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buying a used mercedes pros and cons

READ THIS before you buy a used Mercedes-Benz

buying a cheap mercedesAre you planning on buying 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 is letting it go very cheap. You need to decide if the car has been maintained, check vehicle history report and do a good inspection on the car.

Is it worth buying a 5, 10, 15-year-old Mercedes-Benz?

used mercedes DepreciationLuxury 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 of being able to run forever! The truth is that certain Mercedes-Benz engines and transmissions can still run “forever”. While others 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. Well, even then they weren’t quite trouble free but they were the cars that set the bar higher.  In the 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!

mercedes garage liftIf 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 not familiar with these cars. 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 yourself, you may be able to maintain a used Mercedes-Benz yourself. Just because one of your neighborhood auto mechanics doesn’t know how to work on a Mercedes-Benz, that’s not a reason to Not Buy a Mercedes-Benz.

For example in the video below the mechanic, Scotty Kilmer talks about this Mercedes-Benz CLS and how it has over 20 fault codes stored in the system. He doesn’t realize that over ten of those error codes are related to under voltage that very well 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.

Pros and Cons of buying a used Mercedes-Benz

pros of buying a used mercedesPROS

    • Built Quality & Features

A used Mercedes-Benz even if it is older will most likely have a lot 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, 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 are likely to come standard on your Mercedes-Benz.

    • Depreciation

This may sound strange but the 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.

    • Looks

Older Mercedes-Benz cars still look sharp and get attention even when they are five or ten years old. 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 were built to impress and 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.

cons of buying a used benzCONS

    • Maintenance Cost

The maintenance cost on 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 that specializes on Mercedes-Benz or german cars. Maintenance cost on a Mercedes-Benz don’t have to be ridiculous. If you plan on doing your own troubleshooting, maintenace and repairs, then 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 even find OEM Mercedes-Benz genuine parts or aftermarket alternatives that cost a lot less.

    • No warranty

This can be a problem if you are buying a car from a private seller. You will not get any warranty from the private seller, and the manufacturer warranty most likely has expired. If you are buying the car from a used car dealer, you can ask if they sell warranty. Warranty may not be an issue if you are buying the car from an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership. Their certified pre-owned (CPO) Mercedes-Benz cars are thoroughly inspected and come with warranty that you can also extend.

    • Gadgets

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 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 build-in phone system on the Mercedes-Benz was useless until they moved to Bluetooth.

    • Fuel Economy

This really depends if you live in United States or not. If you live in the States this is a concern for you because Mercedes-Benz cars sold in US were equipped with thirsty engines. Not only that, but they require that 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 US than you may not have to worry about this. Mercedes-Benz sells the gas guzzlers in US only, and sells some extremely fuel efficient engines around the world. If you live in Europe for example, you will find a E220 CDI or C200 CDI and other variations. These diesel cars get excellent gas mileage and can last easily pull over 300,000 thousand miles.

3Things you MUST DO before you buy a used Mercedes

1. Get a Pre-purchase Inspection

lift car shop inspection jack up car used mercedes inspectionWe recommend that you always perform a pre-sale inspection on any Mercedes-Benz that 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 too. Ask the auto repair shop that inspects your car to give you quotes on the items that need to be fixed. A honest seller should not have a problem with you taking the car in for an inspection. A seller that may be lying or is trying to hide some problems may tell you that they will not let you take the car in for an inspection.  With that said, don’t expect the car to be like 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 that will fix them for cheap.

Always select the shop where you take the car, don’t let the seller select the auto repair shop. If you are not familiar with the area take the car to an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer or find a good independent mechanic that specializes 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 that you should do is to perform a complete system scan on the Mercedes-Benz that you want to drive. See if you can get a hold of a scanner such as iCarsoft MB II or Launch Creader VIII. Ask the seller if you can plug this into the OBD II port to check the systems on the car. You can use the scanner to scan all of the control units on the car and see if there are any issues or malfunctions that you could not see otherwise. The iCarsoft will read all the fault codes from but the Launch Creader can read the main systems such as transmission, engine, ABS, airbag, ETS.


3. Run Vehicle History Report

buying used mercedes history reportDon’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 it had. It may also show maintenace records but not always. It will show flood, salvage, mileage history. Don’t buy a lemon. It will also tell 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.

VINAudit – $2.99 for single vehicle history report. Best Price
VINCarHistory -$9.99 for VIN history reports
VINAlert –  Vehicle and Motorcycle History Reports

A Vehicle History Report can tell you a lot about a car, including.

  • Title History (Clear, Salvage, Restored, Rebuilt, Flood)
  • Accidents
  • If the car was a lease or rental car
  • Maintenance History if it was reported by the facility
  • Frame Damage

Allways run a history report to find out major title problems. But keep in mind that issues can be missed by these services.

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 will be able to 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, Toyota, Chevrolet and many more.

You can do your own maintenance on your Mercedes-Benz. Don’t be intimidated by the plastic covers all 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. Changing the oil and oil filter for example, is easier than it is in most cars.

Which is the best used Mercedes-Benz to buy?

which is best mercedes benz model to buyWhen you buy a used Mercedes-Benz car you need to decide not only which model you like but also 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 7-speed automatic transmission. Some of these engines were much more reliable than others. For example, the M112 V6 3.2 liter engine (such as 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
  • Transmission 7-Speed Automatic
    • 722.9 – Reliable after 2008
    • Early models in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 are prone to problems

Our staff favorites: CLS55 AMG, E500, S500

Which used Mercedes-Benz models to avoid?

balance shaft mercedes v6 and v8 problemsAvoid 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, 2008 had some serious timing chain problems. Those engines are found on Mercedes-Benz models such as E350, R350, C350, SLK350, 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 that you are going to buy, you can follow the instructions on that article to check if the Mercedes-Benz you are interested is affected.

w211We don’t think there  are any Mercedes-Benz models that you should avoid but there are certain trims (engines) that you should definitely avoid. For example, if you are shopping for a used E-Class W211 chassis produced between 2003 to 2008, you should avoid the early E350 that had 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 that you are buying but also on the specific engine and transmission. There usually are at least two or three engine types offered for each model. Not all of them are created equal.

Avoid a used Mercedes-Benz that has been neglected and not been maintained regularly. Unless you are looking for a project car.

Is it expensive to own and maintain used Mercedes-Benz?

used benz for saleYou 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. There are a few parts that are expensive such as keys, engine control module or electronic ignition lock that will require dealer reprogramming if they do fail. The normal wear and tear parts can be purchased even on Amazon using Part Finder tool.

If you live in the United States, the only expensive part of owning a Mercedes-Benz is labor.

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 are very expensive, and they could be if all the repairs are done at the dealer.

Independent auto repair shops that specialize in European cars typically have lower labor rates than the dealer.

What tools do you need to maintain a used Mercedes-Benz?

used mercedes easy diyYou will be saving thousands of dollars if you learn how to perform diagnostic on your Mercedes-Benz yourself. It’s not very as difficult as it sounds. There are a few specialty tools that you should consider adding to your toolbox if you plan on owning a used Mercedes-Benz. You may want to take a look at this article that has a list of Must Have Specialty Tools for Mercedes-Benz DIY repair. Any of the tools we listed you will find for sale on Amazon or eBay.

Buying Used Mercedes-Benz from an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership

buying certified cpo mercedes at dealerThere are pros and cons on buying used Mercedes-Benz at a dealership. If you bought a used at the official Mercedes-Benz dealership you may pay more for the car than what 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 rigorous inspection and they come with unlimited mileage warranty for the first year and can be extended a couple more years. At the dealer you will find some very clean and trouble free certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz cars. You will be paying a premium for those cars, but you will have peace of mind. You can read more about Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned (CPO) program here. These cars go through some rigorous checks such as engine check, electrical system and function test, undercarriage, drivetrain, chassis, body, appearance and road tests.

Buying a Mercedes-Benz from a used car dealer.

Used car lot
Photo by: Eric Jones

The good thing about purchasing a Mercedes-Benz from used car dealer is that they will 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 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.

buying used mercedes from dealerWhen buying from a car dealer, be that an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer or not, 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 then lower the price drastically.

How to find an Independent Mercedes Repair Shop?

Owning a used Mercedes-Benz can be expensive but only if you are not prepared. Not all mechanics were born equal, so you need to find a repair facility or indy shop that not only work on a Mercedes-Benz but also knows these cars inside and out. Hopefully, one that has reasonable rates and doesn’t charge  $250 USD per hour.

Buying high-mileage Mercedes-Benz

high mileage mercedesHave you come across a used Mercedes-Benz with high mileage and are wondering if it is a good idea to buy it? In our opinion, the high mileage is not as important as how the car was maintained. A Mercedes-Benz could have 150,000 miles and be in much better condition than a Benz with 80,000. Therefore make sure to thoroughly inspect the car and get a pre-sale inspection by a qualified auto repair shop.

used mercedes buying alternative Japanese carNon-Mercedes-Benz owners may tell you to buy a used Japanese car because that will be a great reliable car for you and it will last forever. In our opinion, there could be nothing further from the truth. We see ten-year-old Mercedes-Benz cars that have clocked over a quarter million miles and still run great. Even the Japanese and Korean cars have their fair share of problems and mechanics know them very well. A used car, regardless of where it was made, can turn into a money pit machine if it wasn’t maintained. Just be wise with your purchase.

Conclusion

advice on buying a used mercedesWhether buying used Mercedes-Benz is a good idea or not that 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.

final tip on buying a used mercedesResearch the Mercedes-Benz model you are interested in buying. Find out what are some of the most common problems, issues, recalls, trouble spots for that engine and transmission. Be prepared to maintain a luxury vehicle that had an MSRP sticker price of 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 to have 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 take your cars into the auto repair shop be that a Mazda, Audi, BMW, Lexus; then you will do fine with the Mercedes-Benz.

When buying a used Mercedes-Benz maintenance history is key! There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes! Mercedes Medic
Buying a Used Mercedes-Benz
Take time and do your homework. Weight in the pros and cons of buying a used Mercedes-Benz. The decision may not depend only on money but also on what makes you feel good.

 

One comment

  1. Thank you very much. This article opened my eyes and cleared up clouds against Buying Used Mercedes.

    I did buy used E280 from used car dealer (Large) and end up giving up car to mechanic due to high repair cost. But now I know what to buy, Which Years are troublesome years and which Engine/Transmission to avoid. Thank you so much for DETAILED Article. May God Almighty Bless you and the Site Admin.

    God Bless America.

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