Buying a used car can be a risky move, even if you are buying a Mercedes. These vehicles are known for good workmanship and durability, but that does not mean issues cannot pop up, especially if the vehicle has not been taking care of properly. By knowing exactly what to look for during your car search, you will be ahead of the game in terms of preparation and finding the right vehicle for you. Consider making a checklist of these items and taking it with you as you go on your test drives.
Know That Rust is a Common Problem
Mercedes are meticulously designed to give drivers good aerodynamics and to look visually appealing, but there is a flaw that the company has not been able to work out. This flaw deals with the car’s crevices where rust can easily develop without the owner’s knowledge until it is too late. Rust can be very expensive to repair, and it can eat up the entire chassis given enough time.
What you need to do is inspect the vehicle, especially the problem areas, before purchasing the car. Concentrate on underneath the car’s body and under the car’s doors. You might also want to look behind the license plate where rust has been known to develop. When you find the right Mercedes with little or no rust issues, you need to take the proper steps to prevent rust from forming in these areas. Be sure to clean the car often, and apply rust protection just to be safe.
Be Wary of a Shaky Ride
Image credit: Mercedes Benz Medic
One thing that Mercedes cars can sometimes develop are faulty engine mounts. The problem is that these mounts sit under the engine and are difficult to see without removing them, but that does not mean you cannot see signs of faulty engine mounts. What you want to do is turn on the car and drive around for a bit while paying attention to the way the car drives.
The purpose of these mounts is to reduce vibrations, but faulty mounts will no longer be able to do this as well as they could when they were new. You might begin to feel vibrations under your seat or on the steering wheel. The reason you want to pay attention to this particular issue is because the labor required to replace engine mounts is tedious and expensive. It can take a mechanic about six hours to complete this task, and that means you’ll end up paying this mechanic for those long hours.
Check the Suspension
Some models from the Mercedes brand seem to have trouble maintaining aspects of the suspension system after an extended period of time. The ball joints, the sway bar link, and the control arm bushings can all wear out. This is especially true if the suspension was not taken care of properly.
A Mercedes car that has over 100,000 miles will likely have this problem. If you are familiar with the suspension system, you should definitely inspect it before you purchase this type of car. If you do not know much about the suspension system, you should definitely consider having the car inspected by a professional. There are some signs that you can look for when driving a car with a suspension problem, such as the car pulling to one side or feeling bumps on the road.
Hear the Rumble in the Car’s Engine
Image credit: Brown Book Mercedes Specialist
Many Mercedes enthusiasts know that the maker ensures that each vehicle is made with true attention to detail. This is part of the reason these vehicles are beloved by many around the world; it is also the reason why the brand’s engines stand the test of time better than many other vehicles. Still, this does not mean that the car’s engine cannot hit a snag from time to time, which is especially true for cars that were not treated well. An issue that some Mercedes tend to develop is hidden within the transmission.
The transmission is one of the strongest parts within these cars, which means that it does not fail often, but parts inside of it can. The 13-pin connector and the valve can sometimes develop problems, which could seem like transmission problems. Do not fret; both of these issues are normally easily repaired without costing you an arm and a leg.
Before you jump to major transmission issues, you should also know that another reason why a check engine light might turn on in Mercedes vehicles is simply because the gas cap is not properly sealed. For some reason, the design of the cap can sometimes make it easy for a person to make a mistake when closing it, which can cause the light to switch on, so make sure you check the cap.
Beware of Issues with Stubborn Windows
Long gone are the days when car windows were rolled up and down manually. Now, most cars use regulators, and this includes Mercedes. These little devices are quite handy, but they do perform the difficult job of lifting and pulling windows whenever you want. After years of use, these devices are bound to go out on you. You want to make sure you pay attention to the operation of every window before you purchase the car.
It may not seem like regulators are that big of a deal, but the truth is that replacing these devices can cost a lot of money, especially if you go to a Mercedes-certified repair shop. The regulators themselves do not cost much money and can be purchased online, but the labor takes some time, which is the reason it can cost you a lot to repair.
Realize That the Performance May Not Be Great
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A used Mercedes that has been driven beyond 60,000 miles could have a defective catalytic converter. This is another one of those car parts that may not be easy for you to inspect with a naked eye, but a mechanic could inspect it for you if you can afford to hire one as you car shop. Still, you can look out for signs of a problem with the catalytic converter when you test drive the car.
What you want to pay attention to is the appearance of any performance issues, like misfires or hesitation. Both of these problems only get worse should they be ignored long enough, so make sure you pay attention and find even the slightest performance problem. You do not want to get a car with this issue because replacing this part with another one can cost a few thousand dollars, and no one wants to deal with that soon after purchasing a vehicle.
See Issues with Mistreatments
Image credit: Prescott Import Car Service
Buying a car from a private seller can be tricky. Ideally, this seller is great with records and will show you the vehicle’s service history along with a CARFAX, but that is not always the case. You will probably not see this kind of information if you are going to be buying a car off the streets, but this also means you have to pay more attention to the way the car has been cared for. Doing this helps you determine whether the car owner has properly cared for the car.
Of course, there are cosmetic signs of care that you can easily see; for example, you can pay attention to the car’s paint and to the overall condition of the cabin. A little wear and tear is to be expected, but it shouldn’t be excessive. You should also make sure you inspect the engine. This is a little more difficult if you do not know what to look for, but you can always just check the oil fill cap on the car’s valve cover. Think of that fill cap as a small window into the car’s engine.
If you see any foam near or on the cap, this is telling you that the vehicle may not be in tip-top shape. There are a few reasons why foam will form, such as a head gasket leak, or it could mean that the car is not used a lot. A problem with the head gasket can be costly, and a car that is not driven often might be a sign that this issue with the car makes it pretty much un-drivable.
This guide only focuses on some of the most common issues connected to purchasing a used Mercedes, but you should still inspect all things you normally would inspect on used cars. This should include the vehicle’s tires, the brakes, and even the steering. It might be a good idea for you to write down or to print out an entire checklist to use as a guide while inspecting every Mercedes that you are considering. Be sure to collect maintenance receipts from the car owner as well. Learning some basics of car maintenance might go a long way in your search for a better ride. Finally, hiring a private mechanic might be a good idea, at least to further inspect some of the cars you are considering.
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