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The Search

My search for a van came from my desire to have an easier way to get out of New York City for the weekend and explore the North East. After a cross country road trip in a 15 passenger Ford E350 I knew I wanted something slightly larger to be able to move around in after converted. I focused on sprinter vans because of the high roofs and having a diesel engine gives them some longevity so I could afford one with a decent but not too many amount of miles. 

After watching many conversion videos and reading forums and blogs I decided that I wanted an older '04-'06 sprinter (the T1N) as the engine is simpler to learn and work on myself and they are generally cheaper with an equivalent number of miles as a new model.

I spent many weeks scouring the internet looking at used vans, I found carfax and to be pretty good as they provided a decent amount of information and pictures on each van. Initial searches were to narrow down what I could get for my budget. I didn't want to spend more than $10,000 on a van and for that I found I could get a T1N with around 125,000- 150,000 miles on it in various conditions according to the pictures. Looking in the north east I knew rust would show up but I was looking for a manageable amount of surface rust. Photos of the undercarriage of vans and the engine bay were always a plus.


I eventually found a van not to far away in Connecticut and since I was going there anyway I went to check it out.

This was my first real encounter with a used car salesman that gave me "a used car salesman" story. The used car lot was an half paved half unpaved lot off a main strip in central Connecticut. I went in and inquired about the van and a friendly man said "Of course, let me go make sure it's ready" after waiting 5 or so minutes I went outside to see the van and as I walked up to it I heard a aerosol spray can noise before quickly realizing the man had been spray painting over the rust stains on the van. What the hell. I would much rather of seen the condition of the rust because it didn't look too bad but obviously now spray painted bright white on a faded white van. 

Upon further inspection of the van there were numerous other issues. None of the doors closed properly or required slamming closed to engage the lock. There was a small hole in the floor inside the cargo area of the van revealing the grass and mud underneath he van. The fuel cap didn't latch closed and flapped open in the wind. I looked under the van and it did not appear to be too rusted but a cable was severely frayed, I'm not sure what it connected too but I doubt it had much life left in it.

I decided to take the van for a test ride so I would have something to compare to in the future (I had pretty much decided I didn't want this van at this point). The van seemed to run okay but the steering felt extremely heavy. Maybe this is true with all older vans maybe not but it didn't feel right as if the power steering needed some attention. The car salesman asked me to make an offer and since I didn't want to offend him with an offer well well below the online price I told him I had a few others to look at first.

Overall a good learning experience to see what used car salesmen will try and also to test drive my first sprinter.

Having a fun used car salesman story. 10/10 would recommend.

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