Undoubtedly, Mercedes-Benz is a reliable and technologically advanced brand that produces elegant, safe, comfortable, and reliable vehicles.
Old well-maintained Mercedes cars are reliable. The reliability of Mercedes-Benz cars depends more on their condition rather than their age. A few Mercedes cars may pose minor issues as early as 50,000 miles, while others may not trouble you even for 200,000 miles plus if maintained properly.
In this post, we’ll consider the pros and cons of driving an old car with a three-pointed star.
Which is More Reliable – a 5, 10, 15-year-old Mercedes-Benz?
While on the whole, Mercedes cars are pretty durable, that said, the dream of owning an old classic Mercedes could turn into a money pit headache. Obviously, it’s important to do your research well, understand your needs and choose a model that best fits.
Mercedes have a ton of models, and you won’t have a problem choosing a model to fit your stage in life. With the model chosen, next, choose the engine and trim model, cross-referencing your choice with the least number of complaints historically. Once you’ve narrowed the window, only then would I begin to shop. But more on that later.
To some, a five-year-old car is old, and to others, a 15 year old car is old. I can tell you if you want the very best build Mercedes, you’ll need to back even further. The mid 90’s to be precise.
I can tell you first-hand as I’ve owned old Mercedes for years and can tell you from experience, the mid-90s Mercedes model was Stuttgart at its best. Back then, the engineers made the decisions, but things were changing, and by the late ’90s, the accountants were in charge.
And that meant a Mercedes-Benz felt a little less, not to drive but in the material dept and sadly in the reliability too.
Let’s look at the facts, JD Power has an excellent name for collecting data on troublesome cars. They rank them under various criteria, reliability being one of them (listed below). They score them out of a possible one hundred points, higher being better.
I’ve stepped back as far as I could on the JD Power site to collect data. Check out the table below for a flavor of the reliability you can expect from the older Mercedes models. I’ve listed the popular C class, E class, and G class. The higher the score of out 100, the better.
|E Class||81/100||84/100 |
But not all engines and transmissions and not all models and trims remain good after 10 to 15 years, but others may start creating trouble before they even turn 5. In short, do not let the Mercedes motto, “The best or nothing,” fool you. Let’s first weigh the pros and cons of owning a Mercedes and then check out our tips for routing out a solid Mercedes worth buying.
Indeed, luxury cars depreciate faster than regular vehicles, especially in the first five years. So, you might find them very appealing in the used car market. Yes, Mercedes has a reputation for durability, and there are plenty of old Mercedes around to prove the point.
|Mercedes Model||Cost New||5-Year-Old Cost (2016)||10 Year Old Cost (2011)|
Pros and Cons of Owning a Used Mercedes
You may ask why people go for a luxury used car when there are doubts about its reliability. Well, Mercedes cars come with certain benefits that seem to outweigh the cons for most.
Excellent build quality & features: Mercedes-Benz traditionally does not compromise on the quality of materials they use to make their vehicles. Things like walnut wood trim, premium leather, heated seats, and steering wheel, LED mood lighting, latest infotainment systems make them stand apart. Similarly, the adaptive cruise control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and advanced driver assist systems make them one of the safest cars on the road.
Supreme ride and comfort: Not only do they look stunning, but these German cars also offer a driving experience that no regular vehicle can deliver.
Depreciation: Yes, they depreciate quickly but only in the first five years of ownership. Afterward, they devalue as any other regular car.
Sharp looks: Mercedes is famous for its sharp, functional, and head-turning styling. No matter which model you choose, it has the automaker’s eye-catching styling.
Maintenance expense: A drawback of owning a Mercedes is its maintenance cost, which is higher than Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, etc. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. However, if you find a specialized Mercedes mechanic or can do minor repairs yourself, maintenance should not be a problem.
No warranty: When you buy an old Mercedes, you probably will not be able to enjoy any warranty coverage. So, you might have to opt for an extended warranty or service contract.
Gadgets and systems: While so many advanced features are a blessing, the chances of things going wrong are higher with more of them. Also, older vehicles may not have the desirable facilities of this age, such as the Apple Carplay, Android Auto, over-the-air updates, and advanced driver-assistance systems.
High fuel economy: The engines from Mercedes require you to use premium gasoline, so the cost of running them in the can be a lot higher than vehicles from Honda, Toyota, Kia, etc.
How to Buy a Reliable Used Mercedes?
I never buy the first production year of a Mercedes. I did it once and paid the price. This advice is actually good for all car models. Buying towards the end of the model cycle means all the little bugs have been sorted out by the Mercedes engineers and the final evolution of the model is traditionally its most reliable.
I advise doing tons of research. You seriously can’t do too much. Try and avoid the temptation to buy the first model you see online. Understand your needs and match them to the model, but not just any model. Go a step further and find the engine/transmission and trim with minor complaints statically.
Here are the three crucial steps I follow:
- Read online reviews, see ratings, and go through forums.
- Run the vehicle history check.
- Go for a pre-purchase inspection or hire an expert Mercedes mechanic.
Before buying a used Mercedes search it on Google. See what owners are saying about the particular model you are interested in. Visit forums and ask people questions you have in mind about the specific Mercedes model.
When you are going to invest in a luxury car demanding thousands of dollars, it doesn’t hurt to buy a vehicle history report for a few dollars.
You just need the vehicle’s VIN, which you can get from the private seller or the dealership. Reputable dealerships provide you with the history report for a car you are inclined to buy. However, it is good to order it yourself before the purchase.
The report should tell you:
- Title history and number of owners
- Maintenance history, sometimes
- Accident record
- Flood and salvage record
- Mileage record
- Lease or rental vehicle
- Harms to the frame
- Manufacturer buyback status
Furthermore, make sure the VIN on the vehicle corresponds to the identification number on the title. Once fully satisfied with all the things, only then should you move ahead with the purchase. A car check report would save you from buying a lemon.
There are a ton of great companies out there offering this service. I use VinAudit (links to VinAudit) and found them fast and reliable. (I earn a commission from the link)
Perhaps the most crucial part before buying an old Mercedes and ensuring its reliability in the pre-purchase inspection. You can inspect a few things on your own if you are familiar with cars and perform minor repairs yourself.
However, we highly recommend you entrust the vehicle system scan and component inspection to experts. Depending on the pre-purchase inspection package and the company you choose, it will cost a few hundred dollars, but it would be worth the investment. It will guarantee you sidestep the lemons out there.
A good inspection company or mechanic will provide you with a comprehensive report detailing problems, repairs needed, along with revealing the signs of damage, accidents, etc., and a rough estimate of the repairs. Armed with the report, you can evaluate the deal, and it offers you leverage when it comes time to haggle over the price.
While some dealers offer pre-purchase inspection as part of the deal, others won’t have any issue if you want to order an inspection. The private sellers, too, won’t have an issue with it, and if they do, it’s likely telling you to should politely walk away from the deal.
A successful purchase begins with tons of research. You already know that. Google Mercedes-Benz forums, and clubs – these guys love to talk about their cars. Sign up and ask for specifics about the model you’re interested in.
Check for recalls read owner reviews, lots of them. If you find everything in order, take the next step – choose a vehicle, order a vehicle history report, and arrange a pre-purchase inspection.
And finally, if the report is clear and the inspection reveals a good car with just minor issues, go ahead and pull the lever. Welcome to the MB club!
You may find these posts useful also:
Are Mercedes expensive to maintain?
Worth buying a 10 year old Mercedes?
- About the Author
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.