasonable life expectancy.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 29th May, 2015