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Old 06-11-2002, 10:49 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 48
Question reliability of C series ???

I was wondering what everyone thought of the reliability of the C series. I have a 280 and have had the following problems.

Oxygen sensor - 480
Water pump - 560
Alignment components - $1100
Normal maintenance - oil etc...... $1000 - we drive it alot - mucho oil changes....

All this within the last year. I am wondering if I should get rid of it. Are these repairs common. On average what do people spend a year on repairs for this model? I am not impressed with the "reliability" of this vehicle yet.

C 280
96' 100,000 miles
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Old 06-11-2002, 12:46 PM
Posts: n/a
I have a 1996 C220. I am wondering the same things. In the last 6 months, I have had a head gasket & valve job $2100. New A/C compressor $2100 and control panel replaced inside $1500. My check engine light is on again for the third time in 2 months. What gives????? I have 143,000 miles that are highway miles, my mechanic says the car is good for another 100,000, but by then I can have another car paid for if the repairs continue.
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Old 06-11-2002, 02:09 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
In terms of overall long term repair/maintenance costs, the Mercedes C-Class is one of the least expensive "luxury" cars to own. Huh?

It depreciates less, and that's a biggie. But, as the miles pile on, things do break or require maintaining, but less so than most makes.

A Lexus ES300 with 250,000 kilometers (150K-miles) is a pretty tired car. I know a few owners with that kinda mileage, and they are facing some steep repair bills for suspension components, severly worn leather, charging system repairs, etc. Not unusual on ANY car with that odo reading.

The head gasket failure on the 1996 C220 is surprising to me. The M111 DOHC engine seems to have a very low failure rate for the head gasket, despite it's similar construction to the M104 engine.

Also, the AC compressor AND PBU? Hope no one's "throwing" parts at your car. The AC compressor is the variable pressure design, and has proven to be the most reliable system yet.

Maintaining any older car can come close in cost to the monthly lease payment of a new car if you're fussy. That's why people don't own their cars for more than a few years. I know a handful of C-Class owners that have kept their cars until past 250,000 kilometers, and they spend money keeping the cars in perfect condition, but no more than a Lexus owner.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 06-11-2002, 02:42 PM
David C Klasse's Avatar
CheFrac is Back!
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
Posts: 2,352
I have a 95 C280 with almost 130k miles. Car still runs like a champ! I have had only minor repairs:

1. Lower control arm bushings, 105k miles
2. O2 sensor, 80k miles
3. Front Flex disc, + plug wires and coil ends, 110k miles
4. OVP, 80k miles
5. Head Gasket, 60k miles = warranty

And a few other small, misc. items such as bulbs, belt buckle, and religious maintenance. I drive my C280 pretty hard, but with consistent maintenance/service, and she's still driving like brand new. I have had nothing but a great experience with the car.
2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

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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Old 06-12-2002, 05:33 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 530
Our 1995 was a lemon you name it , it broke. Our 1999 was great, never had a problem.

President Minuteman Section MBCA
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Old 06-12-2002, 09:45 AM
yosshimura's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Liberty City, FL
Posts: 653
Originally posted by jreynolds
?? I have 143,000 miles that are highway miles, my mechanic says the car is good for another 100,000, but by then I can have another car paid for if the repairs continue.
I think mechanics say that b/c it is guaranteed revenue for the next 100K miles, knowing there are going to be problems, I mean maintainance issues for another 100K miles .
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Old 06-12-2002, 10:09 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
We bought our '95 C220 in December of 1999 with 39K. It is now at 68K with only routine maintenance. I did the 60K service myself inlcuding the o2 sensor. It was a Starmark car so it was pretty much up to specs when we bought it.

The only thing I have replaced is the hazard switch of all things.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 06-12-2002, 11:59 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Potomac, Maryland
Posts: 29
1998 C230

47,000 miles. Car has been perfect except for a Mass Air Sensor replacement. Any car you are running up past 100k miles will need maintenance eventually. I am expecting brake rotor replacement in the future as well as possibly a O2 sensor. The great thing about these cars is that even when they have a maintenance issue, they still run. I do not anticipate being left on the side of the road in the future with this car. The posts I have seen indicate these cars have a solid engine/transmission well past 100k/120k/140k.
1998 C230
1994 Infiniti J30T
1984 BMW 318i
1987 VW Golf GT
1975 Buick LeSabre Conv.
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Old 06-12-2002, 02:01 PM
Posts: n/a
I have a '97 C230 that I bought last Summer with 111 000Km. Since I bought it, I've replaced 1) the battery = $300.00 for diagnostics + battery; 2) belt tensioner shock = $120.00 part and labour; 3) MAS = $700.00 part / labour; and have had regular maintenance. Other parts were replaced as a condition of buying the car: brakes; tires; ball joints; windsheild (had a crack). Despite the repairs, I love the car. It's a solid piece of German machinery!

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Old 06-12-2002, 03:56 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492

1. Did you try recharging the battery? Thanks to all the electo-gizmos on these cars, battery life seems to be about 4-5 years. Mine was pulling only 9.4V at 300A, so I had the dealer recharge the battery for a cost of $44. So far so good...

2. The belt tensioner and shock is a maintenace item, and seem to last about 4-5 years, regardless of mileage. Innovative method for ensuring the belt is always at it's proper tension, and I would guess it really extends belt life, as my serpentine belt looks like brand new at 118,000 km's.

3. The MAS is a known failure part on almost all late-model MB's, and other cars too. The price we pay for unltra-low-emissions. Our Mazda 626 required one, and the price blew me AWAY. $1300 for the part alone. Thankfully, the dealer had a near-new one of a wrecked 626, and actually gave it to us for free. Find an MB dealer that would do the same...
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 06-12-2002, 04:20 PM
Posts: n/a

How are thing in good 'ol St Albert. I was out there a couple of years ago visiting / working with a colleague. Nice part of the the country!!
To answer your question, the techs reported that they did attempt to charge the battery but that it just wouldn't hold a charge. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they actually tried to charge it. As for the belt tensioner shock, one can't get too upset about a relatively inexpensive repair. Also, with respect to the MAS, my independent tech allowed me to drive around with a brand new MAS for a week without paying for it. He wanted to make sure that this is what was causing the engine light to come on. Sure enough, it was and I just drove in and payed for it. This is the kind of service that will keep me comming back. I know that this shop will not throw parts into my car unless it really needs them. BTW, for those of you who live in and around Canada's capital city (and no, I'm not talking about Toronto), the shop is called the Young Street Garage on Booth St in Ottawa. They specialize in Volvo, MB and Volkswagen and have been around for > 20 years. In fact, the original owner (the shop is now run by his son) worked at Mercedes in Stuttgart Germany.

Take care.
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Old 06-12-2002, 06:51 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
I have a 97 C280 with 89k miles. Not a single thing has been done to the car other than maintenance by the book, no headgasket, not even a switch.

Now watch mine blow up tommorrow.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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