Originally Posted by noob15
Any recommendations for a used Audi, BMW or Merc circa 2000-2006? Models to look for? No greater than mileage, issues to look for etc?
I've been mostly an American and Japanese driver for the majority of my life, but my VW Golf which was built on a shared platform with Audi has been stellar so far.
I realize its a very vague question, but I'm grateful for any and all opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant so far is that all three of those have issues after 100K miles that might be troublesome.
And yes, I've looked for a Lexus LS400 or 430 and they're either pricey because the owners know what they have or beat to hell.
That is a broad question, but I will do my best to answer.
I know zero about Audi.
For Mercedes, many people say don't buy anything NEWER than 1995. I'm not quite that restrictive. But, I do know a few things about the older models.
Stick with the E class or S Class if you want a big car. The general rules apply here. The E class is the most popular and sold the most and was the most reliable. The S Class has all the bells and whistles and with age, those things can be very expensive. But, I have a few friends that have older S class and they say as long as you know which years to look for and what things to check, they can be amazing cars!
The 210 Chassis (E Class 1996-2003) is a great car. However, there were a bunch of them that rust problems. Mercedes changed something in the solution they used to prevent rust and there were a bunch of cars that didn't the corrosion protection they need. The simplest thing to look for is rust on the jack points (where the jack goes). It is located on the side around the front doors underneath. If there is rust there, do not buy it. Do not make an offer. Just say thank you and don't look back. Also, pop the hood and look around at the strut towers. There is a round plate thing that holds up the top of the strut/shock. If you see rust there, again walk away.
If you find one with no rust, check all the accessories and electronics. Make sure they work. And even though it is cold, check the air conditioning. You can do that even when it is cold by turning on the defrost. Look under the hood as a helper turns the defrost on and off. Make sure the a/c compressor is kicking on and off. The 210 chassis has some issues with the a/c evaporator. The evaporator is one of the first things that goes in and the entire dash, wiring, electronics, etc goes in after. So, replacing the evaporator is a HUGE job. For newer E Class, the 2002-2006 models have been pretty good.
For the S Class the 220 Chassis is a superb car. But, they also have evaporator problems. I would stick with 2001 and newer. The last couple of years of the 140 Chassis are good, but stick with 1998 model.
Beyond 2004, I know nothing about the newer ones. But, if you want an S Class that is 2004 or newer, I wouldn't buy one without a very good extended warranty.
Whatever car you look at, I would want to see the service records. If they have none, that raises questions. Open the glove box and look for them. Call the local MB dealership and give them the last 7 of the VIN number and see if they have records and ask about any open campaigns/recalls.
For BMW, I am very biased. The very best BMW ever made in my opinion is the 1998-2001 BMW 740iL. It is an amazing car. I have two of them. One 2000 740iL with 230,000 miles and a 2001 740iL Sport with 123,000 miles (I am actually going to sell the newer one because i have too many cars). I know too much about these 7 series to explain it here. So, if you find one, let me know and I can tel you more specifics. In 1998, the 7 series recieved a facelift and most people want one that is post facelift. There are minor differences. What you want to avoid is the 95 or 96 7 series IF it has not had a REPLACEMENT ENGINE. I don't mean a rebuild. I mean a NEW ENGINE. In 1995, BMW had the Nikosil engine and they have serious problems. There is some debate about whether it was the type of gas or bad engines, or owner neglect. The easiest thing to do is don't buy one with the Nikosil engine. So, 1997-2001 is fine.
The 5 series of the same era are also excellent cars. But, the 540 will have the same engine as the 7 series in 1995 and 1996 so avoid that one.
One of the better BMW will be the 5 series right around 2001. Great cars.
Don't buy a 7 series made after 2001 unless you can afford to go as new as 2006. And then, buy an extended warranty.
I would avoid ALL X3 SUV. The X5 Suv is okay if you avoid the first 3-4 years of production. I don't know much about the 3 series. They are too small and used versions have usually had the piss driven out of them by a kid.
If you get really serious about any of these cars, you can pay a mechanic to do a PPI pre-purchase inspection and very often things they find can help you negotiate on the price. Don't pay someone $100 to do a PPI until after you have done your homework and checked it out yourself. Save your money for the car you think you really want to buy and only after you are satisfied it is okay.
With Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaquar, etc. the most important thing is condition AND MAINTENANCE. Most modern cars will go 100,000 relatively trouble free. Beyond that and issues with a lack of maintenace will start to pop up.
100,000 is nothing on these cars if they have maintained. Really. Don't be afraid of the mileage. If they previous owner actually took care of it, I would rather have a 100,000 mile car with maintenance than a 60,000 mile with no history of maintenance.
Also, and this is probably obvious, look for structural damage, repaint, excessive wear, etc. AND check the tires. If they are worn weirdly then that is an indication of a lack of maintenance and singles structural or at the least suspension issues.
Good luck and if you find a specific one, let us know.