Hi there good outdoor (& indoor) people,
I am thinking about buying an old Sprinter Van at a cheaper price. The engine mechanical looks good but the body is rusted. The rusts repair will need multiple sheet metal repairs from which I can see. This would be a project for me which at this moment I think I would enjoy but I also don't want to end up in a neve-ending-project-loop. Can anyone here with van building experience give me some tips ?
I would really appreciate it.
Hi @Izak1940 - This is a great question! I have built out and lived in a van that had a bit of rust so am happy to share some my experience. You also definitely want to have it looked at by a service shop for their input on the extent of the damage.
You'll want to have a mechanic see if the rust is just on the surface, if it goes into the body panels, or if it is all the way into the structural frame. There was some rust on my 2003 van. After having a mechanic confirm it was only on the surface, a friend and I were able to successfully do the repairs. We had good resources at the shop where we were parked and it took some long afternoons, but the task was manageable with the proper prep work.
I would be much more weary of rust that has gotten into the body panels. Most vans today rely on these panels for structural integrity, so the problem goes from being an aesthetic issue to being dangerous. It can be fixed, but has to be done correctly.
If rust has gotten to the van's frame it would be cause for much more concern, given that can indicate a host of major problems that can become quite expensive very quickly. The van market tends to be a constantly evolving one, so another gem will come along! If you are set on purchasing this one and it has rust on the frame, you should, without a doubt, have it repaired by a trusted mechanic.
Thanks again for bringing this question to the community. Hope the process of finding and roaming around with a van is a great one!
Avoid it! A few cosmetic scratches are ok but if the multiple panels need replacement the chances are it is in the frame and the vehicle is not safe. Personally I would not touch any vehicle with the kind of rust you describe.
Plus if you are doing a van build out why would you invest all that time and money on the distraction of having to fix up the body before you even start, with the possibility that you will find additional repairs as you go and have to undo your build out work to fix it.
Better to get a non rusted body needing a new engine than the reverse. An engine or a transmission are designed to be replaced and doing so will not impact the other build work you do.
There is always a budget but stuff you have to fix is always more costly than it seems at the start and you should be brutal about rejecting anything that is too distracting from where you want to end up.