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  #1  
Old 10-29-2003, 10:21 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
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Question W126 vs W140 opinions wanted

I am considering an S Class purchase and have narrowed the choices down to a '90 to '91 SEL or a '92/'93 SEL. I am looking for other members with these cars to give their opinions on the differences in the two models and what are the usual parts or systems that need to be watched for when doing a pre-purchase inspection.

Any mechanical worries that typically come with these models?

Appreciate any helpful insight into the reliability of these models.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2003, 10:55 AM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Money to burn? Buy an early W140. Want something cheaper to run, but not as luxurious? Buy the W126.

The best W126, in my opinion is either the 300SE/SEL or the 560SEL. The 300 is a superb car for it's relative economy of operation. The M103 is super reliable, easy to work on, and pretty frugal on the fuel for such a large car. The 560 is priced the same as the 420 in the used market, so go for the extra power and M117 (M116 has a few more issues) engine.

That said, I wouldn't pass up a super cherry 420.

For the W140, the 92-93 cars will give you many headaches, but are wonderful big cars to drive. The list is long of things that can go wrong thanks to the W140 being a huge leap in technology contained on a rolling chassis. In 1992, there was no car on the planet more complex. Do some searches for specific problems.
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2003, 11:33 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: KINGSPORT, TN
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W126 VS W140

I had the same question about 6 months ago before I bought my 90 420sel. I have a friend that works at a MB dealership that was looking for me a car. He suggested the 92-93 only if the AC compressor had been repaired or replaced. He said that on that car, they built the motor around the compressor and when you have to have one worked on, it is "like a bomb went off with all the parts laying around" and would cost around $2k to fix. He suggested 86-91 w126. I personally feel the 500-560 which have the hydraulic self leveling suspension is pretty expensive. I chose the 420 over the 500-560 due to standard suspension and cheaper to repair/replace. The 420 will get almost as good of gas mileage as the 3000se/sel, but has the power of a v8. If you are looking for an older car, the 500-560 might also be a bit more expensive to keep up do to a few extra bells and whistles like the reclining rear seats and the heated seats. Keep in mind, the more bells and whistles you have, the more chance of something breaking and needing a repair, which equals more $$$. I understand from many with the 500-560's that the gas mileage is quite a bit lower, which with high gas prices that we currently have, it will cost more to run. I also have an 89 300se that I love, but that particular motor seems to have a problem that 9 out of 10 will have and that is oil consumption. Don't get me wrong, it is a strong motor if you don't mind having to add oil pretty often. I have heard the factory states that it is not unusual for that car to use or consume a quart of oil every 1500 miles. Mine consumes about a quart to a quart and a half every 800-1000. It is not bad unless you are taking a trip of 600-800 miles, then it is aggrevating. Again, not all 300's have this problem, but 9 out of 10 will. I know of about 6 people with this car and only one does not use any real oil. My feeling is that the motor is not powerful enough to pull the weight of the car (3500-3600 lbs.) and it strains the motor sometimes. If you want a good, middle of the road luxury car that it fairly cheap to keep up, I would suggest the 87-91 420sel. On my 300, I have had a complete valve job done and it did not correct the problem. The MB mechanic can not tell me anything else I can do to correct the problem. Also, if considering a v8, make sure the timing chain, rails, and tensioners have been inspected/replaced or make preparation to do this upon buying. This seems to be a major weekness of the v8's. I would recommend every 100k have this done. I am having mine done as we speak. My car has 110k and the MB mechanic said the tensioners were in bad shape. If the rails break and get caught in the chain, it will cause it to jump and has been known to do as much damage as $5000 worth. Email me with any other questions you might have on these cars. If I don't know the answer, I may be able to direct you to someone who does. My email is scottfish@peoplepc.com .
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  #4  
Old 10-29-2003, 10:38 PM
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Actually it's the AC evaporator that can be a problem on W140s.

The cars are worlds apart. Try a few of each then come back with questions. If you like what the W140 has to offer, I doubt a W126 will suffice even for the substantial cost savings. If you have a fixed budget for this purchase, you're probably looking at the cheapest W140s which means you're not going to get a car with a good service history. A W140 in comparable condition to a particular W126 will cost at least twice as much as that W126.

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  #5  
Old 10-30-2003, 09:10 AM
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Location: Indianapolis
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Thanks for the replies...
At this point, I am still weighing my options. I certainly like the classic lines of the W126 and would be happy with one, but I have also driven two W140 and enjoyed the way they handled as well. That is why I posted for opinions...I knew of the timing chain issue with the W126's, but I know very little about the W140's quirks. Budgetary constrants on the purchase will probably hold me at or under $15K. I was thinking of a '91 420SEL with some cash left over to change out to Euro lights and do some preventative maintenance upfront.
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