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  #1  
Old 06-20-2003, 01:08 AM
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Quality decline is becoming an issue.

I was surprised to see the write up a couple of months ago in Consumer Reports about new MB's; they pretty much tell you not to buy them based on the experience of a few thousand owners (number is no clear).
Today the LA Times makes reference to it:

"But maybe not everything. A cautionary note for would-be buyers: Strange things seem to be happening, quality-wise, at Mercedes. Consumer Reports said in its latest auto issue that the C-Class was "well below average" in reliability as reported by owner/subscribers in the magazine's annual survey. (The incredibly expensive S-Class line gets the same crummy rating.)

There's more: Mercedes fell to below average in J.D. Power's last survey of dependability over five years, which was issued in November. The carmaker was below average in customer satisfaction with servicing, according to another Power survey. Mercedes did, however, come in just above average in another more recent Power survey, measuring quality and customer satisfaction in the first three months of ownership. The average number of complaints increased from a year earlier."

It seems that one should look at 10 year old models.

Juan.

Last edited by Bill Wood; 06-24-2003 at 11:46 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-20-2003, 02:09 AM
dmorrison's Avatar
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Owning the cars listed at the bottom of my post I;m afraid I have to agree. I was not happy with my 99 E300. It was a shop queen. I sold it for a few reasons. 1 its lack of reliability. 2 it was a shop queen. 3 I felt the payment was to much for its reliability. 4. I fly for American Airlines.
I love my 82 300TD and my 560 SL. And will keep those. But yes I have seen a real change in Mercedes in the last 23 years that I have owned them.

Dave
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1970 220D, owned 1980-1990
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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  #3  
Old 06-20-2003, 10:21 AM
I told you so!
 
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This is really nothing new. This issue has been addressed in the automotive engineering journals for at least a decade. For every new model coming out, Mercedes has been "improving" it's car line by adding goodies (luxury features and perceived safety features) in the form of more electronics, rather than improving the quality and reliability of existing componentry. Word on the street is that if you want a high end car, Lexus is a better buy for the money.

I had a rant on this forum a few months ago about all the goodies on cars. When I bought my used 95 E320 last year I noticed all the things that needed fixing were the convenience features (both electric headrests, mutiple problems with seatbelt presenter, electrohydraulic top, vanity lights, seat vacuum locks, headlight wipers, funky volume control on radio). The car owner not only has to shell out the money on a new car to have these features, but again to repair these features. Where is the "convenience"?? Plus there's a disturbing trend in the industry to design reliability to only meet the warranty period. After warranty you're on your own. It's no wonder that used cars are so incredibly cheap compared with new cars. The price disparity between new and old is considerably wider now than 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, I have to place most of the blame on the buying public. On average they are morons when it comes to auto ownership. They walk into a dealership and ooh and aah over all the goodies on the car they can impress their friends without any thought to the added complexity of the vehicle and repairability when the car is older. Mercedes wouldn't design in these features if the market didn't accept them. Even when my girlfriend was buying a new car I had to talk her out of many features that she felt she needed. (She has since put 100,000 miles on the vehicle with no repairs needed!)

It'll only get worse. The latest automotive engineering journals are now talking about installing sensors in side window tracks to prevent hand pinching by electric window regulators. I can just envision the added trips to the dealer because windows won't close! There's also talk about installing sensors to prevent stupid people from locking their kids in a hot car. This would be a design nightmare! For all you engine rebuilders you'll just love rebuilding engines that have variable compression. This design has an active system with an electronically controlled motor that drives a gear rack attached to the moveable crank main. It just may be on the market soon.

I think I'll hang on to my 71 Cutlass. It'll probably outlive all the cars being built today simply because it's easier to fix.
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  #4  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:22 AM
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Going to have to agree and chime in as well...

I haven't been plagued with as many problems as some with the ML, and the issues I have with my W124 have too, been mostly electrical issues. Fortunately, it was a common MB platform and parts are relatively inexpensive.

As much as I drool over the R230, I find the R129 complicated enough, and woe to the R230 individual that eventually has to repair the "active" suspension. I believe someone on the forum attested to a bill of a few thousand dollars per wheel!
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  #5  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kestas
It'll only get worse. The latest automotive engineering journals are now talking about installing sensors in side window tracks to prevent hand pinching by electric window regulators.
Stick your hand into the opening while the auto-up window feature on my 1998 C230 is working. The window stops. MB solved that problem with a "resistence" sensor that works very well.
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  #6  
Old 06-20-2003, 01:26 PM
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Why I posted the comments from the LA Times.

Uno, this is the best MB forum and these are serious comments from serious sources that deserve some discussion. I, for one, have an 86, 300E with more than 240K approx. (my wife drives it to work) and I think about getting another one eventually. It make me wonder about buying an MB again. This 86 does 60- miles in third gear and if you do not pay attention and shift, you may stay in third as it does not vibrate at all; it requires you to pay attention, a thing of the past.

Dos, the gadget issue: it is like the cell phones today. They are not phones, they are toys or conversation pieces. MB looks at us from Germany and sizes us as a bunch of morons who want gadgets and are willing to pay for them and their repairs.

Three, by discussing these issues, their cost and their headaches, we help those who are not willing or capable to spend 40 K and laugh if we wasted the money. We sort of lay (lie?) it on the table so that they can make a thoughtful decision.

Now, if those expensive, repair prone late used models stay long enough on the dealer's lot, a msg gets through to the idiots who think we are idiots. It takes two three years but that is the way it works.

The so called marriage between the American driver and his car is no longer a marriage; it is an abusive relationship. May my 86 last another three years.

Best to all,

Juan.
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  #7  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:53 PM
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I agree with all that have posted here. We are creating complicated peices of equipment. That means more things to break and more money to fix them. I intended to buy the 99 E300 and drive it until I retired in 2014. 15 years times 15,000 = 225,000 miles. Not unreasonable for a Mercedes Diesel. I have 265,000 on the SDL. I had to logically look at the amount of shop time this car was experiencing. Will it be reliable? I was not sure. I was also getting frustrated with how Mercedes was handling all the problems. I have a 82 300TD and its very reliable. My 88 Acura Legend was in the shop once, yes just once in 5 years. It had normal service and a dozen or so things that they had to look at while it was in for its service. But the car was not in the shop like the E300. My SL has not been in the shop like the E300. So I have tried to figure is it the complexity of the E300 or the reduction of quality service and building by Mercedes.
The whole issue was brought to a head with American Airlines almost declaring bankruptsy and the 23% pay cut we had to agree to. The E300 car payment sure did look like my Daughters tuition payment at Texas A & M. So the car is gone. Due to how I was treated at Mercedes I am afraid that the next car will be a Honda or Toyota product. Friends have both and have absolutely no problems with them.
I do intend to keep the 82 300TD and actually since I've been rebuilding it I'm really liking the way it looks and will do more to the car than just making it a daily driver. I waxed it and it came out very nice. Besides the AC system being completely rebuilt, with a parallel flow condensor. I will replace the carpet, A lot of the trim pieces, rebuild the wood trim, new rubber all around, Sheep skin covers. New headlight doors. Bead blast the wheels and repaint them. Over the next couple of years I will go through everthing in the car and enjoy it.
The SL that I will keep forever. And when it needs rebuilding I will consider that.

Any financial advisor will tell you that the cheapest way to own a car, which is a terrible investment, is to buy a 1 year old car and drive it for 10 years. Ive owned the 300TD for 13 years now. Maybe I'll drive the 300TD until I retire in 2014. It should have 400,000 miles by that time.

Are we as American consumers foolish car buyers. Hell yes. A car is an expresion of our ego. Many of us want that star on the hood. I live in a section of the DFW area the is loaded with Mercedes, BMW's, Lexus, Acura's and any and all kinds of SUV's. Those vehicle are purchased for the ego not the logical side of the brain. And that is what Mercedes is moving towards. They have lost the goal of a quality, finely engineered car to one of
" the latest" style. And I think the quality reports reflect this.
What a shame.
The car I now drool over is a 71 280SE cabriolet. I know I can work on it and it was built during the days of quality.

Now don't get me wrong. I love new technology especially in the airline business. An old Braniff pilot, Len Morgan, who wrote for Flying Magazine once had an article talking about the "good old days of aviation". Would you like them back? His answer was "hell no". And I have to agree. The glory days of DC3 Flying. But back then the engines failed quite often. No radar for thunderstorm avoidance. They actually strapped them selves in tight and flew through them. Something we would never think of today. A lot of people died back then because of the old technology.
Well when you look at modern cars of today they really do a great job. People are surviving crashes today that you would not 20 year ago. This is a technology that Mercedes and Volvo pioneered. So why isn't Mercedes the number one car in the Insurance Institute for Highwy Safetys test results or in the DOT's crash test program. Maybe they have lost sight as to what made them one of the best car manufactures. The modern technology has made cars where engines last longer, we travel faster and in more comfort. Think of the S class of the 60's and 70's. A Kia has more luxury extras today then those cars did. Not as solid but all the bells and whistles. But with all of this I still expect reliability in a car. And this is where I personally feel Mercedes has lost it. Market forces will cause Mercedes to correct this or they will fail as a auto manufacture. Time will tell.

Dave
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1970 220D, owned 1980-1990
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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  #8  
Old 06-21-2003, 01:35 AM
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It's the cup holders! Mercedes started downhill when they put cupholders in their cars.

At this point, I wouldn't own a new Benz. I'll wait another 8-10 years and let some other unsuspecting poor slob replace all the hi-tech crap that's going to fail. Then I may snag one.

Mercedes used to run a body style 9-10 years, now it's 5-6. Mercedes also had a uniqe look to them. You wouldn't mistake one for any other make. The new C coupe looks like a Honda Civic and last years E class looked like a Geo from the rear and the new one ain't much better, IMO.

I think Mercedes big mistake was forgetting who and what they were and tried to out Japaneese the Japaneese.
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  #9  
Old 06-21-2003, 02:35 AM
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Blame it all on Chrysler, i noticed that now Chrysler is sharing Benz-bin parts, and the whole Chrysler mentality is spreading. It's a pity that Mercedes is now beaten in its own game.
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  #10  
Old 06-21-2003, 11:20 AM
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"Blame it all on Chrysler" I disagree. This all started long before Chrysler came into the picture. It really started when Mercedes had a serious challenge from Lexus. When they first came out, the LS 400 was a fresh design that was smoother, quieter and required less maintainance. The real kicker was the LS 400 was $5-$7K less than a 300E and had a V-8 vs. a straight 6. After that, Mercedes had to find a way to be competetive. They strayed from their strengths, thus the slide.
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  #11  
Old 06-21-2003, 12:56 PM
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Unhappy

IT is sad to read all these comments about MB, I was always convinced you could buy no finer automobile! I always said when I was a kid I was going to buy a NEW Mercedes some day when I could afford it. Well, that day finally came in 1999 and I bought a C280 Sport, actullay to replace my wife's car. (never buy a car for your wife that YOU like!) She HATED that C280, I thought it was a great car, untill the whole climate control system went out, thank God it was under warranty. She always said "it looks like a Honda to me!" Iwound up trading it in with only 7000mis. on it on new Pontiac Grand Am that she loved to death(her previous car was also a Grand Am)

Now, I have a 95 S420 I use as my driver and really love this car, but now it looks as though I have the dreaded A/C evaporator failure (another thread posted on board.) I have owned an 86 300E (3.0 liter) 81 380Sl, the C280 and S420. Looking back, the 380 was by far the better of the lot.

If or when I buy another driver, I will probably go back to a Ford product (Lincoln, Jaguar S-Type, etc.) My wife now has one of the new Thunderbirds, 2002 built on the Lincoln LS chassis, is a fine automobile.
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  #12  
Old 06-21-2003, 11:06 PM
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From what I have been reading, BMW can't give away 740 and 750s that are out of warranty. The resale values are garbage because of the electrical problems BMWs develope. I think society is in too much of a rush and can't wait the 10+ years to fully appreciate the way a Benz was built. They want immediate "flash". Nothing these days is designed to be rebuilt, just out right replaced. I tend to agree with the statement that things seem to be design to last as long as the warranty, very much the way American cars are made. It seems the car companies are trying to out gizmo each other. Even if I were to win the lottery, I wouldn't buy anything newer than mid 90's. The solid feel and the heft of the doors and switches etc. is long gone. The weight of MB cars hasn't changed, they all still weight in the 3800+ lbs. range, but the cars themselves are lighter, hence the lost solid feel. What keeps the cars weighing as much as the past is all the electronic boxes and relays, which doesn't contribute anything to the solid feel of a car. You could take all the GPS/Nav sys. equipment, the ESP system, electronic this and electronic that, and stick it all in a Chevy Cavalier, but that doesn't make the car any better. I really wish there was a way to have MB read all these real world complaints versus controlled customer "focus groups".
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  #13  
Old 06-21-2003, 11:36 PM
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Point is as these age grease gets hard, alignment chages tracks become less slick then it thinks a hand is in there when there is none and refuses to close

The 140 chassis S class has this anti-pinch protection as well. As a matter of fact ALL cars with an auto up feature for the windows has anti-pinch of some kind there are several different approaches to having this feature. Same thing with auto-close sunroofs. Not automatic open roofs or windows, just for the closing feature. In the case of 140 chassis, usually the window regulator will break long before the grease will harden up.


" Mercedes used to run a body style 9-10 years, now it's 5-6. "

Lots of manufacturers are able to turn out new models faster due to cad-cam, "virtual" crash testing, etc. The manufacturers realize that when a new model comes out, assuming it's not ugly as an Aztek, or a 7 series, etc, that sales will increase. Not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing. Good for them I guess.

As far as the "content" of the cars, the amount of "toys" present on them, what I believe has the most impact on this is not Daimler-Chrysler, but the tiny little division of Daimler-Chrysler called "MBUSA", heard of them? They spec out what they want to market in the US, and Daimler-Chrysler MAY have something to say about it, but by and large they will go along with what MBUSA wants produced. Obviously Daimler Chrysler does all the development work/ engineering on the cars. But say for example they (MBUSA) wanted brought to the US what amounts to a US legal E class taxi like in Europe (no power windows, no power door locks, MBTex seats, etc etc, just a bare bones E class), I bet they'd get it.
Probably still have a full set of airbags and a smartkey, becuase they consider some of this stuff as a "core" component, but it's MBUSA that really calls the shots on the "level" the cars are built to.

Gilly
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  #14  
Old 06-21-2003, 11:39 PM
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A tepid review by the NY Times

The Times does not have outstanding auto reviewers but it carries weight when it come to influencing people with their evaluations.


"The C320 had the Comand system, an unimpressive trip computer that cost $2,125 and did away with what would have been a standard cassette player. It did not include a navigation system. I never did figure out all that the Comand system could do, nor did I need to.

Competitive all-wheel-drive wagons are the Audi A4 quattro, BMW 325xi Sports Wagon, the Volkswagen Passat 4Motion and two Volvos, the V70AWD and V70 XC. The fanciest Subaru wagon, the Outback L. L. Bean edition, is also competitive in features and price. Prices of well-equipped versions generally range from $33,000 to $38,000, though they can creep higher. The Mercedes C240 4Matic wagon can be sensibly optioned to about $38,000; the C320 is typically well over $40,000.

The Mercedes wagons are solidly built, nicely styled and perform as well as any car in their class. Still, they tend to be more expensive than competitors that do the same thing about as well." [end of the article]

BUSINESS | June 15, 2003
2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: New 4Matic in Mercedes Wagons
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  #15  
Old 06-21-2003, 11:56 PM
I told you so!
 
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Rick, the real feedback Mercedes gets is at the dealerships where people buy the new products and where Mercedes makes its money from sales. Any questionaire I received from an auto manufacturer had to do with cars that were at most two years old. How can anybody possibly assess the quality of a car that is only two years old? It's rediculous. Even a Yugo can receive good marks after two years! To me the real assessment of a car's quality is after five or ten years.

I don't think the average new Mercedes buyer wrinkles his nose at all the gizmos because of the car's complexity and lack of easy repairability. I also wonder how long the average new Mercedes buyer hangs onto his car before trading (or selling). It would be interesting to take a poll, but I believe a lot of posters here are used car buyers such as myself. The sad fact is that we're a distinct group, and there's no incentive for Mercedes to cater to us. It sucks, but that's reality.

I hate to see so much Mercedes bashing in this thread - though much of it is deserved. After all, this problem pervades across all car lines today.
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