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  #1  
Old 10-20-2003, 12:31 PM
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Best E Class Engine 97, 98, 99

Now that I am a fan of this site, friends are asking me for advise...and I am not qualified to give it. But I can ask. SO for a buyer lady friend, she wants a Mercedes sedan to use reliabily for years and I have bragged about my "zillion mile 3.2 six" in my 95 and 88 E's. I have read some threads on the pros & cons of the various 320, 420, 430 engines. Comments please! Thx
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  #2  
Old 10-20-2003, 02:30 PM
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This could be a "volatile" discussion, but before it starts, clarify what you mean by "best".

Best longevity? Best MPG? Quietest? Most Powerful? Cheapest to operate? Most refined? Most able to withstand abuse and infrequent maintenance?
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
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  #3  
Old 10-20-2003, 02:56 PM
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Reliable and least costly to maintain with "normal" usage and wear. In other words, "best value in class" justified by facts rather than emotions. I realize this is highly subjective, but try to think, "which one would I buy for my daughter"? This should be fun, but I value this site's opinions.

Thanks
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  #4  
Old 10-20-2003, 03:01 PM
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Well, considering "best value for my daughter" and least costyly to own and operate, I'd have to recommend an E320, and get the year (97, 98 or 99) with the lowest mileage and best maintenance record.

And whichever year I purchased, I'd spend a couple hundred dollars and get the crankshaft balancer replaced. This part was updated in the middle of the 2000 model year.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #5  
Old 10-20-2003, 03:08 PM
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'97 E320 Has No Crankshaft Balancer

I don't think it does as it is a straight I6 configuration, not the V6 as was used in '98 and forward. I6 is good engine but has the infamous headgasket leak problem.

But you're right, get one made before 2000 as they took a lot of quality out of the car at that time ( at least that is what I see and feel).

Actually, a '97 E420 might be a good choice if you can find one that hasn't been abused.
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  #6  
Old 10-20-2003, 03:31 PM
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You're right. I forgot that the inline 6 was used in the W210 chassis in 1996 and 1997.

The inline 6 M104 engine is a great engine, and once the head gasket has been replaced with the updated version, it should be every bit as reliable as the V6.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #7  
Old 10-20-2003, 11:30 PM
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Here in Australia, the E230 version of the W210 with the M111 four is proving to be very reliable. An ideal car where outright performance is not a high priority. I believe in the US you could not get the W210 with the M111 and therefore have to choose between the M104 inline six with its head gasket and oil leak problems or the M112 V6 with harmonic balancer problems. Possibly the E430 with the M113 V8 might be worth considering. Anyone have comments of the reliability of these? If the smaller car is suitable then consider a C-class with the M111.
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  #8  
Old 10-20-2003, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by deluxejb
Reliable and least costly to maintain with "normal" usage and wear.
That's much too easy. C'mon, just try and stump us. Let's talk gasoline engines:

1. M111 four cylinder. Sips gas. Easy to work on. Cheap parts. Double row timing chain that lasts a long time. No systemic head gasket problems. I can't think of a cheaper way to own a late model gasoline powered Mercedes.

2. M103 in 2.6 and 3.0L SOHC form. Great engine! Some head gasket problems, but not nearly as bad as the M104. Early valve seal problems, but within a few years the M103 was fully sorted out, and would rank as one of the best engines ever slotted into an engine bay in any car.

3. M119 V-8 engine. The crank journals look like they are suitable for a naval destroyer. Anyone that claims that the bottom end of their M119 wore out prematurely killed it themselves. There are some top end oil problems that are simple to repair and not a major flaw. The M119 is very powerful, very durable, and also should be ranked as one of the greatest engines ever made. It's not the cheapest when compared to the frugal M111, as in the long run it will require more parts (twice as many banks of slugs) and use more gas.

Anyone want to chime in with the compression-ignition list?
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  #9  
Old 10-21-2003, 12:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by blackmercedes
That's much too easy. C'mon, just try and stump us. Let's talk gasoline engines:

1. M111 four cylinder. Sips gas. Easy to work on. Cheap parts. Double row timing chain that lasts a long time. No systemic head gasket problems. I can't think of a cheaper way to own a late model gasoline powered Mercedes.

2. M103 in 2.6 and 3.0L SOHC form. Great engine! Some head gasket problems, but not nearly as bad as the M104. Early valve seal problems, but within a few years the M103 was fully sorted out, and would rank as one of the best engines ever slotted into an engine bay in any car.

3. M119 V-8 engine. The crank journals look like they are suitable for a naval destroyer. Anyone that claims that the bottom end of their M119 wore out prematurely killed it themselves. There are some top end oil problems that are simple to repair and not a major flaw. The M119 is very powerful, very durable, and also should be ranked as one of the greatest engines ever made. It's not the cheapest when compared to the frugal M111, as in the long run it will require more parts (twice as many banks of slugs) and use more gas.

Anyone want to chime in with the compression-ignition list?
Damn, why can't my posts be as good as John Shellenberg's?

You always say what I want to say, but better...
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".

Last edited by suginami; 10-21-2003 at 01:07 PM.
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  #10  
Old 10-21-2003, 11:17 AM
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Cool M119 Reigns Supreme

I have read the post by blackmercedes and couldn't agree more about the M119 engine. I have a 92' 400E with 145k miles. It has truly been a pleasure to own and drive. I can truly say that my only real costs have been tune-up parts and yes a cracked driver side mirror (my wife backed into the garage and ripped it off).

Also, while in Stuttgart, GE I had the opportunity to have lunch with some engineers from DC and they stated that the V8 E class with the M119 engine was the best engine build ever.

Cheers,

Brian
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  #11  
Old 10-21-2003, 12:07 PM
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Is there a comprehensive list somewhere that states what engine type and size was used in which model, by year, as well as the commonly acknowledged problems, i.e. M103 head gasket?

This could very helpful starting point in choosing a used Mercedes.

Gary
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2003, 01:09 PM
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I'd just like to add some more insight on the common complaints of the M104 engine: bad engine wiring harensses and head gaskets that leaks.

These are one time expenses that are not repeated again and again and again over the lifetime of the engine.

The new wiring harnesses are made with regular insulation that doesn't fall apart, and the newest head gaskets are made with oil inserts where the oil passages are that prevent it from leaking again.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #13  
Old 10-21-2003, 04:21 PM
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Yeah, I don't count the wiring harness in any car when considering the engine. However, I have heard of M104 owners having multiple head gasket replacement episodes.

In the grand scheme of things, the M111, M103 and M119 are "no brainer" buying decisions. While the M104, M112, and M113 are great engines too, there is some serious investigation than must go on. Gaskets for the M104 and crank balancers are M112/M113 issues. However, at least a leaky head gasket on the M104 dosen't come apart and potentially wreck thousands of dollars of other stuff.

For a buy it, drive it, forget about it, kind of experience the M111 is near the top of the list, but has the flaw of not propelling anything larger than a C-Class with much verve. However, where the larger cars are sold with M111's, gasoline tends to be pretty expensive. The M111 (aspro) is very frugal. I often get 6.5L/100km's in the C230 in highway driving. That's phenomenal for the level of equipment that I'm hauling around. Climate control, heated seats, sunroof, four airbags, super-stiff structure, and so on.

As to the street cred of the M119, look no further than the W124 E500 cars. I challenge anyone to find another marque that offers similar performance with the kind of durability and longevity that the E500 offers. M5? Hahahaha. Race horse manners, sure, but race-horse expenses too. M-series engines make tons of power, but have very expensive M-specific bits and parts costs are closer to Ferrari than Porsche.

As to the M103, take a drive down the freeway sometime. Notice how many 86-92 300E's there are? Even in "Mercedes rare" Edmonton, they're all over the place. They just go, and go, and go. The M103 in our old 190E 2.6 (Dad still has it) is terrific. Fifteen years and over 200K-miles, and it's still tight and strong. Top end? Not yet. Bottom end? Probably never.

However, the M104 crowds the podium with the M103. Just make sure the one you're looking at has been sorted out.
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  #14  
Old 10-21-2003, 04:57 PM
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Phalcon51 - list of engine types by model - MBUSA site has a 16 model overview that shows everything, except of course common problems. Click on any model, then "features", then "16 year model overview".
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  #15  
Old 10-21-2003, 06:02 PM
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John,

I agree that the M111 is surely the best choice if you want to "buy it, drive it, and forget about it", but here in the U.S., it was only offered in the C class.

According to MB Doc, Benzmac, et. al., the head gaskets for the M104 were redesigned multiple times, maybe as much as a dozen times, but the most recent re-design is said to be leak proof. My Mercedes mechanic says he hasn't head one leak, yet.

That said, in an E class chassis (W124 or W210) with a six-cylinder engine, I'm partial to the M104 solely for the added power, but admit that the M103 is every bit as smooth and refined, and equally long-lived. Everyone has seen or heard of M103's with 300,000 or more miles, but the M104's are so new, it is rare to even hear of one with over 200,000 miles. I known they're out there, though.

If it were mine choice, though, I'd get the W124 chassis with the 4.2 liter M119 engine (1992-1995), or the W210 chassis with the M119 (1997 E420 only).

It's hard to believe that the difference in fuel economy in the W124 chassis from the 3.2 liter M104 to the 4.2 liter M119 engine is only 1 mpg. The 1997 E420 gets even better gas mileage due to the 5 speed transmission, and possible upgrades to the fuel management system.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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