Buying an older Benz for a family member? - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 05-01-2012
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Buying an older Benz for a family member?

I've always heard that mercedes are horrible cars, unreliable, tough to work on, and incredibly expensive.

My experience has been completely different. From building race cars to owning over 30 cars myself, my mercedes is by far the easiest to work on, and not that expensive to work on cars I've ever owned.

Because of that I'm tempted to consider an older used benz (00-05) for a family member.

Has anyone owned anything besides SLKs? Are the other cars as reliable and easy to work on as the SLKs or is the SLK just the odd-one-out? We do have an E-Class, but its new and leased so I dont touch it.

Thanks!
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#2 Old 05-01-2012
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I would echo this sentiment. I wouldn't have touched a M-B but the R171 was labeled a Consumer Reports Best Bet for a used car. My experience, albeit 1 year, has been the same - easy to work on, extremely well documented, and the parts are not that expensive. Therefore I have avoided having the dealer do anything but the most complicated maintenance.

Gene
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#3 Old 05-02-2012
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[QUOTE=Arachnyd;302747]...my mercedes is by far the easiest to work on, and not that expensive to work on cars I've ever owned...QUOTE]

Wow I am actually shocked that you find the MB easy and inexpensive to work on: I had to find some weird MB tool just to change an oil filter. Plus the cost of the filter is crazy and the 8 litres of oil is not cheap either. Did I mention I have to take 1/2 the engine apart to get at the filter instead of just spin-on? The cost of having it serviced is outrageous so I have to do my own service. The car wears out rotors as fast as pads so brake replacement is about $1500 at the dealer. My Corolla was $400. My Accord was $500. Service on the Corolla is about $200/year while the MB costs at least $1000/year.

Anyway, my GF has the S430 and it is verr similar to 171 as far as service so at least the special tool/oil/filter/coolant/airfilters are similar although it has a different cabin filter.

G
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#4 Old 05-02-2012
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Hi Arachnyd, we owned an '06 C230 prior to the SLK and found it to be quite reliable. As for costs, other than the $300 one wrench service and the $600 two wrench service at an MB dealer (every 10,000 miles or so) and less fuel economy than comparable vehicles found it to be a good car. IMHO we kind of go by the premise that if one is driving a Benz then the cost of fuel is not that big of a deal, it is the price one pays for the choice of driving in style.

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#5 Old 05-02-2012
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2000-2005, that's not old!

These cars are sensibly put together and those with smaller engines are easy to work on. In the range you can get a W202 C230/280 both cars can be had on the cheap and when properly maintained very relable. My DD W202 has 189,000 miles on not now. W203s had some electrical issues early on, I'd look for a facelift C240 (2005) or a C230 Sport with the 1.8 (2005). The M272 W203s (and other MBs) have faulty balance shafts, before you consider any cars from 2004-2006 with the M272 (2.5, 3.0, 3.5 V6) check the VIN to see if it falls into the fault zone. What's your price range and needs? You can find W211s, W220s from those years at really great prices.

I still own a W201... love those cars, they may be too old for your needs. Reliable when maintained. My 2007 C230 was a great car, no issues in the 60,000 miles it turned over but my W202 C230 is built much better.

What are your needs and budget? In your area of the US I'd check for rust on anything you look at. If you look at a W210 E Class look at the spring seat on the non 4 Matic versions, in the rust belt they are known to have issues.
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#6 Old 05-02-2012
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[quote=gdb069;302886]
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Originally Posted by Arachnyd View Post
...my mercedes is by far the easiest to work on, and not that expensive to work on cars I've ever owned...QUOTE]

Wow I am actually shocked that you find the MB easy and inexpensive to work on
Maybe it is just a 170 thing. Took about 10 seconds to replace a coil... they are bolted RIGHT THERE. plugs were easy (my 3kGT had to drop half the engine to access them). Oil filter was pretty simple, access from the top. Oil, use Mobil 1 on all my cars, and it still uses less than my corvettes and camaros. I buy it at autozone when its on sale for like $3.50 a quart and just save it up. Fuel filter took 15 minutes max, and some cars you have to pull the gas tank out... Fuel pump has very easy access to it- once again, on my trucks you have to drop the fuel tank? Easy access through the wheel well to replace the washer pump... many cars require you to pull out accessory stuff. Thermostat pops right off without even having to pull the belt (albeit much easier with the belt off). Water pump was pretty straightforward too. Even the convertible top on my SLK was easily rebuilt, took less than a day to rebuild all 5 cylinders... and the stereo pops out and a new one was in in less than 5 minutes. It often takes hours on other cars.... Nothing difficult about the diff fluid or trans either. Full 100k service (or is it 90k? whatever it is..) took less than 1.5 hours. The 60k service on my jeep took like 5 hours and was quoted at $4500 from the jeep dealer. Headlights pop out real easily (some cars require you to take off the entire front end) ... I haven't come up with a difficult project yet, and its the first car I haven't once felt the need to buy a manual for it.

Then again maybe I've just done the "easy" stuff? but if so, I dont know what the "difficult" stuff could be?

Every part I've crossed between MB and Chrysler was cheaper from MB. Convertible top fix cost $35. Fluid cost only $15. The fuse for my fan was $4.50 at Chrysler, but only $2 at MB. water pump was $65 from AZ, I've paid over $100 for water pumps before. Fuel filter was $12 or so? It COULD just be because the 170 is the same as the crossfire though, which is the premise for asking this q!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjb190e View Post
What's your price range and needs? You can find W211s, W220s from those years at really great prices.

What are your needs and budget?
Thanks for your insight... its very helpful and much appreciated.

Can't decide on a budget... so I guess there is none? haha... Either 5-7k or 7-15k dependent on if she gets a loan or just pays cash. Seen a lot of C-classes that fall into both categories.

Probably only going to keep it for a few years max. She wants something she can carry a child in but that isn't a honda or toyota sedan that everyone drives. She had a 2 seater sports car prior to getting pregnant, and she is a amateur race car driver.

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Originally Posted by AZ SLK View Post
Hi Arachnyd, we owned an '06 C230 prior to the SLK and found it to be quite reliable. As for costs, other than the $300 one wrench service and the $600 two wrench service at an MB dealer (every 10,000 miles or so) and less fuel economy than comparable vehicles found it to be a good car. IMHO we kind of go by the premise that if one is driving a Benz then the cost of fuel is not that big of a deal, it is the price one pays for the choice of driving in style.
Thanks for the insight! My SLK is the only car I've ever owned that gets better than about 16 MPG (besides the fieros, but I use those pretty much exclusively for racing) so I've never cared about fuel costs anyway... haha. MB service seems to be pricey. but I've never had a car serviced. I just do everything myself, and she does her own work too- I help her when necessary.
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If you get something with the 320 motor your getting basically the same engine compartment thats in the SLK320. I've found that car super simple to work on. Plus I regularly got 27mpg out of the Limited Crossfire I had.
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#8 Old 05-02-2012
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First let me say that I am FAR FAR from what I consider to be a mechanic and if I can do something on a car, anyone can!! I learned a lot on these forums and by reading the service manuals. Other than front end alignments, none of my cars have been to the dealer or anywhere else for service but my own garage for many years. I find all of my Mercedes easy to work on, pretty reliable and I find parts to be very reasonable even from Mercedes dealers. I use none of the cheap aftermarket stuff typically sold at the McParts stores either. There are enough online sources that sell OEM parts reasonably and dealers that sell OE parts at wholesale, that I don't need to compromise on parts quality. I have found that there are very few specialty tools that I need either.

Here is my current stable of Mercedes that I do all the work on:
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In the $10,000 or less range I'd look for the newest C240 you could find with good service history. Good safety ratings for the new mom and kid, fast enough but not fast for those with a lead foot, reliable V6, wagon option and 4Matic option...
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#10 Old 05-02-2012
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Originally Posted by rjb190e View Post
In the $10,000 or less range I'd look for the newest C240 you could find with good service history. Good safety ratings for the new mom and kid, fast enough but not fast for those with a lead foot, reliable V6, wagon option and 4Matic option...
I can't find a C250 OVER 8k.. Tons of them in the 6-7k range, so that may be a good bet. theres some C 320s too. Does the C320 have the same engine as my SLK?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirteendog View Post
If you get something with the 320 motor your getting basically the same engine compartment thats in the SLK320. I've found that car super simple to work on. Plus I regularly got 27mpg out of the Limited Crossfire I had.
The quote above answers the question at quote below

Quote:
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I can't find a C250 OVER 8k.. Tons of them in the 6-7k range, so that may be a good bet. theres some C 320s too. Does the C320 have the same engine as my SLK?

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#12 Old 05-02-2012
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Originally Posted by etyu View Post
The quote above answers the question at quote below
I'm a domestic boy, where our cars tend to have names. All these letters and numbers confuse me. Thats why I asked- I didn't know if the "320" designated the engine or if it was just a cool number (Like the number on a BMW doesnt designate engine...)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arachnyd View Post
I'm a domestic boy, where our cars tend to have names. All these letters and numbers confuse me. Thats why I asked- I didn't know if the "320" designated the engine or if it was just a cool number (Like the number on a BMW doesnt designate engine...)
MB uses the number to designate engine size: non-AMG is usually 3 numbers, e.g., 550 for 5.5 liter, on AMG's they use 2 numbers, 32 for 3.2 liter, 55 for 5.5 liter engine. body style is designated by the letters.

BMW uses the first number in reference to body style e.g., 325i, means 3 series body style, 25 refers to 2.5 liter engine, i means fuel injection (IIRC).

Hope this helps somewhat (although I am no expert in these things either).

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#14 Old 05-02-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etyu View Post
MB uses the number to designate engine size: non-AMG is usually 3 numbers, e.g., 550 for 5.5 liter, on AMG's they use 2 numbers, 32 for 3.2 liter, 55 for 5.5 liter engine. body style is designated by the letters.

BMW uses the first number in reference to body style e.g., 325i, means 3 series body style, 25 refers to 2.5 liter engine, i means fuel injection (IIRC).

Hope this helps somewhat (although I am no expert in these things either).
To add to this,
MB has decided to change things up a bit and introduce a 280 model using a 3.0 engine and the newer E63 AMG's will have a 5.5 liter :/ I believe.
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#15 Old 05-02-2012
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My 06 SLK 280 is my 6th MB. I like to do the oil changes myself. I've found oil changes to be ridiculously easy on all of them with the possible exception of the SLK - I haven't found the oil filter yet.

I have a 03 C320. This is an excellent car - trouble free since I bought it in 2007. KBB estimates $12k, but I've seen many advertised at the under $10k level.

In fact, I've never had any significant maintenance issues with any MBs. Repairs are rarely necessary and haven't run that much. This includes:
- 83 240D (kept it until it was 19 years old with 202k miles)
- 86 190D (totaled on Freeway 3 months after getting it - thanks to the cell-phone idiot behind me who forgot where the brake was.)
- 96 C280 (drove from 2002 - 2007)
- 02 ML320 (drove from 2003-2008)
- 03 C320 (current sedan)
- 06 SLK280 (just go a month ago - lots of fun)

I've watched the Consumer Reports ratings. Generally it is best to avoid any car that is from it's first year of production. The second and subsequent years tend to have far fewer problems.

I would seriously consider an 03-05 C240, C280 or C320. There are a lot of bargains out there - especially if you know how to evaluate a car and find one that has been properly taken care of.

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Originally Posted by 06SLK-Noob View Post
- I haven't found the oil filter yet.



06SLK-Noob
It's under the hood on the lower right side of the engine like mine right?

Edit: Found it

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Don't get an older Benz unless you are rich and have your eye on a highly desirable model (like a 280 SL) in good shape.

Also don't do it unless you are a good mechanic. Few people are qualified to work on one, and those who are charge a lot. Also parts are very expensive and often hard to get.

Instead buy a new one. The new cars are much better quality than the older ones. They drive much better, and they are safer too boot!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirteendog View Post
It's under the hood on the lower right side of the engine like mine right?

Edit: Found it
Thanks for this! Much easier to find once I remove the plastic cover. Your picture solved the mystery when I compared it to my engine compartment.

Thanks!!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 06SLK-Noob View Post
Thanks for this! Much easier to find once I remove the plastic cover. Your picture solved the mystery when I compared it to my engine compartment.

Thanks!!!
Not my pic, but glad I could help
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arachnyd View Post
Maybe it is just a 170 thing...
My GF had 2005 S430 service done at MB:
Parts: Oil $80 (8 quarts)
Oil Filter $25 MB filter wrench required
Cabin Filter $170 Torx driver required
Air Filter $75 Torx driver required

So thats $350 for parts. The labor (including a maintenancescope) was $300. and then sales tax so $800.

My Corolla Parts:
Oil $16 (4 quarts)
Oil Filter $8 Spin-on
Cabin Filter none
Air Filter $16 - Wire snaps holds it on.

So thats $40 for parts and everything replaced without tools other than funnel and dipstick pump. Which do I prefer to drive: SLK or S430. But I dončt have much money so I find the Corolla much less expensive and easier to maintain.

G.
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