Changing the Oil in Your Sprinter Van: Everything You Need to Know

By: Scott Adamson
/ July 11, 2022
Do you know when you should change the oil in your Sprinter van? And how?

Vanlife comes with many extraordinary pleasures, the best of them being the ability to roam the country far and wide. One downside to this adventure is the constant maintenance required to your home-on-wheels.

One of the most important maintenance exercises that drivers often overlook is an oil change. Regularly changing your van’s oil can keep your engine in shape and provide a better fuel economy. In this article, I will share how and when you should change the oil in your sprinter van to keep it roaring!

Before Changing Your Sprinter Van’s Oil

Before you decide it is time for an oil change, you must know a few essential pointers about the process. This will help you simplify the process and choose the most affordable and efficient option for your sprinter van. 

DIY vs. Dealership

You have two main options when it comes to changing the oil in your sprinter van. You can either go to the dealership or change it yourself. Here’s how they both compare. 

DIY

  • Cost-effective: Changing oil yourself can cost significantly less than through a dealership. 
  • Convenient: Depending on your location, a dealership may not be close by, adding to your gas bill (which can be a lot with the gas prices today!)
  • Oil Handling: Most sprinters need around 13.2 quarts of oil. So know that you’d be dealing with all of it yourself.  Make sure that you are prepared and ready to “DIY”.

Dealership

  • More expensive: An oil change at a dealership can cost way more than a DIY. Costs also typically vary from dealership to dealership. So I’d advise researching and comparing the costs of different nearby dealerships. 
  • Better service & Peace of Mind: Saving this messy job for a professional might result in better and more accurate service, depending on your skills.
  • Software Update: A lesser-known fact but equally important, you can get the most recent updates for your sprinter van at the dealership when connected to their system. 

Service A vs. Service B

Many van owners freak out when they first hear about Service A vs. Service B. These are just fancy terms dealerships use for different packages they offer for servicing your van. 

Service A – (Typically occurs after 10,000 miles)

  • Oil change combined with oil filter replacement
  • Fuel filter replacement plus fluid tests
  • Brake checks and tire inspection

Service B – (Typically occur after 20,000 miles)

Service B is more elaborate than Service A, and considers the following checks:

  • Oil change with oil filter replacement
  • Fuel filter replacement with fluid tests
  • Brake and tire inspections
  • Dust/combination filter

It is important to note that these services alternate between the two: Service A, Service B, Service A, and so on.

Service B is costlier than Service A as it covers several areas that Service A excludes. Service charges for both may also depend on your location, the number of dealerships, and any discounts offered by different dealerships.

When Should You Get Your Sprinter Van’s Oil Changed? 

It is useful to keep a note of when your oil change is due.

Service A typically occurs after 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) or 1 year (whichever happens first). Service B occurs after 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) or 2 years (whichever happens first).

However, there are several other factors that you need to take into account when deciding whether your van is due for an oil change or not.

Engine Type 

The time for an oil change can vary significantly if you have a diesel or a gas engine.

An oil change is due for a diesel engine typically after 20,000 miles. However, a diesel engine also eats up more oil, making it more expensive per change. A diesel engine still comes on top because it provides greater torque and is more fuel-efficient. 

An oil change typically occurs between 10,000 – 15,000 miles for a gas engine. However, the oil change is cheaper as gas engines don’t use much oil. Gas engines also weigh less and are easy to refuel and maintain. 

Pro-tip: If you are not looking for heavy-duty work with your sprinter van, a gas option may be more viable, given cheaper maintenance costs. However, diesel engines have a better fuel mileage. With that said, as gas engines are becoming more efficient, the gap is lessening. 

Van Health

Even if you have not driven your sprinter van for the required time or miles, a few signs may indicate that an oil change is due. These primarily include:

  • The pungent smell of oil inside your van
  • Oil color changing to dark or muddy.
  • The engine is making strange noises that are not routine for your van

One of the best ways to check if your sprinter van needs an oil change is to look at the control panel, which indicates how many miles remain before a service is due. 

Best Oil for Mercedes Sprinter Van

There are several different oil types and oil grades that you can use in your sprinter van when replacing its oil.

Two common oil types include the following:

  • Conventional oil: Also known as regular oil, this oil provides a decent level of lubrication for your engine.
  • Synthetic oil: With a lower level of friction and several additives, this oil is better for enhancing your van’s performance.

Synthetic oil is the go-to oil for most vans, especially the new models. This is true for both gas and diesel engines and is the recommended type of oil by Mercedes Benz as well.

Best Oil Grade for Your Sprinter Van

The best oil grade to use in your sprinter van is 5W-30 (MB 229.52). This oil grade ensures that you can start your van at low temperatures in addition to reducing deposits. The 5W-30 also offers solid performance in tough climates and is ideal for heavy-duty work. 

Several brands offer the 5W-30 oil grade:

Mobil 1 5W-30

A synthetic oil recommended by Mercedes that protects your engine and enhances performance.

Click here to buy now

Castrol Syntec 5W-30

  An advanced motor oil that works well in both diesel and gas engines. 

Click here to buy now

Shell Helix Ultra SN 5W-30

A top-tier motor oil with advanced cleaning capabilities. 

Click here to buy now

 

 

These oils are best used for sprinter van models after 2010. For pre-2010 sprinter vans, you can use a 5W-40 that offers similar benefits to the 5W-30 but also enhances performance at higher temperatures. 

A few good names in the market are:

  • Shell Helix Ultra SN 5W-40 
  • Valvoline Synpower Full Synthetic Motor Oil 5w-40
  • 76 Pure Synthetic Motor Oil 5w-40

Pro-tip: A 5W-40 is more suited to diesel engines, while a 5W-30 will fare well with gasoline engines. 

Does the Time to Change Oil Differ for different models of Sprinter Van?

In general, older vans may or may not require more frequent oil changes depending on a range of factors.

  • Usage: How the van is used is the best way to gauge oil replacement intervals. It may need more frequent oil replacement if it is used for heavy-duty work such as towing or pulling. 
  • Setting: Where the van is being used is also often a good determinant for an oil change. A van in uphill areas with extreme climate will require more frequent oil change than in a suburban setting. 
  • Maintenance: How well the van is maintained can also answer the question of oil replacement. A well-maintained van with timely oil changes and other maintenance services will not require oil changes as frequently. 

Older vans may require an oil change every 2000-3000 miles because of older technology and aging engines. When you rack up miles on your van, the engine tolerance decreases, leading to more regular oil changes. 

Oil Change in Different Sprinter Van Models

As a rule of thumb, Mercedes Benz recommends an oil change every 20,000 miles, which may sound like a lot to many people. However, to be on the safe side, changing oil after 10,000 miles is a better option as it keeps the van’s health in check. 

For the latest Mercedes Benz models, using synthetic oil, you can replace the oil after 10,000 miles. With older models using conventional oil, you may have to change the oil after 3,000-5,000 miles. You can replace oil after 6000-7500 miles with a well-maintained older model using synthetic oil. 

How to Change Sprinter Van Oil Yourself 

Changing your van oil can seem daunting but is actually quite a simple maintenance task.

Here are a few tips that will make it easier:

  1. Locate the oil pan and unscrew the bolt, leaving the oil to drain.
  2. Remove the filter, inspect it for any problems, and replace it if necessary.
  3. Add the engine oil by placing a funnel over the engine cap. The engine requires around 13-quarters of oil.
  4. Check the oil level using the dipstick and ensure enough oil is added.
  5. Voila! You are done.

Check out this video that shows you exactly how to change the oil yourself.

Conclusion 

After reading this guide, you should have a pretty clear idea of when and how to change the oil in your sprinter van. 

Here are the key takeaways from the article:

  • Change your oil every 10,000 miles, with a service check after every 20,000 miles.
  • Factor in personal usage and engine type to ensure that you are replacing oil optimally and timely. 
  • Use a 5W-30 oil grade for recent models and 5W-40 for older ones. A few good names include Mobil, Shell, and Valvoline. 
  • An option to avoid the costly dealership prices is to change the oil yourself. Follow the steps included in the article.

Remember, changing the oil regularly is vital for your van’s health so that it stays fit and you can enjoy your adventures to the fullest!

 

Scott Adamson
Wanderful Idea Guy
Coffee drinker, adventure seeker, below average photographer.
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