Buying review Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203) 2000-2007 Common Issues Engines Inspection

Categories :

Hi everyone,

I am back with a new video series about buying a second hand car.

I will give you some tips and advice on buying second hands cars. Together we will look at some desirable cars that are now 10 to 15 years old and that could be interesting for you to buy.

We discuss cars that were out of reach when introduced, but now are affordable and still come from respected manufacturers.

General information

Today the first car we will look at is the Mercedes Benz C-class, the model W203. One of my most favourite Mercs of all time.

This car came to the market when I was 15 years old. I remember our neighbour owning one, and I liked the classic Mercedes styling from the early 2000’s. From the outside it looked stylish and from the inside it looked like a quality product. Today we check if that feeling is correct or not.


The w203, the second generation Mercedes C-class came to the market in 2000 and was produced until early 2007. The early models of the car had some electrical issues and as time went on, we find out that most of these early production cars were very poorly build. Well I should say the paint on the car was off inferior quality since this was paint on a water basis, this had impact on the rest of the car.

Rust problems

All W203’s are suffering from rust, which is quite shocking. Not what you expect from a premium car like the Mercedes Benz. The good thing about it is that these cars can be picked up relatively cheap.

So the origin of the problem lies in the paint job. Mercedes started cutting costs in the late nighties and early 2000’s and as a result they started using water based paint. This type of paint is not that durable and as a result, mostly in Western Europe where winters can be cold and the climate is sometimes harsh on the cars. Problems start to occur with rust on the door panels, the trunk, wheel arches etc. If you maintain your car, and try not to drive it through extreme winter conditions, the problems can be handled. But it takes constant attention to not let the problem get out of hand.

Electronical issues

There are also stories about malfunctioning electronics. In the early production models some of the issues are caused because of water build up in the water drainage of the front window, the drainage can be plugged up because of leafs or other waste. Eventually the water will finds its way to the electronics, which is bad news.

Now that the bad news is out of the way, let’s look at the good news. What does this car have that other cars don’t have. The engines are all masterpieces, just a few issues we will discuss later on in the video.

Also, this Mercedes offers a comfortable drive, its feels very planted on the highway and the highway is where it feels at home. If you go for such a car, you should go for the facelifted models of the w203. Since Mercedes made some updates to combat the electrical issues and also started using different kind of paint. I think even in 2017 it is a desirable car, not only because of the badge, but in my eyes it looks like a small S-class. Also the interior feels like it could last a hundred years, it’s solid and durable but to some people a bit boring.

What matters for me is the engine, and the comfort when I look for a car. And in that aspect, this mercedes is doing well. Even if you go for the diesels, there is plenty to choose from. And the gasoline engines had some compressors to get some extra boost. Nice technology.

Cars with high mileage shouldn’t be a big problem, just as long as there is a complete service history of the car, and the car has been serviced every year.


Like I said before, the engines are not the problem. Mercedes engines are among the best engines in the world. The biggest enemy of the w203 is rust. Sometimes you can pick up a w203 for under 5000 euro, but aspect to invest some time, money and sweat getting the car back into shape. Almost no one can escape the rust. I bet if rust wasn’t an issue, these cars would cost around 10.000 euro’s for a 2005 model.
Interior space is not the biggest in its class, but it is acceptable.

The T-models or wagons were also used as taxi’s in Europe. To my knowledge this is a testament that these cars were build for extreme mileages and comfortable driving.There is also a wide variety of engine choices to choose from. From the 180 compressor, to the very rare AMG models. AMG even made a C30 CDI, the only fast diesel Mercedes that was put together by AMG. AMG normally only tunes gasoline engines. People say Mercedes is expensive, but in the long run, it might be cheaper to run than a Ford Fiesta in terms of repairs, and it is definitely holding its value better than anything else.

Let’s take a look at the engines.


We start with the gasoline engine’s, overall they are bullet proof but there are several models out there that suffer from carbon build up and timing chain issues.

The timing chain of the engine should be replaced every 130.000 KM to reduce the risk of serious engine damage, do this as a precautionary measure. The M271 engine from Mercedes is the best left alone in this regard. The same goes for the V6 engines. In this case we talk about the M272 engines, the petrol v6 engines from Mercedes.
There are issues with the balance shaft and the timing chain. Balance shaft issues can be pricy to fix. And the timing chain needs replacement every 150.000 KM.

So to summerise overall problems for this car with the petrol engines, oil leaks, coolant leaks, worn spark plugs, sensor failures which result in fake error messages on mainly the early production models.


Now lets check out the available diesel engines for this car.

Mercedes and diesel is a golden combination. The diesel engines are very well put together, there are only some typical issues you will find on a diesel car. Like for instance injector problems, problems with the turbochargers, contaminated EGR valves, swirl flap issues, issues with the diesel pump and fuel leaks.

This sound like a whole lot, but you have to understand that this car is well documented, there is lots of information to be found on the internet, and most of these cars have been used by business people or deployed as a taxi, so a fair share of these cars have astronomical mileages, which is a further testament of the durability of the engines.
For all engines, no matter if it is a petrol or diesel engine it is vital to change or add oil every 10 to 15.000 KM.

Gearboxes available for this car, 6 speed manual, 5 or 7 speed automatic.

If you have any questions about this car, or you want to share your own experiences from owning this car, please leave a comment. If you want more car buying reviews, hit the subscribe button and somehow magically you will find our video’s coming your way.

Drive safe, see you guys in the next video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *