My daughter is 6 months away from turning 16, and my wife and I are considering getting her a car. We both work, so our cars won’t be available to her, and she goes to a specialty high school for the performing arts, which means her day starts by getting on the bus at 6:45 in the morning and not returning home until 5:30 at night. If she had a car, she could start her mornings later AND take her brother to school, making our lives easier as well. She’s a good kid, with good grades, shes responsible(ish) and has a good set of friends. There’s no reason to not get her a car, the question is, WHAT car.

I’ve been looking around, and been pretty underwhelmed with the options in my price range. Both cars in our household are financed, so I’m not really looking to take on a 3rd car payment, so I’m relegated to paying a few thousand in cash for something, and there aren’t a ton of options for something safe and reliable, which are my primary concerns.

Enter my mother. She’s retiring at the end of the year, and will treat herself to a new car when she does. She has offered to sell me her current car (an ‘04 C320 Wagon) for half of the KBB value. It’s got low miles, and has been meticulously dealer maintained. That certainly puts it in the affordable category, and it has 4 and 5 star crash ratings, so it seems pretty safe. What I’m looking for is input from someone who has had/has one, or general C Class input for something of this vintage. Pros, cons, common issues, things to look out for, other things I should be considering for a couple grand, things I should have checked out before I let her loose in it, that sort of thing. Any input/advice would be most greatly appreciated.