My Van Search – Take: Three

Today the 3rd attempt.

Perhaps a little cheaper? Then you would theoretically have more money for upcoming repairs?

The candidate

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.

In detail

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.

Key test:

  • 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.


Bild von Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay

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.

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2 responses

  1. Olaf says:

    wenn ich den Innenraum ansehe, fängt’s überall an zu jucken 😩
    vom technischen Zustand mal ganz zu schweigen….
    es ist einfach unglaublich, was die für einen Haufen Schrott noch für Preise aufrufen.
    Was bin ich froh, dass ich vor Ort einen Sprinter bei einem Mercedes Händler gefunden habe und mir diese Kilometer fressende Wimpelhändler-Odyssee erspart habe.
    Ich bin mal wegen einem Pkw ewig weit gefahren, der sollte auch “super dastehen”, hatte sogar Überführungskennzeichen gekauft, dort angekommen was gelernt: traue keinem Autohändler…. besonders denen nicht, die weit weg und somit im Gewährleistungsfall schwer “greifbar” sind.

    • Volker Manns says:

      Hallo Olaf,
      ich war über Jahrzehnte in der Autoindustrie tätig und der kleine Markenhändler ist i.d.R. vertrauenswürdig. Schlimm sind die “Großen”, wo man nur eine Nummer ist und das Unternehmen ausschließlich über Kennzahlen gesteuert wird.
      Der Sprinter hier war auch wohl der treffendste Anschauungsunterricht in “günstig gibt’s nicht mehr”.
      Schön zu lesen, dass du einen passenden Sprinter für dich gefunden hast. 🙂👍

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