10 used Mercedes-Benz models to avoid like the plague
Mercedes-Benz produces some of the most sought-after automobiles on the planet. Most people in the world – even those who know nothing about cars – dream of one day owning a Mercedes, especially to show off and look through the three-pointed star on the hood. Unfortunately, some models spent more time in the shop than being exhibited.
Mercedes-Benz has long been a premium automaker. After all, the very first car ever built was a Benz. Since then, the brand has built its reputation around the idea of powerful and influential people driving their cars, from movie stars and famous singers to captains of industry and even country leaders. More recently, a Mercedes-Benz was even used to drive Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin from her favorite summer residence after her death. That being said, Mercedes-Benz has had a few hiccups in its history, including one as recent as 2015.
Thus, Mercedes-Benz is globally known as a manufacturer of high-end and luxurious vehicles that is sometimes the envy of passers-by, but has also had spots on a relatively clean reputation. With that, here are ten Used vehicles from Mercedes-Benz you should probably avoid like it’s the plague.
ten W211 E350
The W211 generation of Mercedes-Benz E-Class was among the best in the entire range. It was spacious, luxurious, comfortable and smooth – everything one desires in a mid-size German executive sedan. Unfortunately, there were a few issues.
The mid-range V6-powered version suffered from fuel delivery issues that required owners to replace almost all of the hoses and pumps used to supply fuel to the engine. Fortunately, this problem only affected 2006 model year cars and Mercedes quickly fixed the problem, leaving the last W211 The E-Class trims will become one of the best premium cars.
9 W221 S550
The W221 The S-Class was a complete reversal of the W220 preceding it. It was better styled, had more intuitive technology and was more reliable in the long run – and short term. Unfortunately, the 2007 S550 model suffered from a curious software glitch that caused it to randomly switch to Limp mode.
Drivers reported that the car drove brilliantly without any issues, before suddenly breaking down. Mercedes’ response was to replace the ECU – at great expense to the owner – which largely solved the problem. Owners also reported premature wear to the engine’s balance shaft, which led to loose timing chain and broken valves.
8 W205 C300
More recently, the 2015 C300 has had a host of issues not related to the transmission, but rather to the fit and finish of interior and exterior parts. Some owners have reported that their sunroofs flew off the car at high speed, resulting in damage. Mercedes-Benz blamed poor adhesive sealant application and quickly corrected the problem.
Other issues include random explosion of airbag inflators and steering lock nut failure, both leading to unnecessary accidents. The C300 also suffered from a lack of pace as the turbocharged 4-cylinder struggled to haul the nearly 3,700 lb coupe. It was definitely one of the least reliable Mercedes-Benz models of recent years.
seven W220 S-Class
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the technology and luxury leader in the more affordable executive sedan market, below the Bentley Flying Spur and Rolls-Royce Phantom. The W220 The S-Class introduced keyless entry and start, air suspension with multiple modes, radar-assisted adaptive cruise control, and ventilated seats.
As with most luxury cars, the W220 was heavily criticized for its options, which easily added tens of thousands of dollars to the price of the car. As an example, all-wheel drive was a $2,200 option that didn’t really offer any additional driving feel. The biggest problem with the W220 is the fact that repairs and maintenance of the model are extremely expensive and that much of the electronics are prone to breakage – which makes the W220 one of the worst used options on the market.
6 W168 A class
The W168 The A-Class was Mercedes-Benz’s way of entering the hatchback market to steal sales from the Ford Focus and Renault Megane. The W168 was another heavily criticized Mercedes model and was described as the “depreciation” of the Mercedes brand.
The W168 failed the infamous “elk test” where a car swerves to dodge an imaginary elk or moose. The A-Class flipped on its side and Mercedes-Benz denied the problem. Funnily enough, they stopped production of the A-Class for three months and recalled all those sold to fit the ESC and readjust the suspension, which solved the problem.
5 W163 ML-class
The Mercedes-Benz ML-Class was the first real attempt to build a more luxurious SUV – originally designed to replace the aging G-Class. The ML was a collaboration between Mercedes and Mitsubishi and as a means of gaining additional publicity Mercedes put the ML in the second installment of the dinosaur movie franchise, jurassic park.
The W163 ML was a relatively solid vehicle, achieving what it set out to do – except replace the G-Class. Unfortunately it was quite an expensive vehicle to maintain, and in several UK surveys it has been named the least user-friendly for day-to-day living.
4 Mercedes Vaneo
The Mercedes-Benz Vaneo is what happens when a first-generation A-Class sedan and a Vito van are mixed together. It’s officially called a minivan – even with the “van” in its name – and has received surprisingly good reviews.
The Vaneo only had 4-cylinder engines to choose from – all underpowered, and it really wasn’t the best looking Mercedes model to come out of Stuttgart. Still, the Vaneo is a practical vehicle for families and even had the option of a sliding boot floor for easy access. As a car driver, we would probably ignore it.
3 X164 GL-Class
The GL-Class was a larger version of the ML-Class, but it also featured a more upscale and luxurious demeanor. Unfortunately, this was slightly lost during the actual design. First, the X164 GL was way too big for the time and drove them anywhere, but American cities proved pretty boring – as James May proved when he drove one through London at rush hour.
The GL was a bit of a disappointment in the luxury department. While it came standard with leather seats, air suspension and automatic climate control, it was still a far cry from the vehicles it was trying to outperform. The GL and GLS models that followed did – and still do – a much better job, but still don’t quite compete with the best in terms of build quality and exclusivity.
2 W210 E-Class
The W210 The E-Class was the first Mercedes-Benz model to be accused of “depreciation”. It was the first model where accountants were in charge of construction, rather than engineers, which resulted in cost reductions here and there.
The W210 had a whole host of issues from this ‘downsizing’ including harmonic balancer pulley failure, faulty blower motor governor, failing front stabilizer bar drop links, lifts -defective windows, the leaking cylinder head gasket and the prematurely wearing differential bushing. The model also had huge corrosion problems because the paint used was water-based and cheaper.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is one of the least successful models in the company’s history. The German giant wanted to enter the European van market to steal sales of the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and VW Amarok. Unfortunately, instead of designing and building a vehicle from scratch or modifying one of their own designs, they turned to Nissan.
They used Navara’s popular platform and modified the bodywork and interior to reflect the brand’s premium look. The end result was an overpriced truck with worse ergonomics than the Nissan it was based on. Mercedes added its own V6 turbo diesel in the vehicle, but it was too little too late. The X-Class was only in production between 2017 and 2020, when it was discontinued. Competition is always a better option anyway.