Hey fellow SLKers,
I have recently purchased a 2007 E350 Sport out of an independent dealer on the west coast. This will be my daily driver and replace my 06 Prius, and share the garage with my SLK.
Buying a car sight unseen from the other side of the country is very intimidating to be honest. For those of you who have done this before, do you remember how skeptical and how fearful of getting ripped off you possibly were? That's me x 100.
So as I wait for delivery here in FL, a 3,000 mile journey away, I thought I would share my experience so far...
I was looking for a 07-08 W211 in the E350 trim. The gas mileage is horrible compared to my Prius, but I knew that going into this. When I first got the Prius, I found myself energetic and feathering the gas everywhere I went with a big green smile on my face and singing to myself, "yay! I'm saving gas!" After a year of Priussing around town, it's great for fuel costs, but as you can imagine, it's quite simply put, downright and absolutely lifeless and BORING.
I wanted something to look forward to and pamper me a little everytime I got in to tackle my work commute. And since I don't drive my AMG but on Fridays or on weekends, I decided on an E-class. With the budget I had in mind, I was restricted to 06-08 models, so I couldn't get the W212 body style yet (maybe in a few more years down the road)
Since this was going to be a luxury item to me (I didn't HAVE to replace the Prius, I just thought it would be nice to) I wanted to make sure that if I spent the money for one, it had to have all the options that were important to me to make it worth the cost. No compromises.
1. I had to have Keyless Go. This is an absolute must. Sure its just a small convenience thing functionally speaking, but with Kia's and Hyundais having push button start right off the dealer lot these days, I didn't want my Benz to still have a key inserted in order to start the car. Unfortunately, this option is extremely hard to find on a pre-owned W211 for some reason, especially with the color combo that I was looking for.
2. White, with Ash Grey interior. IMHO it makes the car look larger inside with a light color scheme and I personally am an OCD clean freak and hobbyist detailer anyway, so it would complement my personality well I think
My AMG has an dark anthracite interior, so I wanted something different.
3. Under 60k miles, well maintained, clean history, no damages, clean everything, paint in excellent shape. That's what I was looking for. If I couldn't have this list of criteria met, I wasn't going to spend the money.
Two cars came up with this criteria on my searches: First one was about 2.5 hours away in Sarasota, FL. I was like, "Jackpot!" I fussed around with it in my mind for a few hours and then decided to call the dealer. "Sorry, this car has been sold recently, we didn't take it off the website yet. Is there something else I can interest you in?" Classic bait and switch.
So I started to look at the remaining one: It was in California. I'm in Florida. Hmmm... there goes the possibility of the Prius trade-in being cost effective (with shipping both ways). I called them anyway, and spoke to the sales guy. He promised me that they had the car on the lot, it was still available, and assured me that it has Keyless Go. After that first bait-and-switch, I was of course, skeptical. I made him prove it before we went any further in our talks. He gladly said, "OK, I'll call you back."
A few moments later, I received a picture on my phone with my name on a post-it note, stuck to the Nav screen in the car, clearly showing the Keyless Go shifter button. Ok, this dealer actually does have this car.
We agreed on a price and they FedEx'd me over the paperwork with all the legal stuff I was supposed to sign and initial, and an Airbill to send it back.
Having never bought a car like this before, I ordered a Carchex inspection to be done on the vehicle in the meantime. This service was very impressive to me - a nationwide network of independent pre-purchase car inspectors that are hired by you and you alone - to go out to the very car you are interested in buying, and do a complete visual inspection and road test. These inspections are probably more thorough than a typical customer would be seeing it in person. They go through a giant checklist of items and note their condition, any comments, etc. Then the report is sent to you and you only. The dealer (or current owner) does not get a copy of it. The inspectors are left alone to do their report, after all they are hired by you and you're paying for them to be there.
The inspector went out and did the inspection within 36 hours of me buying the service through their website. The report was emailed to me, complete with a lot of photos that the inspector took of my vehicle on the day of inspection, so that I know it's not a stock photo or an inaccurate representation of it. My girlfriend and I were at lunch when the report came in, and we totally ignored our meal and huddled around my phone scrolling through the photos. It sort of felt like adopting a pet from far away, and you're seeing it for the first time. Very exciting for her (and me I must admit).
Actual picture by inspector:
For $159, it was well worth the price, as a plane ticket round trip would have cost close to $900, not considering the mechanical knowledge of the inspector most likely is > mine.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the report came back pretty much perfect. Everything was rated "Excellent" except for two things that were only marked "Good".
1. Windshield wiper blades are a bit worn
2. Spare tire is missing
OK so if the inspector is going to be that precise as to the condition of the car to note that the wiper blades are a bit worn, I'm elated by this service.
Pictures he took that day are in the report:
As for the spare, I was told later by the dealer that the spare is not a full-size, and is actually underneath another layer of the trunk lining, which the inspector had mistaken as missing, probably due to the fact that the floor lining was shaped like a spare tire well with nothing in it.
Thats why he took a point off the "Trunk" and "Tires & Wheels" categories.
Inspector's picture of the trunk with the supposedly missing spare: Could have fooled me too.
He noted that the tires matched and were measured at 9/32. From what I read on TireRack.com, this is pretty close to new. I think they stated that new is 10/32.
So yeah, I need 2 new wiper blades. Everything else is excellent. I wired the money over.
Fast forward a few days and a weekend: It's a done deal and the dealer offered to use a transport company that they recommended, but after researching their reviews online, I saw way too many bad horror stories about damaged cars with that carrier to feel comfortable.
I suggested they use one that I picked, and they of course, agreed since I paid for the shipping. The company I chose was a broker called National Transport LLC. I had the dealer call them to set up the shipment on Tuesday afternoon around 2:00pm, and the car was loaded and taken away on a carrier by 6:30pm that same evening! I don't know if that's common or not, but that's pretty impressive in my book!
The car is currently on the car transport on its way here. Estimated delivery date range is Apr 27-29. As you can imagine, waiting for something you bought online sucks enough. Waiting for your new Mercedes to arrive at your doorstep? I can't even begin to tell you how agonizing it is.
My new E-Class' Journey to its new home:
I've been spending my days shopping for its arrival: New cabin air filter, for starters, always a good idea when buying a pre-owned vehicle. A pair of new engine air filters, a fitted sunshade (a must in Florida), some more car care products (like I need even more, haha) and some door ding guards to mount on my garage walls now that I will be parking 2 cars in there, gotta watch the door swing.
I also ordered through ForMyMercedes a set of headlight chrome rings and the 3-piece trunk lid spoiler, painted to match. They should get here right when the car does, hopefully.
Here are some pictures of the car in the dealer's lot:
As for the Prius, I'm going to give it to my girlfriend as her daily driver so she can get rid of her Chevy Cobalt, which still belongs to her Ex ...eeewwww. If anything, it will save her more on gas, and get rid of her payment all together.
It helps to organize all the things I went through in the past two weeks or so into a single post like this, for my own sanity. Hope this was informative to some of you, and thanks for reading.