Originally Posted by dah328
A friend is considering a 3-5 year-old car and was wondering about the relative maintenance costs of BMW (3-series or possibly a 525i), Lexus (IS or possibly ES), and MB (C-class sedan). I'm pretty familiar with BMW, but I have no point of reference with the others. I know BMW's new car warranty covers all maintenance costs, but I don't think their CPO warranty does that nor am I aware of either Lexus or MB offering that.
Depends on what your friend wants in a car. Covered maintenance is a sham - you pay for it one way or another, so tell your friend to get the car that he or she wants, then find a good independent mechanic and never darken the door of the dealer unless for warranty work.
The Lexus will likely be the least costly to operate. The IS is fun-to-drive (for a Lexus...) The ES is by and large dead-nuts reliable, but it's as exciting as your Frigidaire. Great transportation, but that car is the closest thing to a Japanese Buick this side of a Toyota Avalon. If your friend wants reliable transportation and low cost of ownership without much excitement, Lexus is the way to go.
I am a long-time owner of many Mercedes autos. Personally, I'd stay away from the 2001-07 C-class. Not a fan of that car - many of the early ones ('01 and '02 in particular) are plagued with electrical issues and sloppy build quality. The '06s and particularly '07s seem to be pretty reliable, but the styling is very unremarkable and the interior is downright cheap-looking and feeling. I would take a long, hard look at an '08 or '09 C-class though. The redesigned model seems to be back to looking and feeling more like a Mercedes should.
A 3er BMW or even some 5ers are great fun to drive, but they will cost more to operate than the Lexus. Window regulators are a common failure. They CAN be DIYed if you are pretty handy and don't mind the pain-in-the-ass factor, but it is a Titanic pain in the ass. BMWs are VERY sensitive to wear in front suspension components (bushings and such) and the car will feel progressively "sloppy" as those components wear. Certain model years (I forget which) of 3er have rear subframe mounts prone to failure. All BMWs typically have sub-par climate control - one thing about American cars is they have A/C that will freeze your ass out of the car. Not so with the Germans.
-Matt in Atlanta