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Best Solution For Dealing With High MB Maintenance Costs

oracle_of_rockoracle_of_rock Posts: 58
edited January 2015 in Mercedes-Benz
I have a question for those of you who own MB that are out of warrantee. Before I start, I want to be clear that I've researched this issue and haven't identified any actual, unique solutions; just those that you would expect to hear. What this question is about is out-of-the-box solutions that may not be so obvious but should be really important to those of us who love MBs but hate the associated repair/maintenance costs.

I'm an older, retired guy who would love to own a MB before I die! I can afford to buy an MB and pay the insurance. This is a big part of ownership but by far, not the only aspects of what it takes to keep this type of car on the road. What really has me stumped is the astronautical repair/routine maintenance costs. Before you remind me that if you can't afford such costs you can't afford the car, let me remind you that I'm already familiar with that philosophy. Other suggestions point out that you need to find a good, private machanic that charges reasonable labor rates or buy your parts online and avoid the dealerships parts at all costs. Unfortunate, I live in a rural area of Pennsylvania that has few repair shops that specialize in high-end luxury car repairs. Extended warrantees have also been suggested but they only last so long. Are there other luxury cars that are more reasonable to maintain/repair? I was hoping to keep this car for a long, long time. Yet others insist I embark on a DIY campaign; this bloke already lacks all the fundamental mechanical skills and is not looking for another retirement hobby!

So at last my question. Can anyone think of a less common but every bit as practical solution to this problem? Please don't get me wrong, while I'm not rich I've been successful in life. On the other hand, I don't throw money away needlessly. Honestly, I can't think of any solution(s) to this situation other than those earlier mentioned but before I throw in the towel on my dream, I thought it would be a good idea to pick some other intelligent minds that are more automotively inclined!

Thanks for reading this "treatise" on luxury car hassles. I look for to any and all relevant ideas!

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Comments

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited January 2015
    Personally I'd look real hard at leasing new. It won't be any cheaper (well, it could be depending on which used Mercedes you purchased). You can't take it with you - spend your money.


  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Seriously, if maintenance and repair costs are a concern to you, I would avoid ANY European car.

    My buddy had a serpentine belt break on his Mercedes and the bill to fix the damage it caused was nearly 5000.00. His Xenon headlights failed and that came to 2400.00.

    Still, he loves his car and isn't about to part with it.
  • Those are the exact sort of stories that just terrify me and I can't figure a work-around other than don't buy one. If, by chance, there are no solutions to this uncomfortable situation, are there luxury brands (non-German) that are reasonable to maintain/repair? Maybe something along the lines of Volvo, Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited January 2015
    A used Lexus should be more reliable than a used Mercedes.

    But - shall I quote?

    "I'm an older, retired guy who would love to own a MB before I die!"

    Get the car and take your chances. Live a little! Quit reading internet stories if you have to. :D
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 119,925
    stever said:

    A used Lexus should be more reliable than a used Mercedes.

    But - shall I quote?

    "I'm an older, retired guy who would love to own a MB before I die!"

    Get the car and take your chances. Live a little! Quit reading internet stories if you have to. :D

    So.. he can dip into your 401K, if it gets out of hand? ;)

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 119,925
    If you really want to do it.... get a 10-yr-old Mercedes for $10K-$15K, rather than a 5-year-old Mercedes for $25K-$30K..

    They are likely to have about the same repair bills, so when you decide to ditch it, you'll be at least $15K ahead, and then @stever won't have to turn over his IRA to you...

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  • mlevinemlevine Posts: 397
    oracle_of_rock,
    Leasing or purchase is the option to not worry about long term repairs. I believe with more electronics today(most vehicle basically have a computer regulating everything), holding vehicle over the warranty period is going to be costly. I am even not sure private mechanics will know how to fix these vehicles. I can tell you some dealerships service departments are probably have to call the home office with questions about repairs.
  • Well folks, you've pretty much confirmed what I'd already researched; by and large it ain't a dream worth pursuing unless you're made out of money! Nevertheless, thanks for your input.
  • mlevinemlevine Posts: 397
    oracle of rock,
    I would still pursue your dream. Go lease or buy. If you lease everything is covered and you can buy a maintenance plan. If you buy then sell before the 4 year or 50,000 mile mark.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You should be able to maintain a very clean, very well-cared for Benz when it falls out of warranty for about $200/250/month.

    I would definitely not buy a used one with high miles.

    The trick I think with older German cars is that you bring them to a certified mercedes repair shop 2X a year and let them have at it---throw $1250/1500 bucks at Dieter and Hans every 6 months like clockwork, even if the car seems flawless to you.

    If you treat a used Benz like a mutt rather than a pedigree, it'll bite you for sure.
  • Thanks Mr. ShiftRight for your input! Now that $200-$250 monthy investment in maintenance - what sort of work would that entail? How about that $1250-$1500 every six months, would that be the A maintenance/B maintenance I've read so much about?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    That should include all maintenance and, averaged out over a few years, replacement of "expendables" like tires, brakes, or perhaps a new alternator, p/s pump, other "normal" repair for any car as it ages etc. What you can't plan for is a catastrophic failure, which is rare but possible. If you lose an engine or transmission, then of course your monthly total would be much higher.

    Also, the monthly total will rise as the mileage goes up. A good time to bail out of a Mercedes is about 125K--150K tops.
  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaPosts: 5,440
    Oracle of rock, what kind of mercedes are you looking to buy? How much are you looking to spend? How old or new do you want it to be?

    boomchek: driven 10,000+ cars, sold 1000+ cars, owned 50+ cars

  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,563
    A few questions you need to ask yourself: Which MB do you like? How old would you want to go? What's your budget? How long do you plan to keep it? All of these impact the decision.

    Like all cars, not all MBs are created equal. Some are not too bad to keep going. Others are bottomless money pits. I've been driving MB since I was 18 - and I still have that first car almost 20 years later. The cars generally haven't been bad to live with, but maintenance isn't like on a Civic. They drive really nice though, enough to keep me coming back.

    One key thought with aging cars is that the cheapest one can end up being the most expensive, so don't shy away for paying more for a car with clean records, good PPI, etc. Aftermarket warranty can be a legitimate investment, too.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Fintail, there is a HUGE difference between that tough as nails, rock solid and uncomplicated MB you drive and a modern one but I agree with your post.

    A modern MB can quickly become a nightmare and they are not a good choice for a person who is adverse to big repair bills. I agree with your last paragraph but, remember, the companies that sell aftermarket warranties aren't dumb and they use actuary tables when they price these warranties. a Mercedes warranty is horribly expensive and for good reason!

    The warranty company our store used got to the point where they wouldn't even sell a warranty on Land Rovers. They said that no matter how much they would charge they continued to get burned.

    I do have to agree with you. They are, indeed nice cars that drive even better than they look.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,563
    edited February 2015
    The fintail hasn't been a DD for many years. It has held up well, but I take care of it, and it has no electronics to go wrong (save for that pesky generator-voltage regulator issue last year). Some modern cars are holding up well - W204 C-class, late W211 and W212 E-class, W221 S-class - but maintenance is dear, especially on the latter. Turn of the century era cars through 2005 or so can be iffy, only some models are a good bet, and even then, get a PPI. I bought a warranty for my old E55 which paid off - Carmax is especially known to sell well priced warranties for these cars. Maybe subsidized by the warranties they sell for Accords and Camrys - gotta move em off the lot somehow.

    Something like an 2001 S600, I'd be hard pressed to take at any price. Amazing cars just begging to have issues. The big 215/220 based AMG cars like the one on the flatbed above are also a risk. Those cars had wildly advanced and complex tech, beta testing it for modern cars - you'll pay to keep it going. Not designed for low maintenance durability.

    Older cars are a good bet too, but I doubt the OP is seeking a 1983 300SD.

    Older Rovers make bad MBs look like Corollas. The 96-02 style are already becoming rare sightings, along with Discoverys, and Freelanders have almost vanished.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 119,925
    Spotted an S550 at the local auto parts store... The model before the current one, so about a 2010? It had a Lorinser package. Guessing that the wheels alone were $5K+.

    He was picking up washer fluid

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,563
    edited February 2015
    Yes, that's a W221, started with MY 07, sold here through 13, facelift for 2010 - LED lights etc. They've aged pretty well, and can be a good used deal as the new one has caused values to fall off a cliff. I don't know of any widespread defects, but maintenance will be up there. The late run Bluetec 4Matic cars are an appealing model.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 4,292
    edited February 2015

    Those are the exact sort of stories that just terrify me and I can't figure a work-around other than don't buy one. If, by chance, there are no solutions to this uncomfortable situation, are there luxury brands (non-German) that are reasonable to maintain/repair? Maybe something along the lines of Volvo, Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura?

    As a Honda guy myself, I think I can say that an Acura is going to be more reliable and less expensive to maintain than a Mercedes. My name is Ben, and since I was a kid I had the dream of owning a Mercedes Benz with the vanity plate BensBnz (will that fit?). But I mostly long ago gave up that dream. As you know and as people are saying, MBs are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain—and I personally don't even like their styling that much these days.

    Anyway, if you'd consider the Acura option, think about this: they not only are known for their reliability, but affordable extended "bumper to bumper" warranties are available directly from Acura at reasonable prices. For instance, I just priced out an 8 year/100k mi warranty with zero deductible for a 2015 Acura TLX for $1395. One place to get a quote on them is Saccucci Honda, and once you get the email from them your local dealer will probably match them or get close to it:

    http://www.saccuccihondacare.com/vehicle_info.php

    I know an Acura doesn't have the prestige of a MB, but they are still very nice cars. And compared to a MB you'll pay about 10 grand less initially for a comparable vehicle, and then over the course of 8 years you're likely to pay thousands less in maintenance and repairs.

    Just my 2 cents.
    2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech 4WS (mine), 2018 Honda CR-V EX AWD (wife's)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,563
    Speaking as a MB fan and one who has thought their traditional styling (yes, some of the recent stuff isn't so clean), a couple Acuras stick in my mind - the 1996+ RL which has kind of MB derived styling, and the 2005+ RL, which is a very clean homogenous design. Then Acura became beaky, and the current RL (RLX) is a 3:2 scale Accord to my eyes. But those 2005+ models seem especially nice, and might be a bit of a used car bargain, lots of content for the price.
  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaPosts: 5,440
    I've dealt with older Acuras, and they're not as reliable as they used to be. Especially TL's from 06 and up. I've seen them with bad trannies, misfiring engines, etc....

    As for the S-Classes, I've sold a few 2007 and up models, and they can range anywhere from low to hihg $20's depending on mileage and condition. Extended warranty would be recommended as a few of them can run into electronic, transmission, and air ride problems which could add up to thousands in repairs in worst case scenarios.

    boomchek: driven 10,000+ cars, sold 1000+ cars, owned 50+ cars

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Never mind what I said about life is short and drive what you like. Yikes!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    If THAT doesn't scare the OP away nothing will!!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Funny Instagram from one of our editors.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,809
    @oracle_of_rock - is there a CarMax near you? I'd fulfill that wish with a CarMax MB, and buy CarMax's (not somebody else's) extended warranty. While not usually a fan of extended warranties, it would protect you from the risk of high cost repairs. As for maintenance, I'd research what's needed and get as much of it done by an independent shop as I could (oil/filters/brakes).

    But a lot depends on what you're looking for: which model? An E350 would be pretty straightforward...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I can't even imagine the price of an aftermarket warranty for a 12 cylinder MB!

    They may not be available at ANY price just like a Land Rover!
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoPosts: 110,336

    I can't even imagine the price of an aftermarket warranty for a 12 cylinder MB!

    They may not be available at ANY price just like a Land Rover!

    Funny you should mention that ... on another car-related website, there are a number of articles by a person who bought a Land Rover through CarMax, along with the extended warranty, then documented how much he saved using it. Buying the warranty was exactly the right thing for him to do....

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  • Well thanks for all the replies. To answer a couple of questions, there are no Carman dealerships near me. The MB I was interested in was a 2015 C300 Sedan or possibly a C300 4matic demo, loaner, off-lease, or executive car with less than 10,000 miles. They're readily available at the larger MB dealerships but not so much so at the smaller dealership nearby my location. For example, I live in central PA and would have to travel at least 100 miles but closer to 200 miles to find the selection to chose from (Baltimore, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh). Acura and Lexus dealerships are even more scarce. One advantage to these makes is they can be serviced at a Honda or Toyota dealership BUT the warrantee work must be completed at a Acura or Lexus dealership. So, if you have a problem and the car won't run, I suppose I could push at least a couple hundred miles! Bahahaha!

    I've spoke with the small, local MB dealership about purchasing outside his dealership and he said that would be OK BUT with one big catch. He would always be glad to do the warrantee work and service but I'd have to keep in mind that his customers would always come first in every way! That includes the perks he offers his customers.

    So I'm still on the fence. All these months later! :(
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 4,292
    edited September 2015
    oracle: Just my 2 cents, but I'd go with the local MB dealer to get the red carpet treatment there.

    Then, how about leasing instead of buying? That way you are covered by the factory warranty the whole time. Mercedes Benz has some good lease specials, like the one below. And just like with the list price of a car, you can usually negotiate to get a better deal on a lease than the national offer, which for a 2015 C300 Sedan is:

    $399 First month payment
    $3,359 Capitalized cost reduction
    $795 Acquisition fee


    http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/special_offers/current?&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brd|Search|Corp|Financing_Exact&utm_term=mercedes-benz%20lease&utm_content=sZVQSX8tf_dc|pcrid|66919771615|pkw|mercedes-benz%20lease|pmt|e
    2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech 4WS (mine), 2018 Honda CR-V EX AWD (wife's)
  • mlevinemlevine Posts: 397
    oracle,
    I leased a car from another state because the local MB dealer was much higher in price and would not budge on his price. I serviced the car at the local MB dealership. The general manager found out about this, and I told him, " I got a better deal". Now at this dealership I only deal with a manager.
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