Is the 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class a money pit?

Is this 430CLK worth spending money on? Recently spent $900 on fixing a trans. leak, steering dampner and shifter bushing. Car still has runs well, has good acceleration, hiway mpg, It has always been serviced and garaged, looks good and I love it. But–is it a money hole?

A near 20 year old Mercedes is more than likely going to need a good $1000-$2000 a year in repairs (beyond that of typical maintenance). If you are not comfortable with the idea, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the ownership experience. My mother has 2003 CLK 430, It averages around $700 a year in small fixes, and hits her up for the occasional $1000+ repair every few years. She drives it around 6000 miles a year.

What’s the mileage?

Where do you live?

Rust belt?

Is the car structurally sound . . . to be specific, is it solid, or more like swiss cheese?

Just out of curiosity . . . what was the transmission leak?

The electrical connector, conductor plate, or something else?

Those items, along with the steering damper and shifter bushings are common wear items on this vehicle, and other Benzes of that era.

is it a money hole . . . that depends on you. Let me clarify . . . if you consider routine maintenance and wear and tear items, such as brakes, tires, tune-up, etc. to be troublesome and costly repairs, then yes, it is a money-pit . . . by YOUR definition.

By MY definition, the car is not a money pit. Because I consider those things I mentioned the cost of keeping any car running.

Is this the convertible, or the “coupe” . . . ?

I used parentheses, because by some definitions, it’s not a true coupe.

If it were my car, and it looked good, I would keep it.

But be warned, if it’s got any kind of mileage, and I suspect it does, due to its age, you’ll soon be due for suspension and steering work, such as control arm bushings, steering linkage, shocks, and so on. And the brakes do not last particularly long, but the upside is they grab HARD.

Have you been servicing the automatic transmission fluid regularly? If anybody tells you it’s lifetime fluid, don’t go back there again. They have no idea what they’re talking about.

Have you already done your plugs, wires and motor mounts?

Those items sound like normal wear and tear for a 20 year old car. A money pit it is not.

Yes. But you only live once. If it is the car you like, the car for you, should be no problem – other than to your wallet — to keep it going for a long time. It’s a well designed car. But pricier to repair than an econobox.

Cost to replace starter motor on the 3.2 V6: $700 parts plus 3.4 hour labor
Same job on my early 90’s Corolla: $150 parts plus 0.8 hours labor

If you replaced this vehicle with a late model used luxury car you may experience $3,000 to $5,000 in depreciation each year, your car may not be costly to own compared to what it could cost for a similar vehicle.

If you owned a car like George’s you wouldn’t have air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, etc.


Thanks for your very comprehensive response and useful questions. My black on black 430 CLK coupe has 117K miles. It lived in Redding CA. till 3 yrs ago when we moved to Jacksonville Fl.

The Trans leaked at the electrical connector.

Body has no rust. Completely sound except for front bumper. I tore it backing away from a concrete bumper in a parking lot. Wrapped Gorilla tape around it. Barely noticeable and pretty solid now.

Replaced Trans fluid at 60K miles, front brakes at 97K, plugs at 99K,.Haven’t done motor mounts.

I’m easy spending $1000 a yr or so in addition to regular maint. cause I still think its a very cool car and young guys often say things like “Cool Benz, Mr.”

Most CLK430s have mangled bumpers by now. It’s lower than the one found on CLK320s, and it makes a big difference. They’re constantly hammered, when you’re entering or leaving a steep driveway, they hit those concrete “bumpers” found in parking lots, as you did. Very common. It’s even happened to people that were being extremely careful. In my opinion, it’s a poor design

As for motor mounts, here’s a heads up. If the guy doing the maintenance, or any other upcoming work, says you need motor mounts, do NOT blow it off. They are aluminum, rubber and hydraulic fluid. It is natural that they will compress over time, and leak out the hydraulic fluid. I have seen instances where customers declined replacement, and they broke so badly, that the car came into the shop on the hook, because the engine was badly tilted to one side, literally shearing off one of the ground straps. I expect yours are in marginal shape by now.


I’ll take your advice. Thanks again for your help!

You’ve got a good car there :+1: