Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Sofa Spud
I've always quite liked the look of the original Mercedes A-Class, apart from the fussy styling around the rear windows. I've noticed now that early ones look quite cheap and I'm wondering what the snags are.

We'd be getting an A170L - that is the diesel with long wheelbase body.

The main problem I've read about is the cost of fixing things if they go wrong. How easy is DIY maintenance on an A-Class compared to its competitors?

Reading reviews, as with most cars, some owners are full of praise for the A-Class, while others are scathing.

We had been planning to get an early VW Touran, which is bigger, but the A-Class looks like it might fit our needs for day-to-day motoring.

Any opinions?

Top Reply

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - 659FBE
The A class is a triumph of development over original thought.

To design an economy car with such staggeringly poor access to vital components (aux belt drive, starter for instance) - components which will need attention during its lifetime is insane. A consequence of this is that the maintenance costs are not commensurate with the fuel costs (a polite way of saying it might be good on fuel but costs a fortune to fix).

The high centre of gravity which results from the packaging compromises stability. The steering column on a RHD vehicle takes the golden spanner award for bad design. I would not be prepared to trade with a Company which converts the steering on any vehicle other than a steam roller to RHD by this method. The same applies to the LHD wiper setup which leaves a streak before your eyes on the last wipe.

M-B safety?

Two members of my family bought these vehicles - when I drove the first one I thought it was a case of the "Emperor's New Clothes" - the owner thought it brilliant but I just couldn't believe how badly it steered and handled. Both family members parted with these vehicles and replaced them with something else very quickly. "Shafted by the dealers" came up frequently in conversation...

This level of Teutonic complexity is just not remotely sensible when applied to a cheap runabout.

659.

All Replies

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Falkirk Bairn
HJ recent article in today's DT (IIRC) is avoid pre 2005.

Pre 2005 electrical gremlins as well as expensive parts
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Sofa Spud
Thanks - maybe the A-Class is dropping off my list a bit!
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - gordonbennet
It's worth browsing the 2 main MB forums SS, the first gen A class has some terminally expensive common problems the most expensive of which appear to be the auto gearbox.

The MB indy's don't like working on them either, mine especially.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Sofa Spud
I'd be going for a manual gearbox model.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - cheddar
I went to various A-Class launch events in 1998 and then had a 1.6 petrol for a few months in early 1999 IIRC, I thought it was great to drive, I liked the driving position. Even the early ones look very contemporary, in fact the MK I is much better looking that the Mk II. I have since quite fancied an A190 or A210. I have heard that they are costly to repair though.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Alby Back
My wife had one back along. An A170 D Avantgarde SWB automated manual. In other words a manual with no clutch pedal.

Upsides included Tardis like loadspace. You could remove every seat except the driver's one. Very frugal on fuel. Maybe 50 mpg +. Reasonably comfortable although I found the seats tiring on long runs.

In the end though, she never really liked it and neither did I. We didn't keep it long but it never broke while we had it. Our local indy was able to service it cheaply enough.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Bill Payer
I'd be going for a manual gearbox model.

The manual ones have issues too!

You'll be needing this website: www.aclassinfo.co.uk/mypage.1.htm
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - J500ANT
I thought the diesels were A160/A180/A200 - all with a 4cyl common rail cdi engine. I had a A160CDI loan car once, 82bhp and slow as hell, but economical.

If this is a mk1 A Class, I was told my a MB service receptionist to avoid.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - gordonbennet
Good link BP, even have to remove the engine to get at the starter motor, what on earth were MB thinking.

I also looked at the 'leaking injector' page, truly grim reading, i have before seen pictures of a long slide hammer welded to injector head to remove said item by pure brute force.

My indy had one particular car in for repair with injectors so seized the vehicle was effectively scrap as not worth the cost of a new engine...obviously used engine's are almost impossibe to find.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - bell boy
im pleased to see the starter motor is shown in the link
to be honest i think the OP should buy one of these and give a trader his bit of land back
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Altea Ego
>Thinking of Buying a Merceds A

STOP. Tighten up that straitjacket strap someone while we wait for the men in white coats to come round and take him away.



Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Happy Blue!
SWMBO went all goo goo eyed over a Mk2 A150SE last year. So we bought one and...........I have been pleasantly surprised. Spacious (slighly smaller than the Mk1 LWB), well built and using quality materials. Fairly economical - averaging 31mpg for 9,000miles of mostly urban driving and can get up to 45mpg fully loaded with a family of five on a run.

Appeared to be good value compared to 'equivalent' cars. We looked at the Mazda2 and a six month old A150 with 5,000miles was cheaper than a brand new Mazda2 which is smaller.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - macavity
The main problem I've read about is the cost of fixing things if they go
wrong. How easy is DIY maintenance on an A-Class compared to its competitors?


If you are doing the maintenance yourself the the parts from Mercedes are not too bad. Replacing the rear springs when they break is simple and the rear shocks when they give up is easy (skateboards have more impressive rear suspension than an A class).
Its replacing the rear door lock when it gives up due to water ingress that is fiddly.
I had one where the windows opened on their own when it was snowing but advice from Mercedes dealer was disconnect battery and leave over night (windows still open/ no other way to close them) reconnct battery and problem solved.
Finding the battery is a puzzle, its under the drivers feet. This partly expains why the floor is so high and you are squashed up against the roof/windscreen.
Yes the seats are removable but are staggeringly heavy. Unlike the alloy wheels that are impressively light.
Changing the air filter requires no tools but is awkward to get the new filter in the housing. Replacing the headlight bulbs is easy when you realise that there is a small hatch in the wheel arch that once open gives you access to the back of the headlight (you do not need to open the bonnet).
I was impressed with the 1.7 diesel engine when I was not busy replacing bits of the car.

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - MVP
DON'T DO IT

The old ones are cheap nasty things (in build quality anyway)

A good friend has a new one - wishes he hadn't

MVP
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - 659FBE
The A class is a triumph of development over original thought.

To design an economy car with such staggeringly poor access to vital components (aux belt drive, starter for instance) - components which will need attention during its lifetime is insane. A consequence of this is that the maintenance costs are not commensurate with the fuel costs (a polite way of saying it might be good on fuel but costs a fortune to fix).

The high centre of gravity which results from the packaging compromises stability. The steering column on a RHD vehicle takes the golden spanner award for bad design. I would not be prepared to trade with a Company which converts the steering on any vehicle other than a steam roller to RHD by this method. The same applies to the LHD wiper setup which leaves a streak before your eyes on the last wipe.

M-B safety?

Two members of my family bought these vehicles - when I drove the first one I thought it was a case of the "Emperor's New Clothes" - the owner thought it brilliant but I just couldn't believe how badly it steered and handled. Both family members parted with these vehicles and replaced them with something else very quickly. "Shafted by the dealers" came up frequently in conversation...

This level of Teutonic complexity is just not remotely sensible when applied to a cheap runabout.

659.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - boxsterboy
I had the mis-fortune to drive a few Easy Rent-a-Car Mk1 A Classes way back when. Dire is not too strong a word for the way they drove, although the lwb wasn't quite as bad. The Mk2s are supposed to be better ... (well they would be wouldn't they)

Great idea, but I'm not sure it could ever work in practice without extensive expensive R&D, and I gather the replacements for the A and B class are going to be more conventional in layout.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Bagpuss
The original A-Class makes a great city car. It's extremely spacious for its size, has excellent visibility and is easy to drive if you avoid the clutchless manual versions. To be honest it's only when you come to park one you realise how small it is. I used to hate driving them any distance though. Bouncy suspension and nervous handling don't make for an enjoyable drive on the autobahn and I'm sure the switchgear seemed like a good idea at the time. The new A-Class is a far more grown up feeling car but it should be as it's also bigger.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - stevek
Do these comments also apply to the B class as I looked at one at the weekend?
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - MVP
Ref the B class

Our retired neighbours have one of these with big wheels and low profile tyres.

Even with their very sedate driving, the tyres have started to need replacement after less than 8k miles - I have no idea how they could have worn out so quickly, neighbour is incensed as these are not cheap tyres

MVP
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - daveyjp
It may be low mileage, but it will also have probably done lots of low speed manouvering in car parks etc which scrubs tyres.

Our Aygo is the same. It will need fronts soon at less than 10,000, yet high mileage users can get 20k+ out of the same tyres. Aygo tyres are also very soft (230 tread wear) - have a look and see what the tread wear rating is for low profile B class tyres.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - aahbarnes
The archilles heel of this model is the steering column. Some owners have been through 3 or 4 of these at a cost well over 500 quid plus fitting. Mercedes deny it is a problem. Mine has some play at 40k miles, but is well greased up before each MOT. I've had to replace all the suspension springs, both front struts, rear trailing arm bearings, been through lots of drops links. Draw your own conclusions ...
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - hondabill
this is a copy of a letter I wrote to the Dealer Principal
Re; Mercedes Benz A160 Yxxx xxx

This is my ownership experience of the above vehicle

14 February 2002
Collected car and wrote complimentary letter to you re; Used Sales Dept.

19 March 2002 Drivers window sticking ?greased
A/con not effective ? given lecture on using a/con in winter so that seals stay OK ? Snip! was demonstrating this car during that winter!

4 June 2002
A/con fault diagnosed
Dash rattle adjusted
Front windows sticking ?greased

8 July 2002 A/con recharged
Front windows sticking ?greased
NSF Seat adjuster faulty, it comes off in your hand
Drop link failure diagnosed (no stock, though well known fault)

3 August 2002 AT FALCON LINCOLN
NSF Door lock cable replaced.
Drop links replaced ( they had stock)
Steering column fault diagnosed ? but not by Snip! 3 weeks earlier

21 August 2002 Front windows sticking ?greased
Dash rattle adjusted
NSF Seat adjuster ?replaced
Steering column ? replaced

18 October 2002 A/con recharged
Dash rattle adjusted ? alarm box repositioned
Tailgate struts ordered


11 November 2002 A/con checked ?reported satisfactory?
Dash rattle adjusted
Tailgate struts fitted

16 January 2003 Happy New Year; Quoted £360 for a service. Presented with bill for £420 , ?because our rates have gone up? - bill amended
A/con leak diagnosed

19/20 February 2003 All A/con pipe work replaced
Dash cowling refitted
Front windows sticking ?greased

19 April 2003 Owner diagnoses A/con leak ? wiped clean by Technician and told to ?keep an eye on it.?

15 May 2003 A/con leak confirmed

9/10 June 2003 A/con condenser replaced
A/con valve replaced
Dash cowling replaced
Front windows sticking ?greased, together with parts of the interior door trim and door glass

11 June 2003 A/con vent ?failure? noticed by owner

14 June 2003 Inspected by Snip! ? A/con vent ordered

20 June 2003 A/con vent fitted, car went back to workshop immediately for rectification of poor fitment

28 June 2003 A/con fails ? fluid everywhere ? ambient temperature 26c

30 June 2003 A/con ?O? ring replaced
Fuel gauge fault diagnosed

25 July 2003 Booked in for fuel gauge repair.

Factor in; repeated phone calls, arranging my own insurance for your loan cars, hours spent in your reception, gallons of petrol and a Service Manager who today waffles to my wife but does not apologise.
Decide for yourself this is not an unusual a class experience

{couple of minor edits to remove name of dealer you're disgruntled with}

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 24/10/2009 at 15:51

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - macavity
We'd be getting an A170L - that is the diesel with long wheelbase body.
The main problem I've read about is the cost of fixing things if they go
wrong. How easy is DIY maintenance on an A-Class compared to its competitors?


Car Mechanics magazine (Sept 2004) did an article on how to DIY the basic service for the A170 diesel.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - lilyflower
I wish I'd have checked out this forum before I went and blew my savings on the Mercedes A class 1.4 auto elegance (2002)....it had full Mercedes service history, one owner and reasonable mileage . All good - or so I thought! Within the first week I broke down and had to get the drive belt fixed (£180) now added to the original cost if the car. Then the air flow pipe snapped, but to be fair that was a cheap repair (£9 from Mercedes ) and just recently and with only owning the car for 3 months, the starter motor packed up with NO warning! So far the quotes to get this fixed are coming in at over £500!!! When working, I loved this car, but the whole experience has been a nightmare! My advice DON'T DO IT!!!!
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - daveyjp
I think this is more a general warning about buying a 10 year old premium marque car. They still break down and the parts are always expensive. Buy a Ford or Vauxhall if you want a bangernomics motor.
Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - gordonbennet
I think this is more a general warning about buying a 10 year old premium marque car. They still break down and the parts are always expensive. Buy a Ford or Vauxhall if you want a bangernomics motor.

At 10 years old probably true cars made then weren't meant to last, but go back further and certain premium make cars can still make a case for themselves as reliable durable easily fixed daily drives, with the priviso that you have the services of a good make specific indy on tap.

Mercedes W124 and Volvo 900 series are shining examples of this, most will make 20 years with reasonable TLC, part of the reason being traditional North South RWD designs which lend themselves to less complicated maintenance.

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - Collos25

The construction of the A class makes some ordinary service repairs very difficult and expenesive eg remove engine to get at starter motor.

Thinking of buying Mercedes A Class.... - madf

HJ's advice is to avoid like plague.

 

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