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  #31  
Old 02-27-2009, 01:41 AM
pawoSD's Avatar
Dieselsüchtiger
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 15,438
The amount of stuff needing replacement on an old MB might make it *seem* like a lemon....but its normal.

On our 300E I've done in the past 3 months:

-Plugs
-All Sensors
-Idle control valve
-Idle control valve hoses
-Other engine hoses
-Coil
-Distributor cap
-Rotor
-Fluids
-New Brake fluid
-Crank Position Sensor
-Battery
-Wiper Blade
-Headlight Bulbs
-Tires
-Air Filter
-Air cleaner housing Swapped (original was damaged)
-Power steering fluid
-Coolant flush
-Thermostat
-Transmission fluid/filter
-Belt
-Idler Pulley
-OVP Relay
-Wiper Spray Nozzles
-Some Fuses

I think thats everything so far....

It still needs:

-Exhaust hangers
-Passenger side windows looked at
-Steering work (both tie rods, center link, and steering shock)
-Brakes (all rotors/pads/parking brake shoes)



Scary part is that I did about 4x this much on my SD so far.

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'15 GLK250 Bluetec 118k - mine - (OC-123,800)
'17 Metris(VITO!) - 37k - wifes (OC-41k)
'09 Sprinter 3500 Winnebago View - 62k (OC - 67k)
'13 ML350 Bluetec - 95k - dad's (OC-98k)
'01 SL500 - 103k(km) - dad's (OC-110,000km)
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  #32  
Old 02-27-2009, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greasybenz View Post

Overall even though forum members here will stick to their opinion on your better off staying with this 20+ year old pile of heap instead of making payments on a new or newer car, i say no!

To each their own. Im tired of having a car that i cant take anywhere without worrying about it breaking down, having it towed from a breakdown, having to cancel my plans or trip due to the breakdown, and emptying my wallet to a worthless car.
I agree, the hassle-factor and the inconvenience of break-downs wore on me. The shop I used was only open M-F, so not even like I could get it in on a Sat and have stuff done by the beginning of the next workweek. At the end, I wasn't even willing to drive it up I-25 to Denver due to worries about it making it there and back (thankfully, never stranded me up there). And that really sucked, because that's where the car really shines (85mph on the interstate, man that thing felt good to drive).

Ah well, if I had more skills might've been willing to deal with it. But when I did the simple math and realized the repairs in one year were more than 12 months of payments on a new car... that was kind of the breaking point for me.
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  #33  
Old 02-27-2009, 06:55 AM
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Even with my mechanically inclined self its just the inconvenience factor that had me buy a newer car. These are great hobby cars and nothing more...
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  #34  
Old 02-27-2009, 10:47 AM
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All the repairs look like fairly typical 124 problem areas. One thing that wasn't clear to me from the problem descriptions is whether the car ever failed to start or stranded you on the side of the road. I wouldn't call an old car a lemon if it managed to convey you from point A to B reliably, regardless of what else goes wrong. Though I suppose an inoperative heater during a Colorado winter could be a significant issue.

It's a red herring to compare the E-class sedan to a Toyota Corolla. If you want to compare the ownership cost and experience, a reasonable comparison would be to a 1990 Lexus LS400. (1990 was the first model year for Lexus.) That is the closest thing Toyota made in terms of comfort, safety, size, and luxury to the MB. And yes, we've had that debate too. The general concensus was that a big Lexus doesn't need as much repair as an MB, but costs considerably more to repair when it does fail, so cost of ownership is about equal.

You can't compare the longevity of a manual transmission and clutch to an automatic transmission, they are two completely different animals, apples and oranges.

Sorry it didn't work out for you. But it's just not practical to drive a 20 year old luxury car if you have to take it to a mechanic for every little thing. If you had asked this crowd before purchasing the E-class, they would have steered you away from it.
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  #35  
Old 02-27-2009, 11:31 AM
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There is no question that greasybenz has a point regarding a new car's reliability vs a 20year-old car's reliability. Although I typically have had more problems with any of my cars in the first year or two than in the next three, it is rare for a new car to actually leave you stranded.

That being said, I re-discovered the Mercedes diesels about 4years ago, to the extent that I have sold most of my much newer vehicles and not bought a new car in 4years. I have been driving '87 190D turbo and '87 300D turbo cars as daily drivers almost exclusively for the past four years, ALL of them over 200,000miles, and have not had one of the failures mentioned by you or greasybenz! This includes all of the cars I mentioned and 4years of daily driving. The people I meet and the questions I field about these un-common diesels (at least around here) make it more enjoyable than owning a new appliance-on-wheels common car and worth the few inconveniences. It has never been my only car, just the one I prefer to drive and the one that leaves the garage daily.

There are cars that have problems, and cars that do not. I don't beleive that your experience nor greasybenz's experience is typical, mine might not be either but somewhere in-between there is the typical of these cars that has one or two of these failures over a few years' ownership.

Still, back to GB's comments; if you only have one vehicle, need to depend on it for daily conveyence, and can't have it let you down, it does make more sense to buy something much newer.
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  #36  
Old 02-27-2009, 11:51 AM
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My 27 year old 300SD has yet to let me down....and it has 277,800 miles on it. I have driven it for close to 6 years and 71,000 miles.....not a single breakdown or problem, in all kinds of harsh weather and everything. Its just a finely engineered machine. I fix things that wear out....and keep driving. I have 100% trust in it.

The 300E has been slowly earning my trust....I'll never trust it quite as much though since it needs computers and electronics to keep moving.....
__________________
-diesel is not just a fuel, its a way of life-
'15 GLK250 Bluetec 118k - mine - (OC-123,800)
'17 Metris(VITO!) - 37k - wifes (OC-41k)
'09 Sprinter 3500 Winnebago View - 62k (OC - 67k)
'13 ML350 Bluetec - 95k - dad's (OC-98k)
'01 SL500 - 103k(km) - dad's (OC-110,000km)
'16 E400 4matic Sedan - 148k - Brothers (OC-155k)
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  #37  
Old 02-27-2009, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcyuhn View Post
All the repairs look like fairly typical 124 problem areas. One thing that wasn't clear to me from the problem descriptions is whether the car ever failed to start or stranded you on the side of the road. I wouldn't call an old car a lemon if it managed to convey you from point A to B reliably, regardless of what else goes wrong. Though I suppose an inoperative heater during a Colorado winter could be a significant issue.

It's a red herring to compare the E-class sedan to a Toyota Corolla. If you want to compare the ownership cost and experience, a reasonable comparison would be to a 1990 Lexus LS400. (1990 was the first model year for Lexus.) That is the closest thing Toyota made in terms of comfort, safety, size, and luxury to the MB. And yes, we've had that debate too. The general concensus was that a big Lexus doesn't need as much repair as an MB, but costs considerably more to repair when it does fail, so cost of ownership is about equal.

You can't compare the longevity of a manual transmission and clutch to an automatic transmission, they are two completely different animals, apples and oranges.

Sorry it didn't work out for you. But it's just not practical to drive a 20 year old luxury car if you have to take it to a mechanic for every little thing. If you had asked this crowd before purchasing the E-class, they would have steered you away from it.
Hi, thanks for the comments. Please understand I was in no way comparing my old Corolla to this Benz--I was merely replying to the one guy who stated 20 year old cars are generally "junk." I don't buy that, lots of people drive 20 year old cars on a daily basis--some because they have to, some because they prefer to.

To answer your question, it only truly stranded me once (at work, when it wouldn't start due to the alternator & battery). Got it home and put in a new battery but it didn't last and stranded me at home, had to have it towed to the mechanic. By "hassles" and "break-downs," I was referring to having to take it in in the morning, arrange a ride to work, arrange a ride back to the mech, etc. I don't mind that a few times a year; but multiple times a month is a bit aggravating.

You're right, it wasn't a very wise move to buy such an old (and unproven/un-documented) car knowing I'd be at someone else's mercy if it ever needed attention.

Despite my disappointment that it had so many things go wrong, I'm still glad I did it. Always wanted a Mercedes, and this seemed a cheap--but risky--way to sample one. For the first 6-8 months it wasn't too bad, the last several weeks killed me though and had to let it go. I will confess, it's "out of my system" now, and not likely I'll ever buy another as 1) I sure as heck can't afford a new/newer one, and 2) going with an old one is just too risky, as I've learned.

Thanks again... -E

Last edited by Colo Springs E; 02-27-2009 at 07:15 PM.
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  #38  
Old 02-27-2009, 07:23 PM
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To put that combination battery and alternator failure in perspective:

The battery wasn't necessarily bad, just discharged. It also can't be properly tested by the parts store selling you a new one (I assume that they "tested" it and told you it was bad) unless it is first fully charged, which takes a couple of hours at least. Batteries are consumables like tires though, if it's old, it'll need replacement soon. Doesn't count in my book.

The alternator also (I don't know if there's a thread on this failure) might not have been bad, most of the time the brushes are worn enough that the alternator doesn't charge, a common failure and unfortunately this failure doesn't light the battery warning light.

If it was just the regulator, the brushes can be replaced for less than $10 and an hour or so, the entire regulator/brush assembly in less than an hour for about $35 with a single offset-phillips screwdriver.

In summary, if this analysis is correct your battery and alternator cost could have been reduced to $10 if you can solder, $35 if you can turn a screwdriver.

A radiator and water-pump failure coincidentally failing concurrently is also an anomaly. Is it possible that a bad water pump and bad cap were stressing the radiator with high system pressure? Or that they were otherwise somehow related? I don't know, and a post-mortem is a bit difficult here and now. Anyway, a wierd one, but might not have all been necessary.

Struts don't just fail, they take tens of thousands of miles to gradually wear out. Either they were worn out before you bought the car or they weren't worn out when they were replaced. I've had several with original struts over 200,000miles. They were soggy and needed replacement to improve the ride and handling.

My point however is that (no offense meant) someone who knows these cars and can do a little preventative maintenance as well as minor repairs might have avoided much of this expense.

For all or even several of those things to have been good when you bought the car and fail in 4months of ownership is extremely unlikely IMO.
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  #39  
Old 02-27-2009, 08:34 PM
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Regarding the struts... it's possible I could've continued to drive them as is, that is true. But they were obnoxiously loud. Once replaced, it was a very quiet ride, so I feel it was a necessary repair (they weren't that way when I first bought it; started after about 6 months; I lived with it a few months and the loud scrunching and squeaking seemed to get worse and worse).

Struts however, can fail. On a Subaru I owned, one of the rear ones sort of "popped out" of the housing it was in. They worked it back in at a tire place I went to, but they said it was shot and advised me to take it very easy (avoid bumps) and get it to a shop to have replaced asap, which I did.

I have no idea with regard to the battery and alternator, and the radiator and water pump. Didn't mind replacing the battery, I agree, that's just maintenance--frankly, it looked pretty old anyway. I suppose it's possible they just bent me over and screwed me on the alternator, radiator and water pump. I have no way to know. I will say the shop I took it to has an excellent rep around here, so I guess I'm inclined to feel they didn't do unnecessary repairs--but of course, I could be wrong.

Also, it was more than four months that I owned the Benz. I owned it right around 10-11 months. A few things had to be addressed in the first 6-8 months; it was the last month or so where things really went awry.
-Eric

Last edited by Colo Springs E; 02-27-2009 at 08:41 PM.
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  #40  
Old 02-28-2009, 08:00 AM
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I always figure you're going to average at least $200/month in costs on a frequently driven used car. On a used car this may be 0 per month for months 1-11 and 2400 in month 12. Obviously the less you can do yourself, the more you'll pay, and if you hate working on cars you should stick with a new one where your payments will be more predictable too.
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  #41  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hirnbeiss View Post
I always figure you're going to average at least $200/month in costs on a frequently driven used car.
Well I'm not going to launch a debate of Japanese vs German engineering, but I can only tell you that was not the case (avg of $200 per month in maintenance/repairs) with previous used cars I have owned, most with 175-200k on the clock and at least 10 years of age.

That said, I could've dealt with a couple/few repairs yearly if not too terribly pricey and of course maintenance, but I had a pretty bad run of repair costs so the math just didn't make sense. And I totally agree with others, that it's obviously helpful to know how to turn a wrench if you're going to own an old Benz. Unfortunately, I'm just not talented that way and I'd much rather be driving than fixing anyway, even if I had the capabilities. That's just me.

Take care, -Eric
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  #42  
Old 02-28-2009, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for the response. I think you have a good, healthy attitude regarding your experience. As others have said, your problems are all typical, though they don't generally all arrive at once like you experienced. The car may have settled down and been a solid, reliable car for a while. But of course that is a gamble going forward. Best of luck to you.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Colo Springs E View Post
Hi, thanks for the comments. Please understand I was in no way comparing my old Corolla to this Benz--I was merely replying to the one guy who stated 20 year old cars are generally "junk." I don't buy that, lots of people drive 20 year old cars on a daily basis--some because they have to, some because they prefer to.

To answer your question, it only truly stranded me once (at work, when it wouldn't start due to the alternator & battery). Got it home and put in a new battery but it didn't last and stranded me at home, had to have it towed to the mechanic. By "hassles" and "break-downs," I was referring to having to take it in in the morning, arrange a ride to work, arrange a ride back to the mech, etc. I don't mind that a few times a year; but multiple times a month is a bit aggravating.

You're right, it wasn't a very wise move to buy such an old (and unproven/un-documented) car knowing I'd be at someone else's mercy if it ever needed attention.

Despite my disappointment that it had so many things go wrong, I'm still glad I did it. Always wanted a Mercedes, and this seemed a cheap--but risky--way to sample one. For the first 6-8 months it wasn't too bad, the last several weeks killed me though and had to let it go. I will confess, it's "out of my system" now, and not likely I'll ever buy another as 1) I sure as heck can't afford a new/newer one, and 2) going with an old one is just too risky, as I've learned.

Thanks again... -E
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  #43  
Old 02-28-2009, 11:24 AM
Texholdem
 
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Well regarding the amount of problems Colo Spring had with his car I find that he made his case in a very calm tone and as-a-matter-of-fact manner. I read a lot of theads elsewhere, in which people lash out for less reason.

Sorry that it did not work out for you, Colo. I don't know what my car will cost me in the next 7 years before it reaches its 20th; at the moment I am happy to have no problem except for blind dots on instrument cluster. I try to keep it going with regular maintenance.
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  #44  
Old 02-28-2009, 11:46 AM
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Note though that it's not always just Jap vs German engineering but usually simple/small vs big/complex. A half-pint, no-option, 4-banger Civic is not going to need the attention a loaded big car will. At the end of the day I just like driving my car better than the high-volume, cookie-cutter compromises that the Asians make. I can't afford the new ones, so I do what I can with the used.
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  #45  
Old 02-28-2009, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Hirnbeiss View Post
Note though that it's not always just Jap vs German engineering but usually simple/small vs big/complex. A half-pint, no-option, 4-banger Civic is not going to need the attention a loaded big car will. At the end of the day I just like driving my car better than the high-volume, cookie-cutter compromises that the Asians make. I can't afford the new ones, so I do what I can with the used.
Your point is well taken. At the end of the day, I'm maybe a little surprised to learn this about myself... I think I really am just a "low-hassle" kinda guy who just wants efficient/low maintenance transportation that gets me from A to B with great predictability--even if it's somewhat lacking in originality/'coolness.' Owning the Benz taught me that I guess--and that's not a bad thing, it is what it is. Sometimes I do wish I had the mech skills--my dad has them, and I shoulda picked his brain more when I was a boy/young man.

I saw two old Benz's in the grocery store parking lot when I was there a few minutes ago. One appeared to be a mid/late 80s 450 SEL (I think?) that was nice and clean, and the other was a 190E that looked just like my 300, in the teal green w/tan MB Tex! (Mine had leather) I have to admit, I felt a twinge of envy and sadness, sort of wishing I still had mine. If I didn't have to have it as my daily driver (if it could sit while I either saved up for repairs or learned to do things on my own), I probably would've kept it. I liked it that much.

Very good and civil discussion, very much appreciate all the input! Good luck to all of you--hope your MBs give you hundreds of thousands of (relatively) trouble-free miles...

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