To SLK, or Not to SLK, that is the question... - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

General Discussion Topics must pertain to all 3 generations of SLK - R170, R171 and R172

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#1 Old 04-25-2014
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To SLK, or Not to SLK, that is the question...

This post may be a bit longer than some others around these parts, so please bear with me. I appreciate anyone's time that is taken to respond or even read it.

So, i've been reading these forums for many, many months and researching my next car purchase for well over a year now and it's finally time to start a thread and hopefully receive some fair and reasonably unbiased input about purchasing one of these fine vehicles from you fine folks. I should probably detail at least a little bit about myself which might help you gauge whether or not this is the right decision for me, though I know that in the end that i'm the one who has to make it. I have questions which probably only owners and people not selling these things can answer.

For starters, I like long walks on the beach, sunsets, holding hands, and...

I want a roadster. I start there and am working backwards from that, which eliminates a bunch of cars on the road. I adore convertibles; while other cars might catch my eye, the ones that I want inevitably are droptops. My budget is not to spend more than 75k or so when it's all said and done, so the only real contenders that I know of are the SLK, Vette, Z4, and Boxter. I don't like the new TT enough to buy it, and don't want something overly plastic and value build quality which knocks a lot of other possible convertibles out. I do want to buy new, and am not interested in used unless it were like a super gently used 2014 or maybe 2013 and those are few and far between.

The reasons that I would buy an SLK are numerous: the styling is very well done, first and foremost. It drives very well (at <100 miles at least), and the interior is ridiculous. The fit and finishes seem very well done, which is to be expected in a Mercedes. I like the idea of a hardtop convertible a lot, as I live in the midwest US and it does get cold for a few months and cool for a few months and we get all 4 seasons evenly here. The magic sky feature is awesome, too. My current car is a soft top convertible and i've never had an issue with that really, but I would imagine that a hard top is even better. The SLK 55 AMG is the only one in the SLK line that I think that i'd get. 5.5L V8 with 400+ horses? Yeah. I'm not a track guy or even a fast driver really, but would love to have a car with the sound and fury and experience that this would give. It'd be a lot of fun on the back roads, for sure.

The concerns that I have are just a few really. I am a worrier by nature, try as I might not to be. I'm a planner and a thinker and like to try to come to the best decision that I possibly can given the information that I have and check emotion at the door when making purchases. That's a little tougher, as the best overall value might be a Kia in reality. I am not buying a Kia.

I'll try to break this up into sections to make it more digestible. Thanks again for still being here if you haven't given up on this thread yet. These are the things that i've thought about, but i'd like to hear some feedback about any or even all of the items here if anyone is kind enough to take the time to do so, and also, maybe even more importantly, give me some things to think about that I might not have even considered yet before pulling the trigger.

First up, of course, is money. ~75k is a lot of money to a fella like me and is going to blow a big hole into the ole savings account. I am single, though, and with a face like this probably will be for the long haul so at least there's not much of a chance that i'll have to sell the car to recoup the cost anytime soon due to a wife or kids. I know that these are better than most cars, but it's still a good chunk of money and it's hard to find data on what the ownership cost of these things is really like, which is where all of you wonderful people hopefully come in. I have searched and read pretty much every thread on here about problems and maintenance stuff and it hasn't scared me off yet, but it's still that big nagging question. I've had 2 cars in about 18 years and no major issues with either, so it's always a risk to switch to a different one when I know what i've got and that it works and wasn't a lemon. I've never owned a Mercedes. Parts and labor for this car will be significantly more than the car I have now, so it's even higher stakes. If I budget $500 a year for things not related to gas and tires, is that sufficient? The oil change every year will be more than I pay now but I can't even imagine how much along with the rest of the recommended maintenance. How much should I expect for the major, minor, and anything else (60l, 75k, 100k major stuff). I am the kind of person who does do it though and tries to make things last. How much will this car be in the shop? An almost impossible question to answer, I know, as the phrase "your mileage may vary" can be taken literally in this case, but do people who do the maintenance have a lot of little nagging things? How much does the dealership want to help take care of things? Do a lot of them just bleed you dry, even in the first however many years or do they want to keep you happy and buying their brand from them for life? And no, I really can't do much myself except wash and vaccuum it, and change the air filter. I live in the 'burbs, have no lift, and am not mechanically inclined, so I leave it to the people who know what they're doing. I probably won't have the budget to pre-pay maintenance or additional warranty. Is it a bad choice not buying that?

Other cost things that i've considered but would love additions to if I haven't thought about them: I already use premium gas, so that's no change and the mileage will actually be a little better in this car, so that's good. Insurance will go up, as will property tax (signficantly), which sucks, but part of being in the nice car club. I know that i'll need a set of rears probably once a year and a set of fronts once every two years (i'm a 6-8k miles a year guy). I have come to accept that, too. What else changes that might be a negative/more costly part of my life due to this?

Second-to-lastly, I have no idea how this car really handles in the snow. Not like Minnesota kind of snow where it's measured in feet, but the 1-3 and 4-6 inch kind of storms we get here on occasion. I don't usually go out in it, but might have to at some point. What about ice and just generally slickness and sleet? I have never owned a rear wheel drive, nor one with this much power, so it'll be an adjustment to be certain. I do not think that a convertible in a climate like this is a bad idea as some people might. A sports car might be, though, unless I keep a "beater" to get through the 3 winter months. How needed is that? Do I really _NEED_ a set of snow tires? Can I get by without since I don't live in a place that gets a ton of snow, and when we do get snow it's usually a few inches a few times a year?

And finally lastly, I also worry about any damage to the exterior, but have even in my car now which isn't even expensive but has been a great car for a long time. Do people act more aggressively toward you because you _DO_ have a nice, shiny car? Hopefully I won't ever come back to someone vandalizing it like the one person on here who had their roof and possibly other parts seriously damaged and felt terribly for them. I have kept my cars almost entirely ding free and try to always park a little away from people, in end spaces, whatever I can not to have other people who are careless damage it. That certainly won't change and may get ramped up even more (if that's even possible) with this one. Would you leave it parked on the street in a not super major kind of town, but reasonably big (Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Columbus), if, say, you were going to a baseball game for 3 hours, or dinner for an hour or two? Or never, ever, that's a terrible idea? I do park on the street now and never had a problem, but with the three pointed star I didn't know if I needed to change that, too. It could just be a gigantic bullseye to have a bright red SLK AMG.

I know that everyone's experiences will vary but i'd love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. And yes, I realize that this is the "enthusiast's" forum for this car so most people are going to give the positive, but hopefully I can solocit some honest feedback about the not-so-good things, too as well as things that I might not have considered or thought about (possibly lots of things that I haven't thought about, as i'm really not that bright).

I love you guys for taking the time to read and respond to my ramblings. It really is appreciated. Most of the people on here really do seem pretty awesome.

And for no good reason, here are some dancing bananas.

:r b
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#2 Old 04-25-2014
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Wow, thanks for the novel !

I may come back and add a few thoughts from time to time. Right now I don't have time to respond to everything that I don't remember, but from what I do remember here are a few of my tidbits.

Like you, I only put about 5k per year on the car. I just bought mine out of the lease and for those first three years I bought the maintenance package. Plus, I only have a 300 vs. a 55 so the maintenance expenses might be less. Having said that, at 5k miles per year it was probably a waste of money to buy the maintenance package because frankly those first three years the service was really just an annual oil change. I just took the car in for it's first "B" service which was more than I though it would be at around $600.00 but what the heck, it gives me at least that much joy and then some!

I have had NOTHING go wrong with the car (the clock now is at 18,000 miles) since the day I drove it off the lot with the exception of the ambient outside temperature sensor becoming dislodged. My 2010 was at the very end of this car's generation and by then everything has been worked out. In short, my car has been sound and solid.

She is NOT a daily driver for me, rarely even sees a drop of rain! When she is not being driven she is always garaged and looks it. You can raise the bonnet and the engine is squeaky clean so I can't answer your questions about parking on the street because frankly I would never dream of it unless we are taking the car on a vacation in which I will park her where I have to. I for one, am obsessed and anal about the car. When we go to a restaurant I try to sit by a window to keep an eye on her.....plus.......I just like to look at her as well :-)! My face aint much to brag about either but I lucked out and was able to attract a wife who thankfully understands this passion (although doesn't really enjoy it all the time).

From what I have heard, the SLK is NOT a great snowmobile. I would most likely pick up a beater for those few months of the year when the weather is foul. Besides, there may be times when you need to haul a little more than a 2 seat roadster allows so it's always nice to have a second option for that as well.

Your budget of 70K is a good one. I love my SLK. Having said that if I were in the market to buy today I might hold off and check out the new Alpha 4C expected out soon, just because I think it's sexy (which helps in the "face" department).

Do prepare yourself for rear tires at least every 10,000 miles if not sooner. Have a clear bra put on the car to protect it from dings and such. It will set you back another $1500.00 but you will sleep well at night and enjoy the car more knowing that you won't wake up to little rock chips that will drive you crazy.

That's all I have time for this morning but I may be back to add a little more later.
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#3 Old 04-25-2014
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Thanks Stinger! And everyone who has PMed me about it so far, too!

To clarify: I didn't mean I park on the street full time, I just mean if I go to a sporting event or something I might. It's garage kept at home. I do not go to an office daily, so it'd be probably only be out 2-3 times a week really anyway for a commute unless I somehow manage to get a social life and go out more. I guess the concern was more when i'm in a place that I don't know, how much concern to have but I know that there's a great deal of chance involved in that as well. And on the highway, too.

Also, one thing that I forgot to ask about are brakes. I think that I read on here that that's a serious cost of owning this car, too. Is the $500 a year for non-gas and non-tire related cost enough to factor in do you think to cover those, too? I'm a pretty average driver, not a race car type who stops or starts hard, but not a grandma driver, either. I occasionally do like to have some gusto on the launch.

Oh and it was asked whether i've driven the 55 and the answer is no, I haven't, since the dealerships here do not have them. Other AMGs they do, and I could give them a shot, but i've been in just a 250. The dealership nearby might be getting a 350 though which I could try, and then just imagine that the 55 is mo betta. A little louder and a little faster. I can't imagine that i'll dislike it compared to the 350 or even 250. It is a blind purchase though in that regard.

Thanks again! Look forward to hearing from people!
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#4 Old 04-25-2014
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Hi

I'm the other guy in Cinci...

I have had 4 911's, 3 of them very nice $75k+ cars and never had a problem parking anywhere. In my part of town (eastside, Loveland) I park with the top down and never had an issue. In downtown I park in the garages like Fountain Sq, ballpark, never had an issue.

For snow: I can't speak to the SLK. But rear drive low CG cars are not good in snow unless you put real snow wheels on them. I drove my 911 C4 (all wheel drive) in the snow exactly once with the normal performance tires, never again, I went sideways down the road with no control. Fortunately at 20 mph on an empty road. So now I have a front drive Mazda3 with real snow tires. I cannot overstate how fantastic real snow tires are. It may be that an SLK with snow tires would be OK, I would doubt it with such low ground clearance and rear drive, but I will let others comment.

Hope that helps.

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#5 Old 04-25-2014
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Wow, long story!
First of the bat: you state your choice for an SLK is not firm yet, so other options are still open. An SL or even a Jaguar may also be in your 70-75K range. The SLK is no doubt a fine car but it remains a 4 wheel Goldwing when it comes to storage.
For me the SLK is also my only car but I do most of my business travelling by bike or train leaving the car out on the street in front of my house in a small town (parking fees are killing in big cities in NL). I regulary need something bigger than the SLK to haul stuff from garden centers or building material markets. I hire.

I do drive it in the snow sometimes. My first ride in NL was actually in a couple of inches of snow without winter tires. I thought I'd never get there and the yellow traction light almost burned out. Winter tires was the second thing I bought for my car (the NTG2.5 to guide me where to go, being the first).

Maintenance costs so far is 12K EUR in 4.5 years including about 3K on tires, all done by an official MB dealer. That's for a 350 V6, I guess that a V8 will be more expensive. Your 500 USD per year looks pretty thin. OTOH mine is much older, that may influence the costs. Being stateside may also be cheaper. A regular MB technician charges 100 EUR per hour .... Steep, indeed. Of course that includes all of the dealership costs, but you still have to pay this amount over here.

Disgruntled people can be anywhere. I'm not overly protective of my car. No clear bra: ergo chips on the nose. I have no problem driving through a car wash, I never wash my car by hand and never polish anything. It's a car, it has to drive so the mechanics are tip-top and a ding or scratch... it happens, it's 9 years old with over 150K (km's). If you feel uptight about a scratch make sure you can park in a (private) garage or so or buy an older second hand, than a scratch is less cumbersome. Life is too short to worry about a car.

Cheers.
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#6 Old 04-25-2014
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If you are worried about depreciation, forget about it, AMG cars are the worst but sounds you are you keeping it for the long term so that should not be an issue.

Maintenance isn't so bad, varies from dealers to dealers but if you plan to drive 6-8k miles a year, you are looking at service based on time, which is yearly oil/filter change, brake flush every other year. Mercedes service is half of the Porsche. $500 a year is sufficient. You are going to buy brand new so everything that isn't wear and tear will be covered so I would not worry about that. If you still have major issues (very rare) after warranty, you will get less than half of what you paid for. Do realize that it's a depreciating asset. There is no price in enjoyment and happiness. I grin from ear to ear every time I step into the garage, that to me is priceless.

I've heard it handles extremely well in the snow, my friend drove my SLK from Colorado to San Francisco and through blizzard like conditions in Utah and he said, it was surprisingly stable. The rear did slip a couple of time but the stability control did a great job of keeping him on the road. I would not think it'll be a problem with snow tires.

Damage to the exterior depends on locations. There will always be ones that are jealous enough to damage your car. I had my BMW M3 keyed and it was not a good feeling but that is what insurance is for. I wouldn't park my SLK in a neighbor that I know is bad for a long extended period. But have no problem parking it on the street in downtown or for a ball game. For the most part, Denver is very safe, there isn't many places I wouldn't park my SLK. Just use common sense.

You'll love the SLK, it's a great looking car. I have not experience any bad aggressive behavior. But I have experience aggressive behavior from females wanting to seat in the passenger seat. You'll get the occasion mustang's trying to race you at traffic lights. I usually just ignore them.
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#7 Old 04-25-2014
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I usually have at least two cars - a car for work, and a 'fun/Sunday/holiday(etc ) car.

Usually the work car tends to be fairly cheap, and I buy second-hand as I do about 20-30K miles per year in it, the fun car I tend to buy new, and I'll change every 2-3 years.

My previous 'fun' car was bought in 2003, an R170 SLK230. I kept it for less than 2 years and picked the current sheepsmobile up from the factory in Germany in November 2004.

In November, I will have owned it for ten years I've never owned a car for that long in my life. In that time, and fourteen thousand miles (it sounds a lot if you spell it out ) it has never let me down, not cost a penny except for routine running costs (which have been minimal ), and I still have as much fun with it now as when I first bought it.

Like Stephano's car, it very rarely goes out in the rain, or stays outside at night except for a couple of times per year when we drive down to France for a few weeks, then it will have to suffer what we do.

Common sense does not come into ownership of a vehicle like this. If one was being sensible, then, as you said, one would buy a Kia - which, incidentaly, are mighty fine cars.

From what you have said, it sounds like you have virtually made your mind up, but, as is typical of human nature, you want others to validate your decision. I won't do that, the choice is entirely yours. You might end up buying a dog (not a Dawg!!), you might not look after your car, and it might end up being a money pit, no-one can tell. I bought mine because I wanted to. I didn't buy it to make money. That does not happen with 'mass produced' cars. I didn't want an AMG, as I enjoy driving, so didn't want an auto transmission. I'm pleased my initial decision proved to be correct, and at the moment, I can't see any reason to sell it. I'm sure you will end up ordering and buying one. The sooner you do, perhaps the better for you. Life's tooo short to over-analyse every decision.

So there

(notice a serious lack of bananas!! ).



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#8 Old 04-25-2014
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My background: Always had a "sports car ie 2 seats and drop top.
MG Midgets, MGB GT (hardtop), Austin Healey Sprites, Jaguar XKE., Fiat Spyder 124, Alfa Romeo, Austin Healey 3000, Chevrolet Corvette, SLK350.
I tend to own my vehicles for a long time.

During the time I have had these cars I have also kept an inexpensive car as a winter driver. Rear wheel overpowered cars are not great in the snow and I learned I can buy a second car for the price of winter tires/damage/tow fees. My last few winter cars have been Corollas and Accords.

I have also had the loan of a BMW Z4 and a 328si for a year each. My purchase of the SLK was the result or retiring my aging Corvette. I researched: Miata, Z4, TT, Corvette, SLK, 911, Jaguar. I also ruled out the TT quite early. My 1st choice was a new Corvette as the car is exceptional for the price and parts and repairs are fairly inexpensive. My problem was that I had owned one for 20 years and although the new one was greatly improved, it was just not different enough to pique my interest. I tested it at least 5 times but I could not get over the feeling that it was not a new to me car just an upgrade.

My second choice was a Z4 but felt cramped inside the cockpit and it felt like "tunnel vision" ie too many blind spots for me (my Corvette had Targa top and full glass rear window so 360 view).

My 3rd choice was SLK and honestly I was disappointed with the automatic. I had always had manual shift and the automatic did not feel like a sports car. I waited and found a manual transmission car.

It would be a help if you would post what cars you have had.

1. I DIY because it is more convenient for me as I hate the car being in the shop for a day or 2 for minor maintenance. Whether DIY or not there is a cost factor to ownership of these cars that I found a bit surprising: My Accord maintenance is very simple and inexpensive. My Corvette was about twice the cost and my Z4/SLK have been about 4 times the cost. Your estimate of $500 is low. In the first years this would be high but I think over a 10 year period you would average $1000 per year. The big cost items are brake/rotors and I have still not figured out why these wear so much with gentle use. Next is oil changes. With 8Q synthetic oil and an expensive filter, MB want me to replace it twice as frequently as my 4Q oil cheap filter Accord. DIY oil change Accord $25; SLK $100

2. I would not drive this car in the snow. I put snow tires on a 2003 Accord and drive that. I don't worry about salt, nicks, chips, sand, and other bad drivers with that car. II do know my Corvette was terrible in the snow.

3. I have been fortunate to not have any vandalism done to my luxury car(s) but if I know I am going to a rowdy event or street party, I take the Accord and it has been keyed, shopping cart scratched and bumped into. Adds character. A rattle can covers. We also leave a MB S430 everywhere and no damage. If I had a scratch on my SLK I would cry.

4. Now for the blasphemy: I am older than when I bought the Corvette and don't necessarily like that image anymore but if I had not owned one for the 20 years I think I would have chosen that car as it is a great performing car, has 2 seats, is less expensive to maintain. Yesterday I spotted an SLS AMG and thought it was a Corvette so "similar" in styling/performance at less than 1/3 the price (but no gull wing doors).


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Last edited by gdb069; 04-25-2014 at 07:47 PM. Reason: Rmoved the animated bananas as they were driving me bananas
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#9 Old 04-25-2014
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If I were that undecided and particular (absolutely nothing wrong with that) I would secure a 24 or 36 month lease on a roadster if I were you. It's less permanent and you could more easily move into something else if the SLK isn't to your liking. If you love the SLK then you could purchase it at the end of your lease.
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#10 Old 04-25-2014
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As Woolly touched on so I must comment, this is the FIRST car that I have driven longer than 3 years. I have always had a sports car of some sort, 2 Porsches (both 911 varieties), BMW 320i, 3 Corvettes, Datsun 280z (going way back), Triumph TR6 (going back even further), Ford Thunderbird (going back even further yet) and 3 Mustangs (all in the 1960's including 1 Pony Edition and 1 Fast Back). Many of those cars I wish I had hung onto today, but sadly I have to admit that I tire of them quickly and about 3 years is the maximum I hang on to them.

But the SLK has been different.......I just never seem to tire of it. I love the looks, the performance is more than adequate albeit not a Porsche, and like Lew said above.........I negotiated a very good lease with a great residual. At the end of the lease with barely over 12,000 miles, I bought the car for under $28k, a far cry from what a new comparable car would cost today, so I bought her. Leasing can be a very good way to go if you are inclined to do that.
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#11 Old 04-25-2014
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FWIW, I had a convertible roof slit open once. It wasn't clear whether that was vandalism or an attempt to break in, but in any case it was with a Ford Escort. So really not an expensive car.

My current 3-series convertible suffers door dings but I believe that is just a thing with Massachusetts SUV drivers. They know if they don't have money they get away with damaging other people's things so why not? Over in your neck of the wood the concealed carry permit probably helps

I am not sure that a hardtop is a big advantage in the winter. I think it's mainly a highway high speed advantage.
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I think you said "cost" too often in your first post to be going AMG, at least if you want it longer than warranty.

Are you sure that you need the power of the V8 in this little car?

If you do it for the sound, now that I understand.
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Well, I finally made a decision on a car this week. After trying and trying to get a deal done with a dealership first on a 2014 and then when that couldn't be had a 2015, I've decided to take my talents to...

The 2014 Stingray Z51 convertible.

It was a tough call, and I spent many a night trying to decide what to do. I haven't even heard from the dealership who put my name "in the bank" for a 2015 SLK 55 AMG and other dealerships just weren't engaging me. I wasn't trying for the sale of the century, but was trying to get a firm price before ordering and it simply wasn't happening. I had a very hard time finding a dealership to honor the supplier price (fleet discount code through my company) but did finally find one and I'm now queued for production and should have the car in about 6 weeks if all goes as planned if not sooner.

The price ended up being about the same as the AMG so the money want a factor. I really loved both cars and felt like I couldn't make a wrong choice here, just a better or best one. I'm not sure that I made the right call, only time will tell, because I know how great Mercedes are. I do believe that you get what you pay for with these cars.

I want to give a sincere thank you to all the people on here who replied and who have messaged me. You guys really are terrific! If anyone wants to see it when I get it I'll post some pics.

I'll still be around though, even if I'm not officially part of the club. Maybe I can be a black sheep at a get together if one happens near me sometime. Thanks again everyone!
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