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Old 09-25-2001, 03:28 AM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Eastern TN
Posts: 20,811
pros and cons of 93 400E

First off, I did search the archives so I do have a lot of info. Thanks to all who contributed. I'm mostly fishing for info that bears a second mention.

There's a 93 400E available in ideal-to-me white with grey leather. It has 95K miles. Outside of PPI findings, what are the pros and cons of this car? How soon will it likely need head gaskets, a valve job, a timing chain, a water pump and other such things that mortals can't tackle themselves? I've done these things on an M116/7 and it looks no more complex on an M103. The M119 is like nothing I've seen before.

I enjoy the ease with which I can do basic service on my 91 300SE. Are filter changes much more difficult than on an M103 or M117?

Is the EPA rating of 18/24 representative of what folks get? My 300SE gets all of 17mpg. Anything over that helps justify the trade.

91 300SE
81 300SD

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Old 09-25-2001, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
The 1993 M119 engine is a very good engine! The timing chain TENSIONER is a common failure part. If the tensioner starts to fail it will cause other t/chain related failures. Other than that problem, the original ENGINE wiring harness is of concern. These are great cars to drive!
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Old 09-25-2001, 09:32 AM
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I have a 1992 400e. I get CONSTANTLY 19-20 MPG. This is in combination hwy/city driving. At each fill up, I log my mileage and fuel used.

Hwy driving is mostly around 75-85 MPH with WOT runs up to 115+ whenever possible.

City driving includes "jack rabbit" starts at all opportunities.

As for working on the M119, it is not that difficult. I also have a 1988 300e. The 400e is a bit more difficult to work on, but not by much. The increase in difficulty is maily due to the tighter working conditions.

Pros: Fast, solid, and good looking.

Cons: ..... hmmm..... it's not a 500e

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Old 09-25-2001, 09:30 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
I get 20/26 mpg consistently. I agree, a great engine. Has silicon cylinder liners, variable valve timing, and I'm sure many other superb engineering features. I have 102,000 miles on mine. No major engine problems; did replace the radiator a couple months ago after a leak developed. Do use Mobil 1 or your favorite synthetic oil to do whatever you can to treat this fine engine right.
'93 400E
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Old 09-25-2001, 09:56 PM
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Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
Posts: 883
Pros and cons of a 400E

Pros: W124 classic chassis, looks and power.

Cons: (Let me be VERY CLEAR about the following comment: to me it is NOT a sensible issue, but I found out that for some other people it really is a big CON about this specific model, so you may want to consider it or not (it's really up to you): all 400Es sold in the United States were assembled in Mexico.)

For some reason MBUSA actually denies this fact, or it is in complete denial about it. In Latin America there are some rumors that the built quality of the Mexican assembly plant is much inferior to the plants in Germany, hence some "experts" blame many "build quality defects" inherent only to the 400E to this issue.

It is a matter of geo-politics: if someone wants a true Mercedes-Benz they want it to be made in Germany. And the build quality issues maybe a indirect correlation of the problems many Volkswagen models have when manufactured in Mexico. Who knows? I, for sure, don't!

A. Rosich
S320, 1998
E320T, 1995
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Old 09-26-2001, 12:50 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Eastern TN
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Thanks for the insight. I've driven MB vehicles assembled in the Philippines. It's easy to identify these vehicles because the seventh digit of the chassis number is a 5 instead of a 1 (or something like that). I believe the 5 means it was delivered 'knocked down.' I believe there are several assembly sites in SE Asia.

How do you know 400Es were assembled in Mexico? Is there port of entry information on the vehicle or accompanying paperwork? How much assembly was left to Mexico? I hope the engines and transmissions were built in Germany.

91 300SE
81 300SD ... buy me
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Old 09-26-2001, 02:30 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
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I'm not sure about Mercedes, but I can spot Mexican or Brazilian-built VW parts a mile away.

If MB parts are subject to the same standards as the VW parts, here's where the discrepancy occurs:

1. Quality. You want to add fuel to the "quality" thread, take a look at fit and finish. If the parts are German, then there should be no degradation of the true MB quality.

2. Markings. German "knock-offs" made anywhere but in Germany will be stamped as such..."Hecho en Mexico", for example. I believe MB requires this.

3. Longevity. 15-year old MBs hold their age well. 15-year old knock-offs will not.

4. VIN. MBUSA should be able to tell you the rest of the vehicles assembly history based on that...
2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
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Old 09-27-2001, 12:38 AM
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Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
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400E "Made In Mexico"

The main reason Mercedes-Benz assembled the 400E in Mexico was that this model was created almost exclusively for the United States market. The plants in Germany were in full capacity and the retooling required to build an additional spin-off the W124 series with such a small output was out of the question.

Hence, as I understand (sourced from readings in some magazine articles, chats with M.B. mechanics and salespersons), complete unassembled car kits (body parts, engine, transmission, etc) were shipped to Mexico were they were put together and then shipped to the U.S. Local parts use was kept to a minimun.

Actually, I don't know if it would help you to do some research with the VIN number and MBUSA about this issue, since as stated before, MBUSA is not to keen to talk about it. The reason? Again, anyone's guess.

Local techs told me that they have found out the 400E tend to have more minor electrical gremlins that are usually present in the W124s. Also, some problems about door aligment, and general problems about interior fit and finish are usual complaints.

The 400E fullfils a very peculiar niche created by market needs (for example: the four-cylinder, 2.0 liter, 4-speed manual transmission, cloth seats, 2-door, C124 coupe that was made exclusively for the Italian market in the early years of the W124 line-up). A 400E kept the "V-8 appeal" for the american market, without the astronomical price of the Porsche-sourced 500E. Also, you must take into account that assembling the car in Mexico also helped to LOWER the cost of production.

The W124 sedan production was kept alive in India for almost four years after production ended in Germany. At the time, a brand new Indian-made W124 would cost almost half of what the same car would have costed in Germany with the same engine and options. Weird isn't it?

A. Rosich
S320, 1998
E320T, 1995
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Old 01-25-2002, 01:44 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 298
I checked the VIN number of my 92 400E, it showed it was made in Germany, I think the VIN number should correctly indicate the location of the plant that the car was originated, shouldn't it?

When I bought the car, I also asked them where the car was made, the dealer showed the VIN number and told me MBs that made in Mexico all have different VINs.
99 BMW 540i 6-speed 110K Km
03 SAAB 9-5 wagon 80K Km
92 400E (Sold) 245K km
Still missing the days with the Benz, it kept me busy.
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Old 01-25-2002, 02:02 PM
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Posts: 1,562
shouldn't the made in: "----" be contained on a metal plate afront the motor compartment?

400e guys here can report back to you what they find....

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Old 01-25-2002, 02:34 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
Example VIN:


The letter just before the last 6 chassis end numbers signifies the manufacturing plant.

A-E = Sindelfingen, Germany

F-H = Bremen, Germany

H-Z ?????????

Hope this helps...

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Old 01-25-2002, 05:06 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Iowa
Posts: 277
My '92 400E has "Made in Germany" printed on the VIN plate on the B column. I didn't find anything in the engine compartment to indicated build location. My VIN number also has the letter "B" before the last six digits.

I love the car, and with 109,000 miles on the clock, I've had no problems thusfar. Very solid and very fun to drive.

Brian W.

01 S55 AMG Silver
01 CLK55 AMG Silver
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