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Old 06-07-2000, 01:06 PM
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i am looking into buying a 1988-1990 Mercedes 300E 4 door sedan and was wondering if anybody could tell me what kind of mpg i should expect and also what kind of maintenence costs i will be looking at every year. any help will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2000, 03:18 PM
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JCE JCE is offline
Down to the Wear Bars
Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
Posts: 2,189
My 87 300E gets 19-20 around town and about 22 on the Hiway. I understand the newer ones do better - my neighbors 92 gets 21-22 town and 24-25 hiway.

Maintenance for the first year has been very good - biggest operational costs (aside from tires, oil changes, gas) were $412 for the 60,000 mile service, $232 for a center muffler, and $125 for a front flex disk. This is about 1/3 what we have spent each year for the last 3 years on our legend coupe, and about 25% more than on our 84 Celica GTS. By the way, when you do maintenance, organize receipts and keep a log - it helps the techs when they work on the cars! Hope this helps.

87 300E, 65k miles
Smoke Silver
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Old 06-08-2000, 07:17 AM
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My '88 300E gets 22 city and 26-27 highway, but it is a manual transmission, with fifth gear being an overdrive ratio.

Without going to my records, from 88K miles, which is what it had when purchased, until now, 173K miles, the most major repair has been the climate control amp for $200. My other expenses have been brakes, tires and normal maintenance.

The achilles heel for these cars is the valve seals, which were replaced on mine before I bought it, and the climate control system is problem prone. Oh, yes, the Becker radio gives trouble, but I have managed to live with it.

The Mercedes Buyers Guid says that the 300E is the best used Mercedes value period, end of story. I read that before I bought mine, and after 85K miles of service, I agree whole heartedly.

Remember, get it checked out by a Benz Tech who is very familiar with the breed.

Good luck,

Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 523K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles

[This message has been edited by LarryBible (edited 06-08-2000).]
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Old 06-08-2000, 08:38 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Scotts Valley, CA.
Posts: 145
I bought my 89 300E two months ago and I LOVE IT! (just my $.02)

I get around 20mpg in town (I have a short in-town drive to work) and around 24mpg on the highway if I go more than 70miles +-. I don't race it much, so that helps.

Mine is a cherry and I'll to my damndest to keep it that way. I had the cruise control amp go out on me (I'm quoted $325~ parts and labor at a local MBZ repair shop; not dealer) but other than that nothing to complain about.

Jay Yambrovich
1989 300 E
1992 190-E 2.3
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Old 06-08-2000, 09:41 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Johns Creek, GA, USA
Posts: 5,013
We have the rebuilt cruise control amps in PartsShop.
The part number is 003 545 09 32 for chassis numbers up to A649303.

Bill Wood - Webmaster, LLC

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 06-08-2000).]
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Old 06-11-2000, 12:00 PM
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My '89 300E is a wonderful car, but cost me dearly in the first year. The AC compressor died; after 10,000 miles the sluggish transmission went south; worn valve guides needed replacement; the sunroof broke a track (expensive); several vacuum diphragms in the heater box (generally called servos) failed (8 hours labor to remove the dash to the firewall and 8 more to put it back together, MB seems to build the car around the heater box); fan belt tensioner shock replaced; the cruise control has never worked (the switch is bad, no telling what else). I suspect some of this might have been avoided with better care by the first owner and the dealer, who did virtually all service before I bought it.
With all that, I still expect this car will cost no more per mile after 3 years than my last Honda. The seats are a revelation. It will take twisting roads better than my old 280Z ever did, and a 14-hour drive leaves me feeling much less fatigued than it has in any other car I've had.
All this may be the best argument yet for spending $100-200 for a careful inspection before you buy. Ironically, the dealer, with expensive electronic diagnostic gear independent shops rarely have, may be the best place for this.

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Old 06-11-2000, 06:37 PM
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I just wanted to ask if you had checked out the diesels? I was looking for a 300E, but after I found out what the diesels get, 35-40 mpg I was sold. The diesel;s do have less maintenance, but they are slower and a bit more noisy.
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Old 06-12-2000, 02:51 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,774
My '89 300E is a dream car. I have put about 35,000 KM (approx. 21, 000 miles) on it since I bought it. In that time, all I have had to do was replace a lower control arm bushing ($150) and the front oil seals ($200). The AC works but is low on freon. Since I rarely use it, I think I will put this one off for a while. From what I have heard, the climate control system for this car is a bit of a nightmare and is $$$ to fix (especially if the evaporator goes!). At my last check-up, everything was A-OK, but I am being told my belt tensioner shock is noisy. It seems this is a common problem (Bill's post)?

Regular maintenance is not expensive and the car handles and drives like a dream. The only thing I didn't like about the car was very minor - the horrible Becker radio which I have since replaced with an Alpine.

Good luck shopping around!

Chris Volk
'71 250 (retired)
'77 280E 210 K
'89 300E 205 K
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Old 06-12-2000, 05:26 PM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 1,416
Our '87 300E (automatic) gets 15-18 mpg city and 20-22 mpg highway.

The importance of a thorough inspection of any used car cannot be overemphasized, but especially with Benzes. Component build quality, even for Mercedes, varies across and within model years, never mind the variables of service and maintenance after the initial purchase. A "good" benz will have very low maintenance costs, a "bad" benz will have very high maintenance costs.

Depending on the policies of the shop you use, the cost of troubleshooting obscure problems can also be fairly expensive. Find a good shop, treat them well, and/or develop a good diagnostic sense of your own.

As a personal example, we bought our '87 300E new, and while it's held up fairly well over the years, it has needed a number of expensive jobs outside of the normal maintenance routine. The ones that come most immediately to mind were the requisite valve work (around '95 I believe) and a rebuilt transmission (last month). It is also due to have all ten rear suspension links replaced, along with the rear diff mount and the tie rods (according to an initial analysis by our dealer), which I imagine will not be cheap.

The car has also stranded a driver on three separate occasions (luckily, two were in our garage) - first thanks to an alternator, then a worn ignition key tumbler mechanism, and finally (last week actually) a dead distributor/rotor assembly. Early on, we had a number of electrical problems (window lifters and seat motors, mostly), and the AC quit for several years starting around '94. It has also consumed/leaked oil (in varying amounts) for a long long time. I think we're back to a quart every 1200 miles or so (from an all-time high of a quart every 4-600 miles).

OTOH, given its age, the car has held up pretty well. It's survived a couple of extended road trips, a flooding, a very high percentage of city miles, a fair number of minor car-to-object scuffles, and lots of delayed (or forgotten) repairs. It's still a joy to drive (well, besides the squirrelly rear - see suspension work above), and I think we'll keep it for quite some time to come.

As always, your mileage will vary.
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