**$100,000 Expert Challenge to ANY automotive expert, any SAE certified mechanic, any automotive engineer, any Mercedes Benz engineer (Including "Dr. Z", president of Mercedes as seen on TV), any Mercedes Service Manager or mechanic etc... If you can prove that anything I have stated here is completely untrue, I will gladly post your comments, issue a complete apology to Mercedes Benz, and give you $100,000!
When it comes to buying a Certified Pre Owned Mercedes Benz, frequently NO inspection takes place.
CPO is all about marketing and NOT about buying a safe and sound car.
Here's what MONEY magazine says (Sept, 2006 issue)
"It makes a big difference who's certifying it. Dealer-certified vehicles are generally just used cars with an extended service contract rolled into the sale price. Such cars may or may not have been inspected, and the service contract could have more holes in it than Pebble Beach. Make sure you're dealing with factory certification programs. And make sure your ride-to-be has a bulletproof reliability record."
MONEY magazine does NOT mention Mercedes Benz as one with a bulletproof reliability record.
Here's MY experience with the Mercedes Benz factory certification program.
The CPO program began in the 1980's and has only recently become popular with dealers. The concept was to take used cars which were not selling ("lot-rot"), and call them Certified Pre-Owned. It was and still is designed as a MARKETING PROGRAM. It works, because it actually entices folks to buy the vehicle at a higher price than the identical one sitting next to it on the car lot.
The problem, however, is that it rarely goes through the inspection at many dealerships. And that's because it would cost too much. Instead YOU, the buyer, are given a set of documents which explain a 150 point (more or less) inspection checklist which shows each item was inspected and replaced if found it needed replacing.
Here's GOOD ADVICE from CONSUMER REPORTS about CPO programs:
"One drawback to any certification program is that it might lull buyers into assuming the vehicle is in great condition, although it may have hidden problems or even possibly be a lemon. Last year, two New Mexico car buyers sued dealers who they said sold them factory-certified used cars without disclosing that vehicles had undergone thousands of dollars in accident-related repairs. I would tell people, whether it's certified or not, take it to an independent body shop and mechanic for an inspection," says Susan Warren of Feferman and Warren, the Albuquerque, N.M., law firm handling the cases."
Copy and paste this into your browser to read the full article, and delete the (+'s) +http://autos.msn.com/advice/CRArt.aspx?contentid=4023242+
Here's an example of how Mercedes Benz of Tucson ran one of my cars through their CPO program...all with MBUSA corporate approval:
- I read the brochure which says only a few cars are eligible for Certification.
- That brochure says only cars with less than 75K miles under 6 years old qualify.
- It has to have a clean CarFax (I'll let you know how they get around that)
- Mileage has to be verifiable.
- No frame damage.
- No accidents reported.
First, let me explain how they sneak around the CarFax
Notice the sticker attached to the radiator support beam which says "Genuine Mercedes Part". Also notice the bolts are NOT black. Please read on for further explanation.......
Here's a step by step explanation of my personal experience: I bought a Certified PreOwned Mercedes. I was told it was in a very minor fender bender which took place on the Mercedes dealer's lot. No police were called. I was told no repairs were even needed, except to buff out a few scratches. I signed a disclosure stating I was made aware of that fact. 4 months later when I sold it, an auto buyer looked at it and immediately noticed it had been in a major accident. Repairs using 'Genuine Mercedes Parts' were made to the front end....the stickers are still on those parts. The paint thickness was wrong. Here's the big lie: No one knows who fixed the car, but it HAD to be reported to CarFax by ANY insurance agency that pays for damaged vehicle repairs. However, The local Mercedes dealer knows 'nothing'. The original Mercedes dealer knows 'nothing'. No insurance company paid for it.
Yet, it happened, and I photographed the evidence for further use. Both front fenders and hood were removed and replaced, and structural damage was repaired using 'Genuine Mercedes Parts'. I have also video taped the evidence of repairs. Here's the 'smoking gun': Once a bolt is removed, the factory paint is forever gone from that bolt. All the fender bolts on my vehicle were removed/replaced when the body work was done. Photos and video don't lie, but used car dealers......well what can I say? Net result: Value of the car drops by $12,000 right then.
This is a closeup of one fender bolt that was removed....notice silver paint missing from part of the grey bolt. All of the fender bolts are like this one. A used car buyer pointed it out to me. It's kind of hard to see this tiny picture, but that buyer refused to make an offer on it because it had the possibility of other unknown related damage....which reduced the value of the car substantially.
Here's how I found out that NO INSPECTION TAKES PLACE on the CPO vehicle I purchased.
I bought TWO Mercedes at the same dealership the same week. Both were CPO vehicles. A 2003 S-430 and a 2002 CLK 430. But, one of them was missing the CPO paperwork, the CLK430 I bought for my wife. I brought it back to the dealer, and assumed it would take at least a day to perform the 155 point inspection and replace any worn parts.
When I dropped it off, I asked what car they were going to loan me, but they said I could wait in the lobby, because the inspection would be done in less than an hour. I'm a very busy person, I had my briefcase with me, so I decided to stay and do some work while they did their job. At the time, it never occurred to me that an inspection this thorough could NOT be done in an hour, but as I say, I had other things on my mind.
The Mercedes CPO includes inspecting all the engine fluids, all the spark plugs, engine mounts, complete A/C system, the ENTIRE electrical system, Undercarriage/Drivetrain, the entire Chassis/Body, a Road Test, a Post Road Test Inspection. Then, the entire 'fit and finish' of the car including the interior, the exterior, the tires, wash, wax, shampoo the carpeting, repair dents, dings, scratches, and MORE. Then, the form would easily take 30 minutes itself to fill out. Yet, they only needed an hour!!!!!! Wow, they must be frigging magicians at Tucson Mercedes Benz. Or, more likely, they simply filled out the paperwork and I was on my way. That sounds more likely to me. It would probably take about an hour to circle the 155 items, and fill out the rest of the 4 page document, and enter it into a computer.
Here's more proof.....
The mileage in on the work order prior to inspection is 33,255. Supposedly, a road test takes place, then a final inspection. BUT, the mileage 'out' was 33,256 on the invoice.......ONE MILE difference! No road test was done. A definate pattern is emerging.
Fast forward: a month passed, it rained and the wipers on my S-430 were not working. In fact, the rubber had rotted from the blades. That is CPO checklist item number 72 AND 149. Both of those had been marked as PASSED. In fact the wiper blades were the original ones and they dry rotted to the point where rubber was flopping around. I questioned the service advisor who stated the wiper blades were not covered under the CPO warranty......it took him awhile to understand that they were never replaced during the so called inspection.
Same thing with the cigarette lighters in the rear. I wanted to use one of them to plug in assorted things, such as a laptop. That is CPO item number 53 on the checklist. When I pointed that out to the service manager and the service advisor, they attempted to repair it on the spot by replacing a blown fuse. But there was no blown fuse, so I left it to be repaired. Along with the sunroof which didn't work and the driver memory system/rear view mirror system (CPO items number 47 and 106).
I could go on and on....there are at least 10 more instances both vehicles had to go into repair, for items that were not inspected.
My wife's CLK430 had a scratch on the door. They handed her a small bottle of paint in an envelope and told her how to use it!!
Here's a picture of the envelope containing the paint stick. She was supposed to touch it up, wait overnight then buff it out. HUH?
The point is, a CPO vehicle is one that the dealer will fix for no charge, but has probably NOT been inspected. YOU will have to take time from your schedule and get the repairs done that you paid extra for when you bought the CPO warranty! And hopefully, they didn't ignore an important component or system such as the ABS Brakes, or electrical system, which could mean a bad accident. Buyer Beware!
I'm not saying CPO vehicles are not safe cars. Just be advised that it's NOT in the dealer's best interest to inspect any car...because it cost's too much time and money to do the inspection. It's cheaper for them to repair one or two things throughout the year.
Don't take MY advice, read what Consumer Reports says in the article above. Then mulitply this info by the fact that Mercedes has a large inventory of USED vehicles on their lots with problems which they are happy to Certify, just so they can get rid of them and make a profit from an unsuspecting customer.
Interested in a C class Mercedes? Copy/Past this url into your browser, be sure to delete the + at the beginning and end......
Interested in a E class Mercedes? Copy/Past this url into your browser, be sure to delete the + at the beginning and end......
Interested in a S class Mercedes? Copy/Past this url into your browser, be sure to delete the + at the beginning and end......
Interested in a CLK class Mercedes? Copy/Past this url into your browser, be sure to delete the + at the beginning and end......
**How can I afford to make this offer? My college education is in engineering and business. I have also built cars and raced them. I'm a 'shadetree' mechanic. I was an auto dealer. I'm an auto enthusiast. I can troubleshoot anything on any automobile.