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Old 11-26-2003, 10:34 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Plano, TX
Posts: 2,517
You know, if the '99 car is a couple grand cheaper and you like it better, I'd recommend purchasing it. Just put the extra cash aside to cover the repairs.

Most of what went wrong with my car is either well understood by now or already taken care of. Here is a quick sampling of the problems I experienced. 1) Transmission controller failed, car in limp home mode. Happened on a lot of early E300 turbos, mine was 6/97 build date. All the problem units are long since replaced 2) Glow plugs - every three years one will burn out and set the MIL lamp. This is ultimately why I sold the car. Not that glow plugs are all that expensive or difficult to replace. But the OM606 has a problem - the glow plugs are about six inches long; carbon build up binds them in the cylinder head. I had one shear off in the head while being removed. This has happened to about four other owners that I know of. In my case a very patient and skilled mechanic pulled the cylinder head and teased the remains of the glow plug out. The repair cost $2.5K, and I paid for it out of my own pocket - no aftermarket warranty covers glow plugs (or related repairs). Starmark may or may not - don't know. 3) Fuel line leaks. The o-rings fail, strong smell of fuel under the hood. The dealer will replace all the fuel hoses at a cost of several hundred dollars. A good indy will replace the o-rings for a bit of labor. 4) MAF sensor. Pretty straightforward fix. Don't recall MAF cost, but it's about $250 I think. 5) Motor mounts do go bad. You hear a grinding sound during tight turns. After replacement you realize how incredibly smooth the OM606 can be. Not super expensive - mounts are ~$50 each, and an hour or two of labor.

Other than the glow plug issue, non of these are break-the-bank problems. A few thousand dollar discount on the purchase price should be more than enough to keep the car rolling for longer than any warranty will last. The '99 model will also have more updates built into the 722.6 automatic transmission - recall that early units have a few quirks.

I really never had a problem that wasn't drivetrain related. The CD changer died and was replaced, but that's about it. Was starting to acquire the drivers seat click at the time I sold it.

Really a fabulous driving car. If I'd purchased an E320 I'm sure I would still have it. I like the ride/handling tradeoff quite a bit better than the 124. It's a much stiffer chassis with better roll control. The rack and pinion steering is light effort, but has very good road feel and communication. There's a lot to like about these cars.

On price, $25K seems like a good price. I sold my '98 with 55K miles, a good warranty, and essentially perfect condition for about $26.5K in April.

OK, 'nuff rambling. Happy thanksgiving everyone.

- JimY
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