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  #1  
Old 03-27-2002, 12:08 AM
lawdlc
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Buying a 97-99 SClass Sedan ?

Considering buying a 97-99 S Class sedan...Have read posts and searched re-same..Realize everyone says be prepared for expensive repairs...Can someone give me some ideas of what to expect ?? Looking at cars in the 35k-65k mileage range...

Other than the ac problems that are widely discussed in the forum, what problems should one be particularly on the lookout for ? in this age and mileage range car...I am looking at 420 or possibly 320....

For example...Is it typical to have to replace water pump, alternator, starter, power sterring pump, etc at less than 100k ?? If so, what kind of cost...not at dealer, but at a reputable shop ??

Are there commonly encountered electrical problems ? ie-seat motors, switches, power window switches, etc, etc ? If so what sort of costs associated ??

At what mileage interval would you expect to require valvetrain repairs ? ie chains, adjusters, etc ?? and what is the range of cost or hours for such service ??

Are there areas of common concern specific to certain engine models, ie 320, 420 or 500 ( v or w class) or year models that I should carefully look for ??

Ive owned mostly jap lux cars in the past, and reading the forums makes me a little paranoid about cost of repairs....but there is something intoxicating about the Big Body benz.....heart says Benz...brain says Lexus...tell me my brain is wrong !!

Thanks in advance
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2002, 12:14 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,508
Both your brain and your heart are right!

The question is - which one should you follow?

To me, buying a car is mostly an emotional decision, and partly a cerebral one.

I've owned Japanese cars almost exclusively, and now after driving a Mercedes for almost a year, I can honestly say I can't see myself driving a Japanese car again. The Mercedes is just so much more solid and the engineering is so thoughtful, that the longer you own it, the more you see.

Participating in this site can also help you do things yourself, buy parts cheaper, diagnose problems, etc.

Life is short. Go with the Benz.
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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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  #3  
Old 03-27-2002, 12:22 AM
David C Klasse's Avatar
CheFrac is Back!
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
Posts: 2,352
Go for the heart!! You are right, there is NOTHING like owning an S-class! What a superior vehicle to almost any other on the road. Driving it was a dream... big, but handled remarkably well, considering it's bulk.

We had a 99 S420 for about 3 years. We had 2 minor warranty repairs within that 3 years....
1. Second vacuum pump (that assists door closes) replaced and a loose rear view mirror was replaced because it came loose.

No doubt, the 97-99 were the best models... most of the kinks were worked out. I would go for an S420 no doubt... The S420 has a NICE chunk of power on the highway... but when cruising below 40 mph... it really drove like a boat, compared to my C280 which zipps around below 40. Regardless, it's by no means slow for a 2 ton plus Mercedes!

The 320 motor is probably the most reliable, however, I have heard of no major problems with that 420 motor either... And if cost was an issue, I'd still stick with the 420... it's a darn good engine.

Go for the last model year you can, IMO. Either way, good luck and get maintenance records! And I would suggest you try for a STARMARKed Mercedes (mercedes used car program). The cost will be slightly higher buying Starmarked at a dealer vs another place... but the extra cost is well worth it IMO... warranty to 100k!

Good luck and you won't be disappointed!
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #4  
Old 03-27-2002, 12:42 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Lakewood NY
Posts: 85
The '97 and newer W140 cars are much better than the early (92-96)models. Most of the AC problems and electrical gremlins that you hear about were corrected by'97.

I plan on replacing my '92 300SE with a '97 model when the 92 wears out,(it has 273K now), or I get sick of working on it.

Go with your heart , after driving a W140 for a week, you will never be happy driving anything other than an S Class Mercedes Benz.

Bill
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J. William Tarbrake
NY State Dealer 7014303DLU
Registered repair shop R7014303
82 300SD modified for waste vegatable oil
92 300SE 270K miles perfect
79 450SEL (2 tone custom paint for special occations) SOLD
80 450SL
79 450SL 69K Miles FOR SALE
86 Carver 28 Voyager twin 270 Crusaders (SOLD)
94 CARVER 32 Voyager(SOLD)
67 Chris Craft 40' Aft Cabin(twin ford 427 side oilers)
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  #5  
Old 03-27-2002, 12:56 AM
David C Klasse's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
Posts: 2,352
Riske,
Wow, 275k on an M104 motor? I have 122k on mine now... I am curious to hear what kind of issues/problems you've had on your motor with the high mileage... how was the maintenance schedule, what is your driving like?
Thanks!

(Sorry to go OFF-Topic)
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #6  
Old 03-27-2002, 03:31 AM
turbodiesel
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riske, was that the 300SE that was on ebay about a year ago? The guy lived in northeast, NJ?
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  #7  
Old 03-27-2002, 10:58 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Lakewood NY
Posts: 85
My W140 came out or Bayone NJ last year. The guy I purchased it from had the tranny rebuilt at about 260K miles and the cyl. head replaced at about 250K miles.
I fixed the AC when I got the car along with a few minor problems.
This thing runs and drives PERFECT now . No noises, squeeks, vibrations , rattles or anything. It performs as well as it did when it left the showroom.
I reconditioned a couple of bad spots on the leather and re-painted the nose to get rid of the stone chips. The car is pearl black with parchment interior and now looks like new.

I am so spoiled now I put my 126 Diesel up for sale and am now using the 140 as a dailey driver.
Bill
__________________
J. William Tarbrake
NY State Dealer 7014303DLU
Registered repair shop R7014303
82 300SD modified for waste vegatable oil
92 300SE 270K miles perfect
79 450SEL (2 tone custom paint for special occations) SOLD
80 450SL
79 450SL 69K Miles FOR SALE
86 Carver 28 Voyager twin 270 Crusaders (SOLD)
94 CARVER 32 Voyager(SOLD)
67 Chris Craft 40' Aft Cabin(twin ford 427 side oilers)
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  #8  
Old 03-27-2002, 11:56 AM
edbardzik
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97-99 S Class

lawdlc,

I would be prepared for LARGE LARGE LARGE repair bills. We are working on a 1996 S500 in our shop right now. The car has 93,000 miles on it and the owner requested new shock absorbers all around, rear air chambers, and front control arm bushings. His bill is going to be around $4000.00 because this car has ADS (adaptive damping system). Each shock absorber costs between $690 and $885. He has already spent over $2000.00 on this car this year, and we haven't even done the 90k service yet.

And be forewarned: while the 97-99's are the most reliable 140's, reliable is a relative term when discussing one of these cars.

I would definitely stay away from the S500, especially one with ADS. The S320 should have suffiecient power and will cost less to maintain, but even with one of these, I would budget between $4000 and $5000 a year in maintenance and repairs if you plan to drive the car from 60,000 miles or so to 100,000 miles or more.

IMHO, a 210 would be a much more economical choice...
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  #9  
Old 03-27-2002, 04:13 PM
farena
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I purchased a '95 S500 in June with 48,000 mile on it.

I love this car. My S500 is like a beautiful woman that I am madly in love with. The bad news is, it really hurts when a beautiful women breaks your heart.

Two weeks after I purchased it the starter went ($500). A month later, I found out that I needed new rear shocks ($2000). Thanksgiving weekend, I was hit while at a stop sign ($6000, which my insurance paid for of course). (This S Class is solid. I got out of the car thinking there was no damage to my car, while the Nissan Altima that hit me was totaled.)

Ever since I have owned the car, the SRS stays lit for two minutes after the car is first started, then turns off. No one seems to be able to get to get to the root of this problem, along with some other gremlins.

To continue with the women analogy; the Lexus will be the perfect wife in every way, while the S Class will drive you crazy from time to time. But it is so big, beautiful and magnificent, that you will learn to love it unconditionally.

Good Luck.
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  #10  
Old 03-27-2002, 04:26 PM
David C Klasse's Avatar
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Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
Posts: 2,352
SRS light on for short time after start almost always indicates a faulty driver (or passenger) seat belt buckle. Though code must be read at the dealer.
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #11  
Old 03-27-2002, 05:45 PM
farena
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David,

Thanks for your response. They've put two new seat belt buckles, put the problem persists. I'm bringing it back tomorrow for them to try and fix again.

Also, there is a slight road and wind noise coming from the front passenger door. The seals, etc. seem to be perfect. Any ideas on what to do to get rid of this noise?

Thanks,

Frank
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  #12  
Old 03-27-2002, 06:27 PM
lawdlc
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Thanks for Input

Thanks for the input guys...

Let me see if I understand the analogies...If you want to go for the sexxy, monied, large bre-sted woman...buy the Mercedes....It may cost more to keep her happy...but when she is happy,,,,you are in heaven !! When she is misbehaving, you will hate her !

If you want to go for the reasonably sexxy, mild mannered, woman who has worked a few days in her life and who will appreciate everything you do.....buy the Lexus...she will never complain, will not cause problems, will be steady as a rock, generally a low maintenance lady....but...at parties, she wont grab as much attention as the "other" lady referenced above !

I think I get the picture......As much as I like the sexxy lady...I dont know if I can afford her....yet....

Maybe I should buy the Lexus...Who cares what the neighbors think anyway ?? right ? Its what makes you happy that counts!

Either way, it beats the he-l out of my fist car...a borrowed 1967 Plymouth Valiant, Slant 6, bad ball joints, no ac and retreads !!

Thanks again everyone..I appreciate your replies
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  #13  
Old 03-27-2002, 10:55 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Great White North!!!!
Posts: 400
Smile listen to whatever but see your m.b.dealer!

LAWDLC.........
i too was torn between a ls400 and well really nothing!at the time i was 98% committed to the lexus,so i took a 7000 km demo with my wife(after all it WAS going to be her car-honest!!)anyway we took the lexus out.no big deal of a ride-competent,quiet and solid.we went for lunch and i told my wife that i'd always wanted to try a benz.so after lunch we get into a 4 yr old s320 with 60,000 kms.well,this car was everything a car should be but you don't know it until your exposed to it and then you wonder why everbody can't build them like this!!buy the benz and you won't regret it,buy the lexus and you'll always be wondering about the benz.sure you might have repairs but is your wife trouble free?!
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'95 s500 (bought for wife but can't bear to share!!!) 125kms
'92 legend 180kms
'88 tbirdturbo(fantastic car-only regular maint.)120kms
'87 mustang gt(gone)
'86 tbirdturbo(gone)
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  #14  
Old 03-28-2002, 01:29 AM
David C Klasse's Avatar
CheFrac is Back!
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
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Listen to daddio!!

ATLEAST be open and see your MB dealer for a test drive... You WILL NOT regret it, ULTIMATELY, you will be more satisfied/fulfilled with the Benz vs. the Lexus!
__________________
2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #15  
Old 03-28-2002, 01:58 AM
turbodiesel
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riske, yes I looked at that car in Bayonne but was scared by the W140 and the repair bills.

What did you get it for if you don't mind me asking? I know what he was asking and wondered what he finally let it go for.
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