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  #1  
Old 01-18-2009, 01:11 PM
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Please Help: S Class Questions?

I am a 21 year old getting ready to graduate college and get my first job. I am thinking about getting a gasoline S class Mercedes,1996-1999 and wanted some insight into what I should expect as I have never owned a foreign car. Will the car be affordable to operate, reliable and just a general feel any experiences you have had with these type vehicles.

Would you suggest the S320 with a V-6 or the higher S classes with V-8s?

I have been told these car's engines will last for about 300,000 miles and I am looking at vehicles with between 100,000-150,000 miles. What happens if the engine goes as far as price?

Are parts availability and cost prohibitive or pretty much in line with other similar cars.

Thanks in advance for your input.

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  #2  
Old 01-18-2009, 02:28 PM
LUVMBDiesels's Avatar
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Look for a car your age. The W126 model is a better car than the W140. At least to me (a W126 owner) a W140 owner would tell you different.

Do some searches on this site on W140 and W126 to see what I mean.

You can get any part for any of these cars from this site or from the dealer. Parts can be expensive, but on the W126 just about anything can be rebuilt and does not have to be replaced.

Buying either model is easier if you can do most of the work yourself. You should be able to do oil changes, spark plugs, etc.

This site has a lot of DIY information and how to guides.

Replacement engines range from under $1000 junk yard specials to $6500 rebuilt engines...

The most important thing to buying these cars is get the best one you can afford. Records are important.

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  #3  
Old 01-18-2009, 03:33 PM
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Do yourself a favor and buy a cheap to run small car, like a Toyota or Nissan for instance. The job market is tight and Mercedes can be very expensive to own, repair costs and insurance. I've been there and done that.
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  #4  
Old 01-18-2009, 03:48 PM
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Nothing wrong with the mercedes brand, but the 140 s classes are very very complex cars. Thats why you can buy a relatively nice one cheaply....they are very very expensive to maintain and repair.

I suggest a nice simple mercedes such as a 1983 240d stick. ONe of the highest quality cars ever built, easy to work on and nigh onto indestructible if taken care of.

Nice driving handling and stopping too.

I have owned 30 older mercedes and am not without means but I am not interested in buying a 140 s class.
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  #5  
Old 01-18-2009, 03:51 PM
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I don't think it's a bad idea if, and only if, you're going to work on it yourself. I would stick with 320 (I6 not a V6) and stay away from 97-99 with 722.6 transmission though.
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  #6  
Old 01-18-2009, 04:05 PM
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do a pre purchase inspection

Since this is your first MB, you should definitely have someone who knows the brand look at the car. Pre purchase inspections can be relatively cheap (under $200) and should be considered a requirement for this model and these years.

If you are dead set on this model, you should find an example in the best possible mechanical condition because repairs can be very expensive. AC repairs are quite common and can run over $2,000. Check the maintenance records to see if the AC has been worked on already by a reputable technician.

Remember that they don't make cars like this anymore and you might be "disappointed" when you step up to a newer MB later on in life. Little things like the power INSIDE rear view mirror in this car will just amaze you but MB doesn't don't do that anymore. My '03 S430 has more base content than my '06 S430 had...go figure!

If I were you and wanted to get into the brand on the cheap but wanted something contemporary with a lower cost of ownership, then look for a good used E320 1992-1995. Classic MB body, strudy, readily available, easier to fix and maybe one of the best gas-powered vehicle series MB has ever made. I had two and loved both of them.

Good luck on your search!

Do your due diligence. To modify an axiom from the Rolls Royce owner's forum: "There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes".
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  #7  
Old 01-18-2009, 07:44 PM
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i would say do it IF you like to work on them yourself, or have a good mechanic that does not charge like a dealer. I have both. I however spend most of my weekends doing something new to it and the list of things to be done never ends. it actually grows. During the week I constantly consider giving up on it and buying a Honda. this happened yesterday as a matter of fact. As soon as I take a look at my car though, I change my mind. This is a constant thing with me.
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  #8  
Old 01-18-2009, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gjpappas View Post
I am a 21 year old getting ready to graduate college and get my first job. I am thinking about getting a gasoline S class Mercedes,1996-1999 and wanted some insight into what I should expect as I have never owned a foreign car. Will the car be affordable to operate, reliable and just a general feel any experiences you have had with these type vehicles.

Would you suggest the S320 with a V-6 or the higher S classes with V-8s?

I have been told these car's engines will last for about 300,000 miles and I am looking at vehicles with between 100,000-150,000 miles. What happens if the engine goes as far as price?

Are parts availability and cost prohibitive or pretty much in line with other similar cars.

Thanks in advance for your input.
Getting a 1996-1999 S-class is a very very expensive proposition. Unless you're graduating as an electronics engineer you might want to stay away from them. $4-5,000 per year in maintenance is not an unrealistic number to keep one of them going properly. They are ultra complex vehicles and practically everything needs a dealer tech to be fixed. The engine might last a long time, but the space shuttle subsystems that keep that engine (and the rest of the car) operating do not.

I'd go simpler. Older Mercedes.....or a Toyota.

As for "graduate and get my first job".....its a tough world/market out there....I'd focus on the job before the expensive S-class.

I've been doing 8 months of consulting and temp work since I graduated...because there are very. few. jobs.
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2009, 11:40 PM
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Get a mid-90s S320 in good condition, maintain it yourself, and you'll be hard pressed to spend a thousand a year in maintenance. It's not really any more complicated than a 124 chassis plus has more room to work.
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2009, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deanyel View Post
Get a mid-90s S320 in good condition, maintain it yourself, and you'll be hard pressed to spend a thousand a year in maintenance. It's not really any more complicated than a 124 chassis plus has more room to work.
Sorry man, This is not good advice- The 140's compared to 126's are apples and oranges. Having worked extensivly on both these models, the 140s are a totally different animal.
A great example is a s320 that I worked on at the dealer. It was a 96 or 97- I dont remember exactly, but the gentalman had been bringing it to the dealer for the last 7-8 years. On one of his visits,the service adviser called me over to his desk. He had up on the computer the totals this guy had spent on the car in the last 7-8 years. Around $34,000!!!!!. That blew me away! Complete a/c systems,pse pumps,vacuum modules,window regulators etc ......
The car wasnt even that nice. The body had dings and scrapes, interior was so-so. The guy could afford a new one, but he really liked the 140.
Yes - this was a dealer and prices are high, but even at indy prices or doing it your self its still terribly expensive.

I would look into somthing a little less complex.
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2009, 04:55 AM
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Around here I've found the dealer to actually offer better rates than the Indy shops! Pretty scary considering the dealer is currently $105 an hour!

I just had a job quoted by an Indy and the dealer, Indy was almost $100 higher!
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  #12  
Old 01-19-2009, 06:41 AM
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One of my family members gets her 560SEC serviced at the dealer, and I know she spends ungodly amounts on it. I'll have to get a total some time.
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  #13  
Old 01-19-2009, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clm View Post
Sorry man, This is not good advice- The 140's compared to 126's are apples and oranges. Having worked extensivly on both these models, the 140s are a totally different animal.
A great example is a s320 that I worked on at the dealer. It was a 96 or 97- I dont remember exactly, but the gentalman had been bringing it to the dealer for the last 7-8 years. On one of his visits,the service adviser called me over to his desk. He had up on the computer the totals this guy had spent on the car in the last 7-8 years. Around $34,000!!!!!.
I would think that fairly typical for taking any car to an MB dealership for that long a period of time, especially for a passive unengaged owner, but not at all inconsistent with my point, which was: know the car, do the work yourself and it doesn't cost much to maintain a mid-90s S320.

Last edited by deanyel; 01-19-2009 at 11:00 AM.
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  #14  
Old 01-19-2009, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by wbain5280 View Post
Do yourself a favor and buy a cheap to run small car, like a Toyota or Nissan for instance. The job market is tight and Mercedes can be very expensive to own, repair costs and insurance. I've been there and done that.

This is the best unemotional advice so far....

Get the job, save some money, get situated, then go out and buy a toy.

Jim
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  #15  
Old 01-19-2009, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pawoSD View Post
Around here I've found the dealer to actually offer better rates than the Indy shops! Pretty scary considering the dealer is currently $105 an hour!

I just had a job quoted by an Indy and the dealer, Indy was almost $100 higher!
As cars get more and more complex the issues associated with training, intelligence and equipment are much more important than they were say 20-30 years ago.

I'd be willing to bet that paying Steve Brothington $400 an hour for his services (and his SDS Basic system) would be ultimately cheaper than paying many independent MB techs (and all general service repair shops) that have less qualified people using lower end diagnostic equipment say $80-$100 per hour.

The hourly rate must be evaluated against the skill, experience and equipment of the person doing the work.

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