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Old 06-11-1999, 05:19 AM
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I am looking at purchasing a 90-92 SL Roadster. I am looking at these years because of price primarily

Having owned a new 1992 500 SEL, which was a nightmare of a car,I want to get the most basic, dependable, least expensive to maintain newer bodystyle roadster.

Would love to have a V8 but not sure the 6cyl isn't the best choice for me.

I live 60 miles away from an Authorized Mercedes service center, and those Mechanics that ARE local, wont touch my 1996 S500.
So, my goal is to get a Mercedes that can be serviced locally, by a mechanic I trust in my town, who doesn't have the computer systems, etc, required to work on the more technically advanced 1992 and newer S-Class.
Is this true for the SL roadsters?

Would like to hear everyones opinions, and advice on the matter.

I have a friend who's Mercedes Mechanic is selling his personal Black w/Grey leather, 1991 300SL with 90K, has bolster wear, console pieces broken, near perfect paint, new tires, all books and records, new transmission (common repair?)for $26,000, sounds like a good deal, but I am not opposed to paying more if there is a more reliable model or year.


Old 06-11-1999, 12:20 PM
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The introduction of the R129 in 1990 was the beginning of the so called high tech MB. What you are seeing now with your S500 much of that technolgy was first introduced in the 1990 R129 chassis. This is a very complex car and if you are worried about having it serviced by the local guy I would suggest that you cosult with him first. This is a very nice body style and I think that if you take the time to be very choosy about
picking one out you will love the car. My opinoin is that the 500 is the way to go.
Old 06-11-1999, 01:31 PM
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Thanks for your reply Corky.

I want to make sure I understand. My 1996 S500 has been relatively trouble free (not as much as I would like though), BUT my 1992 500SEL was NOT trouble free, and incurred OVER $20,000 of warranty repairs before the car had 35,000 miles. All I could think about at the time, was what if this car was out of warranty?

Are the 129 models from 1990 to 1992 more relaible than the 1992-1994 S-Class Sedans? Mind you I bought my 1992 500SEL new and pampered it (I guess you could say it was in as good a shape & as "well choosen" as one, can get a "high tech" Mercedes), yet it almost turned me off of Mercedes completely.

I kicked myself the whole time I owned it for not buying the Lexus LS400 for 40 grand less (though less exciting)that I looked at the day before.

If the early 129's are more reliable, why is that? Also, are the 6cyl's more/less/same reliable/trouble free as the V8 versions?

Thanks Again.
Old 06-12-1999, 12:40 AM
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OK, I'm a little touchy on this right now, but here goes: I bought a 90 300SL in Feb of this one month my #1 fuse blew and wouldn't take current...the rollbar warning light came on a month ago, and two weeks ago the seatbelts locked up solid...the same time every flick of the turn signal lit up every idiot light and pegs all the electric estimate (just an estimate) $3839.00....seatbelts HAVE to be replaced as the dealership WON'T attempt to repair due to liability---4hrs labor for each. I was informed my WHOLE instrument cluster was roasted....$1500.00 including labor. My independent mechanic checked the car out and gave it an A-OK before purchase. Now, after all this, Once I pay for it, all I can say is, aside from being absolutely sure of what you buy (other people's headaches), if you are used to POWER, go with the 500. I can stand on the gas in stop and go traffic and stop before I get near the car in front of me. Kinda scary when merging..... Nonetheless, I love the car...BUT, it IS my first of luck...
Old 06-26-1999, 11:12 PM
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Did your battery ever go dead?
Old 06-28-1999, 04:33 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 1,342
Being somewhat of a power-junky I'll vote SL500. The early (pre 92) cars are quite potent. It is high-tech, but so is about anything else desireable these days. I have not heard anything bad about the model as a whole. My driving experience is that they are sort of a poser GT. (but a world class one at that) They wont ride like your old W140, but they will be much more fun to drive. If your worried about maintenance or repair costs find a low mileage example and buy a Warrantech warranty for it. Terms and whatnot are individual specific, but for about $1500-$2000 you can get bumper to bumper coverage past 100K miles. Being that the cost of the warranty is less than the first major repiar bill (convertible top?) it can be money well spent. The V8 will not have to work as hard to move the car around. The 6 has to work much harder to move the somewhat porky W129.

Test drive, test drive, test drive. Spend as much time as you can in each of your prospective cars. After doing that, your next course of action will be much clearer. If you have any prepurchase questions we'd be glad to help.

Happy Hunting...Lee
92' Fire Breathing 500E
Old 06-28-1999, 05:13 AM
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Thanks Lee,

I DO appreciate you response.

As I noted before, my concerns are in getting the car repaired in a smaller town. It was a disaster scheduling and getting the 1992 500SEL to the shop 60 miles away.

My 1996 S500 has been a completely enjoyable car (with respect to repairs and problems)but, I am not looking to spend another $90K just yet. I wanted an earlier 129 model, thinking it would be relatively cheaper and might be less troublesome than the 1992/93 140's.

Funny you mention the Warrentech warranty, because thats what the Mercedes dealership recommended, and I got it on my 1996.

I hate to sound "gun-shy" but my 1992 500SEL with its myriad of problems and expenses, makes me leary of any pre 1994 "hightech" Mercedes.

It would appear the early 129's are not anymore reliable or less technical than the 1992 140 I had, which will make my enjoyment drastically reduced, and impossible to have repairs done locally.

Old 06-29-1999, 08:25 AM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
Posts: 59
Hello Lee, I saw your post about this company. Do you have a tel. number for them? I purchased a 92 500SEL about 3 months ago, is it too late to buy a warranty now for a car with 87,000 miles?

Fred Berry
Old 06-29-1999, 08:31 AM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
Posts: 59
Hello 300sdlguy,
As you can see from above I too have the same 92 500SEL and I would like to know what problems you had. If I can still get the warranty I would like to make sure I cover all the problems you had with yours. Currently my biggest concern is a hard thump sound when I go over say railroad tracks or large bumps. I am trying to figure out what is causing it. I am not sure if it is something to do with the automatic level control. Any help would be appriciated.

Fred Berry
Old 06-29-1999, 10:40 PM
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Where to start, first off, check the repair records of you 500SEL closely. If it hasnt already had the evaporator coil replaced, get ready, it will need one soon and at a cost of $3000-$3500.

Water pumps are weak, and the upgrade is recommended as my 1992 500SEL ran hot most of the time.

Power window swithes were replaced 4 times

Batteries were replaced 3 or 4 times I forget,

The 1992-93's eat front tires, three sets in 3 years (Mercedes paid for them, all over $600 a set).

There updated ball joints the really help with the constant "shimmy" I experienced with my '92. $500

I had some window regulator box in the trunk replaced, it senses the pressure on the windows as they go up, not allowing them to go up fully. $500

I had the entire guage cluster replaced (Hint: Dont have the key turned on if you jump the car to get is started, it will blow out the dash) $1500.00

Transmission needed constant adjustment, and linkage replaced. Also, could never get rid of the "rolling" after it was put into park, was told the 12" of "roll" was with-in spec's. Funny, my 1996 doesnt do that.

Trunk pull down and keyless lock didnt always work. Replaced the entire central locking system $4,000 (apparently you cant just replace one part, they whole system has to be updated)

Oil leaks, had several early on, but they seemed to have corrected them.

Some sensor that regulated the seat heaters wsa replaced, as whenever you started the car they would come on full blast.

A/C Fan switch replaced.

Some rubber piece on the throttle broke while driving on the freeway, making the accelerator innoperable, That was real fun!

Stereo Head unit replaced, dolby switch didnt work. $1000

Sometimes the reverse guides would retract sometimes they would not, never had anything done, as they always worked at the dealership.

This was all UNDER 3 years and 35,000 miles....SCARED YET?????

The last year I owned was relatively trouble free, but

Dont know if you can get a warranty with a car over 70,000 miles, at least not a warrentech.

Hopefully mine was the exception, but from what I have heard it was the norm.

Good luck
Old 06-30-1999, 10:09 AM
Mark Herzig's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 380
that's quite an impressive list of repairs! That's a real bummer and sorry to hear of your woes. The 500SEL has the 119 engine, correct? It sounds like most of your 'issues' were apart from the engine proper. All in all, are you pleased with the quality of the 119 itself?

Mark Herzig
1992 500E (82,000 miles)
1987 300SDL (105,000)

Old 06-30-1999, 12:13 PM
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I no longer have that vehicle, traded it in in the fall of 1995 for the 1996 S500 I presently own.

The engine itself seemed to work well, with the exception of a rough idle it did not mention that seemed to plague it from time to time.

The '92 only had 35,000 miles when I traded it in, so not sure of its longterm durability or reliability engine wise.

My 1996 has been a whole different experience. With the exception of high maintenance costs, it's been relatively trouble free.

I will be curious to see if the 2000 S-Class will be a repeat of the 1992-93 S-Class in terms of problems.

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