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. For the price of a new Accura, Kia Optima, Chevy Malibu, or Ford Fusion (yawn), you can get a low mileage certified Mercedes-Benz.
Buying used means that you’ve let someone else take that huge depreciation hit of driving a new car off the lot. So comparing the above examples, your brand new car’s value would already drop below that of the certified used Benz as soon as you drive it off the lot.
If you went with the Mercedes, you’ve got minimal depreciation and you have fine German engineering in a quality car.
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.
Here’s an overview of the advantages of getting a pre-owned Mercedes, as well as potential problems. It outlines the 3 steps to take to make sure you get a gem, not a lemon. Plus there are 8 suggestions for Mercedes models that have a track record for performance and reliability.
The Benefits of Buying A USED Mercedes
You may have niggling doubts about the wisdom of buying an older used Mercedes, whether it’s 1 year old, 5 years, 10 or even 15 years. So why do buyers seek out used Mercedes so regularly?
The Mercedes Benz motto, “The best or nothing,” illustrates the appeal of this car. Though not trouble-free, the models it produces have a reputation for longevity, classic looks, sophisticated styling, cutting edge technology, and great performance. A new model is out of the price range for most drivers.
But when you buy an older Mercedes, you avoid new-car sticker shock. As a luxury car with integrated safety features, it depreciates less rapidly than an economy car. You get the benefits of a high-end car without paying the big bucks up front.
Look at the benefits of buying a used Mercedes:
- A record of quality craftsmanship
- Advanced features not found in most used cars
- Lower price due to higher depreciation
- Comfortable ride
- Luxurious look and feel
- Reputation for safety
Are there drawbacks to owning a used Mercedes?
No question, a used Mercedes doesn’t guarantee you a perfect ride for years and years. When you buy any used car, you are taking a chance.
In addition, Mercedes models are luxury cars and can have higher maintenance and repair costs. With all its advanced features and technology, there are more things can go wrong. If you buy from an individual, you won’t have a warranty. Mercedes models sold in the U.S. use premium grade gasoline, so your fuel costs might be a tad higher than a Kia.
Is it still worth investing in a used Mercedes? Many satisfied owners certainly think so.
How to Buy Your Used Mercedes
The worst thing you can do is buy the first model you’re offered because it’s dirt cheap. If you want a car you are sure is in good shape and give you years of happy driving, you need to do your research.
Do your due diligence, and follow these 4 steps:
- Check online reviews, ratings, and check forums.
- Check the specific vehicle’s history.
- Do a system scan of the vehicle (request this be done with your pre-purchase inspection).
- Most importantly, get it inspected before you buy, using an experienced Mercedes mechanic.
1. Check Online Reviews, 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 may be:
- MBWorld.org – A huge forum full of Benz owners.
- BenzWorld.org – Another popular forum.
- Google – If you are eyeballing a specific year, make, or model, Google it. For example, I Googled the 2015 C300 (shown above). I typed the search term “2015 mercedes c300 reviews” and got a LOT of information.
2. Check the Specific Vehicle’s History
If you have your eyes on a certain vehicle, buy a car 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 already know the details going in.
The report is a fund of helpful information, including:
- Title 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 that 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.
3. Do a System Scan
Another important piece of 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 the pre-vehicle inspection.
If you’re a DIY’er and want to do it yourself you might be able to if the seller will allow it. You will access to a scanner. Two good brands are iCarsoft MB II and Launch Creader VIII. With the seller’s permission, plug the scanner into the OBD II port. The scanner will check the car’s systems and control units. It will tell you if there are faults, malfunctions or other issues.
4. 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 make 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 of dollars 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 the cost of each item.
If the seller balks at letting you take the car in for an inspection, you’ve got a problem. Are they hiding something? 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 this 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 the exterior.
Popular Used Mercedes Benz Models
Most Mercedes Benz models are good but not all of the engines are good. Certain engines in certain years were problems and should be avoided. It will take a little more research to know which. M112 V6 engine was very reliable but a M272 and M273 had timing chain problems and was used from 2004 to 2008.
Here are 8 used models that look great, run dependably and are affordable.
2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
According to U.S. News, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-class is an excellent investment. It’s a four-door that has room for five, and falls in the sport-luxury class.
It offers superior handling. The steering is highly responsive and the car accelerates quickly. It scores high in safety rankings.
This model gets high marks for its luxurious passenger and driver area. However, it gets low marks for the backseat arrangement, which is cramped. And if you need plenty of cargo room, this isn’t the car for you.
2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a four-door, mid-size luxury sedan. It offers lots of power, a big selling point for drivers focusing on performance. The model received high safety scores. U.S. News gave it perfect scores for both reliability and safety.
It has a sophisticated interior, roomy and comfortable even in the rear. For example, it has heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. It has adequate cargo space.
JD Power recommends the 2015 GLK-Class Mercedes for dependability. Called “classy and competent” by Kelley Blue Book, this line of compact SUVs has a streamlined look. It will hold 5 passengers in comfort. Especially recommended is the GLK250 BlueTEC diesel.
The SUV has a chiseled, upright look that provides excellent visibility. Drivers love this unimpaired view of the road. The interior design is luxurious but subdued.
The GLK has superior handling and suspension. The all-wheel-drive makes it stable even in snowy conditions. It can turn in cramped settings, great for U-turns and situations calling for nimble cornering.
The 3.5-liter V-6 engine provides 302 hp, with good acceleration and plenty of power. It provides a comfortable ride, but does let in highway noise.
The cargo area is small, especially when the rear seats are up. If you can find a used model with the Premium Package, it includes a power lift-gate, which makes getting things in and out of the SUV much easier.
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, just by clicking a button. This model is also recommended by JD Power for dependability.
Like many convertibles, it has less legroom than a sedan. This is especially noticeable on the passenger side. But it makes up for space with luxury amenities like the heating system for the seats. You even get a gentle stream of warm air on the back of your shoulders and neck. Great when the top is down!
Low to the ground and streamlined, the SLK gets second looks from passersby. The pros rave about its exterior bodylines, saying they look like they’re “carved from a single block of steel.” The trunk is small but serviceable.
The vehicle comes with a wide range of standard equipment, including traction control, stability and slip control, fog lights, leather seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. The SLK300 has a 3.0-liter V6 with 228-hp, which gets good reviews for power and handling. For more power, look for the SLK350 with a 3.5-liter V6 with 300 hp.
The 2010 C-Class sedan has plenty of room for family. Even new, it is considered one of the most affordable Mercedes Benz models. Still a luxury car, it doesn’t carry all the gadgetry of some of the more advanced models, but that can be an advantage in a used car. There’s less to worry about. This is another model recommended by JD Power for dependability.
The sedan has a comfortable, classy interior, with a panoramic glass sunroof that shares the sunlight with both front and rear passengers. The sound system has 12 speakers and advanced technology. The driver and front passenger seats are wide and comfortable.
The exterior is sporty, with a long wheelbase. The C-Class has several safety features standard, like traction and stability control, and adaptive braking. It has 8 airbags and active front head restraints.
The car has Agility Control, which adapts the shocks to road conditions. The car has plenty of power and acceleration.
CLS Class from 2010 on
The CLS has elegant lines that set this sedan apart. The interior is fully equipped and comfortable, with climate control and heated front seats.
If you can find a used model with the Premium Plus package, you’ll get some great extras, like 360-degree camera, a surround-sound system with 13 speakers, electric sunroom, and electric seats with memory recall.
The car handles well and gives a stable ride on standard suspension. You feel rough roads, but it is very comfortable on the highway.
The only common complaint is from those who sit in the rear, where the head room is slightly cramped. The leg room, however, is fine. It has adequate cargo space in the trunk.
E-Class from 2010 to 2016: E220 Estate
Do you need space as well as elegance? The E-Class Estate station wagon has plenty of cargo room, a comfortable drive, great performance and sophisticated styling.
It does vibrate a bit on rough roads, but if you can find a used model with the optional air suspension, you’ll travel in high-end comfort. It is quiet even at high speeds.
The interior is elegant and the design ensures comfort for the passengers and driver. In the rear, you have plenty of space even when the seats are up. When they’re down, you have big space for your cargo.
The experts recommend the E-Class 220 D, which has plenty of power, or the E 350 D, with a more refined engine.
SL Class: SL55 AMG and the SL500, years 2002 to 2012
Looking for a convertible? All the SL class is an elegant and stylish two-seater coupe. The SL Class comes in several variations, starting with a 3.7 V6 engine and the SL500 with a V6, on up to the SL55 AMG with a 5.4 V8.
Experts are especially fond of the SL55 AMG. It has It is known for its comfortable ride, even on rough roads. It comes with supercharged V8, giving it amazing performance.
The pros also recommend the SL500, which offers slightly slower speeds. But it also has a slightly smoother ride. It has a responsive V6 engine and good diesel fuel economy.
Drivers give it high marks for visibility and how well it handles in tight spaces.
It gets less than rave reviews when it comes to wind noise on the highway and tight quarters in the back seat.
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