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1996 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Consumer Reviews & Ratings

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 278 Ratings for the 1994 - 2000 models.

Review this car
more rating details
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    9.0/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.9/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    8.9/10
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Per Page:  5 | 10 | 25

The Quality Shows

By on Thursday, December 20, 2007

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"I bought this 1995 C280 used with 84k miles. Now has 130k. This car has been excellent overall and is wonderful as a city or highway driver. The only downsides are it is slightly more expensive to purchase a Mercedes than another used car of comparable size, mileage, and features. Additionally, the maintenance and repair costs are higher than other cars. However, considering how long the car will last when properly maintained, it is a better value in the long run versus having to purchase a new (used) car every 5 years. Aside from normal wear items, my car has only required one large repair...the engine wiring harness ($1500) which according to my mechanic is a common failure for 1994 thru 1996 models. Since that was done, the car has been largely trouble free. The interior and exterior have worn extremely well...the car simply does not look its age. All I do is wash it regularly and wax twice per year. Seats are very comfortable even after a 5 hour drive. It motors along smoothly and solidly and gives that Mercedes feeling of being built like a tank that I have yet to feel in any other brand of car, new or used. The acceleration and braking in particular are excellent. The car is geared for the highway and thus is a bit sluggish off the line in town, but from 40mph on up, it will pull like a train. Passing performance is superb. Once after passing a few cars I was shocked to see 110mph on the speedo and she was still pulling strong. Amazing for a 2.8 liter engine. The M104 inline 6 is one of Mercedes' best engines. Smooth and quiet at idle and around town, and it will still rev quickly...the snarl it makes above 5000rpm is addictive. Never uses a drop of oil, never has it leaked, and my mechanic says he has yet to see an M104 that is worn out. I have looked at replacing this car with something newer several times, but I never can find a car that I like as much as this one which is soon to be 13 years old. She still gets 17-19 mpg in town and will consistently return 27.5 mpg on the highway at 85 mph! I now plan on keeping it as long as I can. Mechanic says to expect relatively unlimited mileage if maintained properly. Highly recommended!"

18 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Car for a lifetime.

By on Friday, January 25, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 184,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Solid build, sweet handling, power, very good MPG"

Cons: "Premium fuel, sketchy defroster."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought my 2000 C230 Kompressor with 70K miles on it in 2005. Liked it so much I bought one for the wife, too, and we still have them both. I've driven mine 115K more and now my daugher is using it for her college car. I like all the safety built in to these. Styling is getting a bit dated, but looks young for its age. Factory paint is excellent, interiors are solid and well-designed. I have had to replace the windhield wiper motor (in Oregon? duh..) but neither car has ever left us stranded. It is beautifully built, and if you are the sort to do your own minor repairs (lightbulbs and such) you will appreciate how thoughtfully-designed the details are. My only problem is that the defoggers (on both cars) fog the windows before they de-fog them. Have to be careful to not accidentally blind yourself at a bad time. Internet research reveals the proper fix for almost any ailment. With reasonable maintenance they will last forever. After 14 years, they still have the original batteries, fr' cryin' out loud. Electronic key eventually failed, that was $250 (ouch). Premium fuel is a drag, but I have gotten as high as 34 mpg on the freeway at 70 MPH. Car was pulling strongly at 120 MPH before I chickened-out. Claimed 132 MPH is quite likely. Not to put down any other car (and I have had many), but these are GREAT cars. When the kids move out, I will probably get a used 230SLK. Two seat roadster with much of the same running gear as the C230. I would probably not recommend a 14 year old vehicle to anyone who expects a drive-it-and-forget-it car. But on the used car market, these were an exceptional value."

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Love My Car

By on Friday, August 02, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 146,546

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun to drive, reliable, and classy sporty style"

Cons: "No cup holders in rear"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

My Benz

"I bought this car used in 2006, regularly maintain it and follow suggested repairs and maintenance and it's never stranded me or let me down. When I take it to the dealership for yearly tune-up/oil changes, etc... they give me another C230, new, as a loaner. My vehicle handles and performs better overall than the new vehicle. The center of gravity is much lower on this C230, giving me better performance in cornering and maneuvering. The brakes on the new models are way too touchy, I have power brakes but you know you are pressing on them, it doesn't jerk you but stops on a dime. Annual maintenance ranges from 600-2000 dollars high per year - depending on what is worn or needs to be replaced. The transmission is great, doesn't burn oil, gets 30mpg on highway, 25 city and I've never run out so the indicator is spot on. I can't say enough about this car - it looks great, handles like a dream, and I know what I've got. I think I'll be driving this car forever and based on it's performance so far I know that's a true statement. Bought it for 7k used, best deal ever on a car!"

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

My Benz

Very good car, except for a couple design flaws.

By on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great value, drives excellent"

Cons: "Cylinder head gasket & wiring harness design flaws"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I picked up a 1994 C280 with 105k miles. Being a couple without kids, it's an excellent car for our needs. It drives great, just what you would expect from Mercedes-Benz. Definitely a fine vehicle. I can't figure out why anybody would buy a Japanese car when you can pick a used Mercedes for a great price, and quality wise they dont even compare. There are two major design flaws after extensive research, I discovered. The first is the cylinder head gasket, from what I've read from multiple sources is that 90% of C-Classes with the M104 engine have a oil leak from the cylinder head. Mercedes has redesigned the gasket, and the replacements will not have the same problem. It is between $1500 to $2000 to replace. Luckily I was a Mercedes mechanic for a short period of time and was able to replace it myself. The head gasket itself is about $50, but is a major repair to perform. The second design flaw is the Wiring harnesses. Mercedes from about 1990-1996 were required by the German government to use bio-degradable materials for the wiring harnesses. As a result after a period of time they are very brittle and the insallation cracks and falls right off the wire. I found one on e-bay for about $270, if you were to buy a new one you would be looking at approximately $1200 just for the part. I installed mine while I had the head gasket off and it was about 5 hours labor. A bad wiring harness can cause numerous problems including gauges not functioning, loss of fuel mileage, codes to pop up on the OBD system, even unexpected acceleration, and fires! If you are planning on buying a Mercedes from the early to mid 1990's, be sure to check the state of the wiring harnesses. Other than these issues, the car is excellent, the M104 inline 6 cylinder engine is pretty much indestructible, and performs great."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

2000, C-280 Excellent

By on Monday, July 16, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Cons: "a little cramped"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Just bought last month. Took on a 2000 mile vacation. 4people and gear. 27-29 MPG! A little cramped at times(I am 6'2" 215 lbs). Great Handling. Comfortable seats."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

A Pleasure to Own

By on Friday, July 06, 2007

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"I have owned my 1995 C220 since June, 2001. This is simply the finest car I have ever owned (and I have owned many). This is not a fast car, but it can move quickly. This is not a sports car, but it handles well. The Mercedes way is to do everything well and in balance. The quality of fit, finish and engineering are top notch. I get 21MPG in the city and 30MPG on the highway. The seats are very comfortable for long trips and the trunk is very large. I'm lucky to have the hard to find folding rear seats. I still look forward to driving this car and it still can put a smile on my face. Parts and service can be very expensive. These cars need to be well cared for, and if you do, it will last a lifetime. It's best to find a private Mercedes specialist repair shop. Mercedes roadside assistance is available FOR AS LONG AS YOU OWN THE CAR! They will also change a flat, bring gas if you run out or jump your car...for free. If you are looking to buy one, make sure the seller has all of the maintainence and repair bills. You need to buy a well maitained car and take care of it. If so, there is no reason the car will not make it to 200 or 300,000 miles on the odometer."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

A very Hardworking and reliable Car!

By on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 250,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Reliable, Safe, Drive Smoothly"

Cons: "Old fashion interior design"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Still runs like a Champ! With little maintenance and repair!"

6 people out of 6 found this review helpful

This care handles the road beauifully!

By on Saturday, March 31, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 900,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have had this car for 10 years. I have kept this car in perfect condition while it is was in my care. It is great to handle. It is a great second hand car. The only problem with this car is that I need to move on and can't bring the car with me :)"

6 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Fun and solid

By on Monday, May 26, 2008

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"I am a repeat MB owner. (Wish I still had my 1956 190SL!) My 2000 C230 has been everything I expected since the day I took delivery. This car is fun with all the zip one could ask for from a supercharged 4. Pure solid MB from the quirky cruise control lever that Consumer Reports will always hate, to the dependability one expects from the engineers at Daimler-Benz. Yes, the dealer maintenence is expensive but preventive maintenence will deliver reliable transportation without grief. I appreciate this vehicle and love the 24MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway. Comfort, dependability with style. Would I buy another? Well after 5 MBs over the past 50 years I would say so."

6 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Amazing Value

By on Sunday, May 03, 2009

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"C280 Sedan gets you probably the best value for your money. It's built is rock solid and feels very safe while driving. Amazing steering wheel radius; it can take a U turn where even a Honda Civic (2 Door) won't be able to! Great gas mileage; great acceleration; slip control; cornering. All in all, this is an Amazing Car for the money."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Great Car except in snow

By on Saturday, May 31, 2008

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

"Good on gas, fun to drive, safe. Great in rain. Not recommended in areas where it snows. It does not perform in any snow. Have had problems in as little as one inch of icy snow. Snow tires and low gear help, but could get stuck in a substantial storm."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Lowest Maintenance Vehicle

By on Sunday, April 13, 2008

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"Of all of the cars that I have owned, this car has been the most reliable, trouble free and least expensive to operate. Currently it has 127,000 miles. The only problem that I currently have is that the odometer digits are burned out. I am the original owner."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Bullet Proof engine MB

By on Sunday, March 16, 2008

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

"1998 and 1999 MB C230 are more reliable than any other Mercedes Benz vehicles made at time. Check out the recent consumer report (April 2008) and you will find them both recommended as good used vehicles to buy. I have a 1999 C230 sport with 140K on it. The engine still runs strong. I would recommands two sets of tires/rims(summer all season and Winter snow tires) for this rear wheel drive car. I also suggest K&N air filter. So you can reuse it to save money. Change to Bilstein shocks when you car hits 100K. I only use synthetic oil for my engine but stretch the oil change to every 6000 miles instead. I enjoy my MB very much. I hope you, too."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Best Vehicle

By on Thursday, July 05, 2007

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"This car has so much pick up. Quick to use around town and on the hwy. It handles and rides like a dream. The only bummer is you have to use premium gas, otherwise this vehicle is the best! The gas mileage is ok, not bad at all."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

My Dream Come True

By on Sunday, August 18, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 129,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Perfect Handling, Everlasting Model, fully loaded"

Cons: "nothing that i can think of"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have 1999 c280 sport package, just one more step to c43 amg, I've had this car for almost two years, my dream car since i was teenager, i bought this car when it was still 99000 miles, nothing really cost me except for oil change, and tires, since i installed 18 inch AMG, I really love this car, i will keep this car and will never sale it, fully loaded with optional, powerful if we compare with BMW, Audi,Saab, I think Benz is the best car for German Technology, can't ask for more from this car... Love it"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

C43 AMG

By on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,890

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fast, Incredible Quality, Timeless look"

Cons: "I only have one C43 - two would be better!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

AMG!

"Bought this 1999 C43 with 75000 miles on it for $10,000 in 2009. Wow, what a car, here we are in 2012 and I can still smoke just about any car on the road if I want some fun, handles better than most sedans, but the age is showing in that department. Talk about a rock solid engine, it just growls and goes! Mileage around town is 19 mpg, 23 to 25 on the highway depending on how much I push it. Amazing features for a car this old, it feels better than just about every new or newer car I've driven. This car sold me on Mercedes build and quality - they've got a lifetime customer - I've had Audi, BMW, SAAB, VW and domestics - won't ever buy anything but MB again. Next one up? C63 AMG - woo hoo!. Great cars!"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

AMG!

By on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

"good car. easy to work on and solid all around"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great Car

By on Sunday, June 01, 2008

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"Great car overall. It has good gas mileage and is very reliable. Handles great and performs well. Had very few minor problems. Other than that it still runs the same as the day I bought it. I would recommend this car to anyone."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great car overall!

By on Thursday, March 13, 2008

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"I bought my 2000 C230 used, with low miles (46K) about 2 years ago. I have had no real complaints. Yes, the maintenance is pricey, but worth it. I would rather take care of this car; it has certainly taken care of me! The only drawback that I have seen is during the winter. I live in Chicago, and the car, even in winter mode can be a challenge to maneuver in snow. But, if you are a competent driver, maintain your tires, and utilize the winter mode, you will definitely get where you are going. This is by far the best car I have owned, and I've had everything from a Jeep, to a VW, and even a Volvo. Especially for those who live in a city where traffic jams are the norm, this car is comfortable, safe, and definitely responsive! It's much easier to navigate downtown traffic with my car, and parking is fairly simple as it's not a huge vehicle. This one is definitely worth looking into!"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great Car

By on Saturday, December 15, 2007

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

"I bought this car about eight months ago and loved it since day one. This car got great gas millage, drove amazingly, and had pretty good power for a 4 cyl. I recently lost it though when a truck blew a red light at hit me going highway speeds. The front was crushed verry badly but i walked away with only a brused shin and hurt hand. Besides the fact that this is a nice looking and driving car, it handled a crash amazingly well and i think if i were in any other car i wouldnt have been as lucky. Great car though expecially for the money and i would recomend it to anyone expecially younger drivers who want a nice car but still would like safety involved as well."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great Car!

By on Friday, July 06, 2007

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

"The 1997 C230 has been a great car. I love the way it looks, drives and handles. The c230 has a bit less get up and go than the c280 (6 cyl) or the c230 Kompressor (4 cyl w/turbo). However, it still has pleanty of power around town or to pass on the freeway and I get 20- 30 mpg with this 4 cyl. The longer I drive it the more aware I become of the quality and comfort this car offers. Great trunk space too. Also, friends often comment on the comfort of the ride and the ease to enter and exit the vehicle as a rear passenger. It would be five stars for value except for the high cost of dealer maintenance. Based on my experience, only the pro's at MB seem to know how to properly work on these cars."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Excellent entry-level M-B

By on Monday, January 06, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: 2007 ECONOMY CRASHED

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Handling, safety, big-car luxury in a small pkg"

Cons: "Maintenance costs"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"For the brief time I owned this car, it was fantastic. Plenty of power, good retained build quality for its age and a lot of fun to drive. Maintenance costs and the economy forced me to return it. If I had bought the car in cash, I probably would still have it. The best feature about this car was its safety. It took a rear-end collision from a '93 Bonneville and came away with a scratched bumper. Their insurance paid $1100.00 to repaint, but that's all it needed. Solid cars, built like a bank vault."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

A well-optimized, balanced, and beautiful ride

By on Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Reliable, design, interior, handling"

Cons: "Tire life"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"A pleasing and durable car. Its ride, handling, and appearance are remarkably similar to the day it left the dealership (I bought it new 18 years ago). It’s required a few repairs, but nothing very unusual or troublesome. Repair costs can be a bit pricey, but the car’s worth it. Minor maintenance and repairs can be done by the reasonably competent do-it-yourselfer. It’s a well balanced car and handles well in all weather conditions, including Colorado’s snow (with the right tires). Tire tread life is low, however, averaging 20K no matter the manufacturer (with the right warranty you can compensate). Gas mileage with this 4-cylinder is reasonable at ~26 mpg in balanced usage. I’d buy this car again, absolutely, and plan to keep this one for as long as I need a car (and maybe longer)."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Best car ever, for my needs.

By on Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "A 20 year car, for sure. Speedy and reliable."

Cons: "Compact. Not for tall/large people."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is the right car for me, a singleton driving in FL. Superbly reliable, classic style, zippy in it's responsiveness in bumper to bumper traffic and a nice smooth ride for road trips. Beware, ceiling is a bit low for anyone 6'1" or above and back seat is fine, but not roomy. I have owned the car for 8 years and it has never required anything more than routine maintenance, which I urge you to always have performed at a dealership. It has proven to be a fantastic value. I purchased it certified pre-owned and never regretted it. It is a very popular car in Florida, with the old money and country club set. So it makes a nice impression and has high resale in the area."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Love the reliability, drive, and overall car.

By on Thursday, March 15, 2012

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 132,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Well built car and excellent drive."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this car brand new and have had it for 12 years. It is in excellent condition, looks great, and I would still drive it anywhere out of town. The drive is good and it picks up speed quickly. Not very good in the snow. I love this car!"

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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