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Old 04-23-1999, 10:03 AM
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I have narrowed my purchasing choice down to an 87-90 420SEL. Are there any inherant problems with the 87-90 420's that I should know about? Mechanically is the 4.2 as bulletproof as everyone says the 3.0 is? I want to drive this car for quite some time and want to be sure this is the best choice.

Any and all input will be greatly appreciated!!

[This message has been edited by Guss (edited 02-28-2000).]

Old 04-23-1999, 01:17 PM
Jim Collins
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I've had a 420SEL, 1988, for about a month and have put about 3500 miles on it. It had 120K when I bought it. Most of the problems I've found are minor things due to the neglect of the previous owner. I've heard all the stuff about timing chains and don't think it's any more serious than on any other car with a little mileage. I have a friend with a Lexus that just changed a timing belt at 80K, so I'm not worried about my MB. I do intend to it check around 140K or so but so far, the engine makes no odd rattles or sounds and runs great. I had all the fluids changed and put in 5w50 Synthetic Oil. It hasn't used a drop in 3500 miles and has no leaks of any kind. Based on my limited experience, I'd say this is a great car! It's the best car I've ever owned, and I intend to put another 120k on it, at least!
Old 04-24-1999, 08:14 PM
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There are always inherent problems on any car, so the newer the car the more design problems are figured out & redesigned. So go with the newest of the models, always have any used car checked over by a M.B. shop BEFORE purchase. The newer cars have a better radio & sound system

Old 04-25-1999, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for the response, but indulge me with one follow-up inquiry please. Not knowing for sure what advancements were made between the 1987 420SEL and the 1989 420SEL, I would like to ask you educated opinion. The two front runners for my purchasing dollars are an 87 420SEL with 76,000 miles and an 89 420SEL with 114,000 miles. Your last response makes me feel that the latter may be the best choice. My instincts tell me the former would be best. Please help enlighten me as to which you would choose and why?


Old 04-25-1999, 05:18 PM
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As a reminder, any and all insight from MB experienced owners, drivers, and technicians will be greatly appreciated!



[This message has been edited by Guss (edited 04-25-99).]
Old 04-25-1999, 08:04 PM
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As the owner of 2 S-Class MB's, I'll give you some tips on what to look for. Check the operation of the climate control system in all its settings. If you are unfamiliar with the MB automatic climate control used during those years, read the owner's manual. It can be very expensive to repair if not working properly. Check the operation of all the windows, sunroof and power locks. Check the transmission does not leak. Make sure the engine idles smoothly. Remember to floor it during the test drive so that it takes off in 1st gear. V-8 loves to shift at the redline. Check under the mat in either side of the trunk. The rear window seal usually leaks with age and rust develops unseen under the mat. Check all around the door window rails where the weather strip is. Water usually accumulates there and the door frame rusts. Check under the hood where the A-Pillar is. Leaves and dirt accumulate there and if not cleaned for a long time the base of the A-pillar will rust. Of course, you won't know until is too late since it is in an area that is hardly seen. A broken dashboard or leather seats are ugly and expensive to replace. With regular maintenance, these vehicles are bulletproof but expensive to maintain. Take your time and find a nice example from the many that are out there.
Old 04-25-1999, 08:28 PM
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There were many changes in the 1988 model year, including suspension & ride modifications. 1988 & later cars have a sound system including door speakers & amplifiers. In 1991 the radio/sound system was set up for a factory CD option. Also the interior was slightly "nicer" w/soft leather. THE most important thing about any car is PREVIOUS maintence, have it checked out!!

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