How Much Do Repairs Cost During Van Life?


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Let’s say you’re a traveler and you want to see the whole world in the van you just bought. While your road trip will undoubtedly be one of the most incredible adventures of your life, you must consider the possible repairs you may have to do down the road. So, how much can you expect to pay on van repairs while doing van life?

Repairs during van life can cost from a couple of hundred dollars well into the thousands. The costs for doing so may vary greatly, depending on how well the van is treated throughout its lifetime. Proper van maintenance can help keep the costs at a minimum.

Traveling the world is fantastic, and there’s certainly no replacement for seeing different places and getting to know other cultures. It’s essential to keep up with the repairs for your van no matter the cost. In this article, I’ll share with you how much you may have to pay for those repairs.


Van Repairs Can Cost Hundreds to Thousands of Dollars

Any vehicle needs repairs—even other machines like electronics and your latest technical gadgets like iPhones and Android phones.

Taking care of your van means being able to travel longer and farther. So there are basic and essential repairs you must always pay for, no matter the cost.

Let’s break it down by looking at one of the most popular camper vans people use for van life.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van

A van that’s used very often among van lifers is the Mercedes Sprinter Van. The average cost of an oil change for this van can be between $234 and $264. Labor costs are estimated between $55 and $69, while parts are priced between $179 and $195. 

However, you can also do the oil change yourself, which will save you some money.

It’s imperative to do oil changes because it has a crucial role in keeping the engine cool, protecting the engine’s internal parts from damage, and preventing contaminants from accumulating inside the engine.

Overall, the yearly cost for maintaining the repairs for a Mercedes Sprinter Van is around $1,778.

If you have another van where you live out your van life, you can expect the average yearly cost to be roughly the same.

Make sure you save your money wisely!


Unexpected Repairs Can Cost Over a Thousand Dollars

Have you ever gone out for a ride in your vehicle and you hear a noise?

You look at your rearview mirror, and you suddenly realize what that commotion is all about.

Oh, no! It’s a flat tire!

Hey, it happens. And when it does happen, you need to make sure you have enough money to pay for a repair that you didn’t know would happen.

Let’s again take a look at some of the most popular camper vans people use for van life to use as a general example.

Ford Transit

According to the young couple from the blog “Far Out Ride,” the “Maintenance and repair cost is one of the reasons why we chose the Ford Transit over the Mercedes Sprinter or the Dodge ProMaster.”

They discuss the cost of occasional repairs, which they say is to be expected. However, the cost of additional, unexpected repairs ranged greatly.

After some time on the road, they had to pay for new brake pads and rotors for the rear tires. This cost them $750 after 42,500 miles of driving at the dealership.

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Further repairs on their Ford Transit cost them $330 for a loose tie-rod in the front passenger area, $40 for a sliding door adjustment, $220 for new brake pads in the front, and $665 for new brake pads and rotors in the back.

As you can see, unexpected repairs can be pretty steep. If you want to live a van life, make sure you save enough money for repairs that arise quite suddenly.

Volkswagen Van

Foster Huntington traveled the world in his Volkswagen van. He shared that, sometimes, he would have to pay for a repair that he didn’t foresee.

Huntington said that the most common surprises have to do with repairs. “There were unforeseen things where I had to cough up, like, $1,100.” 

The young man also shared that you can certainly do your own repairs, but that would only take you so far.

He had to pay for a blown radiator that cost him over $400. Sometimes, you just have to cough up the money and save your vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van

As discussed earlier, the Sprinter van is very popular in van life. 

The young travelers of the Explorist blog admit that while their Sprinter van is fantastic, its unexpected repairs can be rather costly.

They said, “rather than budget repairs each month, keep a savings account with money in it for repairs.”

This is a fantastic idea! Make sure you create a type of savings account that’s dedicated solely to repairs.

The Explorist bloggers have paid as little as $50 some months for repairs and as much as $2,500 for other months.

This is quite a range, so be sure you know what to expect when you drive a van as established and durable as the Sprinter.


Conclusion

Van life is fantastic. I’m sure you would agree with that!

Honestly, what’s better than visiting different places in your own mobile home? 

There’s no waiting at the airport security line, no expensive booking tickets, and no dealing with the everyday hassle of traveling in someone else’s bus, train, or plane.

However, to live out van life properly, you need to ensure you save enough money not just for the usual repairs a vehicle needs but also for emergency repairs that most likely occur when you least expect it to.

Here’s to safe and happy traveling!

Here are some of my favorite van build tools:

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own campervan. Here are some tools that I use daily while living on the road that made my life easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.


Electricity: When I first started my van life journey, I was using the Renogy 200W RV Kit, and I’ve recently upgraded my setup to the Renogy 400W RV Kit. I’m fully autonomous regarding power now, thanks to this upgrade. I don’t know why I didn’t choose this option from the beginning.

Quick Fixes: Whenever I need to fix something inside my van, I use my multitool from Victorinox. It’s compact and comes with a leather pouch that lets you store it wherever you want. Whenever I need more tools, I get my Cartmann toolset out.

Power tools: If you’re converting a van, you’ll need some serious tools for the building process. I can assure you, good power tools can make a huge difference. You’ll save time and avoid a lot of frustration while having some professional-looking final results. I personally went big with the full combo set from Dewalt.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van build, check out this resource that I made for you!

Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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