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Okay so this situation is probably a bit different than most situations.I'm looking for a used car and I've been thinking about just calling it a day and buying a honda civic.

however, a family member is offering a mercedes c320 2002 that has 115k miles on it for less than 2 thousand dollars. Now I've driven this car many times so in a way its almost like im a second owner but if I do buy this car it would be truly mine.

I know basically all whats wrong with the car because I drive it often my family member lets me drive it from time to time. I really love the way it drives and feels and I think a honda could not compare to how amazing this car feels. Its heavy and smooth but also has power. Though the gas cost is also a lot higher than a civic. However, I know mercedes can be costly to repair unlike in Europe where its cheaper to service/repair a german car than a japanese car, in the USA its often the opposite where european cars are way more expensive than japanese cars to maintain.

Whats wrong with the car. Two main issues with the car.

One is that the fuel gage does not work. It sometimes shows 3/4 full or sometimes empty. Because you cannot rely on it you basically have no idea how much fuel there is so you just go to the gas pump more often.

Second biggest issues is when the car slows down to a red light or a stop it stalls and starts shaking ocassionally sometimes the engine shuts off entirely which means i have to put it in parking, turn the engine off, and turn it back on.

Besides these two issues there isn't much other problems with the car that are not cosmetic or minor. One minor issue is the driver seat does not move forward or backward. Only the backrest can be adjusted and the height of the seat. This has been a non-issues since i've driven it.

power steering hose was recently just replaced after it went bust and dumnped all the power steering fluid below. This was changed for 150 dollars so it was not a big deal.

these are the only issues with the car really. Aside from the electronic issues like the computer LCD displaying a bunch of stuff the car is smooth and rides really nicely.

Should i buy this or should i avoid this due to possible repairs?

Im both tempted to buy it because of how nice it drives but also skeptical to buy it because of what kind of issues it may give. But it feels and has been a very solid car.
 

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Likely has a vacuum leak or bad MAF sensor causing it to stall. Can you DIY or are you completely at the mercy of a repair shop? Can you afford an unexpected $1000 repair on top of the purchase cost? The C320 is reliable, easy to work on and parts are cheap by Mercedes standards but when anything goes wrong a repair shop will bleed you dry. That's why an 02 C320 is worth less than an 02 Civic that cost half as much when new. Your call.
 

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The W203 with the M112 engine and 722.6 transmission is a solid car. Some of the plastics and electronics can be problematic, but with proper maintenance, the drive train is practically bulletproof. My question would be: Do you have the ability to do repairs yourself or will you gave to rely on a shop? If you are going to DIY, then I'd say buy it. $2K for a one-owner car like that is a no-brainer. However, if that's all the money you have and you can;t afford a budget for future unscheduled maintenance, then you might think twice.

If you are going to rely on a mechanic for service, then you should consider that some things on this car will be more expensive and complex to repair than on a Honda. Not only that, the complex computer systems can be challenging for even some skilled mechanics unless they are very knowledgeable about MBZ cars. There are some good indy shops that do better work than dealers for less money, but they can still be expensive.
 

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We own five Mercedes-Benzes, and I've worked on several W203's. The W203 is fundamentally a fine car. What year you buy will depend on whether your locale uses road salt on its roads. If they do use road salt, then I'd suggest 2004 and later, because of the double-sided galvanized steel that M-B switched to. If they don't use road salt, then any year is fine.

That said, tjts1 and rudeney are correct about the need to DIY if you're going to have a Mercedes-Benz. That's the only way you can do it affordably.

As to your stalling, you may also have a clogged EGR valve or the pipe that goes to it. The wife's car, a 2000 S500 with the 8-cylinder version of your engine, had somewhat similar symptoms. I replaced the EGR valve and cleaned the tube with some good solvent (brake parts cleaner). Problem solved.

Fuel gauge, you're probably looking at a cold solder joint somewhere in there. One of our Civics had a speedometer that went Tango-Uniform, too. I haven't taken apart a W203's instrument cluster, but if it's anything like the Civic's, you may well be able to do as I did and replace that fuel gauge with another from a junkyard instrument cluster. If it's not practical to do so, then there are folks out there that do repair M-B instrument clusters. There's a fellow in Canada who's rather good; he did a W220 instrument cluster for me.

We also happen to own, at present, three Honda Civics, all of mid-1990's vintage (we will be selling two of them fairly soon, the third will become my turbo project car). Ain't nuttin' wrong with a Honda Civic, believe me. Those things really do go forever; two of ours have over 250,000 miles and run like brand-new. The other has 195,000 miles and also runs like brand-new. There is, of course, a difference in feel; the W203 is a very solidly built car. The Civics aren't as Teutonically fortress-like as the M-B's, and they also get better fuel mileage (well, duh!).

A buddy's friend, a credit union executive, bought a W203 for his college-age daughter. That's one of the ones I did some work on. His daughter loves that "cute!" little car. She goes to the local university.

Gotta say, if I run across a good-condition W203 with the 6-speed manual, since I like manual transmissions, I might well be pretty tempted....
 

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One other thing. Since I do DIY all of our maintenance on our "fleet" of cars, I can tell you that a W203, W211, or W220 in good repair is about as reliable as any Honda Civic. Yeah, seriously. Furthermore, doing maintenance on a MB is not expensive if you do it yourself. Most of the parts are not expensive, even for the S-class V8's (the W203 will be even less since so many were sold). And they're not difficult at all to work on, almost as easy, generally speaking, as our Civics. Having a STAR Diagnostic System (SDS) is a great help in maintaining a M-B automobile.
 

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Likely has a vacuum leak or bad MAF sensor causing it to stall. Can you DIY or are you completely at the mercy of a repair shop? Can you afford an unexpected $1000 repair on top of the purchase cost? The C320 is reliable, easy to work on and parts are cheap by Mercedes standards but when anything goes wrong a repair shop will bleed you dry. That's why an 02 C320 is worth less than an 02 Civic that cost half as much when new. Your call.
If I'm taking this car to be repaired it's going to be at an independent mechanic as the dealer would be too expensive.
Im willing to do a dyi if it's not too time consuming or difficult.

My family member assured me the stalled engine is not a big deal it's because the mechanic put too much oil and that it got on the valve or spark plugs or something like that.

1 dollars on top of a 2k for the cost of car woild still be cheaper than buying a Honda civic that's not a lemon. A good Honda civic here costs 3k and above easily.
 

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One other thing. Since I do DIY all of our maintenance on our "fleet" of cars, I can tell you that a W203, W211, or W220 in good repair is about as reliable as any Honda Civic. Yeah, seriously. Furthermore, doing maintenance on a MB is not expensive if you do it yourself. Most of the parts are not expensive, even for the S-class V8's (the W203 will be even less since so many were sold). And they're not difficult at all to work on, almost as easy, generally speaking, as our Civics. Having a STAR Diagnostic System (SDS) is a great help in maintaining a M-B automobile.
If changing oil is easy I can definitely do it myself and save on the cost.
I never understood why labor and parts are expensive in the usa compared to Europe. But I guess that's why everyone drives Hondas and Toyotas
 

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The best thing you can do at this point is get that car diagnosed on a STAR Diagnostic System (SDS).

It's really not that expensive to maintain a Mercedes-Benz of this era. It's almost comparable to my Honda Civics; that's what I've been trying to tell you. Get it in good repair, and it will last a very long time.

Don't believe your family member. I know it sounds harsh, but don't. If that stalling were really caused by too much oil and it getting on the spark plugs, well first, that wouldn't happen. Spark plugs aren't going to get oil-fouled unless you've got so much blowback that you might as well be driving a Diesel engine. If that's the case, then you're looking at new piston rings anyway, and that's a big job. The car would also be putting out blue smoke from the tailpipe. So, it doesn't sound like simply a "too much oil" problem.

Get that car properly diagnosed before you buy it.
 

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The best thing you can do at this point is get that car diagnosed on a STAR Diagnostic System (SDS).

It's really not that expensive to maintain a Mercedes-Benz of this era. It's almost comparable to my Honda Civics; that's what I've been trying to tell you. Get it in good repair, and it will last a very long time.

Don't believe your family member. I know it sounds harsh, but don't. If that stalling were really caused by too much oil and it getting on the spark plugs, well first, that wouldn't happen. Spark plugs aren't going to get oil-fouled unless you've got so much blowback that you might as well be driving a Diesel engine. If that's the case, then you're looking at new piston rings anyway, and that's a big job. The car would also be putting out blue smoke from the tailpipe. So, it doesn't sound like simply a "too much oil" problem.

Get that car properly diagnosed before you buy it.
Im not sure what it was exactly but he said the independent mechanic he took it to put too much oil that got something on the engine too wet to work properly.

Youre right I should do the testing. I talked to them again a few days ago seems they have changed their mind about wanting to sell it after they changed the power steering wheel hose.
So they may or may not want to sell it now but I told them I was interested.
 

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Forgive me--this does sound like someone trying to unload a car that has possibly a rather major problem. I'm not getting what could've gotten "too wet" by the oil pan being too full. If it was too full, then it should've been drained so that it's at the proper level, and the only things that would get "wet" would be in the crankcase. That's where oil is supposed to splash around anyway.

If they don't want to sell it, then that might be a blessing in disguise; there are other cars out there. It may be better to pay $2,500 instead of $2,000 for a car that doesn't have a bad fuel gauge or this engine-stalling problem. That really does sound like an EGR problem.
 

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Forgive me--this does sound like someone trying to unload a car that has possibly a rather major problem. I'm not getting what could've gotten "too wet" by the oil pan being too full. If it was too full, then it should've been drained so that it's at the proper level, and the only things that would get "wet" would be in the crankcase. That's where oil is supposed to splash around anyway.

If they don't want to sell it, then that might be a blessing in disguise; there are other cars out there. It may be better to pay $2,500 instead of $2,000 for a car that doesn't have a bad fuel gauge or this engine-stalling problem. That really does sound like an EGR problem.
A good Honda civic will cost a little bit more than that around like 5k.

Whats an egr problem? What do you think is causing the engine issue and how much do you think it would cost?
 

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A good Honda civic will cost a little bit more than that around like 5k.

Whats an egr problem? What do you think is causing the engine issue and how much do you think it would cost?
Nobody here really knows what the problem is for sure or how much it'll cost to fix. All you're getting here is educated guesses from people who DIY. It could be EGR, vacuum leak, bad MAF sensor, weak fuel pump. None of these on their own is an expensive repair, but you're going to be paying for someone to diagnose it. The labor costs are going to make this car not worth while.
 

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Im willing to do a dyi if it's not too time consuming or difficult.
There Lord Varis lies the secret.
Filtering out all the conjecture and fixes on the board, it all boils down to your above sentence. Sounds like you are a shade tree DIYer. Change brakes, oil..maybe struts here and there, but when things like MAF readouts, circuitry and not to mention STAR diagnosis come in, things are are way above your league. Take it from a fellow old benz owner and like others have said, at that age bad things WILL happen. Now after doing work on my wifes mercedes I can tell you these things were designed to run well, but when fixes are needed, some convoluted TIME CONSUMING effort is required that is often complex yet not necessarily sophisticated compared to BMWs ive worked on.

So I guess that is your answer. Now are you still willing to do play ball given that most answers point to it being a lovely ride but TIME CONSUMING and DIFFICULT work awaiting you. (Actually sounds like you are already have problems- not sure your DMV will let that car pass state inspection with the stalling /emissions issues etc)

As far as the costs, its pay me now or pay me later. Your costlier honda will be cheaper to fix, but that cheap 320 will require much costlier fixes As someone said unless you are a HARDCORE BENZ DIYer be prepared to drop 1K at any moment. Those o wise one are your variables. Lord Varis was very principled....right to the end.
 

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There Lord Varis lies the secret.
Filtering out all the conjecture and fixes on the board, it all boils down to your above sentence. Sounds like you are a shade tree DIYer. Change brakes, oil..maybe struts here and there, but when things like MAF readouts, circuitry and not to mention STAR diagnosis come in, things are are way above your league. Take it from a fellow old benz owner and like others have said, at that age bad things WILL happen. Now after doing work on my wifes mercedes I can tell you these things were designed to run well, but when fixes are needed, some convoluted TIME CONSUMING effort is required that is often complex yet not necessarily sophisticated compared to BMWs ive worked on.

So I guess that is your answer. Now are you still willing to do play ball given that most answers point to it being a lovely ride but TIME CONSUMING and DIFFICULT work awaiting you. (Actually sounds like you are already have problems- not sure your DMV will let that car pass state inspection with the stalling /emissions issues etc)

As far as the costs, its pay me now or pay me later. Your costlier honda will be cheaper to fix, but that cheap 320 will require much costlier fixes As someone said unless you are a HARDCORE BENZ DIYer be prepared to drop 1K at any moment. Those o wise one are your variables. Lord Varis was very principled....right to the end.
Thanks for all the responses definitely helpful.
My family member made it sound like it was easy fixable and you had to just change the plugs which were soaked in oil he claims.

I think it just recently passed inspection he told me without issues. The stalling doesn't always happen its very random and sporadic.

Well if I buy the car for less than 2k and spend 1k to fix it. This would probably still be cheaper than a decently used Honda civic.

Im gonna be honest outside of basic easy stuff I really don't have the time or will to want to complicated stuff on my own.
Why do mercedes have to drive so amazingly but be such a pain to have? I guess you can't have perfection but I love how the car drives
 

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They're not a pain to have if you have the desire to DIY and have a STAR Diagnostic System setup. Look at my sig. There's a reason I have so many cars, and it's because I enjoy them. It's just plain fun. Yes, I do have SDS; worth half of its weight in platinum...literally. I've done the math.

Currently I'm troubleshooting an issue with our '03 S600 TT. I'll figure it out, and that's part of the fun. In the meantime, the wife has the S500, I've got the S430 and the E320 CDI, and there's Dad's car for special occasions. With the sole exception of the S600 TT (right now), they're all running great and are pretty much maintenance-free. Even the S600 TT is usually very well behaved, and it will be again very soon. The S430 and the E320 CDI are just about Honda-like in their reliability, and as we also own three Honda Civics, I can say that from experience.

So, I wouldn't say Mercedes-Benz cars of this era are necessarily a pain. It's simply a matter of getting them into good repair, and then maintenance is not a big deal at all. There's no way we'd own all the cars that we do if they were.

What is my definition of "good repair"? It's this. If I would trust a given car to get my wife (not a mechanic) from Seattle to Savannah without any problems, then that car is in "good repair". Obvious exceptions are, of course, nails in the tire or someone colliding with you. But I'm pretty sure you're smart enough to get what I'm talking about here.
 

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They're not a pain to have if you have the desire to DIY and have a STAR Diagnostic System setup. Look at my sig. There's a reason I have so many cars, and it's because I enjoy them. It's just plain fun. Yes, I do have SDS; worth half of its weight in platinum...literally. I've done the math.

Currently I'm troubleshooting an issue with our '03 S600 TT. I'll figure it out, and that's part of the fun. In the meantime, the wife has the S500, I've got the S430 and the E320 CDI, and there's Dad's car for special occasions. With the sole exception of the S600 TT (right now), they're all running great and are pretty much maintenance-free. Even the S600 TT is usually very well behaved, and it will be again very soon. The S430 and the E320 CDI are just about Honda-like in their reliability, and as we also own three Honda Civics, I can say that from experience.

So, I wouldn't say Mercedes-Benz cars of this era are necessarily a pain. It's simply a matter of getting them into good repair, and then maintenance is not a big deal at all. There's no way we'd own all the cars that we do if they were.

What is my definition of "good repair"? It's this. If I would trust a given car to get my wife (not a mechanic) from Seattle to Savannah without any problems, then that car is in "good repair". Obvious exceptions are, of course, nails in the tire or someone colliding with you. But I'm pretty sure you're smart enough to get what I'm talking about here.
How would I get this car in good repair?
 

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Fair question. That car sounds like it'll take a bit of work, but I think it's doable.

Here's what I did. Yes, it's a bit of a list.

Step 1: buy a STAR Diagnostic System (SDS) setup. They're about $600 for a turn-key system, and in my experience, they're the gift that keeps on giving to you. Oh, boy, are they. Whatever SDS tells you is probably going to be right-on. Go ahead and fix those things.

Step 2: Check out your brakes. Flush the fluid with fresh DOT 4. If the calipers are sticky, replace them with remans. If the brake pads and/or rotors are looking too worn down, replace 'em.

Step 3: look at all of your fluids. ALL of them, and I'm including the differential fluid and any 4Matic transfer cases. If you don't know that they've been changed, then change 'em.

Step 4: Check out your suspension, front and rear. Every one of our W220's needed a complete front suspension overhaul, which is not unusual for any car of this age. Replace whatever needs replacing.

Step 5: Check out your engine and transmission mounts. Trans mount has any cracks, replace it; they're not expensive.

Step 6: Check out your Flex Discs. These are on your driveshaft and are the Mercedes-Benz equivalent of driveshaft Universal Joints. If they've got cracks, replace them both. There's one at the front and one at the rear, and if one of them lets go due to neglect, the repair can be Very Expensive, so just go ahead and knock it out if it's got cracks in it.

Step 7: Check out your spark plugs. There are two per cylinder on the M112/M113-series of engines. If they show signs of age, i. e. the gap is out of spec, then replace them.

Step 8: Any car of this age is probably going to need new valve cover gaskets. That's a pretty reliable source of slow motor oil leaks. Do those as well; on these engines, it's not difficult.

Step 9: If you see ANY fluid leaks of ANY sort, track them down and fix them.

Note that while you're doing your suspension work, that's a good time to also do your brake work, transmission mount, and flex discs.

Every car I've bought gets this treatement, and that means the Benzes and the Hondas. One example: Our 1995 Civic EX Coupe had an oil leak. I tracked it down to the VTEC solenoid's rubber gasket and the distributor's O-ring. Replaced both, cleaned the engine thoroughly with Engine Degreaser, and now that engine is as dry as a bone.

Another example: the 2003 S430. It needed new spark plugs and new valve cover gaskets, among other things. I did 'em all.

ONE OTHER VERY IMPORTANT THING:

Any parts that you replace, be sure to use either Genuine-MB parts or the OEM parts! Please, for the love of God, Amun-Ra, Newton, the FSM, and Chocolate, do not use cheap-o "made in China" parts! Use the good stuff; it will last far longer and will operate better in the car. That's what I do; no "Chinesium" goes into my cars. I want my car to last, not have to re-do the job every year or two. With the real parts, I won't have to do another suspension overhaul for the next 13-15 years, plus the car rides like it's brand-new. Oh, it is sweet.

And that's how you get a car--any car--into "good repair". That goes for Hondas, Toyotas, Mercedes-Benzes, Ford/Chevy/Dodge pickup trucks, and any other decently-constructed motor vehicle.

No, it's not all that expensive to do so, nor is it all that expensive to do it right, especially if, like me, you do it yourself.
 

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There is an old saying " If you have to ask, how much?.. Then you can't afforded it ".. In this case, if you're asking should I buy this car.. You've answered the question yourself.. The answer is NO.. I own a couple C320.. love them to death.. M112 engine, fantastic...etc.. These cars will NEVER be serviced by anyone other than ME.. If your not willing to get your "hands dirty".. The answer is NO.. Better yet, if you've never gotten your hands dirty.. The answer is NO
 

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If your car has stumbling and stalling, it should be throwing a check engine light. Have you checked for codes, which you can do with any cheap OBD 2 reader, or get “insert your chain auto parts store here” to do it for free.

As for me, I would get the car checked by a mechanic, and if the engine and trans are in fundamentally good health, I would be OK dropping 2 kilodollars on it. Pretty much anything that can go wrong with those cars is now well-documented here, or elsewhere in the cloud, and you can figure out how to repair it at reasonable cost (but you do need to plan annual $ spend for maintenance).
 
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