The second generation Mercedes C-Class marked as W203 was certainly not a showcase of the company. It had finishing flaws, and its durability is not even as good as its predecessor.
In addition, it corrodes powerfully. The quality of medium-sized Mercedes cars has improved significantly only in the generation marked with the W204 code. When the star went to the grill and became noticeably larger, there was a return to Mercedes made in a proper way.
Mercedes W204 Characteristics and construction
The car debuted in 2007 as the successor to the W203. The car changed radically, although it kept the body line and dimensions similar to the older generation.
The stylists said goodbye to the double headlamps, which were already merged into one unit in the W203, and on the grill with clear horizontal stripes, in some equipment versions (including Avantgarde) a huge star appeared, which replaced the sight known from older models.
In such cars, the manufacturer’s logo is placed on the hood, repeating the symbol of a three-pointed star. Before being put into production, the car was thoroughly tested in terms of quality and durability, as it was supposed to be a return to reliable and solid cars.
The new Mercedes C-Class W204, which has grown by several dozen millimeters in each direction, uses many modern solutions and safety systems that have not been available in the C-Class so far. One of them is the Pre-Safe system, which prepares the car and passengers for the inevitable accident.
The new shape of the headlights is not everything – they are also intelligent, i.e. they adapt themselves to the traffic situation. Over time, lane assist, blind spot assist and parking assist made their debuts.
Each copy is equipped with the Agility Control system, which adjusts the damping of the shock absorbers to the condition of the road surface, but without the possibility of any intervention by the driver. It was an additional paid option. Extensive electronics is one thing, and the quality of the assembly is something that Mercedes lovers longed for. This has clearly improved in the new C-Class.
The car has grown not only from the outside, but also from the inside. The sedan’s trunk has grown by 20 liters, and the estate by 15. However, their capacity is still not large. Correspondingly: 475 and 485 l. For the premium class, it’s still not bad. The rival BMW 3 Series E90 has a smaller trunk, while the Audi A4 is slightly larger. It is worth noting that the car was also offered with a two-door Coupé body, while the compact Sportcoupe was abandoned.
The suspension uses a structure similar to the classic MacPherson at the front and a multi-link at the rear. On the front axle, the wheel is guided by a pair of lower arms. At the rear, through a set of rocker arms attached to the frame, to which the differential is also bolted.
We are dealing here with a separate shock absorber and spring. There are versions with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Before the facelift, an electrohydraulically assisted steering gear was used, and from 2011 electrically assisted, which allowed the use of driving assistants.
The history of the Mercedes W204 in a nutshell:
- 2007 – Mercedes W204 debut
- 2008 – Efficient BlueEfficiency versions with standard Start-Stop, Intelligent Charging and improved aerodynamics
- 2009–2010 – facelift and replacement of gasoline engines with turbocharged ones, aluminum bonnet
- 2011 – large facelift, new engines, new safety systems, larger navigation screen
- 2014 – end of production
Mercedes W204 Engines
As befits a Mercedes, the choice of engines is large and meets the needs of virtually every customer. With the exception of the mighty AMG V8s, both inline four and fork six were installed under the hood of the C-Class. To a large extent, a lot depends on whether the car is before or after the 2009-2010 facelift.
When it comes to petrol versions, theoretically the differences are small. For example, the designation C 180 Kompressor and C 180 are almost exactly the same unit producing 156 hp. However, this is not true. In a newer car, the compressor, i.e. a mechanical compressor, has been replaced with turbo charging, and indirect injection – with direct injection.
Newer units are abbreviated as CGI. But that’s not all. The newer C 180 has a volume of 1.6 liters, while the older ones have a capacity of 1.8 liters. After the facelift, it’s a completely different engine. To make it even more interesting, a 1.6 liter engine was also used before the lift, but with a compressor, and the 1.8 unit was also marked as C 200.
The general rule for 4-cylinder petrol engines is that the compressor versions are cars before the lift, and turbocharged cars after the facelift. The power of 4-cylinder engines is: 1.6 l – 156 HP (before and after lifts); 1.8 l – 156 HP (before and after the lift), 184 HP (before and after the lift) or 204 HP(only after the lift).
The larger V6s have a displacement of 2.5 liters, 3.0 liters and 3.5 liters. It is also easy to get lost here, because, for example, the C 250 is a 1.8 turbocharged engine, while the C 230 is a 2.5-liter unit in the pre-facelift model. C 280 and C 300 are the same 3-liter engines, while the largest standard 3.5-liter units were designated C 350. Powers are respectively: 2.5 l – 204 HP (before lift); 3.0 l – 231 hp (before facelift); 3.5 l – 272 hp (before facelift), 292 hp (from 2008), 306 hp (from 2011).
It’s a bit easier with diesels. Here, unfortunately, we do not have any unit with a capacity of up to 2 liters, which is why the cars were expensive as new, and they were charged with high excise duty when used. Of course, the most important diesel is the 2.1 liter engine, which is still used today in some Mercedes models. The model designations for this bike are C 180 CDI, 200, 220 and 250 depending on the year and power.
In the years 2007–2013, 136 and 170 HP versions were offered, from 2010 a 120 HP version, and from 2009 – 204 HP versions (C 250 CDI). The torque of the most powerful version of this engine is as much as 500 Nm.
The second diesel engine is the 3.0-liter V6 with 224 hp (up to 2009), 231 hp (2009-2013), 265 hp (2011-2013). The maximum torque is respectively 510, 540 and 620 Nm. Top diesel is a real locomotive. Of course, in addition to the AMG version with outputs from 457 hp to 517 hp and torque always above 600 Nm. It is worth noting that the V8 AMG engine’s displacement is 6.2 liters, not 6.3 liters.
Which engine to choose for the Mercedes C-Class W204?
In fact, every 4-cylinder unit is good, one is better, the other less. When it comes to gasoline engines, the 1.8-liter engine with a compressor, which was already used in the W203, is highly valued. It is a durable and reliable engine, although it has problems.
The problem with these units is the stretching timing chain that makes noise when worn. Another problem is a leaking electromagnetic valve timing adjuster, which can pour oil into the combustion chamber and, for example, destroy the catalytic converter or spit it out of the engine’s electrics. These are basically the only serious faults. Unfortunately, if the timing chain is neglected, the gears may wear out, and their replacement costs thousands of dollars.
Turbocharged engines are better in all respects, they run smoother, are quieter and consume less fuel. It is also easier to repair a turbocharger than a compressor, because not every mechanic knows how to start working on this less and less popular device.
Theoretically, the compressor is very durable, but the turbochargers in Mercedes gasoline engines are also hard to complain about. On the other hand, newer engine have direct injection, which means that more carbon deposits are deposited in the intake system, but it is a refined design that does not cause major problems. It is worth noting, however, that a younger engine will be more expensive to repair, but on the other hand, rather less worn.
The 2.1 liter diesel engine is also highly recommendable. According to many mechanics, it is an almost armored structure that will easily travel a distance of 500,000. km and greater. In the meantime, the equipment may refuse to cooperate, but this one is also highly appreciated, provided that we are talking about an older type of unit. There were two capacity variations: the older 2,148 cc and the newer 2,143 cc. The latter debuted in 2008 (in the C-Class from 2009).
You can have a dilemma here.
The older engine has very durable and fairly simple attachments, Bosch injectors and not necessarily a DPF filter. The newer one has unstable, piezoelectric Delphi injectors, in the more powerful 170- and 204-hp variants, two turbochargers, and the timing chain has been moved to the rear of the block, i.e. on the gearbox side. It is definitely more expensive to repair, but also newer.
In both versions, there are no longer complaints about the flaps controlling the intake ducts, and the dual-mass wheels are very durable. In newer engines, the injectors and the water pump are faulty, in older engines, the turbocharger solenoid valves that are cheap to repair are more likely to fail. These cause problems for mechanics in newer dual-supercharged engine – it is difficult to properly diagnose them.
When it comes to 4-cylinder engines, a gasoline unit is a safe choice, regardless of the year of manufacture. Diesels are very good, but more expensive to repair, and you have to take into account that after mileage of 250-300 thousand. may already require tampering with expensive equipment. For the more demanding, V6 engine, both diesel and gasoline, have been prepared.
Let’s start with diesel. A 3-liter engine should be divided into two variants: with the SCR filter marked BlueTec and without it. Each engine has a DPF filter, but while the older ones are very durable and resistant to improper operation or long-term not burning soot, BlueTec has a delicate filter.
Besides, it doesn’t cause any major problems. Injector failures occasionally occur, or even seizure at higher mileage, but it is assumed that this is mainly due to poor fuel quality and oil neglect.
There is also a failure of the intake duct control flaps. Although almost every breakdown is potentially expensive to repair, the 3-liter engine is as durable and hassle-free as the older 2.1-liter engine, and has much better performance. So if you take diesel, in my opinion it is best to go all the way and choose V6.
What about gasoline? It’s hard to complain here too. In fact, the only problem with this engine is the timing chain, and the cause lies in the balancer shaft adjuster, the sprocket wearing out quickly if you do not notice a stretched chain.
The cost of repair is in the worst case about $1120 to $1340 (removing the engine, shaft, its replacement and repair activities), but counting the potential costs of diesel repairs, there is no disaster. The more so because of the more serious and repeatable faults, this one is the only one. It is a consolation that the problem concerns mainly the engine from the beginning of production.
- Recommended gasoline engine: 4-cylinder turbo or 6-cylinder
- Recommended diesel engine: 4-cylinder 2.1 older design or V6 late production
What Problems on the Mercedes C-Class W204?
The truth is that not much. The body is completely corrosion-resistant, and the interior shows years later that the quality is truly Mercedes. The electrics that were a problem for first-class users are stable.
Yes, in newer cars, one of the sensors responsible for the work of driving assistants sometimes fails, and the potential costs after a collision may cause a heart attack for the car owner after presenting him with the bill, but generally you cannot complain. Unless it’s a low-quality key that might just break.
The suspension is complicated and the shock absorbers are expensive, but the durability is hard to object to. Even in cars with mileage over 200,000. km you rarely need to do anything. Only in the oldest copies the power steering pump sometimes fails and there is play in the suspension. The brakes are also durable.
Nothing is wrong with the drivetrain. Gearboxes do not fail if they are regularly serviced. Every maximum of 60 thousand. km, you need to change the oil, although it is worth shortening this period to 40 thousand. km in vending machines.
Mercedes W204 Operating costs, prices and availability of spare parts
You can find atypical elements with a candle in wholesalers with spare parts and sometimes you have to go to an authorized service station, where you pay a fortune. Fortunately, Mercedes are very popular cars and there is no shortage of important replacements, which does not mean it will be cheap.
Yes, you can save yourself with replacement shock absorbers, twice cheaper than the original ones with variable damping force, but this will not be a real Mercedes. However, it is difficult to find, for example, a cheap dual mass flywheel, the price of which reaches $672. Faulty piezoelectric injectors cost about $315 per item, and the timing drive system repairs are best entrusted to specialists specializing in cars of this brand, where you can leave up to $1790.
On the one hand, Mercedes is a car that is expensive to maintain and it is not surprising, because it is Mercedes. On the other hand, it is a very reliable model and less problematic than, for example, the BMW 3 Series (E90). Unfortunately, in terms of availability of parts and their prices, it cannot be compared to the Audi A4.
Mercedes W204 Market situation
For the cheapest Mercedes C-Class W204 you will pay just over $6700, but to target a decent copy, you should have $2200 or more. For $8900. You will buy a pre-lift car, not necessarily from the beginning of production. The engine after the facelift start from $11200 up, although even 2008’s reach such and higher prices. The most beautiful and neat Mercedes W204 from the end of production cost even over $22,400.
Diesels are the most popular on the market, although there are plenty of gasoline engines. About half and half the market is divided into automatic and manual transmissions. Station wagon bodies are less popular than sedans.
Is it worth buying a Mercedes C-Class W204?
Mercedes has made a really decent and solid car compared to the C-Class of the second generation, but you have to remember that it is still Mercedes. By this I mean that the car is technically quite advanced and not as simple as, for example, the Audi A4, which for a mechanic is no different from a Passat or a Golf.
Parts can be relatively cheap, but some repairs must be counted in thousands of dollars. Engines with problems with the timing drive, in the event of a more serious failure, it is often better to replace than repair, and the costs can reach up to $2240.
The truth is, you just have to be prepared for an expense of this magnitude, which doesn’t mean that you will definitely need that kind of money. Even if you can pay $11200, then do not buy it only because it is your dream and you want to make it come true for the last penny. Buy it when you can really afford it.