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Discussion Starter #1
Getting ready to buy my first Mercedes. Here are my final 2 options:

1999 W140 S320, 124K miles, one owner. Price is 8000 (prob negot).

2000 W220 S430, 88K miles, price: 10,500 firm, two owner (same owner since 2004).

I've heard horror stories about the 2000 W220's. Both cars drive very nice, both have clean positive carfax reports.

Should I get the newer one? I like the S430 body and interior better, but the S320 is just a solid car. Reminds me of my old Volvo 850 10 years ago.

any opinions are welcome!
 

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1993 W140 500SEL Black/Black, 12014 Ford Fiesta ST Blk/Blk
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Well your right, the early 220s are horror stories. It's been proven time and time again regardless of what owners THINK they know, because they don't.

The S320 will be more reliable in every way. No air suspension, chronic rust issues, electrical issues....and on and on..

That 320 engine is a fantastic engine. I'll take build quality over looks. The W140 is a beautiful car, very imposing and impressive in it's play on dimensional perception, it is big, feels big, looks big.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well your right, the early 220s are horror stories. It's been proven time and time again regardless of what owners THINK they know, because they don't.

The S320 will be more reliable in every way. No air suspension, chronic rust issues, electrical issues....and on and on..

That 320 engine is a fantastic engine. I'll take build quality over looks. The W140 is a beautiful car, very imposing and impressive in it's play on dimensional perception, it is big, feels big, looks big.
Do you think 8000 is a fair price for an S320 with 124K? I don't... I would like to see closer to 7000 out of him.
 

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since you asked in the w140 section, expect more 99 s320 favourable answers. if you like the w220 look better than go with it. just make sure what the common w220 problems are and that the previous owner took care of those. if so the vehicle should be fairly reliable. w220 has a more updated look than w140, but if you like more of a classic benz look than w140 has it. w140 will feel heavier, but w220 drives more comfortable and handles better than the w140. drive them both and get the one you like the most. if you are looking for something reliable get a 4-cylinder civic, otherwise get the one you like the most. both cars will be fairly close in maintanance considering previous owners kept up with everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
since you asked in the w140 section, expect more 99 s320 favourable answers. if you like the w220 look better than go with it. just make sure what the common w220 problems are and that the previous owner took care of those. if so the vehicle should be fairly reliable. w220 has a more updated look than w140, but if you like more of a classic benz look than w140 has it. w140 will feel heavier, but w220 drives more comfortable and handles better than the w140. drive them both and get the one you like the most. if you are looking for something reliable get a 4-cylinder civic, otherwise get the one you like the most. both cars will be fairly close in maintanance considering previous owners kept up with everything.
I get the cost ratio of a Mercedes, that wasn't my question.

Simply wanted opinions of the better built car. From what I read on several reviews, the 1999 s320 is one of the best built Mercedes of the 90's, no?
 

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Simply wanted opinions of the better built car. From what I read on several reviews, the 1999 s320 is one of the best built Mercedes of the 90's, no?
better built car? that depends who you talk to, since w140 guys will swear w140 is the last true mercedes, w126 guys swear w126 is the last true mercedes, w124 guys swear w124 is the last true mercedes, w210 guys swear w210 is the last true mercedes ..... you get the point. even the 99 s320's are still prone to headgasket leak, evaporator replacement, tranny failure, rust ..... just like the rest of them:D. what's going to determine which one is the best deal out of the s320 and s430 you are looking at is a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) from a competent mb mechanic. service records are a big plus too.
 

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78 280S, 81 300SD, 82 300D, 92 300E 2.6, 90 260SE, 94 S280, 10 E300,
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better built car? that depends who you talk to, since w140 guys will swear w140 is the last true mercedes, w126 guys swear w126 is the last true mercedes, w124 guys swear w124 is the last true mercedes, w210 guys swear w210 is the last true mercedes ..... you get the point. even the 99 s320's are still prone to headgasket leak, evaporator replacement, tranny failure, rust ..... just like the rest of them:D. what's going to determine which one is the best deal out of the s320 and s430 you are looking at is a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) from a competent mb mechanic. service records are a big plus too.
I own both a w140 and a w126, sad to say, the w126 is more reliable, partly because there are fewer gadgets therefore less things to go wrong.
 

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1999 S600 Sedan, 1999 S600 w/ 4-pl seating, 1995 S600 Coupe, 2-1992 600SEL's, 2002 ML55, 1998 SL600
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You're looking at two completely different automobiles:

the W140 morphed into the W240 body (Maybach), while the W220 was a completely new body type, one to compete with Lexus, Audi, BMW, et al.

While the 140's were set to compete with RR and Bentley, the 220's were for a completely different market.

The 220's first two years of production were frought with all sorts of electrical problems, the electrical appliances installed in these cars were rushed to market without being fully proven. Refer to JDPowers for further information. MB took a huge hit to their quality reputation with the 220's produced for MY 2000 and 2001.

Good luck!
 

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10 Mercedes e350, 09 Mercedes GL450, 95 BMW 325IC, 89 Mercedes 260E, 84 Euro Mercedes 300D 4spd
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I own both w140 and w220 I would say go with w140. If you do not want to spend lots of money on fixing things, w220 is the worst Mercedes ever been build,
After I"m done fixing little things on my wife s500
I"m selling it asap
 

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'84 300DT, '97 S320
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No advice for the W220.

First, there are 2 different wheelbases for the S320 - short/SWB/W140/VIN starts with 140 032, and long/LWB/V140/VIN starts with 140 033.

I've owned a '97 S320 / V140/LWB since Mar 2010. $5800 - they wanted $7000 OBO, but I had to educate PO (their only MB, 4th owner of this one) regarding value of an S320 with a leaking head gasket. Kelly BB was ~$5300, my bank would only loan $5400. Interior, body and paint was so good, though, I offered $5800.

There will be at least 1 major problem, possibly 2. And at least 1 minor item, which will leave you stranded someday. If the PO fixed them recently, the $8000 could be justified. Kelly BB shows for a '99 S320 V140 LWB 124k mi:

Excellent -$8,060
Good - $7,460
Fair - $6,485

#1 Major - Bad Head gasket. See bottom of post describing why this is a problem. I bought mine knowing it was already leaking (towards the back right) at 208k mi and got it fixed right away, instead of buying one wondering when it was going to need it. For me that meant $5800 to buy + $2600 to fix. They said it probably was redone once already. #2 below was rfeplaced at the same time.

#2 Minor (inexpensive) - Plastic heater PI-shaped "pipe", located at rear of engine on firewall. These break after 6-8 years. This will leave you stranded, and you better shut the engine off to keep from overheating.

#3 Major (might happen) - bad A/C evaporator ($4000 or so to replace by dealer) - all years of 140's - many leak due to dissimilar metals - mine seems ok, but compressor does leak a little (leak dye coming out front seal, a little). Will replace it this winter or next.

I've spent about $600-800 on about 20 items and 4 tools that I think everyone would need to do - just age and normal wear and tear:

Some Examples :

moonroof seal
moonroof shade material fixed
moonroof shade vents and handle (heat makes 'em brittle)

early '91-'95, engine wiring harnesses had bio-degradable insulation, and apparently all years may have it inside the mirrors - my left's wires were 20% bare - my right mirror wires are great, though!)

A couple of minor items have very good DIY steps - why? because they seem to happen to every 140, and I need to fix mine:

1) Inside Mirror - loose
2) Turn signal & Wiper Lever / Cruise control Lever - both attached to a common bracket that needs a screw tightened (requires steering wheel and airbag removal)


*************************
Why the Gasket is a Problem:

Because the S320's engine is iron block, aluminum head, there are different expand/shrink rates, and gasket materials just don't hold up after 80k to 150k mi. It'll take just so many complete heat/cool cycles. A car driven only 10mi to work, will reach that magic cycle number in fewer miles than one driven 40mi to work. They should both reach it in the same number of years, but that's why one engine's gasket goes at a smaller mileage than another.
 

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I am the biggest 140 advocate BUT the v8 in the 220 is a strong motor... not as advanced as the M119 though. Are you a HP fan!? If so the 320 might not be the car for you, sadly.
Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I am the biggest 140 advocate BUT the v8 in the 220 is a strong motor... not as advanced as the M119 though. Are you a HP fan!? If so the 320 might not be the car for you, sadly.
Kevin

wow.. what a great forum You guys are giving me great information.

I am aware of the head gasket 140 issues... and I do know this one has not had it fixed ever, so it's sort of a time bomb.

The S430 has never had anything major happen to it outside of brakes/calipers/rotors.

HP is not an issue for me, and I really like both cars. They are very nice in different ways. The S320 to me is just classy, while the S430 is sleek and sporty luxury.

And I still havent decided... haha.
 

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1993 300SEL (Sold) 2007 X5
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wow.. what a great forum You guys are giving me great information.

I am aware of the head gasket 140 issues... and I do know this one has not had it fixed ever, so it's sort of a time bomb.

The S430 has never had anything major happen to it outside of brakes/calipers/rotors.

HP is not an issue for me, and I really like both cars. They are very nice in different ways. The S320 to me is just classy, while the S430 is sleek and sporty luxury.

And I still havent decided... haha.
There are two main concerns with the W220 body, the Airmatic suspension and rust.

Given that the previous owner of this W220 has had it for a long time, these will most likely have been sorted.

I don't really like the W220 as much as the W140 but when I change my car in the next two years it may well be one. It's more of a drivers car and all W140's are now becoming quite old and it's hard to find a good one.

My advice would be to find a facelift W220 S350 - because of the smaller motor you might get one for the same price, or not much more than this 430 you're looking at. You'll get a better nav screen etc and escape a lot of the problems which plagued the earlier W220's.
 

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Haven't read through the thread, but I wouldn't go for either one of them. Get the 1998-1999 4.2 V8. You get around 100BHP more, and the economy stays roughly the same. Just a tip.
 

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What model are you talking about?
The W140. See, there have been a few revisions to the W140 line up, that's why I suggested getting one of the latest models. For example (correct me if I'm wrong) the 1991-95 was a 4 speed, while the 1996-99 was a 5 speed with some revisions. Also, the final years had a few more revisions made to them, I think it was the 1998 model. I'll let the others get into the details, but if I where to choose, I'd get myself a 1998 V8. :bowdown:

PS: When I mentioned you'd get 100BHP more, I was comparing it to the S320. Hope this helps.
 

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Well your right, the early 220s are horror stories. It's been proven time and time again regardless of what owners THINK they know, because they don't.

The S320 will be more reliable in every way. No air suspension, chronic rust issues, electrical issues....and on and on..

That 320 engine is a fantastic engine. I'll take build quality over looks. The W140 is a beautiful car, very imposing and impressive in it's play on dimensional perception, it is big, feels big, looks big.
Hi, Hitdog.

I agree wholeheartedly with The Andrew; I've had my S320 for over 2 years now. A real winner. A 97-99 S320 would be my choice of MB, if I was in the market for another MB.

By the way, the newer 2000-11 MBs just don't seem as well-built as the W-140-chassis, either.

Good luck, Hitdog!


James Combs,
Salt Lake City, Utah USA
1997 S320, 87,400 miles
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It's an interesting debate for me. I have pro's and con's on both. The cons on the 99 is the eventual head gasket issue, and the S430 cons could be constant nickle and diming.

Both ride real nice. My other S430 concern was the air suspension and how long they last before needing replaced. My ind mechanic can do that though.. I have a pretty good mechanic.

Reliability isn't a huge concern. I have a 2002 Passat GLX now with only 75K miles, and it hasn't been the most reliable car. So.. I hardly think going to a tad older Mercedes would be worse. I've put a ton of money into this VW so I'm sort of used to it.

Love the VW btw... just not big enough in the back seat anymore (had a 2nd child).

My other cars that I considered were the Lexus LS400 series used and the S500 Mercedes.

As you can see, I'm a sucker for the bigger interior cars. And I was real impressed with the room of the S320 and S430/S500. I think my family would travel in comfort in any of those vehicles for a long time.

Whatever I buy I'll have for 5 years and be my daily driver most of the time.
 

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The W140 was built for comfort and stability over anything as far as driving dynamics go, it was for dignitaries, presidents, royalty etc. Now the Maybach takes that stab.

The S320 is a little better than a VW ;)

Take both cars on a patchy, destroyed road, when they say VAULT-like body structure about the W140 they mean it. It has a greater suspension travel and just flattens the road, I've driven many 430/500s, WITH 16" tyres to be specific, harsher pavement DOES pound through audibly, probably what a W140 on 20s would feel like...
W140s have a lot of undercoating just about everywhere, there is no noise from the cowl area from wind, or the nicely tucked/parked wiper arms. Road noise is just about non existent with proper tyres. There may be some noise around 100MPH if your sun roof seal is old.

I thought Airmatic would be something of great comfort, like a pillow like caddy ride, seems to be more for load levelling and adjustability. Hard to tell with the new W221 with their low profile tyres etc.

Additionally it has been proven that the W140 series can take a beating, like driving one to 250k miles with just doing brakes and oil changes, and it still drives till the timing chain is so stretched it jumps time so much it won't start lol.
Or the guy on here who had over 400k on an S420, he towed things, beat the living crap out of the car... drove it to the ground, kept rolling. HE TOWED WITH IT. He even said no matter what he did he couldn't break the car, hole shots, sliding around curves etc etc.

My W140 drove from MN to NY in one shot, 21 hours, a 4 hour break in between, so I could sleep, it never faltered, it has never left on the side of the road, that's my BMWs job..stupid cooling system.

What I'm trying to say is, well first, you'll make your decision ultimately but I like a TOUGH car as well as beautiful, safe still to this day, super comfy and strong. I feel like a king in my black 500 flying down the highway with the cruise set at 90 haha. They did a great job on these cars, they have their eccentricities here and there, but it'll roll longer than a Rolls or Bentley with little love here and there. I even have Nav, DVD and Bluetooth through the stereo, can't complain.

Oh and I laugh when people say that the W220 sold more cars blah blah, sure, production was cheaper, so was sticker price, I'm sure more Honda civics are built than Acura RLs...



W220 Recalls and specs.

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2000-to-2006-mercedes-benz-s-class-9.htm
Quote: "Value for the Money
Ranking as a world-class luxury-sedan benchmark, the S-Class substitutes technological sophistication for its predecessors' unapologetic size and uncompromised material. High resale values translate to lofty prices at the luxury used-car lot."

Okay

W140 Recalls and specs.

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/1992-to-1999-mercedes-benz-s-class.htm
Quote:"Value for the Money
Impressive and big, these top-line sedans were built with evident "cost-no-object" attitude. Monumentally solid body structures make them something special. These are also some of the costliest cars around, secondhand as well as when they were new. So, it's just as well that they have tank-solid structures and superb detail finish. This is, after all, what you expect for such lofty prices. S-Class sedans are among the world's finest automobiles, though plenty of alternatives cost thousands less yet don't lack for luxury and performance. More than most cars, if you're concerned about price, you can't afford one of these Mercedes-Benzes. Simply put, this particular blend of Mercedes-Benz prestige and polish is awfully hard to match."
 
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