Merc Vitos - Good and bad points?

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 Frankie boy 14 Sep 2021

Eh up, In the process of looking for a van and seen a couple of LWB vito's but they're a bit pricey and I've always had in my head that they're prone to rust.

Anyone got / had one and anything to look out for?

 kathrync 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

I have a compact (SWB) Vito and it's been fine for me. The older ones were prone to rust, but they started part-galvanising in the mid-2000s and fully galvanising a couple of years after that. My 2011 model has a little rust in the rear tailgate where it has taken a knock at some point, but the rest is fine.

One thing to note is that they are rear wheel drive (or my compact is anyway). That may or may not be an issue for you - mine behaves surprisingly well on Highland roads in winter with appropriate tires as long as I make sure there is a bit of weight in the back.

 gravy 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Older ones rusted badly - so much so you don't see any now because they're piles of dust.

The mid-2000 to the new face lift still rust a bit but not so badly so maybe aren't really a good long term platform if you're thinking on keeping it for a long time.  These are all RWD but I get most places without trouble.

I find mine is noisier than my previous van (which wasn't a vito). Mechanically appears sound recently passed the mot without drama.

Mine had a plastic car-like interior in the back which consumed a huge amount of space - removing it made it a lot bigger.

It drives ok but some of the the controls are nonsensical - it takes me about 30 button presses to work out how to turn the interior lights on in the back of the van and then turn them off again.  The speedometer is weird.

I think the new ones are FWD now and too soon to tell if they rust.

 Tigger 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Well we've got a 2006 plate W639 111, rust wise to 2006 isn't too bad though I've had to have the rear arches repaired. The panels on mine are partially galvanized, the 2004/5 were the really rusty ones. After 2006 they went full galvanized I think.

The main thing to look out for is the infamous "black death". This is basically injector leak, I had to have mine resealed, it's a job best done at the dealer or a specialist. To check for this you need to remove the air intake box (2 mins) then the injector cover (10 mins). The going rate for re-sealing of injectors was £120 - £150 per injector a few years ago.

The next common complaint is gearr stick socket wear, rhis can be sorted with a 3d printed 2 pice socket bought off of ebay (£10), you'll know if its worn as the reversing lights won't always come one due to the micro switch not activating.

The final issue can be a stiff second gear, this can be aleviated with a different spec oil being used in the gear box (plenty of info online in the merc forums).

My electronic ignition also went which cost £700, though I don't think this is too common. I've also replaced the turbo, and prop shaft, though the van is 15 years old with about 130k on the clock.

Finally, if I rember the automatic gear boxes are best avoided.

If buying I'd look for one of the 2011-14 facelift version W639 111 models (or higher spec). Engine-wise the more powerful Vito's as a rule get better mpg owing to the rear diff ratios. We've got the W639 111 variant the lower speced 109 wasn't fuel efficient enough for me to consider.


There are 3 wheels bases, the advantage of the lwb or xlwb that the spare tire is carried underneath the van rather than inside.

Post edited at 14:44
 kathrync 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Tigger:

> There are 3 wheels bases, the advantage of the lwb or xlwb that the spare tire is carried underneath the van rather than inside.

Good point - it's inside in my compact. In hindsight I would have bought one of the longer wheelbases where the spare tire is stored underneath.

 Frankie boy 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Tigger:

Thanks all for that info. I'll keep my eyes open. Until my recent Citroen van, I've always had Hiaces, which were rear wheel drive and managed just fine with them.

I know it's an unfortunate time to be looking for a van, but Vito is up there on the list.

 Jenny C 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

We've had an 05 plate since new.

Mechanically it has never missed a beat, but it as above it has rusted. We decided to invest in repairs to the bodywork last year as we aren't ready to upgrade, hopefully it has several years of life still in it.

For us having two sliding doors is a real bonus as usually where we park its easier to put things in on the drivers side. It is also gives more flexibility when camping or driving abroad and we wouldn't even contemplate a van without two side doors now.

Another thing we like is it has an incredibly tight turning circle, making it surprisingly easy to manoeuvre. Down side is being rear wheel drive it is utterly useless in snow or when parked on mud/grass.

Post edited at 16:04
 Frankie boy 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Jenny C:

I always said i didn't want twin sliding doors.  Then our last van had them. Now i currently have a courtesy van and keep finding myself going to that sliding door that's not there. 

 Frankie boy 14 Sep 2021
In reply to Tigger:

Realistically,  i don't have much to layout on a van so im aiming for something around that era (2011 - 2014) but am quite limited.  

The cost cap is also why i was wondering at what sort of era i should be worrying about significant rust

 gravy 15 Sep 2021

On a completely different note since there might be relevant knowledge here does anyone know a sensible location to place a cheap diesel heater in a vito?

In reply to Frankie boy:

We had a 2007 and a 2006 Vito van. Both hit the 200000 mile mark. Other than consumables one had a fuel pump and a couple of injectors and a door lock servo the other just had a couple of injectors.

Both were starting to get a little scabby on the rear arches.

Good little vans

 lanky 16 Sep 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

I had a 2009 639 LWB, was good van went from 80,000 to 180,000. Only sold due to wanting a bigger van. Few things went like electric window motor. But nothing major. Mine was the 109 that got remapped as was sluggish. It didn't do that bad in snow considering it was rear wheel drive. didn't really have any rust to note. One note is it is small height wise internally due being RWD, FWD have more height internally. the newer model are back to FWD.  

 jimtitt 16 Sep 2021
In reply to lanky:

Only the gutless 1.6 is FWD, the rest RWD.

 lanky 16 Sep 2021
In reply to jimtitt:

Ah ok, thought it was full range.

 Tigger 17 Sep 2021
In reply to gravy:

You might fit outne under the drivers seat, though personally I'd also look at a gas fired heater as I think they're meant to be quieter. You could also look at options that fit under the van. That way they don't take up much internal room (except for the ducting).

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