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Old 10-08-1999, 04:50 PM
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Gentlemen, I have a quandary.

I have an opportunity to obtain a well-maintained 1986 420SEL with 110,000 miles on it for a reasonable price. I currently own a 1988 190E with 127,000 miles on it which I have had for 2 years. It is an either/or situation (keep the 190E, or sell it and buy the 420SEL) and this is the car my wife will be driving.

I realize the 420SEL is a much more "valuable" car but I am on a limited budget and can only afford Mercedes vehicles if I do much of the maintenance myself.

I have found the 190E to be a relatively straightforward car and have already replaced brakes, water pump, radiator, A/C condenser, muffler, belt tensioner, and various other items myself without too much difficulty. Would the same be able to be said for the 420SEL, or am I getting in over my head if I intend to do maintenance myself.

What is the relative service history for the 420SEL? Good/bad/normal?

I realize some costs will go up such as fuel consumption, insurance, etc.

Old 10-09-1999, 05:41 AM
Posts: n/a
For what I remember,my dad had a 1990 420SEL (which is very popular in HongKong) that got 16000mls when we bought it.The car was almost perfect in every aspect.Although we got it serviced every 5000mls,the transmission seemed not very suitable for city driving that it lost its silky smooth shift after addition use of 30000mls.We tried to get it overhauled but the dealer/workshop told us it didn't worth cause that problem was very likely to come back since it was not desiged for city stop-and-go driving.Besides,the car didn't bring us any other major problem.If you want that smooth and powerful V8,I think you should take care of the transmission carefully.For more durable and long-term keeping,I would prefer a 300SEL since less power,the transmission would wear out more slower for a more smooth shift(We owned a 1989 300SE at the same time and it was for long trip use-done many many mls,200,000mls?? between HK and China and still stood strong!!).One more thing,there was a interior rattle noise from the plastic? panels at the back of the rear seat.(they seemed too tightened and tended to rub each other.Hope this helps.
from Davis Lo
1994 S320L

[This message has been edited by DAVIS (edited 10-09-1999).]

[This message has been edited by DAVIS (edited 10-09-1999).]

[This message has been edited by DAVIS (edited 10-09-1999).]
Old 10-09-1999, 07:46 AM
Choo Chung Chieh
Posts: n/a
Hello! I have a 1989 green 300SE. Well, the transmission did a lot of so-called "rock-and-roll", wasn't smooth and very, very jerky. I have a lot of problems with the interior, especially all the rattling everywhere. I've sent in to the workshop over 5 times in the last few weeks... and I don't find it as reliable as my good 'ol 1983 200E.
Just my two cents
Old 10-09-1999, 06:25 PM
Posts: n/a
I own(ed) both the 190E and the 500SEL, and the S-Class is a much, much better car. My SEL is also more reliable. The tranny lasted about 130K and a rebuilt from Mercedes cost about $2500. I don't have any roughness problems with mine. I think if you can work on an 190E, you can also work on the SEL. Parts will be more expensive but ...

By the way, I traded in my 86' 190E with only 16000 miles on it because something was also going bad. I still drive my 84' 500SEL with 167000 miles on it daily - a great car.
Old 10-13-1999, 08:43 AM
Posts: n/a
I own a 190E-16 and a '89 420SEL. Both seem to reality good cars. The 420sel has 38K on the clock and maintenance has been relatively inexpensive. I've heard alot about tranny problems when the car gets up in the mileage (around 80K). The 190 has seen more maintenance in the 6months since I've owned than I would care for. Its however quite special and I intend to hold it and drive it for awhile. It only has 32K on the clock.

Since you've done most of the maintenance by yourself, what type of manual did you use as your guide? I think of myself as fairly handy, and I would like to maintain myself.

Anyway, my personal choice would be the 420sel. Smooth, powerful, fairly luxurious and built like a tank. If its for your wife, go with a tank.
Old 10-13-1999, 09:09 AM
MikeM's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USofA
Posts: 135

You need to let the wife drive the car before making any decisions.

While there is a big difference in the level of car here, the size difference is tremendous. Shopping and around town stuff, you can't beat the nimbleness of the 190.

Also you said concerning the tight budget, A S class has a lot more things that might require replacement at a substantially higher price than the 190.

When you pull up in a S Class the first thing peole think is you have money to burn. In a 190 they might think you are money smart and frugal with it.

The difference in Fuel usage is 4-6 gallons at least. While on the hiway the differences in gas are lessened, around town is a different story. Not sure where you are from, but here in the midwest we are going through our usual screw by the Oil companies. I've had my Sunoco raised by $ .10 in less than a weeks time. Up 30+ cents over the summer.

Good Luck

Mike Mullins
71 250 Coupe
92 400E Sedan
90 944/S2 Cabriolet
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