Sprinter Black Death


What is the dreaded “Black Death” that many sprinter van owners have come to know? How do you know if your vehicle is affected? What can you do to repair and prevent it? The Black Death is a mechanical issue involving your van fuel injectors and more specifically their seals. This problem is given its name due to the thick black residue found underneath the plastic injector cover. This black residue is a buildup of carbon as a result of a leaking fuel injector. These leaks can arise from a few different causes including; faulty injector seals, improperly installed seals, or incorrect seals being installed. So how can you tell if your van is having this issue? There are a few red flags that show when it comes to Black Death that you can look out for including; rattling sounds from the engine, hissing or leaking sounds from the engine, failure to start, and obviously removing the cover and checking for the black residue carbon buildups. So your van has the “Black Death”, it’s not the end of the world, there are a few steps you can take to fix your leaking injector and restore your engine back to its originality.


Remove leaking Sprinter injector

The first thing you should do is remove your leaking injector. (You’ll see the white mist escaping the injector when running). To do this disconnect the fuel line to the injector, disconnect the wires to the injector, remove the injector bolt, and use one or two screwdrivers to pry the injector from its seat. (This takes time, be patient and do not use too much force in the risk of breaking the injector). Once the injector is out, determine whether or not the entire injector or just the seal needs to be replaced based on exterior wear.


Side Note – Once you remove the injector bolt you MUST purchase a new copper seal to replace, these are only meant to be installed once and cannot be reinstalled. Once you finish with the injector cleanup process, follow the steps on removing the injector in reverse order. After replaced, make sure to properly torque down the bolt to the correct specification and clean off the rest of the carbon buildup.

Sprinter black death. Another somewhat common issue is what we call "black death" What happens is the copper seal ring between the fuel injector & the cylinder head fails & allows combustion gasses to leak by. This causes a black tar & coal-like substance to build up around fuel injectors. What typically has happened is another shop has removed injector & either did not replace the copper seal with a new one an/or did not use special cutting tools to clean & true sealing surface for seal ring. This allows the combustion gasses to leak over time. Depending on the severity, you may smell a strange exhaust/fuel smell when the engine is running, or even hear it puff. Depending on the severity, it can require lots of time to break down & loosen up this build-up & get injector out to replace the seal. The earlier this issue gets taken care of the better!


Many times the injector must be ruined in order to remove from the cylinder head.

Pricing varies as it is dependent on the situation. Sometimes this work takes 2 hours, and sometimes it easily takes more than 20 hours if the owner has not noticed the "black death" for a long time. from $200 to $2900 and more.

Injectors leak are often caused by a crack in the body

  • Leaking fuel injectors are often caused by a bad crack in their body.  When this occurs they must be replaced. 

  • External injector leaks is a fire hazard and cannot be fixed.

  • Injectors leaking externally due to a cracked body must be replaced with new or rebuilt by professionals.

How to prevent Sprinter van "black death"?


  • Some fleet owners are pre-emptively replacing the copper seals every 60K

  • Never reuse copper seals, always use a new one. 

  • Perform a regular visual inspection of the injectors for damage and cracks.

before & after

Our Services


Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm

Sat: 9am - 3pm

  • YouTube
  • YouTube Sprinter Service & Repair
  • Sprinter Van Repair
  • Sprinter Van Repair

Contact Us

723 Olive Ave, Suite B,

Vista, CA 92083

Tel:  253-846-2171



Always get a second opinion. It's free and can save you a ton of money.

© 2020. Proudly created by Maxim from Sprinter Service & Repair