- Helping you drive happy

Mercedes-Benz C-Class : Used

Get the best financial rate for your car loan at Automobile En Direct
Justin Pritchard
W204-generation C-Class looks like a reliable used luxury-car buy
Model: Mercedes-Benz C-Class : Used

Vehicle Type: Luxury Sedan/Coupe

The Verdict Of The Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class: The majority of owners of this generation of C-Class report minor issues, if any at all. A healthy, properly maintained unit free of troublesome signs or one from a Certified Pre-Owned program with extra warranty should deliver plenty of worry-free luxury driving.

Price: Pricing varies wildly in the used C-Class market, due in no small part to the very wide range of powertrains and equipment levels. There’s no shortage of selection across the country -- and $20,000 to $35,000 should find you a model that suits your needs, exactly.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 3/4 view
Photo: Charles Renny

History/Description: The latest generation C-Class entered the market for model-year 2008 with new styling, power, and technology. As the entry-level Mercedes sedan in North America, standard models initially offered a range of V6 engines with no less than 201 horsepower, and up to 300-plus horsepower, depending on the model selected. Look for automatic transmissions and available All-Wheel Drive as designated by the 4MATIC badge. Rear-wheel drive was standard.

Later in this model’s life, a coupe variant joined the lineup, as did a 1.8L turbocharged, 4-cylinder, base engine. Feature content included premium audio, push-button start, climate-controlled leather seats, xenon lights, navigation, Bluetooth, and plenty more.

Key competitors included the Lexus IS, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class cluster
Photo: Charles Renny

What Owners Like: Owners report stable handling, an opulent cabin, a great up-level stereo system, and even good fuel mileage -- especially with the 7-speed automatic that was added mid-cycle. Easy-to-use technology and styling rounded out the package.

What Owners Dislike: Complaints include noisy power-seat adjustment, sometimes-noisy brakes, limited rear-seat headroom for taller passengers, and the awkward placement of some of the controls around the steering wheel.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class rear 3/4 view
Photo: Charles Renny

Taking The Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class For A Test Drive: Start your test drive by noting the condition of the tires and brakes on the C-Class as some owners reported premature wear of these components. A squeaking noise from the braking system could indicate worn out pads or just the result of a somewhat common brake-pad material issue. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re unsure. Many owners had the brake system serviced or new/revised pads installed to help stop the unwanted sounds.

Sit with the vehicle in park and turn the steering wheel fully from one side to the other, quickly, a few times. Any “knocking” sound from beneath the vehicle in the process could be the result of a faulty or worn-out bushing in the steering system. Not a major issue, but one that should be addressed.

Hard shifting or check-engine lights in a used Mercedes-Benz C-Class are likely caused by faulty sensors, although they could indicate transmission or engine trouble. In any case, be sure to have a mechanic scan the model’s computer brain to investigate any issues, warning lights or messages. A computer scan takes just a few minutes and can reveal potentially hidden issues waiting to show themselves.

Though largely inconsequential, numerous owners reported issues with the newer 7-speed automatic transmission, meaning that the older and more proven 5-speed unit may be a better choice if you’re not opting for extended powertrain warranty coverage. Trouble signs in a model with the 7-speed automatic may include jerky shifting, especially at speed or just after overtaking another vehicle at full throttle.

Test drivers are advised to be sure they confirm proper operation from the stereo system and Bluetooth system, as well as all power-seat adjustments, door locks, windows, and the sunroof.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class engine
Photo: Charles Renny

Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert