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Used Van Buying Guide: Transit Connect 2002-2014

Ford’s Turkish-built Transit Connect arrived in 2002, borrowing its name from its bigger, iconic relative and giving Ford some serious presence in the light panel van marketplace. 

Ford’s experience with the bigger Transit shone through with the Connect and it immediately impressed, winning countless van of the year awards in recognition of that. Offered in long (2912mm) and short (2664mm) wheelbase versions with a variety of heights, and from 2008 a crewcab version was added. There’s a Transit Connect to suit almost every need.

It would take Ford until 2009 to facelift the Connect, revising the looks with slightly softer shaped exterior mouldings, revised instrumentation and a higher standard equipment offering including ESP, traction control and hill launch assist as standard. Ford has also offered electric versions for fleet users on trial basis, but all but a handful of Transit Connects come powered by a four-cylinder in-line turbodiesel unit.    

Regardless of which version you choose, all are practical and capable. Payload ratings range from 652kg to 908kg, while load volumes span from 1.4 to 3.7m3. There is also a Tourneo version which, like its bigger Transit relation, provides a comfortable passenger car in both short and long wheelbase forms, the latter offering as many as eight seats, while the short wheelbase model makes do with just five.  

Engines  

Simplicity is best, and that’s very much the case with Ford’s engine and transmission offering with the Transit Connect. There’s a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine and a petrol unit too that was offered with bi-fuel LPG power. The latter is rare though, the majority of Transit Connects being powered by the 1.8-litre turbodiesel.

The four-cylinder diesel was offered in outputs ranging of 75PS, 90PS and 110PS. All through its life Ford stuck with a five-speed manual transmission, not offering either a six-speed or automatic in the model mix like many of its rivals.

Consumption varies slightly between them all, though customer’s experience of the 1.8-litre unit suggests that the smaller 75PS engine isn’t as economical as you might expect, it needing working harder to produce decent performance. The 90PS engine is a desirable choice then, and if you’re doing bigger distances or regularly hauling goods at up near the Connect’s load capacity then the additional power the 110PS is worth paying that bit more for. 

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Maintenance

Ford recommended a 15,000 mile or annual service, but as with any van that’s dependent on use, if it’s being used for short-drop trips some more regular maintenance might be advisable. The TDCI engine is a proven unit, though it’s not entirely without faults.

There’s been problems related to injectors, Ford having issued a Technical Service Bulletin in 2012 relating to engines built between 2008/09. They can fail, causing hesitancy when driving, and resulting in a sizeable bill - around £1500. Other niggling issues relating to this engine include oil leaks and auxiliary failures, but the reality is Ford’s diesels are no worse (and arguably better) in this regard over its rivals.

The gearbox is tough, though a replacement fitted if needed would cost around £600. If there’s problems selecting gears then there might be an issue of corrosion or dirt in the remote housing, The Transit Centre charging around £100 for this to be remedied.

Wheel bearings should wear well depending on use, replacements costing about £100-£120 a corner, likewise brakes wear well and cost about £50 a side to replace pads, but as with any commercial vehicle wear does increase markedly depending on usage. A service will cost around £140, depending on where you are in the country, although the Transit Connect has a reputation for being a relatively easy van to work on.   

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Pricing

With the oldest Transit Connects now pushing 14+ years you can conceivably pick one up for comfortably under £1000, but don’t expect anything but galactic mileages, plenty of owners and a patchy service history. 

Spend anywhere from £1000-£1500 and you’re into a rich seam of part-exchange Connects and nicely looked after examples, if you’re prepared to shop around. There’s very little difference in prices between short wheelbase and long wheelbase models, likewise high or low roof examples.

Double that budget again and you can really be very picky, selecting the lowest mileage, most pampered, well-equipped Connects, here we’d be looking for air conditioning and a post 2009 model with the extra safety kit as standard.

Tourneo examples command good money, and are rare, as are limited edition Sport models, which are pricey with Ford Performance Blue paint, white stripes and 18-inch alloy wheels. Just 300 Sport models were made and those on the used market are usually well cared for and expensive. 

To find the latest deals, visit: Honest John Vans For Sale

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What we said 

"With the ability to carry considerable weights in the Transit Connect, it remains one of the most useful small vans on the market, while a low load sill helps get heavy items in and out safely and easily. With 15,000-mile or 12-month service intervals, the Connect’s engines are long running too and offer lots of low-down punch.

"The Transit Connect comes in short and long wheelbase versions, and each can cope with two Euro pallets in the load area thanks to the unhindered sides of the van and minimal wheelarch intrusion."

What to watch

  • Ford recommends a 15,000 mile service interval, but experts recommend bringing that a bit closer to 10,000 miles if you want to maximise longevity.
  • The door sliders can stick, it’s not too tricky to replace them at around £100 a side if they start to cause issues.
  • Problems selecting gear can be a result of grime and corrosion in the remote selector. Removing and cleaning should cost around £100.
  • Bodywork on Connects offer good rust protection, any rust points to poor repair work or maintenance, with so much choice there’s no need to buy one with rust.
  • A rattling or juddering clutch points to wear, a fix should cost in the region of £250.
  • Check the tyres regularly, particularly the rear ones. Excessive wear on the inside edges points to the tracking being poorly adjusted.
  • Any knocking from the suspension or grumbling from the wheels points to worn bearings and wear on the suspension. Fixing either is relatively inexpensive, with wheel bearings about £100 a corner, and suspension parts are similarly inexpensive - there’s even modifying kits to lower the Connect if you want. 

A well regarded, fine driving van that’s abundantly available as a used buy in the classifieds, the Transit Connect is a great all-rounder. Simple to work on, hugely practical and decently specified - particularly the post-2008 models, the Connect is an inexpensive, dependable buy, for those wanting maximum space on a tight budget.  

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