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Old 04-07-1999, 03:00 PM
Lee Scheeler
Posts: n/a
I recieved an email from an individual named Mike Mullins today. Unfortunately the email he sent me did not have a valid reply address. However I would like to address his question here so that it may help him and others who may have had similar questions.

-----Original Message-----

>As an owner of a 400e can you give me some pointers about what to look for
>in buying a user 400e?
>Have owned 114's and a 108 in the past. Prosche owner now, but looking to
>replace my Camry with a 124 series. Looked a a 300 3.2 last nite, rode
>wasn't even put away.
>Looking at a 93 400e tonight w/ 89 K .
>Looking for tips besides the check of records and such.
>Do you have a phone # I could talk to you?
>Mike Mullins

Hi Mike,
Actually I'm selling mine! I'm in the Atlanta area if your interested.
It is the car featured in the 400E review and I have a bunch more pics if
you would like me to email you some. 93, silver/black, CD changer, 73K
miles, perfect shape.....It has all the MB books/recs and I have a personal
record right down to every tankful of gas that car has had since I've owned
it. If you have read my detailing articles on the website you can imagine
what it looks like. Assuming your looking at a used 400E here are some easy
things to look at......What you need to look for in a used 400E are good
records. The in-between services are not as important but the ones that
occur every 15K and especially the 30K ones are crucial. One simple and
very effective tip is open the hood and look at the valvetrain. (with engine
off of course) Open the hood, unscrew the oil-cap, and peek inside. A well
maintained engine will be shiny and bright. The more brownish discoloration
you see the worse it has been treated. Dont run from one with a little
color, but it is a barometer of how it has been kept. You can also do the
"dollar bill" test. Take a 1 or 5 dollar bill out of your wallet, open a
door, then close the door and try and move the bill around. A good car the
bill might move a little bit but definitly not slide easily. A bad hit will
leave areas where it will slip in and out easily. Do this will all the
doors. Hopefully the paint will be spotless so you can look deeply into it
to see if the orange peel of the paint matches on all panels. You can also
feel the doorjams...if you feel a ridge that wont rub off with a finger then
that panel has likely been repainted. That isn't 100% as some people don't
detail the jams well and you can get a buildup of crud, but it is a warning
sign. Driving tests: while going down a level road in a straight line let
go of the wheel. the car should track straight for a long time or until it
hits any crown or pavement irregularity. A further test of this "tightness"
is to hit the brakes while doing the above test. (not panic stop but
firmly) A car that is still very tight should track straight and not want
to veer left or right. Your ear is a good tool as well. A few small or
minor rattles are no big deal, but if the whole car shakes and buzzes like a
honda then its been hit or abused. If it is no big deal to you could you
post this same message on the public board on the site? There may be others
who have the same question. The tips I've outlined above apply to virtually
all models. Oh, one thing that IS 400E specific....try to make sure that
the coolant has been flushed and the cooling system maintained. The V8s run
a bit hotter than the 6's and the strain on the cooling system (if not
properly maintained) can cause overheating problems. With the alloy
valvetrain you can easily do megabuck damage to the engine quite easily with
heat problems. The radiator should ALWAYS be shiny and metallic. If you
have any doubts but are still very interested you can take it to a good
independent mechancic. Good luck tonight and if it doesn't work out I'd be
happy to show you my car. If you still have any questions email me back and
I'll give you my number.

Hope this helps....Lee

Old 04-12-1999, 04:16 PM
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the reply.
I own a Porsche not a prosche as before. I sold that car to an unsuspecting moron.
Anyway here is the gist on the 400E I looked at.

It was a 92 with 89,516 Miles
Second Owner, owned since 38K
Right Side Repainted from back door to core support. Owner had no knowledge of repair.
Minute paint overspray on window rubber in R/R door. R/F door had small sand scratches (View in Bright daylight or High shop lights only)
R/F fender not noticeable until I opened Pass door. 3 Bolts holding back of Fender still loose. Bolt on fender under hold showed primer in a couple of areas where it didn't line up from before. Overspray on hood shock and hose (barely noticable)

Core support missing decals and showed repair.

overall excellent repair and paint match.

Mechanical Issues:

Out of Alignment, outside edge of tire worn.(Tire was low which I thought was reason for pulling to left. I rotated tires good 2 in front bad in back. Adjusted pressure all around. Still Pulls.

Chassis checkout:

Struts starting to seep at top. Front rotors were worn beyond limit. Hot spots and uneven wear. Starting to Crack. rest of suspension in excellent shape.

Rear Diff cover leaking.

Rear Main Seal starting to leak, 10-12 oil trails.
Oil Pressure sending unit leaking.
Valve Cover starting to leak.
Engine otherwies very clean and idled smoothly. Valve Cover oil filler check showed excellent lobe wear and bright finish.

Battery: 1 cell low, 1 med 4 same on Hygrometer check. (MB Battery)

Had good records, Factory Maintenance manuals
Outstanding car, Inside and out, Smoke silver
,Palimino Interior, CD Changer, Dual Air Bags,Toolkit never opened. No ASR or Heated Seats.


Couldn't agree on price, Most items were I my estimation saftey related which would have to be replaced. (Brakes, Tires, struts, (should do shocks as well). I had issue with oil leaks as I like to use Mobil1. Paint and body work not a big issue other than not knowing more about the damage.

Car needs a better gear in the rear. Not much on takeoff response.

Old 04-12-1999, 07:21 PM
Lee Scheeler
Posts: n/a
Take the asking price and deduct for what needs to be done or at least use that as negotiating leverage. Some people are more picky than others but if there isn't any frame damage you can forgive a panel or paintwork. You hit the nail right on the head with the screwed up gearing! Mercedes saw fit to geld the 400E with a 2.24:1 rear differential. 50 in first, 85 in second, 135 in third, tops out by drag around 150-155 in 4th. All I can say is thank goodness for the transmission shift gate. Without that bit of control the transmission would really be a pain in the butt.(the transmission and the driver don't always agree upon which gear is appropriate) It is as if Mercedes did all they could to impair the performance of that machine. MB DOC, Benzmac, ANYONE....does anyone really know why they put such a tall diff on it? Only reason that seems logical is to keep market interest far away from the 500E or for fuel economy reasons. Still it is a helluva powerplant hooked to a tight chassis. Given the gearing the car does not do so well off the line but its passing prowess makes up for some of it. Want to pass on the highway? Kick it down into SECOND at 65 and watch as the needle twists into triple digits very quickly. Kickdown at 25 mph is also impressive. It has its quirks but is one of the most stealth sporty sedans out there considering it has nothing to distinguish it from a 177hp 300E except a 1" 4 where the 3 is.

Just my opinion....Lee
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