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Discussion Starter #1
I've searched the forum quite a bit, and while I found much useful information, I kind of need a one-stop shopping kind of deal at this juncture.

We're looking to possibly buy an E320 wagon within the next couple of weeks. My husband has a 93 190E that he loves to bits and is insisting that MB is the only way to go. The lease on our current SUV is just about up and he no longer wants to be tied to car payments and excess insurance, so we will be buying a car outright (which limits our options considerably).

I was kind of stuck on the Volvo wagon, for safety reasons, as we have 2 children, but he's having none of it.

In any case, we've located a few wagons locally...a '94 with 164k miles on it, a '95 with 150K, a '98 with 107k and a '99 with 96k. As you can imagine the price point goes up with each year. There are a few early 2000s out there as well, but we've found that the price nearly doubles from a '99 to a '02.

What do you find to be the most reliable year? Are there safety concerns for any particular years? I realize that the older models won't have all of the airbags, but is MB similar to Volvo in their passenger safety?

I'd appreciate and and all advice...even if it's not want I want to hear!
Thanks!
 

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Depends on how much you want to spend and the body style. 96-02 have similar body style for E320. Check out luxurymotors.com, as they have E320 wagons under 100K, 98-01 for under 10K. Not aware of any 'bad year models' but I would go for 96 model and up and ensure you pay for thorough inspection at the stealers prior to purchase.

Good luck out there. Also take time to fill details on location etc at the CP section.
 

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Just to add. The 98 E320 wagon scored 5 stars side impact and 4 stars front. Newer years did better I believe. Mine has front and side airbags but not headliner. I think you'll have to go a couple of years newer for those. MB is very dedicated to safety. Gas mileage is about 18-19 around town and 28-29 on a trip. Not too bad for a car with plenty of passing power.

As with any luxury car, if you will be having all routine service performed by a dealership then operating costs will above average. A second alternative is to use an independent Mercedes or German car mechanic. This is a substantial savings over the dealership as long as you find a good one who doesn't cut any corners. Finally, many routine maintenance/service procedures can be performed by the owner if you have the time and inclination. At the top of this forum are DIY (Do It Yourself) postings covering many service and repair issues.

The E Class has been MB's most popular model so there are quite a few on the used market. This helps keep prices reasonable. BTW, I'm guessing you haven't driven one yet. In my opinion, MB is a fairly big step up from Volvo.

As mentioned, with any used car purchase it's a good idea to get a qualified third party inspection. If the car has been well cared for, 10-12K per year on the odometer is not cause for concern. Take care of it and 200K is doable.:)

Best of luck and don't hesitate to post out here if you have more questions.
 

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Post 1999, the w210s have rear side impact airbags and updated cosmetics. The 94 and 95 are a different chassis (w124) and while an older design, are built like tanks. I have no concerns about driving my 2 year old around in my 88 wagon. Note that the safety ratings by the government compare like size cars to their equivalents so a five star rating on a honda fit is not comparable to a five star rating on a benz wagon. Take a look at this old classic video to see how durable the 124 wagon is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn19Qj5jtf4&feature=related
 

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In addition, the W124 and the first years (until MY 1998) of the W210 3.2L engines used the inline 6, which is less economical and has a problem with head gasket failures. The 124 also had problems with wiring harnesses. The W210 has a whole host of comfort, convenience and safety features not found on the W124. Beginning in MY 1998 the 3.2L engine was redesigned as a new V6, ULEV, better specs all around and to some persons a smoother running engine. While I love the 124, the features of the 210 (and the lack of head gasket and wiring harness issues!) led me to the newer 210 models.

MY 1998 also introduced the 5-speed 722.6xx transmission, so if you get one of those be sure the AT has been serviced. Originally marketed as maintenance free, the transmission is in fact not and if ignored it will expire rather sooner than it should, perhaps in the 125,000 mile range and it is quite expensive.

It sounds as though you are new to MB, so please consider locating a good indie that knows the W210 to do a quality PPI. The few hundred dollars you'll spend will have one of three results: 1) you'll find significant problems and know to avoid the car, 2) you'll find nothing at all of significant concern and can drop your guard about getting stuck with someone else's problems, or 3) things will be revealed that will permit you to negotiate a better price.

There is also a thread in the stickies that discussed common problems with the W210, probably worthwhile to read through that.

Coming from Volvo you're used to high maintenance expense and the MB experience will be no different. If you learn some DIY items (even basic things) you'll save quite a bit of money.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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One more input from a long time MB owner. A 1990 W124 body (bot new) I had went 242,000 miles before the tranny gave in. It was a $2K replacement. Late in the year, the vehicle was rearended at a stop light. Even though the damage exceded the value of the vehicle the repair shop purchased the car and rebuilt it. It was in immaculate condition before being hit. The dealer believes that with the same level of care that car would have easily passed 300K miles. There were no body rot issues and this was a 17 year old vehicle before the accident. Proper care and preventative maintenance will make any vehicle last. I bot that car because of being rearended in a Jeep Grand Cherokee (168K miles) and broke the seat back and ended up in the rear seat from the hit. The MB was rated to take a 35 mile per hour hit from behind without seat deformation and was the only vehicle so rated. So for safety it far exceeds the Volvo even though a Volvo is also well engineered. Pull up the front carpet and look at the internal floor frame and its design to deflect impact energy forces away from passengers. The newer W210 chassis (1996-2002 and wagon to 2003)was built to a price point whereas the W124 design was built to a standard and then priced to cost of build. The difference in new value was about 6-7 thousand dollars. The quality in the newer W210 is not as great as the Tank built W124 (1986-1995) but is still an extremely well built vehicle. As with all things buy the newest model your budget allows. Understand first what options were available for the model years you are considering. Buying those options now is far less expensive. Look at Autotrader.com and Cars.com. Do not be afraid to do a nationwide search. Pull a Car Fax report and also get the VIN (vehicle identification number) number and go to your local Mercedes Benz dealer and have them pull a history report (for free). Check provenance of the vehicle and if complete then seriously consider. I purchased across country sight unseen relying on the reports and dealer survey along with plenty of detailed photos. I am still very satisfied. There are many MB wagons available to choose from. Set your price point first and do a wide open search to give as much comparison and choice as possible. You will enjoy the comfort and ride quality of an MB. Remember asking price is only a starting point especially in this present economy. And best of luck. There is also website forum called mbworld.org that is similar to this one. Several individuals there like OhLord and Mark Cummins have wagons and are very knowledgable. Please let us know how you and your family are proceeding and best wishes.:thumbsup:
:eclipsee_steering:
 

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What do you find to be the most reliable year?
I'd appreciate and and all advice...even if it's not want I want to hear!
Thanks!
Just saw this after my other post.

The general rule applies to MB as well: The last years of a model run tend to be more reliable than the former. Thus the 1995 W124 or the 2002 or 2003 MY of the W210 Wagon (the 211 wagon didn't appear until 2004).

As noted in the other posts, Shop, Shop, Shop. As noted set your price point, but in doing so consider what you get if you go up a bit (post facelift = more airbags/safety items, more features, etc.) As you close in remember that good negotiation will get the price down, particularly if you have PPI information. And don't be afraid to travel for the right car, I went 1,300 miles to buy my sedan and saved about 7,000 dollars on a four-year-old car. Cars.com is a decent place to work a search and the research information will give you info re: features, options, etc.

Take care and enjoy the ride,
Greg
 

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In regards to safety, something important to consider is reliability.

When we were having our first, my wife insisted that it was my two-seat roadster that needed to go and not her sensible sedan, so we began shopping for baby-friendly vehicles. After ruling our SUVs (fuel economy issues) and minivans (soccer-mom issues), we settled on wagons. I have always had a deep love for the Volvo wagons of my youth - the 240s, the 940s, and even some of the early 850s - and began shopping for a new one.

What I discovered was that they were horribly unreliable vehicles, with electrical and engine mechanical issues, as well as transmission failures and other problems that would likely leave me and my newborn stranded at some point. Because we regularly drive from Alabama to Michigan and back in a weekend to visit our folks, we couldn't run the risk of always having to have our sensible babymobile in the shop to keep from breaking down on the highway.

I soon discovered the E320 wagon and found it has a much higher reliability rating than the Volvos, with fewer reported problems. The deal sealer was this thread: My Wagons Gone! which shows the results of an accident involving an E wagon. My wife, after seeing that thread, gave me the immediate go-ahead on a E-class wagon we'd been eying. It's been a year and 20,000 miles later and we couldn't be happier.

Get one, you'll love it.
 

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Post-1998 E320 wagons (W210 chassis) were the reliable 4matic (all-wheel-drive). The 4matics from the W124 chassis of early 1990's were complicated with high failure rates and expensive repairs. The 4matic in the Post-1998 models were redesigned and turned out to be quite reliable.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Wow. You've all given me quite a bit to chew on and I appreciate it very much. I honestly never considered going nationwide in my search. I've only been searching locally (I'm on the East Coast). There is a dealership that's only about 2 hours from me that has 2 E320s....a 98 and a 99. They're called Highline Imports...has anyone heard of them?

Aesthetically, I have to say that the MB is a much sharper vehicle. Now that I've got the E320 on the brain, every Volvo wagon looks matronly and plain to me (and I abhor all that plastic junk on the Cross Country...always have).
 

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lambast you are going to love w210s, i have a 4matic 2000 and its run so well and i think it looks so much better than the new e320s.....ive heard nothing but good things from the wagons too so good luck with your search....98-02 is a good choice to go with
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I absolutely agree about how they look...I prefer the slightly older ones to the newest (thank the Lord, since the new ones are out of my price range now).
 

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I can add nothing to the several good replys you have already been given. Good luck in your search because owning most any of the Mercedes models is a very rewarding experience.
 

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While not a wagon our '97 E420 (bought new for li$t) was a wonderful car. We would still have it today but it really caught a case of the rust. It's a personal thing but once a car starts to rust..... it's a real turn off for me. But... we traded up to a very clean used '02 E430 4Matic for $10k net. One of the subtle advantages of buying a used Merc, upgrades can be very cost effective if you you play your cards right. I'll never buy new again. When the time comes, I'll trade to an '08 E350/E550 4Matic someday.

Check for any sign of rust in the quarter panels. As well as all the mechanical stuff you'll find in the stickies.
 

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If you're still interested in a 124 there's a good looking one in new york state going for 7500 in the for sale section by a seller named "eldo nixon." he's been harangued about the asking price, but it does look good in the photos. he dropped it from 9500 to 7500 already so in this market i'm sure there's room to move.
 

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I have seen some talk about rust issues, so we'll be sure to do a careful check. Thanks!
Some models are more prone to this than others but it never hurts to look for it. Obviously, the northern cars that are driven in salt are also more prone than their southern cousins. 4matics seem to be immune to the spring perch issues for some reason.
 

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Everything corrodes is certain conditions. I just had to rebuild my mailbox. Stainless steel bolts come off casted and painted aluminum.
That in rust-free California.
Darn dogs....
I guess the older W124 is out of the picture by now? I liked that model years ago, but once I found good leg room and better economy in W210 I would never go back.
4-Matic cost a bit more to operate, but if you drive on slippery conditions it can be priceless.
Good luck on your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I've noticed that I haven't come across a single '96 or '97. Is that strange?

I came across a nice one locally, but I'm really holding out for the 3rd row seats. I often have an extra kid or 2 and the additional seating in a must.

edited to add..

I just got off the phone with a dealer who told me they ALL have the 3rd row seat! I guess the other guy had no idea what he was talking about.
 
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