The Transit eurovan has been sold overseas for decades but has only been offered in the US since 2015 as a replacement for the Econoline-series vans. It is currently the best-selling van in the US. Compared to the Econoline, the Transit offers noticeable increases in creature comforts, fuel economy, interior space, height, and build quality, with sacrifices made in towing and off-pavement capability. 1)
The stock van offered in North America is RWD, but can be ordered as AWD from the factory starting with the 2020 model year. It is available in a dual-rear-wheel (DRW) for GVRWs of 9,950lbs and above.
See this video for a detailed breakdown of all the nuances of interior dimensions
The stock engine is a naturally aspirated V-6 (3.7L for 2015-2019, 3.5L for 2020+), with 3.5L Twin-Turbo Ecoboost and 5cyl diesels available. As of 2022, the diesel is no longer offered and has been replaced with the all-electric E-Transit.
The Ecoboost engine in all model years of Transits is the Gen1 engine, and does not have the additional enhancements given to the Gen2 engine found in the F-150 and other consumer vehicles. With 400ft/lbs of torque coming in at just 2,500rpm it is surprisingly punchy and easily motivates even the biggest vans.
Auto-Start-Stop (A.S.S) was mandatory on the engines for 2020-2022, but has been dropped for 2023 due to manufacturing delays and chip shortages.
From 2015-2019, all engines used the same six-speed automatic transmission. Beginning in 2020, all vans switched to the new 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Transit has been offered with either 3.31, 3.73, and 4.10 rear differentials in either open or mechanical limited-slip options. For the 2022 model year, the 3.31 option was dropped. All factory AWD options use limited-slip differentials.
Ford offers a variety of GVRWs from 8,000lbs-11,000lbs, with dual rear wheels for the 9,950lb, 10,360lb (high roof extended-length passenger vans), and 11,000lb GVRW. The 9,950lb GVRW option is recommended if possible, as keeping the GVRW under 10,000lbs will frequently result in cheaper insurance and registration fees.2)
Of particular interest to nomads, the Transit is available in medium roof (70“ to the spar, 72” to sheet metal) and high roof (79“ to spar, 81.5” to sheet metal) on the 250 and 350 models. 3)
Low/Medium/High roof models can be identified by looking for the deep crease above the cab line.
The cargo area lengths are4)
Note that these measurements assume use of a bulkhead. No bulkhead will gain a few inches.Source
The Transit's cargo area walls are noticeably straighter than the Sprinter but not as square as the Promaster. The width is about 69”5), tapering to about 62“ just below the roof beams.6) Width between the wheel wells is 53.7” for a single-rear-wheel or 44.5“ for a dual-rear-wheel7). Measured from “skin to skin”8), a maximum width of 74” can be realized.9)
The Transit is offered in a range of greys, with the most common options being white. Passenger vans are commonly black, as they're frequently used as airport shuttles.
Color choice can have a significant impact on interior vehicle temperature, especially for those spending time in warm climates. A Ford dealer lined up a bunch of vans of different colors in the afternoon sun and took the following temperature measurements off the skin:
The van is Metric, uses metric fastners throughout and all pre-threaded holes are metric. There's no rhyme or reason for how and where they're placed, and the spacing between them is seemingly random.
The majority of the holes in the cargo area of the van are 9.38mm in diameter, and usually work well with M6 or 1/4-20 rivnuts. Most Rivnuts from Amazon fit fine, but some rivnuts (most notably from McMaster-Carr) are actually slightly too large and need a full 10mm hole. The majority of pre-threaded holes are M8x1.25 thread, with a few being M10x1.5. See video here: https://youtu.be/mpoE20subxE
While some people have been able to use plusnut into the factory holes, most holes will need to be enlarged slightly.10)
Alternator versions have varied by year, option, and gas v. diesel. Known configurations:
Aftermarket alternators are available up to 360A.14)
By 2021 at least some of the Transit alternators were “smart” (variable voltage).15) This will affect the voltage available on the CCP (see below).
The Ford Programmable Battery Guard (FPBG) option can vary engine idle to increase alternator cooling when drawing heavy current.16) This option was dropped for the 2022 model year.
A CCP is a fused chassis power17) distribution point that is optional from the factory by selecting the “Modified vehicle wiring harness” option when ordering a new van.18) This 1-3 CCP19) are mounted in a three-bay bracket; unused bays slots are empty. Vans that came with 1 CCP can be upgraded to 3 using part BK2Z-14S411-A20), allowing for up to 180Ah of total current. See this post for currents >180A.
Known configurations21) include:
Ignition-hot CCP may also have a timer to allow some runtime after last use.23)
Fuses for the CCP are located under a cover below the driver's seat.24) Battery removal may be required/advised.25) Some add smaller fuses downstream in more accessible locations to avoid having to access/replace the OEM 60A fuses.
Dual Rear Wheel (DRW) vans offer advantages in load-carrying capacity which can be critical for heavier builds. They can also offer better performance in when driving in conditions with deep sand, gravel and mud (when equipped with proper tires) as the much larger contact patch prevents them from sinking into the surface. The wheel track of DRW vans is 5“ wider than SRW (78.3” for SRW, 83.1“ for DRW) and all DRW vans come with a factory sway bar which gives a more stable and solid feeling when driving on pavement.26) It also offers redundancy and control in the event of a sudden rear tire blowout.
Single-Rear-Wheel vans are preferred for vans that are frequently driven on snowy pavement, as the narrower contact patch can more easily press down through snow to pavement below.
The costs of needing to replace 6 tires instead of 4 is mostly a wash, as the tire sizes used on the DRW are cheaper than the SRW.
The rear valve stems are pain in the butt to access on a DRW van, making airing tires up/down extremely frustrating. Air valve extension hoses are highly recommended.
See the All-Wheel Drive page for information on the limitations of the factory AWD system.
There is no appreciable fuel economy savings from the base engine vs the turbocharged “Ecoboost” engine.
The biggest determining factor in highway fuel economy for the Transit is roof height and speed; the high and medium roof vans get significantly worse gas mileage than the low roof models (especially at highway speeds). Community consensus holds that a stock High Roof van with the Ecoboost engine and RWD will get 20mpg at 55mph, 16mpg at 65mph, and 14mpg at 75mph. AWD loses ~1mpg on average. Lift kits and big tires can reduce it further, however the reductions are much less dramatic at lower speeds.
From 2020 onward, all Transits are equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission that has an extremely deep 10th gear at 0.63:1. This noticeably helps highway mileage.
Roof racks seem to have a significant drag on highway fuel economy, losing 2-3mpg at highway speeds. Empirical testing confirms this.
The Diesel engine does get noticeably better fuel economy (23mpg+ is widely reported at 65mph), however this is offset by their higher purchase cost, more expensive fuel, and long-term reliability problems that are endemic to all modern diesel engines.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This section is mostly a rant about one person's experience trying to custom-order a brand new Ford Transit. It is documented here to serve as a warning to others attempting the same thing.
The ordering process for a new van from Ford is a byzantine, stupid, frustrating process that is a shining example of why people hate car companies.
First of all, remember that you can't actually buy a van from Ford; you have to buy it from a dealership, who acts as a middle-man between you and Ford. In the olden-days this was a useful thing, but in the modern era dealers serve no real function aside from needlessly inflating the cost of vehicles. But because of this, Ford doesn't need to pay very close attention to their website; Remember that to Ford the website only exists to generate leads and send people to dealerships, where they can (theoretically) place an order. You can't actually buy a van on the website.
But because Ford sees the website as little more than a fancy brochure, the website is usually hilariously out of date or incorrect. They didn't even update it for the 2023 Transit until after the ordering window for the Transit had already closed for the 2023 model year. Furthermore, the configuration tool is missing almost all the information you really need to make an informed decision on what you're ordering and will frequently let you “build” a van that isn't actually possible to order due to option incompatibilities or part shortages. For example, the website still lets you configure a 2023 Transit with a Power Sliding Door even though Ford has told the dealer network that option is not available for 2023 due to part shortages.
What's worse is that most dealerships aren't particularly knowledgeable about the vans either. The Transit is a very complex vehicle that has more options that almost any other vehicle that Ford makes, and most “salespeople” at dealerships are not hired for their technical knowledge. They exist only to push you into financing and undercoating packages. If you have deep technical questions that you need answered, your only realistic chance is finding a dealership who specializes in commercial and fleet sales, or selling to upfitters. In reality, I found it far easier to simply ask people on the Ford Transit Owner forums.
To really get useful information on what options are what, you need to get the Ford Transit Order guide. Googling can find it, it's usually updated pretty often through the model run and ends up posted all over the Ford Transit USA forums. There's an older version here. You'll also want to get your hands on the BEMM, the Body Equipment Mounting Manual, which has a lot of useful information for upfitters and people who are making modifications to the van. Again you'll need to google for it, as it's model-year-specific and changes locations on Ford's website frequently.
To make it even worse, many dealerships can't even order new Transits; At the beginning of a model year, Ford makes a guess at how many of each type of vehicle it can build and then splits all of those manufacturing slots between all of its franchisees. It does this by giving its dealers an “Allocation” of how many of each specific type of vehicle they're allowed to order. Higher-volume, better performing dealers are usually rewarded with more allocations while problematic dealerships get fewer. Some dealerships that mostly deal in passenger cars and trucks may not get any allocations for Transits at all. (Of course, don't expect the sales people to be honest with you about if they have any allocations. Sometimes they themselves don't actually know; this information is sometimes held closely by the sales managers.)
The dealership has to then decide how many of these allocations to use for “stock” vans that they can order to sit on the lots to use for test drives or impulsive buyers, and how many to hold in reserve for people who want to make custom orders. Once these Allocations are all sold to customers, the dealership can still keep placing orders but it has no assurances that it will actually be built. And at least for the 2021/2022/2023 model years, most dealerships completely sold out of allocations for the upcoming model year by the end of September!
What this means is that the window for being able to order a van and have some sort of hope that it will actually be built is vanishingly narrow; sometimes only being open for a few weeks per year. For the 2023 model year the order window opened on August 24th and closed on September 11th; it was open for just three weeks!
Some of these problems are, in no doubt, due to production limitations brought about by the computer ship shortage and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine; the majority of Ford's wiring harnesses were produced in Ukraine.
But because of this, do not expect that ordering a van will be a simple or fast process; many buyers for the 2022 model year waited 9+ months after placing thier orders only to be finally told by the dealership that the order had been “Balanced Out”; Ford-speak for “Canceled”.
This has been moved to the Common Issues page.
Due to the design of the braking system, the rear brake pads on Transits can wear out more quickly than many owners expect. Replacing the brake pads yourself isn't hard, but you will want a Caliper Wind-back Tool.
Removing the rear brake rotors for replacement or resurfacing requires pulling out the axle. Many of the bolts involved are single-use, and must be replaced every time.27) Attempting to re-use the bolts will result in them breaking and the axle taking a horizontal exit from the van.
These are the part numbers and torque specs for the bolts that must be replaced if they need to be removed for service.
EDIT: There has been some confusion about exact torque specs for the rotor hub/bolts when it comes to SRW/DRW vans. Please verify these numbers before attempting your own servicing.
The Transit uses a weird tire size and bolt pattern for the wheels, so aftermarket options are limited.
FarOutRide did an excellent write-up on what the options are for more aggressive off-pavement oriented tires for SRW (Single Rear Wheel) vans: https://faroutride.com/ford-transit-larger-tires-upgrade/
For Dual Rear Wheel vans, tire options are even more limited. The factory tire size is narrower than the SRW vans, at 195/75-R16 (RWD) or 205/75-R16 (AWD). Because of this, the front wheel clearance is not a problem but the limiting factor is space between the rear wheels. Wheel spacers can help give more room in between the rear wheels if you do try and run a wider tire.
Groupthink for DRW owners looking for a little more ground clearance, lift and traction off pavement is a 215/85-R16 tire. These are a common light truck tire and have a multitude of options available that have more aggressive tread for off-pavement use. They are significantly taller than stock, and will greatly increase the final drive ratio as well as throwing off the speedometer and stock MPG calculator. Switching the differential gears to 4.10 (instead of the stock 3.73) will return the final drive ratio to almost identical to factory, and should make the speedo and MPG-meter accurate again.
Owners have reported mixed results with these tire sizes, with some fitting acceptably and some not. Some owners have reported that the Toyo Open Country A/T III or the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac both run slightly narrow, which is advantageous for fitting the DRW rims. This thread and this other thread on the Ford Transit Forums have more information, as well as pictures from owners.
The AWD Ford Transit cannot be lifted very much. Van Compass has a good technical overview of exactly why, but the quick answer is that the CV joint of the passenger side front axle is extremely short and will start to bind when it is moved out of its intended range. This can lead to early (and very expensive) failures of the passenger side CV joint. Even if the joint is okay, there's some speculation that the boot being constantly flexed closer to the limits of its tolerances may also lead to early failures. The best way to lift an AWD van is with a Subframe Drop, as it mostly eliminates the worries over the CV joint/boot.
The RWD Transit offers more options. There are four different methods of accomplishing a lift, with varying levels of reliability.
Note: The differences in all of these options are how the front end of the van is raised; raising the back end of the van is done the same in all situations (using blocks/spacers or progressive springs). Cost estimates show are to lift both the front and rear.
Mostly useful for Extended body vans which easily scrape the rear bumper on the ground due to the very long overhang. An Airbag kit can temporarily raise the rear end of the van by 2-3”, which helps a lot in terms of clearing the rear end. See a review here.
Low and medium roof Transits will need an awning that is mounted to the roof or a roof rack, taking advantage of the factory roof rack mounts. The Fiamma F80s is an example of a full-feature awning.
High roof Transits typically use a wall-mounted awning to the side of the van. This will require drilling holes in the van body. FarOutRide has probably one of the best installation guides on how to do this. It is possible to mount an awning to a roof rack on a high-roof van, but then the awning is nearly ten feet off the ground which can make it hard to access to extend/retract.
The Transit's roof is slightly bowed with stiffening grooves spaced every 15“. This can make installing a roof-mounted vent fan complicated, as the fan bases for RV standard 14”x14“ holes are flat and the roof is not.
To compensate for this, you need to use an adapter plate such as made by DIYVan: https://diyvan.com/products/ford-transit-high-mid-roof-vent-adapter. This will sit in between the fan mount and the roof, and give a good mating surface to use with plenty of sealing material such as butyl tape or window weld. A good video with instructions for how to use one of these adapters to install a van can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rkETMx6_Iw
Windows can be added to a cargo van for additional light, ventilation, or both. If you are replacing factory-installed windows with aftermarket windows (for example, to get windows that open for ventilation), use caution when ordering as not all aftermarket windows will fit into the factory cutouts (some are smaller)
Windows are a huge source of heat loss or heat gain in the summer. If you're adding windows to your van, make sure you also invest in some kind of shades or covers for them. Some links are here.
Replacing factory windows is a pain in the butt. The factory windows are glued in, making them difficult to remove without scratching up the paint. Some people find it easier to simply break the factory windows (covering them with sticky tape first to minimize the mess), but using an oscillating saw and wire cutting kit it is possible to get them out intact. See this old video from Mercedes on how. Alternately, professional shops will usually swap customer-provided windows in for ~$200 each.
Installation of aftermarket windows into cargo vans without factory windows is similar in difficulty to installing a roof vent (probably easier as you don't have to climb up onto the roof) and can be DIYed.
If you are adding windows to get some additional ventilation, one option is to install the factory Ford windows from prior model years. From 2015-2019, pop-out windows were offered as an option from the factory on the window in the sliding door, behind the driver, and in the rear quarter-panel windows for the Extended-length body. This option was removed for model year 2020. 28) But there have been no changes in the Transit's body around the windows since it was introduce in 2015, so a pop-out window from any model year should fit into any van. You can see about finding one from a scrapyard, or ordering a new window through a dealer. Part numbers can be found here. Pay attention to the color, “Privacy Glass” means the Dark Grey Tint.
Aftermarket windows offer larger opening areas and sometimes have integrated screens. Van Window Direct (VWD) and Campervan-HP offer a range of selections, however not all of them will fit the factory cut-outs.
While Ford does offer the factory option of an auxiliary fuel line pick up intended for use by aftermarket devices that need to draw fuel from the gas tank, this line is too wide to be used with low flowing devices such as auxiliary heating units.
Instructions for removal of the tank and sender for installation of a smaller line can be found here: https://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/threads/espar-m2-b4l-transit-install-standpipe-install-webasto-vs-espar.88175/
A convenient stash spot for mid and high roof vans. If you have the factory headliner storage cubbies, some brackets will allow you to make your own larger shelf above the factory ones. https://vancillary.com/products/ford-transit-headliner-shelf-diy-kit
Some have had success when installing the electronic locking differential from F-150s into the Transit.
Air lockers are available, but then require installing an air compressor system into the van as well.
The passenger vans and all dual-rear-wheel vans come with rear sway bars, but the single-rear-wheel cargo and crew vans don't. Sway bars fight the tendency of the rear wheels to move independently of each other, and prevents the van from leaning as much in corners. This leads to much more stable handling on pavement, at the expense of a rougher ride off pavement.
Adding a sway bar isn't difficult, but is made much easier with a lift. The following parts will be needed:
4-wheel-drive conversions are offered by Quadvan or Quigly Vans. The Quigly 4WD system has been approved by Ford, and if installed when new Ford will honor the full factory warranty on all non-Quigly components of your van. Expect to pay ~$15,000 to have a stock RWD van converted to 4-wheel-drive.
Can make going back and forth between the drivers seat and the back of the van easier if you swap in the "slim" center console.
Sections of the van body above the doors (and parts of the chassis) are made from boron steel, which is incredibly strong and difficult to drill into. Unless you have a lot of patience and some very specialized drill bits29), it's best to avoid trying to drill into these sections.
The Transit is uni-body, meaning that not all frame/body locations have a reliable and solid path back to a ground. Trying to source a ground from random places on the van can lead to strange electrical problems that are a nightmare to resolve.
To avoid these problems, always use one of the grounding points as supplied and recommended by Ford:
Direct-injected engines like the EcoBoost 3.5 available in the Transit can experience carbon build-up on the intake valves. Although uncommon in normal use, it could be more common for vandwellers (see below) and requires removal of the head to address:
“The only Ford-approved course of action at this time is to replace the cylinder head, though he also said, “Manual cleaning with a brush and various carbon dissolving products has been used with great success on vehicles out of warranty.”31)
Fouling is worsened by running the engine at less than full temperature, which vandwellers may encounter when idling for long periods to charge from the alternator. Using known-quality fuels with minimal contaminants may help minimize the deposits.
The 2nd-generation 3.5 EcoBoost (not yet available in the Transit) addresses this issue by adding port injection to the direction injection:
The port fuel injection was partly added due to the fuel output needs on the 3.5L HO Raptor engine, but also has several benefits for the 3.5L EcoBoost. It will prevent buildup on the intake valves and keep them clean due to fuel passing over the valves. Under certain engine conditions such as low rpm and low loads the high-pressure fuel pump and direct injection system will turn off and the engine will only use the port fuel injection32)
The EcoBoost may shudder or enter limp mode in extremely humid conditions.