If you are in the market for a used Mercedes or plan to purchase one sometime in the future, consider the value of having a professional inspection of all the major systems and overall condition before making an offer. It's known simply as a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) and it can save you BIGTIME $$$$$ plus steer you away from purchasing a lemon that looks like a dream. Here's the scoop.
No matter how knowledgeable you are about cars, it seems that all logic and reason fly out the window when you spot that gorgeous smoke silver S-Class you've always wanted with a For Sale sign and your name written all over it. It's magical, but before getting too carried away, follow these steps. Carefully inspect the car for rust, body damage, uneven tire wear, fluid leaks, paint condition, body panel fit, interior condition and overall cleanliness. Ask if there are any maintenance records, which is a big plus if all scheduled maintenance is accounted for in writing. Take the car for a drive and make sure to include city and highway driving. If everything is a go, then ask if it is OK to have a mechanic of your choice at another shop inspect the car. If the owner or dealer balks, head for the hills and don't look back. If given the green light, schedule an appointment with your favorite mechanic who specializes in MBs and who is knowledgeable concerning your particular model. Even if the car carries a warranty, is "certified" or is Starmarked, get a PPI or you could leave too much of your hard earned cash on their table.
A PPI involves simply paying an automotive technician to professionally inspect and evaluate a used car under consideration for purchase. The mechanic will put the car up on a lift, remove the wheels to inspect the brakes and suspension components, check for evidence of body repairs, check for rust, look for paint overspray, check all lights, check for leaks, test climate controls, note interior condition and finally do a test drive. If there are any questions about the engine's performance or condition, there are several diagnostic procedures available for an extra charge. Mercedes automobiles can be made to LOOK beautiful cosmetically but hide many mechanical defects, which is why an experienced eye is indispensable. Most mechanics have a PPI checklist to make sure all systems are inspected, which will include space to show what repairs are needed or will be needed soon and estimates for the cost of repairs. Take the inspection sheet back to the owner or dealer and use it as a bargaining chip in negotiating the final purchase price. Thousands of dollars can be saved, but wait, there's more. You will now possess knowledge concerning when to expect certain parts to wear out so there will be plenty of time to financially prepare and you will have a MUCH better opinion concerning the overall condition of the car.
The cost of a PPI may not be cheap, varying anywhere from $100 to $250 for a full inspection, but it's worth it every single time. Let's assume the car passes inspection with no suggested repairs, then by all means pay a premium for a well maintained MB. If the car fails inspection, then walk away from it and save thousands in repair bills and countless headaches. There are plenty of Mercedes beauties out there so don't get too focused on just one. Be patient, find an excellent example, have it inspected, and enjoy driving the best car in the world for many years to come.
Steven Rae, Technical Advisor