Should we buy this Benz?!

by J. Money -

mercedes benz ml 320 cdi

So here’s an interesting deal that recently popped into my inbox!

A cousin of mine asked if any of us need a new car as he’s about to sell his that he hardly uses anymore (and we do! My wife’s is getting pretty decrepit!), and out of all the cars in the world it’s one of my FAVORITES from back in the day!

A Mercedes ML-Class SUV!

SO SEXY!!!! AAAHHHH!!! Even though I’ve never actually been inside one before or even *driven* one! Haha… But that’s exactly why I need your help today :) My heart started racing the second I saw this and I can’t tell if my emotions are masking the actual situation here, or if it’s TRULY a good deal?!

I know they’re made well, and from what I hear are rather *safe*, but I just don’t know much about them and honestly wasn’t even in the market for one…

We were looking for minivans!! Haha… But now we’re both kinda excited – including my wife!! – so trying to take a step back more and really look at the pros/cons… If she had killed it from the start we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, but that just makes it even harder now! :)

Here are some pics, followed by the details:

benz ml320 front

benz ml320 inside front

ml320 benz inside back

ml320 benz back

Details:

  • 2008 Mercedes ML-320 CDI
  • V6
  • 21 MPG
  • All wheel drive
  • 7-speed shiftable automatic
  • Diesel gas
  • Sunroof
  • Heated seats (front and back)
  • Heated steering wheel (!)
  • Tow hitch (our Lexus doesn’t have one)
  • Navigation (not updated though)
  • Screens in the back seats for the kids
  • No major issues
  • Only two owners – with my cuz owning for past 10 years
  • Regularly maintained and serviced at Benz dealership
  • Really well taken care of

And then the two biggies:

  • Price tag: $5,000 (!!!) (For family members only – The KBB shows $7,000’ish which is what he’ll list it for if none of us are interested in it…)
  • Mileage: 140,000 miles (!!!)

Ackk!!! See my dilemma??

A hot car (my once dream car!) well maintained and super cheap, but at any moment can still break down and cost us up the keister in repairs…

And while I don’t know much about the cars themselves, I DO know they are not cheap to maintain. At least if you’re taking them to the dealership every time. (I called my local shop to see if they work on them, and they do, however they can’t get into the electronic side of things or other Benz-specific items so we’d be out of luck on anything outside of regular repairs/maintenance)

There’s a lot of other cons I can think of right off the bat too:

  • Diesel is not always the easiest to find
  • Diesel is more expensive than regular gas (about 50 cents it seems like), however cheaper than *premium* gas by also 50 cents’ish which most luxury vehicles take
  • We already have an SUV and they’re not the greatest on the environment (though not sure how different minivans are?)
  • They don’t have a third row like minivans do, although it does have a large trunk
  • It’s the opposite of stealth wealth, which I don’t like ONE BIT!! (Even though it’s only $5k!!)
  • I’m not a fan of black on black, but can’t really be too picky, haha…
  • It’s very possible I’ll hate driving it, which I’ll only know if I go to test drive it…
  • I’ll have to go partially across the country to get it as my cuz doesn’t live anywhere close to me (Road trip!!! ;))

We’re on day #3 of thinking about it, and I still can’t wrap my head around it enough to make a call one way or the other

A part of me just wants to say “F it – let’s get it done and have some fun!!!” But the other – older man – version of me is saying “Hoooooold on now cowboy, are you sure you want that anxiety dangling over your head like that??! You know it’s going to break down at some point, right?? And how ridiculous would it be parking that thing in your driveway – it’s gonna look like a damn luxury dealership!”

But then I also think about the long process of picking up a car from elsewhere and how annoying/tricky that can be without knowing the history or how well it’s been maintained, and all the different options and models out there, and yada yada yada, and that doesn’t excite me that much either…

I used to love car shopping, but now all the optimizing drives me crazy!! It takes me 10x longer to make larger decisions these days and I hate that about myself :( With this car here we have no choice but to either accept it as-is or move on! And that alone is quite tempting! Haha…

That’s my brain dumping for you today anyways, and now eager to hear what you think…

Would you buy this if you were currently on the hunt for a new car? Have you ever owned a Benz SUV before? Am I stupid for even considering this?? ;)

The one other silly thing I really like about it is that it has a few scratches already which means I won’t feel as bad when my kids get a hold of it, haha… All my anxiety with our Lexus dissipated after I hit that fire hydrant a few years back and it was great! Though never had that problem with Frankencaddy!

Thanks for listening, y’all. Let me have it!

j. money signature

PS: One other thing I should note is that my cousin offered to buy it back from us if we take it home and realize it’s not a good fit for our family after a month or so… which I’d hate to take him up on, but it does lessen the concern more… (and in which case I’d probably just help him sell it here then so it’s not being transported all over the place)

PPS: And before anyone asks, yes – I do miss Frankencaddy :( In my perfect world I’d drive around a beater all day long and be in bliss, but until my kids are on their own I have to keep my “dad” pants on and make sure safety/reliability comes first. The day they’re gone though I’m taking those pants right off! Haha… Hubba hubba!

{ 119 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie October 7, 2019 at 6:06 am

A cousin of mine owned one years ago & said it was very expensive to maintain. Check out the price of oil changes, repair costs, new tires, etc.

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2 Kel October 7, 2019 at 6:29 am

As a mom with 5 kids we had a Honda Odyssey then a larger SUV. The Odyssey held its value with very minimal issues and was safe as well. You can put part of the third row down if you have 3 kids. The trunk wasn’t very big but it was pretty deep so you could fit a lot.

Personally I think the Mercedes would work fine for 0-2 kids but 3 plus no way, but then again I love space so we drive a bigger SUV now (bought used of course!) It takes regular gas though and isn’t super expensive to maintain.

I personally wouldn’t buy a Mercedes just knowing the cost of maintenance. My friend’s husband sold his and bought a Honda Accord due to the cost of maintaining it and replacement parts. Also gasoline and even a cheaper Mercedes car insurance will always be more. Just my 2 cents! :)

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3 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:55 am

The Odyssey is at the top of our minivan list at #2 :)

The Sienna is first, if we don’t go after this one, haha…

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4 Dianne October 9, 2019 at 9:36 pm

Mega Sienna votes, still have our 2006 even though the kids are grown.

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5 Dwight October 7, 2019 at 6:36 am

J…have a licensed independent mechanic evaluate the Benz and then have him (or her) give you an idea of what expenses your looking at for the next two years….5K is hard to ignore…but the 140K in mileage is a big red alert for me…if you have an idea of what money your going to be putting down in the next two years that might add clarity to your decision.

Dwight

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6 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:56 am

Yup!

Always a fan of taking it to a dealer for a look-over… Good reminder.

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7 SuperBien October 7, 2019 at 6:45 am

This is a hard one! That is super cheap for a car – that’s how much I paid for a cheap used hatchback 20 years ago! But 140k miles, and an ostentatious Benz… Usually my approach is to get a pro to pry off the logos, and preferably replace them with something from eBay or custom… but that front grill won’t let that happen. I’d ultimately go with it makes you happy at a price you can afford, go for it.

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8 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:57 am

Haha…

What logo would you slap on it?? Superman? :)

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9 Destiny Woodbury October 7, 2019 at 6:50 am

I own a Mercedes and it’s costly to repair. Especially over 140,000. Even though the price is good, I think you should pass. This SUV will only last you up to 2-3 years. Repairs will start before then. It’s like vehicles just know when to start having issues. Haha! Also, my question for you is would you even consider this SUV if it wasn’t a Mercedes SUV? Knowing all the things you listed as cons?

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10 Becky October 7, 2019 at 8:39 am

That’s a great thought experiment, and I agree!
If it wasn’t a Mercedes, would you be having the same internal debate, or would you just pass?

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11 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:58 am

YUP!!

I go for how it make me *feel* – not the brand (for all things – cars, clothes, shoes, etc) – so as long as it all looked and felt the same I’d still be tempted :)

Exactly why I’d also be fine driving around a hooptie that make me feel good!! Which I did for years before kids, haha…

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12 Corinne October 7, 2019 at 6:55 am

I wouldn’t do it. 140k miles is a lot. And it seems on the small side for three kids. You can do better. Don’t be suckered by the flashiness! ;p

Also, if no one in your family takes your cousin up on the deal, then he’ll likely get more money for his car. Think of it as doing your cousin a solid.

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13 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

That is true about passing up on the deal…

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14 Sarai October 7, 2019 at 7:07 am

How much to ensure it? To many miles. How much are tires? Not worth it.

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15 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

Probably way more expensive on both :)

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16 Adam October 7, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Ooh, legit point about the rubber! I almost fell irrevocably in love with the idea of a used BMW I3 REx until I noticed all the complaints about tire longevity… and there are only one or two oddly-sized models of tire in the world that fit it, so of course they’re $$$.

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17 Megan October 7, 2019 at 7:14 am

I wouldn’t go for it, especially since you were originally in the market for a minivan. As others have said, it seems small for 3 kids. I don’t know for sure, but I think you can do better on gas mileage with a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. You’ll also be putting money into it sooner or later with that many miles (probably sooner). I bought my 2001 Civic for $1800 in May 2017 with 138,000 and have since paid:

$600 for the timing belt/fuel pump (maintenance, but expensive maintenance)
$2100 for another transmission from a salvage yard
$579 for a control arm and sway bar end links
$300+ to replace the cam shaft sensor
$400 for the speed sensor

plus the usual tires, oil changes, another control arm, alignment, etc…and this was a well maintained car I bought from a friend of my brother

Thankfully I could pay cash for all of that but there’s still the inconvenience of breaking down and having to call AAA, having my car in the shop and needing to sort out other transportation, and being late for work. Having grown up with older cars that were prone to breakdowns, when it comes time for my husband and I to have kids I think I’m going to want something more reliable as sitting on the side of the road with young kids waiting for a tow is something I would rather not have to deal with if possible.

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18 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:01 pm

You’re 100% right on the hassle… I already feel like I’m at a lost with time due to kids and dealing with break downs is no fun on top of that… (though I also know with ALL cars the potential is there, so I guess it’s a matter of hedging the bets with this one?)

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19 Andrew October 7, 2019 at 7:15 am

J Money, I hate to burst your bubble but this vehicle could be free and I wouldn’t take it. A 2008 Benz with 140,000 miles is going to cost a fortune to maintain and repair. Not worth the trouble.

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20 Adam October 7, 2019 at 9:24 am

Andrew posted almost word-for-word exactly what I was thinking. I had to actually look at the date in the bottom right corner of my screen to make sure this wasn’t April 1.

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21 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:04 pm

HAH!!!

Ironically enough I asked myself this exact same question yesterday since $5k is not that much all things considered and my answer was YES! Lol…

But hearing all this from everyone is def. helping… I’m making a list of all Yays and Nays from the community and will share the winning vote once done deciding :)

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22 Jacq October 7, 2019 at 7:38 am

Having been the passenger in a mini van for years before taking over owning & driving it, I’m going to have to suggest holding out. I’m one of 3, and with the mini van, we always had room to bring a friend along, or for mom to do ’emergency pick up’ if a friend’s parent got sick. With multiple car seats (car seat & booster seat), there was still enough room. Lastly there was plenty of room to separate us if anyone was a bit grumpy to be within ‘I’m not touching you’ range for a long drive.
The other thing that stood out when I saw the list was diesel. Most gas stations I go to do have a pump, but it more expensive than regular (which is fine for a mini van).
The maintenance needing to be done at a dealership for the computer bit, is also a time factor. Despite making sure I have a dealership in town for anything significant, it’s still 20 min away, and the wait, or arranging alternate transport while work is being done.
I also agree with other commentors about the milage.

Good luck with your decision!

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23 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm

You’re definitely right on the *room* part…

And our kids aren’t getting any smaller (hah)

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24 Bryan October 7, 2019 at 7:57 am

I read the whole article but all I needed to read was the first sentence. NOPE!! A new European car is bad enough, but a used one? $5,000.00 now to buy, $5,000.00 over the next 3 years to maintain and repair, 2 more years and it’s dead. Quick, call MMM right now so he can punch you in the face and tell you to buy a used Honda or Toyota..Haha! Stay stealthy my friend and don’t be a sucka ;-)

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25 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:07 pm

I think he’d punch me somewhere else if he heard the news ;)

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26 Christine October 7, 2019 at 8:01 am

Adding my voice to the “pass” crowd. My brother had one that he got used for a relative deal and while he had it for several years and liked it, it got really costly toward the end. If I remember correctly, everything cost more—oil, tires, parts and labor, until he was finally priced out of keeping it. I forget the final nail in the coffin but it got to the point he couldn’t rely on it to pick up his kids from daycare.

And to add texture to this story, when he met my sister in law, he had this SUV and she had a BMW coupe of some sort. I think they both thought the other was doing really well, but the joke was on them! They were both broke! The cars were both used and she was, from what I understand, underwater on it by the end. Her car also became incredibly expensive to repair and had at least one scary incident with it. Needless to say, they both have Toyotas now.

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27 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:08 pm

The Toyota Sienna is our minivan of choice so I hear ya :)

Would go better with our Lexus – also made from Toyota, hmm…

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28 Jessy October 7, 2019 at 8:03 am

1. It’s a favorite.
2. You and your wife are excited about it.
3. It’s a great deal.

Take it for a month. Take it to a mechanic, drive it around, then decide. If you do not do that, you will always think about this gorgeous car with regret.

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29 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:08 pm

That is my worry :(

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30 Mike October 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

Couple of points. 1) Average mileage for an 11yr old vehicle is 132,000, so the mileage isn’t that high. 2) There’s something to be said for knowing a vehicle’s history & whether it was maintained properly, as opposed to all the unknowns that come with a vehicle from a dealer/stranger.

Also, $2000 under blue-book could also be viewed as pre-paying $2000 worth of maintainence (had you bought from a dealer, etc) as well. The big question is, will it suit your purpose? Will it do everything you need? If so, I say go for it!

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31 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm

I think it does 75% – with the main part lacking being the 3rd row and room for kids as they get older.. Probably something important ;)

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32 Heather Mentzer October 7, 2019 at 8:48 am

I wouldn’t buy it myself. Once my kids started having friends go everywhere with them, the third row was necessary. Even now it’s an argument about who gets to bring a friend along.

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33 Victoria B. October 7, 2019 at 9:03 am

I’m going add my vote to the NO crowd. 140K miles is actually not that much for a Diesel engine; however, Mercedes are expensive to maintain and have a ton of finicky sensors that will no longer be covered under warranty.
Additionally, consider the added expense of picking this up across the country and driving it home – flight, food, fuel, etc.

You were in the market for a minivan when this came up so I suggest a gently used Honda or Toyota minivan and drive it til the wheels fall off. Buy it from a local dealership with their certified used warranty and ride off into the sunset.

Get your Mercedes fun car when the kids are out of the house and no longer on your balance sheet. Now is not the time.

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34 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:11 pm

The “picking it up” part is an adventure/vacation in my book so not concerned w/ the $$$ there, but you’re probably right that it’s not *time* yet to indulge… And actually if it were I would prob get a beat up hooptie anyways, so maybe that tells me something?

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35 H October 7, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Agree – I vote no

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36 Ev October 7, 2019 at 9:07 am

J:

I’m a big fan of used… and intentionally buy all my cars that way. I currently drive a 2007 Armada which my 2 young sons call “The Tank.” I purchased said tank for the space (my just turned 12 year old is 5’10” already). Having that space is a lifesaver… I would pass for that reason.

Now the GLS would be a bigger problem :)…

Either way, good luck deciding.

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37 Pat October 7, 2019 at 9:22 am

Get it! This is one of my dream cars. The other is a Lexus suv. It is gorgeous and a great price! You shouldn’t even be reading this – you should be out driving your new Benz! Disclosure: maintenance costs are high on a Benz.

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38 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Haha…

STOP TEMPTING ME!!!!! :)

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39 The Crusher October 7, 2019 at 10:02 am

My vote is a firm “no”.

The $5K is very reasonable for you to spend on transportation. A car with 140K miles on it is also very reasonable. The quirk with this particular situation is that I am pretty sure maintaining such a car is just insanely expensive. I have a good friend with a used BMW X5. The damn thing costs a fortune to service. It is insane.

Get a used Toyota and smile. :)

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40 Spike October 7, 2019 at 10:18 am

J,
Have your cuz take a photo of the owners manual page with recommended maintenance up to 150k miles and send it to you. Then, he needs to let you know what major repairs he’s done to the car over the years. Call the dealer and ask the cost of outstanding repairs. Timing belt replaced? If not, cha-ching. Major fluids drained and replaced. Cha-ching. See where I’m going? Not a Mercedes man nor garage monkey but you can determine potential future repair costs. I’m figuring it won’t be cheap.

Spike

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41 Joe October 7, 2019 at 10:25 am

Yeah, it’s $5k,not $50,000. Go for it. You can sell it if it doesn’t work out. Hopefully, it’ll run fine for a couple of years.

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42 Christine October 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

DON’T BE TEMPTED! I owned this vehicle and can tell you that maintenance is and will be outrageously expensive. There was time when Benz brand was reliable for 300,000 miles. Those days are long gone. The brand isn’t what it used to be. Also I can’t imaging hauling 3 kids in it.

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43 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Really??? Did it last a while at least w/ all the costs??

The 3 kids part is def. a top concern :(

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44 Caroline Carlson October 7, 2019 at 10:55 am

So tempting! Yes, lots of miles but, its a diesel, they are workhorse engines. That being said we love our Toyota Sienna XLE premium, an absolute joy on road trips-

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45 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm

That’s my favorite minivan so far!

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46 Jen October 7, 2019 at 11:23 am

Personally, 140K miles on a car would not scare me at all. I purchased by 1999 mustang convertible from my little sister who only owned it for about 2yrs, but my grandfather owned it before that and was religious about oil changes and maintenance. That has paid off big time now that the car is older. It currently has over 214K miles on it and I will likely rebuild the transmission at some point (gladly). It is my second high mileage Ford. That being said, I have an inherent distrust of both newer and used European cars. My advice would be to stay away from any higher mileage European car. While my Ford and my husband’s older Toyota MR2 are pretty reliable, my neighbor is ALWAYS repairing something on his Porche and it costs a minimum of 3x higher than what we would pay for our cars (plus you often need to wait a long time for the parts to be shipped in which means longer downtimes). My husband used to work in the industry and has told me many times that my neighbor’s experience is pretty common with European cars.
PROS: $5K purchase price and you know that the previous owner did a good job maintaining the car. CONS: It’s a EUROPEAN car with higher mileage. Breaks down more frequently and can take longer and cost significantly more to repair compared to US and Asian models. It takes expensive diesel fuel with low miles per gallon. The aftermarket parts market is not very well supplied in the US. You’ll need to buy manufacturer parts for almost everything. You may also have a harder time finding these cars in junk yards to pull parts off of (great way to get window motors and radom tiny little parts quicker).

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47 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Good point on the parts and all the time lost from repairs… Hadn’t really considered the time wasted until today from the other comments on it too :(

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48 Leann October 7, 2019 at 11:34 am

We always check it out with Consumer Reports. My Grandad turned us on to this year’s ago. Pretty much what it lists as a problem will be a problem. We don’t buy any car/truck that doesn’t measure up in Consumer Reports Car issue.

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49 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Interesting…

Seems so old school, but obviously smart!

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50 Penny October 7, 2019 at 11:50 am

Mechanic’s daughter here: foreign parts will run more for sure (shop up-charge also possible). Premium price on premium parts (tires, etc.). That’s also a lot of miles for something requires more expensive parts.

But if it’s a true dream car, go for it!

But if it’s only a dream car because of the email, pass.

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51 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm

I think the biggest brain lock is that it *used* to be my favorite car years ago, before stumbling across PF and focusing more on $$$/lifestyle/etc… So now it’s like I’m being sucked back into it all, and since I can easily afford it now (vs then – hah!) it’s equally as tempting!! But even just typing this out says even more than I realized up until now, so you guys are really helping – thank you :)

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52 Cody October 7, 2019 at 11:50 am

There are a lot of great points to consider above. I especially like the suggestion of asking the question of if you would be interested (or as interested) in it if it were not a Mercedes. As someone in a similar boat to you (3 young kids, all boys), I vote for holding out for that third row. We upsized our vehicle in February after our third was born and it has been amazing for our family. We upsized from a similarly-sized SUV as this one. The three kids were cramped in the back and we were not able to take a single passenger with us outside of our family. Just my $0.02. If buying this SUV will bring joy and add value to your family, then go for it and enjoy unabashedly, my friend.

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53 Brandon October 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

Our household has owned two older, higher mileage Mercs (2001 C320 sedan with ~160k miles and a 2005 C240 4matic sportwagen with ~180k miles) which we bought for $2950 and $3900 respectively. Both had far more miles on them than this 2008 diesel that you’re considering and we ended up getting more money for both of those vehicles than we bought them for (even after accounting for the money we put into them). Yes, maintenance can be expensive but, if you are willing to do some of the work yourself, you’ll find that the total cost of ownership will actually be cheaper than many other vehicles.

For example, oil changes on Mercs are pricey if you go to the dealer but you can buy the same Mobil 1 oil that meets the manufacturer’s specifications for ~$25/5 quart jug at Walmart. On our Mercs, you only needed to change the oil once every 13k miles. As a result, the parts are premium priced compared to the cheapest 10w30 that you can find but, once accounting for the longer oil change interval, our old Mercs were actually cheaper than my 2000 Jeep Wrangler which required oil changes far more often. Secondly, this applies to hardware components too. There were many parts on my Jeep that I had replaced two or three times and the Mercs were still running the same parts from the factory. The point here is that parts on a Mercedes will be more expensive but they will also tend to last longer. Check the owner’s manual and do all the maintenance that is specified – parts are cheap, labor isn’t so don’t cut corners on which fluids to use.

I’m not even in the market for a vehicle and I’m not particularly a fan of the ML SUVs but, at $5k, I’d buy this and just set aside some money every month in case a large repair does come up. It’s a great deal for a great car.

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54 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:25 pm

“Yes, maintenance can be expensive but, if you are willing to do some of the work yourself, you’ll find that the total cost of ownership will actually be cheaper than many other vehicles.”

I think that’s going to be a determining factor here – I know myself well enough that I won’t do any of the work myself, nor do I know/care/desire/ have the free time to :( So the costs will def. be up there for me whether on this car or another, haha..

But at least I know it, right?! :)

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55 Todd October 7, 2019 at 1:39 pm

100% agree with Brandon…

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56 Logica October 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Toyota all the way! Honda close second.

You won’t enjoy the way people will look at it…. or the costs to maintain.

Rent something fun every once in a while if you like :)

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57 J. Money October 7, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Haha…

I don’t care how people look at it (in fact – I’d rather they don’t!! Same w/ my hair – I do it FOR ME, not others :)), but the costs are def. not on my Fun list…

The Toyota route would def. be better in the anxiety department which ranks high on the list…

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58 Ryan Starks October 7, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Well first off how many of these people have actually owned a Mercedes Benz I personally own a 1999 ml320 and I cant see myself ever letting go of it I do all my own maintenance and it has over 230,000 miles and it’s not a diesel so I would say for 5000 dollars you would be hard pressed to find another automobile in that price range that can bring as much saftey and luxury to the table. Just my humble opinion. Once you’ve owned German the rest are vermin

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59 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:09 am

Hahaha, stop….

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60 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 7, 2019 at 12:47 pm

We bought an even older BMW for more than $5000 because it was the only used car that suited our parameters (I wanted a non luxury non European car for maintenance purposes), and it was just a touch under 100K miles at that point. The maintenance sucks but it’s also not truly a dealbreaker, it’s just non-ideal in a world where I want to only budget $500 a year :D

Long term this probably won’t be a good fit for your family but at $5000+maintenance for say, the 3 years it works for your family maybe it’s worth a short test run. What if you borrowed it/ temporarily bought it for two weeks as a test run and see how you feel?

Plus do your research on the maintenance projections for the next three years, of course, and add that to the cost.

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61 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:10 am

It’ll def. be a shorter term car for sure, so I guess that’s another thing to fully think on more – do we want to keep changing cars so frequently or pony up the $$ to get one more long term?!

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62 Kathy October 7, 2019 at 1:12 pm

I think you’ve identified the right questions regards to cost of repairs-foreign cars are expensive to maintain (my grandfather-a surgeon-loved his Mercedes station wagon but it cost him out the nose to maintain it). I’m also wondering where the hybrid/electric car thinking fits in to your philosophy. This isn’t a particularly fuel efficient car by any stretch of the imagination.

I would also say that your comment ‘F*^k it, let’s have some fun‘ sounds a bit YOLO in its thinking.

Not an easy decision.

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63 johnny October 7, 2019 at 1:25 pm

the maintenance cost is going to cost you much more than the purchase cost in a few years. service costs on luxury cars like this is always much more. my $30 oil change on my toyota? it’s $70 on my mom’s old mercedes. brake pads on my toyota? $400….$800 on the mercedes. etc etc.

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64 Kathy October 7, 2019 at 1:35 pm

J-one more thought. My partner and I just went through this and we thought we’d found the perfect car until the seller wouldn’t negotiate the price. So, we walked away and had a few second thoughts until we found exactly the car we were looking for-it answered everything. All of which is to say, there may be something even better around the corner…

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65 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:12 am

You’re right on that… we haven’t really jumped into our searching full throttle, so don’t even know what’s out there yet.

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66 Benji October 7, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Nothing beats a minivan. I’ve had a couple of friends who thought they could get away with an SUV and they suffered for a while before breaking down and buying a minivan. The larger space CAN NOT BE BEAT when dealing with multiple children.

I’d say pass. It’s a great deal if you need an SUV… but you don’t.

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67 J Matty October 7, 2019 at 2:03 pm

It’s hard to beat the Sienna (AKA “Swaggerwagon”). We have an ’04 with 195k on it. Minimal maintenance considering age. Still going strong. Hoping for well over 200K miles.

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68 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:13 am

I want a Swaggerwagon!!!!!!!

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69 Bill Downs October 7, 2019 at 2:43 pm

GET IT! This is a used car, not a marriage. You can always trade or sell later. I have a previous gen ML with 203k miles and I love it! Get the front differential checked out and make sure you don’t have carbon build up in the engine. Lastly, maintenance *can* be higher, but if the vehicle is properly maintained throughout its life this isn’t something you should find any different from your Lexus. I have had multiple Mercs and have been pleased. At this price you can always make your money back easily if you chose not to keep it.

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70 Bah October 7, 2019 at 3:31 pm

you should check out some mercedes forums such as mbworld to have an idea about the reliability of this specific model.

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71 Danielle L Zecher October 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

I straight up love Toyota, so my first thought is “get a Toyota”! I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this site, but it’s great for safety rating information, since that’s one of the things you mention.
https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/Mercedes-Benz/m-class-4-door-suv/2008
I checked it obsessively when we were car shopping four years ago.
Have you checked to see what the tax/tag cost will be on it versus a minivan? That might be another factor to consider.
Finally, if your wife is going to be the one driving it most of the time, and it was once YOUR dream car, how is that going to work out? I don’t know how you two are about keeping cars clean, but I’d have a stroke if hubby was driving my dream car because he’d have it trashed within a week. I know it sounds petty, but it might be a big deal if y’all are polar opposites on cleanliness, bumper stickers, magnets, etc. Marriage counseling isn’t cheap!

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72 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:14 am

Haha…. duly noted ;)

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73 FullTimeFinance October 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm

I wouldn’t do it. It comes down to the cost of Mercedes repairs. It is sky high. And the frequency. You can’t afford your primary family hauler to be unreliable. Also you can’t really afford to say no to a repair if it breaks (except to go buy something else). I’d buy a car such as this as a toy third car, but not as something your family depends on.

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74 Cassidy October 7, 2019 at 4:04 pm

It’s so hard to pass up a good deal! That’s fun! And from a trusted source! That may end the pros though. Do you think you would start to think differently about the Benz if you had your current life stage dream minivan as an available option? I ask because sometimes I want what’s in front of me because well “I do like it, and it is a good deal. And it’s right here now.” All things you won’t be thinking about when you are in the side of the road, paying for a repair, or it’s simply too small for your lifestyle. You just may be picturing your minivan at that point. So maybe picture it now and see how it stacks up against the cons. It also helps to knock down the believe that you won’t have something better if you pass up something good. I always find the thing I need when I need it, even if I have to wait a little.

Excited to see what you choose! You really could go either way-the benefit of the financial choices you’ve made leading up to this point. So enjoy that milestone either way!

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75 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:16 am

Thanks! Excellent question about the dream minivan version? If that was available at the same time as the Benz i feel like it would def. skew me over that way? Which means I should pass and put on my patient pants?? Decisions are so hard sometimes!!! Haha…

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76 Peaceman October 7, 2019 at 4:16 pm

There is a lot of advice flying around on this thread. I am a person who can say that I have driven a lot of cars and owned a lot of cars. 55 to be exact. Of those 55…4 have been Mercedes Benz. I currently have a 2013 ML350 and a Lexus ES 350 sedan. Of all the vehicles that I have had in my life this Mercedes is perhaps my favorite. I am somewhat partial to German cars. They are just superior in nearly every way. A Mercedes-Benz that has been well-maintained and cared for will go for 300k plus miles. As other folks have indicated in this thread, they are not the cheapest cars to maintain. But if you’re looking for cheap I would not be buying this car. If money is an object.. then buy a Toyota. but if you’re looking for a smooth road ready well built well handling and superior car in almost every category… Buy it. But not before you have a qualified independent service technician give it a once over. That would be well worth it before investing in that. Good luck!

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77 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:17 am

55 wow!!!!

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78 Franc Monroy October 7, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Repairs on any Diesel vehicle tend to be extremely expensive. It’s not only because of the cost of parts, but also because there are fewer Diesel mechanics. As a result, it is very likely the car will need to be serviced at a MB dealer.

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79 Stephanie Chin October 7, 2019 at 7:08 pm

If my husband and I agreed on buying a car we would totally do it! That’s so rare for us

On the other hand we just bought a house too over the summer and all the money flying around makes me feel like we have tons of it. Maybe you’re feeling the same way. Like compared to the house purchase $5,000 is a mere pittance.

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80 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:18 am

Haha – maybe!!!! $5k def. sounds REALLY small right now :)

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81 Suz October 7, 2019 at 8:41 pm

I have only owned (used) Toyotas in my younger years and am considered quite frugal. However, I’m in the minority here and would buy it. I’m on my 2nd Mercedes SUV and have had great experiences with both. (I purchased both used and felt they were great buys.) My first was a 2003 ML500 and I recently purchased a 2011 ML350, but neither are diesel. The ML500 is still my favorite vehicle of all time because it was a beast and the only SUV I could easily get up my driveway in large snows, which was a major reason I stuck with this brand when purchasing my next SUV. (I gave the ML500 to my sister and she is still driving it as her primary vehicle and also loves it in the winter.)
We are very lucky that we have mechanic friends and family so maintenance has not been a large expense or concern for us. I’ve run across offers/coupons on MB maintenance from time to time and I do take the vehicles to the dealer when the coupons make it worthwhile. (P.S. The dealer gives MB emblem cookies at checkout which are kinda cool. ;) ) We are FI and have a hard time spending money on vehicles, but have had zero regrets over purchasing either of these SUVs….and will look for another when I am in the market for a replacement vehicle.

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82 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:22 am

Pics of those cookies the next time you go in, please :)

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83 wg Miller October 7, 2019 at 8:48 pm

If I was just going to use it around town, I’d go for it. I assume it’s cheaper than leasing something for a few years, which is all I’d expect it to last.
However, I like road trips & I’d never trust a car with mileage that high away from home.

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84 Leah October 7, 2019 at 9:07 pm

To quote my husband, sometimes free (or 5k, in this case) is too high of a cost to pay.

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85 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:22 am

you married well ;)

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86 John Kingsley October 7, 2019 at 9:45 pm

High mileage real axle has issues

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87 Matt October 7, 2019 at 10:37 pm

I have an ML class that I love.
Maintenance is not outrageous. It’s based on 10000 mile intervals. Depending on how much you drive per year you’re looking at once or twice per year event. Most expensive service so far has been $1500 at the local Mercedes dealership.
Tires- they are not wide and not low profile. Just did tires 20000 miles ago. $900 for 4, mounted and balanced.
Diesel engine and it’s not a Bluetec so you’re not dependent on the AdBlue system. I don’t see the diesel as minus at all.
It’s a rock solid car with a great ride. I have put 115000 on mine in 6 years and I could not be happier.
The one negative about the car is brakes. It’s a heavy car. I had to replace rotors when I did pads. It was $800 for rear pads and rotors.

It sounds like a great car and you have knowledge of its past life and service history.
My advice- you can’t beat the price. Get it checked out by a third party. Both of you drive it for a few days in all kinds of traffic. You’ll know if you love it or not.

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88 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:23 am

That just might be the game changer right there – flying out and test driving it.

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89 Jm October 7, 2019 at 11:17 pm

There is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes, unless it is pre 1998 or so..then it is less expensive and the value goes up over time.

Dirty dog.

I have had 7 new MB leases, bought an ML after I leased it (huge mistake)

I have 2 1985 MB now that I will keep forever. And, they will run forever

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90 Caleb October 7, 2019 at 11:20 pm

A minivan won’t make you feel like this. Look up what to look out for on the 320cdi aka om642. There are a few details to fix and then 500k miles shouldn’t be a problem. You can do it yourself. Preventative.

You don’t need 6 or 7 or 8 seats for 3 kids and 2 adults. I have friends with a single child and a vacestomy who drive minivans. People who don’t have 6+ member families need to stop buying minivans.

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91 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:24 am

Stop, haha…

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92 Deanna @ Recovering Women Wealth October 7, 2019 at 11:36 pm

Hmm, I probably wouldn’t do it because of the diesel fuel and expensive repairs.

On the other hand, I hear Mercedes drive really well but it sounds like there are different results for different models and years. Perhaps do a bit more research on this particular model/year. A quick look on consumer reports shows this one had 4 recalls so maybe see if they’ve gotten them repaired. $5,000 is not bad for 140k miles and the other stats.

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93 Caro October 8, 2019 at 12:52 am

I would say it sounds like this belongs in your recreation budget, and you’d still need to budget separately for your transportation needs. I say that because this vehicle doesn’t actually meet your transportation needs. But if you have room for it in your recreational budget then go for it.

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94 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:25 am

Good insight!

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95 StackingCash October 8, 2019 at 1:36 am

Wow, so much fear of maintenance cost of a well maintained vehicle. Since you cannot trust this family member in that regard for a family only price you should not do it. Do what I did instead, last year I bought a midlife crisis 2018 Audi S5 sportback prestige trim with full warranty LOL! 68k lost about 20k in a year of depreciation. At least I have yet to spend a penny on maintenance or fixes LOL! In the meantime I’m living my dream of driving a car that is like a laser scalpel on the road that can still fit a TV console for a 70 inch TV from IKEA in back seats down. I would listen to everyone that has positive things to say on this matter instead of the negative, half of which are just jealous haters like I used to be LOL #yolo

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96 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:25 am

Did you really get that??? haha… Awesome!!!

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97 StackingCash October 9, 2019 at 10:27 am

Even though I love my car, I have a serious “keeping up with the Jones’s” issue. My neighbor friend spent over a million dollars in 3 years on 8 vehicles… I’ll let you guess what his yearly car registration taxes are…

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98 J. Money October 10, 2019 at 6:11 am

!!!!!!!!!

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99 Dieter October 8, 2019 at 1:44 am

140k the car or engine is hardly broken in, my last ML320 2000, had 285k and ran like new, good maintenance records and the car should be fine. Yes a inspection and a carfax is advisable.

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100 Sertac October 8, 2019 at 7:32 am

I would get it with 2 kids. I have 2 kids and have one even though I had issues we absolutely love it. Don’t make anyone scare you with the oil changes it is actually cheaper per mile. Rarely brakes down but if you are handy most can be diy and easy. Parts are similarly prices to Infiniti and acura. İt has about 190k miles and still keeps going strong.

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101 Alex October 8, 2019 at 10:04 am

I own a 2008 ML550 which is gas, so it is not an apple to apple thing however….

1.-those are resistant vehicles im positive if you repair something it wont be broken again anytime soon (i can confirm based on mine)
2.-diesel engines are legendary on reliability specially on MB (i cannot confirm on my own but i have not seen any MB diesel fail unless water damage or something worse)
3.-tires can be expensive but any other premium car also will be hungry on the same specially if heavier
4.-check up and maybe i missed that part but airmatic suspension is expensive to maintain probably the most heavy hitter on the wallet (on my case)
5.-4matic which i believe is standard in all those those vehicles needs to keep good maintenance and lubing every 12 or 18 months depending on your weather
6.-trans oil change is a must just because of the mileage and MB trans in old cars (more than 5-7 years) tend to fail on the black card/module of the transmission

for 5K i would go for it if you drive it and you like the handling (road trip is a plus to have some quality family time)

peace!

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102 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:26 am

Appreciate it!

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103 Lisa - @MadMoneyMonster October 8, 2019 at 11:02 am

I vote for borrowing it for a couple of days (assuming you’re close enough) to see how you like it. Otherwise, give yourself some more time to digest it and see if you’re both still excited.

$5k isn’t bad at all. Mileage is kinda high but it was maintained.

A year ago I bought my dream car – a BMW X5. Also quite a few years old with some miles but well-maintained. I can tell you that I still “love” it but my initial excitement has waned. The jury is still out as to whether I buy another one in the future after this one goes or if I just buy another reasonable and super efficient car like our Mazda.

One more thing…you only live one, all of your financial ducks are in a row, and you shouldn’t constantly deprive yourself of all of your “wants”. You have to enjoy sometimes.

Good luck!!

Can’t wait to hear how this turns out!!

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104 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:28 am

Good job pulling the trigger on your dream car! Those X5s are also sexy!!

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105 Debt Free in RVA October 8, 2019 at 11:31 am

Sorry for my belated reply.

J, my father-in-law owned a few Mercedes. He told me point blank DO NOT buy one as they are very expensive to maintain. Each repair is thousands $$$

BUT, that said sometime you have to go with your heart! You did just sell your website :-)

For my family of 6 we have a Sienna minivan that is now 7 years old and is awesome. Love it! We bought baseline model new for $ 23,000.

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106 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:29 am

So far I haven’t heard one person say they hate the Sienna which is awesome… At the top of our minivan list if we go that route :)

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107 GJORGI TUSEV October 8, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Buy it for 5000$ i will give you 7000$

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108 Becky October 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm

We actually bought a vehicle that my parents owned. They bought it brand new and put over 100,000 miles on it. When they started talking about selling it, we told them to sell it to us but they thought we were joking and traded it in. Because we knew it was always maintained at the dealership, always had maintenance, etc, we went to the dealership and got a loan on it. Sadly, we didn’t get the deal you got, and we bought it for $10,000. We drove it for nearly 5 years before trading it in. Sadly, we were upside down on the loan (we don’t have a lot of wiggle room in the budget, so we couldn’t make extra payments or pay it off early), so overall it didn’t work for us, but I know you’d probably just pay the $5000 in cash, so it would probably be perfect for you.

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109 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:29 am

Dang – if only your parents knew you were serious!!

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110 Andy October 8, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Consumer Reports says The M-Class has a roomy interior with seating for five and lots of cargo room. You could always count on the ML to ride and handle relatively well, but some interior materials were flimsy. The 2006 redesign brought more powerful V6 and V8 engines, a much better interior, and a seven-speed automatic — one that sometimes hesitated to shift. Controls are confusing. Some drivers consistently mistook the cruise-control lever with the turn-signal stalk. Other ergonomic gripes include dash illumination controls that require reaching through the steering wheel.

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111 John Q Public October 8, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Do it. Great cars. You’ll want to do some maintenance on it. New transfer case chain, new fluid in the front and rear differentials, new fluid and filter in the transmission. Do that as soon as you buy it. Then do regular oil changes every 7 to 9 thousand miles with a new fuel filter at every other oil change. The transfer case chain is hardest part to do. Get a set of ramps and chock the rear wheels. Order all of the parts and fluids and spend a weekend doing those things. It will go at least another 140k if not more.

You will be very happy with this suv. They are zippy, and very comfortable.

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112 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:30 am

That already scares me as I don’t know jack about maintaining cars myself, haha…

Do you live in the DC area?? :)

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113 Tonya October 8, 2019 at 9:15 pm

YES!

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114 Brianna October 8, 2019 at 11:37 pm

I’m going to be the odd man out here and say you should buy it. Where else are you going to get that nice of a car, no sorry, SUV! for $5000 or less?? Worse case scenario you turn around and sell it for more than you paid so you’ll actually end up making money on the deal if you don’t like it!
Now I own two Mercedes, one is a 1999 SLK230, I’ve owned it for 12 years, daily drove it 8 months out of every year for 10 years (only reason I still don’t DD it is because I now have a 2 year old & it’s a 2 seater), it still runs great – I will never part with it. In 200,000 miles the biggest thing that has gone wrong is the a/c compressor had to be replaced, which did cost $400ish, but that’s also bc it’s very old and I got 1 of the last 2 available in the country… Now in the 4 months out of the year (winter) that I didn’t drive it I’d just buy a $1000 to $2000 beater and man were these things terrible!! Usually Ford Taurus or Dodge Stratus that just barely made it through the winter months, but I’d usually turn around and still sell them for more than I paid so it worked I guess. But in my winter car shopping I always realized how grateful I was to have loved good old German engineering no matter other people’s, incorrect, opinions. People that have never owned one sure have a lot to say about something they’ve never tried…
I’ve driven, owned, and been around enough Fords AND Mercedes to say with confidence I’d bet on a MB to get me across the country before I’d choose to be stranded in a Ford. Yes, repairing a Ford is cheap, usually, the parts are low quality, breakable, interchangeable, and easily accessible as they are made in abundance as they know everyone will continuously need to repair them. Does it cost a lot more to fix a Benz, yes, bc the quality of parts does come with a price but is that part going to break and need replaced again in 10k miles, no. As for going to the dealer for repairs, it’s not necessary. There are independent German or foreign auto mechanics that have the tools and software that don’t charge sealership prices, more than “normal” shops yes, but outrageous, no.
As for maintenance, yes, your oil changes will be about $125, but you don’t need them nearly as often when you’re running full synthetic. I don’t have a diesel, I do pay for premium gas, but I am told diesel gets better mileage so perhaps it evens out? Although I can tell you my 2014 MB GLK350 gets 25 mpg which is a whole lot better than my Lincoln Navigator that averages about 10 mpg with cheap gas and maybe 12 mpg with premium. Outside of oil changes my maintenance is well nothing – maybe brake pads and new tires once every couple of years.
Oh and my full coverage insurance on a 2014 GLK350 4matic is $92/month which I’d say isn’t too terribly bad as I’m 28 and do have one one speeding ticket.
Hope I was helpful – just wanted to weigh in with my personal MB ownership experience.

Also, fun fact: the average American spends about 40,000 hours in their car. Why not love walking up to and being excited about the car you’re going to spend so much of your time in?

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115 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 7:34 am

haha – true on that!

appreciate hearing insight from MB owners too since i’ve never been one and you’re right we “outsiders” tend to focus on the expenses a lot :) out of all the MB owners who’ve chimed in so far – either here or in email – have said to get it as they love the quality. Which certainly says something!

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116 StackingCash October 9, 2019 at 10:34 am

I second this opinion :)

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117 Mark October 9, 2019 at 9:21 am

Step away for a sec. What would you tell a reader to do ! If it’s a ” I want ” buy then do it.

I it’s a ” I need ” buy then don’t . The kids won’t fit! Dad pants or no Dad pants

Good luck

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118 J. Money October 9, 2019 at 10:07 am

Haha…

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119 Thib October 12, 2019 at 5:52 pm

With those ‘specs’ you basically will buy a (very nice) car but it will only be good for 1-2 years. If you’re fine with that do it….if not look for more long term options. Maintenance will be a bit costly depending how much you drive daily.

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