Are you planning on buying a used Mercedes-Benz? Knowledge is your best defense against buying a money pit machine. Finding the right Mercedes that will last “forever” takes time and research. Don’t just buy a Mercedes-Benz because the seller lets it go cheaply. You need to decide if the car has been maintained, check the vehicle history report, and inspect the car well.
Is it worth buying a 5, 10, or 15-year-old Mercedes-Benz?
Luxury vehicles depreciate at a higher rate than economy cars. This fact makes them very appealing in the used car market. That’s why the initial purchase price of a used Mercedes-Benz is not your primary problem. Mercedes-Benz cars had a reputation for being able to run forever! The truth is that certain Mercedes-Benz engines and transmissions can still run “forever.” While other models and trims don’t live up to the Mercedes-Benz motto: “The best or nothing,” Mercedes-Benz by no means are trouble-free cars like they used to be in the 80s and 90s. Even then, they weren’t quite trouble-free, but they were the cars that set the bar higher. In recent years, Mercedes-Benz cars have advanced even more with sophisticated and cutting-edge technology.
Before you buy a Mercedes, consider this.
Who will maintain and service your Mercedes?
- Mercedes-Benz dealer,
- independent auto repair shop,
- Yourself. Yes, you can!
If you own even a ten-year-old Mercedes-Benz E-Class or S-Class, you will quickly realize that certain car mechanics in your neighborhood don’t want to work on them because they are unfamiliar. Little do they know that working on a Mercedes-Benz is more fun, rewarding, and even easier than working on certain Honda and Toyota models. Don’t let that scare you from buying a used Mercedes-Benz, though. If you love tinkering with gadgets and troubleshooting car problems, you may be able to maintain a used Mercedes-Benz. Just because one of your neighborhood auto mechanics doesn’t know how to work on a Mercedes-Benz, that’s not a reason not to Buy a Mercedes-Benz.
For example, in the video below, the mechanic, Scotty Kilmer, talks about this Mercedes-Benz CLS and its over 20 fault codes stored in the system. He doesn’t realize that over ten error codes are related to under voltage that could have been triggered due to a dead battery. These under voltage codes are stored and not CURRENT and can easily be erased. The other few codes point to the same problem. Watch this entertaining video.
- Built Quality & Features
Even if it is older, a used Mercedes-Benz will most likely have many more features and options than the other used cars. The interior quality and materials of a Mercedes-Benz will be much better than that of a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. On a used Mercedes-Benz, you will most likely find walnut wood trim, illuminated buttons, leather, a sunroof, power windows and seats, and more. Other options such as cruise control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, adjustable seats and steering wheel, and multiple airbags will likely come standard on your Mercedes-Benz.
This may sound strange, but luxury cars take their biggest hit in the first 5 years. After that, the used Mercedes-Benz depreciates at nearly the same rate as Honda, Toyota, Lexus, and Hyundai depreciate.
Older Mercedes-Benz cars still look sharp and get attention even when they are five or ten. No other cars can make a statement about your success like a Mercedes-Benz does.
- Ride and Comfort
Even older Mercedes-Benz cars provide a comfortable, safe, and luxurious ride quality. Have you ever ridden on a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or S-Class with air suspension? It’s an experience you may never forget. Mercedes-Benz was built to impress; even when they are old, they do that task very well. A used Mercedes-Benz is still more comfortable, provides superb ride quality, and is more luxurious than a brand-new Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai and, in our opinion, better than BMW, Audi, or Lexus.
- Maintenance Cost
The maintenance cost of a used Mercedes-Benz can be much higher than that of a non-luxury brand, especially if you depend on the dealer to do all your repairs. If you have an older used Mercedes-Benz, you should find a local repair shop specializing in Mercedes-Benz or German cars. The maintenance cost of a Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have to be ridiculous. If you plan on troubleshooting, maintenance, and repairs, owning a Mercedes-Benz is as expensive as owning a Toyota or Honda. Just make sure to purchase your parts online. You can use Amazon Parts Finder to find almost anything for your Mercedes-Benz. You will find OEM Mercedes-Benz genuine parts or aftermarket alternatives that cost much less.
- No warranty
Buying a car from a private seller can be a problem. You will not get any warranty from the private seller, and the manufacturer’s warranty most likely has expired. If you buy the car from a used car dealer, you can ask if they sell a warranty. Warranty may not be an issue if you buy the car from an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership. Their certified pre-owned (CPO) Mercedes-Benz cars are thoroughly inspected and have a warranty that you can extend.
While it is nice that the used Mercedes-Benz has so many features and gadgets, that is also a negative factor you should consider. These sophisticated automobiles loaded with features have more things that can go wrong. Not only that, but some of them may be obsolete. For example, the Navigation on a 10-year-old Mercedes-Benz may be useless if the maps aren’t updated. The GPS on your phone is light years ahead compared to the Mercedes-Benz navigation. The Motorola built-in phone system on the Mercedes-Benz was useless until they moved to Bluetooth.
- Fuel Economy
This really depends if you live in the United States or not. If you live in the States, this is a concern for you because Mercedes-Benz cars sold in the US were equipped with thirsty engines. Not only that, but they require you to use premium gasoline. Therefore, these cars will cost you more to operate over 5 years than their Japanese counterpart. If you live outside the US, you may not have to worry about this. Mercedes-Benz sells gas guzzlers in the US only and some extremely fuel-efficient engines worldwide. For example, you will find an E220 CDI or C200 CDI and other variations if you live in Europe. These diesel cars get excellent gas mileage and can easily pull over 300,000 miles.
3Things you MUST DO before you buy a used Mercedes
1. Get a Pre-purchase Inspection
We recommend that you always perform a pre-sale inspection on any Mercedes-Benz you are serious about purchasing. It may be money well spent if you get the car inspected at a Mercedes-Benz dealer, but you don’t have to. Ask the auto repair shop that inspects your car to give you quotes on the items that need to be fixed. An honest seller should not have a problem with you taking the car in for an inspection. A seller lying or trying to hide some problems may tell you that they will not let you take the car in for an inspection. That said, don’t expect the car to be new and perfect. The mechanic will find a few issues, but use your judgment to decide if those items are critical and need repairing right away. Or if you could wait and find an independent auto mechanic to fix them cheaply.
Always select the shop where you take the car; don’t let the seller select the auto repair shop. If you are unfamiliar with the area, take the car to an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer or find a good independent mechanic specializing in European cars. You will be paying the inspection fee and not the seller.
Make it clear to the seller that you want to buy the car as long as it gets a reasonable inspection report from your mechanic. Don’t expect a used car to be flawless.
2. Scan the Mercedes-Benz for fault codes
The second thing you should do is perform a complete system scan on the Mercedes-Benz you want to drive. If you can get a hold of a scanner such as a YOUCANIC full system scanner, you can read fault codes from all systems yourself. Ask the seller if you can plug this into the OBD II port to check the systems on the car.
The YOUCANIC full system diagnostic scanner can help troubleshoot Mercedes-Benz problems by reading and interpreting fault codes, performing diagnostic tests, and resetting maintenance reminders. It’s a powerful tool for DIY mechanics and professional technicians to diagnose and solve complex issues.
3. Run Vehicle History Report
Don’t try to save pennies when you are spending thousands. Get a car history report. It will tell you if the car was in any accidents. How many owners does it have? It may also show maintenance records, but not always. It will show flood, salvage, and mileage history. Don’t buy a lemon. It also tells you if it was a lemon, meaning manufacturer buyback.
Make sure to verify the VIN number on the car with the VIN number on the title. Also, ensure that you are running history reports for the correct car.
Here are a few Vehicle History Report sites that will save you money.
A Vehicle History Report can tell you a lot about a car.
- Title History (Clear, Salvage, Restored, Rebuilt, Flood)
- If the car was a lease or rental car
- Maintenance History if the facility reported it
- Frame Damage
Always run a history report to find out major title problems. But keep in mind that these services can miss issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are used Mercedes-Benz cars easy to work on?
In our opinion Mercedes-Benz cars are definitively DIY cars. These cars have more gadgets than other cars, but the nice thing is that if you have the correct diagnostic scanner, you can troubleshoot any system on the car. Mercedes Star Diagnostic is the scanner that is used by the dealer and seems to be for sale on Amazon as well. A less expensive alternative is Launch Creader OBD II diagnostic scanner which works on other car makes such as Honda, Ford, and Toyota, Chevrolet and many more.
You can do your own maintenance on your Mercedes-Benz. Don’t be intimidated by the plastic covering of the engine or the splash shield underneath. They come off in 5 minutes without much hassle. These cars are over-engineered but are also very well thought out. For example, changing the oil and oil filter is easier than most cars.
Which is the best used Mercedes-Benz to buy?
When you buy a used Mercedes-Benz car, you need to decide which model you like and which trim engine and transmission. For example, a used E-Class W211 comes with a variety of engine sizes and, in the U.S., with two transmissions: a 5-speed automatic transmission and a 7-speed automatic transmission. Some of these engines were much more reliable than others. For example, the M112 V6 3.2 liter engine (E320, C320, CLK320 ML320) is one of the most reliable Mercedes-Benz engines ever produced. The M113 V8 engines found on E500, S500, R500, G500, ML500, CLS500 are also very reliable.
- M112 V6 3.2L Engine
- Mercedes Model: E320, C320, CLK320, ML320, M272
- Pros: Very reliable
- M113 V8 4.3 5.0 L Engine
- Mercedes Model: R500, S500, SL500, ML500, CLS500,
- Pros: Reliable
- Cons: Fuel Economy
- Transmission 5-Speed Automatic
- 722.6 5 Speed Transmission – Generally Very Reliable.
- Cons: 13-pin connector leaks fluid
- Transmission 7-Speed Automatic
- 722.9 – Reliable after 2008
- Early models in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 are prone to problems
Our staff favorites: CLS55 AMG, E500, S500
Which used Mercedes-Benz models to avoid?
Avoid 2004-2008 V6 and V8 models equipped with M272 and M273 engines. The first Mercedes-Benz models that had these engines were sold beginning in 2004. The early M272 engines produced around 2004, 2005,2006,2007, and 2008 had serious timing chain problems. Those engines are found on Mercedes-Benz models such as E350, R350, C350, SLK350, and ML350. There was even a class action lawsuit that Mercedes-Benz lost. If you need to verify how to avoid these engines prone to catastrophic timing chain failures, read this article. If you know the VIN number of the car you will buy, you can follow the instructions in that article to check if the Mercedes-Benz you are interested in is affected.
We don’t think you should avoid any Mercedes-Benz models, but there are certain trims (engines) that you should definitely avoid. For example, if you shop for a used E-Class W211 chassis produced between 2003 and 2008, you should avoid the early E350 with timing chain issues. At the same time, the E320 W211 was a very solid car, and so was the E500. Do your research not just on the chassis or class of the Mercedes-Benz you are buying but also on the specific engine and transmission. At least two or three engine types are usually offered for each model. Not all of them are created equal.
Is it expensive to own and maintain a used Mercedes-Benz?
You hear it all the time, that parts for used Mercedes-Benz cars are very expensive. That’s not necessarily true if you purchase parts online. You can find almost any Mercedes part online. A few parts that are expensive, such as keys, engine control modules, or electronic ignition locks, will require dealer reprogramming if they fail. The normal wear and tear parts can be purchased on Amazon using the Part Finder tool.
If you live in the United States, labor is the only expensive part of owning a Mercedes-Benz.
If you plan on doing maintenance on the Mercedes-Benz yourself, then a used Mercedes-Benz is definitively affordable to own. Many people think that Mercedes-Benz is very expensive, and they could be if all the repairs are done at the dealer.
Independent auto repair shops specializing in European cars typically have lower labor rates than the dealer.
What tools do you need to maintain a used Mercedes-Benz?
You will save thousands of dollars if you learn to perform diagnostics on your Mercedes-Benz yourself. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. You should consider adding a few specialty tools to your toolbox if you plan on owning a used Mercedes-Benz. You may want to look at this article with a list of Must Have Specialty Tools for Mercedes-Benz DIY repair. Do you have any of the tools we listed you will find for sale on Amazon or eBay?
Buying a Used Mercedes-Benz from an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership
There are pros and cons to buying a used Mercedes-Benz at a dealership. If you bought a used car at the official Mercedes-Benz dealership, you may pay more than you would if you bought the car from a private party. On the bright side, you should be able to get a very clean and reliable Mercedes-Benz. Hopefully, that has been certified. These cars go through a rigorous inspection, and they come with an unlimited mileage warranty for the first year and can be extended a couple more years. You will find some very clean and trouble-free certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz cars at the dealer. You will pay a premium for those cars, but you will have peace of mind. You can read more about the Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned (CPO) program here. These cars go through some rigorous checks such as engine checks, electrical system and function tests, undercarriage, drivetrain, chassis, body, appearance, and road tests.
Buying a Mercedes-Benz from a used car dealer.
The good thing about purchasing a Mercedes-Benz from a used car dealer is that they usually offer a minimum 30-day warranty. In some cases even longer. While a 30-day warranty will expire quickly, you will be able to go back if there are any serious issues with your Mercedes-Benz. Ask the dealer to put in writing what this warranty will cover. This warranty may not cover all types of damages and problems.
At used car dealers, you may find a really nice and clean one-owner Mercedes-Benz that was traded in, but you also may find a used Mercedes-Benz that was flipped between dealers at the car auctions because of hidden problems. If you buy a car at a used car dealer, ask how they acquired that car. Ask for history and service records, but don’t be surprised if, in most cases, you don’t get anything.
When buying from a car dealer, be that an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer, don’t try to pick on every little scratch and ding or dent and use that to lower the price. If you are serious about the car, ask the dealership to fix any serious problems before you pick up the car. They will most likely be willing to repair the problem rather than drastically lower the price.
How to find an Independent Mercedes Repair Shop?
Owning a used Mercedes-Benz can be expensive, but only if unprepared. Not all mechanics were born equal, so you need to find a repair facility or indy shop that works on a Mercedes-Benz and knows these cars inside and out. Hopefully, one with reasonable rates doesn’t charge $250 USD per hour.
What is the OBD-II Best Scanner for Mercedes-Benz?
The YOUCANIC full system diagnostic scanner is a valuable tool for Mercedes-Benz owners who want to troubleshoot problems with their vehicles. This advanced scanner can read and interpret fault codes from the car’s computer system, providing detailed information about any problems with the engine, transmission, brakes, or other critical systems. The scanner can also perform diagnostic tests on various systems, including the ABS, airbag, and steering systems, to help pinpoint the root cause of any issues. With this information, you can make more informed decisions about repairs and maintenance, potentially saving time and money on costly repairs.
In addition to its diagnostic capabilities, the YOUCANIC scanner can help you reset maintenance reminders and service indicators, allowing you to stay on top of your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule. This is important because regular maintenance is essential for keeping your Mercedes-Benz running smoothly and preventing major problems down the line. Using the YOUCANIC scanner, you can ensure that your vehicle is always in top condition, reducing the risk of breakdowns and other issues that could cause inconvenience or costly repairs. Whether you’re a DIY mechanic or a professional technician, the YOUCANIC full system diagnostic scanner is essential for troubleshooting Mercedes-Benz problems and keeping your vehicle in top condition.
Buying high-mileage Mercedes-Benz
Have you come across a used Mercedes-Benz with high mileage and are wondering if buying it is a good idea? In our opinion, the high mileage is not as important as how the car is maintained. A Mercedes-Benz could have 150,000 miles and be in much better condition than a Benz with 80,000. Therefore, thoroughly inspect the car and get a pre-sale inspection by a qualified auto repair shop.
Non-Mercedes-Benz owners may tell you to buy a used Japanese car because it will be a great, reliable car for you and will last forever. In our opinion, there could be nothing further from the truth. We see ten-year-old Mercedes-Benz cars clocking over a quarter million miles and still running great. Even the Japanese and Korean cars have their fair share of problems, and mechanics know them very well. Regardless of where it was made, a used car can turn into a money pit machine if it isn’t maintained. Just be wise with your purchase.
Whether buying a used Mercedes-Benz is a good idea depends on several factors, such as purchase price, condition, the engine/transmission of that model, vehicle history report, and how you plan on maintaining the car after you buy it. As you look into buying a used Mercedes-Benz, consider your skills and if you would like to learn how to fix car problems yourself. If you will be using all your saved money to buy your used Mercedes-Benz and are not planning on maintaining the car yourself, then we would suggest you don’t buy a used Mercedes-Benz.
Research the Mercedes-Benz model you are interested in buying. Find out some of the most common problems, issues recalls, and trouble spots for that engine and transmission. Be prepared to maintain a luxury vehicle with an MSRP sticker over $80,000. Keep in mind that not only will you drive a Mercedes-Benz, but you will also be maintaining a luxury vehicle.
We strongly recommend having an auto mechanic or authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership perform a pre-purchase inspection on the car. If you are the kind of person, who does their own repairs and never takes your cars into the auto repair shop, be that a Mazda, Audi, BMW, or Lexus, then you will do fine with the Mercedes-Benz.