to buy or not to buy...and buy what?!? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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to buy or not to buy...and buy what?!?

Hello all you wise and knowledgeable MB owners...

Need some advice.

43 yo Mom looking for a WAGON to haul around a 5yo, an infant and a 100lb dog on lots of road trips (as we like to say, we're like visa...6 hours from anywhere you want to be . Live in UPSTATE NY...read: LOTS of snow.

I am not going to buy another gas guzzling SUV (been there done that) nor am I willing to go back to a minivan (been there and done that too). Having started the kid thing later in life, I am looking for a slightly more luxurious ride that perhaps the average sippy-cup carting crowd.

I have loved MB since my Dad bought his first in the late 70's. Dream car was a MB 300TD wagon even then. (Have looked at those used but dh says no way on the diesel because it gets too cold around here. No where to plug in a block warmer while on the ski slopes...)

Hubby is very handy with vehicles and in the past has done quite a bit of our maintenance although he has been taking his A4 to the dealer instead of repairing himself. I suspect we will do some repairs ourselves and take others to dealer.

I am interested in a USED E320 4matic but have NO idea what year to look for or avoid. I know there are issues with some years but there are lots of differing opinions about which ones. Help knowing what things to check mechanically would be great too.

Need to keep the price under 20K and would prefer under 15k. Miles don't scare me as much as things like premature rusting and other serious flaws.

Advice? (Please don't tell me to buy a Subaru...saw the earlier post on that...) I have test driven almost everything else on the market and either hate the plastic/fake interiors or am turned off by the less than 20 highway mpg that most wagon/crossovers are getting. (I pretty much have my heart set on a mb....

HELP!

Cyndi
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 12:25 PM
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If you want a real rock solid reliable Benz, then go with the last two model years of the W124 E-class (94/95). I would avoid the E-class W210 up until about 01/02. Even then, those are not the greatest. Look for lots of electrical problems, but the last two years were the best and should be in your price range. Avoid the W211 E-class until about 06/07. Do not touch a 96 or 03. Mercedes even admits that they rushed the 03 car to production and it was not a very reliable ride.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Mr. Xpowerseller.

Since I am still learning the "W" model logo designations etc and model specifics I did a bit of looking at the 94-95 model years you suggested...however I am thinking these are probably rear-wheel drive. I have been told (and would concur from my experience with other rear-wheel drive vehicles) that they aren't necessarily the easiest to maneuver in snow/icy conditions.

Are the 94-95 E320 wagons rw drive? If so, anyone have any experience with these?

Also, just so I understand, are you thinking that perhaps an 04-05 E320 4matic might be okay? I have seen these in my price range...

THanks again!! I really appreciate your expertise!
c
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:40 PM
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The 94-95s w124 wagons are rear wheel drive. My wife drives one here in salt lake. You'd be surprised what a good set of 4 snow tires will do. 95 is the last year of the 124 wagons. The next generation w210 wagons come in 4matic, and if you are considering this model it's always a good idea to buy from the end of the model run so theoretically the bugs are worked out. My friends in the w210 forum may disagree but some say this model suffers from having too many electronic gremlins.

2008 E350 4matic wagon
2000 E320 4matic wagon (sold)
2001 E430 4matic sedan (sold)
1989 300SE (sold)
1994 E420 (sold)
1988 300TE (sold)
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:45 PM
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Yes, the 94/95 wagons are RWD if I remember correctly. 4Matic was dropped in late 93, for the 94 and 95 model year. You may be right about these being a bad pick for snow ville. You could get a 90-93 TE wagon with 4Matic AWD. It would not take much to update those to resemble the face lifted 94/95s (new headlights, tail lights).

To answer your other question: I did not recommend a 04-05 E class wagon, no. For the most part, they have been unreliable. I wouldn't even consider a W211 until 06. The bugs needed a while to be worked out.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:47 PM
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4matic was very problematic in the 124 sedans/wagons. And very expensive to fix. Most would tell you to avoid a 124 with 4matic.

2008 E350 4matic wagon
2000 E320 4matic wagon (sold)
2001 E430 4matic sedan (sold)
1989 300SE (sold)
1994 E420 (sold)
1988 300TE (sold)
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:48 PM
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Hi Cyndi,

W210 refers to E Class MBs from 1996 to 2002 (2003 for the wagons). W211 refers to E Class cars from 2003 to present (2004 for wagons). W124 are 1987 to 1995 models.

As far as your questions go, yes you could get 4Matic wagons in the W124 models, but this system was incredibly complex and problematic. Most mechanics will tell you to avoid these cars like the plague because of how expensive to fix if/when they break.

W210 cars have a number of known flaws. The wagons have been available from 1998 onwards, so your only powertrain option is the 3.2 V6 with 5 speed automatic transmission. In Canada all wagons were 4Matic, but I believe in the US you could get rear wheel drive only. The two biggest problems you'll find with a W210 in these model ranges are:

1) failures with the crankshaft pulley (called a harmonic balancer), which is a $120 part that takes about 15 minutes for a mechanic to replace. There is an open recall on affected models in the US, but not here in Canada. A failure of the harmonic balancer can potential cause $4K in engine damage and result in you being stranded.

2) rusting of the front spring perches. If these rust out, your front suspension can/will collapse. It usually happens at low speed. This is a problem that does NOT affect 4Matic models, just RWD models. It is very easy to inspect yourself and the car does not have to be on a hoist.

Other issues to be concerned with include: 1) window regulators, especially the rear windows. Due to a cheap piece of plastic failing, the device that raises and lowers the power window can/will fail. 2) Body rust, especially around the doors/hatch. Look behind the door/hatch and also peel back the rubber seal around the top of each door frame to check in there for rust. 3) Failure to maintain the transmission properly. MB claimed that the 5 speed automatic transmission was filled with lifetime fluid. This is a load of BS. It should be changed about every 60,000 miles or so. You don't want one that hasn't had the fluid changed, trust me.

The #1 rule of thumb is to have a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) done by a qualified independent mechanic. Make this a condition of sale. You might spend $100 on this, but it will be the best money you'll ever spend. We've had our 2000 E320 4Matic Wagon for about a year now and we've put about 17,000 miles since getting it. We've been very happy with the decision. But there is nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes. Spend the money now, or spend more later.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexnatt View Post
4matic was very problematic in the 124 sedans/wagons. And very expensive to fix. Most would tell you to avoid a 124 with 4matic.
Yea, you are right. I was just thinking about that after I posted. Don't buy an early 4Matic.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 02:44 PM
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Living in Canada (you think **you ** have snow !!!!)

Good snow tires on steel rims -they really work :-)
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-22-2007, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbforcyndi View Post
Hello all you wise and knowledgeable MB owners...

Need some advice.

43 yo Mom looking for a WAGON to haul around a 5yo, an infant and a 100lb dog on lots of road trips (as we like to say, we're like visa...6 hours from anywhere you want to be . Live in UPSTATE NY...read: LOTS of snow.

I am not going to buy another gas guzzling SUV (been there done that) nor am I willing to go back to a minivan (been there and done that too). Having started the kid thing later in life, I am looking for a slightly more luxurious ride that perhaps the average sippy-cup carting crowd.

I have loved MB since my Dad bought his first in the late 70's. Dream car was a MB 300TD wagon even then. (Have looked at those used but dh says no way on the diesel because it gets too cold around here. No where to plug in a block warmer while on the ski slopes...)

Hubby is very handy with vehicles and in the past has done quite a bit of our maintenance although he has been taking his A4 to the dealer instead of repairing himself. I suspect we will do some repairs ourselves and take others to dealer.

I am interested in a USED E320 4matic but have NO idea what year to look for or avoid. I know there are issues with some years but there are lots of differing opinions about which ones. Help knowing what things to check mechanically would be great too.

Need to keep the price under 20K and would prefer under 15k. Miles don't scare me as much as things like premature rusting and other serious flaws.

Advice? (Please don't tell me to buy a Subaru...saw the earlier post on that...) I have test driven almost everything else on the market and either hate the plastic/fake interiors or am turned off by the less than 20 highway mpg that most wagon/crossovers are getting. (I pretty much have my heart set on a mb....

HELP!

Cyndi
My neighbor had a C320 wagon and loved it to death - I know she paid under $17,000 for it with relatively low miles...

Just my $.02

"...All this time we're burning our bonfires in the dark, a billion other blazes are shooting off their sparks. Every spark a drifting ember of desire, to fall upon the Earth and spark another fire..."
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