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Old 12-19-2003, 07:05 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: California
Posts: 12
1992 500 SEL Electrical Malfunctions

Last year I replaced my 85 380 SE with a low mileage "92" 500 SEL. This has been a great riding car but has been plagued with electrical problems since I bought it. The Drivers seat controls completely quit, the back seat seat warmers come on automatically when the car is started and the Becker stereo 5 channel amp went out all in a period of about 6 months. I have also had minor problems with the wheel traction button that I was able to have my mechanic clear up through the computer control.

Am I looking normal malfunctions for a car this age or is the 92 fraught with electrical problems?

92 500 SEL
85 380 SE (RIP)
76 300D (Sold)
97 Infiniti QX4
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Old 12-20-2003, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,084
500 SEL

The Becker amp very common, The AC evaporator will go sooner or later, the closing (assist pump) common, heated seats, (pull fuse) not so common, the seat control not so common, suspension bushings, level control (spheres) motor mounts average life.
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Old 12-20-2003, 10:36 AM
3 MB's and counting!
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,825
I love the 90's S classes but lets just say when it comes to the reliability, you'll be wishing you kept your 380.
99 C43
98 S420
99 C230K
01 C240
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Old 12-20-2003, 08:25 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: La Quinta, CA
Posts: 271

Isn't this one of the models that had/has major problems with the wiring harness?
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Old 12-20-2003, 09:20 PM
A. Rosich's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Posts: 883
As I understand, the v-8s had some wiring harness problems, as opposite to the 6-cylinder models, which presented a lot of them.

W140s were VERY unreliable until 1994 (it took M.B. more than four years to sort out most (not ALL) of the problems that the electronic monster-mobile presented. Late production 1991, 1992 and early 1993 are the worst.

Actually, your story seems half the horror tale from what I'd heard from other early production W140 owner's.

Post 1994/5 models (more or less around the time of the facelift period) are usually more reliable but definitely not bulletproof.
A. Rosich
CL 500, 1998
S 500 L, 1998
E 320 T, 1995 [Sadly sold ]
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Old 12-20-2003, 10:16 PM
86560SEL's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: east Tennessee (southeast USA)
Posts: 3,006
I think it is a real shame too, as I think that this is one of Mercedes nicest looking sedans- only 2nd to the 1981-1991 S-Class sedans.
Hope you get all of your electrical problems worked out.
It sounds like an electrical short in some wiring. I have heard of a lot of electrical problems with the 1992-1993 S-Class sedans. I was considering one a while back and passed on it because of this. I have seen a couple of these on E-Bay that had caught fire due to electrical shorts. One caught fire at the battery and one was under the hood.

Like someone else already said- just pull the fuse to the heated rear seat.
1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)
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