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Old 02-08-2002, 09:26 AM
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Question Quetions on E Class...(kinda long)

I have been driving Volvo 900 series cars for a number of years now. I am absolutely convinced that I prefer RWD cars. As a former MB owner (69 280S, 72 220D, 77 280SLC, 85 380 SEL), I am giving very serious thought to a recent-vintage E class when my 1991 Volvo 944T gives up the ghost (I'm pushing the 200k mile point).

I have a few questions. I understand that the latest E class body style first had a straight 6, then went to a V6 (like my dad's M320). When did that happen? Which one is better? Are there any years that are better/worse than others?

How easy/expensive is maintenance on these cars? I am a bit spoiled by my Volvo, as I am able to do most of the work myself. Are there any particular things I should look out for when looking for a recent-vintage E class (E320)?

Any input and/or opinions are welcome and appreciated.
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Old 02-08-2002, 01:20 PM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Jax, FL
Posts: 1,785

The V-6 change came in 98. Do a search (in the top r corner of your screen) it has been discussed before.
Welcome aboard!
'86 300E
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Old 02-08-2002, 01:36 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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My C280 has the same engine as the E320 (M104) and I have had no problems with it at all. It's a straight six with 4 valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on the intake cam. Two common problems were the headgasket which can develop an external oil leak and wiring harness issues. Other than these, the engine is great, and the E320 is a great car.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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Old 02-08-2002, 10:15 PM
Southern's Avatar
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Location: Carol Stream, Il, USA
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I have owned a 98 E320 (V6 engine) for the past 1 1/2 years with no major problems. I also do all of my maintenance myself. The filters are pricey but last longer than my non-Mercedes cars and the engine holds 8 1/2 qts. of synthetic oil.

I believe that the 96 model has the straight 6 with a 4 speed transmission. The 97 model has the straight 6 with the electronic 5 speed transmission. The 98 model and above has the V6 with the electronic 5 speed transmission.

With the help of Mercedes Shop, Fast Lane, and the wealth of advice from its members, you can't go wrong with any Mercedes vehicle.
1998 Mercedes E320, 200K Miles
2001 Acura 3.2TL, 178K Miles
1992 Chevy Astro, 205K Miles
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Old 02-09-2002, 12:14 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Joliet Illinois
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E Class Questions

I had to reply to your post because I had the same questions about a year ago. I have always owned RWD Volvo's (still have two) and do all the repairs myself. I found a '88 Mercedes 260e in mint condition about a year ago that I couldn't pass up. I bought it because it had a SOHC straight 6 that looked pretty easy to work on.

The MB E Class cars are very similar to a Volvo in handling and comfort. I think the Mercedes has the same solid feel and control of a Volvo but definitely is a lot quieter. MB put a lot of design effort into soundproofing this model and it works. The engine on my car runs extremely smooth and has good power for a 2.6 litre. Mercedes engines rev much higher and that took me some getting used to. Another oddity is that some 4 speed auto models, like mine, start in 2nd gear.

As far a durability, I still feel that nothing beats the Volvo 4 cylinder. As you probably know, those engines almost always outlive the cars. The MB engine has the same durable bottom end but needs periodic head work. Some common items needed are: valve stem seals, valve guides, and head gaskets. I have not done much work on my Mercedes look but in studying it, it doesn't look too bad. The tools needed are different...lots of hex stuff and the working room is tighter. Parts are comparable in price to Volvo. I have used Fastlane and was really impressed with the prices and had the parts in a couple days.

To answer your question about the straight 6 and V6, I think the change was around 1994 or 1995. You can tell by the badge on the cars. The 260 and 300 are straight 6's and the 320 will be a V6 (I think). I'm sure someone here would know for sure.
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Old 02-09-2002, 02:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
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Mercedes used the straight 6 until 1997 in many different sizes: 2.6, 2.8, 3.0, and 3.2 liters with both single and dual overhead cams.
The V6 was used starting in the 1998 model year in the C, E, and S classes.

If you do a search you'll be able to read a lot of the opinions on the merits of both the inline and V6's.

Good Luck!
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 02-09-2002, 10:55 AM
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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On the M104 inline 3.2L six used in the W124 chassis from 1993 to 1995 and in the W210 from 1996 to 1997, there is just one potential problem in a leaking head gasket. It effects a number of the cars, but far from them all.

The M112 3.2L V-6, used from 1998+, is turning out to be pretty much bullet-proof.

In a recent Road&Track, they published long-term ownership survey results that showed the 1996-2000 W210 E-Class to be one of the most reliable cars they've EVER surveyed.

If I were shopping for a gasoline E-Class, I would try to buy a 1998 or later for the V-6, but I sure wouldn't pass up a great deal on a 96 or 97 version.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 02-09-2002, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,503
I have a 1993 W124 with the M104 engine (3.2 liter) that was carried over into the current body style in its first two years (96 and 97), and a smaller version of the M104 engine (2.8 liter) was used in the 94-97 C280.

I agree with blackmercedes in chosing the current V6. It's not that I dislike my engine, but its true that this engine suffers from oil leaking from the head gasket about every 100,000 miles or so. There was a also a problem with the wiring harnesses. Like the inline 6, the V6 are proving to be very reliable. They don't have the long-standing history of the inline 6's, though, so only time will tell.

The only problem with getting the V6 is that you have to buy a 1998 or newer C-class or E-class, which is big bucks, at least $20,000 or more. However, I'm not sure that the average buyer knows that there is an inline 6 in the 96 and 97, and a V6 in the 98 and newer. It doesn't seem to cause really any difference in the resell value. The used car values are all about mileage, year, and condition. In other words there is not a huge price bracket with the 96 and 97's at a lower price bracket, and 98's and newer at a higher price bracket.

You can find many examples of late 80's and early 90's E-classes for under $10,000, and 93-95 E-classes in the low to mid teens.

The differences between the W124 and W210 E-classes, as well as advantages / disadvantages between the inline and V6's has been discussed sooooo many times on this site, if you do a search, you can spend the next 6 months of your life reading up on these topics.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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