How To Buy A Good Used Mercedes?
After fixing Mercedes Benz cars for years, we know what to look out for. Read our Mercedes buying guide here.
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How To Buy A Good Used Mercedes?

How To Buy A Good Used Mercedes?

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Things to Consider When Purchasing a Used Mercedes-Benz and 7 of the Most Reliable Used Mercedes-Benz Models

In the market for a nice car? Consider the advantages of buying a used Mercedes-Benz. Why drive a boring car when you can get an upscale, reliable Mercedes-Benz in the same price range (seriously) of a new Acura, Kia Optima, Chevy Malibu, or Ford Fusion?

Buying used means that you’ve let someone else take that huge depreciation hit of driving a new car off the lot. As with any luxury car, Mercedes prices take a big hit in the first 5 years. After that, the used Mercedes depreciates at nearly the same rates as a Honda, Toyota, Lexus, or Hyundai. That’s why buying a used Mercedes is a savvy decision. You save money and don’t have to worry about depreciation.

Three more reasons why buying a used Mercedes is a good choice

Quality Build & Extra Features

A used Mercedes-Benz, even if it is older, will most likely have a lot more features and options than other used cars. The interior quality of a Mercedes will be much better than that of a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. On a used Mercedes, you will most likely find walnut wood trim, illuminated buttons, leather, sunroof, power windows, and more. Other options such as cruise control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, adjustable steering wheel, and multiple airbags are likely to come standard on your Mercedes.

Looks

Older Mercedes-Benz cars still look sharp and get attention when they are five, ten, or more years old. No other car can make a statement about your success like a Mercedes can.

Ride and Comfort

Even older Mercedes cars can provide a comfortable, safe, and luxurious ride. Have you ever ridden in a Mercedes-Benz E-class or S-class with air suspension? It’s an experience you may never forget. A used Mercedes is still more comfortable, provides superb ride quality, and is more luxurious than a brand new Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai.

Four things to consider before purchasing a used Mercedes-Benz

Maintenance Costs

The maintenance cost on a used Mercedes 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, you should find a local repair shop that specializes in German cars. In this way, maintenance on a Mercedes does not have to be ridiculous.

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’re buying from a used car dealer, you can ask if they sell warranties. A warranty should not be an issue if you are buying the car from an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership. Their certified pre-owned (CPO) Mercedes-Benz are thoroughly inspected and come with a warranty.

Gadgets

While it’s nice that a used Mercedes has so many features and gadgets, that also can be 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, navigation on a 10-year-old Mercedes may be useless if maps aren’t updated. The GPS on your phone is light years ahead compared to old Mercedes-Benz navigation. The Motorola build-in phone system was worthless until they moved to Bluetooth.

Fuel Economy

This really depends if you live in the U.S. or not. If you live in the States, this is a concern because Mercedes-Benz cars sold in the U.S. were equipped with thirsty engines. Not only that, but they require that you use premium gasoline. Therefore, these cars will cost more to operate over 5 years than their Japanese counterparts. This is not a big problem if you live outside the U.S. as Mercedes sells some fuel efficient engines around the world, especially diesel cars like the E220 CDI or C200 CDI in Europe.

How To Buy Your Used Mercedes?

Buying a used Mercedes isn’t without its pitfalls. But you can avoid them by investing time and effort before you invest your hard-earned dollars.

Check Online Reviews and Ratings and Check Forums

Check online for recommendations. Read the forums to see what other drivers say about specific models. Ask questions in the forums.

A few good online resources from which to start are:

  • BWWorld.org – A huge forum full of Benz owners
  • BenzWorld.org – Another popular forum
  • Google – If you are interested in a specific year, make, or model, just Google it. For example, type the search term “2015 Mercedes C300 reviews” and you can get a lot of honest information.

Check the Specific Vehicle’s History

If you have your eyes on a certain vehicle, buy a history report. This is easily done if you find a potential vehicle online and you’re not in front of the salesperson yet. If it’s not listed in the ad, call them and get the VIN before you go and look at it. You can do a vehicle history search for under $10 using one of the online services available, like CarFax, VINAudit, or VINCarHistory.

If you’re buying from a reputable dealer, they should provide you with this report during the sales process. But it’s nice to know the details going in.

The report has lots of information including:

  • The history and number of owners
  • Maintenance history (in some cases)
  • Accident history
  • Flood and salvage history
  • Mileage history
  • If the vehicle was a lease or rental
  • Damage to the frame
  • If the car was a manufacturer buyback

Check that the VIN number on the car you’re considering matches the one on the title. Make sure the history is for the car you want to buy. The information that a Vehicle History provides is priceless for making an informed decision. It can stop you from investing in a lemon.

Do a System Scan

Another piece of important data comes from a complete system scan of the Mercedes you’re looking at. You want to check the fault codes that come up. Really, you should have a professional mechanic do this as part of a pre-purchase inspection.

These fault codes or Diagnostic Trouble Codes are system errors that tell your Mercedes mechanic what is malfunctioning. In newer models, these codes will trigger a dash light or error message, but this is not necessarily true with older models, especially if you’re looking at one with more than 100k. The scanning for codes will let you know whether or not there are any serious electrical problems that might cause a specific repair down the road.

The Essential Step: Get an Independent Pre-Purchase Inspection

Find one you really like? Before you make an offer, get a pre-sale inspection. This is the smartest way to ensure you get a solid, drivable car. It is the most effective way to avoid buying a used car with problems that will cost you time and money for years to come.

As the buyer, you need to choose the mechanic who does the inspection. This isn’t a job you leave to the seller. That means you pay for the inspection, not the seller. Consider this an investment in the car’s quality and durability. You’ll be paying thousands for your used Mercedes. The cost of a pre-purchase inspection is a very minor expense in comparison.

Find an independent mechanic experienced with European cars and more specifically the Mercedes line. Ask him to give you a list of problems that need fixing now or in the near future, with a quote for each item.

If the seller balks at letting you take the car for an inspection, you’ve got a problem. Pre-purchase inspections are standard. Any reputable dealer will expect it. If the seller resists an inspection, ask them why. In some cases, particularly if dealing with private sellers, they may be worried about the car being stolen or damaged and these are legitimate worries. Offer to let them accompany you to the shop and wait while it’s inspected. Or have them meet you there with the car. You can always tell them that you will share the report with them (so they get the benefit of the info, too).

When you get your mechanic’s summary, don’t be surprised to find a few problems listed. You aren’t buying a new car and not everything will be perfect. Expect some issues with the engine or exterior.

Popular Used Mercedes-Benz Models

Most Mercedes-Benz models are good but not all the engines are good. Certain engines in certain years were problems that should be avoided, but it takes some research to know which. For example, an M112V6 engine was very reliable but a M272 and M273 (2004-2008) had timing chain problems. Ask your mechanic about the years in which Mercedes engines exhibited problems.

Here are 7 used models that look great, run dependably, and are affordable:

2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

According to U.S. News and World Report, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-class is a worthwhile investment. It’s a four door that has room for five, and falls in the sport luxury class. It offers superior handling, highly responsive steering, quick acceleration, and scores high in safety rankings. The negatives include a cramped backseat and not much cargo room.

2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The 2009 Mercedes E-Class is a four door, mid-size, luxury sedan. It offers a lot of power. It received high safety scores. U.S. News gave it perfect scores for reliability and safety.

It has a plush interior and is roomy and comfortable even in the rear. Heated front seats and dual-zone climate control as well as adequate cargo space make this a winner.

2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS has outstanding stylish lines on the exterior that makes it stand out from other luxury sedans. It has heated front seats, climate control, and plenty of room for groceries and cargo. It rates high in reliability.

If you can find a used model with the Premium Package, you’ll get some extras like a 360 degree camera, a surround sound system with three speakers, electric sunroof, and electric seats with memory recall.

2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

When you think of Mercedes, there’s a good chance you think of the C-class. Even though the model is over 25 years old, it’s retained its classic look. The engineering is what we’ve come to expect from Daimler AG. The C-class doesn’t have all the top-of-the-line gadgets of its fancier family members, but it’s priced well, comfortably fits four passengers, and is dependable.

Dealer Alternatives

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

JD Power recommends the 2015 GLK-Class Mercedes for dependability. Called “classy and competent” by Kelly Blue Book, this line of compact SUVs has a streamlined look. It will hold 5 passengers in comfort. The GLK250 BlueTec diesel is highly recommended.

It has superior handling and suspension, and all-wheel drive makes it stable even in snowy conditions. The 3.5 liter V-6 engine provides 302 hp with good acceleration and power.
However, with 5 passengers it can turn into a cramped situation and the cargo area is small.

If you can find a used model with the Premium Package it includes a power liftgate which makes getting things in and out of the SUV much easier.

2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

This 2012 E-class tops the U.S. News and World Report “Most Reliable Used Cars Under $20,000” list for a luxury midsize sedan. One look and it’s easy to see why. The standard V8 is nothing to scoff at and the twin-turbo-charged V8 has some major kick. But the most telling of all is that U.S. News gave it a perfect 10 in safety rating.

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

This convertible has a retractable hardtop giving you and your passenger the best of both worlds: both a convertible and a hardtop coupe. The top is easy to put up and down by clicking a button. JD Power recommended this model for its dependability.

Like many convertibles it has less room than a sedan, especially on the passenger side. Low to the ground and streamlined, the SLK gets second looks from passersby. The trunk is small but serviceable. Wide range of standard equipment, including traction control, stability and slip control, fog lights, and 17 inch alloy wheels. The SLK 300 has a 3.0 liter V6 with 228 hp which gets reviews for power and handling. For more power, look for an SLK with a 3.5 liter V6 with 300hp.

One More Thing

If you find a used Mercedes-Benz that piques your interest and you want to schedule a pre-purchase inspection, you might quickly realize that certain car mechanics in your neighborhood don’t want to get involved because they are not familiar with a Mercedes-Benz. Don’t let that scare you from buying a used Mercedes-Benz, though. There are many skilled, knowledgeable mechanics that specialize in European cars and know Mercedes-Benz vehicles inside and out. Be prepared, though, 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.

Autobahn Automotive Services has a team of well trained Mercedes-Benz technicians who are ready to assess your vehicle’s situation. Our staff understands what the German luxury brands are all about and the prestige our customers feel while driving one. If you are interested in purchasing a used Mercedes-Benz we are happy to provide the pre-purchase inspection that we talked about. Even with the reliability of German engineering behind the Mercedes-Benz brand, there will come a time when your Mercedes, old or new, will need to be serviced for regular maintenance or some other service problem.

Autobahn Automotive Service prides itself on offering affordable and efficient repairs at top notch quality. We’re waiting to service all your Mercedes-Benz needs so give us a call or stop by our service center.

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