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Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005) Buying Guide

Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)
Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Mercedes A-Class (1998-2005)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

The three-pointed star's image has taken a battering over recent years, and the A-Class is one of the reasons why. It's cleverly designed, but not so well executed - especially in pre-April 2001 form with its Fisher-Price dash. Later cars are worth a look, but it's easy to pay over the odds - so make sure you don't.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Indifferent ride quality
High servicing costs
Expensive to buy
Key Dates 
9/98A-Class launched in A140, A160 and A170CDi guises.
6/99A190 joins the range.
3/01A210 Evolution arrives.
4/01Long-wheelbase now available; it's 170mm longer. Car also extensively facelifted with new nose and tail plus a much better fascia.
9/01Autumn Edition offered.
4/02A+ limited edition on sale.
1/04Piccadilly special edition reaches showrooms
  • Key fob immobiliser stops working.
  • Steering column universal joints wear; check for play.
  • Alarm plays up.
  • Water leaks into cabin; check footwells for water.
  • Fuel filler pipes fracture; smell for petrol inside car.
  • Ignition system plays up, leading to erratic running.
  • Rear trailing arm bushes wear, leading to vague handling.
  • Anti-roll bar links fail; inspect them for fractures.
  • Semi-automatic gearbox clutch can fail.
  • Glow plugs fail on diesel models, and can be problematic to fix.
  • Power-assisted steering pumps can fail, so listen for odd noises on full lock.
  • Brake light switch sticks on, leading engine to revert to tickover.

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