Benz on a budget

Owning a Mercedes can be an expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. My goal with this post is to provide you with resources so that you can (hopefully) save yourself some cash. You don’t have to be rich to own a Benz.

Going to the dealership is always a great experience for me, but it can end up being really expensive. I’d recommend finding yourself a local trustworthy independent mechanic. If you’re not sure where to go, check with your local MBCA (Mercedes-Benz Club of America) section. If you’re in the Phoenix Arizona area, I’d like to recommend MB Motors in Phoenix.

I have my independent mechanic do jobs I don’t have the time, talent, or tools for. But I will try to do as much as I possibly can by myself. One of the most important parts of DIY is finding the parts. I only use and recommend genuine Mercedes-Benz parts. Sometimes buying parts at your local dealer can be expensive, so it’s good to shop around. Here’s an alternative you can use to that.

First, you should sign up for an account with EPC. It’s free:

Click on subscribe in the left menu. Read the agreement if you want, and click “I Agree”. EPC is free for North American cars. You’ll see the 365 day subscription for FREE. Put all your information in there, including the credit card. It won’t charge you anything, but they require a card for some reason. After you put everything in, click “Continue” at the bottom and be patient. It took me a few minutes to get a response. It seriously took about 5 minutes. But it did work. There’s a confirmation screen where you confirm the order (even though it’s free). Once you confirm it, you’ll get an email which has your new user ID.

To login to EPC, you’ll need to be on Microsoft Windows and you’ll also need to have Java installed. You can get the latest Java runtime (JRE) from here:

So now you have Java installed, go ahead and log into EPC. When you do, you’ll see a link that says “Click here to launch EPCnet Online”. Go ahead and click that and then the Java program will launch. When I launched it for the first time, it was in German. If you have that problem too, use the menu and pick “Optionen -> Setup”. For Dialogsprache and Inhaltssprache, change them to Englisch and click OK.

Now you’re logged in and the program is open, drop your VIN into the field up there by Identification number. You can now search and get full diagrams for every single part on your car. Since you entered a VIN, the software should eliminate parts that aren’t compatible. Here’s an example search I did. The LEDs in my drivers side mirror are busted, so I picked the group “72 FRONT DOORS”, the subgroup “331 LEFT OUTSIDE REARVIEW MIRROR”. An exploded diagram now opens up and I can see the parts. For my particular part, the number is A 220 820 05 21.

Now that you have the part number, you can search for parts. My personal favorite is

On here, pick Mercedes on the left, then pick your year, then pick your model. You might have to pick the trim level if there are several types of your car (like my S430 is also offered in a 4MATIC version, so I have to pick the base model).

In the textbox there that says “Part # / Keyword Search” you can drop the part number in place. If the part number starts with an A, try stripping off that character. I’m not 100% positive, but I think has it’s Mercedes orders fulfilled by Mercedes-Benz of Naperville. They’ve always given me great prices and the shipping has been pretty reasonable too.

If you’re weary about ordering from the internet, you can also take the part number you found in EPC and call up your local dealer. Their parts department will be able to order the part if it’s still in stock. However, can usually beat their prices by quite a bit. If you’re ok with waiting about a week, I’d highly recommend ordering online. If you do order parts from the dealer, please be aware that they give up to a 10% discount if you are an MBCA member. Show them your membership card and take advantage of the savings. This discount usually applies too for repairs at the dealer.

When it comes to doing the actual jobs (replacing the part, etc), there is a great resource online. These used to be distributed as Service Manual DVDs, but they’re all online in a system called Star TEKInfo.

You can subscribe to this by the day, week, month, and year. Unlike EPC, this service does cost money. However, this service is seriously worth every penny. Compare it to when you go to a dealer; they use this exact system themselves but they charge you a shop fee of $125 dollars an hour. For that kind of money, you can just buy a week subscription and try to figure it out yourself


  1. Hi Brian, I like the Benz Wiki. I have just purchased a very rare R 129. It is actually SL 600 AMG. These cars were, pretty much like the 70 and 73, SLs 600 produced by Mercedes with the AMG styling and wheels. They were than tuned by AMG in Affalterbach but the engine capacity was not increased, they just tuned the cylinder head, the drive shafts were modified and the brake system to meet the higher power. The SL 600 AMG 6.0 was often ordered by Mercedes Japan Inc. (Motor Plate 120981 with 324 kW / 600 Nm) cost 1993 yen 24,300,000, representing approximately 300,000 DM or a surcharge of around 60,000 DM.
    Cheers, Radovan

  2. Brian,
    Thanks for this content. I just bought the cheapest R129 on Autotrader (’90 300SL) as a project/hobby. I’ll let you how how it goes.

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