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Old 04-08-2002, 06:06 PM
Posts: n/a
Buying a 97 S320 LWB A few questions

I bought the car off Ebay for 24,100 with 87,000 miles. It's white with grey int. The cool part is even though I bought it off a dealer I was able to uncover that the previous owner was a Smith Barney broker like myself and found out the car was always serviced on time and no problems. Most of the miles came from a 60 mile commute and FL to Oh trips. Anything I should be concerned with for a 97? I know the bushings where just serviced otherwise I have been debating an extended warranty bumper to bumper for $4,400 for 5 years or 60,000 additional miles. Should I or not?
Thanks all and great board.
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Old 04-08-2002, 06:27 PM
Posts: n/a
If the warranty is bumper to bumper, its worth it - you can EASILY spend more than 4400 on repairs on this one over 3 years, not to mention 5.
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Old 04-08-2002, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,503
Your chasis is a W140, and it might be interesting to do a search on this site under 'W140'.

You might also find useful a search on 'M104'. Your engine is the last year of the inline six cylinder engines made by Mercedes, and is an 'M104' engine. It is the same engine used in the E320's from 93-97, and a 2.8 liter version of this engine was used in the C280's from 94-97. In 1998, Mercedes went to a V6 engine in all models.

I know from memory (and experience) that oil leaking from the head gasket on these is very common, and Mercedes never seemed to figure it out. I'd budget $2,000 for a head gasket replacement.

You may get hits on your search for engine wiring harnesses being bad on these engines, but that was only from 93-95, so you're clear on that one.

Other things to consider on these engines is water pump replacement, mass air sensors, throttle actuators, O2 sensors.

Your W140 chasis is considered the most expensive Mercedes ever in ownership costs in terms of parts cost and maintenance. In particular there were problems on leaking a/c evaporators on the early models, so you may or may not be clear on this one. It seems the whole car was built around the evaporator, and the labor to change it is enormous.

So, while the car and engine may last forever, there are some expensive components that may go out, so I would get the longest extended warranty that is offered to me, and thank them for it, cause it's a good risk that you're gonna need it.

Believe me, the search function is useful, and anything you could possibly imagine has been discussed at length on your car.
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 04-08-2002, 09:02 PM
Posts: n/a
I tried the search feature but could not figure out if my year was affected by the many problems I have been reading about. I guess the warranty is the way to go. The 320 had a different engine from 97 to 98??
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Old 04-08-2002, 09:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,503
Yeah, 1998 and newer Mercedes with six cylinder engines are V6's, not inline sixes. The factory fill is also synthetic oil, not conventional oil. May owners have switched to synthetic oil in 97 and older cars, but some (like me) are afraid of oil leaks. The switch to synthetics and oil leaking, as well as the merits on the inline six vs. the V6 have been debated at considerable length many different times.

There is nothing wrong with the M104 engine. It will last much longer than you will probably keep the car. Many things will go wrong before you have a catastrophic engine failure or need to rebuild the top end of the engine due to valve guide / seal wear and head gasket replacement. The techs say the bottom end of these engines virtually never wear out.

I don't know if you are out of the woods with the evaperator. I know from many owners' experience on this site and from comments from my local tech, that mass air sensors are still a continuous problem, even on newer models. You're only talking about a $300 part and 20 minutes of labor. It might be the easiest thing you ever replace on your car.

The oil leaking from the head gasket seems to never have been fixed. You don't have to replace the gasket. It will just leak oil.

If you've read enough, you may have seen that the many problems these W140's have were common on the earlier years, and seem to have been largely worked out. I don't know what year that happened, but surely by 97 you'd think you'd be in the clear, wouldn't you?

But the point remains, I'd get the warranty. I don't think you'll find many members on this site not recommending a warranty on a W140. That's not saying the W140's are not great cars. Polls on this site suggest that more members think the W140's are better than the newer W220's. The W140's probably represent the pinnacle in engineering at all costs by Mercedes. They're just expensive to own.
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 04-09-2002, 10:46 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 23
Post 1997 S320

I bought a 1995 S320 Long wheel base last month
with 70,000 miles. One owners. Paid $22,500.

After reading all the possible things that could go
wrong, I got on line and looked for an after market

After dozens and dozens of warranties I have found this:

1) Beware of the term "bumper to bumper" warranty.

2) Look for what is called exclusionary coverage.
Simply, everything is covered except for the
listed and excluded items.

3) I ended up purchasing my warrant for 36K and/or
3 years for $1850.00. This covers the all important
evaporator. Look close, may warranties do not
cover this.

4) Make certain that you get "enhanced electrical" since
this car has power head rest along with all the bells
and whistles.

5) Pay extra for the Zero Deductible.

6) Be certain, last but not leaset:

I kid you not, I checked every warranty out in the market
and after many hours can tell you 75% of the warranties
are so limited in nature that it is like throwing money
into the wind.


I found a lot of warranties does not cover Wear and Tear
if you can really believe this.

If I can be of any further help, please let me know.
Fingers crossed, I hope both our S320's give us
many years of good driving.

Tully Lee
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Old 04-10-2002, 10:21 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Plano, TX
Posts: 2,476
My dad drives a '97 S320 LWB and it's been a pretty good car. He's getting up in years and doesn't exactly rack up the miles these days, but still, the car has treated him well.

Can't comment on the cost of repairs, his is still under warranty. He bought it very slightly used - 1 year & 2K miles old. I insisted his dealer run it through Starmark, and he then bought out the warranty as long as it would go. So it's still under warranty for another couple of years.

Problems - I've not heard of many. His dealer did replace the head gasket due to some mild oil leaks. Standard stuff for the M104 engine. I recall they replaced the belt tensioner because it was making a bit of noise, and a door check strap for the same reason. I think the dealer found all these problems during routing service - my dad never even noticed them. I don't think the car has ever had any other problems. Certainly it has never broken down.
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Old 04-10-2002, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Sugarland, TX
Posts: 285
All 140 used M104 engine.

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Old 04-10-2002, 08:01 PM
Posts: n/a
This appears to be the best from 1 Source 5 years 60,000 miles for $4,500:
Diamond Coverage View Actual Agreement (pdf) View Actual Agreement (doc)

Diamond is the most comprehensive plan available covering well over 4000 component parts. This coverage provides for the repair or replacement of most factory-installed mechanical and electrical operating parts. Virtually every component on your vehicle is protected. The only exclusions are periodic maintenance and those items listed in our agreement under “Parts and Services not Covered.”

Whether you buy or lease your vehicle, our Diamond plan can provide a term that matches your driving and lifestyle needs.

Full Coverage For:

Transfer Unit (4x4)
Front/Rear Drive Axles
Electrical System
Fuel Delivery System
Braking System (Including ABS)
Front/Rear Suspension
Steering System
Heating/Cooling Systems
Air Conditioning System
Power Window/Locks
Power Seats
Digital Instrument Cluster
Audio System
Convertible Top Motor
Safety Restraint Systems (Airbags)
GPS (Global Positioning System)
Seals & Gaskets (Stand-Alone)
Wear & Tear



The performance of normal maintenance services listed in Your Vehicle’s Owners Manual as supplied by the Manufacturer, scheduled replacement of parts and wear items, service adjustments, and parts and services such as, but not limited to:

Engine Tune-Up

Spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, glow plugs, filters, hoses, fan/accessory drive belts.


Injection system or carburetor adjustments, cleaning of fuel system, carburetor, complete exhaust and emission systems (including catalytic converter and smog pump).

Standard Transmission

Clutch plate/lining, pressure plate, flywheel, throwout bearing, pilot bushing.

Charging System

Battery, battery cables.

Cooling System

Coolant flush, additives, hoses.

Brake System

Brake linings/shoes, brake pads, rotors, drums, neoprene hoses/lines.


Shock absorbers, suspension alignment, wheel balancing.

Interior & Exterior

Physical damage, alignment of bumper/body/trim parts, glass, lenses, bulbs, sealed beams, wiper blades, trim, moldings, bright metal, fasteners, paint, rust, upholstery, carpet, rubber or rubber-like items, convertible top/window, vinyl top, weather-strips, squeaks and rattles, interior/exterior ornamentation, body sheet metal, bumpers, body panels, structural framework, structural welds, water leaks, wind leaks/noise, wheels, rims, wheel covers, tires (except for ESA Tire / Road Hazard Benefit).


Oils, additives, coolant, refrigerant recharge or other fluids and filters, except in conjunction with the repair/replacement of a covered part. After-market parts or accessories not produced by the Manufacturer, such as, but not limited to custom wheels, CB radios, audio systems, cellular telephones, anti-theft systems, air conditioning systems, sunroofs, automatic speed control systems.

In addition, Diamond customers enjoy all of our Convenience Benefits even while under their factory warranty.

NOTE: 1SourceAutoWarranty provides complete contract terms and provisions that may have additional information not contained herein. The contract purchased is the total and complete agreement between 1SourceAutoWarranty and the Service Contract Holder. It replaces, supercedes, and is controlling as to any and all e-mail, telephone conversations, or other correspondence between 1SourceAutoWarranty and the Service Contract Holder.
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Old 04-11-2002, 10:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,503
For an accurate historical record, I'd like to reiterate that Jack (jylee) is correct. The W140 S-class did not go to the V6 engine in 1998 like in the E and C-classes. The W140 continued to use the M104 3.2 liter inline 6 cylinder engine in the S320 until the end of the W140 model run in 1999.

Here is the link from the mbusa site:

I have mistakenly been stating in many posts that MB went to the V6 in all models starting in the 1998 model year, but I was wrong. For whatever reason, MB decided to continue to use the M104 engine until 1999. They must've had their reason, but I'm not sure what it was.

Some of us (including me) have criticized the M104 engine for its weaknesses, like head gasket oil leaks, but Mercedes apparently never saw the problem or maybe thought they had it fixed, as they used this engine in their most expensive and prestigious chasis until 1999.

You learn something new everyday.
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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