The second generation of the A-Class, the W169 was a really popular car back in the day, both with the younger and the older generations. Nowadays, the W169 is nearing its 20th birthday which means that it is not what it used to be, especially when you consider that the later A-Class generations incorporated a more classic hatchback design.
The W169 can now be had for a really low price, but not many people are buying it considering that it is not the most reliable Mercedes car out there, nor the most desirable. However, given the fact that it is not too old, it might be a good idea to consider one as your daily driver.
The most common issues associated with the W169 are related to the engine temperature, the automatic gearbox, the electricals, injector/valve problems, and suspension issues. If you sense your W169 experiencing issues such as these, you are likely going to be able to solve them easily as they are relatively common.
Either way, you should not expect an almost 20-year-old car to be as reliable as the newer Mercedes model. If you indeed want it to last, be sure to maintain it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, no matter if the entry price is low or high.
Mercedes W169 engine issues
The most common Mercedes W169 problem is down to the engine temperature, more specifically the cooling system. Many owners have reported their W169 A-Class models to reach silly high temperatures which are able to destroy the engine completely. These are mostly down to cooling system leaks and radiator issues which need to be addressed asap.
An engine that is not able to maintain optimal temperatures is suffering from increased levels of component wear and tear which are inevitably going to shorten the lifespan of the engine. Be sure to always keep an eye out on the temperature gauge and take your car in for a diagnosis if you sense the temperatures soaring.
Mercedes W169 automatic gearbox issues
The W169’s transmission is an early iteration of the Mercedes automatic gearbox which means that it is known to experience all sorts of issues. The most common ones are being unable to shift into gear, gear slipping, grinding noises and slow shifting. Many of these are down to improper maintenance, but others are simply due to a lower quality gearbox.
This was the era in which Mercedes automatic gearboxes were only starting to catch up with the manuals which means that Mercedes tried to do everything they can to make the gearbox as durable as possible. However, a 15-20-year-old gearbox is bound to malfunction eventually, especially if not maintained correctly.
Mercedes W169 the electricals
The W169 also comes from an era in which Mercedes electrics were starting to be a lot more comprehensive. As such, they are now known to cause issues due to old age. The most common electrical issues that plague the W169 are various in-car systems such as the early infotainment system screens, power windows, power tailgate, and exterior lighting.
These typically need to be replaced whenever an issue occurs as they are not made to last forever. Some of these need to be addressed immediately such as faulty exterior lights while others such as power windows do not really affect your on-road safety as much, but are a nuisance nevertheless.
Mercedes W169 injector/valve issues
The W169 is a car prone to various injector/valve issues that typically manifest in the car experiencing rattling noises, loss of power, increased levels of smoke, misfiring, and all sorts of unusual and burning smells. These injectors and valves are known to clog which means that they need cleaning from time to time.
They are also known to get damaged due to the stresses they tend to endure. As such, you are likely going to have to replace them completely.
Mercedes W169 suspension issues
Most of the suspension issues associated with the W169 are down to low-quality roads and aggressive potholes. As the car sits relatively high, the suspension system needs to sustain constant body roll and weight transfer which are both increasing the levels of component wear.
As such, you are likely going to experience grinding and knocking noises coming from either the front or the rear suspension. If that indeed does happen, you will have to replace all the affected components which are to be expected at some point.
Why did Mercedes abandon the W169 design?
The Mercedes Benz A-Class is now a direct rival to cars like the Audi A3, the BMW 1-Series, and the VW Golf. They all look alike as they incorporate a hatchback design. However, the W169 A-Class was a bit different as it did not look like all the other cars, but Mercedes decided to change that with the W176 generation.
The reason why Mercedes also incorporated a more common hatchback design is that these are a lot more popular and the fact that the W169 was never considered good looking. The W176 was a more popular model thanks to the design change while the current W177 model is even more popular and finally able to compete with its German rivals.
Is the Mercedes W169 a good buy?
The Mercedes W169 is indeed a good buy if you are able to find one at a decent price. You need to keep in mind that the W169 is not all that fun to drive, nor to look at, but some people prefer it that way, especially because the W169 is a great city car.
The power on offer is also not the best, but for a city car, the W169 is more than enough. Being a good city car is basically the only thing the W169 has going for it.
How long can a Mercedes W169 last?
There are many people out there that have managed to cross a few hundred thousand miles with the W169 without needing major overhauls. This means that these can last a long time, but only if maintained correctly.
Because they are so cheap, hardly anyone tends to maintain them, and that’s why these tend to get a bad reputation on most online forums.