Is it wise to buy a used German car to keep long term?

Saw that, but the question was posed three years ago (OP’s likely made a decision by now), so it was more of a general-purpose response.

The topic itself isn’t time-sensitive, which is why the thread hasn’t been closed simply due to its age. :slight_smile:


Big question here then for 90% of people though is - How much would You have had to pay for everything you did yourself? ,
most private party and well maintained with all documents mostly

I’m convinced that most catastrophic failures are the result of intermittent usage and or abuse.

Complex machines don’t like to sit still, it’s bad for them.


IDK if there is a more reliable German motor than Mercedes’ 3.5L NA V6.

Or a more reliable platform than the W211.2 and W212.

From personal experience with Mercedes, BMW, and Audi I highly recommend the W212 2012+ E350 for anyone wanting to dip their toes into used German cars for the first time.

If you want to have more of a sport sedan experience, a manual RWD E46 or E9x with any of the NA I6 motors. It just loves to rev and is smooth as silk, yes you will deal with some issues like cooling, but it will remind you why some ICEVs will remain highly sought after in a future world where every commuter is an electrified appliance (they are already appliances, the last piece is the removal of any mechanical engine noise).


Only anecdotal evidence, but I had a NA 3.5 liter MB for about 6 years. Not one check engine light ever


m112 motor V6 3.2

7 years no check engine light as well

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Exactly. I would rather buy a used 991.2 GT3 with 15000 miles on it than 1500 miles. You need to let those ponies out to exercise.


M204 C63 AMG with the M156 6.2L V8.

Three years of DD, tracking and all around shenanigans. Never had a single issue.

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Total maintenance costs?

Actual maintenance? Maybe $1k for the initial break in LSD and ATF change.

Tires? Another story as it was RWD, they are larger rears than fronts and should be a soft compound like a PSS. Even without smoking the tires all the time, you will go through rears pretty quickly and they aren’t necessarily “cheap” to replace.

Of course if you’re in the market for that ride (or type of car), you already know that going in.

Edit: should have mentioned oil changes as well. These are full DIY on that engine if you have a lift, ramps or a topside extractor and are very easy. Materials are of course the oil, plug, crush washer, filter and O-ring, and the oil is synthetic M1, LM or whatever meets the MB spec. Not that expensive compared to anything else but the 6.2L takes a ton of it. Good to get a periodic Blackstone analysis on the oil as well. Might have been another $1k total for all changes at 5k mile intervals, and higher total at $1k because it was changed more frequently as it was tracked.

As far as the rest (brake pads, etc.) I did not include that because I tracked the car as well and you can’t count that maintenance in the analysis. You could drive it as a DD for 3 years and need a brake job depending on the mileage but you can DIY that for next to nothing as pads, etc. are not much and you should not need rotors that early. Ceramics - different story.

The MB forums have a ton of info on these on what to look for, DIY and everything else. Truly a great car, and I would strongly suggest to anyone that they look to buy a car like this now and have it for a few years before they all disappear for EVs.

I know there’s no specific answer, but broadly how little use is too little?

This has been in the back of my mind on my two (German) vehicles.

2018 gets driven ~5k miles a year (30k on the odo).
2019 gets driven ~3k miles a year (11k on the odo).

With my routine, each sits about 10-20 days at a time with zero use while I’m (lightly) using the other.

(My dad has ~2000 Corvette with 11,000 miles, which he’s had for 20 years, and it currently won’t start. I’m pretty sure this is too little.)

It’s not what I would call ideal but at least keeping up with time based maintenance is a good idea in your case.

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They get serviced religiously at the time interval.

I think it’s several things here. Little use may be dependent on two things…miles and frequency. If you’re starting the car up and driving it ~100 miles a week based on the 5k annual mileage, that’s one thing, especially when you consider how it’s driven.

Letting a car sit for a long time with infrequent start ups and no driving at all (even short trips) would be more concerning as hoses/tires/etc will dry rot. Engines like an ideal range for temperature, not too hot/cold so allowing warm up time is also a smart idea.

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Both cars are basically errand runners for a week or two at a time, and then they sit for a week or two.

I just had a hose replaced on the '18 because it had a slow coolant leak. Not sure what the cause was, but could be related.

I’m more careful with the M550, and generally drive it less aggressively until it’s warmed up. The other car isn’t as fun when I hit the gas, so it’s not an issue.

I would say that is enough. I would maybe take them for a drive after 2 weeks just to keep everything moving and get the engine up to operating temperature before parking again. A trickle charger also would be a good idea.


On the Bimmerfest forum, many say that BMW’s get expensive to maintain at 70k miles. So if you’ve owned one since new, and it was a good build then it might be worth it to keep it a bit longer. Years ago my first X5 I kept through the lease, had BMW certify it for up 100k miles, they added new tires and all service up to date. I kept it until 120k miles. Traded it for another X5 in 2013, $61k lease payments was $600 mo/36 15k miles. That one I turned in. Owned about 5 other assorted 3 series and always lucked out. Newer cars are more complicated so may be riskier.

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I would expect about $4k so far at a local indy, more at the dealer. The biggest cost would have been the AC fix, as no mechanic would have replaced the pulley/clutch - they would have bought a $500 replacement compressor and dryer, evacuated the system (since the compressor would have needed to be replaced), installed new compressor, refilled refrigerant, etc. - probably $1500 for that job alone. By having me just replace the pulley/clutch, there was no need to open up the system and go through the evacuation/refill procedure.

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That’s my dream vintage car, too. But I don’t think I could live w/ whatever gas mileage the 500SL gets (or whatever maintenance it needs). And I only want one prior to the mid-cycle facelift.

I drive so slowly that the 300SL might work fine for my purposes.

I believe the color you’re referring to is formally known as “Champagne Silver.” :slight_smile:

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