The actual cost of a new car goes far beyond the sticker price on the window. Whether you’re eyeing an inexpensive base model Honda or a high-end luxury Mercedes-Benz, you’re taking on substantial financial responsibility once you sign for the car. Most people give car purchases a lot of thought before committing to a car. The chances are if you’re looking at luxury vehicles, you’ve made room in your budget for higher monthly payments and insurance costs — but have you considered future costs?
The purchase price on that window sticker, with tags, fees, and other out-the-door expenses, is part of the fixed cost of the car and is only part of the total cost picture of owning a car. The other half covers the operational costs, the part that often trips up even budget-minded car owners. Without incorporating operational costs into your budget, you run the risk of seriously miscalculating and running into difficulties later when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
Luxury vehicles, like newer Mercedes-Benz models, cost more upfront in fixed costs and tend to have higher operational costs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we’ll get to why later. First, let’s look at average repair and maintenance costs to consider for a newer model Mercedes-Benz.
Luxury Cars Need Luxury Parts
By far, the biggest operational cost you’ll have will come in the maintenance department. Many people have a hard time squaring maintenance costs with a brand-new car. You might expect that new cars shouldn’t need much maintenance, and that’s normally true. However, the cost of maintenance is often based on the cost of parts — and luxury parts cost more.
Brand-name parts will drive up maintenance and repair costs by a significant amount. You could opt for off-brand parts, but there are several reasons why you should reconsider that:
Off-brand parts may not fit exactly, and under the hood is not where you want to exercise the mantra of “close enough is good enough.” Poorly fitting parts can cause other parts to go bad, ultimately driving up repair costs and obliterating any initial savings.
Voiding the manufacturer warranty
An aftermarket part by itself does not void the warranty, but if the dealership finds the part caused a need for repairs, then the dealership could consider the warranty voided.
Consider the source
People who don’t specialize in your luxury vehicle could be the ones manufacturing the off-brand parts. If you install the part yourself and lack experience or have a mechanic who isn’t familiar with your car do it, you could damage other parts.
One important advantage that people should consider is whether the part comes with a guarantee. Mercedes-Benz parts come with a limited two-year warranty against part failure. You may have to pay a bit more upfront for a Mercedes part, but you also get the peace of mind of knowing Mercedes-Benz guarantees the part. Often off-brand parts come with no guarantee. Once the mechanic installs it, you’re on your own, whether it lasts a day or a year.
Dealing With the Dealership
Dealerships are notoriously expensive places to get maintenance and repair services. It is common for dealerships to charge premium prices for even basic maintenance. This higher cost isn’t always a bad thing — dealership mechanics are often extremely familiar with cars like yours because that’s all they work on day in, day out. When you’ve shelled out a substantial amount of money for your luxury vehicle, you might not be comfortable with the repair shop down the street learning as they go. Experience is invaluable when you need repairs on a vehicle you’ve invested in.
The Mercedes Oil Change
No Mercedes owner is going to be cashing in on a $20 oil change coupon. An oil change for a newer Mercedes can range from $180 up to $300 for each change. Newer-model Mercedes-Benz cars use synthetic oil that meets European Union standards, and the tank size is bigger than most non-luxury cars.
Because your newer Mercedes only uses synthetic oil, you’ll only need to change the oil about every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. This far exceeds the recommended length of time to change the oil in cars that take conventional oil. With conventional oil, you may need to change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles. Mercedes-Benz makes its engines for performance, so they select the oil the engine needs for performance as well.
It’s important to find the right repair shop, even for a minor issue like an oil change, because mechanics have to know how to access the engine and drain it. This requires specialized equipment and knowledge that some run-of-the-mill auto garages may not have. The mechanic will also inspect and change the oil filter. If you’ve never owned a Mercedes before, the cost of that first oil change might shock you, but if you account for the frequency versus a non-luxury car, you’ll observe even at a dealership, the oil change is reasonable.
More Perks Means More Parts
Almost all cars on the market now have some computer systems and plenty of electrical wiring involved, but luxury vehicles have more going on than a base model economy car. Mechanics have noted Mercedes-Benz models can have electrical problems. It is common to see electrical wire harnesses fail. Many owners notice issues develop over time with the navigation systems. It’s important to keep reports in perspective.
Mercedes-Benz cars have a lot of luxury features that other cars don’t. Additionally, electrical components on any car are sensitive to extreme heat and cold. A car that has more electrical wiring and systems may need protection from extreme temperature fluctuations to prevent early failure.
Designed to Fail — for Your Safety
Luxury isn’t always about heated seats and wood paneling. Some parts and sensors in your newer Mercedes-Benz will fail — for your safety. For instance, when brake pads wear down to the minimum, the brake sensor will notify the computer, and you’ll see a warning light. When you take your car in to have the brakes replaced, you’ll also need to replace the sensors since you cannot repair them once this happens.
Other repair difficulties are a security factor. Many elements of the design are intentional to make it hard for a thief to take your Mercedes. If the voltage of the car battery goes below 11.5 volts, it can trigger anti-theft alarms. This feature alerts owners if someone has disconnected the battery from attempting to bypass the alarm, but it can also be an irritant if it is due to a depleted battery. Mercedes-Benz models are finely tuned. If you damage a door hinge and it becomes misaligned, this can also trigger your alarm system.
Maintenance Costs Breakdown
For new cars, Mercedes recommends a specific service and maintenance schedule. The types of maintenance and checks the authorized repair facility offers fall into their A or B categories. At 10,000 miles or one year, it’s time for Service A. At 20,000 miles or two years, you’ll bring your car in for Service B. Ideally, you’ll alternate Service A and Service B during your ownership.
Service A Costs Explained
Service A includes an oil change with synthetic oil, as well as changing the oil filter. The authorized mechanic will also check and top off fluids and visually inspect the brakes. Service A also includes getting your tires rotated and checking tire pressure. Each Service A session will usually cost upwards of $250, assuming the mechanics do not find anything unusual during the inspection.
Service B Is More Detailed
If you’re driving your Mercedes frequently, you’ll likely hit the 20,000-mile mark before the second year of ownership. At this visit, you’ll also get an oil change like with Service A. Your vehicle will go through all the same checks as it did during Service A, with a few extra inspections. Service B adds on a cabin air filter replacement and a brake fluid exchange. If there are no other problems with your car, expect to pay closer to the $500 to $600 range. When your Mercedes is your daily driver, you’re likely to hit this service mark sooner than you think.
Ready for Repairs
A Mercedes is among the most expensive cars to repair when a part fails. On average, owners pay little to nothing on repairs during the first few years of ownership. But by the third year, after you’ve been driving it often, you’ll likely encounter more than just regular maintenance costs. The Mercedes is a heavy, high-performance machine. Here are a few examples of likely repairs:
Brakes: You’ll likely need to replace worn brake pads at some point. You can expect to shell out between $150 and $450 per axle. It will depend on the type of brake pads you’d like to have. If you also need the rotors replaced, expect to spend over $300 for parts and labor.
Spark plugs: Many factors affect pricing, including model and labor costs at the repair shop. It is reasonable to see pricing range from approximately $480 to nearly $600. However, the spark plugs on most Mercedes-Benz models last at least 100,000 miles before needing replacement. You will likely drive your car for many years before needing new spark plugs.
Water pump: Like many other parts on the Mercedes, this should last a long time before needing replacement. When it does go, you can expect to pay between $400 and $700. For example, the average cost for a water pump for the Mercedes-Benz C300 is more than $550.
The Real Cost of Your Mercedes
The cash price you pay is not your true cost of ownership. According to Edmunds, a 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class might cost you around $47,000 upfront, but your total five-year costs for that car will top $65,000, including depreciation. Mercedes owners pay an average of $908 in maintenance costs alone each year. Why pay so much money?
Expense Versus Value
Anyone who’s ever driven a Mercedes-Benz will tell you — it’s worth it. When it comes to the luxury and performance of a Mercedes, you get what you pay for. Finding a trustworthy dealership and faithfully following your Service A and Service B maintenance keeps your well-tuned vehicle looking good and running great year after year. Whether creeping along in rush-hour traffic or escaping into the countryside with the family for a getaway, the repair and maintenance you put into your Mercedes-Benz is an investment.
A Mercedes-Benz car isn’t luxury simply due to the name or the logo. The vehicles offer a level of comfort that few other car brands can match. Driving a Mercedes-Benz is an experience. All kinds of cars can get you from A to B, but a Mercedes can make it memorable.