Things gone wrong since 96? Try since 92! I have a pretty good relationship with the guys at a dealership about 60 miles from me. I send them warranty work and we buy & sell pre-owned cars from each other. I just sold a 96 S-320 to one of my customers about 3 months ago. It was a mercedes credit corp lease return with about 49k miles on it. I checked the car out & sold it to my customer. He brings the car to me yesterday with 52k miles on it for an oil change and says that he's noticed a few drips (oil) under the car. I put the car on the lift to service it and guess what, another freakin 104 engine with a leaky head gasket! This engine was totally dry 3k miles ago, now it has oil ooozing down the block. I called my contact at the dealer and explained to him the situation, the car is now 2k miles out of warranty but this is ridiculous. He told me,no problem, set an appointment for the car and we'll take care of it on a "goodwill" warranty. Then he tells me that they have one tech, dedicated to only doing head gaskets on this engine. That is all he does,EVERYDAY! I bet that out of every 10 104 engines I see,8 of them have a bad head gasket and the other 2 have already been replaced. It has gotten so bad that when dealers go to the mercedes credit corp sale, the mbz rep refuses to arbitrate any head gasket problems. In other words,if you buy a car that day and get home with it and the head is leaking,it's all yours!
Basically what the rep is saying (without saying).
Hey, we know that all of these engines have an expensive problem that we should have taken care of a long time ago, but screw you,it's your baby. Nice huh.