Parts for Mercedes Benz cars can be frustrating. Forethought makes it less of a chore, though. Cost and availability are bugaboos for owners and mechanics, but they needn’t be. Knowing who to call and what to ask for are important.
Mechanics working on newer cars find that most of what they need is available only from the dealer. Nevertheless, there’s a large network of aftermarket parts purveyors. These suppliers have more “dealer only” parts than one would expect. How do we proceed? Start with the local parts store that one deals with. There are many Mercedes parts used in multiple models, sometimes spanning decades. If an aftermarket manufacturer has decided to sell them, the price is always lower at the local jobber. Sometimes these parts are made by the same folks that Mercedes themselves chose; Bosch is an example.
The next place to look is a specialty purveyor of German auto parts. Every major metropolitan area has one of these. They buy BMW, Audi, and Mercedes parts from aftermarket and O.E. sources in Europe, and ship them to the States in containers. They are usually located in low-rent warehouses, but this enables them to provide the cheapest service possible. This, combined with exploitation of the price differences between Europe and the U.S., enables them cut prices severely. And most of them deliver over a wide radius.
For high-tech and mechanical parts, this leaves the dealer. For body, interior, and chassis parts one should consider a salvage yard. Most yards that specialize in German cars are professionally run, and can provide the same service as any dealer. Used parts have the advantage of looking like the replaced parts, being the same age. This is advantageous when buying, say, a taillight.
And, when you go to the dealer, remember to bring the VIN number. For an older model, eighties or earlier, bring the chassis number and the engine number also. Bringing the old part is a good idea, when practical. Mercedes dealers have excellent parts departments, and can generally order any component that’s not in stock within 24 hours.