By on November 10, 2014

mercedes logo. Image: Mercedes-Benz

TTAC Commentator LordMurdoc writes:

Sajeev,

I’m finally ready to lose my BORING 2002 Geo Prizm.

Checking eBay for older Lexus LS or a Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006) . If I went with the Merc with the gasoline V6, what type of Gremlins might I expect to attack me when my wallet is most vulnerable? The Prizm is turning my brain to mush and my right foot is in despair!

Thanks for your excellent advice.

Sajeev answers:

That’s a good question, insofar that I’m answering the question I heard you to ask…not your actual question.

“Why yes, the 2003+ Lincoln Town Car with an SCT tune, a cop car air box/rear sway bar, late model Mustang GT mufflers and a quicker axle ratio is PERFECT for you!  Considering otherwise is foolish, and thank goodness you are no such fool.”

But somewhat more seriously, these questions are fun: the OP knows he’s about to do something stupid.

Like buying a neglected Lexus LS with an explodey timing belt. Or the litany of little things to drive you nuts on most W203 C-class Benzes. Or big things, like certain V6s with balance shaft issues. But, on the plus side, the C240 looks more robust, perhaps even having less body mounted electric gizmos to fail as it’s a lower level model. Maybe even with super durable MB-Tex coverings!

I’d go with the C240, for the stout motor.  The rest of it? Off to you, Best and Brightest.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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84 Comments on “Piston Slap: Get Ready to Lose Much More!...”


  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I’ll just throw VOLVO S60R into the round. You can discuss some more, but you know the issue is solved.

    /Continuing the first post style.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Yes, avoid this and this and that and this on a C-Class.

    -OR-

    Find an LS which has had a timing belt done (or do it right away anyway for $1200), and not have to worry about anything else, all the while having more standard equipment than a C-Class of that era as options.

    -BECAUSE-

    Seriously, that was the worst time for Mercedes build quality in history, and you don’t want any of that.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I know the Lexus mystique is strong, but he’s talking about an older luxury car with a ton of power options. That’s not a prescription for not having “to worry about anything else.”

      Yes, the Lexus badge will mean fewer issues than a C-class; it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        All cars of a certain vintage will require basic things whether they be a Lexus or a Yugo. The difference will be the expense of things beyond wear and tear between the Lexus LS and the Mercedes Cxxx.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The difference is the Yugo only has three things you can replace, the engine, the body and the interior. Once you’ve replaced those you no longer have a Yugo, so you’re good to go

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The cost difference will be minimal, based on the experience of a good friend who actually has a crappy old Lexus LS and a C-class Benz. Different stuff will go wrong, but it ain’t cheap either way.

          Why people think Lexus are some kind of miracle is beyond me. They may have fewer issues under warranty, but they seem about the same when they get old.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. The number of unique and therefore valuable parts is large on the LS. Last time I checked, the factory Pioneer amp alone goes for $500 used, 1000 new.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          How much is the factory amp on the C-Class then? Or is it like glued to something else so it’s an “assembly.” My experience with Audi has showed me the Germans like a good assembly.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Sajeev is this amp proprietary? If I am locked in to spending $500 on an used amp, I might just spend a little more and replace the whole sound system.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, the plugs and the general design looked proprietary. Luckily my aunt sold it (the timing belt broke and the motor went explodey) and it no longer became my problem.

            Point is, don’t expect non-Camry Lexus ownership to be a walk in the park. It could get pricey too, just probably less frequently than a Mercedes from the Dark Era or Durability.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Good to know. Although most motors with a broken timing belt tend not to fair well, I wasn’t aware the venerable 3UZ-FE liked to go explodey.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I had an 01 GS430 for three years. The only issue I had was the clackety vents issue with the auto climate control. I also replaced a brake light bulb.

            That’s it.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            The sound system was a weak point of the LS, there’s actually online providers that will rebuild the factory amp for a reasonable price.

            One major issue is because it was located in a bad place in the trunk and it would get damp if the weatherstripping was older.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx for the info Jacob.

          • 0 avatar
            DeeDub

            The 430’s engine is very, very reliable. It’s an interference engine though, so change the timing belt at the recommended interval (90K IIRC) or you’re rolling the dice.

            Lexus switched to “sealed” transmissions on the LS430 in 2004, so you’re more likely to find dirty neglected transmission fluid in the 04-06 than in the 01-03.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Yeah, but who’d replace it with another “factory” antiquated crapbucket amp?

          The stereo is the *one* place where “factory” replacement is a terrible idea, every time.

        • 0 avatar
          Japanese Buick

          Yes and no. You can use a lot of relatively inexpensive Toyota parts on an older LS, something you can never say about a Merc.

          But you’re right the parts that make it unique can be pricey. I was quoted $1200 to replace the drivers power window switch set. By a mechanic who is never pricey, but he said the parts were expensive. Luckily very little goes wrong and the car is very durable. My 98’LS just turned 260K, still solid as a rock except for those power window switches.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Mercedes use lots of generic European parts. Bosch, Hella, Valeo, all the big suppliers. All can often be bought more cheaply than from Mercedes. Also, in my experience having owned several Mercedes, their parts are nowhere near as expensive as urban legend would have it, and most dealers give a nice discount to Mercedes club members.

            Porsche parts prices on the other hand, every bit as bad as the legend would make you think.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Seriously, that was the worst time for Mercedes build quality in history, and you don’t want any of that.”

      The dreaded “Chrysler years”

  • avatar
    Marko

    If you live anywhere with road salt, the W203 rusts like an old Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      anti121hero

      Compared to other mercedes, definitely. Compared to fords or mazdas of the same era, not that bad.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      No it doesn’t. The 203 actually is very good at holding up to salt, other than the coil springs, (especially the rear). Other than that they hold up very well compared to other cars of the same vintage.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Back when the 203 was still relatively new, you were more likely to see a rusty C class than a rusty 80s Benz. My observations show them to be bad… enough so that I noticed them, and I’m not exactly overly-interested in those cars.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          At the turn of the century, Mercedes tried using a more environmentally friendly body sealant and rustproofer. Unfortunately, it flat out didn’t work very well. And it took a few years for them to figure this out, hence the rusty benzes from that era. Post ’04-05 or so, they were back up to normal.

          Note, this was also the issue with the wiring harnesses in the ’80s for Saab and Volvo, and the early ’90s for Mercedes. They tried to use a less toxic substance for the insulation. Toxic is GOOD sometimes…

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    The older C-Classes aren’t that bad from a reliability standpoint, so long as they’ve been maintained.

    When you buy a Benzy, look for the records. Log books and maintenance records are important there.

    Hell I almost paid $4K for an AMG C-class a couple of months ago, just for sh*ts and giggles. 140k miles on it, but dealer maintained.

    Then I wised up and realized one Mercedes is enough. If this one now ever gives me any problems, it just might put me in the poor house for a while.

    A Lexus is, however, a much better choice for overall reliability. Make note.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “…so long as they’ve been maintained.”

      Yes, if you throw money at them regularly, they’re just spiffy! Since this guy is coming from a PRIZM (aka zero-maintenance Corolla) of all things, I don’t think he would enjoy Mercedes maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “The older C-Classes aren’t that bad from a reliability standpoint, so long as they’ve been maintained.”

      Yes they were, had one, traded it on a BMW the difference was night and day

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Meh, I disagree.

        We’ve got a 97 in the family with 230k miles.

        The black paint is baking under the FL sun, but the bastard still runs and drives well.

        Been in family since brand spankin’ new. Mother-in-law paid cash.

        Hell, it hasn’t even been dealer maintained. :)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The Daimler-Chrysler merger did not take place until 1998, therefore your MY97 would not have been affected by it while MY99 and beyond were affected. I’m no expert from what I understand Daimler started using Chrysler’s [cheaper] suppliers for their complex electronics among other faux pas.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yeppers, I had a horrible 2000 C

            It was so bad that I remember the delicious bagels and cream cheese that they used to serve at the MB Service Center

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Mmmmmmmm bagels.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            “I’m no expert from what I understand Daimler started using Chrysler’s [cheaper] suppliers for their complex electronics among other faux pas.”

            I should say your knowledge is lacking!

            Chrysler’s electronics division(sold-off to Siemens under Daimler, if I remember correctly) were headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama. They worked extensively in national defense and with N.A.S.A. Chrysler electronics weren’t lacking. At all.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Exactly. It was MB whose electronics were a disaster. Funny how the common wisdom is that the merger with Chrysler caused all sorts of “substandard” Chrysler parts to ruin the Mercedes brand. Yet reality is that Daimler ruined Chrysler and Mercedes ruined Mercedes in the quest to build to price points at lower ends of the market for more total market share.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Yes, the BMW is night and day next to the c-class, when comparing how abysmal the BMW is. The C-class is pretty bullet proof other than a couple of issues. Also, avoid the 4 cylinder. The V6s are pretty good. Any luxury car has some quirks, even the Lexus. Here is a list of the common issues.

        If you get an older M112 powered one, (C240/C320) they data plug bushing on the 722.6 5 speed trans leaks. The part is absolutely cheap and easy to replace. If you don’t, trans fluid will wick up the harness and damage the trans control module. They can sometimes be saved by taking them apart, spraying all the trans fluid off with electronic contact cleaner and letting dry. Do the plug bushing with the trans service when you get the car, and every 40k miles there after and you’re trans control module will be fine.

        The electronic ignition switch, and keys can fail, are a bit pricey, and have to be dealer purchased. The key comes programmed for around $180 each, the ignition switch has to be coded by the dealer. The price for the eis and labor varies from dealer to dealer, so shop around.

        The newer cars with the M272s (’06-’07) have the balance shaft issue. The problem is the sprocket of the balance shaft is made from steel that wasn’t adequately hardened. This causes wear on the sprocket and the chain. The engine has to be removed to replace the balance shaft. It’s an expensive repair, and a car with the older M112 is the better choice for reliability. They will run forever with regular oil changes at 10K intervals.

        As I mentioned in a post above, the coil springs will rust and then break if they are in a salty environment. The rears go more often then the fronts. The rears sit in between a perch and lower control arm. They are very quick to replace. The fronts are part of the strut, and the strut has to be disassembled. Replace the shocks when you replace the springs.

        Crank position sensors, more common on the M112, but happens on the M272. The part can be found cheap, and isn’t to hard to replace as long as the engine is cold.

        The control arm and thrust arm bushings in the front end split and need replacement. (RWD models, 4-matic cars have large hefty control arms. Bushings fail way less often) Replace the whole arms, and not just the bushing. Techs like doing just the bushings if the ball joint at is tight. There is more labor to do the bushing, and the total bill is usually less, making it easier to sell to the customer. You can find the set of both front lower control arms, and both thrust arms for pretty cheap online.

        Front CV boots go on the 4-matic cars. The right side axle requires a special chain tool to remove.

        The instrument cluster displays have issues with bad pixels. You can find places that rebuild them for a decent price.

        On the M112s the valve covers leak. The one flaw in this engine is that the breather covers on top of valve covers are cast, and do not have a machined mating surface where they bolt up to the valve cover. They are sealed with silicone, and leak after a couple of years.

        Maintance parts can be found cheap. Mann filters are very affordable online, and you can find 5.1qts of 0W-40 German made Castrol at Walmart of $26 (You need 8.5qts)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If you can afford it, find an LS at a Lexus dealer that has been driven by an old person of means and the dealer can produce receipts for all the work that has been done. In AZ I often see Lexus dealers advertising on AutoTrader 10+ year old Lexus LS with under 100,000 miles and one owner on the title.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Quite right. That sort of LS isn’t all that hard to find.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      +1
      I did exactly this for my LS400. It’s still practically showroom condition and will probably outlive me.

      You don’t even have to find one at a Lexus dealer – you can look up the dealer service history of any Lexus on the web using the VIN. If it was dealer maintained, it’s all there to see no matter who’s selling it.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      +1 Bought an old man special LS as well. As long as you buy from the first or second owner, the LS’s tend to be in good shape and not abused.

      Repairs on the LS are expensive, but not anywhere near brutal. The big thing is having a good independent mechanic. A timing belt service (belt, water pump, serp belt) is 5 hours labour and should be under $1k every 9 years/90K. All other consumables aren’t really more than on any other car.

      If you’re looking for an LS430, stay well away from the air suspension. It’s awesome, but adds way more potential costs. Even the non Ultra Luxury LS430 is 10 times the car that C-Class will ever be.

      Join Clublexus.com if you want to know more than you ever want.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    As someone with an LS430 with over 150k miles, I can’t recommend the LS enough.

    Normally I would go nowhere near a flagship sedan, but the LS has been incredibly reliable. It also feels like it’s been carved from granite, with a beautiful interior that’s dead quiet. It’s probably the best car I’ve ever owned, my only issue is that it’s a bit dull.

    The one thing I would stay away from are the UL models that have the fancy air suspension. If it hasn’t gone out yet, it will. But even then, a conventional steel coil suspension can easily be swapped.

    Also, regarding the timing belt, any car that’s an interference engine will “explode” if you don’t change the timing belt.

    If you change the timing belt once every 100k miles, you’ll be fine. I don’t view that as a vehicle flaw (although I would prefer timing chains, most luxury car engines now go with timing belts)

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      I can echo this.
      I’ve owned a ’00 LS400 for almost 2 years now. By far the best car I’ve ever owned. It has almost 225,000km on it. Every single thing works as it should. The engine doesn’t burn a of oil. The transmission shifts super smooth. My dad bought a ’05 LS430 this year after driving mine. If you’re looking for build quality, ride, and reliability, the LS is unbeatable.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      98 LS400 owner with 260K miles here.

      These cars are over engineered, in the good Japanese manner, not the bad German manner. Mine is having things wear out but most maintanence is basically standard Toyota maintanence. Do the timing belt and water pump every 90k and she’ll be unstoppable. Oh and don’t cheap out on the tires. Those Michelins are key to the ride.

      Some accessories can get pricey when they go but in my 13 years of ownership only one thing has worn out that I thought was pricey to replace…the driver’s power window switch set. On mine the switches for the rear windows broke and replacement was going to be over $1k so I live with it. Other than that the car is bulletproof, especially considering its age.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Go with the Lexus, but not an LS get a 2nd generation GS. Basically the quality of the LS without the expensive air suspension and a little more sporty character. I really think the GS is a stunning deal as a older luxury car, my 2000 GS400 has been completely reliable, they are known to go 400,000KM or more.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      I agree. The LS and C-class are from two different market segments. If the running costs of a big Lexus are a concern, just get a smaller one. How about an IS, then? It is like the C-class, but done right. It is as reliable as the Mercedes would have been it if they didn’t love profits quite so much.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It was some 40 years ago I wanted to get a nicer ride than my 1960s Beetle and thought a nice MB 240 “Fintail” would be nice. Then someone told to be check on spare prices. Easyly 10x the VW prices and you might have to wait a day or two. My view of German cars is still the same, love to drive them but they are expensive. Not that I’m going to recomend a poorly maintained Lexus.

  • avatar
    Rday

    It amazes me that there are people out there that in this day and age are still not aware of Consumer Reports vast amount of data on all cars. If you can read and have any ability to be perceptive on cars and the english language you do not need to ask anyone but just read the magazine. But i guess there are always outliers that will never get the message.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Timing belt really isn’t a big deal. They’re designed to be replaced, it’s normal maintenance.

    I’m not really a used-car guy, but to me it would make sense to get something that depreciates fast. Maybe a Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac CTS.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The timing belt on just about any V-type DOHC engine is a huge hassle to replace and a complete nightmare if someone doesn’t have at least some experience with that kind of stuff.

      Although still not as bad as V-type DOHC timing chains.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    This is a hard question without any financial guidelines attached to it. It appears you are on the 5-9k range in terms of how much you are willing to spend.

    A friend of mine found himself in the same quandary three years ago. He was very good with keeping the ol Prizm running, until he just said screw this one morning, and sold it to as student for $700.

    He bought a 2007 V6 accord with manual. I always thought it was too big a car for him – still is – but it’s served him well, bellows nicely due to the cold air intake, and it’s his money anyway.

    Don’t get the Merc.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Hey LordMurdoc! I’ve got a v6 powered Mercedes-Benz C320 wagon. It is not brown. It does not have a stick shift. It is not perfect. I have been acquainted with other owners of similar C-class and here’s what I have learned.

    – Engine and transmission are bulletproof if taken care of. A Mercedes-Benz employee I met at a car show also said it was the cars best feature.

    – If you have the power seats, the black box that controls this has probably died and costs $300 per unit to replace. When it dies, it will drain your battery. There is a cheap, easy and successful work-around.

    – The center seatbelt in the wagon may get stuck when the seat is folded in the “down” position. Just cut the seatbelt and make it a ‘four seater.”

    – If you stay with the OEM Continental tires, you can get about 40,000 miles per set. If you live in an area with snow, but they plow the streets well, you won’t need snow tires. The traction control on this car works very well in snow.

    – WIth the a/c off, you can expect 29 mpg on the highway, sometimes 30 mpg.

    – You will replace the crank position sensor at 60,000 miles, rear suspension bushings in around 110,000 miles.

    It’s a fantastic highway car. It really is.The seats are comfortable and there’s great visibility with the wagon. Unfortunately, mine has spent it’s winters on heavily salted roads and it shows it. It has a fantastic turning radius in town, and the suspension can handle anything you throw at it, except chronic New Jersey potholes (which is a redundancy.)

    I’d buy another.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I posted a similar comment above on the common issues. That got eaten by the spam filter. They are very solid. Replace the trans data plug bushing with every trans service at every 40k miles, only real flaw in the trans design.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Spam filter, I hate you – my comment got eaten as well – same points though.

      Adding:
      Replace all fluids (power steering, coolant, oil, transmission, brakes) when you get the car – assume nothing was done. Follow standard maintenance requirements from there.

      Find a good online parts source (I use Rock Auto). Dealer prices on parts are marked up an insane amount.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    I just doubled down on two E32 BMW 740iL. So take that into consideration with my advise.

    Be prepared for lots of annoying little sensor and electrical issues.

    Join the appropriate forum for the car – a lot of the repairs are fairly cheap as long as you are willing to do them yourself.

    Get the fully repair manual (No, not the thin one sold at Autozone). Bentley makes the one for the BMW, it is about 2 inches thick.

    Make sure you follow recommended maintenance intevals – If part ABC needs to be chnaed every 30,000 miles, assume it hasn’t been done and do it – it will keep you from more expensive repairs down the road.

    When you first get the car, change all the fluids – assume nothing was done. Thats oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant. And make sure you use the correct type/grade of fluid.

    Get familiar with online parts source such as rock auto – you don’t want to pay dealer prices forsome of these parts.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    You’re going from a 12 year old Geo to a Benz or Lexus? That’s a bit of a leap. How about a nice, used Accord to split the difference?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      That 12 year old Geo is basically a Corolla anyway, per the Internet; they’re both based on the same JDM car.

      So he might as well already have a used Accord, at that level.

      (The real leap contemplated here is going from a compact to that monster LS, but that might not be problematic…)

  • avatar
    TonyP

    I highly recommend an LS. I recently picked up a 2000 LS400 for a very fair price due to the timing belt coming due. Being mechaniclly inclined can certainly open doors for some nice deals in the used auto market. This is my second LS, the first needed nothing in 3 years and I expect this 210k mile LS to go well into the 300k mark only needing basic maintaince along the way. Even after nearly a 1/4 million miles it’s still a tank and cruises at 80mph with ease and gets 24mpg on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’d love me another LS400.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyP

        The 3rd Gen 4Runner and the LS400 are the only cars I have purchased more than once. Toyota hit a homerun with those two vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          Lightspeed

          I’d get my wife an LS or GS, but we live in snow-world and she wants AWD. The 4Runners around here are vastly overpriced to the point that an LS is a way better deal.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyP

            4Runners all over the country are insanely overpriced. You don’t want to know how much I paid for my super clean example.

            The first LS was owned/driven in Utah and it did “ok” during the winter months. The VSC, a decent set of tires and the massive weight of the LS makes it managable. But I do understand your wife’s concern.

            Edit: Also, the LS460/600 was available in an AWD variant, just an FYI.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure which vintage you’re talking about, but the previous GS came in AWD versions. So does the current one. They’re not nearly as common as an xDrive 5-Series or a Quattro A6, but they’re out there…

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Nice to hear a vote of confidence on the 3rd gen 4runners. Likewise I paid a pretty penny for my ’96 Limited last year. But with only 99k miles and not being driven in winters since 2002 it was worth it IMO. Tight as a drum, drives like a new car once I caught it up on some maintenance and wear and tear items. Just laid on a coat of Nufinish sealant on the paint and a thick layer of Fluid Film on the undercarriage, and installed some General Altimax snow tires mounted on some tacoma wheels. I’m oh-so ready for another polar vortex! Last winter I put the tow strap to good use helping my apartment neighbors and random strangers on my commute.

  • avatar
    AGR

    Find a mechanic in your area that can maintain the car of your choice for a reasonable amount of money. Especially with older Benzes there is a wide choice of aftermarket and used parts to deal with maintenance and surprises.

    The “mechanic” that you can trust is the key to owning an older car with usually expensive maintenance habits, and complex components that can quickly escalate into the thousands to replace.

    In many instances the monthly lease payments on a new car will amount to less money than the ongoing maintenance on an older car.

    Older cars that are sporadically maintained (to save money) deliver an unpleasant driving experience. Older cars that are maintained to factory specs are great drivers and cost accordingly.

    An overview of owning an older Benz from the famous Daimler Chrysler days for a few years http://www.thestrada.net/project-200k/

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “In many instances the monthly lease payments on a new car will amount to less money than the ongoing maintenance on an older car.”

    We’re talking about $60K+ cars here. At 10% depreciation/year, that’s roughly $6K/year in depreciation. I don’t see how any older car, even a loaded Benz, is going to cost more than that to keep running.
    >
    >

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Agree 100%. Even a subvented lease on anything comparable is $500++ a month. You will not spend $500/mo, every single month on anything that was not completely and utterly neglected.

      Even my now 140K ’01 Range Rover, a notoriously expensive to maintain vehicle, has cost me only about ~$1500 in repairs and maintenance over the past year and 10K miles. And almost all of that was to fix things that were wrong with it when I got it (and I knew about them when I bought it). It only stranded me once, and it was 150% my own fault. I knew the top radiator hose was going soft and bulgy, ignored it, and it blew out on the hottest day of the summer. Not the trucks fault at that age and mileage. The worst part being I got to fix it in the driveway on the SECOND hottest day of the summer.

  • avatar
    matador

    I’d look into something without a Mercedes badge.

    I own a 2001 Audi A6 Avant and love it. It’s the older body styling, so the prices are lower (as are the looks). The 2.8 is a little pedestrian, but the Audi will do 80 on the interstate without working a muscle.

    Get one with the Bose system, and you’ll be in love.

    Mine has actually been a reliable car. I had the Water Pump and Timing Belt done at 100k, and the only other breakdown was for a sensor. I’ve put over 45k miles on that car. I’d buy another in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wait a minute, there is no such thing as a 2002 Geo Prizm.

    There is a Chevrolet Prizm – Geo was killed as a brand in 1998 IIRC.

    So lets be clear here, you want to get rid of a Toyota Corolla with Chevy badges, for a C Class or LS Lexus, and you’re worried about repair bills.

    /facepalm

  • avatar
    dancote

    Sadly, I’ll never get to enjoy the Lexus of my dreams. 1989 was the year I first saw one. Head over heels was I, but way short of money. Fast forward to this past summer when I was financially in a position to buy a used, but low mileage/well maintained example. Off I went to the dealership for a test drive with every intention of bringing it home. It drove like a dream, everything worked like it should, body/paint flawless.

    Problem is, my 71 year old body can’t climb into and out of it as a daily driver. It sits too low. So it was back to my stodgy 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara that has been dead reliable, cheap to maintain and easy to get into and out of for the past 7 years.

    Moral of this story? Don’t wait too long to fulfill your dreams.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    My 96 ls400 with 174000 miles still garners compliments from those that see I t or ride in it. Yeah, the timing belt was expensive but the car is a quality car. Once you start tinkering with it, you find all the engineered parts. It’s actually impressive once you dig in there No rattles, drives nice and gets decent mileage for the age and engine . My normal commute gets 22mpg. If I could cruise on the interstate at 60mph it would get 30+ mpg. It really likes loping along. Unlike modern cars, there is not a lot of electronics in mine to go bad. Glass headlights don’t fade. It has abs but no stability of trac control. It’s worth looking at one

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The most expensive car you will ever own , will be a ‘ cheap ‘ used Mercedes .

    So says the mechanic who owns three old Mercedes Diesels , two with well over 300,000 miles on them .

    Beware ! .

    Many Brothers down at work bought one owner lexus’ (? Lexi ?) and love them , take care of them and don’t spend much $ or time on repairs .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    jjf

    If you go for the W203 benz I’d recommend getting the latest build 2007 model you can. I bought a 2007 C280 4 years ago am happy with it. It has had a few minor repairs but nothing big, and I would buy it again. That said I wouldn’t turn down a well sorted Lexus of the same vintage either.

    My main complaint about the benz is the gas mileage. It drops to as low as 15 in the city, but gets around 28-30 on the highway. That is pretty poor for a little car these days.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Well, I went from a ’95 Altima to a 2005 LeSabre just last year, and I’m happy, despite the size difference (2 feet longer, six inches wider). You’ll be making a similar size swap, so think about it, HARD. I just happened to luck out with a classic little old lady car with low mileage, and I traded up ten years to one of the few reliable drive trains GM made at the time. You’re moving up 2-4 years from an old canoe to an old tuna boat that may have seen rough seas.

  • avatar
    Nick

    ‘Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006)’

    I don’t mean to give offense but ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!! The C-Class, no matter what generation, is piece of crap cost cut to death so they can sell a cheap Benz to people in the thrall of the three-pointed star. NEVER.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      Not true of the original, the W201 190E/190D. Overbuilt and overengineered. I’d still love to have one today.

      Also, the W204 isn’t terrible. The W202 (1994-2000) is crap, the W203 is even worse.

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