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  #31  
Old 12-10-2002, 07:27 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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The problem that MB may run into is perception, not matter how close/far to reality it is.

If Consumer Reports starts beating on them, and J.D. Powers ranks them low, then MB may begin to feel the effect on the showroom. More than a few people look to those reports as a key part of their buying research.

The next problem is brand loyalty. It ain't what it used to be. Take our family. I'm a Mercedes die-hard, but there is little chance that my wife will have her side of the garage filled with an MB product. Her 1998 E300 was a terrible car. Terrific to drive, and fun when it wasn't in the shop, but as time went by, those days were fewer. And she counsels everyone she knows not to buy a Mercedes. Is her car a rare event? Maybe, but it doesn't sway her. She doesn't care that my C230 is reliable to a fault.

With the cost of new cars so high, it's a risky proposition to "take a chance" on something that might not turn out to be reliable. The number of $10K repair possibilities is too high.

I met a young woman at the dealership waiting for her 2002 CL230K. She was PO'ed. The car had been back many times, and she was ready to sell it and buy back her 'ol Corolla. She was a partership-track attorney, and will probably be in E-Class or S-Class budget territory in the next few years. Think she'll be at the MB dealership? Not on your life.

Now these are ancedotal evidence at best, and not scientific in any way. That said, I see more of these disgruntled customers than I used to. Of course, MB volume is up, too. But, I don't think the dealers are ready for the new type of customer MB is attracting. They have no brand loyalty. They feel strongly that the Japanese products are of high quality, and have no memories of early Civics or Corollas.

Now, here's my wife's dilemma. Toyota has sludge problems, and in Canada you're on the hook for the bill, no help from Toyota. Well, that scares her as far as Lexus/Toyota goes. Nissan/Infiniti products look interesting, especially the new G35 Coupe or 350Z. But, the cars are untested and she won't drop $50K or more on a new model. No way. Acura? Well, our WORST car ever was an Acura, dead on it's wheels at 90,000 miles. A friend of ours has had more than a few five-speed auto box problems. The TL is a better price, in the mid 40's, but still lots of bucks to take a chance on a defective product. Mazda uses Ford bits and we hear their reliability on non-Miata products sucks.

Well, she threw up her hands! We decided to just keep the 'ol 190E and see how far she can go without needing a big cash infusion. In the meantime, we have the "new car" down-payment money in the bank and no car payment. Kinda nice.
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  #32  
Old 12-11-2002, 08:04 AM
LarryBible
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I can promise that if you were to hang around ANY brand of service department, you can hear these horror stories.

If you were to sit in the veterinarians waiting room and talk to a few people, it would be real easy to get the idea that all dogs are sick. You are in the place where the people with sick dogs tend to gather. You are not seeing the zillions of healthy dogs that are going after the newspaper, or chasing a stick for their master.

Nothing is perfect and ALL manufacturers make defective products whether they admit it or not. It's only natural that when someone goes through one of these horror stories, they don't want to buy another car from that manufacturer again.

Have a great day,
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  #33  
Old 12-11-2002, 09:35 AM
it leaks, its german
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: raleigh nc
Posts: 1,111
Quote:
if the last year of a production run for a car is the nicest/best what about the first year of the production run?

Touchy subject with any manufacter, some are better than others. Its largly dependant on the volume of "new stuff" on the product. For example, when chevy first updated the 1500 truck in 99 in was largly new, biggest issue was frame repair from weak frames. Small accidents required frame replacement. You cant buy repair sections for the 99, only frames, in 2000, repair sections became available, why? Because they fixed the frame. I remember the 93 Mazda 626 4 cly auto's, la4el tranny, ford design. I think we replaced 90% of them under warrenty, and the rest under "goodwill" around 60k. (nice tranny, chucks its innards without warning and costs around 3k to replace and thats on a 20k car)

As a general rule a car at the end of its production run is the most "sorted out" and therefore the most reliable mechanically. However, the instant that new model is introduced you take a 20-30% hit in resale values. Personally, I'd never buy the "first run" of anything if I can avoid it.


Quote:
LarryBible joe p, I just want to thank you for the very informative and insightful post.
Your welcome. Like I said, there is a ass for every seat, sit in what you like.

BTW, on the subject of the "bad" 140, if I am reading the trunklid right, thats a 350sdl. If you's had a prepurchase done by a QUALIFIED shop, you'd have known those were a problematic model. I'd have advised you to get a S320 instead, 94 to 99. Which BTW, is the one I want and I work on 'em for a living.

(I like 124's and 210s as well, but at 6'6" fit in a 140 better. Not to mention being the lazy bastage I am, like the features and comfort of the battleship)

The way I see it, 99% of problems with a car that is "preowned" can be avioded by simply picking the right car. Avioding problems with new product is a bit more complex, whan was the last time ya'll read a owners manual? I remember the biggest warrenty complaint we had with the 92 929 was the trunk remote release, no one ever read the damn manual and had no clue the valet switch was in the console. Needless to say, they would be in the service lane raisin hell about their trunk not working remotly on their 30k Mazda. Only to have it repaired in 10 seconds by turning it back on. (which is damn near imposible to do without embarrassing the client)

Only thing I can say is take the time to learn the features your car has and the proper way to use them, then complain when they dont work. Have your "new baby" checked BEFORE you sign the dotted line and make sure your not buying someone elses abused problems.

As a aside, a friend of mine wanted a es300 for his wife, I went through 3 before I found one he could buy with a reasonable assurance he wasn't getting a pig.

Now, this is where I step on some toes.

You buy a car that new was 100k or thereabouts. Then complain about 20k in repairs over a 10 YEAR period? That works out to be $2000.00 a year for a $100,000 car in repairs. Hummmmmm, sounds like a deal to me. If, and I repeat IF I was paying people to repair my 96 Dodge truck and was repairing the little things that have died over the years, I'd be into it for about $5500.00 in 2 years of ownership, that works out to about $2750.00 a year, seems to me thats a bit higher than the "bad" 140. What are you complaining about? I tell people upfront, average costs of keeping a car on the road should run about a grand a year depending on mileage, driving style and what you start with. And that is for "average" cars, not high dollar luxury vehicles. A single repair on some of these luxury cars can cost more than a used Honda, get used to it.


Joe
(the opinions in this post are mine)
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  #34  
Old 12-11-2002, 10:40 AM
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Location: Columbus Ohio
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Quote:
If you's had a prepurchase done by a QUALIFIED shop, you'd have known those were a problematic model
Laurel Mercedes Benz(Downers Grove IL) did my prepurchase inspection and the car passed with flying colors....enough for me to purchase a 24 month service contact on the car

the ONLY thing I knew was that some of the early 140's had problems...BUT I was told if you found a one owner vehicle that had MB service records the car most likely was taken care of and had received all the updates that were put out on parts etc
as for an S320...I wanted a diesel...so I was n't interested in that model(and in looking at the resale value of that particular model a lot of people don't either)...the car was the exact type I look for...one owner..bought and serviced at the same MB dealer all its life
I went over the service records in detail with the dealer and even called and spoke with the service advisor at Mercedes of Morristown(NJ) where the car was orginally sold.
I was taken aback a little by the number of times the car had been in for work...but I was told by MB of Morristown and Laurel MB that this was typical for a 140...and probably a good thing because the work had been done....and this also connected with the fact that I was instructed about the typical repair costs on this model...such as the evap($2800) power steering($1500) closing assist ($800.000on some items that were very common failures

as for having a bad 140 I don't think that is the case at all(the engine replacement not included)...a buddy of mine just sold his 92 400SE that he bought starmarked 4 years ago and I think before he sold it he was at about 18K in repairs that were paid by MB via the starmark program

heck his service advisor told him that the 140's were cash cows for the dealers...thats where they made most of their profit dollars

my beef is not about the money spent on thar car(as that is almost nill due to warranty coverage at the time of breakdown)..just about the time and trouble involved...and some issues..the evap core for instance has been replaced twice


Quote:
You buy a car that new was 100k or thereabouts. Then complain about 20k in repairs over a 10 YEAR period? That works out to be $2000.00 a year for a $100,000 car in repairs. Hummmmmm, sounds like a deal to me
20K in repairs over a 10 year period?....my repairs were over a 3 year period(about $7300 a year)...and if you roll the first six years of the cars life into it..I am sure there were about 35K worth of repairs done at MB dealers since the cars was new to todays date...sticker for my car was $72000 in 1992....so half again of its cost is what the car has sustained in repairs basically in that time since new

and since the car is paid for(and considering I know the scope of work that has already been done)...I will probably keedp it until the cost of repair doesn't make sense when looking at the value of the car

but...according to my tech at the dealer..there have been a MYRIAD of updates in the 140 parts...so the newer 97-99 are actually very good cars

and don't get me wrong...this is my third MB(85 300SD,92 300D) and I like the prior cars alot...but this car...outshines them both by a long shot...ride,technology,a good stereo(finally!!)

because I tell you..if I didn't like I would not have put up with all the time and trouble...AND if the repairs had been on my dime I would have a different opinion also
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Anyone seen the new JD power article?-1992-300sd.jpg  
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  #35  
Old 12-11-2002, 11:23 AM
it leaks, its german
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: raleigh nc
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Understood, however, it is a high maintence luxury car. Nothing will change that. Yep, 140's have issues, there is no doubt about that. However, you look at other high line marques such as Ferrrari, Bently, Rolls and Rover, you see the same trends, high maintenece cars. Cars that have a high starting price as well. With that being said, you must think about the market segment these cars were aimed at and then look at the percentage spent on repairs compared to the segment markets economic standing. By the numbers, repair and maintence costs are not that bad.

As far as the inconvience issues, that is between your service outlet and you. Some dealers provide loaners some dont. The standards used for issueing these vary from dealer to daeler as well. The dealer I was at had 3 different loaner protocols in place in a 3 year period. These loaners costs are also figured into the costs of having repairs done. Which means you pay for the loaner wether you know it or not. (with the exception of warrenty repair)

While I feel strongly that Benz could have done a better job of wringing out the 140 prior to it becoming a mainstrem car, overall the cars are quite nice, reasonable dependable and very solid. Unfortunatly, getting a private sale preowned car eliminates you from certian aspects of the convience offered to buyers who got theirs from the dealer who is servicing it. (it appears most dealers are settleing into offering loaners and such only to those cars under warrenty or under starmark purchased from that dealer)

When I had my brand new 97 f150 (POS by the way) I couldn't even get a ride to a hotel from a dealer in NJ after the tranny lost the input shaft on the side of I95 one afternoon, and this was a 30K truck with less than 5000 miles on it. Needless to say that truck went away very soon after that. Point is, there are certian perks that come with certian cars. In terms of your inconvience you simply missed the perks.


Joe
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  #36  
Old 12-11-2002, 01:30 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 709
Quote:
Point is, there are certian perks that come with certian cars. In terms of your inconvience you simply missed the perks.
I was provided with a loaner car from Crown Mercedes Benz in all my repair instances...remember the work I had done was warranty...when I speak of time and trouble I was referring to the time spent getting the car to the dealer,waiting for them to diagnose and then having to place an order for parts ...that shipped from the MB regional parts office in the Chicago area

Quote:
Cars that have a high starting price as well. With that being said, you must think about the market segment these cars were aimed at and then look at the percentage spent on repairs compared to the segment markets economic standing. By the numbers, repair and maintence costs are not that bad.
so are you saying the amount you spend for the car should directly correspond to the amount you should pay for repairs?

if that were the case I guess the cheapest car available would be the most reliable/cheapest to own?..in that case the latter 126's should also be costly to own...which I don't think is the case

your statement about loaners was somewhat true...one dealer in town will ONLY provide vehicle loaners for warranty work...the other prefers to give loaners to persons who purchased their car from them...HOWEVER they made an exception in my case...and after the amount of revenue they got from my car I would say they made the right decision...and by the way they have treated me like I had bought a new S600 from them

and actually I am very satisfies with the work...their master tech is the one who has done the lionshare of work on the car(replaced engine,pulled transmission,evap core,climate control work..etc..etc..etc)...he came from a large volume dealer in california(Fletcher Jones) where they sold a boatload of 140's...and knows the particulars of the car inside and out


but ..bottom line...would I trade the car and go back to a 126 or 124...absolutely not.....the car (in my opinion) absolutely spoils you with the way it rides and drives

but the question them becomes...how much is it worth to have a car that you love to drive but you realize is maybe not the most reliable piece of transportation...or having something that is strictly transportation that you don't like to drive,but is very relaible?


Warren
1992 300SD 152K
Columbus Ohio
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Anyone seen the new JD power article?-1992-300sd.jpg  
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  #37  
Old 12-11-2002, 04:51 PM
dmorrison's Avatar
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Let me pipe in here.

My brother is a Mechanic on european cars for an independent shop. I talked to him about various cars. And he did advise about staying away form the 140 style. Not that it was not a fabulous car but the few things that were going wrong with the car were very expensive to repair.
What I wanted was a 126 style diesel. We had a 86 300SDL and loved the car. I got to a perfect 350SDL 20 minuted to late. I wish I could have bought that car. Our 300SDL has issues but in general it has been a reliable car. I wanted a replacement. we were looking at a new injection pump, rebuilt tranny and the compression on #1 cylinder was dropping. We bought the 99 E300. I intended to keep the car untill I retire in 2014. I purchased the Starmark Premium warrantee, 8 year 100,000mi. My son was just getting his license and my wife asked do you want him to wreck your new car. So we kept the 300SDL for him to drive. Now my daughter drives it. It has been since the summer of 1999 that they have been driving it, about 5000mi a year, and I have not put a dime into the car except fluid/filter changes, a $0.20 repair to the cracked fan shroud and the plastic window slide on the passenger door. The car has not cost me anything.

The 99 E300 has not had the reliability that I had hoped for. the more bells and whisles you put on a car the more you have to go wrong. My concerns about the glow plug reliability ( which is an expensive repair, especially removing the intake manifold to do it), the electrical snafus, the expense of replacing the whole climate control panel beause a bulb burns out. Just makes me wonder about the long term cost of the vehicle.
Has the auto industry created such a complicated piece of equipment that maintaining them is accelerating tremendously.
Technology causes certain methods of design which causes certain mantainance headaches. Luxury causes optional equipment that years ago, think of my 1982 300TD, that you didn't have. of course its easy to maintain the 300TD. No auto windows, electric seats, electronic temp controls etc. etc. This produces a vehicle that is easy to maintain and with the engineering of Mercedes it produces a quality, long lasting vehicle. But what has happened in the last 10 years?
The Mercedes vehicle has be come extremely complicated and I sence a change in the service product that is provided by Mercedes dealers. This I sence everywhere in the US service sector. Not just cars.

I will keep the 82 300TD, they are starting to become a little rare and I like the idea of keeping it. I will keep the 88 560SL that is my baby. And for the present time I will keep the 99 E300. But if it starts becoming expensive I will get ride of it. Because of it's service history the car is sort of on "probation" with me. I have the starmark warrantee, but over the next 2 years if its going to the shop to much I will get rid of it. And I'm afraid I will lease a Honda/Acura or Toyoto/Lexus. I had a 86 Acura legend. It was in the shop 1 time in 5 years, plus normal service. The reliabilty and expense of cars and car repairs makes me seriously look into the lease option. Lease it 3 years while its under warrantee and then give it back to them before it runs out of warrantee and get another one. Additionally you can learn about the cars reliability and if its a good one, buy it out of the lease. If its not give it back.


The problems with the E300 May be dealer related. I have left the dealer I was using and returned to ******** in Dallas. I went to them for 17 years and was very happy with them. I left due to the other dealer opening closer to my house. BUT, I just had the car in for A service and they replaced the serpentine belt. The mechanic did not torque the fan clutch bolt and we had some damage to the car. Broken fan blades and damaged fan shroud. The difference is that my service rep was right on top of it. Sent a tow truck and had it fixed in 1 day. The bad repair should not have happened but how they handled the situation was much better then the other dealer.

Cars need work, But over the 22 years I have owned Mercedes I have seen a change in quality and service. The largest change came when Schrempp took over and he wanted to become this worldwide conglomerate. I owned Mercedes ADR stock and kept a keen eye on the changes that have occured since the merge. When he bought Chrysler, they did not bring Chrylsler up to Mercedes levels. I think Chrysler dragged Mercedes down. Schrempp turned Mercedes into a fad car not one of extreme reliability. That's what it used to be.

Dave
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1980 240D, owned 1990-1992
1982 300TD, owned 1992-1993
1986 300SDL, owned 1993-2004
1999 E300, owned 1999-2003
1982 300TD, 213,880mi, owned since Nov 18, 1991- Aug 4, 2010 SOLD
1988 560SL, 100,000mi, owned since 1995
1965 Mustang Fastback Mileage Unknown(My sons)
1983 240D, 176,000mi (My daughers) owned since 2004
2007 Honda Accord EX-L I4 auto, the new daily driver
1985 300D 264,000mi Son's new daily driver.(sold)
2008 Hyundai Tiberon. Daughters new car
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  #38  
Old 12-12-2002, 02:53 AM
asiamood
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I have owned several Toyotas over the years and currently own two late model jobs. I also own a 1988 300E. Bottom line is that although Toyotas and other rising sun vehicles are well made and fairly reliable, they do break and at times have parts that easily rival MB in price. I like Toyotas alot but they do lack alot when it comes to the driving experience. I would call it antiseptic at best. My 14 year old 300E still gives me a connection to the car that the Toyotas don't. Take a ride in an S55 AMG and tell me you like the Lexus or any other rising sun shoebox better. The Black Forest produces motorcars, not shoeboxes with wheels.

Oh what a feeling!
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  #39  
Old 12-12-2002, 06:48 AM
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I have both a 1989 420SEL and a 1992 Lexus es300. The lex was the first year made, but believe it or not it has a very good build quality. The mercedes is also very nice and nothing comes close to the elgance of the Benz. After having owned numerous cars I feel that the reliability of the benz (olders) makes it like a lexus of the european cars. Try a Jag (older), or a BMtroubleU (older), or and Audi Qautto. These cars are built no where near as good as the benz.

Sohaib
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  #40  
Old 12-12-2002, 07:39 PM
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I really don't know what to believe as far as reliabilty and quality anymore. I have heard great things about Lexus. I have heard great things about Mercedes. I think they're both really nice cars. The Japanese auto manufacturers simply take a different approach at luxury rather than the German.

Well for the W140 that my mom has, S350 diesel, it's been alright with problems. The engine went out at 50k miles but that's only for the diesel 350. Both windows in the back stopped working. This was at 45k miles. Antenna stopped going up and down but that's because of the salt in the winter.

Other than that the car has been pretty good. But again it has very low miles. It's a 1994 model and it barely has 60k miles.
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  #41  
Old 12-12-2002, 08:21 PM
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With the cost of new cars so high, it's a risky proposition to "take a chance" on something that might not turn out to be reliable. The number of $10K repair possibilities is too high.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I think that just says it all. Why spend big bucks for a new MB that has quality control issues? I drive a 1986 560 SEL. It has just 120k miles and looks and drives wonderfuly. I have been looking at the new 500's but after reading about all the problems that have occured with the newer models I am not going to trade up. I'm sticking with my 560 SEL. These truly were "the last of the hand built MB's". And that's a shame.
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  #42  
Old 12-12-2002, 10:09 PM
BlackE55
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I'd have to agree with Rockman. My '91 560SEL has been as cheap to maintain as any car I've owned, from Hondas to Saabs to Oldsmobiles. Timeless design and unsurpassable build quality. Last of the "over-engineered" MBs.
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  #43  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:28 PM
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I'd have to agree. A W126 or W124 has to be one of the best cars to own, albeit you'd have to get over the hump of replacing a wiring harness and a head gasket on an M104 engined W124.

The chassis have been around a loooong time and there are no real long-term quality issues. What with depreciation having nearly or maybe completely bottomed out, your only expense would be normal maintenance and repairs - and every car has these expenses.

And everyone that has read my threads on depreciation knows that it is the single largest expense in owning a car. Nothing else even comes close, but it rarely gets even passing consideration by most people when thinking about the cost of car ownership.
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