Purchasing a Used Mercedes 'A' Class

A170 W168 2003 .............. A140 W168
Examples only

So you want a Mercedes 'A' Class. Well not a bad choice of car! But what model are you looking for?
What Horse power (CC)
What year?...1997/8 'A' Class, Pre face lift W168.... 2001 'A' Class, Face lift W168....or.. 2005 New 'A' Class W169
Fully Automatic,
Semi Automatic ACS Clutch-less or
Manual transmission?

And a variation that is not listed by Mercedes-Benz :- Which normally applies to the older ACS model, where because of the ACS module failure the car has been converted to a fully manual version. This will not be noticeable to you the buyer if the job has been done in total , but alas if the instrument cluster has not been changed as part of the conversion you will see an 'F' centre of the display this will remain for all time and will cost a great deal of money to alter . Mercedes-Benz are unlikely to undertake this change for you and so you will be stuck with an unapproved high bred. Unless you get the car for little money purely as a run about then leave well alone.

How can you tell if this car is a converted ACS. When you turn on the ignition Look for an 'F' Displayed in the (dash Display) Instrument cluster for more information see mypage.59b

In all cases ensure the car is driven on the open road which will allow you to see that all gears are obtainable.
In the case of an automatic or semi automatic models this is essential if your not going to get caught.
Ensure the car changes gear throughout the complete range, and that the dash displays the correct symbol for the gear, if 'F' is present or appears, stay well clear of buying that car it has a transmission problem that could cost hundreds or in some cases thousands of to put right.
An old car may still look great but mechanically it must be sound or it will cost you more to put the car right than you are paying for the car.
To undertake a satisfactory test you will need an open road, if 'F' is displayed the transmission will be in 'get you home mode' and will not accelerate above 35-40 MPH so ensure the car is test driven to ensure this fault is not present. a very common fault and a good reason for the seller to get rid of the car.

This buyer didn't understand the fully appreciate the problem until it was too late.

Dear Lofty
I have read with interest some of the info posted at your website regarding the above subject matter. If it is possible, please furnish me with email and telephone no's (if they can fix my 'F' monster for a fee) of the savvy mechanics or motor enthusiasts who have shared these troubleshooting facts about the A160.
On the other hand, if you have undertaken such repair work on this A160 please let me know the cost to fix the problem.

I live in the London area and I have actually just made a commitment to buying a mercedes A160 auto on a V plate (1999). On a test drive round the block today, I saw the 'F' Letter come on display. When I got home I decided to research, when by a stroke of luck I stumbled on this brilliant website.(www.aclassinfo.co.uk/) I indeed have to finalise payment tomorrow and it looks as if I have bought a 'lemon'.
Unfortunately, I cannot back out of the purchase.
A year ago I bought a mercedes E320 which had similar problem with the gearbox which would not change at certain speeds. I got rid of it.
I just love mercedes please help!!!
If you can please let me know so I can send a donation.
I would also like to buy a copy of your CD Rom. I await your reply ASAP.
Thanks so much for helping humanity. A Unquote

Please note I have not driven either the a fully automatic or 'A' Class fitted with the semi-auto Clutch-less boxes, and therefore am unable to comment on them further, However the 'Smart Pulse fitted with the Mercedes Tiptronic Clutch-less transmission is a pleasure and easy to drive.
, Of course the list of possibilities with the A class is almost endless, even
Then you have the short wheel base and long wheel-base. The A200 turbo, the 'Avantgarde' the 'Elegance' or the 'Classic' giving you different equipment and specification. In fact it is true to say that almost all cars will have been built to the first purchasers requirements, and so few cars will be to precisely the same spec.

'So you have seen a car you like', is it at a
Retail outlet:- where the car will almost certainly carry a warrantee
Private sale:- where you will have NO comeback on the seller at all!

What is a realistic price for the car? Well that depends on many things , service history , Age, mileage, condition, etc etc.
Take a look in the Auto-Trader' or E-bay UK and look to see what other cars of similar model, age, mileage, no of owners etc are being advertised for. That will give you a start, as to what's available or you can buy a 'glasses' guide to car prices from such outlets as Smiths Book stores. or link here to get a valuation on your prospective purchase. Get me an immediate valuation on my purchase of course if it is a car that you dearly want you will be prepared to pay that little bit more but do not commit more than you can afford and remember in the case of the private sale you may want some cash to put the odd defect right after you have purchased the car. and Mercedes parts although no dearer than some other marques are not cheap either. Spares are not readily available from breakers and in some cases cannot be fitted to your car as they are coded parts ( and will not therefore work on another vehicle)
So you are still interested. what then should you look for:- in the case of
private sale,
Service history ask the owner if they have had any
problems, dependent on age has it had an
MOT if so when ? when is it due. If its only 3 months away from the MOT ask the owner if they would be prepared to get it MOTed? If it passes you pay for the MOT if not he pays.
If the car is sound then the owner will be quite happy to disclose these details to you. How does he react when you suggest an
AA or RAC inspection of the car? no problem , then that in itself indicates that the owner is unaware of any real problems with the car.
do not be frightened to open the
boot, bonnet, all doors , operate the windows, do they all function, if the double action switch is fitted on the windows check they all work correctly. Do all the
doors lock, I'm aware of two A class that have been bought recently where the door locks have been faulty, not easy to repair unless you are into DIY, and use the services of Mercedes-Benz workshops and your bill will be into triple figures for very little work undertaken so be warned. mypage 53

Lamella Roof
A considerable number of 'A' Class are fitted with a sliding folding louver roofs (Lamella Roof ) these are fine all the time the work but when they go wrong you will not get some of the parts need to undertake a repair the parts, instead you will be quoted by Mercedes for a new roof, which will cost you well over 1000 plus fitting, so if you do decide to purchase an older model with this roof fitted ensure it works and works well or you could be in for an early and large bill, replacement may even exceed what you paid for the car!.

condition , cleanliness, tears in cloth leather. stains on cloth and trim. badly worn leather on the gear shift and steering wheel
Check the interior lighting, front and rear, while the doors are open the lights should be on They will go out when the doors are closed, ensure this feature does work, fail to go out and you have a door switch problem, there are 3 positions on the switch ensure you check. mypage 8
Remote keys X 2 See mypage.6. confirm both keys operate the remote locking.
Alarm keys where appropriate. 1 black 1 red.
Do they work? where do they go?
Also operate the drivers door lock manually with the ignition key, Mercedes remote keys cost well over 100 per key so ensure they are in good order or negotiate a reduced price. 'Ah but they can be got cheap on e-bay I've seen them' TAKE NOTE THEY WILL NOT WORK WITH YOUR NEWLY PURCHASED CAR!
Satisfy yourself that the body work is in good order without damage, mypage 52
Check tyres for road worthiness do not forget the spare , is it there is it in good order if steel are the special bolts with it?.
If aluminium wheels are fitted it is quite normal for them to be locked with locking wheel bolts, If this is the case Where is the key?
If steel wheels are fitted these would normally be fitted with plastic wheel embellishers
Take a look at the engine, it should be clean with no oil leaks, while your there pull the dip stick and see that the oil is not thick and black also check there are no fine water bubbles in the oil.
While you under the bonnet check the water coolant reservoir, there should be no oil residue in the tank. see mypage.4. the plugs on a petrol engine are changed at about
40000 miles if the speedometer is at that point ask if they and the fuel filter changed at about the same mileage have been replaced. mypage.12.fuel filter ....... plugs my page.30.
Front and rear springs on this car are/ can be a problem, kneel and
inspect the rear springs they break at the bottom end. ,
fronts inspect the bottom of the spring where it sits on the suspension cup on the front strut. these have been know to break away and are not always noticed, because the car is still drivable. mypage 26 .......mypage.20.

Get the owner to familiar you with the car lighting this will give you a chance to ensure its all working correctly , this includes Hi visibility rear light & reversing light that should display when reverse gear is selected Road test
Try and drive the car yourself this is normal at a retail outlet , however a private owner may not agree to letting you drive . In which case tell him what you want to see , all gears used, listen for gearbox noise , engine should be reasonably quiet, ask the owner to turn on the air conditioning where fitted , ensure it works,
then turn to heater ensure it works.
While the car is being driven ensure the indicator switch returns on its own left and right
While the engine is running ,ensure there are no warning lights displayed on the instrument cluster (dash) the brakes light will show while the hand brake is on with ignition on. Ensure the seat belts are all in good order, this includes the ones in the rear, X 3 the belts should recoil when they are not in use.mypage.39.
The battery is stowed under the drivers feet , you may wish to inspect this to ensure the terminals are not corroded. mypage.13.
Take the opportunity to ask the owner if the battery has been replaced , batteries last approx 3 years first batteries can last longer so a car four years old is probably due for a new battery soon.

Do remember that such Items as horn, wipers front & rear as well as screen washers front & rear are essential; to a safe car and therefore they should be tested to ensure they work failure on your part to do so on a private purchase can lead to large bills just to get your new purchase up to scratch, and roadworthy .
page 42

One of the main things to check on this car whether purchasing from a private seller of retail out let is the steering Column. Because of the layout of the steering it is prone to trouble/wear on the two UJ's (universal joints) as well as at the spline that joins the two section of the column. This can be checked by gently turning the steering wheel left right and listen for a clicking, if this is present it does not mean the car is defective but that there is some wear on the steering components. Another check is to hold one of the front wheels left right centre of the wheel and ask the owner to gently move the steering wheel you should feel his action at the the wheel you are holding. mypage 49 for more information.

Ensure his/her name is on the DLVC documents and ensure that there is no outstanding finance agreement on the car, I would want to see a bill of purchase, You have every right as the buyer to ask these questions, and if you do not you may well find a finance company picking up your newly purchased car because there is outstanding finance on it. If the name of the person selling is not on the documents ask to see a letter of authority which spells out that they have been given the right to sell the vehicle. on behalf of the registered owner.

Please heed this DLVC warning advise Notice.
Please check the serial number that appears at the top right corner of the registration Document.
If it bears the prefix BG 9167501 to BG 9190500 t is a stolen document and you are advised not to purchase the vehicle.
.If you buy a vehicle that has a stolen V5C, apart from other problems you may face, you may also have no claim on the vehicle.
You may loose both the vehicle and the money you paid for it. Suspicious Price to good to be true? then check with the DVLA before parting with your money

If you do go ahead and purchase, then ensure you get a receipt for the amount paid, signed by the owner/seller who confirms there is no outstanding debts against the car, this includes parking tickets and fines. ensure you receipt is dated.

Used diesels Sorry knowing what I do about Mercedes Diesels with mileage between 30000 - 60000 I would never purchase from a private seller. Even from a retail outlet you are taking a chance, the engine is very susceptible to leaking stuck ejectors , which in some cases cannot be removed for repair, I'm aware of two owners who have had severe problems resulting in having in one case to spend thousands of pounds on a new engine and two cases where the cars have been traded in against other cars to retail outlets, these cars would have without doubt have gone to the Car sales SO TAKE GREAT CARE when BUYING YOUR MERCEDES DIESEL 'A' class In one case of which I'm fully aware the car was like new but the engine was shot. this would have resulted in a new engine being required soon after purchase, costing thousands of you have been warned! But do not let me put you off diesels read Rick's experience for yourself. See mypage.98 kindly hosted by SVC global to return to this site use your back facility
If you are purchasing your car from a retail outlet ensure you are fully aware of the conditions of the warrantee, is it fully inclusive . do not pay top whack and then have to fork out for the first bill that crops up only days after you purchase.
In closing do not write off the car just because it hasn't got a full Mercedes Service History an enthusiastic owner who has carried out his own maintenance will have all the bills to show for his efforts and this will be just as valid if not better than the full MB history
If previous MOT certificates are not available or you doubt the authenticity a useful card whether buying private of from a Retailer is to check the previous MOT records held by the DVLA/VOSA use this link and follow the online instructions. You will however need the co-operation of the seller as you require two of these pieces of information.
1. Registration Number
2 . Registration Certificate Number Number Or
3. MOT VT40 MOT Test Number then link to this site. Read the instructions carefully & and look at sample documents to locate the information required:- www.motinfo.gov.uk, also useful for viewing any warnings issued on current and previous MOTs.

Sample copy of DLVA records displayed :-

Date of test: 08/02/2007
Certificate issued (Pass) Odometer reading: 36,784 Miles
Test number: 442989937000
Test station number: 91300
Test station telephone number: 01903 207210
Test class: IV
Test expiry date: 27/02/2008
No Advisory Notice issued
This completes the test history for the above vehicle as recorded on VOSA's MOT Computerisation

I have adjusted certain numbers etc for security reasons

Read what the Automobile Association of Great Britain (AA) has to say about the A class.
Also bear in mind that you are reading about the 2005/6 (new model) not previous models, preface lift First model 1997-Febuary 2001. Face lift model March 2001-2004/5. New model 2005/6 onwards.
click your back button to return to this site.

Remember even if you are purchasing you car from an outlet like Mercedes-Benz, make sure you are aware of the conditions of the warrantee and ensure you get what's promised in writing. And if you later have problems with the car, act promptly to get it sorted out, remember these companies are not going to spend any more than they have to before putting the car on their forecourt. Buy only from a reputable retailer, or one that comes highly recommended to you, not one that will be gone or have changed their registered name by next week! Good luck lofty

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