Top reasons why a Euro-5 used Mercedes-Benz truck is a star buy
There’s something about a Mercedes-Benz badge that people get mesmerised by, and it usually comes down to a status thing. Got one on your car and it probably means you’re doing quite well for yourself. Have one on a van and you’re probably charging too much. But run a truck with the three-pointed star on the front and well, you’ll probably just have friends and colleagues shrug and mumble about how they’d prefer an X or a Y.
Mercedes trucks, despite having a strong following and good reputation, don’t often evoke much in the way of feeling. But what they do offer, with any luck, is a trouble-free second-hand life thanks to their reputation for reliability; smaller models such as the Axor and Atego are particularly sturdy.
As with many of the Bargain Hunts we’ve undertaken with manufacturers, it is actually the rigids that continue to fare better in the second-hand market. The generally lower mileages, longer running times by their first owner (five to seven years, rather than three to five years for a tractor unit) and the fact that fewer are registered annually means they hold their values while still appearing an attractive proposition. We found the same situation in the used market during our quest for a bargain Euro-5 Volvo.
Yet, there is a big difference when looking for a cheap Mercedes truck when it comes to tractor units. The Actros has long been admired, but it had some patchy moments in the transition between the MP3 Actros and MP4, both of which were available as Euro-5 units.
The older MP3 Actros are, according to international haulier and truck exporter EM Roger’s sales manager Shaun Boyson, simply more desirable than the MP4s in the second-hand market for two main reasons. Because they are younger there are a lot more used MP4 Actros available, devaluing them somewhat. But perhaps more importantly, while the MP3 is regarded as pretty bulletproof, the MP4 is rather let down by its build quality.
“The truck [MP4 Actros] is just not as good,” says Boyson. “When the old shape all go, probably by the end of this year, they’ll creep up in value, but at the moment you’re probably looking at about 50% more for a 2012 Euro-5 MP3 compared to a 2012 Euro-4 MP4. That said, it does have a very strong historical export market, so I expect a lot will find their way overseas.”
Export is always a viable escape route for many of the UK’s five-year plus tractor units, and Tom Morris, Mercedes-Benz head of used trucks, says there is a special reason why demand for our trucks is always so high – “Six-weekly inspections and an annual MoT.”
Morris says customers in traditional export markets such as East Africa are far more discerning than people may think, but by virtue of it having come from a British operator they are more willing to take an older vehicle. “People know that British trucks are maintained to a particular standard,” Morris says. “This means a five-year-old vehicle can be as good as an equivalent three-year-old European example.”
While finding a Mercedes-Benz bargain in the commercialmotor.com classifieds might not then be a particularly hard job, finding one before the rest of the world does might be trickier. But let’s give it a go.
Every Bargain Hunt needs a well-specced tractor unit – it’s written in the by-laws of this article somewhere in the small print. While this isn’t by any means the top-spec tractor unit money can buy from Mercedes, it does have a decent amount of kit to make it special. Registered in March 2013 and sold by FleetEx, this Actros has covered a pretty leggy 628,700km, but for just £19,750 you’re also getting air suspension, alloys, a large custom-made fuel tank and tipping hydraulics. The BigSpace cab also has cruise control, a microwave and air-conditioning. Not bad for an overall package, but the 450hp engine might turn some away if you’re after a prestige unit. Nevertheless, it’s still in MoT and has had one owner since new. You might even guess who that is from the blue and white livery.
If you don’t want your tractor units as large as an Actros there is an alternative. This Axor is still a 6x2 and even has a single bunk in it, though it could be a little modest for most people’s tastes. It’s on a 61-plate and has covered more than 500,000km. The reason for the vaguery is that it’s one of several for sale, all with varying mileage. This particular one is priced at £16,000 but Britcom has stock from £10,750 for a modest 4x2 version. The story doesn’t end there, as a similar line-up of Axors on 14-plates are also available. These are still Euro-5s and again come with more than 500,000km on the clock, but as an example of the sort of choice available in the market for some well-priced Euro-5 traction we think this cheeky little Axor certainly ticks the box.
Finding a low mileage truck is often hard in this day and age as units are worked ever harder to turn a profit. This 63-plate Axor 2533 has covered just 150,000km which makes it an ideal candidate for someone looking for a second-hand unit that will maybe be a bit busier in its next life. Fitted with a day cab, it has an 8-speed manual transmission mated to an in-line 6-cylinder 326hp engine. It currently has a 30ft GRP box body with 1,500kg column tail-lift at the rear. The seller, Northside Truck & Van, has also written in the description that it’s an ideal opportunity to get a low km 26-tonner that is perfect for a body change, and that is exactly what we would recommend. For £27,995 there’s plenty of margin to do something bespoke to this truck that will suit your needs and still come in well under the price of a decent nearly-new Euro-6 cab.
It’s always nice to start a hunt for a bargain with something that is surprising and the residual value of this tipper is certainly quite impressive. Addlestone Commercials wants £17,995 for this Mercedes Axor 3240 8x4 tipper – the interesting part though is that it is 10 years old. The truck is fitted with a PPG insulated asphalt spec body, with electric sheeting system and air-operated tailboard. It’s got everything you’d expect from a well-kitted-out off-roader, including a locking differential. The only question you have to ask yourself is will its Euro-5 status be enough for your sort of work? Tippers often need to travel into cities so you might need to be Euro-6 compliant in order to reach sites in clean air zones in the near future. However, if you just want to work between quarries in the wilderness then this tidy-looking unit could be right up your street.