2014 A250 white - Mercedes A-Class years to avoid

Mercedes A-Class: Which Years to Avoid & Buy? (2024 Guide)

Are you thinking of adding a Mercedes A-Class to your garage?

You may have already done some research on it, but as with any used car purchase, there’s a risk of buying someone else’s headache in automotive form.

So what years should be avoided when shopping for a Mercedes A-Class?

This article outlines what years are best avoided when buying a Mercedes A-Class and which ones should be considered seriously. Read on for a complete overview!

Overview: Mercedes A-Class years to avoid or to buy

Looking for a quick answer to your question? Here is an overview of the Mercedes A-Class years to avoid or to buy.

Here are the Mercedes A-Class years to avoid:

YearGenerationMain Complaints
2012W176– Uses Renault engines
– Failed timing chains
– Turbocharger failure
2004W169– Failed CVT transmission
– Overheating engine
– Fuel pump failure
1997W168– Failed the ‘Moose’ test

When looking for the best Mercedes A-Class years to buy, look for any model from 2018 onwards. This generation of Mercedes A-Class has surprisingly few issues and seems to do well on reliability overall.

Which Mercedes A-Class years should you avoid?

Despite the fact that the Mercedes A-Class is a great all-around car, there are specific production years that have a higher likelihood of experiencing issues.

Let’s check out three Mercedes A-Class model years that received the highest number of complaints:

2012 Mercedes A-Class

2012 Mercedes A-Class - year to avoid

First of all, it’s recommended to avoid the 2012 Mercedes A-Class.

This model year introduced the third generation of the A-Class, the W176. And it came with a significant change in its engine.

You see, some of the 2012 Mercedes A-Class models, including the A160 d and A180 d, were equipped with Renault engines.

While Renault makes some pretty decent engines, they might not be what you’d expect in a Mercedes.

Why does this matter?

Well, the combination of a Mercedes design with a Renault engine led to mixed reviews. Some people didn’t mind, but others had some reliability concerns, particularly about possible premature timing chain failures.

Note: The 2012 model year wasn’t the only one where the A-Class was equipped with Renault engines. For a full overview, check out our article here!

Lastly, if you’re looking at an A45 AMG from 2012, note that one common issue is a turbocharger failure. This issue is caused by the oil hose that leads to the turbocharger, which gets contaminated over time and blocks the oil flow. No oil, no bueno!

2004 Mercedes A-Class

2004 Mercedes A-Class - year to avoid

The next year to avoid is the 2004 Mercedes A-Class, which started the W169 generation.

Whenever car makers introduce a new generation, it’s a bit like taking a daring leap. While the enthusiasm and innovation are evident, sometimes, the landing isn’t as smooth as one would hope.

One of the main issues was with the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). A bunch of owners reported failing CVT transmissions.

And guess what the culprit was? The ECU, or Electronic Control Unit. It’s like the car’s brain, and when there’s an internal component breakdown in the ECU, well, it can lead to some pretty frustrating gearbox issues.

Other 2004 A-Class models had a tendency to overheat their engines. Not only is it inconvenient, but it also poses a potential risk if not attended to promptly.

And lastly, there’s the fuel pump.

Unfortunately, for some 2004 A-Class owners, the fuel pump stopped working, leading to poor car performance or, worse, a complete shutdown.

Related article: 9 Common Causes Why A Mercedes Won’t Start (+ Solutions!)

1997 Mercedes A-Class

1997 Mercedes A-Class - year to avoid

Let’s rewind a bit further and go to the late 90s: 1997, to be precise.

The last Mercedes A-Class year that’s better to be avoided is 1997.

Remember the legendary “Moose Test”?

No, it’s not about spotting moose in the wild; it’s a challenging maneuverability test performed on cars to see how they’d handle sudden obstacles – like, say, a moose suddenly crossing your path.

Well, the 1997 A-Class famously failed it.

The result? A bit of a PR hiccup for Mercedes, as the car unexpectedly tipped over during the test:

The failure of the Moose Test raised eyebrows. It made buyers wonder: Is the A-Class safe?

Mercedes quickly addressed the issue and made significant adjustments to ensure stability in subsequent models.

They not only fixed the A-Class’s issues but also introduced the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard, a feature that later became a norm in many cars across the globe.

So, if you’re ever considering purchasing a 1997 Mercedes A-Class, just be aware of its early-days quirks and the improvements made post-’97.

Tip: You can read more about our thoughts on buying a used Mercedes-Benz here!

Which Mercedes A-Class year is the best?

While Mercedes has had its share of hiccups over the years, they sure know how to make a comeback.

When it comes to the Mercedes A-Class, the models from the year 2018 onward stand out as the best:

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A180 white - W177 generation

Here are the reasons why the years 2018 onward are the best for the Mercedes A-Class:

  • Stunning aesthetics inside and out: One look at the 2018 A-Class, and you can instantly sense the evolution. Sleeker lines, a more modern design, and an undeniable presence. Step inside, and it’s like entering a tech-forward oasis.
  • Tech upgrades: Speaking of state-of-the-art, the tech features in these models are a dream for any gadget lover. From Apple CarPlay to ambient lighting that can match your mood (or outfit!), the 2018 A-Class models and beyond have amazing features.
  • Quality build: It’s not all just good looks and cool features. These cars are built to offer a smooth, responsive, and comfortable ride.
  • Safety and reliability: With the lessons from the past firmly in their rearview mirror, Mercedes ensured that these recent A-Class models are both safe and reliable. They’re equipped with the latest safety features and are built to stand the test of time.

Related article: 10 Pros And Cons Of The Mercedes A-Class (Read Before Buying)

Which Mercedes A-Class engine is best?

Engines are to cars what hearts are to us – vital, powerful, and, when performing at their best, capable of extraordinary feats.

Mercedes, with its rich history in engine innovation, has presented many powerhouses over the years.

But when it comes to the A-Class, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the W177 A250 stands out as the best. Here’s why:

  1. Power: This engine has 221 horsepower. And with a torque of 350 Nm, it beautifully balances strength with smoothness.
  2. Fuel efficiency: Power doesn’t have to mean guzzling fuel. Despite its impressive performance specs, this engine still offers an enviable 46 MPG.
  3. Reliability: Mercedes has a reputation to uphold, and this engine is a testament to that. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the A250 is designed to last.
Mercedes A-Class A250 rear - W177 generation

Related article: Mercedes A200 Vs. A250: The 5 Differences & Which Is Best?


Well, looks like it is time to choose your next dream car!

As we have seen throughout this article, the Mercedes A-Class has some years that you should avoid, like 2012, 2004, and 1997.

But some years can offer great performance and plenty of value for money when properly maintained.

With a little research, you can find a highly reliable Mercedes A-Class!

Good luck with your choice!

Tip: If you’re considering a Mercedes A-Class owner but are worried about its performance, we wrote an article here about whether it’s an underpowered car!

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