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C Class buying advice for newbie.

Discussion in 'Engine, Drivetrain, Fuel and Exhaust' started by Jacko918, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. Jacko918

    Jacko918 Active Member

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    Hello to everyone. I hope you all had a good Xmas.

    My name's Jacko. I've only just signed on to this Forum and I was wondering if you more experienced hands could offer me some advice.

    I'm Interested in a C Class Mercedes Saloon. Approx. 1999/2000 model. It needs to be a 1.8 or a 2 litre petrol with a manual gearbox. (I'd like a CDI but I don't think my budget would stretch it.) My dad once owned a 1995 C200 Elegance saloon and currently owns a 1998 C180 Elegance estate, so I know roughly what they drive like, but these were both Auto's and I'm after a later manual Saloon.

    I have a good mechanical knowledge and background, so I know the usual "used car checks" but what I'm hoping you guys can guide me on is any advice specific to the type of C class I'm after. Any common faults, problems or checks I should be making?

    Mileage. A lot of these cars seem to have High mileages 100,000+. I know,if looked after, Mercs are good for it (Apart from a new Lambda sensor, my dad's C180 as done 110,000 no problem), but what would you consider High Mileage?

    And Finally. Economy. What are they like to run? What sort of MPG should I expect.

    Many thanks for your advice and I hope you all have a happy new year.

    Jacko.
     
  2. Aussie Nick

    Aussie Nick Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Hi Jacko . There are quite a few posts on th c class here at the moment . You may try a search.
    The one you are looking at is the w203. Most of the w 203 s were built in South Africa, for some strange reason. I suspect it has something to do with money. Strangely the production of the new w204 has reverted back to Germany.
    My view is that the w202 was the better built car and hence explains the longevity of your Dads. My 202 has done 240,000 ks and i have just started to have a few niggling problems with it .
    I have looked at many 203s here . One problem is that the driver side door seal (different material to previous ) is often split , even on low k cars. The front suspension O rubbers were also found to need replacing with low k cars ( expensive ). The fuel consumption of the 200 k compressor car is probably a little worse than the 240 six cylinder and about the same as the 320 ( depending on how the cars are driven). The 240 v six motor is the smoothest of the bunch and I would suggest that you look at this one. consumption figures are about ten to eleven litres per 100 kms
     
  3. whitenemesis

    whitenemesis Senior Member

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    Your Mercedes:
    CLS55 AMG '05
    Check VIN - WDB = built in Germany WDC = built in South Africa
     
  4. M Paul Lloyd

    M Paul Lloyd Senior Member

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    Location:
    North East England
    Your Mercedes:
    W202 C200
    Hi Jacko, if it is any help W202's are your best bet, in my humble opinion that is. The W203's are (that pug ugly 'retro' headlight design aside) prone to corrosion and mechanical shortcomings that make them an embarrassing addition to an otherwise (almost) fautless line of motors.

    A few pointers I found useful when I was searching for my W202.
    The C180 is miserably underpowered.
    The six cylinder engines are much smoother and give a far better driving experience.
    Best compromise is a C220 petrol (don't worry about diesels they are not much better in the long run and very slow) depending on driving conditions the C220 should return 25mpg at least.
    Manual boxes are 'pre-selector' type and need gentle handling, it's not a 'racing' box by any means.
    The auto's are very good but a bit thirstier on fuel in my experience.
    The odd foot/hand brake takes some getting used to.
    Ten year old examples should be easy to find with under 100klicks on the clock at well under the £2,500 mark and in A1 nick too, any sign of blistering paint or major respray then walk away, it may be sign it has been repaired or worse!
    Whatever you do don't be tempted to rush into buying the first one you see.
    Mechanically the only bother I have had with mine is the steering track rod ends which needed changing at the 100k mark, otherwise it is 100% original (exhaust included) at 120k.
    the big windscreen wiper can give problems if not regularly serviced (it usually gets missed) so check the wiper blades are full length as fitting smaller ones is a way of hiding any problems.
    The rear differential vent can get blocked leading to condensation and premature failure, see if you can get this checked before you part with your money.
    Check the engine for oil leaks as the gaskets can perish over time, a nice clean engine bay is usual but beware of steam cleaned examples.
    Note that 'leather' upholstery is not always genuine leather, and interiors of low spec' models can be a bit spartan.
    See if you can get hold of a P reg' C220 Elegance with full service history and a good level of trim but not too many 'gadgets' air-con is a nice luxury but far from essential as they are well ventilated cars.
    Ideally I would like a C43 AMG but economics rule when you have a tight budget, but I can think of no other car that does it quite like a Mercedes.:D
     
  5. FIBAMAN

    FIBAMAN Senior Member

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    Location:
    TYNESIDE
    Your Mercedes:
    C180,C180,E300TURBO DIESEL
    Jacko, I have run both the 202 C180 (96) manual and a 203 (01) C180 (2.0ltr auto).

    The old 202 was bought with 24,000 miles on clock at 2 years old, I ran it till last year and sold to my brother in law at 203,000 miles. During this time the only work, apart from oil, filters and brakes, was as follows - catalytic converter collapsed at 173,000 miles, new battery at approx. 196,000 miles, nothing else.
    My brother in law fitted a new water pump about a month ago, he does not work the car as I did so it is now only on about 210,000 miles. The manual was always criticised for being notchy but I would describe it as positive. The biggest advantage for me was no cambelt changes, the car is still on original chain and suprisingly still on on the original clutch.

    We bought the 203 new and it was used mainly by my wife, and upto date has done only 37,000 miles. in this time we have had a lot of probs. including broken springs, faulty main processor (merc paid half so we ONLY had to pay £630), corroded body, exhaust, and brake pipes. We also were told recently that the steering rack was gone the list goes on .... we just sold it. It had all the toys, but the build quality was just not there, really a big disappointment my wife has gone back to VW.
     
  6. type49

    type49 Senior Member

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    This narrows it down to the fact he wants a late 202, not a 203.;)
    The main question is, why a manual - they're horrible. The gearchange is notchy & lifeless & the handbrake is operated by your foot:-(
    For this reason, the manuals are rare because salesmen want an easy life & no wailing customers. At least they're cheap as chips but you will struggle to sell it on again afterwards.
     
  7. M Paul Lloyd

    M Paul Lloyd Senior Member

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    Location:
    North East England
    Your Mercedes:
    W202 C200
    Unless the next buyer wants a manual or you intend to keep it 'for ever'? ;):D
     
  8. OP
    Jacko918

    Jacko918 Active Member

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    WOW! Thanks for all the great replies guys! really appreciated.

    I am a little confused over whether I am looking at a 203 or a 202? The one I'm looking at in the Autotrader (purely as an example, no intention to buy just yet) is a 1999 C200 Elegance, it looks just like my Dads old 95 C200 except it has clear indictor & repeater lamp lenses instead of amber ones.

    Like I've said it's a 1999 C200 Manual saloon 75,000miles, Silver, ABS, A/C, Alarm, Merc Alloys, Drivers Airbag, Electric Windows and mirrors, Main dealer service records with all previous MOT's. looks very clean to me, £2,900 ono. Does that sound like a good deal to you? Would an Auto be more expensive? Would a 1999 be a 202 or a 203?

    The reason I wanted a manual is I have had a few auto's (5 series BMW, etc) and I like them, they are great in traffic, on long journey's or when your just too tired and want the car to drive you home! However, I found them to be quite heavy on fuel and a slightly detached driving experience. So I fancied a manual. I've never owned a big Sallon Manual before!

    However, Type 49's made a good point about the Foot operated parking brake that I hadn't thought of. (both of my Dad's were automatic.) That set up must make it a bit tricky to do hill starts?! Whilst I think I could adapt to it, I'm not sure my wife could! I can see me putting a new clutch in it once a fortnight!

    So how good are the Auto's then? Are they reliable? My Dad used to have 190E's before he got the C Classes (He's on his 4th Merc and loves them!). Both were Auto Saloons, the first one was a mint 1.8 and the second was a 2.0 that had had a slightly hard life. I found the 1.8 to be quite spritely (especially when kicked down) the only noticable difference was the 2.0 performed better when loaded up with people. Are the C classes similar? As M Paul Lloyd says he feels the C180 is underpowered. I know my dad's C180feels slow, but then it's an estate, perhaps a saloon wouldn't be as bad?

    Your input would be great. Thanks again.
     
  9. Dec

    Dec Senior Member

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    Location:
    Ireland.
    Your Mercedes:
    W202 C180 Elegance Automatic. Made September 1997. 17,000 Miles.
  10. OP
    Jacko918

    Jacko918 Active Member

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    Thanks Dec. It would appear to be a W202 then according to that chart.
     
  11. Aussie Nick

    Aussie Nick Senior Member

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    You sound like you want a more engaging driving experience which the elegance wont give you. I suggest that you hang off and go for an Avantgarde which came with the sports type suspension. the ride and cornering are entirely different and this is the model i personally prefer..There is nothing wrong with the 5 speed semi auto box .It is almost as good as the manual without the clutch.If you want the sports type suspension have a look at the esprit ( basic model) which , in Australia) at least came with Avantgarde suspension as standard.
     
  12. type49

    type49 Senior Member

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    You obviously have different models/trims out there. In UK there is no such thing as an Avantgarde 202 C class, only 203. Also the box you are refuring to wasn't available in 202 either, came out over here in about 2003 & I've only ever driven two of them. They don't sell at all over here.
     
  13. Aussie Nick

    Aussie Nick Senior Member

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    That is a pity as the ride from sport suspension and the 5 speed semi auto is , in my view a far superior combination to the other standard
     
  14. M Paul Lloyd

    M Paul Lloyd Senior Member

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    Location:
    North East England
    Your Mercedes:
    W202 C200
    Sounds like a fair deal to me Jacko, the W203 didn't appear until 2000 so you are looking at one of the last of the 'old guard' W202's there, and you are correct, a low spec' (therefore low weight) C180 saloon with no passengers or baggage will move ok, but only if you 'work it', which usually cuts into any edge in fuel economy it may have.
    For a better all round driving experience the bigger engine is a better investment, in my opinion at least.
    I have no problems with the gearbox and nor does my 22 year old daughter who refers to it as 'smooth' which I gather is a compliment!? ;) Thing is it requires a gentle touch and any attempt at mashing the thing and it will reward you with sticky gates and grinding gears.
    Many reviews are based on the C180 which tends to make them a bit biased.
    I guess it all depends on how you drive really, and lets be honest a Mercedes saloon of this 'low' spec' isn't intended for the 'boy racer', it's built to be sedate and reasonably comfortable not flash and aggressive.

    That's why the boy racer in me still wants that C43 AMG. :D
     
  15. pace

    pace Senior Member

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    Location:
    Oxford
    Your Mercedes:
    2003 ML 270 & 2006 A 150 SE
    Hi Jacko, I had a 96' manual C180 Esprit saloon in silver up until 3 years ago. It was a fantastic car, I bought it with 90K on the clock and in 4 years of ownership and another 30k, appart from servicing it only cost me two tyres, a battery and a wiper blade! It never let me down and I had no problems appart from the factory fitted alarm/immobiliser playing up a couple of times (which was easy to sort following the hand book).
    I admit the hand brake was awkward and obviously the auto is much smoother but the 1.8 16V engine was very willing and only felt underpowered if you had a car full.
    I was going to replace it with a new shape 203 model but they looked and felt cheaply made to me. So I opted for another 202, a 99' C240 auto. Ok it is a much nicer car to drive but even between my 96' and the '99 models there is a noticable decline in build quality, just little things like catches and trim and lesser quality plastic mouldings.
    I sold my old 180 to a friend who covered many more miles and only had to replace the radiator (which burst appart on a trip to London). He has since sold it to another friend who absolutely loves it! and although over 11 years old and 150k+ it is still going strong and is rust free, the black cloth interior is clean and shows virtualy no ware (it looks as if it could have covered just 20K).
    If you want a manual car then get one! It may be harder to sell on, but will be cheaper to buy and at this sort of money by the time you have finished with it, what does it matter!
    These cars were of good quality and were built to last which is (as far as I am concerned) what Merc's are (or were) all about.
     
  16. FIBAMAN

    FIBAMAN Senior Member

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    Location:
    TYNESIDE
    Your Mercedes:
    C180,C180,E300TURBO DIESEL
    Jacko, you will not have a problem mastering the foot op. parking brake , it is a doddle, even my wife had no bother.
    ps. she does not read this forum
     
  17. stevesey

    stevesey Senior Member

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    Location:
    Bristol
    Your Mercedes:
    C240 Sport 98
    Which is the "sport" model 202 in the UK
     
  18. OP
    Jacko918

    Jacko918 Active Member

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    Thanks for all your input guys.

    M Paul Lloyd "I guess it all depends on how you drive really, and lets be honest a Mercedes saloon of this 'low' spec' isn't intended for the 'boy racer', it's built to be sedate and reasonably comfortable not flash and aggressive. "

    No I've grown out of that boy racer thing! All that "Look at me" cobblers. I've had my fair share of 205GTi's, Astra GTE's etc. The insurance is a nightmare and to be honest, may be it's me getting old but......I don't like the image much...an aging hot hatch is not a good look!;)

    To be honest, I'm currently driving around in a 5 year old Fiesta, cheap as chips to run as it's only a 1.25 16v engine, reasonably nippy, low mileage but it's two door. We're thinking of starting a family, so we're thinking that may be the fiesta is no longer suitable. Push chairs/prams in the boot and all the kit you have to take with you :roll: My sister in law does it in a Clio, whilst she has the advantage of two extra doors, it still looks quite cramped!. I was contemplating an Astra but they changed the body shape in 2004 and I can't really stretch to the new shape and the wife doesn't like the old shape.

    I've always liked Merc's, I've always liked the way they are made, they feel like an engineers car rather than a bean counters car. I know they're argueably not as well put together as Merc's of old ( I work on a lot of sprinters and you can see that in just the vans ) but they are still very good. So that's why I thought about possibly getting a saloon C class. It needs to big enough for all the baby kit etc, but I can't be rolling around in a great big gas guzzler either as I use it for work every day, hence the small engined, lighter bodied saloon.

    Do you think the saloon would be up to the job?

    I don't really want an estate, My dad uses a sun dial to time the acceleration on his C180 Estate!;)



    I like the P.s bit at the end! :D
     
  19. M Paul Lloyd

    M Paul Lloyd Senior Member

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    Location:
    North East England
    Your Mercedes:
    W202 C200
    "Do you think the saloon would be up to the job?"

    Yes Jacko I think it will do nicely, but then again I'm biased.
    However the Estate is very useful especially if you expect to be buying kitchen white goods and furniture anytime soon, or if you own a dog maybe, then it's cavernous rear end will come in very handy indeed.
    I have similar concerns and obligations it seems, wife, two daughters and all that goes with them. I only really know the older W202 C Class (I have only seen the newer ones in showrooms where it is difficult to make direct comparisons) but I do know a lot of 190 owners who like to compare notes, (a canny lot 190 owners.:D) These are a bit bigger all round and may seem more ungainly, but they are really very well built and worth a look even if it is just to compare. The W202 uses a lot of tried and trusted parts from the 190 but is that bit smaller and, as you might imagine, a bit of a compromise. It's slightly more economical, usually has more gadgets (depending on spec') but backseat leg room is not as generous as it is in the 190 and the driving position is a tiny bit more 'cramped' although I fit in it ok and I'm 5'10" nor a featherweight!? But it is more than 'adequate' and far better than many 'small' family cars in the same class. Boot space is good and will easily swallow five full bin bags in one go.
    The Audi A4 is another excellent choice with more rear leg room then the C Class but I have some issues with DIY repair on the A4, for a start you have to dismantle half the engine bay just to access the battery plus it's front wheel drive and I have always prefered being pushed rather than pulled. Also I have had some very bad experiences working on front wheel drive Constant velocity joints! :)
    The thing that really won my wife over (apart from the colour :)) was the sense of security you get in the Mercedes. It feels safer somehow, more solid if you know what I mean, as if you could walk away from a prang in the Merc' that would otherwise end up with everyone in hospital in anything else, and yet I find myself driving with more caution in my Mercedes than any other car I have ever owned. It's the feeling that the journey is actually not so uncomfortable that I have to rush to get it all over and done with.
    Does that make sense? :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2007
  20. OP
    Jacko918

    Jacko918 Active Member

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    M Paul Lloyd "Does that make sense? :)"

    Yes It does. Thanks for taking the time to write that.

    I was Over my Sister in laws last night for New Year and I was discussing it with her husband. He's now tempted too by Merc after I showed him a couple on the internet (Although my sister in laws not so keen). He was surprised at how cheap they were (alot of car for the money) but also how well they held their money from the first w202's to the lastest W202 . We saw loads and it would appear that the only real difference in price is not the age but the mileage and condition.

    We both agreed that the Parkbrake set up in the manual will take some getting used and we're not convinced that our better halves will be able to get on with it(driving home in the Fiesta last night my wife couldn't find the windscreen washers, we've only had the car 2 years!). To be fair she doesn't drive that often, may be one short trip a week.

    Once Again thanks to everyone for all there help and advice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2008

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