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12-CLS63/04-CLK55 AMG/03-CLK320 Conv SOLD/01-ML430 Good Riddance/01 E320 wagon RIP
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Discussion Starter #1
I became a first time Mercedes owner in December 2009, purchasing a 2001 E320 4matic wagon with 104k miles. Now that it has been a year I thought I would collect my experiences for anyone that may be looking to become a 1st timer. My intention was to keep the car out of the dealer or any other shop and do all my own work. I list approximate cost of non maintenance items since they were the real unknown to me.

I purchased for my wife to replace our 10 year old, 185k mile family mini van / school bus / vacation mobile and pickup truck. Gave it to her for Christmas.

Week 1
Wow, this thing is awesome. Looks like new, drives great, comfortable, plenty of power (compared to the mini van) and the wife loves it. When she saw it Christmas morning her first thought was "We can't afford this". When I told her it was $7k she couldn't believe it.

Week 2
-Came out of church, crank but wouldn't start. Bad CPS. Eventually started and got it home. $80
-ABS/BAS/ESP light. Bad brake light switch. $25
-Replaced bulb in climate control unit $1

1st month
-100k mile maintenance. Oil change, plugs, air filter, drive belt, good engine cleaning.
-Misfire code on Cylinder 4. Swapped wires with cylinder 1 and code moved with it. Replaced wires (set) $125
-Replaced L/F axel boots. Replaced ball joint while I was there but no signs of the original being bad. $80

6 months
-Trans filter change. Not sure if it was ever done so I didn't want to shock the system with a full flush. I'll do that in another 30k miles
-SRS light and passenger side air bag warning. Pulled the seat and found a broken wire. Spliced and all is good. $0
-Replaced R/F axel boots. Replaced ball joint while I was there but no signs of the original being bad. $80
-Replaced gear oil in dif. Slight leakage at pinion seal but not worth fixing. It doesn't even leave a drip on the floor
-Flushed brake fluid
-Topped off A/C with one can of refrigerant. Will most likely need a top off every spring. $6
-I bought a 2004 CLK55 AMG for myself :)
-Cleaned the antenna amplifier connection so my wife can enjoy clear AM reception $0
-Caught seatbelt in rear seat and jammed the mechanism. Repaired $0

The verdict – This is the best car I have ever owned (until the CLK55). My wife has put over 25k miles on it and she is still thanking me for getting it.I did not expect any car with 104k miles to be trouble free and at the price I paid I also assumed it had given it's previous owner some trouble. With the vast resources available in this forum combined with WIS I believe short of a complete transmission failure there is nothing I could not repair on my own. The replacement part costs are not much more than any domestic vehicle assuming you don't always buy from the dealer. Out of pocket for non maintenance items was under $500 and I don't expect to see those issues again for at least another 100k miles.

If I was unable to do any of the work listed above and had to rely on a dealer that would be a different story. The first year would have been very expensive and to be honest I think leasing a new car would make more sense. For anyone that has basic tools, mechanical skills and a desire to maintain their own vehicle I would highly recommend purchasing an older MB. You get to drive an exceptional automobile at an amazingly low cost of entry. Do the maintenance and keep up with any surprises and you should end up with a cost of ownership far below what you imagined.

I have worked on a lot of different cars over the years and in most cases it was not enjoyable. Fixing a car that you can see was slapped together as cheaply as possible with everything around you rusting and pealing is just not fun. With the Merc though it is a different story. As I work on any part of the car I am constantly impressed with the level of engineering and quality that went into building it. I feel compelled to keep it like new as if it was a fine piece of art. There are no velvet ropes around it though. This car is the family sedan that is driven every day. I even tow a small boat with it. I expect to hit 200k in less than 3 more years. At that point we either just keep going or see what a used E63 wagon is going for.

If you are thinking about buying your first Mercedes but worried about cost of ownership and complexity of repairs all I can say is "Jump in, the water is fine" :thumbsup:

P.S. The CLK55 is off the charts regarding power and performance. I now look forward to my morning commute.
 

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85 190e/8v & 89 420 SEL
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1,073 Posts
As I work on any part of the car I am constantly impressed with the level of engineering and quality that went into building it. I feel compelled to keep it like new as if it was a fine piece of art.
^ I feel the same way.

Very nice. I'm glad you love your car and take good care of it. I do the same with mine. I have had it since April so not quite a year. I've done a lot of work to it but I have an awesome car that I have around $5000 in.

My running log of work/fixes/upgrades. Champagne Dream - Mercedes Benz w201.024 - Work Log / Option Codes

Great story. I'm glad your wife loves the car. My wife loves ours. (Notice I said "ours", she would say it's mine but I try to include her because I love her and she deserves it. :thumbsup:)
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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You are not the firs driver who found out the Mercedes actually enjoyable to drive but pretty cheap to drive on long run too.
Still I see you had bad luck. Bad CPS and brake switch in week 2?
I bought our current E300DT with 170,000 on the odometer and drove it 2500 miles home just fine.
 

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Outstanding Contributor W221 Moderator
2010 E350 P1/P2, 2008 S550 Designo, 2002 ML320
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2,010 Posts
So wait, what you are saying is, 'If you take care of your stuff, it will last longer?"

While this seems snide, it really is intended to point out that WE are responsible for our experience here on the big blue rock. Working on my Benz is relaxing. :cool:
 

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Premium Member
2012 C300 Sport 4Matic and 2003 CLK430 Cabrio
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1,919 Posts
I agree 100%. My w210 was very easy to love very miner issues. My w124 had some issues to work trough but we got along just fine. Im in a W220 now and we are getting to know each other. I love these cars and will keep driving them issues and all.:thumbsup:
 

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Outstanding Contributor W221 Moderator
2010 E350 P1/P2, 2008 S550 Designo, 2002 ML320
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2,010 Posts
Looking forward to the day when a W221 or a W212 fits in the budget. :thumbsup:
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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36,879 Posts
Don't know what W212 offers over W211?
I did own W211 for a year and loving the car -it was too much money invested in machinery that was not used too much. The 320cdi is technological marvel, but I did not have folding rear seats what would make my day.
Overall I consider W210 much better bang for the buck.
 

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'03 C320 4Matic Wagon
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321 Posts
Like the OP, I've had my E320 4Matic Wagon for just about a year. Mine's a '99, bought with @95K on the clock, and while it had some issues to take care of when purchased it has been a dream other than those.

I don't work on my own car -- I used to work on cars and enjoyed it but I don't have the time any more, and to be frank I don't enjoy it as much as I enjoy bicycling and other hobbies.

But I certainly don't take it to a dealer! I have it worked on by a local indy mechanic who works on many Benzes in my area and who is both reliable and honest. Would it be cheaper to work on it myself? Sure. But of you have a local mechanic you trust, a Mercedes Benz is not a particularly expensive car to own.
 

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96 E-320, 91 190E, various and sundry Euro and American vehicles
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12,141 Posts
I'm glad you have all had good luck.
I also do most of my own work. This car has cost me in parts, more in the past 2 years and 10K mi, than what my 190E has cost me in 10 years and 110k miles (now @ 181k).
It is not at all reliable and I now park it out of fear for the next code or failure. Quality control and dependability on this model is worse than some Fords I drive and have driven.
For an initial price of $55k. what a waste.
It will be my last newer Benz, and I may look at an older one again, but am not sure.

Love the car, hate the issues.
Sorry, but I can't join in in the enthusiasm.
 

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Premium Member
07 Silverado CC Z71, 10 Chevy Tahoe LT, 12 BMW K1600GLT
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5,819 Posts
I'm sort of on the fence with this one...

Not just because the tranny in my E420 just took a dump and I decided to cut my losses and get rid of it.

While my car had 208K miles, it was running and driving great and I enjoyed it much more than, say, my wife's 04 Expedition Eddie Bauer or any other vehicle I've owned in the recent years. But I still wouldn't call the W210 highly reliable vehicle.

A lot of the reliability depends on the maintenance it has received during the course of its life. Even with maintenance and upkeep there will still be some surprising and annoying things happening every now and then. Not necessarily anything big like my transmission issue, but annoyances, for sure.

Being able to do some or most of the work yourself or have a reasonably priced indy do it will definitely save a bunch of money. I still wouldn't necessarily recommend the W210 for first time MB owner. But that may just be me. At least not without proper pre-purchase inspection, preferrably performed by somebody familiar with these.
 

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2001 E320 - Brilliant Silver/Ash: 107,000+
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17,193 Posts
Mine has needed some work but it never stranded me or gave me a CEL. Everything it needed was covered by the extended CPO warranty I bought and will be by the aftermarket one I have now. Once this current warranty runs out I will try to extend that but with 90,000+ by then by then I don't know how many (if any) options I will have.
 

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To the OP I'd say keep your W210 for as long it's running. Skip the W211 and buy a used W212 in five or seven years time or so instead. The W211 is not as reliable and maintenance friendly as the W210. I'm in my first six months of ownership in my 1997 E320 and I love it more and more as time goes by. I have had several BMW:s in the past and wanted something else and haven't regretted getting an W210. I have loved the model since it came new from factory and my love hasn't died only grown stronger. Sad though that it is very prone to rust otherwise it would be the best model MB has ever built in my opinion.
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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Let me repeat my theory about MB reliability.
IMHO lot of repairs are inflicted by mechanics. While they fix one thing, they crack a hose or electrical plug.
Proof is in our ML320 -the model have very s**** reviews where some owners spend $3000 a year in the repairs shops, while our in 12 years needed less than $300 worth of broken parts. Still have original batteries in remotes and the car battery lasted full 12 years. The car in last years is neglected by my son, who is not sure if he ever flushed brakes, or radiator.
 

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2000 E430 (base), 77 450SL, 89 420SEL, 97 E420
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Congratulations! I'm on my 5th, and still get an erection every time I put the key in and hear the sound of a 4.3. Viagra is not an option. Yes it is "ours," not mine so says my co-pilot, who probably drives the car more than I do. Take good care of it (sounds like you absolutely do) and you will be rewarded over an over.
 

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2000 E320 4Matic Sedan
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151 Posts
I agree with the positive replies. I have had mine for 5 years. W210 AWD sedan. 86K and so far it has never let me down.
I performed most of the "Known Issue" repairs before they became an issue. CPS, Brake Switch, MAF, fluids, etc. Pretty much the list from the sticky.
The only one that bit me in the backside was the LH rear window falling down in the middle of winter, but that was also a relatively easy repair.
Damn cold for 20 miles though. I ended up repairing both sides.
I will also like to move to a 212 someday.
Cant keep her forever.
Good luck with the cars.
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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36,879 Posts
Cant keep her forever.
Good luck with the cars.
Sure not forever. You can pass it to your kids, eventually grandchildren, but that is about it.
I bought 23 years old Mercedes for my youngest son this year. I am sure I can easily get another 20 out of it. Can my son? :dunno:
 
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