W220 S430 - Reliability and Recommendations - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2007, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Question W220 S430 - Reliability and Recommendations

Hello, all. I'm new to the board. I hope to be a MB S430 owner soon. I've seen similar postings to the one I'm posting now, but I wanted to ask the question again to all you knowledgeable folks!

With an 2003+ S430 what am I getting myself into? Quite honestly, I'm taken aback by some of the comments by MB owners on this site. A lot of the Ebay nonsense seems to be a result of a pissed off MB E class owner (even that phony complaints page he put together).

I want more objective info. One guy on here said he'd never recommend an S class to a retired person since it costs so much to maintain and isn't reliable. Either that poster (who's well established here, I might add) is full of bologne or is saying that my choice in MB is all wrong.

My problem is this: From what many of your are saying (or suggesting) I should NOT buy this S class; however, I'm in love with the design...I cannot shake it. It is big enough to put three baby seats in the back and has lots of leg room for the latter years (I plan on running it into the ground for years after it is paid off).

BOTTOM LINE: If I sold my 88 Toyota Celica with 220k miles (never a problem), with a car that is guaranteed to have major issues every few months, MY WIFE WILL KILL ME.

Any of your thoughts would be helpful. Is the MB S430 a POS?? I can take it, just tell me and I'll get the Lexus instead. I have a friend who has owned nothing but MB and has good luck with them, so who should I believe? Am I researching too much?


John in NC

Last edited by Skylaw; 01-16-2014 at 05:29 AM. Reason: Corrected W221 to W220
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2007, 11:54 AM
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John27517, i cant comment on the reliabity of this make and model. But as a general piece of info. If your a guy who is willing to learn and have the time, $$$, and equipment to maintain your vehicle yourself then owning a car this size should not be a bad thing. Keep in mind any used car is a risk, any car for that matter, but used will always mean you have some things that will happen unexpectedly. There is always the "Pay to have it looked over" thing which is the wises piece of info. If your not a DIY guy then no matter what happens big or small you will be spending a good amount of money, and having your friend of whom owns MBs then you can consult him as a resource for repairs and maintanance in your area. They are realy good looking cars and there are some model years that they say to stay away from. At the end of the day it will have to be about how hard your driving the car and the overall condition "THAT CAR" is in once purchased. Good luck

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2007, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Sly. I do appreciate your comments.

John in NC
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2007, 12:31 PM
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Thanks for starting this thread because I am looking for a 2003+ S430, or possibly an S500. FYI: These are known as W220. The W221s are the 2007 S550 and S600. This apparently comes with other engines, but I don't think any are available in the US as of yet. Good Luck with your search!

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2007, 04:24 PM
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People who post on these forums either have problems or are enthusiasts who revel in sorting problems. This is not a representative sample of S class owners! Like doctors in a hostpital, you only see ill people...
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-11-2007, 03:23 AM
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2003 S430

I bought a 2003 S430 a couple of months ago and it's a great car.I did alot of research before I bought the car.I looked at these models for over a year and finally came across one with 25,000 miles in great shape.Most of the one's I had seen prior to this had 40,000-60,000 miles on them.I say look around until you find the one where you can say this is the one.I'm like you in that I keep a car for a long time.That will be the case with this one.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-11-2007, 03:57 PM
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I agree with previous post...
just got me '02 s500 with 34k miles. great car almost like new. i did wait for long time though until i came across the right one. so far so good, nothing drives like the s-class.
this car was one i dreamed for long time. i could have gotten a lexus but would not be feeling good about it day in day out.
that being said, if this is car that you are in love with, get it. 03' is good car and you shouldn't have much problems.
good luck.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-12-2007, 04:16 AM
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Because you have done some reading already, you may have seen this - but post #5 at http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220...questions.html provides links to a number of opinion pieces on the W220 (the W221 is the '07 and later S-Class, a redesigned car).

Some additional good information is at Purchasing 2001-2002 S430: Need Advice - MBWorld.org Forums

As whitenemesis points out, the forums are hardly "representative" as a quality survey. Folks write in to complain, or to push the envelope in one area or another - or to answer those who do.

The 2003 Facelift marked the beginning of a recovery from the problems that dated back to the major redesign in '00. Tightening of quality controls and some refinement began to pay off - culminating with the (newly designed) W221 winning Best of Class in the 2007 J.D. Power initial quality survey. In general, quality began to improve in '03 and continued an upward trend each year after. However, despite some of the early problems, the earlier editions had strong advocates. I never regretted buying my '00; I only traded it to get my 4-Matic (All Wheel Drive - not available on the S-Class in '00).

Quality aside, however, the '04 marked the introduction of the MOST fiber optic bus that is becoming the industry standard, and departure from the Mercedes-proprietary D2B bus; this means that as time goes on, more 3rd party electronic retrofits will be available for the later cars, and they will be more capable. For one example, the 3rd party Dension Gateway 500 iPod retrofit provides text readout of song titles on the MOST COMAND units, but does not on the earlier D2B units (including the '03 widescreen unit). The D2B COMAND units (including the '03 widescreen) have CD-based navigation systems. The '04 and later have DVD based nav, with more features than the CD-based units. '05 W220s and later ordered with cellular systems have the MHI system, which offers a bit more flexibility in updating phones (though a Bluetooth retrofit is available for the earlier models, and is pretty straightforward for the '03 if already equipped with OE cellular option; it can be confusing for the '04, but the most expensive equipment is already present whether the option was originally purchased or not). For a rundown on cell phone options that may be far more than you want to know right now, see http://www.benzworld.org/forums/audi...bluetooth.html.

The car is complex, and as any car, can break. Unique to the S-Class is the Airmatic system - it is responsible for the marvelous ride and handling, but as is common to any pneumatic system, it is prone to wear and occasional leaks. Stay on top of it, and you will minimize expense, as slybydesign recommended.

Lexus? Not everyone finds them as reliable as one sees described on these forums. It seems that when some have a bad experience with a Benz, the Lexus suddenly becomes magical. However, other automotive forums reveal that they actually do break, and sometimes cause their owners frustration. I think they are boring in both style and driving experience - but that's my opinion.

I have commented before that folks are quick to vent their frustrations with their Benzes here. That's one reason the forums exist. Few people ever write in to say they drove their car yesterday, and everything was perfect (however, I did, and mine was).

For peace of mind, investigate an extended warranty - either the extended warranty out to 100K miles on a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car that Mercedes offers, if your car qualifies, or a good 3rd party warranty. There is information on the forum about that. You might start with Any S Owner With Aftermarket Extended Warranty - MBWorld.org Forums.


2013 S550

2010 S550
2005 S500 4-Matic
2000 S500
1978 450SL

Last edited by Skylaw; 08-12-2007 at 04:59 AM.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-12-2007, 12:41 PM
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I've owned my W220/S500/2000 for over seven years and it is the best performing and looking automobile I've ever owned--and I've owned a bunch! I highly recommend an S500/W220 (not a 430).

Don't believe everything you think
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-13-2007, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. Just wondering what is wrong with 430? Is it the resale value or the HP in comparison with the 500?

I was just thinking that I didn't need the extra 40 HP, but maybe it is a better engine or something?

Thanks again.


John in NC
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