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The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is the largest van in the Mercedes range and have a towing capacity to match. In fact, the Sprinter is so good at towing that it can tow an elephant - pictures don't lie.

What is the towing capacity of Sprinter van?

The majority of Mercedes Sprinter vans have a towing capacity of 3.5-tonnes or 3,500kg (7716 lbs). This is how much weight a Sprinter can tow as a maximum and is applicable for the 3.5-tonne GVW models and larger 5- and 5.5-tonne vans. Smaller vans with a GVW of only 2.8-tonnes can tow just 2-tonnes or 2,000kg (4400 lbs).

How do I know which van I have?

The easiest way to check your towing capacity is to look at the vehicle plating weights on the door frame of the van, or under the bonnet. These will tell you exactly what the Sprinter van can tow as well as giving the GVW and the Sprinter payload.

However, the badges on the back of the Sprinter give you a clue as to its size. Mercedes produce models with numbers like the Sprinter 215, 315, 317, 319 and 515, 517 and 519 which denote the gross weights of the vans. The 2xx-series are capable of towing the smaller 2-tonne capacity, while the 3xx-series and 5xx-series can tow the higher weights of up to 3.5-tonnes.

Can a Sprinter van tow a car, trailer or boat?

Yes, a Sprinter van could tow a car but it all depends on the maximum weight of the car which will determine if you have exceeded the Sprinter towing capacity. As most cars are under 3.5-tonnes, the majority of cars can be towed by a Sprinter van, but you must also factor in the weight of the trailer (assuming you are using one) and consider the overall gross train weight (GTW) of the van and car combination.

What is the Sprinter gross train weight?

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has a gross train weight of up to 7-tonnes or 7,000kg (15,432 lbs). That's for the very largest vans in the 5-series of weight category. The more standard 3.5-tonne vans have a GTW of 5,000kg (11,023 lbs).

So, what is GTW and why does it affect what I can tow?

Well the gross train weight is the total weight of the van plus the weight of anything you are towing.

For example, the easiest way to understand this is to imagine you've filled a 3.5-tonne Sprinter van completely full of weight. The total of the Sprinter, plus fuel, plus your weight, any passengers and whatever you have in the cargo area has an overall weight of 3500kg. In order to not exceed the total allowable GTW of 5500kg you must therefore not tow anything more than 2000kg.

If you want to maximise your towing capacity and tow a full 3500kg - the maximum the Sprinter is safely allowed to tow, so as not to damge the chassis or towing arm - then you'll have to lower the amount of weight you are carrying. To figure out the maximum you can carry it is therefore: Gross Train Weight minus kerbweight = maximum towing capacity.

The tables below will help explain the towing weights for the Euro 6 and Euro VI versions of the Sprinter.

Best Sprinter van for towing 3.5-tonnes capacity?

The only Sprinter models capable of carrying the complete 3.5-tonnes are the Sprinter 515, Sprinter 517 and Sprinter 519. Their 7-tonne GTW minus kerbweight of roughly 2.7-tonne (depending on version) is comfortable enough to tow a full weight trailer combination with some payload in the cargo space.

The best of the other models is the Sprinter 315 which can roughly tow 3,400kg. However, that is a front-wheel-drive (FWD) model which may not be most suitable for towing heavy loads. A rear-wheel-drive (RWD) variant would be more suitable and for that you'll need a Sprinter 315 RWD which can tow a maximum of 3,339kg.

Is the Sprinter tow bar standard?

No, the Sprinter doesn't come with a tow bar fitted as standard but it is easy enough to specify one from the options list. There are even a couple of Sprinter tow bar types to choose from with a fixed coupling head (c. £650) and a removable trailer coupling ball (£900). You can then decide if the tow bar for the Sprinter needs a trailer socket for a 13-pin electrical system (£300) and there are various enhanced towing capacity options depending on what GVW van you have.

How to tow a Sprinter van

The Sprinter towing eye can be found in the toolkit of the van which is normally located in a drop down panel in the door of the van. In there you'll find the towing eye which needs to be put into the front bumper in order to tow a Sprinter. There's a small square-shaped panel in the lower portion of the front bumper to the side of the numberplate. Pop this cover off using something like a flat head screw driver and simply screw the towing eye into the Sprinter.

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