RE: Mercedes CL (C125): PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Mercedes CL (C125): PH Used Buying Guide

Thursday 29th November

Mercedes CL (C125): PH Used Buying Guide

Buying a CL can be minefield. But there's a whole lot of coupe on the far side...



Used car bargains don't come much more tempting than the Mercedes-Benz CL coupe of 2000 vintage. A used car also doesn't come with more potential to put you in the poor house if you pick the wrong one. Even so, the lure of the C215 coupe is very strong thanks to its mix of svelte looks, big engines and smooth grand touring ability. It's true this super coupe was built at a point where Mercedes was still putting its woeful corrosion troubles behind it, but the CL was generally built to a higher standard due to its demanding customer base.

Part of that package for these wealthy owners was Merc's ABC active body control that pumped oil around the shock absorbers at all four corners to maintain a level attitude in hard cornering. It also came with a Sport mode that allowed the CL to compete with big coupes from the likes of Ferrari and Maserati while still offering S-Class-like comfort.

Inside, there's a mass of leather, suede and wood, as well as plenty of electronics that were part of the CL's assault on the senses. Leading edge at the time, these gadgets can be a liability now and are part of the reason this big coupe is now so cheap. However, there are specialists around who can look after, repair and even upgrade this kit without bankrupting you.


At its core, the engines of the CL should be trouble-free if they've been maintained correctly. The CL500 is by far the most numerous and comes with a 306hp 4.9-litre V8 that makes the car quick enough to be fun yet is also reasonably economical to run for something of its size. Mercedes also offered the CL55 AMG with 360hp to start and then 500hp when it adopted the supercharged engine from the SL55 AMG. Buyers could also pick from a CL600 with 5.5-litre bi-turbo V12 producing 500hp, while the almighty CL65 sported a 612hp 6.0-litre turbocharged V12 with a whopping 738lb ft of torque.

Today, the CL continues to offer a superbly refined way to travel once you've tracked down one a keeper. Prices for the cheapest CL500s start at £2500, where much caution should be exercised. Double that budget and you should find a good 500, while a 600 in decent nick starts from £10,000. On the AMG front, the CL55 is more numerous and costs from £6000. Go for the CL65 AMG and its rarity combined with collectability means you'll pay from £25,000.


Buyer's checklist


Bodywork and interior

Damp in the passenger footwell is not uncommon and can lead to electrical problems as much of the CL's control systems are positioned here.
Look for corrosion around the rear wheelarches, door bottoms, rear windscreen surround and boot lid lower edge.

Shabby leather is a sure sign of a careless owner.

COMAND infotainment system is clunk by modern standards but should still work. Problems with the COMAND system can usually be fixed by specialists such as Braybrooks for much less than Mercedes will charge for a replacement.

Windows stuck in place will be due to broken cables, which are straightforward to fix but time consuming.

Pneumatic lumbar adjustment can fail and will deflate when you try to pump it up. Listen for the sound of air escaping when you pump it up. Usual problem is a broken vacuum hose underneath the seat.


Engine and transmission

CL500 can be tricky to start when hot if the crank position sensor has failed.

V12 engines suffer oil leaks from front of timing chain cover, usually caused by a blocked crankcase oil breather.

Oil can also leak from the gasket for the cooler positioned in the valley of the V12's cylinder banks.

All engines need an oil and filter change every 10,000 miles.

V12's ignition coils often fail when plugs are changed and cost £1000 for a set of six for each cylinder bank.

Gearboxes are long-lived by can go into a limp-home mode and fail to engage third gear, which can mean removing the 'box and expensive labour charges.


Suspension and steering

Active Body Control system is more reliable than some doom-sayers will have you believe, but still needs careful inspection by an independent specialist. Warning lights on the dash will be your first warning, with white lights a caution and red ones signalling a major fault.

If the suspension feels very hard during a test drive, it's probably the ABC defaulting to the Sport setting, which is a problem. An ABC system oil change is recommended every two years.

New ABC suspension struts are £700 each, while pump control valves cost £2000 for a pair. A pump is £1500.

After driving the car, if possible wait a few hours to check it has not settled on the suspension, which is a clear sign the ABC pump is failing.

If the ABC suspension is deteriorating, new pipes will also be needed. Completely refurbishing the suspension will cost around £7000 including labour.


Wheels, tyres and brakes

New front discs and pads are around £300 for aftermarket replacements.

Rare CL55 AMG F1 came with carbon ceramic discs as standard


SPECIFICATION - MERCEDES CL500
Engine:
4933cc V8
Transmission: 5-speed auto
Power (hp): 306@5600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 339@2700-4250rpm
MPG: 24.8
CO2: 320g/km
Price new: £66,285
Price now: £2500 upwards

Author
Discussion

tiptreegeek

Original Poster:

18 posts

54 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
I had one of these for 5 years, 2000 X plate, only had 55k miles with FSH when purchased - just under 80k when sold.
Was lovely to drive but so many issues, gained the nick name Git...
1) Door cables - drivers door failed twice - better on the face lift models apparently.
2) High pressure hose for the near side front strut went - made a VERY loud noise, not that expensive.
3) Central locking on drivers door died twice, vacuum hose - cable tied after number 2.
4) Gear box going into limp mode, never got that fixed - normally could reset with a quick stop & start of the car.
5) Corrosion started to kick in - door bottoms, rear aches, leading edge of the bonnet.
6) Drivers side seat started to have a mind of its own.
7) Top Dead Centre sensor failed - only £50 & 10mins to swap.
8) Lots of bits of interior trim started to fall off.
9) Aircon totally packed up - did just before the end of summer & would not recharge.
10) Cooling fan failed - got a 2nd hand one for £100.
11) Needed over £2k of assorted work when PX'ed - at this point I fell out of love with it & my wife was fed up with me moaning about it.

Bought a low mileage E46 330 Cab - but that turned out to be just as much of a pile of c*ap - actually even worse.

Still tempted by a face lift CL55 or CL600, but very wary...



Edited by tiptreegeek on Thursday 29th November 16:53

j_s14a

801 posts

114 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
One of my favourite Mercedes of all time. Understated (for what it is), and in its earliest guise without big wheels and bodykits, is still a stunning thing





But...

I couldn't own one, unless I won the lottery, the nightmare stories about annual running costs running into several thousands are hardly unfounded. Very advanced for their time, but not built to last.

Animal

4,460 posts

204 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
I ran a CL600 for a year.

As many things didn't work (e.g. ventilated seats) as did, and every minor repair seemed to cost £500 (plus VAT, obviously) to fix, but the ride, the comfort, the V12 noise and the thrust were completely and utterly worth it. Wish I could have another.

fernando the frog

46 posts

4 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
I had one and it was an unreliable POS but great engine and good looking.

Suspension went, bodywork had corroded all over and just loads of electrical problems.

cb1965

2,608 posts

81 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Makes an SL55 look cheap to run, nice to look at as long as you don't own it!
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Max M4X WW

4,021 posts

118 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Always wanted one of these and one came up locally so snapped it up. Was in good shape and had been under warranty so I got away lightly with only an air con pump requiring replacement in my ownership for 6~months. Sold it for various other reasons but swiftly saw it dumped at my local indy for a number of months following as an ABC pipe had gone.

Still, I'd have another but it would need to have the AMG Kit & 19's and or 600TT engine to keep me interested as otherwise It didn't seem as good as it should have been.






Helicopter123

4,465 posts

92 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Max M4X WW said:
Always wanted one of these and one came up locally so snapped it up. Was in good shape and had been under warranty so I got away lightly with only an air con pump requiring replacement in my ownership for 6~months. Sold it for various other reasons but swiftly saw it dumped at my local indy for a number of months following as an ABC pipe had gone.

Still, I'd have another but it would need to have the AMG Kit & 19's and or 600TT engine to keep me interested as otherwise It didn't seem as good as it should have been.





I'm sure that Wood looks better in the flesh?

pSyCoSiS

2,347 posts

141 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Had several of these over the years, and the best one was a Designo model CL500 finished in Almadine Red with two-tone purple leather.

They drive superb when the ABC is functioning correctly. And unless it has had a recent re-vamp, ABC warning lights will be seen during ownership.

Not the prettiest front end, but stunning from the side, rear quarter and rear end view.

Great, bullet-proof engines which last forever if maintained correctly.

You can pick them up dirt cheap, I bought one for £1600 two years ago, and it was used to commute up and down to Newcastle weekly without a hitch.

Super smooth ride, nice sound from the engine and all the luxuries you need. Go for the post 2002 facelift model, and it has the better switch gear inside, wider sat nav, etc.

Oh, and these are very sensitive to battery voltage - one that I purchased went into limp mode and was stuck in gear, turned out previous owner skimped and put on a battery half the size that should have been on there. New correct battery = problem solved.

pSyCoSiS

2,347 posts

141 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
I think the article forgot to mention that early models also came with a 5.8 litre, naturally aspirated V12 which produced around 367 BHP.

The facelifted model had the twin turbocharged M275 V12 with 500 BHP.

Markmgk

1 posts

1 month

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Been driving a supercharged 55 for 4 years now. 153000 miles and still drives great. Nowhere near as unreliable as I'd been led to believe by t'internet. Suspension has been totally reliable so far. Occasional electrical gremlins but they can usually be fixed by turning the car off and back on again. Worst thing about mine is the corrosion on the chassis and rear subframe. Needed a fair bit of welding for the mot this year. All waxoyled now so hopefully good for another few years. Fast, comfortable, quiet when you go easy and sounds amazing when you floor it. Buy one 😀

pSyCoSiS

2,347 posts

141 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
And this is a CL215, not CL125 as listed in title.

Tut tut PH. Lol.

tobinen

4,299 posts

81 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
The proofreaders are on holiday it would seem

Chris944_S2

1,395 posts

159 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
pSyCoSiS said:
And this is a CL215, not CL125 as listed in title.

Tut tut PH. Lol.
Tut tut, C215

TarquinMX5

39 posts

16 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
My father had one of these 600s many years ago (fairly new then) and I remember him commenting once that he'd enjoyed a lovely few weeks, having driven it from Surrey to Cornwall for holiday, and back home, and nothing went wrong. I think he was being sarcastic.

tigerkoi

2,230 posts

134 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
Markmgk said:
Been driving a supercharged 55 for 4 years now. 153000 miles and still drives great. Nowhere near as unreliable as I'd been led to believe by t'internet. Suspension has been totally reliable so far. Occasional electrical gremlins but they can usually be fixed by turning the car off and back on again. Worst thing about mine is the corrosion on the chassis and rear subframe. Needed a fair bit of welding for the mot this year. All waxoyled now so hopefully good for another few years. Fast, comfortable, quiet when you go easy and sounds amazing when you floor it. Buy one ??
I also had a 55K for a few years and it was a wonderful beast to own.

I had very few problems with it and once again I think the general internet myth over every car being able to bankrupt you and problems galore is a pile of BS. It’s almost tiring reading those who’ve never even sat in one talk vigorously about repair bills they’ve never even seen.

If some proper analysis was to be done I bet you’d find that a) the majority of issues were in early models and early iterations of each car (pretty much like most manufacturers models) and b) for its era it was a car flagship, so was stuffed with leading edge stuff so naturally isn’t something for the average Joe who’s spending his last few grand on a nice car - it deserves attention, and sits with DB9s and Continentals in that regard, even though it whips them at the same job.

A 10k CL vs a 32k Continental GT? No contest. CL every time and more cost effective at the job hehe

amongst every single single manufacturer & model there are 2nd hand dogs, but for the most part the majority of CLs that I’ve seen are in good nick. But if people choose to treat a 100k car (new) on Ford Focus money....

Enjoy your 55K!

cb1965

2,608 posts

81 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
tigerkoi said:
Markmgk said:
Been driving a supercharged 55 for 4 years now. 153000 miles and still drives great. Nowhere near as unreliable as I'd been led to believe by t'internet. Suspension has been totally reliable so far. Occasional electrical gremlins but they can usually be fixed by turning the car off and back on again. Worst thing about mine is the corrosion on the chassis and rear subframe. Needed a fair bit of welding for the mot this year. All waxoyled now so hopefully good for another few years. Fast, comfortable, quiet when you go easy and sounds amazing when you floor it. Buy one ??
I also had a 55K for a few years and it was a wonderful beast to own.

I had very few problems with it and once again I think the general internet myth over every car being able to bankrupt you and problems galore is a pile of BS. It’s almost tiring reading those who’ve never even sat in one talk vigorously about repair bills they’ve never even seen.

If some proper analysis was to be done I bet you’d find that a) the majority of issues were in early models and early iterations of each car (pretty much like most manufacturers models) and b) for its era it was a car flagship, so was stuffed with leading edge stuff so naturally isn’t something for the average Joe who’s spending his last few grand on a nice car - it deserves attention, and sits with DB9s and Continentals in that regard, even though it whips them at the same job.

A 10k CL vs a 32k Continental GT? No contest. CL every time and more cost effective at the job hehe

amongst every single single manufacturer & model there are 2nd hand dogs, but for the most part the majority of CLs that I’ve seen are in good nick. But if people choose to treat a 100k car (new) on Ford Focus money....

Enjoy your 55K!
As a contrast to that I owned a FMBSH 2004 55K with 70K on it for 9 months. It ran well for a month and then started suffering issues - in the remaining 8 months I had it I spent £7K on a new torque converter, coolant pump, condenser, alternator, door switches and wiring, boot opener, corrosion prevention, undertrays, engine mounts, gearbox mount, crankshaft pulley, IC pump and so on. Yes it's a £100K car and therefore at 70K miles with full MB SH it shouldn't need half of that. The interior is flimsy and frankly the car is just not worth the potential hassle. Shame as I had always liked them looks wise. My Jag X350 XJ8 was a much much better car!

ruprechtmonkeyboy

274 posts

23 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
tigerkoi said:
Markmgk said:
Been driving a supercharged 55 for 4 years now. 153000 miles and still drives great. Nowhere near as unreliable as I'd been led to believe by t'internet. Suspension has been totally reliable so far. Occasional electrical gremlins but they can usually be fixed by turning the car off and back on again. Worst thing about mine is the corrosion on the chassis and rear subframe. Needed a fair bit of welding for the mot this year. All waxoyled now so hopefully good for another few years. Fast, comfortable, quiet when you go easy and sounds amazing when you floor it. Buy one ??
I also had a 55K for a few years and it was a wonderful beast to own.

I had very few problems with it and once again I think the general internet myth over every car being able to bankrupt you and problems galore is a pile of BS. It’s almost tiring reading those who’ve never even sat in one talk vigorously about repair bills they’ve never even seen.

If some proper analysis was to be done I bet you’d find that a) the majority of issues were in early models and early iterations of each car (pretty much like most manufacturers models) and b) for its era it was a car flagship, so was stuffed with leading edge stuff so naturally isn’t something for the average Joe who’s spending his last few grand on a nice car - it deserves attention, and sits with DB9s and Continentals in that regard, even though it whips them at the same job.

A 10k CL vs a 32k Continental GT? No contest. CL every time and more cost effective at the job hehe

amongst every single single manufacturer & model there are 2nd hand dogs, but for the most part the majority of CLs that I’ve seen are in good nick. But if people choose to treat a 100k car (new) on Ford Focus money....

Enjoy your 55K!
Having owned a CLK55 fron this era I can say for certain that I’d take the Bentley over one of these. The corrosion issue Mercs from this era suffer with are enough to put anyone off IMO!

Cupramax

7,560 posts

188 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
tobinen said:
The proofreaders are non existent.
STFU.

0a

20,302 posts

130 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
The car that comes to mind when I think “bork”!

js68

193 posts

73 months

Thursday 29th November
quotequote all
cb1965 said:
As a contrast to that I owned a FMBSH 2004 55K with 70K on it for 9 months. It ran well for a month and then started suffering issues - in the remaining 8 months I had it I spent £7K on a new torque converter, coolant pump, condenser, alternator, door switches and wiring, boot opener, corrosion prevention, undertrays, engine mounts, gearbox mount, crankshaft pulley, IC pump and so on. Yes it's a £100K car and therefore at 70K miles with full MB SH it shouldn't need half of that. The interior is flimsy and frankly the car is just not worth the potential hassle. Shame as I had always liked them looks wise. My Jag X350 XJ8 was a much much better car!
Slightly off topic but I had the same 10 years ago with a one owner 1999 840Ci with FSH and 90K from the same supplying BMW garage. First year saw radiator, aux radiator, both rear shocks, front discs and pads, front tyres, boot re-wire, both batteries replaced and to add insult to injury the back arches started rusting, which to avoid was the primary reason I'd chosen it over a Maserati 3200GT....and not only that but it had replaced a truly wonderful mint 928S which had never given me a whiff of bother in 5 years which was hawked on ebay for 2.2K...