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  #1  
Old 03-27-2003, 11:14 AM
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Location: Cleveland-Akron Ohio
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W210 Reliability and Cost of Maintenance

I have a '98 E320 and '01 SLK320, both of which I'm very happy with. I've maintained both cars very well. The E320 has about 65K miles. My goal was to keep the E320 at least to 150K miles. I'm not concerned about the SLK because it only has about 6K miles.

I'm starting to have my doubts about keeping the E320 because I'm afraid of the future cost of maintaining this vehicle. I know Mercedes quality has dropped over the years so I don't want this car to become a money pit.

The more I read on discussion boards about Mercedes cars, the more I'm becoming concerned about the future cost of maintenance. I do not service the cars myself.

What do you think? Is it worth the cost of maintenance owning a car like the '98 E320?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2003, 08:06 PM
Bud
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I recently did a pretty serious study on the cost of car ownership. Of course the big costs are the cost of money (no matter how you pay for it) and the cost for depreciation.

The cost of maintenance was pretty insignificant. For example, if you followed Lexus LS-430 maintenance recommendations to the letter, you are only talking about 4% of the total cost for 100K miles over a 10 year period.

In order to keep the cost of ownership as low as possible you need to do one of two things.

1) For short term ownership such as with a lease, buy a car with the best resale value.

2) If you really want to keep costs down, buy the most reliable cars, invest in good maintenance and run them into the ground.

The more frequently you switch cars, the more money you are going to spend.
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  #3  
Old 03-27-2003, 08:21 PM
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If it makes you feel any better, I like to simplify things.
Look at it this way. As time goes on, and the car gets older, you may have a month were you spend $ 500.00 or even $ 1000.00 on repairs or maintenance items.
If you lease or purchase a new car, you will spend that same amount, month after month, after month. Gee, it seems to go on forever.
Besides, keeping a good car for 150 k miles does not seem unreasonable, especially if you take good care of it.
At least that's been my philosophy for the last 30 years, and I'd like to think I am " ahead of the game ", if there is such a thing.
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  #4  
Old 03-27-2003, 09:13 PM
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Actually, the odds for your E320 making that 150K mark are really good. The M112 V-6 is turning out to be bulletproof, and in 2.6, 2.8 and 3.2L six cylinder versions, is WAY over-engineered for it's power output. I haven't heard anything about the 3.7L version, as it's new.

The 722.6 tranny has it's detractors, but overall it's also turning out to be tough as nails.

The AC system is the new variable compressor system as used in the C-Class, and it's turning out to be the most reliable AC system MB's have seen.

The soft spots are the electrics. Power gadgets are turning out to be unreliable, and could be the biggest source of headaches.

Also, the W210 cars have inferior suspension bushings, but the V-8 cars are more troublesome than V-6's. Also, keeping the stock wheel-tire combos help preserve the suspension bits.

Now, all that said, we sold our 1998 E300 due to it being a terribly unreliable car. But, the diesel cars seem MUCH more trouble prone that the gas cars. Most of the trouble we had was engine related.

There are some reasons that the MB might be not too tough onthe pocket book long term --
-- timing chains on the M112 are double row and should easily last that 150K.
-- The body structure of the W210 is not as sturdy as the W124, but better than most every other car. Out W210 car was tight and rattle free.
-- The performance capablity of the E320 is far below the chassis design. You're not stressing the car terribly.

I've met a few W210 owners with seriously high odo readings, and all seem pretty certain the car will last much longer...
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  #5  
Old 03-28-2003, 10:59 AM
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Thanks for the great information. I've decided to keep the car. I'm not sure why, but it's hard to part with a Mercedes. I guess it comes down to the feeling that I really am driving one of the best cars on the road, so why replace it?

I drove a Lexus LS430 yesterday. Very nice car, but lacks the character and driver's involvement of the Mercedes.
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  #6  
Old 03-28-2003, 11:38 AM
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I'm driving a 1998 210 chassis as well. It has 53K miles currently. I'll second everything John has written. My car has the diesel engine, and it's required a few repairs over the years. Based on reading this site, and others, for several years, the only problem I've ever heard of on the gasoline V6 is a few harmonic balancer problems. And it's an inexpensive and easy fix if caught before it completely fails.

In terms of the chassis, my car has required exactly one repair thus far - the CD changer croaked and was replaced. Everything else still works like the day it was new. Everything else is great. The A/C is among the best of any car I've ever experienced, and it gets lots of use here in Texas.

Suspension bushings may be a bit short lived on this car, but that's not a problem that will leave you on the side of the road. Nor is it all that expensive to repair.

A Lexus appears to be more expensive to own than an equivalent MB, simply because it depreciates much, much faster. Depreciation is the most significant ownership cost of an automobile.

- JimY
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  #7  
Old 03-28-2003, 10:26 PM
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I have a 98 E320 with 82K miles. I have owned and maintained it since 60K miles. Other than fluid and filter changes, the only problems I had were the harmonic balancer failure and a sunroof which won't open fully.

I have read posts that window regulators are a common failure.

If you plan on keeping your car to 150K, some of the expensive maintenance items are:

Charcoal filter replacement (around 60K miles @ around $200).
Spark Plugs (100K miles or 4 years @ around $300).
Trans fluid and filter change (100K miles @ around $300).

The above costs are rough estimates, since I do my own maintenance I only know the parts pricing.

I plan to keep my E320 around for 300K miles and feel that at 150K miles the car is just starting to break in.

I feel that the cost of maintenance for the E320 is certainly worth it expecially when you consider the quaility of the ride you get.

FYI my 1988 Honda accord has been the cheapest car to maintain that I have owned - mainly due to the low cost of fluids/filters and parts.
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  #8  
Old 04-09-2003, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rjnonnie
I have a 98 E320 with 82K miles. I have owned and maintained it since 60K miles. Other than fluid and filter changes, the only problems I had were the harmonic balancer failure and a sunroof which won't open fully.

I have read posts that window regulators are a common failure.

If you plan on keeping your car to 150K, some of the expensive maintenance items are:

Charcoal filter replacement (around 60K miles @ around $200).
Spark Plugs (100K miles or 4 years @ around $300).
Trans fluid and filter change (100K miles @ around $300).

The above costs are rough estimates, since I do my own maintenance I only know the parts pricing.

I plan to keep my E320 around for 300K miles and feel that at 150K miles the car is just starting to break in.

I feel that the cost of maintenance for the E320 is certainly worth it expecially when you consider the quaility of the ride you get.

FYI my 1988 Honda accord has been the cheapest car to maintain that I have owned - mainly due to the low cost of fluids/filters and parts.
What is the harmonic balancer failure and how can you help prevent it? I'm assuming it's some sort of shaft in the engine or thereabouts to make things run more smoothly, aka less vibration. If this is so, I can't see anyway to help prevent it from failing.

Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 04-09-2003, 10:11 PM
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The harmonic balancer is the crankshaft pulley. It consists of an inter metal pulley, an outer metal ring with a rubber dampning ring between the two. This is to reduce vibrations as you concluded.

The eariler models with the V-6 engine (1998 and 1999?) were equipped with factory defective rubber dampning rings. The rubber ring would split causing the harmonic balancer to seperate. Since the failure occured after the factory warrantee expired the expense was the owner's. Mercedes has since modified the harmonic balancer to prevent premature failures.

The only way to prevent it from failing is to replace it before it fails.

If you contact your local Mercedes dealer with your model and vin #, they may be able to tell you if your harmonic balancer is equipped with the modified harmonic balancer.
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1998 Mercedes E320, 200K Miles
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  #10  
Old 04-09-2003, 10:40 PM
it leaks, its german
 
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Lemme see, m112 problems.

Balancer

Oil consumption (change the oil every 10k with mobil1, it'll be fine, every one I saw using oil was run on dino for the first 30-40k)

Some of 'em shed rubber off the countershaft (jackshaft) pulley, seems to be related to the dino oil thing.

Very sensitive to water in the fuel as they are "returnless" fuel systems. (the regulator and return is way back at the fuel filter)

Occasional oil leaks from the timing cover bolts, oil level sensors and sub pan.


I had one (and only one) that had been assembled at the factory with too much sealer in it, it was shedding and plugging the rocker shafts. (98 c280)


Overall pretty bullet proof car.

w210 issues in general

Rear window regulators.

Washer level sensors.

Switch groups (window switches)

Brake light switches

Evap temp sensors.

All and all the 98-00 210 car is among my favorite cars both to work on and lust after. (I drive this big Dodge diesel, cant keep a 124 wagon to save my life)

I see no reason a 210 shouldn't make the 300k mark with decent care and reasonable expense. As far as the 722.6 we recomend service intervals of 60K and stoping the car before changing directions ( as in with the brakes, not the trans)

On the subject of the Lexus, nice car, nowhere near the quality engineering of the Benz. (afterall at least most Benz products dont need thousand dollar IC's every 75k like most es300's) The maintence is also higher as you have a timing belt vs a chain, valve covers that leak into the plug wells requiring intake removal to replace, VERY expensive injection parts and more frequent service intervals. Not to mention the fast depreciation.


Joe
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  #11  
Old 04-10-2003, 10:51 AM
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Joe, regarding your comments on the Lexus, what is an "IC"? Thanks.
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2003, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveJ
Joe, regarding your comments on the Lexus, what is an "IC"? Thanks.
Pretty sure 'IC' is Integrated Circuit and he's referring to a IC chip. Let's see if I'm right.
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2003, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rjnonnie
The harmonic balancer is the crankshaft pulley. It consists of an inter metal pulley, an outer metal ring with a rubber dampning ring between the two. This is to reduce vibrations as you concluded.

The eariler models with the V-6 engine (1998 and 1999?) were equipped with factory defective rubber dampning rings. The rubber ring would split causing the harmonic balancer to seperate. Since the failure occured after the factory warrantee expired the expense was the owner's. Mercedes has since modified the harmonic balancer to prevent premature failures.

The only way to prevent it from failing is to replace it before it fails.

If you contact your local Mercedes dealer with your model and vin #, they may be able to tell you if your harmonic balancer is equipped with the modified harmonic balancer.
OK, I called a few dealerships because I got suspicious answers and it turns out that nearly every dealership gave me different information. Here's what I finally concluded is closest to the truth:

Originally on the W210 engine you got one of two part numbers for the harmonic balancer:

112 035 0000 or 112 035 0500

Then, both of those had replacements later on in the years:

112 035 0000 was replaced by 112 035 0600
and
112 035 0500 was replaced by 112 035 0900

Then, finally, both of the replacements were replaced by the current part:
112 035 0800

Can anyone verify this as correct?

Also, when I asked how likely failure was I got answers ranging from "None of the harmonic balancers are defective, they just changed the part numbers" to one dealership saying "Yes, you should replace it RIGHT now, this is very dangerous".

Again, can anyone add some sanity to this madness? Thanks!
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2003, 10:41 PM
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When my harmonic balancer went out the Parts person at the local Mercedes dealer told me that they were on the 5th revision for this part (which corresponds to the five part numbers you have listed). I was told that they had 3 in stock, when I went to pick up the part the had a 98 E320 in the bay with a bad harmonic balancer and found out that there 0 in stock (the computer didn't agree to what was on the shelf).

At this point I called Phil from PartsShop and had him send me one (PartsShop pricing was much cheaper).

If you would like to get an idea of how many harmonic balancers were replaced, I would talk to the Parts person and ask how many they sold over the last few years. It would be interesting to find out how many were sold at the dealer that claimed that "none of the harmonic balancers are defective".
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  #15  
Old 04-11-2003, 12:14 AM
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What are the symptoms, signs, or noises that are related to the failure of the Harmonic Balencer? Thanks guys.

Paul
1999 E300D
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