Buying A Used Mercedes

If you’ve already decided to buy a used Mercedes, chances are you already have a particular model in mind.

How you approach your purchase depends on the age of the vehicle you are considering, but many points apply to both recent models and classics.

Where to Buy A Used Mercedes?

Options range from private sellers, auctions, roadside used car dealers, & Mercedes main dealers. As we do here at Colin Ferns Ltd, independent Mercedes specialists will periodically offer quality used Mercedes for sale or broker cars on behalf of clients.

Don’t be afraid to ask for detailed information about the car, a full service history, and of course the all important test drive.  Remember, buying privately means you won’t benefit from any warranty unless there is any balance of manufacturer warranty remaining on newer vehicles.

If buying from a dealer, make sure you check the small print of any warranty to ensure you know what is and what is not covered, and for how long.

A Note on Full Service History

Older cars will have a service book that should have been stamped and correctly filled out. On older models some extraordinary service items were only prescribed as requiring attention at mileages of 36000m so can those items be verified as having been addressed at 36k, 72k, 108k etc? We’ve seen cars that are 30 years old but haven’t ever made the 36000m mark and so have those original service items installed from new!

Then until just a few years ago, there was a service book that had tick boxes for individual items. Have those items been done correctly? In order to get a stamp in the service book one just had to have an oil change; everything else could be denied by the customer so always examine the service records closely.

Latterly, the service records are kept on-line via Mercedes’ Digital Service Book (DSB). All main dealers and all good independents will have access to DSB and can always examine the service history but again, one needs to know what one is looking at.

Beware any service history that has been done by a “specialist” that is a specialist in more than one brand. “German car specialist” or “Mercedes and BMW specialist”. In our view, you cannot be a true specialist if you do not focus on one brand.


The asking price of a car is the first clue when deciding if a car is for you. Mercedes is a prestige brand, which means if you are being offered a car at a stupidly cheap price, you need to start asking more questions and do your homework. That means looking into the vehicle’s history, mileage and carrying out a full inspection, both mechanical and bodywork. Always pay someone you trust or a professional organisation you trust to do a pre-purchase inspection unless you are confident that you will not be duped.

At the very least, try to arrange an electronic diagnostic report for the car as this can reveal numerous hidden issues but be aware that if the seller has the equipment, he can erase the diagnostic history. Far better if the first interrogation reveals a load of historic faults, then they are erased and a new scan run. This new scan will reveal any existing faults rather than old ones.


Due to the faster depreciation rate of luxury cars, buying a used Mercedes can be more attractive than you think. The value of a Mercedes will see the biggest hit within the first 5 years of its life, this makes the initial purchase price less of a concern if you are looking at a vehicle 5+ years old.

Research is still paramount however, although Mercedes cars historically have a reputation for bulletproof engines and gearboxes, the introduction of more sophisticated technology over the last decade means digging a little deeper when inspecting a potential purchase can avoid nasty surprises.


If budgets are tight, it pays to think ahead when it comes to maintaining your Mercedes. You have effectively 3 choices, DIY, main dealer or independent Mercedes specialist. While DIY is still possible, this is becoming more and more prohibitive due to the requirement for electronic diagnostic equipment for on-board ECU’s and other systems.

This is where your independent Mercedes specialist will be more than happy to provide a diagnostic report for a fixed fee to enable you to identify faults or defective components.

If you choose the Mercedes main dealer option, expect to pay 30%-40% more in labour charges than an independent.

Remember many independent Mercedes specialist garages will be staffed by Mercedes trained technicians who can offer just as much experience and knowledge as your main dealer, and of course, you don’t have to use a main dealer to retain your warranty!


While the quality of metal used in car manufacturing has seen a huge improvement in recent decades, if you’re considering a classic Mercedes purchase, rust is one of the biggest concerns as with any older vehicle.

Check wheel arches, behind light lenses, footwells, door shuts & sills, around suspension mounts and struts, and under the carpet or wheel well in the boot. In addition, check the area around any electrical or hydraulic control units as rust there can lead to failure of, or damage to these very expensive parts..

High Mileage Mercedes

Mercedes models with high mileage are frequently available due to the resilience of the running gear as mentioned above. There is a common misconception that cars with high mileage should be avoided at all costs, but this is not necessarily the case. The most important aspect when considering any used Mercedes is the service history. Check that each service interval has been observed and carried out correctly within the specified time frame. The other key point to check is whether genuine Mercedes parts have been used where possible, this includes filters and other service items, as well as recommended lubricants.

If a Mercedes has been regularly serviced at a local generic garage, they may not have used the correct genuine filters, and a cheaper grade lubricant may have been added to the engine. This can cause irreversible damage to a performance engine. Simple check of the current oil filter on the car is your first hint. Remember, as in all things, price and quality are inextricably linked.

If the car has been maintained within the recommended guidelines for the model, there is no reason why a Mercedes should not clock a quarter of a million miles or more.


In conclusion, common sense plays a big part in making the right choice for your next Mercedes. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. If a car is stupidly cheap, there’s usually a reason why. If in doubt, talk to your local independent Mercedes specialist.

If you are thinking about buying a used Mercedes Benz, contact us to find out how we can help. We can assist with sourcing a vehicle, or provide you with a detailed pre-purchase inspection.

Call Colin Ferns on: 0208 332 7660