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Mercedes for a 16-year old?!?!


We WERE looking at a 2012-ish Toyota Corolla for our new teenage driver (safe, reliable, inexpensive), but have stumbled upon a 2003 Mercedes C240 with ONLY 33,700 miles. Price is $11,000. Opinions? Are we just buying $11,000 worth of trouble and maintenance hassles or could this be a really neat deal? What would you do?

While it is only $11,000 to buy, parts and labor will be as much as a new C-class Benz. If the choice is just these two, I would buy the Corolla. But you can get a better deal on anything other than a Toyota or Honda, and most compact cars these days have excellent reliability. No knock on those two brands (I own a Honda Accord).

web master ;
Is it possible to combine these three redundant posts into one ?

Nice car, but…
Overpriced at 11 grand.

It’s a high end car compared to a Corolla. High end, more bells and whistles complexity, and the name badge will denote higher maintenance and repair costs.

Given the 2 options, the Corolla is a better choice.

Buy the Corolla!! With the Mercedes you will be stumbling into your bank very often for cash/loans. Typically these vehicles cost at least twice as much to keep running if NOTHING BREAKS. If something does break, $2000 and up is to be budgeted for any kind of reapir.

A 2003 Mercedes is just going to be a money pit. The Corolla is the much better option.

I think that the OP has probably gotten the consensus view by now–especially in view of the multiple posts of her question–but I think I can summarize it by saying that a luxury car comes with luxury-level maintenance and repair costs.


Take it from me, as a former Benz master mechanic . . .

The C240 was one of the cheapest and junkiest Benzes ever built. And it had a ton of problems, many/most of which were electrical in nature.

Buying that car would be a real roll of the dice.

And don’t let the low mileage “fool” you. Even when these cars were young, they were trouble prone with low mileage. This one isn’t even young anymore.

Here’s something else to consider . . . even though the C240 has a V6, it’s pretty gutless

It appears that db4690 has a definitive reply but I want to add the following:

Always ask this question about a used car: If this is such a good car then why are you selling it (why was it traded)?

Then listen for the fast talk.

The OP, fortunately has asked the question by posting here.

If the OP wants to get a handle on real world prices for cars then they should use the eBay “Completed Listings” feature for whatever model is being considered.

One is a 2002 C240 one-owner, serviced, 41k miles, and a no-sale at 7 grand. That kind of puts the 11 grand into perspective. :slight_smile:

Before deciding, I’d do these two experiments.

Experiment 1. Go to your local auto parts store and ask how much each of these items is, and if they have them in stock, both for the Mercedes and Corolla, of the corresponding vintage.

Air filter
Brake master cylinder
Brake booster
Clutch master cylinder
Complete set of oxygen sensors
Brake pads (front)
Brake discs (front)

Experiment 2. Go to you local auto mechanic and ask how much it would cost to do these common services or make these repairs on both cars.

Change oil and filter
Replace fuel filter
Replace radiator and thermostat
Replace MAF sensor
Replace drive axels
Change transmission fluid (& filter if an automatic)
Rebuild transmission (if purchasing an automatic)
Replace clutch (if purchasing a manual transmission)

There is hardly anything more expensive than an inexpensive M-B.


You forgot to mention inexpensive old Jags and Range Rovers

Talk about unreliable, bottomless money pits


In fairness it would also be appropriate, I suppose, to do the following:

  1. Drive the Benz and the Toyota on the highway for long enough to appreciate the steering competence of the Benz as it compares to the Toyota.
  2. Look at the styling of the Benz and the Toyota.
  3. Compare crash results if you can.
  4. Consider with your daughter that if she doesn’t study hard she may have to drive a Corolla for the rest of her life. On the other hand she might afford a Benz for what it can bring in spite of the cost.

Cheap to buy and keep is not always the right answer.

Thank you all so much! This is really good information. Forums like this are populated by people such as you who have TONS of knowledge about this stuff, but are truly invaluable to people like me who know not much at ALL about cars! It really is a jungle out there buying used car, multiplied X100 when you aren’t a “car” person! Thanks for taking the time to contribute your thoughts / opinions! Incidentally, going to look at some USED Corollas in about an hour!

@GeorgwSanJose Exactly! Way back in 1963 I was offered an XKE Jaguar with verry low mileage for an attractive price, way less than market.

The guy selling it was from a family who had a dealership of GM cars. The car was won in a lottery, but the new owner could not shift gears, so they traded it. The dealership had trouble getting anyone interested in buying it.

I went to a Chrysler dealerhip and got prices for all the common repairs and did the same at the Jaguar dealership. This was a real eye opener, with Jags costing 3 times as much to service plus all the extra things like “decoking the cylinder head” every 20,000 miles, adjusting the valves with the shims under the cam followers.

I don’t know of too many people who actually do all this but a friend’s young son just bought a VW Golf GTI, “real cheap” from a complete stranger. I feel sorry for the repairs he will be facing, but his dad knows that beforehand I offered any needed advice on car purchases.

While Wha Who’s comment above about doing a test drive comparison of both cars has merit, I have to say I rarely see a bevy of Corollas bunched up off the side of the road because the owners couldn’t keep them steered between the lane lines … :slight_smile:

To buy an old Benz or Jag or Rover, you have to be a lover of these expensive, complicated cars and yes they do offer a cachet that a Corolla never will. But they are a hobby for those with the mechanical skills to keep them running or the money to pay someone to do it.
They are just not daily transportation.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to spoil a 16-year with a Mercedes. A high-end luxury vehicle is something that has to be earned.

A 2003 C240 isn’t actually worth all that much

And it’s not much of a status symbol

It’s essentially an 11 year old used car, which happens to be more expensive to maintain than a Chevy or a Toyota