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Old 10-27-2008, 04:02 PM
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Is 180k miles on 1998 C230 too much to buy as used car?

Hi All,

I am thinking of buying 1998 c230 with 180k miles. Is that a lots of mileage for used car to buy? I am looking for a reliable car. I had the choice between 1998 c230 and 1995 E320 (with 148k miles) and based my research of the form, I concluded that C230 between 1997 - 1998 are the most reliable Benz ( of course after the the ultimate 240D).

In Advance, thank you for you inputs...

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Here are my findings while searching the forms:

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The best bang for your buck is probably an aspro four cylinder C-Class.
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The 1996 C220, and 1997-1998 C230 cars are good buys because:
1. The M111 engine is bullet-proof and long lived. No headgasket problems, and the 1996 on cars have no wiring harness issues.

2. Easy on gas. The four cylinder cars are more than powerful enough to slice through traffic, climb mountain passes, or spend all day at 100+mph, but can easily break 30US mpg.

3. Easy to service. The engine bays on the four banger C's are open and parts are easily accessed. I do most of my own service on the C230, and it's a snap.

4. 1998 cars have lots of nice stuff, and prices are reasonable now. You get side bags, SmartKey, 722.6 five speed, and the same body updates as the 99-00 cars. Also, on 1996-98 cars, you get the fully automatic climate control, which is a nice feature for those of us (like me) that enjoy it.

When miles roll on, repairing the M111 W202 is pretty easy. The timing chain is double row chain, and will last along time, but when it's time to be replaced, is pretty easy thanks to the open engine bay. Things like thermostat housing, water pump, serpentine belt and tensioner/shock, and so on are easy to get at, and parts reasonably priced.

The AC systems on C-class cars are the variable pressure compressor systems, and are the most reliable of the MB systems.

The evaporator and blower motor are not buried beneath 30 hours of labour.

For driving, the compact C-Class offers decent interior room (it's a family car for us) but is easy to park and drive. The C-Pillars are a little big, but the mirrors are reasonably sized, so that makes up for it. The C-Class chassis is rock solid, and the A-Arm suspension is much better than the strut set-up in the W201/W124 cars.

The W202 has a much better reliability record than the W203 C-Class, and as a used car, they make a really good buy.


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What to buy for around $15,000 thread:
What to buy for around $15,000??

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Gillybenztech posted that in his opinion the 1998 and earlier C230's were the most reliable and cheap to operate car that Mercedes ever made.

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After reading my thread, some of my thoughts aren't obvious:

The 1999 and later C230 had the Kompressor, and there have been some engine management issues with that car, as well as long term reliability issues with the supercharger.

1994-1997 C280's have the M104 straight six, but might be avoided because they will all at some point leak oil from the head gasket and need replacement. The updated headgaskets don't leak, but the repair is a $1,500 job. Also, 1994 and 1995 C280's will have the bad engine wiring harness, too, an $800 repair.

Last, the V6 from 1998- on in the C280 doesn't have engine leaks, but from 1998 to 2000 had problems with the harmonic balancer pulley that comes apart and can cause significant engine troubles.

Thus, I'd only consider a 1997-1998 C230.

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I own and drive both a 1987 300E w124, and a 1998 C230. All the above comments are very appropriate, especially those of Blackmercedes and Suginami. I would add that I like the handling and braking better on the w124, although the C230 became a lot better with Koni sport shocks, 16" rims, and Yoko ES100 tires. It is still a little much on brake dive for my tastes, and the brakes are solid unvented disks, and don't feel as competent as the w124 brakes, but have never failed to stop when I wanted. I am thinking of ss lines on the C230 just to get a more firm pedal feel.

The interior feels more cramped on the C230 than it really is, but still the w124 feels like a limo by comparison, both in front and in back, especially with a baby seat in place. Both cars have MB Tex, which feels thicker and more substantial on the 300E. The C230 has the fold down rear seat, which really increases the utility of the car over the w124. But the C230 isn't as quiet as the w124, or as fast, either.

I am not sure if the C230 is going to have an AC that is less expensive to work on than the w124, since the LCD control panel is a very expensive item if it goes away. This will probably be offset by the more open engine compartment on the c230 relative to the late 300E.

However, I have no doubt that the C230 will be easier to work on. Also, the 35mpg hiway/24mpg town is hard to beat - the 300E once got 24 hiway as it's personal best! Interestingly, while the C230 is a lot shorter than my 1987 300E, it weighs in about 100+lbs more! The C230 isn't really a dog on acceleration, but think of an early 300E with a 100 lb passenger and 10% less horsepower. The go pedal spends a fair amount of time close to the floor on acceleration, but from 40-80mph is very adequate - even quick. Upsolute makes a chip that will give the C230 about 10-15% more ponies, which would make it relatively close to a late 80's 300E, I imagine.

In an accident, I would rather be in the 300E than in the C230, despite all the airbags on the C230. That may be more of a subjective impression on my part than reality. All told, I love the early 300E, which is a lot less weight and more open under the hood than the later w124s, and handles better. I like the C230 a lot, but it comes in second to my 87 for my purposes. It would be a lot more difficult choice for me comparing a 1995 E320 to a 1998 C230 or 280. Then it would come down to roominess vs utility, power vs fuel economy. They are both great cars, but as Gilly says, the C230 will probably be less to maintain, and with the above mods, will handle pretty decently while retaining a comfortable ride. My wife drives the C230 most, and wishes it were a c280 for the acceleration, but doesn't want to give up the cornering of the lighter 230 engine
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Last edited by slikkemeg; 10-27-2008 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:13 PM
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I have one of each of the models you're considering, both approaching 180,000 miles. The mileage wouldn't scare me. However, it's all about the maintenance. Meaning if you have to play catch up, you're in for a shock on the running cost.
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1988 300 SL (5 Speed)
1994 E320 Wagon
1997 C230
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:03 PM
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EXACLTY WHAT MICHAEL SAID. The miles are nothing for a Mercedes. The issues is that some people are very lax about services and skip services and the ext buyer gets the shaft and plays "catch up"
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:04 PM
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Also you said you have $15,000 to play with. You can buy a Mercedes far under 50,000 miles with that.
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C280 Sport View Post
Also you said you have $15,000 to play with. You can buy a Mercedes far under 50,000 miles with that.

Hi,

No, I do not have $15k. That was the title of another thread where someone was asking about what car to buy for $15000:

What to buy for around $15,000??

Sorry about the confusion...
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:45 PM
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Mine has about that mileage and still burns essentially zero oil. The only negative on the car IMHO is no side curtain airbags. It has side airbags but they are not curtain type. I don't find it cramped at all. But I would want to buy from an original owner. Otherwise you don't know what you are getting as well. Deferred maintenance is a SOB as was mentioned so check all the windows, headrests, etc. The good thing (as a buyer) is that with that mileage almost all the resale value is gone. Even in excellent condition I would say the price on that should be around 4K to 4500. Most people won't even look at a car with that mileage. So you could get a great deal if it is a good specimen. It has lots of nice features, too many to list.
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1998 C230 265,000 miles
1988 F150 144,000 miles (leaks all the colors of the rainbow)
Previous stars: 1981 Brava 210,000 miles, 1978 128 150,000 miles, 1977 B200 Van 175,000 miles, 1972 Vega (great, if rusty, car), 1972 Celica, 1986.5 Supra
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpolli View Post
Mine has about that mileage and still burns essentially zero oil. The only negative on the car IMHO is no side curtain airbags. It has side airbags but they are not curtain type. I don't find it cramped at all. But I would want to buy from an original owner. Otherwise you don't know what you are getting as well. Deferred maintenance is a SOB as was mentioned so check all the windows, headrests, etc. The good thing (as a buyer) is that with that mileage almost all the resale value is gone. Even in excellent condition I would say the price on that should be around 4K to 4500. Most people won't even look at a car with that mileage. So you could get a great deal if it is a good specimen. It has lots of nice features, too many to list.

My only concern was the high mileage, but I asked him about the car, and he told me the following:
Original Owner, The transmission was replaced under warranty at 50k miles, Changed AC compressor last year.

Thanks for the feedback, please keep them coming. I recall one of the form members saying "There is nothing more expensive than cheap mercedes", so I do not want end up spending my whole time fixing the car instead of enjoying it. I like to keep thing simple.

Thanks alot for the feedback. I love this forum
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:21 AM
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One thing I forgot to mention is it will likely need some front end parts. It seems to be somewhat of a weak point on these. Things like center link/tie rod assembly, ball joints, bushings. You might find some of these problems and use it to drive the price down.
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1998 C230 265,000 miles
1988 F150 144,000 miles (leaks all the colors of the rainbow)
Previous stars: 1981 Brava 210,000 miles, 1978 128 150,000 miles, 1977 B200 Van 175,000 miles, 1972 Vega (great, if rusty, car), 1972 Celica, 1986.5 Supra
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  #9  
Old 10-28-2008, 09:41 AM
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They are good little cars but are not particularly simple. Keep in mind you could easily drop $5,000 or more on upkeep and then decide if the car makes sense for you. As far as the air conditioner system, I would not, without looking at an invoice and written work description, take "replaced compressor" at face value. There are numerous ancillary parts that go to refurbishing that system properly.
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1988 300 SL (5 Speed)
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1997 C230
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:26 AM
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on a car with 180K I would worry about tranasmission failure. If the tranny fluid was changed properly you shouldn't have any problem.
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1979 280CE 225,200 miles
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:36 AM
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As stated earlier, there is more to replacing an A/C compressor. The drier should be replaced, and all parts should be flushed properly in both directions to clear any metal debris or particles from black death. In some cases, the condenser should be replaced. Make sure to look at a receipt which hopefully details all of these steps. Otherwise, you could end up sinking a couple G-notes or more into that car.
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpolli View Post
One thing I forgot to mention is it will likely need some front end parts. It seems to be somewhat of a weak point on these. Things like center link/tie rod assembly, ball joints, bushings. You might find some of these problems and use it to drive the price down.
This is really what I'd be thinking about. Same as the rear suspension - there are a lot of rubber bushings in the links that are undoubtedly getting tired. Shock absorbers as well. You could wind up spending two thousand dollars replacing a worn-out suspension if previous owners didn't keep up with this.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:28 PM
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You Guys Rock!!. You opened my eyes on alots of issues that I am not aware of...please keep them coming.

FYI, I learned alot about benz from this forum, and that is how I am keep my 300E running.

Thanks alot...
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:01 PM
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The AC is something to be worried about. The collector whos bought my 1985 300SD last year with 170,000 miles on ot loves the car. Except the AC didnt work when I sold it to him(HE WAS AWARE OF THAT, BUT DIDNT CARE) He has spend more then $4,000 on the AC to get it working good. Have that AC checked before purchase otherwise your putting more into the car the what it will ever be worth.
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2008, 08:43 PM
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Long story short, the W202 in any form is an extremely robust package. That being said, there are a million little things that go. My humblest opinion, and I have a C230, is it's not a particularly desirable model. If you search you'll see mostly little things that aren't going to stop you from driving but are spendy to fix properly. Bottom line:

1 - If you get it for free, then nothing to loose so go for it.
2 - If you have to pay something for the car and it's 100% rust free, but you're very mechanically inclined and can learn, trouble shoot, diagnose and repair, then go for it knowing you can take care of things.
3 - If you pay good money for the car and plan on paying a mechanic to figure out and fix every little thing, then you'd be fighting an uphill battle that most likely does not make economic sense.

Oh and another thing... the interiors clean up real good, but make sure the leather is not dried up, the vinyl is not damaged, the wood and glass are crack free, the carpet under the mats is perfect, and all the switches and buttons work. If any of those are not perfect, I'd pass.

Having lived with the car ten year and 180,000ish miles, the C230 is a very good driving car. The good qualities are the suspension, brakes, transmission, overall comfort, small package for city use, torquey engine (but coarse at high revs) and awesome fuel milage (high twenties city, high thirties highway). Think of the W202 C230 as being from the generation between the old school benzes and the modern crap.

My personal pet peeves with this car are the $500 MAS/AMM dealer part (~$400 Bosch direct) that takes two minutes to snap in (I think I'm on my third) and the electrical harnesses for the brake lights that constantly need to be cleaned.

Good luck.
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Last edited by Michael K; 10-28-2008 at 09:14 PM.
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