It is a known fact that Mercedes cars offer tremendous engineering and value for money and often commands a premium price in the market. For most of the aspiring owners, the biggest hurdle to overcome to own the first set of wheels from Mercedes is the price, but there is a little secret that will help you buy the Mercedes without busting your wallet. The pre-owned luxury cars landscape in India have seen a considerable change during past few years, and the secret of finding your darling Mercedes at a fraction of the cost when the car left the factory, lies in the pre-owned market.
With a little due diligence, you can take home a Mercedes from yesteryears at a fraction of cost, and many times, you will end up paying less than what you will be paying for a mass market budget offering. But there are few things to take care before you plonk the money. Do remember, it is not the purchase, but the upkeep that will drain your wallet and with a little care, you can pick up a very good deal, as fresh today as the day when it came from the factory.
Know your budget
When you are out looking for a second hand Mercedes car from the pre-owned market, you need to have a clear idea of the amount you are willing to spend on it. As with any other matter in life, there will be temptations to spend a little more to get that next model, it is very important to know the limits of your purse and to stick to them. You have to divide your budget for the initial purchase and for the first visit to the service center. It is a good idea to change all the fluids and do a thorough check, even if your Mercedes came with full service history. A little preventive maintenance can go a long way to make sure that your car runs forever.
Research and Re-Search
Before you enter the market to search for your beauty, do lot of research online and offline. Decide which model you want to buy and read all the information available about the model and the upgrades happened to it over the years. Crawl through forums, test drive reports and long term ownership reports and look for any particular and reappearing part failures since there are some models with inherent problems and you have to be ready to face the issues, if they ever crop up.
Don't go and throw down the money on the first car you saw because there is another buyer waiting. Always shop around and compare different models available in the market. Chances are that, you will find a better bargain, if you spend some time and effort while choosing your Mercedes. Always do remember – the mantra to save money while shopping for a pre-owned car is to buy the right car, first time. The main concern should be about the maintenance costs, not about the purchase cost. Also if you come across a particular model that is what you exactly had in mind, but the price is high by a small margin, don't think twice – peace of mind and your happiness have much more worth than couple of lakhs in your bank.
Check HER out
Always INSPECT THE CAR thoroughly before entering into negotiations. There are a lot of stories the car can tell you, even before you turn the key for the first time. Park your ABOUT-TO-BE MERCEDES on a leveled surface and check for any visual imperfections. Keep an eye out for any rust spots or shoddy repair works. If the owner do not care to get the car restored to factory condition after a small mishap, it is a clear indicator that he/she is not the kind of person who cares about the car deeply. Look for any oil or coolant leaks under the body and for the tight panel gaps and shut lines. Make sure that the suspension is looking good visually – the car should not be drooping, and the body line should be in a good shape. Do check the trunk for any rust spots and the tyres for wear and tear, and don't forget to take note of the general health. No one likes to run their cars on balding tyres, so if the car comes with balding tyres or with tyres having cracks on the sidewalls, be cautious.
Pop the hood
Once you are satisfied with the exterior, pop open the hood and do a visual inspection. Check for the oil and coolant level and do a visual inspection of the oil on the dipstick. The oil should be relatively healthy, and the level should be between MIN to MAX, and so the coolant level. Proper engine oil change is very important for a healthy powertrain, so if there is a sign of less oil, or if the oil is really thick and sticky, be wary of the car. If the owner does not bother to keep the engine healthy by doing periodic oil changes, better stay away from that particular car.
Your Mercedes engine is build tough to keep running for years without a hiccup, but if you ever have to open and fix the engine, be ready to spend some time and money. One telltale sign of an engine in poor health can be easily found out by inspecting the coolant cap. Open the oil fill cap on the valve cover and check the underside of the cap – if you see any foaming, drop the idea and start looking for another car. The foaming indicates that the engine is not breathing properly or there is a gasket leak, and these are not the trivial issues you can think of trying your luck with.
Get in and Check out
Now that you are done with the exterior and under the hood, open the door and get inside the car. Start with a visual inspection of the seats and other interior trims. Deep scratches on the wood trims or gashes on the leather can be a costly affair to repair, and will be an eye sore if left unrepaired. Look at the carpets and the pedals to see if they feel more worn out than the odometer is indicating. Turn on the ignition and look at the info displayed on the MID (multi information display). Check for any telltale WARNING LIGHTS and make sure that the COMAND module is working properly. Also play a sample track and check the health of the audio system. Mercedes comes with sophisticated and bespoke audio systems and you will not get replacement parts at your corner shops.
Check the AIRMATIC air suspension, and make sure that there are no issues with the suspension parts. It is natural to lose some air from the pressure pumps and the car to lower if it is locked and left idle for few days, but when the car is switched on, the car should raise and should auto level itself. If any suspension is not rising up, or if any wheel has dropped down inside the wheel arch, it indicates that the suspension is having issues and it will be a costly affair to repair. Also, try the different suspension levels and tweaks from the COMAND module and make sure that it is responding as described in the manual. Drive the car and look for any suspension or transmission noises and keep an ear out to detect any unwanted noises or rattles.
History that matters
Always check the service history of the car. If the car does not come with a full service history, it is a clear indication to stay away, as you will never know what work was really done and what was skipped. You can get the full service history from the nearest Mercedes Benz service center, and it is always a good sign if the car is fully maintained at the authorized service center during its lifetime. This will make sure that all the periodic checks and maintenance tasks are taken care as outlined by the manufacturer and will ensure a trouble free long life. Check for any accident repairs and make sure that all the recommended tasks have been carried out. Do check the insurance history to see if the car has made any claims in the past – a car with a long history of No Claim Bonus indicates that the insurance was not claimed and is most probably not involved in major mishaps.
Legal is the way
Last but not least, make sure that the car is fully legal. Stay away from grey market imports, no matter how tempting the deal might be. Make sure that the road tax is fully paid and the insurance is renewed on time. Cross check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the car and the VIN on the RC book and other papers. Use a VIN decoder to decode it and match the details of the car to that on the papers to make sure that the car you are planning to buy is on level, outside and inside.