Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Consumer Reviews
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I bought a used 2002 S430 in November of 2012. It was $11,000. I immediately had an issue with the air suspension which leaked and I had Peter, a local mechanic (SilverStar Motors) who specialized in Mercedes fix it. He is much more reasonable than the dealership but the repair was $1400. He warned me the car has a history of expensive issues. I replaced the tires with ContiPro fro $600. I did not have any additional issues until recently it was side-swiped on the street and the driver mirror was tore off. The parts alone are over $1000 and I'm looking at 1300-$1,500 with labor and paint. To pile on my check engine light came on and the car has a bit of a shake and rough idle. We will see.
The air conditioning had to be replaced 5 months after I bought it. The entire dashboard went out (i.e. no speedometer, no dash lights, no signal indicator lights). The engine kept running AFTER the car was turned off and the key taken out of the ignition. The hydraulic system failed leaving the car sitting 6" from the ground. Replaced battery twice in 30 months. GPS is archaic - not user friendly and half the addresses are not in the system. Have to buy add'l CD-ROMs to go all over the U.S. The mobile phone with the car is not digital and the dealer said it will cost $1,100 to upgrade to a digital phone.
I purchased the car new and picked it up at the factory in Germany in 2001, so I had the car probably way too long. I loved the style with the Sport (AMG) body kit and wheels in Alabaster white with tinted windows. It still looks better in my opinion than most of the later designs Mercedes foisted on us which is why I kept so long. However, not without great cost. I kept all receipts and spent approximately $14,000 on repairs during my tenure with it including a transmission rebuild and complete air suspension replacement. Oh, and it only had 105,000 miles on it when I sold it today for $3,100. It had many issues when sold: 3 of four soft door closers inoperable @$400 ea; one inoperable door lock @$800; leaking valve cover gaskets @ $600; inoperable remote trunk opener @ $600. The exterior and interior were perfect, the car had never even been through a car wash, having been owned by one obsessive owner who is also a car nut with six other equally cared for vehicles. In comparison, my wife got a 2002 Lexus SC 430 a retractable hardtop convertible also in late 2001and we have put only $1,300 in repairs into that car. The comparison tells me a lot. She still loves the car and plans on keeping a lot longer. This was my fourth Mercedes over the past thirty years and the maintenance history on all was pretty much the same story as this last car. Needless to say there are no more Mercedes in my future however long that may be. Makes a Genesis G80 Sport look pretty good!
The bargain price of today hides expensive repairs. It has design flaws: cup holders, knee hits seat warmer, ugly center console. It has known leak issues and electrical issues. It has air suspension issues. Auto door locks and trunk flaws. Don't forget the untreated metal that rusts from the inside. Watch for rust around tire wells all up and down sides. Rust quote was $2700. The gorgeous slick design holds water. The car is now 11 so expect collapsed engine mounts, catalytic converter rattles, drive shaft flex disk...So you can plan on buying it for $6-7K and putting 6-8K into it and you will get a beautiful smooth powerful ride that originally cost $80K+ and the engine will go to 200K mi.
Bought this car new. Thought I would keep it for 10 yrs. Or 200,000 miles. It might last but the repair bills after 100,000 miles is way out of line. Had many problems with this car. Front end work, gear selector replaced, auto doors repaired, all items you would not expect to break, could not lock doors, many other items. I made the mistake in keeping this car too long. I have had many Mercedes this was the worst for repair. Do not think I will be buying another one.