Maintenance Log

One of the issues we had before purchasing our Sprinter was maintenance costs. Mercedes has to be expensive, right? Maybe. If you go to a Mercedes dealer for any work, expect to pay at least $100 / hour. The upside is that we’ve found our Sprinter to be amazingly reliable. In the spreadsheet below I’ve outlined all mechanical issues we incurred during and after our trip. We’ve tried to do a lot of work ourselves, which definitely kept costs down – the upside is that we learned a lot about the vehicle and the Sprinter is a lot less of a black box now than it was 2 years ago.

Parts are usually not that cheap either, but there are a few alternatives solutions. Amazon and Rockauto have been great resources for getting replacement parts. We usually buy all fluids directly from Mercedes (i.e. oil). For filters, we tried to figure out who the Mercedes suppliers are and then bought those parts online (so we skipped the 50-100% Mercedes markup).

Oil changes look expensive at $120 for oil and filter at Mercedes (excl. labor). But oil change intervals are only every 10,000 miles, so they don’t end up being that different from what you would pay for a gas car.

There are definitely things that were avoidable expenses during the trip. Brake pad replacements would have been a lot cheaper online – we could have taken those along on the trip and saved a few hundred dollars rather than paying up for them in Guatemala (rear) and Peru (front). The stabilizer bar bushings have worn out multiple times, and they would have been easy to take along on the trip to spare yourself the hassle of finding them in the middle of nowhere.

So here you can see all the detail:


  1. This is amazing! Not just because it’s helpful either – I love that it gives an under the hood (see what I did there?) look at your trip mileage. 5500 miles from Guatemala to Costa Rica? That’s taking some side trips.

    Such a cool journey!

  2. I love the fact that you figured out items you could keep on hand for just in case happenings that would have saved money. For instance, who would think to prepurchase brake pads to take on a trip. We are considering living in a sprinter van. Well, I am. My husband doesn’t know it yet. We’ve been looking at motorhomes so that we can live in it for 2-5 years or however long the travel Gods allow. But, we love tiny homes too and I am really reconsidering the whole Motorhome thing now. Our grown son told me to look at this so that I could let him know if I would be able to help him build one out to his specs for his transport business. I think it would be fun to build out one for each of us. I love the idea of a little garage complete with not only tools, but spare parts too. We could keep different parts on hand because I am sure our paths will continually cross. We’re staying in North America mostly. His business is so far only in lower 48. You kids got me excited to start looking at options other than the spendy luxury of an RV with extra unnecessary space. So thank you!

  3. This is a total newbie question but being a cyclist who never owned a car but wants to get a sprinter, how do you know when you have to go to a mechanic? Something just “sounds wrong” or “feels wrong”?

    • Hi Stephen,

      It’s definitely a learning experience when you get the Sprinter. There are a couple of different things that might happen with the Sprinter. The first thing to know is that the engine computer (ECU) will recognize when something is wrong with the engine itself (for example your oil is low or a glow plug is malfunctioning) – you will see a warning light on your dash. It helps to have a device that can read out engine codes that you can look up online (for example a Scangauge). That’s a great first step in figuring out what’s wrong and whether it’s something to fix yourself or to take to a mechanic.

      Non-engine things can break as well. If there are issues with the suspension you’ll notice it in the ride quality. Issues with the transmission you’ll notice something “doesn’t feel right” when it shifts. You’ll definitely get a feel for it quickly.

      Overall, my advice would be to be meticulous about servicing the van – if you stick to the maintenance schedule, and use OEM-approved liquids, Sprinters will last a long time.

      Lastly, when you’re buying a van, it helps to test drive a bunch of the same model to get a feel for what is normal. We went to a Mercedes dealer to test drive a brand new Sprinter just to know whether there’s a difference to the used ones we were looking at.


    • Yes, our van was a diesel. It’s a really reliable engine as long as it’s maintained well. The only Diesel-specific maintenance we did were glow plug replacements (here). Everything else you see on our maintenance log would be standard maintenance / repairs on any car, gas or diesel.

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