Which year Mercedes Benz model to avoid?

This article will answer the following questions: Which year does the Mercedes Benz model avoid? Should you buy a used Mercedes Benz car? Why avoid buying a few Mercedes Benz models?

Which year Mercedes Benz model to avoid?

Following table list some of the Mercedes Benz models and their production years which should be avoided due to their poor reliability.

ModelProduction year
Mercedes Benz S  Class2006-2013
Mercedes Benz C Class2004-2011

The specifications of the above-listed models are explained below: 

  • Mercedes Benz S  Class (2006-2013)

Mercedes Benz launched the fifth generation of their top-of-the-line model, the S class in 2006. The fifth generation of the S class offers a great level of comfort and there are many technological innovations like split-screen view, seat massagers and rear entertainment systems. 

The Mechanical suspension setup was also complex, Airmatic suspensions were installed across all models in the S Class and 4 Matic drivetrain options were available in a few models. 

The fifth generation of S Class featured driver assistance systems like a rearview camera, a Multifunction camera with an intelligent lighting system and Attention assist. 

The Attention assist was also more advanced compared to previous generations as it used an independent steering angle sensor to monitor the driver’s steering inputs along with the total driving time of the journey.

The Fifth generation of the S Class W221 is available in the used car market for a very cheap price. Most of the S class customers use the vehicle for commuting and they are chauffeured drivers therefore on average the cars can cover more than 12,000 miles in a year.

A huge portion of the S class belongs to fleet vehicles, despite proper maintenance records and good condition most customers looking for used Mercedes Benz avoid S class with high mileage as unexpected repairs and maintenance costs can easily exceed the cost of the vehicle itself.

  • Mercedes Benz C Class (2004-2011)

Mercedes-Benz launched the third generation of the C Class with model series W204 in 2004. The C Class overall is a very reliable car and comes in a variety of drivetrain choices. The popularity of C Class led to the introduction of the 4matic drivetrain into the C Class segment for the first time.

The production of the third generation W204 exceeded 2 million units worldwide and it was majorly produced in the Mercedes Benz main factory at Sindelfingen, Germany and a few units were produced in Beijing, London and South Africa. 

The third generation is available in the used car market and there are a lot of models for sale, it was a good car but most of the customers upgraded to the newer generation of the bigger E class. Purchasing a used third-generation of C Class should be avoided as the car has too many issues and there are much better alternatives in the luxury car market.

Why avoid buying Mercedes Benz S and C class manufactured in 2004-2011?

Although the S class and C class are very durable it does not change the fact that these are almost 20 years old. There are many control units onboard the S class and it is riddled with many electrical issues. These electrical issues can cost thousands of dollars to rectify.

The C Class also has its fair share of electrical and Mechanical problems but the repair cost is slightly less compared to the third generation of S Class following are some of the issues in S and C Class.

  • ABS/ESP inoperative.

The ABS and ESP systems became imperative due to malfunction in the wheel speed sensors at the front left and right wheels. The wheel speed is monitored by the ESP control unit and it must be within a specified range of 0-250 kmph. Due to a fault in the wheel speed sensor, incorrect wheel speeds were registered on the front left and right wheels. 

The only remedy was to replace both wheel speed sensors on the front wheels if it’s a C class, the S Class needs replacement of all four-wheel speed sensors as Mercedes Benz introduced more improved wheel speed sensors. Mercedes Benz also updated the part numbers of the RPM sensors. Replacing only one wheel speed sensor would not rectify the concern, as identifying which rpm sensor malfunctions were not possible in the ESP control unit.

Another fault in the ESP control unit caused the ABS and ESP to stop working; there was an internal malfunction in the ESP control unit located on the hydraulic body of the brake system. Updating the control unit software did not rectify the issue and a new ESP control unit was installed to rectify the problem.

Engine light malfunction

The M272 V6 petrol engine is common in the S class and the C class. It has a variable intake manifold with a hot air mass flow sensor installed before the throttle valve. The air mass sensor measures the air going into the intake manifold and as petrol engines are quantity controlled the fuel injected was determined by the air mass and engine load.

The intake manifold is connected to the intake ports and a gasket is installed between them which leaks as the mileage starts to increase. The leak in the intake manifold gasket causes un-metered air to enter the intake of the engine and affect the mixture formation.

The remedy was not expensive as the gasket cost was less and once the fault was rectified the vehicle was good for thousands of kilometres. If the vehicle is used without rectifying the fault then the air mass sensor gets damaged as the control unit keeps trying to correct the hot film mass drift compensation. 

Battery problems.

The Mercedes Benz models manufactured between 2004 and 2011 have a dual battery concert. The dual battery concept had a dedicated starter battery in the front of the engine compartment and there was the main battery in the luggage compartment of the vehicle.

The replacement cost of both the batteries can easily cost 800-1000 USD and if the batteries are not replaced then it will lead to a vehicle breakdown.

As there are many control units onboard, a faulty control unit can cause a parasitic drain of the battery. If the battery of the vehicle is drained even after replacement then it is necessary to check the quiescent current consumption of the vehicle and identify the faulty control unit.

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Buying a used Mercedes Benz car is a reasonable way to experience the comfort and performance of these cars but the third generation of the S and the  C class must be avoided. There are no extended warranty plans for these models and these cars can easily turn into a money pit.