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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks-

What a great site ! So helpful. And Thank You to all who have been helpful in guiding me, and helping me navigate this wealth of info !

I am considering a purchase of a 1997 S500, one owner car. 120 K miles. BUt on a scale from 1-10...it's an 8 Exterior, 8 Interior. Black / Black, which seems to be so hard to find.

From this site, it has been mentioned that the best years of the W140 are 97-99, in terms:
1) Best reliability
2) No electrical problems (as the pre 95' models had)

The one sad part if that 1997 only has Front Heated Seats, and Front Power Seats. It seemed like even the 1996 models had rear Heated Seats and Rear Power Seats.

Is 1997 a good year ?

Is 1996 a bad year, in terms of electrical problems still ?

This site seems to preech that 1997-1999 is the best circa for the W140.

Does anyone know if the body in 1997 is still Bulky & Square ? I love that look. But I know that the body seems to get more & more streamlined in the late 90's (ie 1999) ???

Thank you again for all your help!
 

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Hi folks-

What a great site ! So helpful. And Thank You to all who have been helpful in guiding me, and helping me navigate this wealth of info !

I am considering a purchase of a 1997 S500, one owner car. 120 K miles. BUt on a scale from 1-10...it's an 8 Exterior, 8 Interior. Black / Black, which seems to be so hard to find.

From this site, it has been mentioned that the best years of the W140 are 97-99, in terms:
1) Best reliability
2) No electrical problems (as the pre 95' models had)

The one sad part if that 1997 only has Front Heated Seats, and Front Power Seats. It seemed like even the 1996 models had rear Heated Seats and Rear Power Seats.

Is 1997 a good year ?

Is 1996 a bad year, in terms of electrical problems still ?

This site seems to preech that 1997-1999 is the best circa for the W140.

Does anyone know if the body in 1997 is still Bulky & Square ? I love that look. But I know that the body seems to get more & more streamlined in the late 90's (ie 1999) ???

Thank you again for all your help!


1997 is a good year, one of the best. 1997+ are all about the same IMO. The body is basically the same as the older W140s but has color matched lower trim, european style clear tail lights and many other small changes on the interior and the rest of the car(different keyless entry/alarm system, side airbags standard, etc).

If you can afford the 1997+ then you should go for it over the older cars. I wouldn't consider the lack of rear reclining/heated seats as beeing a big issue but to each his own. I beleive it was still offered, just not standard as in the older models.

good luck with your purchase and i would definitely have a mechanic that knows these cars look it over before buying.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much.

Curious though, how come on this W140 forum, most individuals reccomend 1998-1999 only, excluding 1997.

What is the negative with 1997 ?

Or is it not a negative, but simply the lack of more positive features in 1998-1999, such as the Braking Assist System ? That's the only difference I can find between 1997 and 1998/1999.

Is that correct ?
 

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There is a small trick when recommending post facelift W140s.

Worlwide, mid-1996+ production date is a good reference to get a great W140. By then, Parktronic/Xenon/water sensitive wipers were already introduced and the engine wiring harness problem was long gone.

The problem is that most updates made to production Benzes get delayed on US models. Hence, 1996 is a tricky date to recommed an US model. That is why most forums recommeds 1997-1999.

The final updates which included the BAS system and the electronic maintenance/service interval computer were available on late production 1996 models worldwide, but did not enter US inventory until mid 1997. That is why SOME people will not recommed 1997 (some early 1997 US models may lack these features).

Remember that some peculiar issues, as the A/C evaporator failure and the self-closing door pump were NEVER fixed. So, don't think that by getting a 1999 you are completely safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you so much. That truly clarifies the 1997 / 1998 mystery. 1997 is a hit n' miss year,. It is only good if you get a 1997 that was released mid-year 1997.

I wasn't aware that 1997 had the final updates such as the BAS. I thought that was 1998.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank You for your suggestions & input

1997 is a good year, one of the best. 1997+ are all about the same IMO. The body is basically the same as the older W140s but has color matched lower trim, european style clear tail lights and many other small changes on the interior and the rest of the car(different keyless entry/alarm system, side airbags standard, etc).

If you can afford the 1997+ then you should go for it over the older cars. I wouldn't consider the lack of rear reclining/heated seats as beeing a big issue but to each his own. I beleive it was still offered, just not standard as in the older models.

good luck with your purchase and i would definitely have a mechanic that knows these cars look it over before buying.
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It seems like 1998-1999 is the easiest approach. 1997 is a trick year it seems. To find out if the car came out of the productions line in early, mid, or late 1996 will be difficult I think.

1998-1999, seems like an easier approach to get the best W140.
 

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Additionally, the 97's were the first year for the monochromatic paint scheme and the new 6-hole wheel design. So, while these are not mechanical parts prone to failure, some may be detered from a '97 becuase it was the 'first' production year for these elements. '97 was also the last year of the single button key fob - such that the alarm system underwent a revision for the '98 model year. During the last two years, I believe the alarm system forwent infrared and instead utlized radio frequency technology. Additionally, the key fob had four buttons in total: lock, unlock, trunk release, and panic (the pre '98 keys were sooo much nicer in my opinion). Moreoever, instead of the red / green lock / unlock indicators the corner signals would flash when locking and unlocking the vehicle. As for the C140, it was also the first year MB changed over and forever split the grande 'S-Class' in two: now 'S-Class' and 'CL' hold the '-Class' - at least that's the way it was initially marketed. Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
1997 had a better alarm sys then the 1998-1999 circa ?

Based on that, are you suggesting that the 1997 might be the best bet ?

Or would you still reccomend 1998-1999 for:
1) Maximum Reliability (with the exception of the AC evaparator)
2) Aesthetics
3) Greatly improved Electrical systems that will not cost you your soul & then some.
 

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No, if anything I would say that the RF system of the '98s and '99s were superior becuase you did not need to aim the remote at an particular receiver. What I meant to say was that while the system was improved, I liked the older key fob sooo much better. It was of a vastly superior quality (yes, even though the car was already post facelift) - but this is just the key, not really related to the 'car' 'car.' The new four button key has cheap feeling and looking thin plastic buttons that become worn in a matter of a couple of years - not cool. whereas, the prior key fobs will probably appear new until the car meets its maker!
 

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Yeah, the "skin" for my panic button on both keyfobs has worn off. On the '95 S500 I drove, it was like new. But, they only had the one button, I've got four. So maybe mine is easier to work?

IIRC, the '95 had remote sensors on both front door handles, my '99 only has it on the driver's side. Did they change that throughout the span sometime too?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Interesting about the alarm remote. But I will have to live with it I suppose.

More of a case for 1998-1999.

I have also heard that those 2 generations are not much different. For the final 2 years, they were the same.
 
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