My Van Search – Take: Three
Today the 3rd attempt.
Perhaps a little cheaper? Then you would theoretically have more money for upcoming repairs?
On AUTO SCOUT24 an ad by Auto Gelhaar (in Dusseldorf – my old home) for a 2009 Sprinter with 4325mm wheelbase (but with 7.35m xxl length!), 129 hp and air conditioning.
The Sprinter has a whopping 535,000 km experience (the engine was supposedly exchanged at 400,000 km and is offered for € 5,891 (gross).
I honestly have no expectations.
But having a closer look costs nothing.
The organisation & journey
I call on Tuesday and arrange a viewing on Thursday afternoon. A 67 km drive – the dealer is very friendly on the phone, but already dampens the expectations. And they do not sell privately. Understandable, as noone wants to give any warranty on a vehicle with more than half a million kilometers.
The journey with the usual working day traffic – I am in my old hometown.
A first impression
I arrive at 16:30, and see a car lot, a workshop with a lot of activity and the Sprinter, which does not seem that bad from afar and without my glasses.
The sprinter stands next to a fence by the street and I take a closer look at the patient.
- Rust. Much rust. All over. Partially covered up with some white paint.
- Surprisingly little bumps and dents (except for a sliced up rear section along destroyed side paneling and the rear doors) – but I have already seen completely different and much more severe damage at a lesser KM.
- The brakes are done.
- The tires are not roadworthy, 2 of them bald as racing slicks.
The dealer smiles and approaches me asking if I had already seen enough. “Nope,” I reply, “as I’m here already I’ll look at it more closely.” The van is moved out of the tight spot and is now well accessible. I open the doors.
It is April 1st. And no, what I see here is no April Fools joke.
- The interior is worn to the bone, whether seats, sun visor, shifter boot or paneling.
- The loading area has irreperable rust in the ceiling area, wheel arches and joints are rusted as well.
- And an inspection of all doors confirms the first impression: EVERY door COMPLETELY rusted out. The side door already at the rear external edge halfway up as well. Someone – at some point – attempted something similar to a repair of the rear doors, and failed.
- The windshield is torn.
- I put on the ignition, wait a moment and …
- the starter sounds really tasked, but then starts the engine, which runs smoothly at idle.
- The alternator does not seem to give a charging current – so at least witnessed by the warning light.
- Wiper and washer O.K. Horn makes noise.
- The radio is – gone.
Short lighting check:
- Lighting only on one vehicle side, turn signals don’t work at all.
- Set complete.
I open the hood.
- The engine compartment appears halfway clean.
- A somewhat illegible sticker under the rusted hood announces the motor replacement (or a service?).
- Otherwise no evidence of oil or timing belt change or coolant concentration.
No way. This is a death trap.
A friendly but completely painless dealer.
The reply to my question regarding the still horrendous asking price of close to € 6,000: “It has technical inspection until July.” Well then.
So much for the “cheap” version of a van. What remains after the visit are the pictures in my head of this van being registered for use on public roads without any further attention to the safety issues. I hope the dealer can sleep at night.
Pinch me, please.