I own Mercedes (among the other obvious safety and performance reasons) because I've seen their low operating cost due to ease of basic maintenance
and inexpensive parts when going outside the dealer. An oil change (with mobil 1) on my
E420 would run in the nieghborhood of $80-90 at either of my local dealers, while my home
job runs about $40. While having my car washed and vacuumed is nice, it's not worth double
the charge for basic maintenance.
That was an off-topic example, but case in point (as mentioned by several above, and more
eloquently than I am able), dealers are very expensive, and while better trained at using
the latest computer diagnostic systems, they have more of a 'throw parts at the problem"
mentality. I believe this is counter to MB's solid engineering and high level of
'rebuildability'. My Indie runs a two - sometimes 3-man shop, has all but the very latest
in computer diagnostic equip. Shop is always busy, meets or beats Fastlane prices on parts
, always keeps my old parts to look at after replacement, and much more
investigative/troubleshooting mindset. Now, I have no illusion that many indies are not
this honest or competent, but with what I have, the dealer doesn't make much sense to me.
He also own three Benz's himself and loves them - always asking me how mine are running,
etc. but I honestly don't know if he's ever been a 'certified MB tech'.
Lastly, there are plenty of examples with any dealer/indie where one person hates them
because of one experience while the next loves them. To a large extent, the question at
hand is largely subjective as owners are as varied in expectations and experience
as the techs are.
'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard
'74 240D - 'Ol' Green
' 4spd Manual 104kmi. (sold
'77 300D - 'Red
' 223kmi (sold)
'75 240D - 'Bianca the Blue Bomber