Originally Posted by MackM
I'm a new member looking for some feedback. My wife's looking to buy a "pre-owned" C class or E class wagon (not the R class) and I'm hoping those of you with with Mercedes experience can share your thoughts with this neophyte. Any model years to avoid? Pros/cons that you can think of. I'm particularly interested in hearing from members who owned a wagon and can share their experiences.
Thanks in advance to everyone willing to help out.
We've owned a 2000 E320 4matic wagon for about 7 months. We bought the car with about 70K miles on it. So far we have been very happy with it. We had it inspected by a trusted mechanic who specializes in MB products. Don't consider the purchase of a used MB without this step.
There are a few things to look out for. The first is to make sure the car has had the Harmonic Balancer (main crank pulley) on the engine replaced if it is one of the years that is part of the recall. There is plenty of info on this site about that. You shouldn't have to worry about the spring perch issue on a wagon as for some reason it does not seem to affect wagons. However, it is easy for a mechanic to inspect for rust in this area so have them do it. You should definitely check for exterior rust and pay close attention to the doors. What you want to do is gently pull back on the rubber weather strip that surrounds the door frame and look for rust in this area. Do this on all four doors all the way around the door. It is very easy to do yourself.
The transmissions on either the C or E from these years are a potential source of problems because MB has claimed that they don't require the transmission oil to be replaced and are "fill for life" units. This is garbage, of course, but too many people bought this from the dealer and didn't change the fluid. You can't check the fluid yourself without the special tool from the dealer (no dipstick comes with the car) so this is another reason that a mechanic who specializes in MB is important. They can check it and give you an idea if it has been replaced or not. You also want to verify that the car has only had synthetic motor oil used because petroleum-based oil is not up to withstanding the 10K mile oil change interval that MB recommends.
I'm not sure what you are accustomed to driving, so I'll assume you have no MB experience. These cars involve much more maintenance than Hondas/Toyotas, etc. Be prepared to pay more for everything. Be prepared to have to do more, as well. If you're ready for the responsibility that comes with one of these cars you will never go back. I bought ours for my wife as she was going to be commuting to and from work every day with our infant son in the back seat, about 60 miles a day total. I don't worry as much with them in the car. She got rear ended a month ago and all occupants were completely uninjured. That makes the price of maintenance (and gas, which costs much more than her old Honda) more than worth it.