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95 Cadillac, 98 Jaguar, 2005 ML350.
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Discussion Starter #1
Dear all,

I found a 2002 ML 320 with 70+ k miles for $11k that I might buy. Before making a decision, I want to get a maintenance history etc. Apparently the current owner doesn't have a complete list. The owner gave me several pictures, movies throughout the car (exterior, interior, engine bay, underneath), VIN so far. But it doesn't sound like the owner (2nd owner) got the maintenance records from the original owner. Also he doesn't seem to keep the maintenance record by himself (doesn't sound like he owns it for long time).

(1) Carfax is probably the easiest, but it does not contain much information about maintenance...

(2) I have heard that a dealer can (or may depending on how they feel) provide the list, but they may not because they think it could become a privacy issue. Is it true? What is the best way to get such a list from a dealer? I wish this is something that I could pay a small fee and get it from them... If I get that, I don't think I need to pay for Carfax (when did they raise the price that much!? I thought if I paid for $30 or something, it was unlimited for a month or so a few years ago).

(3) I have also heard that a dealer can provide me a pre-purchase inspection for about $150 or so. I was told that it would take a couple of hours or so. I am not sure if the current owner let me do that (driving it away for a 2-3 hours).

Please let me know what you think. The car is about 100 miles away from me, so when I would like to have a firm feeling that the car is good (of course, I will decide after I thoroughly check the car by myself, but I just would like to do as much as possible before going).

Thank you very much in advance!
 

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2001 ML430 Sport bought in very nice shape despite 156K miles in August 2010
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Any dealer can look up a servce history given a VIN. You could try your local dealer. Take prints of the ad and anything you have from the current owner. Suggest that you will be bringing the car to them [your local dealer] if it looks OK. You might get lucky.
The service history is gold, especially if it covers up within a year or two of current time.

If the seller is uncomfortable letting you take the car for a PPI, suggest that he take it to his local dealer and you will pay for the PPI. Its possible that you may be able to get the service history as part of the PPI too. They provide a written report with [usually] outrageous quotes to fix individual issues. Post the headlines here and you'll get a good judgement read on what can be fixed easily vs what are dealer-only issues.

Good luck with the purchase.
 

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03 ML350
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245 Posts
... Carfax (when did they raise the price that much!? I thought if I paid for $30 or something, it was unlimited for a month or so a few years ago)...
I noticed that too. When I bought my ML I think I paid $35 for one month unlimited and I probably looked up over 20 VINs. Now it's $45 you only get 5 reports - not enough for a single vehicle decision IMO. I'm sure they're pissed about people running VINs for others, but their new pricing cost them my business last month. I went with one of the other guys.

For that price the seller should be willing to let you take it or drop it off himself for a dealer for inspection. I did that once for a guy. It's not too much to ask for a vehicle that should be in top condition for the asking price.

And it's only 100 miles away. For the 1/2 day and $20 in gas, I'd drive over and check it out. If I were the seller I'd be more willing to taking the time and effort for inspection if the buyer had seen the car and I knew he wasn't going to balk at the last minute over cosmetics or or the way it drives.

And I'd want to know what you are expecting from the inspection. If the dealer says it should have all kinds of PM like fuel filter and fluids and the brakes are only at 20% and you expect the seller to discount the price by that much, then be up-front about that. Personally, I'd tell you to pound sand. Even CPO doesn't do that for you. If you just want to make sure there are no major problems then he should be OK with inspection.
 

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95 Cadillac, 98 Jaguar, 2005 ML350.
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you!

Dear all,

Thank you very much for valuable inputs and suggestions.

So far, I have gotten a list of service history from a local dealer. They said any dealer can get a maintenance record, but only ones done under warranty. I see a few regular maintenance and a couple of battery complaints at the very early time (<10 k miles), but after that, I don't see much in the list. I assume that is a good sign (less likely a lemon?).

The dealer told me that only the dealer performed actual work can provide me a list of regular maintenance outside of the warranty. Tomorrow I will call the dealer performed the work and get a list.

About the pre-purchase inspection, I don't care too much about the regular consumable items (filters, tires, brakes), but say if something major needs attention (or will soon need attention), like AT, transfer etc (or non-DIY items), I would ask compensation. If the owner doesn't like it, I will have to say bye.

Does anybody know what the major things that typically occur within 100k miles? Wheel bearings, ball joints, driveshaft bearing, shock, strut... anything else?

Thank you very much!
 

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2001 ML430 Sport bought in very nice shape despite 156K miles in August 2010
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The key is to find out who is the gun ML tech at the dealership, and ask to schedule him for the PPI. Believe me, he will know what to look for. Try calling the service dept and talk to a writer. He may tell you who the right guy is, then all you need to do is ask the seller to set up the PPI with that guy.

When you get the report, post back here. These reports can be a bit daunting because the dealerships love to pad them up with all kinds of expensive and ominous-sounding stuff. There are guys here that will sort the real from the inflationary in a heartbeat.
 

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1999 E55, 2001 E320, 1990 560 SEC, 2004 ML350, 2001 ML55, 1995 S500, 1998 SL500, 2010 E550 Sport zoo
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A dealer PPI can be taken with a grain of salt, they can be very misleading actually. You might search for a qualified indoe in your area who would do a btter job.
 

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500SE AMG, E350 4matic, GL 450
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A dealer PPI can be taken with a grain of salt, they can be very misleading actually. You might search for a qualified indoe in your area who would do a btter job.
I agree with this. With an indy you should also specify exactly what you want checked. Most already have a check list but one indy I spoke to wanted extra to do a compression test. Know what is covered in the ppi beforehand.
 

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2002 ML320 Sport
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I agree with this. With an indy you should also specify exactly what you want checked. Most already have a check list but one indy I spoke to wanted extra to do a compression test. Know what is covered in the ppi beforehand.
Also, if as you say, the second owner only had it for a short while and now wants to sell it, you should make an effort to learn why that is.

If you do buy it, and you're not wealthy, you will have to do most of the maintenance yourself to keep it affordable. Do you have time, and are you capable?
 

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Are you actually willing to pay $11k for it? Where were you when I sold mine over the summer...

:(
 
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