Are Mercedes-Benz Reliable? An Impartial Look at the Luxury Brands ReliabilityWe give an honest assessment on how reliable Mercedes cars are...
When you are looking for a new car, one of the most important things you should look at is a car’s reliability.
Afterall, you don’t want to spend all that money on a car only for it to be so unreliable you spend even more money getting it repaired.
One brand that has often cropped up in the debate about reliability is Mercedes-Benz. While the prestigious brand is just that, prestigious, it’s reliability has been thrown into question a few times before.
We think that our customers deserve to know as much as they can about the brands they are looking at, so in this article we are going to give you an honest assessment of Mercedes, from looking at what the consumer surveys say and comparing its reliability to some of its rivals.
How reliable are Mercedes?
One of the best things to do when looking at a manufacturer’s reliability is looking at what other people are saying. Consumer reports are a good place to start when you want to look at honest assessments of any product, including cars.
If we look at ‘Consumer Reports’, the consumer report company, we can see that Mercedes-Benz was once the top manufacturer for reliability. However, this changed when Mercedes launched their first SUV, and since then they haven’t fared too well on the reliability front. Since 2007, so the last ten years, Mercedes have not scored above average in terms of their reliability, according to Consumer Reports. They also reported that the Mercedes CLA was not only the most unreliable Mercedes, but 140% worse than the average car. Ouch.
Last year (2016), Consumer Reports ranked Mercedes a reliability score of 67 out of 100. Their predictability was ‘worse than average’.
But, this is just one website. It’s always good to look at a few websites to make sure you get a balanced view. And you may find that you do get quite a few different results.
For example, in 2013 the Telegraph published an article stating that Mercedes had some of the most reliable engines out there. The study, carried out by Warranty Direct, found that Mercedes was third out of all car manufacturers for engine reliability. It claimed that the engine failure rate for Mercedes was 1 in 119, which are pretty good odds.
Also, if we look at the J.D Power Ratings for Mercedes, we can see that it has a 4 out of 5 rating for dependability. Again, good odds.
However, if you then look at the AutoExpress Driver Power Survey, no Mercedes model makes the top 20 for reliability.
So, what is the truth? Are Mercedes reliable or not? There are different companies telling us different things, so who are we to believe?
The answer may lie in the consumer surveys themselves.
Are consumer reports reliable?
While we would say that consumer reports and surveys are probably the best way of truthfully knowing what a car is like, they aren’t without their faults.
Many consumer reports are based on feedback which means that a car could overall, score lower for unrelated reasons. For example, there was furore over the fact that Mercedes still do not provide cupholders in their cars (Google ‘Mercedes no cup holders’ and you will see what I mean). This could make some drivers unhappy and therefore likely to mark them lower overall. This could then bring the mark down for a reason completely unrelated to the build quality and reliability of the car.
That said, when it comes to reliability, then consumer surveys are pretty good. Which? J.D Power and Consumer Reports measure their reliability by analysing how many faults the car has suffered over the previous twelve months, and then rank the reliability based on that.
One of the things we may take issue with is that, with brand new cars, their long term dependability won’t be determined until a few years down the line. So consumer reports are great for those who want to buy a car that is a few years old, as they will have a better idea of its longevity. For those who are buying a car that has been released this year, however, consumer reports are not necessarily as helpful.
However, if there are previous models, you can look at the long term reliability of those, as that will give you a good idea of what to expect from the newer model.
Overall, though, consumer reports and surveys are a good way to measure a vehicles dependability. They do ask the people that own the cars, after all.
What are the most common Mercedes problems?
To gain a better understanding of why Mercedes might be considered unreliable, we should first look at some of the common problems that Mercedes owners face. According to Mercedes Medic, some of the most common problems include;
- Suspension and steering
- ball joints and control arm bushings on Mercedes cars wear out sooner than people think.
- Window regulators
- This is a common problem on cars, and isn’t just exclusive to Mercedes. They tend to fail more on the C-Class than other models, though.
- Catalytic converters
- Problems with the transmission
- This has caused some reputation damage to Mercedes, as it’s the valve body and the 13-pin connector that have seen some issues.
- Engine mounts
- On a Mercedes, the engine mounts are oil filled. Once they get to a high mileage, they start to lose the oil.
So those are some of the common car problems that Mercedes owners may face. It should be noted, however, that many of these common problems occur after quite a high mileage. The chances are you won’t run into these types of problems with a two-year old Mercedes-Benz. However, if you are looking to buy a used Mercedes model, then these are some of the things you will want to be looking out for.
Why are Mercedes-Benz unreliable?
If we go by consumer reports, Mercedes aren’t as reliable as some other brands. But, why is this?
One theory is that Mercedes cars come packed with new technology, and it can sometimes be that technology lets them down. Consumer Reports have consistently scored Mercedes highly on their implementation of new technology. But they do rely on suppliers to implement this technology and sometimes that comes with faults.
An automotive engineer at Consumer Reports, Gabriel Shenhar, said “Mercedes are quick to adapt new technologies but rely on supplies that supply those technologies, and in a lot of cases what we see is problems with the electrical system, the entertainment system and the other interface.”
So the problems with Mercedes don’t lie in the engine, as the Telegraph has confirmed, but in fact could lie with the advanced and new technology.
Is Mercedes more reliable than BMW and Audi?
Okay, so how does Mercedes fare against its main competitors and German counterparts?
It’s a mixed bag really. None of the German manufacturers do particularly well when it comes to reliability, according to various consumer reports websites.
Consumer Reports puts BMW higher in their league table, at 5th place. This is compared to Mercedes’ 14th. Audi take the top spot, with a reliability of ‘better than average’.
So Mercedes is pretty average compared to BMW and Audi.
Which Mercedes’ are the most reliable?
There will be some Mercedes that are more reliable than others, but which ones? The following are based on the J.D Power predicted dependability score and achieve a ranking of above average or higher;
- 2015 GLK-Class
- 2009 SLK-Class
- 2010 C-Class
So a mixture of classes and years, but it’s good to know if you’re looking at a second hand Mercedes. Also, this will give you an idea of how reliable the newer versions of these cars are.
Which Mercedes’ are the least reliable?
So, what about the least reliable? The following have a predicted reliability score of below average;
After all that, are Mercedes-Benz reliable? Yes and no. Their engine reliability is one of the highest in the market, but they are let down by their use of such new and advanced technology. On one hand, we can applaud them for their use of such technology, but on the other it’s one of the reasons why they are scoring lower for reliability. They do rank highly for build quality and overall performance, though, so it depends what is more important to you as a driver and buyer. Ultimately, Mercedes-Benz still make great cars that are worth the money, but we can’t ignore that the new technology could lead to problems later down the line.
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