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Old 01-11-2004, 06:56 PM
Benz300's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 803
Question most reliable model

I'm searching for a new benz. but my experience with the w124's arent that pleasant. granted they're great when they drive but that's... WHEN they drive. I've been stuck on the highway numerous times, ended up with broken radiator neck, falst resistors causing car to just stop and being towed etc etc etc. Maybe mine was a 87 but then again my friend bought a 92 400E and he has his own shares of problems from hesitant idles to faulty wire harnesses and so on and so forth.
In short, I'm going to stay away from the w124.
I guess one should spend a little more in the beginning and save the hassle later on is the moral of the story.
I was interested in the 92 to 98 S420 or the S500's but the horror stories are similar when it comes to heater core being replaced and the expence of gazillion dollars at the dealer again like the w124.
Now how about the SL's ? I usually havent seen a lot of posts concerning the 90 to 99 model 500SL or the 300/320SLs. Does that mean that those owners don't have problems with their cars or they're probably in the league of doctors/lawyers who just can't invest the time doing DIY's and then have no choice but to resort to the expensive dealers to get their benzes fixed ?
I'd like to know because if they're trouble free cars then i'll start saving for a 500SL. and from 90 to 95 which year was the most trouble free ? and how about the S500's from 90 to 95 ?
ideas are appreciate and I'm sure will benefit the other members who plan on buying those models.
Whether you think you can or cannot, Either way you're right!. by Henry Ford.
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Old 01-11-2004, 07:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I like the 210 a lot. The 129 has the same problems the 140 has, there are just fewer of them and as you say they are owned by generally more affluent buyers; which may keep the stories down.

In almost all cases with all cars (not just MB) I would stay away from 94-95 models. These were transition years changing over to OBDII emissions. I do like the 124 in 94 and 95 but that is because it was the end of an era and they didn't start the new stuff they left most of it alone.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 01-11-2004, 07:37 PM
Posts: n/a
I don't have near the experience as Steve, but I agree. I have had; 114, 115, 123, 124, 210 and 203 cars. I only drive my 210 car about 75,000 miles, but except for a dumb situation with the resonance system on the then newly designed diesel, the car was trouble free.

For me the next most trouble free were the early cars, that is the 114, 115 and 123.

My 124 has required attention over the years and has tried my patience, mainly because it just seems like I'm constantly buying parts. That said, I can't remember it every leaving me stranded beside the road except for an aged battery failing. I really don't lay that off on MB.

The 203 has had a few piddly annoyances, but it was one of the very first of the 203's being built within the first couple of months of production.

If you are looking for reliability, I think the 210 with the 3.2 would be a good bet.

Remember, ANY car is a machine. Machines need care and will occasionally require repair. That's a fact that you have to be ready to live with if you are going to drive.

Have a great day,
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:41 PM
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After the recommendations on the w210 model, i went ahead and searched the forum for the problems. it has it's own share. the tensioner, the timing chain etc etc. but i guess not as many problems as the w124.
Now, not to cause any flaming responses, but when i checked the prices for the 98 to 2000 year cars, they seem to be almost in line with the lex gs400 prices. same mileage/year etc. they're both comparable.
now the gs4 has 300hp and the reliability factor is obviously there since my friend has owned one since 99 and it's got almost 100K and he never even once visited the mech apart from the brake pads/rotor change once.
so if we can perhaps keep an unbiased thread going here, i'd like to know if u'd have to spend 20K on another car which one would u prefer. the e320/e420 or the gs400 ?
Whether you think you can or cannot, Either way you're right!. by Henry Ford.
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Old 01-11-2004, 10:18 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
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Location: SF Bay Area
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How long do you plan to keep the car miles-wise? Look for most travelled examples of each that's practical for you to inspect and give yourself an idea of each ages. This won't tell you much about what it cost to get to that point but at least you'll have an idea of what to expect in terms of deterioration.

95 S420
87 300SDL
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Old 01-11-2004, 10:34 PM
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Location: South Eastern, MA
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Choosing between a Mercedes and a Lexus is a matter of personal preference. Take both cars for test drives and decide which one suits you better. Regarding reliability I'm sure the Lexus will be a better bet but the trade off is it's driving style IMO.

On a side note my W124 has been extremely reliable to own. The other important factor I've realized about Benzes is their parts are cheap, much cheaper than Japanese car parts like our CRV. So when something does go wrong I investigate if I can fix it myself, in most instances I can. I also enjoy working on the car and I appreciate the engineering behind the Benz, amazing the way they designed these cars.

You mentioned one comment which I believe is very important when purchasing a used car. Buy the best you can and spend some serious time researching the car before you start looking. Also use a very stringent guideline when buying a car.

02 C32 AMG

92 500E
84 190E 2.3 5 Spd
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Old 01-11-2004, 10:50 PM
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Location: Phoenix
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Originally posted by LarryBible
If you are looking for reliability, I think the 210 with the 3.2 would be a good bet.

Are you saying straight six, or V6, or that it doesn't matter?

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Old 01-11-2004, 10:54 PM
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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They are both very, very good engines. Other than potential headgasket leaks on the M104 and harmonic balancer on the M112, either one is an exceptional engine. Be on the lookout for these two things, though.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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Old 01-12-2004, 12:30 AM
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I agree with you when u say it has to do with the driving style, and preference.
well i have to admitt i love driving the benz compared to the lexus. but i'm just sick and tired of not being able to trust the benz at all. not knowing when it'll just leave me stranded on the highway and that's just not acceptable anymore. with the lexus one drives with some peace of mind. thats the only thing that i'm looking for at this point. i've asked several owners of the older benzes and none of them have that as their only daily car. everyone has atleast one backup mobile knowing the benz can just give up anytime and they'll have to be at work on time as well. so they have the japanese car sitting right next to it
Whether you think you can or cannot, Either way you're right!. by Henry Ford.
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Old 01-12-2004, 11:47 AM
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Location: South Eastern, MA
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I'll admit my car isn't a daily driver and we do have a Honda as commuter. We actually bought the Honda for that exact purpose......and to haul our dog and other stuff around. I also think it's foolish to spend a ton of money on a vehicle and use it as a daily commute, takes years of ownership to change what is owed vs what the vehicle is worth.

But I wouldn't hesitate to by a W124 wagon in good condition as a daily commuter, again I would be VERY particular about previous history and overall vehicle condition. I would also stay away from the first couple years of production as they're always troublesome. I've also learned to stay away from modifications to vehicles as I've found they typically make servicing more frequent and costly.

I've owned an MB Lemon ('84 190E) which spent months on end at the dealer getting serviced for something and finally traded it in. But the problems I had with that car are related to:
1. First year that model was made.
2. No knowledge of previous maintenance
3. Vehicle was in accident
4. Vehicle had spun mileage (showed 60K actually had 150k!)
Taking all those factors into account I still had that car for 6 years of teenage driving. The car held up well and when I factored all expenses it ended up costing the same as buying a new Camry or similar but was much more fun to own! I will admit the times it was in the shop were very frustrating and I had to scramble to find a vehicle.

Maybe an MB isn't the right vehicle at the moment and a Lexus is a better fit. In the future when you can have a couple of vehicles around I think you would be hardpressed to find anything more fun to own, drive and maintain......excluding exotics

02 C32 AMG

92 500E
84 190E 2.3 5 Spd
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Old 01-12-2004, 02:28 PM
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Location: Milford, CT
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"most reliable model" Brand new, true of any make. I have heard very few negatives about the W202 C class. They seem to be really well made little cars. The W210 E class seems to be a safe bet as long as it doesn't have 4 matic (big $$$) The SL500's/S500 are awsome cars but they were built for people with big money. So budget for repairs accordingly. You could buy and restore a manual trans 240D for what these newer cars cost. Would be slow but unkillable, cheap to run, and reliable.
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Old 01-12-2004, 05:46 PM
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I'd get a 240D but i dont want to double my commute time to work
i drove a couple and they're ...slow .. ! just not something i'm looking for in a car when even the hyundai's have 150 plus hp on the road there. and at the end if the restoration of the 240 would cost me as much as the newer cars then why bother
Whether you think you can or cannot, Either way you're right!. by Henry Ford.
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Old 01-12-2004, 09:11 PM
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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I think part of your answer is buried in this thread, and in just about every other thread I've seen on this general topic: For any car, you'll find happy owners of good, well-treated examples, and you'll find unhappy owners of problematic or abused ones. I was just researching Range Rovers and found that, complex and troublesome though their rep is in some quarters and for some owners, there are also happy folks who've had no problems. Other threads on this BB have detailed expensive issues with Lexus.

Personally, my 560SL was my daily driver last summer and will probably be for several summers to come, as my daughter's in college and doesn't need her car in school season. It needed a number of things sorted out due to PO inattention, but only once needed help on an urgent basis; that was the radiator neck, a known weak point, and one that should now be fine for a very long time. I've had a moderately troublesome Saab, a notably weak Olds Bravada and earlier a 98, a bulletproof Saab, a bulletproof Cougar, an annoying Audi---etc., etc. For used cars in general, and certainly for MB in particular, the best way to a happy experience is to buy a cream puff from someone you know, and the next best is a cream puff with a history you can obtain and verify. Anything else has risk, which one may choose to assume--knowingly.
Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)

SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)
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Old 01-13-2004, 01:05 AM
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Just a guy
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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Originally posted by Hatterasguy
"most reliable model" Brand new, true of any make. I have heard very few negatives about the W202 C class. They seem to be really well made little cars.
Many folks would agree. If you can live with the smaller car, the W202 is very durable and well made. Problems are few and running costs are quite low compared to just about any other MB model. The 2000MY C280 with an updated harmonic balancer would be the best bet and probably the most bullet-proof six banger MB available.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:34 PM
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Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 237
Biased owner's thoughts.

The answer is dependant on whether newness is important to you. Otherwise, I think the clear answer is one of the "time warper" W123 240Ds with manual transmission that occasionally appear, usually in Florida, that have been garaged their entire lives and look, drive and handle almost like new. For the W123 series, very little problems or significant maintenance (fluid changes and valve adjustments only) over extreme periods of time and mileage are the rule with very few exceptions that I know of (I personally know of none that didn't involve abuse). A little slow, maybe, but with a stick and learning how to drive them properly, most drivers have no problems on the interstate or in the city.

Just a biased owner's thoughts who feels that having electicity involved in only your lights, starter, glowplugs, radio and AC blower is a good thing for reliability and longevity of your car.
2008 GL320CDI 6K
1970 280SL 112K
1982 240D 210K (Sold)
1973 220D 220K (Sold)
1967 200D 160K (Sold)
1992 400E 139K (Sold)
1988 300E 148K (Sold)
1987 300D 257K (Sold)
1991 300E 108K (Sold)
1987 300E 131K (Sold)
1978 300D TMU (Sold)
1980 300D TMU (Sold)
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