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Old 08-28-2003, 07:26 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 10
First MB purchase: Looking at 400E, 500E, E320 & E420

Hello everyone!

I have been lurking around and reading quite a bit over the past few weeks, but I still have a few questions. First a little background.

My wife and I are looking into buying a used MB as a family car to replace her '97 Civic DX. We would like to keep $20K as a maximum price, and 120K as the maximum mileage. we would like as much interior room as possible, but our available garage space is another constraint that rules out W126 cars, or anything over 200". Finally, we'd like to buy as new a car as possible, but we also understand that, when properly maintained, MB's will run forever.

Within these constraints, we have been looking in AutoTrader and the papers for 92-93 400E and 500E, 94-present E420 and 96-present E320 models. There seems to be good selection here in N. California. Our only experience, so far, is test driving a 2000 E320. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but it is beyond our price range.

My questions:
1) How much larger are the W210 cars than the W124 cars? Interior and exterior.

2) What are some common issues that I should be aware of in looking these particular cars? I have read quite a bit about timing chain quides (mostly when I was reading up on 420SEL's...). What are some critical areas of concern on these models? What should I look for on the VMI?

3) Do I need permission to have a dealership pull the VMI on a car at a used car lot?

4) How much of the maintenance DIY on the newer cars?

5) What are some recommendations for reputable shops to do PPI's in Sacramento and the Bay Area?

5A) How are the reputations for the Sacramento area MB dealerships in the eyes of the foum? Used car lots?

6) Are there forum members in FL and TX who like to inspect cars for forum members from other parts of the country? I notice that on eBay there are lots of these cars from Houston and Dallas, TX and FL....

7) What are the relative differences in insurance costs for full coverage amongst these models?

Thank you all very much for your time and for the information!

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Old 08-28-2003, 07:42 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: CT
Posts: 325
Hi Chirst ..

What to buy ?? for 20K

I'll vote for a 1999/2000 E320 Sedan ..
for the following reasons ..

1) These cars; according to my indy; are
mechanically bulletproof .. ie they don't
break !!

2) There's a ton of them 'off-lease' on
the used market in near perfect shape
with low/moderate miles .. FYI .. I just
ran a 'search' on "Bargain News" and
found 51 1999/2000 E320s in my area
49 at dealers and 2 private ..

3) The V-6 has tons of 'pep' .. more than
you need .. in an efficient for the horsepower
package .. I get 22-28 MPG in mine

4) The 'used' car market is glutted at the moment
so deals are to be had .. check/watch E-Bay for
whatever model you decide on ..

5) Other than oil/filter/fluid change and nearest
30,000 mile service you shouldn't have any issues
with this model for a 'llloooong' time .. other than
rear window regulators .. which the Germans have yet
to figure out how to make

Jim in CT ..

Last edited by Triffin; 08-29-2003 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 09-01-2003, 03:22 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 10

Well, we ended up following your advice and purchased a 99 E320 with 54, 800 miles.

We're quite happy, but for the fact that the EC button on the climate control is stuck on! The a/c worked yesterday when we test drove it and brought it home, but since last evening, the EC mode has been on and won't turn off.... Any ideas on what might fix this?

BTW, it was 107F here today....


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Old 09-01-2003, 02:00 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: CT
Posts: 325
Hi Charlie ..

Try repeatedly depressing the large rocker switches on the
outside of the climate control panel it's the one
with the small red LED on top .. If that doesn't engage
the 'auto' mode try simultaneously depressing the temperatue
direction keys ( blue and red ) .. this is supposed to
put the climate control system in auto with a default
temperature of 72 degees ..

I've found that the climate control behaves best when in
'auto' mode .. I leave mine @ 65-67 degrees and with
the fan on at the 2nd level .. ie two 'bars' blacked
out on the fan digital display .. and I rarely adjust/fool
with it once setup ..

Couple of other items to check ..

Make sure you use a MB approved synthetic oil ..
I use Mobil 0w-40 year round and check your
coolant to be sure it's 'orange'.. no 'green'
stuff in this model please

Run your rear passenger windows up and down on
a regular basis to give them some exercise ..
The regulators seem to 'break' with lack of use ..

What color combo did you get ??

Jim in CT ..

Last edited by Triffin; 09-01-2003 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 09-01-2003, 04:52 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 10

I did all things you suggested, but it won't clear. Gilly replied to my other posting saying that this is an auto protect mode if there's something wrong with the a/c system, so I guess I'll have to get it checked out.

I verified that the coolant is orange.

The color combo is tourqouise exterior and parchment interior. I'll post a pic soon.

I'll keep you posted on the a/c issue.

Thanks again,

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Old 09-12-2003, 07:41 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: CT
Posts: 325
Charlie ..

Just curious .. did you get the climate control
issue sorted out ??

Jim in Ct ..
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Old 09-13-2003, 11:11 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 10

The inspection revealed that it is the control panel, not anything in the actual system. Everyday I try pushing buttons to see if it will suddenly correct itself.... It's been 100+ here again this weekend

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Old 09-24-2003, 08:59 PM
rmasteller's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Lithopolis, Ohio
Posts: 587
No warranty?
Rodd - -
NOW: 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, 1997 E300D, 1966 230SL, 1980 450SL (for sale!)
PAST: 2006 C230, 1994 E420, 1994 Neon, 1983 Celica GT, 1984 300ZX, 1976 Electra Limited, 1984 Honda Nighthawk 650, 1979 Suzuki PE175
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