Are Mercedes-Benz Reliable? An Impartial Look at the Luxury Brand’s Reliability

We give an honest assessment on how reliable Mercedes cars are...

Thinking about buying a Mercedes? If you’re looking to buy one as opposed to leasing one, you need to take into account something other than how powerful, luxurious and fast a Mercedes is – you also have to take a look at its reliability.

We know – boring. But here’s the thing: Cars that aren’t reliable cause us no end of frustration, and they can cost us a lot of cash.

German cars have been historically dogged by question marks over their reliability, but what about Mercedes? Are they reliable? Or is your new C-Class going to be spending more time off the road than on it? OSV investigates.

Are Mercedes reliable?

Consumer reports are a good place to start when looking at how reliable a product is, and a car is no different. Consumer Reports have been carrying out long-term reliability tests since 1972 and once placed Mercedes as number one for reliability. However, their assessment has become a little more scathing since 1999, when Mercedes launched their first ever SUV. Since then, the brand has fared averagely on their reliability charts.

 

In fact, ever since 2007, Mercedes have not scored above average by Consumer Reports in regards to reliability. In 2014, Consumer Reports reported that the Mercedes CLA was not only the most unreliable Mercedes in the Auto Reliability Survey, but 140% worse than the average car.

But anyway, that was 2014. Has much changed for 2018?

 

Mercedes CLA

Consumer Reports ran their annual Car Brands Reliability survey for 2018, and Mercedes came 14th. According to the survey, Mercedes cars are currently more unreliable than the likes of Volkswagen and Tesla, but more reliable than Porsche, Infiniti and their closest rivals BMW and Audi.

According to the same survey, the GL3 model is the least reliable model, while the E-Class model is the most reliable. Overall, Mercedes was given an average reliability score of 47, which ranks as fairly reliable.

J.D Power’s dependability study tells a similar story, with Mercedes sitting mid-table in their 2018 league table. Lexus sits at the top with 99 problems per 100 vehicles, while Mercedes has 147 problems per 100 vehicles. That’s not so bad when you consider that Chrysler is saddled with 211 problems per vehicles.

Warranty Directs findings are a bit more damning, however. According to their research in 2017, Mercedes are the fifth likeliest car to break down. They have a 25% breakdown rate, as well as a £560 average payout claim – which can be considered to be quite high.

Why are Mercedes unreliable?

Women on her phone at her laptop

We’ve established that Mercedes aren’t massively reliable … but why is this?

The interesting thing to note is that many of the most unreliable cars are from premium automakers. According to Warranty Directs’ aforementioned survey, Alfa Romeo is the most unreliable brand, while Porsche is the second most unreliable.

The reason Mercedes and many other premium brands have such a poor reliability record? It usually comes down to the fact that they use so much new technology.

Mercedes cars come packed with new technology, and it’s often the technology lets them down. As shown here, Mercedes are clearly classy cars, but tech such as a “complex infotainment system” is their achilles heel.

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.”

Mercedes actually produce fantastic engines. As long as you maintain your Merc and get its oil changed exactly when you should, your car should hold up – in theory. The problem is that its techy bits might go wrong.

Is Mercedes more reliable than BMW and Audi?

We get asked this question a lot.

All German premium brands are dogged by reliability issues. But which one is the most unreliable?

It’s a bit of a redundant question. J.D Power puts Mercedes and Audi higher than BMW in terms of overall dependability – but Which? Ranks BMW and Audi higher than Mercedes.

Moreover, Consumer Reports put BMW higher in their league table, at 5th place, in 2016 – but in 2018, Mercedes is ranked higher. The truth is, all three brands are as reliable – or as unreliable as each other, and their positions in the tables change each year.

Which Mercedes are the most reliable?

As with any brand, some Mercedes models are more dependable than others.

The following are based on the J.D Power predicted dependability score and achieve a ranking of above average or higher:

 

 

So a mixture of classes and years, but it’s good to know if you’re looking at a secondhand 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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Holly Martin

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

13 Comments

  • Simon Eda| 25th October 2018 at 2:06 pm Reply

    It is a good article——Thanks

    • Rachel Richardson| 26th October 2018 at 9:42 am Reply

      Hi Simon,
      Thank you. I am pleased that you’ve found it an informative read.

  • Ganga Tumelo Gaseitsiwe| 25th October 2018 at 7:54 am Reply

    my merc C240 stripped the transmission gear oil pipe and spilled all of it, since then even after refilling it, it just can not change gears to the extent that it just makes a lot of noise not gaining speed. how do i remedy the problem moreover the car is a second automatic. the first person to service it on arrival in Botswana set it at a10 000km service interval. is that the standard service interval or was he just after making a kill out of me servicing many a times

    • Rachel Richardson| 26th October 2018 at 10:45 am Reply

      Hi,
      Thank you for your post and I am sorry to hear that you have been experiencing issues. As we are based in the UK I am unable to refer you to anyone, or provide you with guidance on the solution. It may be that a forum would be a good place for you to get further advice. Good luck.

  • AngelB| 24th August 2018 at 2:33 pm Reply

    MB’s made earlier than 2010 are prone to engine and fuel delivery problems. Visit MB forums and you’ll see why. Many of the reported problems on engine issues are cold/hot hard-start sometimes stranding drivers for hours…or WORSE, engine cuts-off suddenly while driving. Fuel delivery is another common problem where it can cause hard starts or poor engine performance. Later model have the same engine and fuel delivery problems but you can add suspension to that. MB decided to use active body control(ACB) which can leak fluid which can lower the car body so low that you cant drive it…add $$$$ to repair it. These and among many other issues with MB is why I will never buy another Mecedes again.

    • Abbie Rawcliffe| 28th August 2018 at 9:54 am Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.

  • Paul| 3rd April 2018 at 3:18 am Reply

    I thought the article answered most of the important questions, especially for those with little or no experience with these luxury brands.
    Cars are expensive and you need all the information you can get.
    I say we’ll done
    Regards Paul

  • Fred Schmidt| 8th March 2018 at 4:02 am Reply

    You overlook fundamental flaws Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys. Their sampling method is unscientific and non-random. When CR ask owners to report problems with their car, only owners who “feel like doing so” will respond. Highly satisfied and dissatisfied owners are much more likely to respond than owners with “average” experience. The responses are “polarized”. CR is aware of the bias but fails to mention it. Secondly, owners often do not really know what the source of their problem was/is. Thirdly, how can CR be sure that the respondents actually own or use the vehicle? When Toyota and GM jointly produced a vehicle in California, the Toyota was rated more reliable. Ford was once at the top of the reliability scale now is i the mid range. Did the quality really fluctuate that widely? Imagine a drug company evaluating the effectiveness of a drug by handing out questionaires and the waiting for responses (or not).
    So, before we cite CR as the bible of reliability data, let’s be aware of its shortcomings.

    • Abbie Rawcliffe| 8th March 2018 at 9:47 am Reply

      Hi Fred, Thank you so much for taking the time to highlight to our readers your thoughts, we would hope that anyone making a decision on any products advantages or disadvantages would use various methods of research to satisfy their own needs. Our viewpoint also comes from 20 years of motor experience but we always value our readers’ feedback.

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