The W204 Mercedes C-Class represents a turning point in the lifeline of the Mercedes C-Class as it was the very first C-Class to offer a thoroughly modernized driving experience with a huge design departure, the first usable Mercedes screen infotainment system, and with the very first screen built into the instrument cluster.
This means that the W204 is one of the greatest leaps Mercedes has made between two different model generations. This also means that such huge leaps tend to come at a price, and that is reliability. The most common W204 issues are associated with the steering system, rust, all sorts of leaks, engine problems, and the occasional electrical issues.
The W204 is available in many different engine configurations that also include both RWD and AWD variants. The W204 is now a relatively old car which means that it needs proper care if you want it to last as long as it can.
All in all, the W204 is a relatively reliable car overall while also being cheaper to maintain compared to most Mercedes models. This is why the W204 is still a really popular used car option. However, because it can be had so cheap nowadays, many people don’t bother with maintaining it all that well.
Mercedes W204 steering system issues
The W204 is known to experience all sorts of steering system-related issues such as grinding noises, stalling of the steering wheel, the steering wheel locking, and potentially even a loss of power assistance. These are even more apparent while making a turn which means that issues such as these can hardly go unnoticed.
The most common cause of these types of issues is a faulty power steering pump that tends to develop leaks. Leaks such as these usually start gradually but are easily noticeable whenever you start experiencing issues with the steering system.
Mercedes W204 rust issues
The W204 is now a 15-year-old car which means that many of these are starting to experience issues with rust. Although Mercedes offers vast rust protection warranties and packages, these only play a role if the car is not as old as the W204 is and if you have always maintained your car directly at a dealer’s.
Rust spots tend to appear on places like the tailgate, the lower part of the doors, underneath the car, in the wheel wells, and around the windows. These are difficult to fix once they start spreading, but if you are able to catch them early enough, you are able to mend them without too many issues.
Mercedes W204 leaks issue
Used European luxury cars are known to consume lots of oil, and one of the reasons why that happens is because they also tend to leak. The most common leaks are associated with the oil and sometimes even the fuel itself. If this indeed happens, you will likely have to replace the “O” ring which deteriorates over time.
The W204 is also known to experience fuel leaks from defective fuel filters. These are commonly caused by dirty fuel as the filter becomes clogged early on. If you don’t fix this issue early on, you are likely going to experience a fuel leak at some point.
Mercedes W204 engine problems
The W204 offers many different engine options starting from 4-cylinder engines and moving all the way up to turbocharged V8s with upwards of 500hp. Most of these engines are reliable, even after a lot of miles, but they are not without fault. The most common engine-related issue the W204 experiences is a lack of power.
These are mostly due to either a clogged fuel filter or a faulty crank-shift sensor. Some owners have also reported low air compression, faulty spark plugs, faulty injector pumps, and MAF problems as potential causes of this issue.
Mercedes W204 electrical issues
The W204 also tends to sometimes experience problems with various electrical systems such as exterior lighting, interior lighting, and many of the in-car systems and accessories. These are nothing more than a headache as they are not going to cause any serious issues, even though they are extremely annoying.
Higher-mileage models tend to experience these quite a bit more often, so be sure to look for a relatively low mileage example if you are interested in buying the W204.
Which Mercedes W204 engine is the most reliable?
According to many online sources, the M272 petrol engine is the most reliable W204 engine you can buy, at least as far as petrol engines are concerned. The M272 comes in three different displacements, the 2.5L 4-cylinder, the 3.0L 4-cylinder, and the 3.5L 4-cylinder.
This means that the 2007-2009 C230, 2007-2009 C280, and the 2009-2011 C300 models are the ones to get. These engines are designed to last a really long time without any major overhauls which means that even high mileage examples should be able to last.
Is the Mercedes W204 a reliable car?
If you come across a well-kept low-mileage example, and if you maintain it adequately, the W204 C-Class is indeed a really reliable car. Many Mercedes cars are constantly being criticized as being unreliable, but the reality is that most people don’t realize that they are built to be maintained.
A Mercedes is way more complex when compared to a Toyota or a Subaru which means that there are simply way too many components that are likely going to fail if they are not maintained correctly. As such, the W204 is a reliable car, but only if you maintain it properly.
Is the Mercedes W205 better than the W204?
The Mercedes W205 is a lot newer and better-looking version of the W204 which means that it is indeed a better car. The W205 is still more or less a modern-day Mercedes as the W206 C-Class has only been released a few months ago. As such, the W205 is a definite upgrade over the W205.
The W206 C-Class represents an even higher level of sophistication when compared to the two previous generations which means that the W206 is in a league of its own.