Maintenance needed for Mercedes Extended Warranty on CLS550
I just got a 2011 CPO Mercedes CLS550, and it's an awesome car, loads of fun to drive, super-smooth, etc.
As those of you who buy from dealers probably know, one of the stages of buying from a dealership is when the finance and insurance guy shows up and promptly tells you that the lovely vehicle you just bought is a piece of junk, with horrendously expensive repairs and service that you need to prepare for with the extended warranty and prepaid service.
Now, I know perfectly well that the CLS550 is a horrendously expensive car when even the simplest repair problems show up, so I cheerfully forked up $3,500 for the two year warranty extension. Nobody needs to sell me on that.
But then came the sales pitch for prepaid service. Your car, with a little under 29,000 miles, is going to face its dreaded 40,000 mile service before you know it. That's likely to be a $1,500-$2,000 proposition. A lot of stuff needs to be done. So why not pay $1,999.99 for the 36-month prepaid service, which will cover you for the next 36 months/36,000 miles of ownership? When I didn't go for it, he noticed he got the VIN wrong and the real price was $1,600. It's possible he was being honest (mixing up the VIN happened a couple of other times during the sales process[*]), but I was skeptical. (Don't remember if those figures were exactly right, but that's the flavor of what he said.)
I didn't go for it, quite honestly because I'd stretched myself a bit buying what I did, and because he admitted it was an add-on I could buy at any time. (The sales guy convinced me to get the 2011 model instead of the 2008 model I was originally looking at, and dropped the price very convincingly to get me to go for it.)
I have normally had my car maintained at independent shops, but of course with the CPO plan handling repairs I have no problem in principle giving the maintenance to the dealership. My independent shop charged me $120 to change the oil on my previous car, a 2006 E350. According to both Mercedes of Miami and Mercedes of Delray (where I bought the car), Service A for my CLS is apparently $320 and Service B about $600. This seems enormously more expensive than what independent mechanics charge.
But if A is $320 and B is $600, and we are alternating between the two, what is the finance guy talking about when he mentions $1,500 and $2,000 services? That seems to invade the price territory of actual repairs, so it seems a little surprising. Is this how the CPO warranty, which I know perfectly well will wind up giving me a lot more than $3,500 in repairs, is actually financed?
When I checked the service interval indicator, it mentioned a Service A required in 10,000 miles. So all I should need to pay is $320, not $1,500. Or $2,000. Or $2,500. Or whatever the F&I guy said.
So I hope you don't mind this rather verbose post (my specialty, I'm afraid), but I'm sure a lot of people have gone through the same sales pitch and would love to know how much truth there is in it.
The basic questions are, then:
- Can you service the car at the dealership without spending this much?
- Is the dealership actually doing something substantial for the money?
- Is this service required to keep up the CPO warranty? If I got my car serviced elsewhere, precisely what level of service is actually required to keep it up? How much might I expect to pay at a reputable South Florida independent mechanic for the same service?
- Is the prepaid service actually a good deal if you'd like to have the dealer service your car? That is, am I actually likely to incur $2,000+ in service charges over the 36,000 mile span of the agreement?
I enjoyed dealing with the dealer and the dealer service department. I'd rather have the car serviced at the dealer. But it seems like pretty amazing price gouging, even if they do give me a nice loaner car while they're doing it ...
Thanks for your thoughts!
(I posted this on the General forum since I feel that the question is relevant for all Mercedes models, and the answers are probably similar for all of them.)
[*] I got a great price on the car because Mercedes of Delray, an Autonation(tm) dealership had it on the lot for four weeks, and their policy took it out of inventory to send to another dealership after that time. So the old VIN wasn't in the system and they were using the VIN of the 2008 car I was originally looking at. They discounted the price of the new car all the way down to Wholesale blue book because they wanted to get rid of it so badly. I guess moving the car to Mercedes of Miami would have been a real back mark on their record. Anyway, it was an interesting way to get a great deal on a gorgeous CPO car ... I guess nobody likes Iridium Grey. Or something.