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Old 07-18-2002, 06:49 PM
Posts: n/a
As a mercedes owner, I have had to GIVE UP my nitpickiness long time ago. Can't afford to be nitpicky anymore - the damn car has SO MANY problems! I have learnt to ignore many things. Its not a Honda or a Toyota where you can go after every single problem, since there will be so few! After all, its a mercedes.

Pardon my sarcasm, but its time to face the reality and stop deluding ourselves. Lets call a spade a spade. The best car of the last 100 years is very unlikely to be anywhere near the best the next 20. Nobody is questioning the past of Mercedes, its the future which is seriously in doubt. Its already turning into a rebadged CHrysler!
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Old 07-18-2002, 06:54 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 18,745
Someone already pointed out the key issue that MB fell from the top of the survey. The survey cannot be so badly flawed that MB falls from first to last if everyone else is pretty much in the same place. MB had to have a hand in that.

No one expects a Ferrari or Rolls Royce to be reliable. Certainly not anyone who's ever owned one. But just about everyone who owned an MB made up to 10 years ago can attest to the marque's reliability. Why should those folks expect or be expected to make more trips to the service department? You can argue that the MB badge on some of these later examples is false advertising. Before the Starmark program, few needed a Starmark program. It's sad to see folks have to pay for something MB used to give for free. Maybe next we'll see optional life insurance in place of sturctural integrity.

91 300SE
87 300SDL
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Old 07-19-2002, 06:27 AM
Posts: n/a
I have gotten in on this thread late and I offer my apology to others for not reading everything in the thread.

Keith Lucy,

I find your comments a bit confusing. You bantered with David C. Klasse regarding the C Class and attacked the car based on it's lack of long life. There are indeed reasons to consider the car "crap" as you put it. If you prefer large, expensive cars, the C Class may indeed seem like "crap" to you. But, if you are saying the C Class is "crap" based on lack of long life, that dog won't hunt.

The C Class cars, even the worst of them, probably are capable, on average, of having a longer life than your big bodied car regardless of whether the owner takes extremely good care of the car or not.

The big bodied cars, specifically the V8's (you are aware that your car has a V8 aren't you, that's one with a row of four spark plugs on each side) are typically more complex and often with expensive to repair sub-systems such as automatic level control and such. They don't sell as many of these type cars, thus they don't have the power in numbers necessary to really perfect and reduce the cost of such sub systems. Additionally because of the lower production numbers they don't have as many units for which they can ammortize such development costs.

The V8's are most definitely prone to timing chain related failures that are EXPENSIVE to take care of.

Don't get me wrong, I like the big bodied cars even though I have never owned one. Mike Tangas is a perfect example of a big bodied Benz lover. He is fully aware of the additional problems that he must contend with and he contends with them. But, he is fully aware of this going in. He also appreciates the solidity and robustness of these cars more than the fact that he looks cool driving it (and believe me, I've seen his big bodied car and it does look cool!)

You, on the other hand, I expect have not driven a big bodied Benz long enough to know what you are faced with. Additionally I expect that you have NEVER driven a C Class.

David C. Klasse is a regular long time, interesting poster. I think it was rude of you to make such a statement. And I think he showed much more "Klasse" and restraint than myself in responding to you.

Now after you have driven YOUR car 150,000 miles, I would ask you to report back to David with your expenses and experience with your expensive car and compare longevity with him. This is regardless of who turns the wrenches on your car. You do know what a wrench is don't you? Have your fingernails ever been dirty?

I'm sorry to get carried away here, but I find your demeanor quite annoying, just as many here probably find my demeanor to be annoying. An apology to David would go very far toward your redemption.

Have a great day,
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Old 07-19-2002, 08:19 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: SW Colorado USA
Posts: 296
Good news! They figured out my drivability problem on the S600 First they tried the coil and plugs, then a shot in the dark with fuel injectors. Finally after the tech gave it some thought they ruled out the injectors. This is where the utter complexity of the car contributed to the difficulty of the diagnoses. The new V12 runs on one bank of 6 cylinders under light load. Part of this system is a valve in the exhaust that closes to keep the cats warm and keep the exhaust note normal among other things I am sure. It was stuck closed due to a broken clamp. My big burly V12 was exhausting through a straw choking itself off.

Back to the JDP deal. I went to their site and ran a comparison. I selected 10 cars, S,E,C,and M class Benzes along with the Lexus, Acura, a Caddilac, a Chysler, a BMW and something else. Then they allow tou to choose what features are important to you and rate the catagories for importance. The results were generally pretty good for MB. Naturally the Lexus was on top each time but, it was generally followed by either the E or S class in second place. The Benz cars always did the best when performance and style were high priorities. I think this illustrates Ashmanns point. When you compare somewhat like models the MB products fair very well. I would have to agree that comparing an S500 to an Accord isn't a fair comparison considering the level of gadgets on a top of the line model. When the top is compared with a like competitor MB is in the game. It would be my desire to see them at the TOP of the game like they once were.
1995 G320
1984 280GE
1971 Unimog 416
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Old 07-19-2002, 11:04 AM
Keith Lucy
Posts: n/a
Sorry if I came off as annoying.

To answer a few of your questions -

Yes, I do know what a V8 is, Yes, I do know what a wrench is and, Yes, my finger nails have been dirty.

I understand that the big bodied cars are typically more complex than the small ones for the reasons you sighted, and the costs to repair these items may add up. But if a car is designed for reliability, and not to fit a price point, then the probability of incurring these repairs can be lower, if the engineers do their job. I am an engineer, and know that through re-use, you can achieve the "numbers necessary to really perfect and reduce the cost". The W126 body style spanned 13 model years (1979-1991). While the body sizes and engines may have been different, there is quite a bit of re-use if many of the subsystems. The simplicity of many of these systems, and there modularity lead directly to lower repair costs. I purposely bought the last model year in order to maximize the likelyhood of a defect free car. So far, so good.

For the record, I have driven a "C" class. I test drove a 200 C280 and was so unimpressed, I went for the 1991 560SEL. I have also driven a 2001 E430 (brothers car). It is a very nice car, that he bought on my recommendation, but sorry, I don't have $50,000 to spend on a car.

If two cars rolled off the assembly line today, one was a 1991 W126, and the other was a 2002 W202/W203, which one would rate higher on the JD power survey?
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Old 07-19-2002, 12:44 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Glad to hear that they are on the way to solving your car's problems.

As to the recent post by Larry Bible, I agree. David's been a significant contributor to our little world here, and has shown a maturity and enthusiasm beyond his years.

As to the C-Class, I don't understand beating it up. The W202 version was the model ranked as the most reliable and trouble free of the Mercedes line-up during it's tenure. Even outfits like Consumer Reports rated it very high.

Having owned mine for only five years, I can't comment on the "decade" plus potential, but so far it's a truly "perfect" car. At 122,000 kilometers (~76,000 miles) it's been trouble free and wonderfully reliable.

Mercedes can't sell a 240D today. Not a chance. It would be expensive and other than a core group of MB nuts, wouldn't sell worth a darn. No airbags? No ABS? No traction control? Lousy stereo? Tepid AC? No passing power?

Mercedes faces much stiffer competition than ever before. Automotive reliability has increased dramatically in the last 15 years, and even a Lexus LS430 isn't really any more reliable (maybe less?) than a Toyota Corolla. So how to differentiate? Features? Seems to be the way companies are going right now.

Mercedes would be laughed at if they re-introduced the W126. 238hp from 5.6L? Four speed automatic? No multi-zone ACC? Two airbags? And so on...

While the W126 560SEL suits YOU better, it's a matter of taste. I have seat time in a W126 LWB, and find it a VERY nice car to drive, but it's not my cup of tea. The car is plain too big and ponderous for me. The fuel economy/performance ratio is terrible, especially compared to newer designs. It's not for everyone.

It would be impossible to determine which, a 1991 SEL or 2000 C-Class that would perform tops in JD Power. Your question sounds rhetorical, assuming the W126 would win. Why? I know many C-Class owners, some with astronomical mileage, that have been more than happy with their cars.

And btw, if you're wondering how your original comment comes across, it makes it sound as if anyone that chooses a C-Class is somehow dumb.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 07-19-2002, 02:21 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 230
Originally posted by G-Man
My big burly V12 was exhausting through a straw choking itself off.
When I first heard that this system was in use in the S600 I thought for sure that it wouldn't be very reliable. It sounds great on paper but it reminds me of the Cadillac V-8-4, where it shut down the cylinders as needed.
1985 500SEL 124k miles
2001 Honda Civic EX
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Old 07-19-2002, 02:44 PM
Posts: n/a
There's been some discussion about the C-class here. I had a chance to drive a brnad new C240 for 3 days as a loaner recently. Before that, I twice got a C230 Compressor (I think it was 99) as a loaner, with about 22K miles. The C230 compressor (99) felt much more solid, engine was obviously better, ergonomics inside were better, overall, it was a better car. I just didn't like the C240 - the interior is not that nice, some controls are awkwardly placed, engine is underpowerd, etc. I have also recently driven the Audi A4, A6, and the BMW 3-series. All of them (of course, A6 is in a different class) are much nicer than the C, even the A4. 2 of my friends drove the C, then bought the Audi A4. Two others bought the BMW 3-series, ditched the C. One bought a lexus ES300.

What is most revealing in a market place is the decisions consumers make, not what they say. Of course, not all customers are rational, but as a group, there is fair amount of rationality - not everyone is a fool, only few, maybe. So if many people are preferring the A4 and 3-series to the C, and the lexus, that says something about the product (and its pricing too). And this is just within the German brands. There are many others who are not so concerned about the brand, who don't even consider the mercedes C class. Mind you, my comments are restricted to the C class (and the M), not the E or the S. The E and the S are in a different category and price range, but the C - its not doing Mercedes proud. Its nowhere near the most desirable car in the 30-35K range.

I am not implying that people who buy the C are less informed or anything like that. Its just that fewer and fewer people are buying the C. The less brand conscious customers are going elsewhere. THose who REALLY want to own a mercedes are still flocking to the C. But brand values change, and nobody here would disagree what direction the Mercedes brand is headed. Maybe we'll soon see the E-class taxi cabs here as well, as they are all over Europe!
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Old 07-19-2002, 03:02 PM
David C Klasse's Avatar
CheFrac is Back!
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Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
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I know what you mean, there are certain (very small, and when it really boils down - irrelevant) features that Mercedes models have been "behind." The 1995 E-class still had a mechanical rolling odometer... when most cars were already switching over to digital. But, really, WHO CARES?
Just one example. I know what you mean... it's kind of irritating and an inconvenience... how often are you going to be driving from state to state, USING the NAV system, and actually have to switch the CD... not often. But you MIGHT, there's that SLIM, once (or twice...) in a lifetime momentary 'interruption.'

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 07-19-2002, 04:04 PM
Posts: n/a
Heck, Honda Accord offers a voice activated DVD based navigation system now. Acura has had a touch screen DVD based navigation system for years. Why does mercedes still have a CD-ROM based toggle switch driven navigation system? You need about 10 CDs to cover the US alone, and you may need to change CD's if you go from one state to another. No such hassle in the Accord or the Acuras. Why is mercedes behind these guys? Why can't it be in the forefront of technology? And navigation systems are not useless devices. Like antilock brakes, airbags (and wipers some 50 years ago - yes, wipers were optional accessories in the first half of this century!!!!), etc, navigation systems are going to be standard accessories in most cars in 10 years. Then why is Mercedes behind others???????????
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Old 07-19-2002, 07:42 PM
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Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Originally posted by agupta
...Its just that fewer and fewer people are buying the C. The less brand conscious customers are going elsewhere.
Not sure about elsewhere, but in Canada, the W203 C-Class is smashing sales records. For C240 Classic cars with popular equipment, it can be months to wait for one.

The W202 C-Class started to fade a bit during it's tenure, but a 1998 facelift caused a sales jump. Only when the W203 announcement came did things drop off, in expectation of the newer model.

BMW is on a roll, but MB is right there with them. Audi is an also ran in this race. The A4 is a success, but not the steamroller in the market it could be. Resale values still suck, which scares some off. Lexus has done well with the ES300, but it's a bit of a horse of a different colour. The IS300 is their BMW/MB fighter, and it's quality has been pretty spotty, indeed the lowest of all Lexus products.

Watch the new Inifiniti G35. RWD, big power, good quality, and LOW price. Could be a BMW/MB sales stealer.

The C-Class W203 has done well in magazine comparision tests, but drops back when price is factored in. The most prevalent comment is "the car to buy for long term ownership." They also praise the car for it's high quality and stylish looks. It's just a bit overpriced. (Which I feel the C320 is in a big way...)

My Aunt has a 2001 C240, and she is NOT a person to buy a used car from. She does NOT look after her cars, but the C240 has held up well, with not a single warranty repair in two years.

If MB Canada brings a W203 diesel in, our E300 is GONE...
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 07-19-2002, 11:26 PM
Jason M.
Posts: n/a
Hello Everyone... its been a while since I've posted....
Not to get too far off topic, but in response to the gentleman who brought up the valid point of Toyota's 3 million car wide oil sludging problem:

A car (late model toyota camry) came into the shop 2 months ago, for a rear seal to be replaced. I decided that I was better equiped to pull the engine than to drop the transaxle because I lacked a transmission cradle. While I had the engine out,I noticed that the oil pan gasket also looked suspicious, and pulled the pan off... Wow was I surprised! The incredible amounts of sludge found in this engine was unbelievable... on the counterbalance assembly, the crank shaft and rods, I pulled the valve cover and saw ALL of the holes that allowed oil to drain back out of the head were clogged, the valve train was CAKED in carbonized oil, and the leaks that occured around the entire engine were caused by the positive crankcase ventillation system being completely plugged, causing excess pressure in the crank case... what a friggin mess on a 4 year old car... ( with good service records!)
To prove it, I have a 36 exposure roll of pictures that I took, both out of amazement, and also to be able to show the customer and future customers... Needless to say, he spend a bit of extra cash at the shop having the carbon and sludge removed.

MB has its problems, I believe most stem from complexity... and the cost of dealer service. I still think they are beautiful cars, and would purchase a used one, mainly because I can get a number of parts at this site, that are not stocked by my wholesaler. Really, this site makes it alot easier for all of us to own MB's and I'm thankful that I could refer to it on a number of occasions.
BTW, The Snapon man just showed me the cartridge and scanner ends/pigtails that can be used on latemodel MBs... Looks like I wont have to rely on generic OBD II... I figure I'll pick it up in a few weeks.
Glad to be back!
Jason McNeese

BTW... I managed to pass ASE A1 (Engine Assembly), A6(Electronics Diagnosis), and A8 (Engine Performance) last may... hopefully I'll find an opening at a dealer soon, this independant thing gets alittle old (lack of dealer/factory info while troubleshooting drivability problems)
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Old 07-24-2002, 04:49 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 709
I think there are a few points that need to be made here...the MB cars are actually less expensive than there were 10 years ago and they have more features...the savings had to come from somewhere!!...even figuring the large discounts that some cars sold for in the 80-90's...todays MB's are less expensive...the new 210 was less expensive than the car it replaced and had more I think the new S-class took a dip in qaulity of interior materials...sure I do...but the price is on par with my car(sticker) that is 10 years older....I think MB had to face reality...were people willing to pay the price?...especially in the face of a new stiff competitor called Lexus....if you factor the money value for time..the new S-class would have been over 100K!!! there a mass market for a car like that?....a company has to make money to stay viable...most of the people on this site own vehicles from the 80' I would gather than MB would not be counting on this group(other than parts,maybe..because it seems that almost no one here takes their car to the dealer for service) to sell NEW cars they had to make a I think the NEW MB's are worth the money...absolutely

my .002

1992 300SD 144K
Columbus Ohio
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Old 07-25-2002, 07:35 AM
Posts: n/a

I am amazed and confused about your statement indicating that the C240 is down on power and inferior to the previous generation car. I am curious if you were driving an automatic or a stick.

My C240, 6 speed is not real fast, but it FEELS much faster than it is. A friend of mine who drives a Corvette has ridden with me several times going to lunch. He also has ridden in MY Corvette going to lunch. Every time he has ridden in my C240,(a six speed) he asks if it is as fast as my Corvette. There is no way, not even in the same ballpark, but the C FEELS faster than it really is.

The engine is as smooth as an electric motor all the way to the redline. If you really want power, you get it above 3,000 RPM.

As for the solidity, I am also amazed. Comparing a 202 to 203 is absolutely an apples to oranges comparison IMHO.

Also, in the summer of 2000 just before buying my C class that fall, I drove a sport suspensioned A4 several thousand kilometers on the German Autobahn and into Switzerland. It was a decent handling car, but topped out at about 215 or 220 km/hour. But, these are front wheel drive cars with all the quirks that come with front wheel drive. Again, this is comparing oranges to apples.

A coworker who lives in Milan, goes through an A4 every several years. He loves them and thinks they're really reliable, but it seems that they are always in the shop. He drove me from Milan to Switzerland last October in his last A4 and had his new one on order because he was having trouble with the one he was driving. It had electrical problems and was burning oil. It would not start without trying it a dozen times or so. At that point it had 150,000 km! I've never had a Benz, any Benz that was even broken in well at 150,000 km.

As far as comments about brands go, and people buying a C so it is an MB may be true for some, but I buy a Benz because they are solid and last a long time. I drive 60,000 miles per year so my cars MUST last a long time.

I really don't know what is driving your evaluation, but if you will pardon me, it doesn't sound objective to me.

Have a great day,
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Old 07-25-2002, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I don't know if I have read all the posts in this thread, I kept hoping it would go away.

This is not a technical discussion. it is a beauty contest. Just like in ice skating I prefer speed skating to figure skating. I have no use for criteria based upon judgement rather than performance. J.D.Powers and all the other people that make statistics are free to get whatever results suit them. The way the question is asked changes the answer almost every time. The democrats poll and get 75% for 25% against, the Republicans get just the opposite. Its all BS.

If you took a poll of technicians you would get entirely different results. They would probably all agree that people that buy expensive cars are more critical. Many would probably agree that acceptance of new players like Lexus probably is a lot "sour grapes". But the most important thing they would tell you is that the new technology is scary and it doesn't matter what car you buy, they all have some of it. To condemn a car because of reoccuring problems with cellular phones and navigation systems makes my laugh. When they put radar in the back with the patriot missiles they probably will do a better job than the milliary, its probably easier technology.

Consumer desires have brought the car we have today. Consumers will have to learn to reboot the thing just like we all accepted that with our PC technology.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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