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Opinions on 1998 Mercedes C230 for college student

In the vein of Click and Clack’s advice to get your kids a big old Volvo to keep them off the roads, I have available a 1998 Mercedes C230 with 230K miles, good engine, good tires, broken A/C, radio with iPod input and, best of all, free from a relative. Gets 30 mpg on highway, owned by sister-in-law for many years but not bought new. Is this an OK car for my daughter who goes to college about 60 miles away. Will be used for occasional travel home and not much else. Requires premium gas but otherwise seems good for the money. We are more concerned with safety and handling. Here in Virginia we get very little snow and she can always open the windows in the summer. What do you think? I have no experience with Mercedes except to know they are pricey to fix but great to drive.

“they are pricey to fix”

Yes, there will probably be more than average repairs and maintenance, and the prices will be hair raising.
With 230K miles and 14-15 years anything is liable to go out, even with good maintenance.

I think in general a European luxury car is a bad idea for the non-rich.

Since it’s free I guess it’s worth driving until that first big ticket repair.

Ditto to that last sentance of circuitsmith’s post.

get a job and save money up while driving it to get something less expensive to operate

Agree with circuitsmith, its free, drive it till it breaks.

As an owner of 2 Mercedes older than the C230 in question, let me add that finding a good independent mechanic who knows Mercedes will help the repair bills be much more tolerable.

Concerning safety, I have a colleague who will drive nothing but a Mercedes Benz. His wife was in a terrible accident with a Mercedes Benz. The car was totaled in the head on crash but his wife survived. He believes that she would have been killed in most other cars. I think the Mercedes is a very safe car.
I only know what I have read about the reliability of the Mercedes Benz. However, if it spends more time in the shop than on the road, that would make it a very safe car.

This class of benz is pretty fuel economical even with premium. They have great brakes and good manuverability. I maintain my c220 at a very low cost. The body is a solid safe structure bar none. There are lots of good independent mechanics for Benz in parts of Virginia. Yes at some point like any car of this age there will be a pricey bill. But any US car at this milage faces the same bill.

Most basic services and repairs should be in line with repairs on most other makes.
For free I would be all over that car. Catch some of the basics like an oil change, spark plugs, fuel/air filters, check tire pressure and maybe change the transmission fluid and motor on.

Since you can get the car for free, I think you should take it. Do keep up the maintenance (oil changes, brakes, spark plugs, transmission fluid change, etc) You can afford to do this for the price you are paying for the car. Don’t treat it as a beater and you may be able to get reliable service for several years.

I seem to agree with the above advice. It all seems like good. common sense thinking. If maintenance is kept up and the car is driven ‘sensibly’ it may have many miles left in it and you just can’t beat the price.