Used Mercedes A-Class review: 2012 to 2018 (Mk3) - Reliability and common problems

Owners told us over the years that the A-Class was on sale that it was prone to some issues, but it shouldn’t be anything too serious

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

The Mercedes A-Class has an upmarket, premium image but the ownership experience may not be able to live up to that. Over the years, data gathered from owners has indicated that the car isn’t among the more reliable models of its type, but it shouldn't worry you too much as most of the issues that we’ve learned about are pretty minor and won’t result in you waiting at the side of the road for a tow truck.

How reliable is the Mercedes A-Class?

Mercedes offered an unlimited-mileage warranty for three years with every new A-Class, which indicated that the brand was satisfied that its cars would be able to tolerate high mileages, although it’s not as impressive as the seven-year warranty offered with Kia models, for example.

You can buy service plans for the A-Class directly from Mercedes, but these are quite pricey. There’s a plan covering two, three or four services and they currently cost £960, £1,440 and £1,920 respectively. You can save a lot by simply paying for servicing at an independent garage each year.

Most A-Class models need to be serviced every year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first, although they operate with a rolling system where every other service is more in-depth and covers different items.

Are there any common problems or things to look out for?

Common issues with the Mercedes A-Class Mk3 include some dash rattles especially around the centre console. Early models suffer from rattling seatbelts as well, although later cars had a different design that eliminated this problem.

The most common issue was reported by owners in our annual surveys, though, and that was electrical issues. There were quite a few recalls over the car’s life too, which are detailed below. Make sure all have been rectified on any potential used purchase.

What about recalls?

In May 2013 there was a recall to fix fault airbags, followed by another in October that year to look at faulty front seats. An issue around engine oil leaks was sorted in January 2015 and in July of that year there was a recall relating to the driveshafts.

Another airbag fault was identified in August, followed by a potential engine failure in November and a fire risk because of a fuel leak was rectified in January 2016. A handful more issues were sorted in a recall in June 2017 including more airbag concerns and an overheating fault.

What do owners think?

The Mercedes A-Class was rated poorly for reliability when it was still on sale, as reported in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Of the owners who responded, 11% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once. The most common issue was with the vehicle's electrics.

A-Class owners are most impressed with the exterior styling and finish, but mark down the interior for poor visibility and cramped rear seats, while the small boot also comes under fire. Poor engine refinement and a stiff ride also lower the overall score. 

However in recent years Mercedes has fared better in the poll overall, as it came in 13th place in the 2021 survey. This suggests that the brand’s customer service is getting better, something that might help even when buying a used model.

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