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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-18-2007, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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I thought I would start this thread to find out what people think about the current inferior reliability, quality and fit'n finish for the 2000- present Mercedes Benz models.

Fact (I am sure you already know this):

JD Power and Associated ranked Mercedes Benz at almost the bottom (next to VW) per initial quality and customer satisfaction.

Consumer Reports does not recommend any Mercedes Benz models as they all (and I mean all of them) have reliability issues.

Compare today's dismal reliability and inferior craftsmanship of the 21st century MB with the legendary MB of the 60's and 70's. Why has Daimler gone astray? And do not tell me it is due to the merger.

What are your thoughts?
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-18-2007, 10:10 PM
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You might not think so, but I really think Chrysler dragged them down. Good thing Daimler kicked them to the curb.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Nicole Koon and Sam Gross View Post
I thought I would start this thread to find out what people think about the current inferior reliability, quality and fit'n finish for the 2000- present Mercedes Benz models.
As an owner of one of the first model year 2000 S-Class sedans to roll off the boat here in America (production date 2/99) I have been nothing but completely satisfied with my purchase nearly 8 years and 110k miles later. I can count only one time my S430 has been in the shop for anything other than routine maintenance, and that was to replace a faulty instrument cluster (paid for by MB under warranty).

As for my 2007 SL550... Stunning looks, great performance, first class interior... what more could you ask for? Certainly no lack of quality here.

Fact (I am sure you already know this):

JD Power and Associated ranked Mercedes Benz at almost the bottom (next to VW) per initial quality and customer satisfaction.

JD Power and Associates ranked Mercedes-Benz near the top, in 5th place overall, per initial quality and customer satisfaction for 2007. The S class, E class and SL ranked highest in their respective segments.

"Mercedes-Benz shows dramatic improvement, particularly with its newly-redesigned S-Class, which improves 63 PP100,” said Oddes. “Overall, Mercedes-Benz improves its nameplate rank by 20 positions—the greatest rank increase of any nameplate in the study. All Mercedes-Benz models in the study improved substantially, and the breadth and speed of these improvements demonstrates the Mercedes-Benz commitment to quality."

"For the second consecutive year, Porsche tops the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 91 PP100. Following in the rankings are Lexus, Lincoln, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, respectively."

By the way, one reason why MB has ranked lower in past years in JD Power surveys is because of a little known fact regarding how scores are calculated. A car may have few defects, but can still be marked down for something ridiculous like control placement. In other words, an impeccable quality score can be marred by a "hard to use" navigation system which, as far as JD Power is concerned, counts somehow as a measure of quality. And by "hard to use" I mean confusing for computer illiterate geriatrics with no concept of how standard electronic interfaces operate. You know, cursors, menus, split screen layout, using the back button, highlighting what you want to select... stuff like that.

"Without considering both quality factors, onemight fail to recognize vehicles that are, in fact, excellent in certain ways,” said Ivers. “For example, BMW vehicles have among the fewest defects and malfunctions, along with Toyota. But BMW approaches controls and displays in a way that creates some problems for customers, leading to more design-related problems overall than Toyota incurs. Automakers differ significantly in how they define quality and what parts of the organization they hold accountable for it. Clearing both critical quality hurdles is an accomplishment experienced by only a limited number of brands."

Reminds me of the time I rented a BMW in Germany, complete with the dreaded, terribly complex i-drive interface. In under 60 seconds I had changed the system language from German to English and in under 2 minutes had entered in the address of my hotel in the GPS and scaled the map appropriately... so much for hard to use I guess. Same thing with the MB COMAND system that journalists like to bitch and moan about. Should Toyota really get more points for "quality" from JD Power because its "My First GPS" system was designed by FisherPrice with all sorts of big colorful touchscreen buttons? Please... are people really this stupid?

Consumer Reports does not recommend any Mercedes Benz models as they all (and I mean all of them) have reliability issues.
Consumer Reports is a hack. From a quantitative standpoint, Mercedes-Benz models rank among the highest in their road tests and comparisons. Unfortunately due to their deeply flawed "reliability" survey, CR rates Mercedes-Benz models "below average" in "reliability." I put reliability in quotes because the CR definition of reliability isn't exactly traditional. A car with a solid engine, transmission, etcetera can be ranked low because it has an "unreliable" radio or "unreliable" power window switches... relatively unimportant things. Annoying? Yes. Important? Not so much.

Not only are CR reliability rankings flawed, they are misleading to say the least. If you can even take CR car reviews seriously at all, keep in mind that they use a RELATIVE measure of reliability, NOT an ABSOLUTE measure. This cannot be overstressed. In other words, CR measures reliability compared to a class average. A car that is relatively reliable can still have a huge black circle just because it falls slightly below the average in its ranking.

For example, lets say that there are 10 categories that CR uses to measure overall reliability in its flawed annual survey. Car A receives a score of "excellent" in each category. Car B receives a score of "excellent" in 9 categories but "very good" in 1 category. In absolute terms, car A and car B both rank high in reliability, but in relative terms, car B scores "below average/poor" in reliability.

Even more unfortunate than this deceptive survey is how people like yourself pick up the latest CR rag and make grandiose predictions about a Mercedes apocalypse without reading the fine print or critically analyzing what CR is actually saying.

I remember a few years ago when I was looking to purchase a BMW X5, I casually looked over the annual CR reliability report just for laughs. I saw the overall reliability rating for the X5 was "poor." I then turned to the detailed reliability rating of the BMW X5 and saw that in every category it had scored at least "average" and mostly "good" or "excellent." In other words, a reliable car made to look unreliable by the hacks at CR who accurately assume that most readers don't read the fine print or investigate the details of their rankings.

ROFL. Did you see the latest comparison where they gave the Toyota LS460 a higher ranking than the Mercedes S550? They blatantly admitted that the S500 was better at everything except gas mileage and "user friendliness". Better ride, better comfort, luxury, handling, brakes, engine... you name it. Even the fit and finish was deemed better on the S. Yet somehow the Lexus Celsior came out on top? Just goes to show you what kind of people CR cater to... old timers more interested in getting their senior citizen discount at the International House of Pancakes than how their car looks, drives or performs.

Give me a fucking break. CR should stick to toasters and dishwashers. Its all they've ever been good at anyway.

Compare today's dismal reliability and inferior craftsmanship of the 21st century MB with the legendary MB of the 60's and 70's. Why has Daimler gone astray? And do not tell me it is due to the merger.
As far as reliability is concerned, MB may not have been among the best since about 2000 (so I keep hearing... though it hasn't been my experience at all). Due to the highly complex, cutting edge nature of their cars, especially one ahead of its time like the W220, this isn't exactly surprising. Certainly not excusable, but definitely not unexpected. Anyway, comparing the reliability of a 70s MB to a 2000+ MB is like comparing a toaster to a space shuttle... Point moot.

Despite these qualms, all indications point to MB steadily improving in this area. Even MB leadership has admitted to recently taking steps to improve reliability by holding third party suppliers and plant operations to higher standards. Just look at the latest JD Power IQS study for proof. Better yet, sit inside a new S class and tell me it doesn't reek of class and solid engineering.

As far as craftsmanship is concerned I'm not sure they have lost their edge at all. All the reviews I have read, certainly in the last 3 or 4 years, have had nothing but high praise for quality and fit and finish. Even CR rates MB highly in this area. Even Toyota's LS460 was said to have poor fitting panels compared to the well finished S550 in a recent review.

What are your thoughts?
As long as MB continues building on its long history of engineering innovation, and designs exceptionally safe, luxurious and good looking cars, I'll be happy. If the price to pay for this is a slightly less user friendly navigation system or less reliable power window motor... so be it.

In any event, most would agree that Mercedes heading back to the top in the quality and reliability department... so looks like its a win-win for everyone.

1988 Volvo 760turbo
1991 Mercedes 420sel
2000 Mercedes S430
2001 BMW M5
2004 BMW X5
2007 Mercedes SL550

Last edited by JapTrapLex; 10-19-2007 at 02:13 AM.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:47 AM
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I would just like to say that i am on my 4th MB dating back to my first in the eighties, they have all (and I mean all) been super reliable, feel strong and well built and I for one wouldn't change for the world, here is something to consider, the JD survey asks people about their experiences but also there perception, what i mean is, if you went in to a low end brand dealership and it looked like a Rolls Royce dealership then suddenly they have exceeded your expectations, thats not to say that the brand is better than a MB brand but because your expectations were exceeded it scores well, so my point is that the reality (as many on here will testify) is that MB make a great car which is reliable and meets our expectations, but few would say it exceeds our expectations as we expect so much of it to start with!

Hope that makes sense, guess what i am saying is its easier to make a low brand great than make a great brand better!
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 07:07 AM
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I've never had serious problems with my '03 C230... The only stuff I've had was a lock issue and the key not opening the car from a distance. I wouldn't trust JD Power or Consumer Reports for anything... Plus, what's better, a reliable but boring Kia or a "less reliable" but fun MB? (According to JD)
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 07:21 AM
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For "me", it’s not what the writers at JD say, it’s not what the writers at CR say, it’s not what my neighbor says, it’s about "my" personal experience. If someone else buys a Mercedes-Benz, and every major subsystem on their car fails repeatedly both on and off warranty – well, sorry to hear it and I wish them well in their next vehicle. "My" car has done everything "I" expected.

I’ve owned dogs that have bitten people. As long as the dog doesn’t bite me, the dog and I don’t have a problem.
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 08:01 AM
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This has come up before. The biggest factor affecting quality seems to have been the decision in the late 90s to try to control costs better and no longer allow the engineers carte blanche regardless of cost. The result was that, unlike the older "overengineered" Benzes that ran forever with minimal problems, MB made cars like mine where random parts fail on a regular basis. Not just minor things either, things like the airmatic struts or the EIS that make the car undrivable and cost a fortune to fix. It does seem that MB has improved their quality control and that the newer cars are more reliable, but I would certainly never even consider buying another Benz until they produce a few more years of solid results.

As for CR and JDP, yes there are problems with their survey methods. But when Lexus consistently scores near the top and MB consistently near the bottom, there is a real reason for it not just some sort of bias in the surveys.

(Oh and GO SUBARU! They are now ahead of Toyota; I wish they had a luxury division.)
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 10:19 AM
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You guys are responding with far too many words, its a very simple answer, and here it is.

Jurgen Schrempp

Here are a couple of quotes

Before becoming the CEO of Daimler-Benz in 1995...
Following a decision of the board taken on July 28, 2005, he was succeeded on January 1, 2006
Those are the dark years. Quality has been said to be coming back, not only by Mercedes, but by reviews and general satisfaction. Now you gotta realize that fixing things isn't going to be fully noticed for around 7 years, give or take, as it takes time to actually get the problems fixed and implemented and then the new cars that are good have to be out for a couple of years for people to notice the improvement.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 01:36 PM
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on a side note: why does Mercedes have such $hitty resale value..?

Gone but not forgotten:
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ProV1x View Post
on a side note: why does Mercedes have such $hitty resale value..?
Pro, wait another 6 - 12 months and these high quality Mercedes will depreciate even more.

I was watching CNBC about the mini-market crash today. High end car repossession is on the rise. Houses go first, then cars. You would think it is the other way but people like to hold onto their high quality Mercedes just a bit longer than the house so the cars still show no rust.

If you take a look at Autotrader, many post 200 Mercedes have "Reduced" next to the price.

Cars For Sale: Car Details - AutoTrader.com

The above car (very close to me and I bought my wagon from him) started at $18.9k, reduced to $17.9k, then to $16.9k, now to $15.9k. I do not think it will sell at that price.

Last edited by loubapache; 10-19-2007 at 02:01 PM.
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