Purchasing a used Mercedes-Benz Atego
The launch of the new Euro-6 Mercedes-Benz Atego range at next week’s CV Show is the latest chapter in a story that started 15 years ago with the introduction of the first Atego in 1998, replacing Mercedes’ LK range. And Atego has changed remarkably little in those 15 years. It was a brand new design, notable for a novel two-piece chassis construction.
Sadly, the Atego lags behind its competitors at 7.5 tonnes mainly because of its weight
The front portion, carrying cab and engine mountings, has an unusual Z-section that is common to all models in the range. That is bolted to the rearmost portion, which is a conventional C-section ladder frame. This two-piece construction allows Mercedes to cover all the models merely by adjusting the length and section of the rear portion. We focus here on the 7.5-tonner.
The 4.25-litre, four-cylinder OM 904LA Euro-2 engine in the first 7.5-tonne GVW Atego had been used in the later (Eco Power) LK models since 1996, as had the gearboxes (either a five-speed ZF or Mercedes’ own six-speed box). But Atego had disc brakes front and rear, replacing the LK’s drums. The new cab was far swisher than the LK’s and also 225mm wider – ideal at a 12-tonne GVW but arguably a tad generous at 7.5 tonnes, so Atego was born with a payload penalty. However, one should note that its kerb weight includes sideguards and spray suppression that come with the chassis-cab rather than the bodywork.
The 900-series engines, featuring unit-pump fuel injection, had been designed with Euro-3, -4 and -5 in mind and made the transition to Euro-3 (registrations from October 2001) with relative minor changes to pistons, liners and injectors. In 2004 came a new cab interior, dashboard and revised frontal styling, with the indicators shifted from the bumper to the grille. Mercedes offered four cab versions: the standard day cab (S); an extended day cab (SE), which is 175mm longer; a long sleeper cab (L); and a long, double-bunk sleeper with a high roof (LR). More than 80% of UK Atego 7.5-tonners have standard day cabs.
Unusually, Atego offered a choice of three dashboards. The standard distribution layout is the most basic, but is combined with a centre seat; the long-distance version gives more stowage space; while the comfort version adds soft-touch materials.
Euro-4 versions (Bluetec 4) of the 900-series engines were standard after October 2006, entailing the addition of SCR exhaust after-treatment. Power and torque ratings also increased, so Euro-3’s top-selling 7.5-tonne Atego, the 815 (148hp and 580Nm) became the 816 at Euro-4, with 154hp and 610Nm. There is also an 818 model, with the same 4.25-litre OM 904LA engine rated at 174hp and 675Nm; an 822 with the 4.8-litre OM924LA (215hp and 810Nm); and the 824 with the 6.37-litre six-cylinder OM906LA (235hp and 850Nm).
All these ratings continued unchanged, as the Bluetec 5 versions came with the arrival of Euro-5 in October 2009. In the UK, however, it is rare that you will see anything other than an 816, which accounts for around 85% of all Atego 7.5-tonne sales.
A six-speed, overdrive gearbox is standard, with the option of Mercedes’ Telligent Autotrans automation system. The standard front axle has a reasonable 3.4-tonne capacity, but there is a 3.8-tonne alternative. Air suspension is an option at the rear, instead of standard leaf-springs.
Atego’s share of the UK 7.5-tonne market has slipped from 20% to around 12%, as buyers seem increasingly weight-sensitive and look for lighter models like Daf
Product recalls by VOSA
There have been seven recalls since 2006:
The threaded connection of the Grammar seat centre bearing may become loose, which could overload the seat frame and cause it to fracture and fail.
It is possible that water ingress into the front axle hub through a seal can cause corrosion, which ultimately could result in failure of the wheel bearing. If not rectified, this could ultimately result in detachment of the hub and wheel assembly.
Wheel hub may become insecure; the incorrect specification bolts were supplied in a previous recall (2007). The bolts supplied were too long, which can affect hub security
- 2010: On certain vehicles, overheating may occur at the cab to heated windscreen wiring connector plug. If not addressed, and under extreme circumstances, a fire may occur.
- 2010: The forward supporting rail for the fuel tank may crack and, if not noticed may fail, resulting in the fuel tank dragging on the ground and eventually leaking fuel on to the road surface.
- 2010: The electric heater of the charge air preheating system can overheat and a vehicle fire may occur.
Selective Atego 816 parts prices supplied by Mercedes-Benz UK (retail prices excluding VAT)
Most popular parts
Five most ordered parts of the Atego 816 with 4.25-litre engine and day cab