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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am new to this forum and this is my first post.

I am interested in purchasing a 2003 SL500 and was wondering if anyone had comments about the reliability of this car. I have trawlled through this website and have read quite a few comments.

I have a particular car in mind, this is the link to the carfax report.

CARFAX Vehicle History Report on WDBSK75F43F035181

This car was a rental and had undergone numerous servicings and had multiple items replaced, like seats, rear view mirror, a/c, computer... and the list goes on. Is it common for so many items to be replaced, and is it good news that it has already been carried out, or is it an indication that the vehicle was abused and even with so many items changed, the likelihood that something else is going to break is high?

Also, this item "engine/powertrain computer/module" was checked on almost every visit. Is it common or is there something wrong?

This car has fairly low miles for an 03 model, but is that a good indication, given that it was a rental? I figured 50,000 miles at 3K RPM by a private owner is better than 23,000 miles at 8K RPM because all the people that leased it wanted to see how fast this thing would go. :)

I had also noticed that the car was taken in for servicing 3 times in 4 months. This certainly is not normal. Is this a concern?

Are there any major upgrades that were made in later versions of the SL that would warrant giving this car a miss? I read that the 05 versions had most of the defects of the 03 rectified, but if the 03 had already been done by during servicing, is this still a concern?

Thanks so much for your comments and opinions.

Ben
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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Skip it. Ex-rental SL500? Are you CRAZY? I can't even imagine the abuse that car has taken. I'd bet it was red lined during the break-in period and abused by almost everyone who used it. Not to mention that it isn't a very reliable car. The electronics are junk at best and its going to need constant work to keep it on the road (as you have already seen in the service history).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi, thanks for your comments. 2 for 2. I guess that says something in itself.

Does it make a difference that the vehicle was put on Certified Pre-Own status before it was sold by the company?
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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Hi, thanks for your comments. 2 for 2. I guess that says something in itself.

Does it make a difference that the vehicle was put on Certified Pre-Own status before it was sold by the company?
No. CPO doesn't overrule poor electronics and bad drivers.
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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...Does it make a difference that the vehicle was put on Certified Pre-Own status before it was sold by the company?
If a Mercedes dealer certified the car, anything serious is covered for the specified period of time. That is the only way I would buy a rental car (from a dealer that owned it). Chances are pretty good that they didn't rent it to too many 18 year old drivers and know their customers well enough that they can trust them to not abuse their cars.
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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If a Mercedes dealer certified the car, anything serious is covered for the specified period of time. That is the only way I would buy a rental car (from a dealer that owned it). Chances are pretty good that they didn't rent it to too many 18 year old drivers and know their customers well enough that they can trust them to not abuse their cars.
Who said a dealer owned this car and had it as a rental? It could easily have been an up-market rental chain. They have no clue who is renting it and yes, they will rent it to 18+ year olds for the right $$$. I've seen 30 and 40 year olds abuse non-sports car rentals, so I wouldn't even want to think about what a 18 year kid would do to an SL500 that they didn't own!!:eek:
 

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I'd go for a newer model year

I had a '03 SL500 and it had some electrical glitches with the consumer battery that the dealer could never figure out. Traded up to a '06 and that model has been very reliable. I know the prices on the '03s have really dropped but I'd recommend holding out for an '05 or '06 if you can for overall reliability. Even having the extended warranty it got very annoying having to take the '03 in repeatedly (especially for the same problem!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Heather,

thanks for your comments. Did your car have any other problems other than the battery and did the new one resolve the issue? Were there any other major problems that required multiple visits to fix? I have considered the 06 but those are significantly more expensive. Were there any issues that the extended warranty did not cover? As this would be a second car, I suppose I could live with it in the shop occasionally if it saved me a little.

Ben
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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Hi Heather,

thanks for your comments. Did your car have any other problems other than the battery and did the new one resolve the issue? Were there any other major problems that required multiple visits to fix? I have considered the 06 but those are significantly more expensive. Were there any issues that the extended warranty did not cover? As this would be a second car, I suppose I could live with it in the shop occasionally if it saved me a little.

Ben
There is no 'saving' with these cars. There is nothing more expensive then a poorly built starmarked Chrysler. Unless you wish to own a car that is at the dealer getting service work done at $125/hour on a weekly basis, then stay away from these early cars. Some of these cars even make Land Rover's look reliable. That is just sad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, are the 03s really that bad? What about the 04s? Do they have the same components as the 03s? I know it was mentioned that the 05s and later are pretty reliable.
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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Wow, are the 03s really that bad? What about the 04s? Do they have the same components as the 03s? I know it was mentioned that the 05s and later are pretty reliable.
04's are just about as bad.
 

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Who said a dealer owned this car and had it as a rental?
I just re-read my post and I didn't write that very well so I will re-phrase it.

What I meant to say is that the only way I would buy a rental car is if it was one that the dealer had owned, had rented it to their own customers, and then certified it before selling it. I don't know if that was the case here.
 

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Sorry, but don't know anything specific to the '03 SL's, but why is everyone going on about this being a rental? The carfax report says it was a corporate lease - which I'd think would be one of the best ways to guarantee that your getting a decent car (eg serviced regularly, exterior in good shape, etc?)

I've been told by a couple of dealers that MB tends to pick the cream of the lease returns to stock as CPO's - not sure if that's true or not, but.....
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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It says it was a fleet vehicle and has already had 3 owners(!!!!). Just look at the amount of service work and part failures noted on the CARFAX report. Fleet could easily mean rental. I can't see many companies leasing a fleet of SL's besides a high end rental place.
 

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id rather have a 03 sl500 than any silly fuckin audi
......
put it this way
you can get a 03 that has had the kinks ironed out and it will be fine as im in europe and i have like 30 euro parts garages and stuff i see more fucked audi/VW/BMW in for silly repairs and hardly any mbs.... my local mb mechanic drives a 04 sl500....no problems and hes well over 105k not every single car made in 03 04 is bad but there where a few il admit.. wasent there a recall for faulty batterys..im pritty shure there was
 

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Do Not Buy A Rental Mercedes SL500

You will not be happy with this car.

I know you want the bargain but this one could come back and bit you big time.
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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id rather have a 03 sl500 than any silly fuckin audi
......
put it this way
you can get a 03 that has had the kinks ironed out and it will be fine as im in europe and i have like 30 euro parts garages and stuff i see more fucked audi/VW/BMW in for silly repairs and hardly any mbs.... my local mb mechanic drives a 04 sl500....no problems and hes well over 105k not every single car made in 03 04 is bad but there where a few il admit.. wasent there a recall for faulty batterys..im pritty shure there was
Who told him to buy an Audi? You are the only one who has said this.
 
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