15 Most Common Mercedes Benz Sprinter Problems (Explained)

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van is a popular choice among commercial fleets, campers and van dwellers.

Now in its third generation, it was initially sold in the U.S. as the Dodge Sprinter in 2003 until it was rebadged in 2010.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s common problems and their solutions.  

1. Emissions Systems Problems

Second generation Mercedes Benz Sprinters can suffer from lots of different emissions-related issues.

Like all modern diesel engines, the second gen Sprinter needed to comply with new emissions regulations which, unfortunately, negatively affected their reliability.

Emissions-related issues are extremely common in the 2007 to 2016 model years. 

The 2010 to 2013 models, which were the first to use the DEF BlueTec system, were the most problematic.

Newer model years with the DEF BlueTec system can also have issues, but to a lesser degree.

Lots of third generation VS30 Sprinter van owners, for example, have complained about drivability issues caused by faulty EGR valves.

Some of the common problems owners have experienced include:

  • DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) system issues 
  • Faulty DEF heater
  • Faulty NOx sensors
  • DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) errors
  • Clogged EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation)

Common symptoms of emissions systems failures include:

  • Check engine and other warning lights on dash
  • Limp mode
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Hard starting
  • 10 starts left countdown
  • Engine stalling
  • Regen issues

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I headed out of town today and before I left, put 2.5 gal or DEF in the def tank. 30 min later, I get “check DEF” warning. Another 30 min later and I get “10 starts remaining.’”

“14 Sprinter 2WD 2500. The “Fill DEF” warning came on the other day while driving. I drove approximately 10 minutes longer and the warning suddenly changed to the “10 Starts remaining” warning.”

“As soon as we left the house the van would produce very little power. It struggled to get up to 40 MPH on local streets. No engine light or warnings were showing but something was clearly wrong. I looked through all the displays and found the Diesel Particle Filter was at 124%.”

Due to the number of issues owners encountered over the years, Mercedes-Benz was forced to agree to a settlement amounting to over $1 billion. 

Mercedes Benz also required dealers to update the emissions system components, also known as AEM (Approved Emissions Modification), which involved updating software, changing the NOx sensors, and replacing the EGR among many other things.

Once the modifications were done, owners were also given an extended 4-year/40,000-mile warranty.

This class action lawsuit only involved the 2010 to 2016 model years of the Sprinter van.

Many Sprinter owners that were not included in the emissions recall also simply deleted the emissions systems entirely to make their vans more reliable.

However, these modifications will not pass inspection in some states.

To keep the engine in good condition, it’s important to top up the DEF when the light comes on.

Using the right oil recommended by Mercedes-Benz is also important if you want to keep the emissions systems in good condition.

Some problems can be fixed by simply cleaning or replacing the DPF or EGR.

Finding a Mercedes-Benz dealer that is qualified to work on Sprinter vans can also be a problem. An independent shop that specializes in diesel engines and Sprinter vans can save you several thousands in repairs.

2. Excessive Rust

Lots of older first generation Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, and Freightliner Sprinters have issues with excessive corrosion.

These older models from 2003 to 2006 did not use galvanized steel and typically had thinner paint which caused them to rust prematurely.  

Pre-facelift models of the second generation NVC3 Sprinter from 2007 to 2013 started using more galvanized panels, but could still suffer from rust issues.

Here’s how a few owners described their issues on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I’m in the process of getting a quote to repaint my ’05 158″ high top. It’s rusting at every spot a road nick has occurred, every sharp corner, drip rails, etc. This is the worst auto paint I have ever seen. I have managed to flake off a bit of paint by bumping it with a plastic garbage can. The only fix seems to be a full mechanical strip and repaint- and I expect that’ll run at least $7k.”

“I have a white 05 3500 low roof. I have rust all around my windshield, at the bottom of the doors & a couple other spots.”

“I have a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter with RUST all over the seams on the roof. So much that I am starting to get water seeping through.”

The post-facelift models from 2014 onwards supposedly used more galvanizing, but a few owners still had complaints:

“The primary reason I got rid of my 2014 and 2016 was that they were both repainted under warranty due to rust popping through in the first 18 months. Once rust begins, there is simply no way to be rid of it permanently.”

“My 2008 had terminal rust in the wheel well pinch weld. Got rid of it for a 2015….Which showed signs of the same thing within 12k miles.”

The third generation Sprinter VS30 models from 2019 onwards should be more protected against rust since it’s entirely made out of galvanized steel.

Unfortunately, if your Sprinter is starting to rust, you’ll have to get it fixed and resprayed at a body shop to keep corrosion at bay.

Regular washing and treating the underside with Krown or Fluid Film should also prolong the van’s lifespan.  

3. Leaking Fuel Injector Seals

The fuel injector seals in the first and second generation Sprinter have a tendency to leak and cause carbon buildup from combustion gasses and unburnt fuel to form around the injectors and fuel rail.

This is often referred to as the “Black Death” because of all the black sludge that’s visible once you take off the engine cover.

It’s a very common problem on the first generation T1N models from 2003 to 2006. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Strong exhaust fume smell
  • Engine rattle
  • Hissing or puffing sounds
  • Rough idle
  • Loss of power
  • Hard starting

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I have experienced Black Death twice on the #5 injector, in less than a year of owning this 2005 Sprinter 2500.”

“2011 3.0 V6 Diesel, 179k miles. I was towing the boat so had a heavy load on the motor, heard what sounded like a faint exhaust leak. Couldn’t see anything wrong, but then started to notice an exhaust smell in the cab. Felt around and while idling, I could feel pulses of air around the #6 injector (drivers side in the back, closest to firewall), puffing on each revolution. Looking closely, sure enough I could see the start of black death around the injector.”

Since the carbon buildup is caused by a worn injector seal, you’ll have to remove the injectors and replace the copper seals after cleaning up all the sludge.

In some cases, the injectors will also need to be replaced which can cost up to $500 each.

Many Sprinter owners suspect that the seals can prematurely fail if the engine overheats, so it’s important to keep your coolant topped up and make sure the van’s cooling system is in good condition.

Related: 14 Best & Worst Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Years (Facts & Stats)

4. Transmission Shudder

The transmissions in the first and second generation Sprinter can create excessive noise and vibrations that is similar to the sensation you get when driving over rumble strips.

This problem is often referred to as the “Rumble Strip Noise” or RSN for short.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I have a 2009 Winnebago View that is built on a 2008 Sprinter 3500 chassis with a 3.0L diesel engine. Last year during a trip to Alaska, I noticed a Rumble Strip Noise (RSN) occurring periodically while running in cruise control. This year I determined that the RSN in cruise control occurs for about 2 seconds at least once every minute, and it is always associated with a 200 rpm tachometer increase. It also occurs in 4th gear and cruise control is not a factor. And I have noticed longer RSN periods when the engine automatically downshifts as I move up an incline.”

“I have a 2006 3500 that started to suffer the RSN at about 130,000.. started as a light vibration and ended up being so bad it would literally shake a drink out of the cup holder!” 

“When I purchased my 2004 it had 172,000 miles. I put about 8,000 more miles on it before changing the fluid. Before I finally did the change, the drivetrain was doing a shudder in the area of 1800 – 2000 rpm that had me worried I might have a drive shaft universal or other non-transmission related problem. I could minimize it by shifting or using throttle, but it would return.” 

The Sprinter’s rumble strip noise can often be fixed by replacing the transmission fluid, filter and transmission connector/adapter.

If the vibration returns, a transmission shop will have to rebuild the transmission and replace the torque converter, lock-up clutch and the bushing on the input shaft. 

5. Loose Intake Hoses

The Sprinter’s intake hoses have a tendency to come loose or crack over time which causes drivability issues and even severe engine damage.

This is a common problem that’s been observed in the second and third generation Sprinter.

When the air filter hose gets disconnected, the turbo can suck in debris that can damage the engine.

The hoses can also get knocked loose while work is being done on the engine.

Aside from the intake hose, the intercooler hose can also come loose or develop leaks.

Common symptoms of a loose intake hose include:

  • Check engine light
  • Reduced power
  • No boost or turbo lag
  • Rough idle
  • Poor fuel economy

Here’s how a few owners on Sprinter-Source.com described their experience:

“In my 2010 2500 I’ve experienced sudden loss of power after parking and either turning engine off or leaving running and taking off again. Every time it has happened check engine light has come on. I’ve been able to “fix” it by taking off the filter box and intake hoses and then reconnecting everything.”

“I guess this is a common problem of Sprinter Vans with diesel engines. It has already happened to to 5 of our Sprinter Vans. When the air intake hose is loose dirt or other foreign material can get absorbed by the turbo. The symptoms which our drivers experienced are turbo lag and sudden loss of power, but I guess it can also cause a total engine shutdown.”

A few third gen owners also had problems with their 2023 models: 

“My CEL came on in my ’23 AWD a couple weeks after I drove it home from Alabama… Scanner said P29de, but didn’t have any explanation.

Dealer said intake was loose.”

“I finally got my 2023 170 in for that CEL and it turned out to be a loose fresh air intake hose which was causing a vacuum leak. It’s interesting that we drove about 1000 miles with the CEL but no drive-ability issues during that time.”

Aside from visually inspecting and replacing any disconnected or cracked hoses, a mechanic can also perform a leak test to pinpoint the exact location of the leak.

If there’s a leak in one of the intercooler lines, oil will also be visible on the hoses.

6. Cracked Intake Manifold

The 4-cylinder diesel engine in the second generation Sprinter uses plastic intake manifolds that have a tendency to crack over time.

When the manifold cracks, the van will go into limp mode after the engine has warmed up a bit.

This issue mainly affects the facelifted second generation models from 2014 onwards.

The intake manifold bolts can also break and cause similar symptoms such as:

  • Limp mode after warming up
  • Oil on intake manifold
  • Underboost trouble codes
  • Boost leak

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“My 2016 2.1 started limping when it warms up. Usually after around 5 to 10 miles. After inspection under the van, I see oily residue coming from the tube going up to the manifold. MB called back yesterday. Yes, I have a cracked intake manifold.”

“Same happened last year to my CDI316 906, built 2013. Cracked plastic manifold.”

“Add another with a cracked inlet manifold. 2012 CDI 316. 4×4. Took a while to find as no codes thrown and no engine light. Just went into limp mode but would run ok when cold. Only when it warmed up and the manifold expanded did it go into limp mode.”

Replacing the intake manifold is a fairly difficult job that takes a couple of hours and the part itself can cost around $750 to $1,000 on its own.

At least one owner has tried applying some JB Weld to seal up the crack, but this may not be possible if the manifold is already too damaged. 

7. Stuck Swirl Valve

The intake manifold of the V6 OM642 engine used in the second generation Sprinter has swirl valves that can get stuck at higher mileages.

This issue is very common in the 2007 to 2009 model years, but even newer facelifted NVC3 Sprinters can suffer from stuck swirl valves/flaps.  

Common symptoms of a stuck swirl valve include:

  • Check engine light
  • Limp mode
  • Reduced power
  • Hard starting
  • Engine stalling
  • P2004, P2005, P2025,P2007 or P2513 trouble codes

Here’s how a few owners described their issues:

“I have a 2008 Sprinter 3500 high top with 90, 300 miles. I took it to the Dodge dealership that works on Sprinters in this area. My engine light and SRS light were on. I had no get up and go for power. They told me (Code P2513) that my Swirl valve needs to be replaced.” 

“2008 Dodge Sprinter, swirl valve jamming update. Sea foam solution I talked about in prior posts is only a temporary solution. The swirl valves will eventually start jamming again. I had to spend the $4500 and have the intake manifolds replaced.” 

“I have an 07 with 450,000 and its on its 2nd intake and stuck again on the passenger side. This time it only took 55,000mi for it to stick.

The dealer put new intakes on it at 395,000,and here we are again.”

“The swirl valves on my 2016 Sprinter 2500 4×4 got stuck open (error codes p2004, p2005) after a couple weeks of parking. I just removed the intake manifolds and was gonna replace them with a brand new set.”

Stuck swirl valves often get stuck when the engine is left to idle for long periods of time, which is normal in a lot of commercial delivery vehicles.

To prevent the valves from getting stuck, you can have the carbon buildup in the intake professionally cleaned up by a shop every 60,000 miles.

If the valves are already stuck, you’ll have to replace the entire intake manifold which can cost several thousands of dollars with labor.

Some Sprinter owners were able to free up the valves using products like Sea Foam, but it often results in just a temporary fix.

In some cases, it’s the actuator that’s broken and the flaps aren’t actually stuck.

Replacing the actuator is much easier and not as invasive as replacing the entire manifold.

Deleting the EGR via an aftermarket tune will also eliminate the problem completely because the valves won’t get as dirty. 

8. Oil Cooler Leak

Early models of the second generation Sprinter with the V6 engine are notorious for developing leaks at the oil cooler.

In most cases, the oil cooler doesn’t actually crack or leak, but rather it’s the seals that wear out prematurely.

Although the seals are quite inexpensive, replacing them takes several hours because the turbo and intake manifold have to be removed to get to the oil cooler.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I developed a leak in the oil cooler. In order to fix the issue, substantial labor hour are required to reach the oil cooler. Anywhere from 11 to 16 hours has been quoted.”

“They all pretty much start leaking. Mine did at 180k. Cost to repair mine was $1200 and done in a day. Not an easy job, did pulleys and tensioners Also At 160k was $300 labor plus parts “.

“So our 2011 Sprinter (2500) is leaking oil from the oil cooler. The shop wants $2400 + tax (low end estimate) to repair it. They say its mostly labor and about $240 in parts.”

Mercedes-Benz updated the oil cooler seals several times. The latest revision of the seal is purple, while the original ones are orange.

When replacing the seals, make sure you have the latest part to avoid premature failures in the future.

Some Sprinter specialists can remove the oil cooler and access the seals after taking out the turbo. It still takes some time but is less time-consuming compared to removing the intake manifolds.

Finding an independent garage that works on Sprinters can save you lots of money on the repair.

It’s also a good idea to have the seals replaced even if they aren’t leaking yet whenever you have the chance to take the intake manifold off as preventative maintenance and to save on future labor costs.

9. Intermittent Starting Problems

Many first and second generation Sprinter owners have had issues with intermittently refusing to start.

When the problem occurs, the starter and the engine won’t even turn over. Most of the time, owners just hear a click from the starter relay.

This issue is more common in the second generation Sprinter but has also been reported in many first generation models.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I have an 08 RV with Sprinter chassis (V6 Diesel). Few times when I have started my Sprinter it won’t start, starter motor is not even rotating, just a click sound. And everytime when I try again it starts just fine. I had the car in an MB service but they didn’t find any error codes. They changed starter and wiper relay positions (same relay), but still I have had this problem couple of times.”

“Mine had two solenoids fail in 35k. Both with corroded internal contacts and were very intermittent.”

“I had my starter off twice before the solenoid got bad enough to become less intermittent. Mine was random intermittent…….then was perfect for months, then this spring got worse where I had to do multiple jumps of the solenoid to get it to crank. All this with 30,000 miles.”

In a lot of cases the intermittent starting problem is caused by a faulty starter or starter solenoid.

It can also be caused by issues with the wiring for the starter or the Y-cable that goes to the battery, which often fails in the early second generation models.

In some cases, the culprit could be a faulty fuse or starter relay. There have also been instances where the entire fuse box had to be replaced.

A faulty neutral safety switch can also cause the intermittent starting problem.

Owners who have intermittent starting issues can usually get the van started after waiting a couple of minutes. 

Opening and closing the doors, locking and unlocking, and shifting from Park to Neutral a few times can also get the van to start again.

10. Broken Flex Pipe

A lot of second generation Sprinters eventually end up with broken exhaust flex pipes.

This is especially common in models equipped with the 2.1-liter 4-cylinder engine from 2014 to 2017, but other model years with the V6 have also suffered from similar issues.

Symptoms of a leaky or broken flex pipe include:

  • Louder exhaust noise
  • Exhaust gas smell in cabin
  • Burning odors
  • Reduced power
  • Lower fuel economy

When the flex pipe breaks, the exhaust leaks create extra heat around the area and can also melt the surrounding wiring and hoses. 

Here’s how a few owners on Sprinter-Source.com described their experience:

“I am in need of a flex pipe for my 2015 4cyl. Diesel Mercedes Sprinter. Mercedes wants me to buy the whole pipe with Cat for over $3000.”

“I just had my 2011 flex pipe replaced again last week. Again. All covered under the new emissions warranty after the AEM update. They also replaced the turbo when they were in there. Van has 194,000+ miles.”

“My DPF flex was broken on a 2012. Dealer replaced it under the AEM warranty 3 weeks ago.”

The flex pipe on the 4-cylinder diesels often break due to a weak DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) bracket. Mercedes-Benz eventually redesigned this some time around 2016.

To fix the flex pipe, dealers will usually replace the entire exhaust system which can cost several thousand dollars.

In such cases, it’s significantly cheaper to just get a new aftermarket 2.25-inch flex pipe and have an exhaust shop weld it in.

For the 2010 to 2016 model years, the flex pipe should also be covered by the AEM (Approved Emissions Modification) warranty, so you might not have to pay anything to get it fixed.

11. Harmonic Balancer Failure

The harmonic balancer in the first generation Sprinter vans will eventually fail at higher mileages.

It helps reduce engine vibrations and is connected to the crankshaft.

In most cases, it’s just the balance ring that comes loose and starts rattling around.

The bolt that holds the harmonic balancer in place can also come loose and eventually damage the crankshaft keyway which is expensive to fix.

The harmonic balancer itself can also crack over time and damage the serpentine belt, as well as other surrounding components.

Here’s what a few owners on Sprinter-Source.com had to say:

“My 2004 held well past 190,000 miles. Ring removal took ten minutes: belt off, pry off ring, belt on. You can go quite a while with the ring missing. A less common occurrence is that the crank bolt loosens and the whole pulley moves. If there are signs of this then park the van – it will destroy the keyway if you continue driving for any distance. (most will just find the failed rubber and loose ring).”

“Mine just failed at 170K miles. I started hearing a ringing/rattling sound and saw that the metal flywheel/ring had separated from the rubber isolator and slipped backwards… ratting against the crankcase. Following advice here, I un-tensioned the serpentine belt and was able to slip the ring out.”

“When it becomes a problem, replace it. Mine went at 300,000, ten years ago.”

If the balance ring becomes loose, you can loosen the serpentine belt and take the ring off. You might have to pry the ring off if it’s still partially attached.

You can still safely drive the van for a while, but it’s recommended to get it replaced ASAP to avoid complications.

If the crank bolt comes loose or the harmonic balancer develops cracks, you should avoid driving the van and have it towed to the nearest shop you can find.

12. Instrument Cluster Issue

A number of third generation VS30 Sprinter van owners have had their digital instrument cluster completely go out for no apparent reason.

This has also been reported in other Mercedes-Benz models with MBUX.

When the cluster goes out, the van still drives normally, but you’ll have no speedometer, fuel gauge, and other vital driving information 

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“Drove the van last night; no problem. Got in this morning, van started fine, but with no power to the instrument cluster. It’s completely dark. I checked all the fuses on the left side of driver’s seat; they’re fine.”

“We just stopped for lunch at a rest area. We go back in and started the van. The complete instrument cluster is not functioning. No lights, no turn signal dash lights, no speedometer, no tachometer, no fuel gauge.” 

“Just had this issue today, drove the van for an hour, came out 2 hrs later, cluster wasn’t working, drove home, let the van sit for 4 hours, now it’s working.”

Mercedes-Benz issued a recall for the instrument cluster issue that recommends updating the software to fix the intermittent problems that owners have been experiencing.

To get the cluster going again, you can disconnect the battery terminals for a few minutes to force the van’s computer systems to restart.

This is only a temporary fix though, and you’re likely to have issues again after a while. It might take a few days or even a few months before the cluster starts acting erratically again. 

13. Roll Away Recall

Many third generation VS30 Sprinter vans can roll away on their own even if the shift lever is in Park.

Owners have reported that the van can roll whether the engine is running or not.

In a lot of cases, the van rolls away even if the parking brake has been engaged.

A number of delivery drivers have also reported the same problem.

This issue is more common in the 2019 to 2022 model years which have a manual parking brake. 

This presents a major safety risk and has caused Mercedes-Benz to issue a recall.

The 2023 and newer Sprinter vans have an electronic parking brake that should automatically engage when the transmission is shifted into Park.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“We have a fleet of Sprinters and our 2019 are great so far. We have about 65 units and they all are 3.0s 2500s and a couple 3500s. We noticed that the new trucks roll after about 10 minutes in park. If you idle the truck for 10 minutes after putting it in Park it seems that the brake assist releases and it jerks the truck forward or reverse depending if its on a slight incline. Most of the time its forward and even on flat surfaces.”

“I had the same thing happen to me. I was idling, I am pretty sure e-brake was on, and after a while (maybe it was 10 mins could have been longer) my van lunged forward. I was on flat ground and actually thought I had been hit from behind. 2019 VS30 4×4 144.”

“It would seem we are back at it again. This one has had all of its recalls done and doesn’t require as many steps to duplicate the issue. 2019 3.0 RWD with about 79k on it. All we have to do is drive it around for a bit. Park it on an almost leveled surface, and apply the parking brake. Let the vehicle idle for about 5-15 minutes and when you return, simply release the parking brake and the vehicle starts to roll away. It usually takes multiple attempts to get it to do it.”

“Mine rolled as I was getting out, on a slight grade. Per usual I stopped the engine, (which instantly / usually puts the transmission in park) popped the seat belt, opened the door, saw the ground rolling by!”

When the van is taken in for the recall, dealers will update the software of different modules. 

The actual cause of the issue is premature wear of the parking pawl.

The software updates should prevent the parking pawl from wearing out too soon.

14. Loose Power Steering Hose

The hydraulic hose for the power steering in the second and third generation Sprinter vans have a tendency to come loose which results in complete loss of the steering assist.

This is a fairly common problem on the 2015 to 2020 models of the Sprinter van. It’s also more common on the 4WD models.

The 2WD third gen models have electric power steering and are immune from these issues.

The main issue is that the power steering itself is a bit short and eventually slides off the fitting for the power steering cooler.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I have a 2018 4×4 also. After driving about 5,000 miles I just happened to notice the power steering hose was almost off.”

“Checked my hoses today and found that the lower hose had slipped about 1/8″ back from the stop since I checked it last year. It’s clear to me that the hose should be longer, although if the pipe nipple were barbed it would be fine.”

“The hose just popped off my 2018 2wd 2500 Sprinter with about 16k miles. Luckily it was about .5 miles from home.”

Due to the number of reported issues, Mercedes Benz issued a recall for the loose power steering hose on the 2015 to 2020 model years of the second and third gen Sprinter.

According to the recall, dealers will replace the hose clamp with a screw type one. Mercedes-Benz also recommends a specific position for the clamp so it doesn’t slide away.

This is a fairly simple fix that owners can do on their own without the help of a mechanic. Just get a hose clamp of a compatible size and replace the old one.

It’s also a good idea to periodically check whether or not the hose has moved. You can simply push it back into place to prevent it from coming off completely.

A lot of Sprinter owners also recommend installing an inline filter which lengthens the hose a bit and prevents it from slipping off all the time.

You can also replace the hose with a longer one but this is a bit more work.

15. 4WD Engagement Issues

Many Sprinter owners have complained about how difficult it is to get the 4WD to work.

This has been a common problem in both the second and third generation models.

A number of third gen Sprinter van owners have also reported that 4WD will engage on its own and the red light will come on when they start the van.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on Sprinter-Source.com:

“I have a 2019 4×4 passenger with 6k on it now. I have always experienced the finicky 4×4 engagement, even following the manual’s detailed instructions with d-n-r-d-n-p etc.”

“I have experienced your exact same issue. It isn’t every time but has been random that 4×4 goes on by itself from startup.”

“While still moving under 5 mph. Shift to reverse or drive. It will actually go to neutral. That works every time for me.”

“My 2019 4X4 Cargo has the erratic AWD engagement issue also. I have recently used the vehicle in over 150 miles of off road driving and have found what works for me is – rolling forward at 5 mph, shift into neutral and push 4X4 button. Usually this procedure works but not all times.” 

Unlike a lot of modern 4WD vehicles where you just have to flick a switch, the Sprinter van’s 4WD system isn’t as straightforward.

The 4WD will normally engage only if the transmission is in Neutral.

If it doesn’t engage, you can try these steps:

  1. Shift from Park to Drive
  2. Take your foot off the brake and let the van roll slowly (below 5 mph)
  3. While the van is rolling press the 4WD button
  4. The 4WD light should flash
  5. While the light is flashing, shift into Neutral while still letting the van roll forward
  6. After a second or two the 4WD should stay solid which means it’s engaged

You might also have to shift into Drive, Neutral and Reverse a few times before the 4WD actually engages.

The 4WD will also remain engaged even after you turn off the engine, until you push the 4WD button again.

If you still have issues engaging 4WD, it’s best to have a dealer or mechanic take a look.

In some cases, the 4WD actuator may be faulty or the entire transfer case may need to be replaced.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Pros & Cons


  • Spacious high roof variants
  • Reliable engines
  • Comfortable ride
  • Lots of modern tech and driver assists
  • Refined interior
  • Available 4WD


  • More expensive than rivals
  • Diesel emissions systems issues
  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Not all MB dealers work on Sprinters

What Do The Reviews Say?

“One of the best vans you can get is the 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which is available in a variety of configurations with a choice of three distinct engines.” 

“This year, the two diesel engines are new, with a turbocharged four-cylinder replacing last year’s slightly less powerful V6. Those diesel engines also get a new nine-speed transmission to replace the previous seven-speed, and four-wheel drive has been replaced with all-wheel drive.”

“It looks like 2023 will be a peak for the van class, as the Transit and Metris are both expected to be discontinued after 2023. Even the Sprinter’s lineup will be pared down with the discontinuation of the base gasoline engine.”

“We suggest starting with the 2023 Sprinter so you could compare the rest against its smoother ride and nicer interior.”

“We would recommend upgrading to the more powerful turbodiesel engine. The base four-cylinder turbo engine doesn’t really cut it for a full-size van, especially one laden with cargo.”

2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Mercedes Benz Sprinter?

Here’s a quick look at the Mercedes Benz Sprinter’s used pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing.


Related: 9 Best & Worst Ford Transit Cargo Van Years (Facts & Stats)


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...