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Hello, I'm considering a 2008-2009 W221 and have a few questions. I've searched the forum and it looks like the main issues to look out for are transmission, airmatic, and maybe some steering/suspension components. Is there anything I should really look for? BTW, I had a W220 for 10+ years and am very familiar with the mnx and upkeep, I'm just looking for model/chassis specific things for this year group.

Also, I'm looking at a lower mileage (70-80k) 2008-2009. Is there any real benefit to getting a newer 2010 with more mileage (100k)? When I bought my Porsche 911 turbo, I was debating between an '07 and '09. I bought the '07 in part because it had the Mezger gt1 race engine in it. In hind site, that was a good move as the mezger engines are highly valued for their reliability and racing pedigree. Are there any intrinsic things like this between an '08 and '10? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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If you are familiar with the W220, you won't find the W221 to be a challenge in terms of maintenance; systems are similar, but it does tend to be more reliable. If you are familiar with the W220 S-Class Encyclopedia in the W220 forum, and compare it to our DIY & FAQs (those four stickies are our equivalent of the Encyclopedia), you will see that there are far fewer entries in ours. That is a reflection of two things: 1) The W221 hasn't been around as long as the W220, and 2) better reliability.

I had a 2010 - it was a great car, slightly greater engine displacement that my current 2013 (the '10 had same engine as the years you are considering) - but the '13 is a bi-turbo. It is peppier than the larger engine, and somewhat more fuel efficient.

The one thing I would advise is if you want driver assistance packages such as Distronic Plus (which is great on long trips), blind side detection, and lane keeping assist, be sure the car you buy has those installed. They are prohibitively expensive to try to retrofit, assuming you could even find someone with the programming knowledge to do it. My '10 did not have them, the '13 does, and that is the only reason I traded.

The battery setup is different starting in '10. The earlier models have a battery in the trunk that powers "electrical consumers" - audio, phone, etc - and a separate one under the hood, for starting. Later models have a larger battery under the hood, for all.

There are some entries under the general info section of our DIY & FAQ stickies (blue-backgrounded area at top of first forum page) that deal with questions of longer-term reliability.

If looking at a '08, you'll want to be sure the particular car does not have a balance shaft problem (http://www.mercedesmedic.com/check-my-mercedes-benz-for-balance-shaft-issue-by-vin-m272273/); if looking at an '07, check that it does not have a timing gear problem (post 15, https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w221-s-class/1553540-2007-s550-engine-problems-2.html and post 9, https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w221-s-class/1686351-2007-s550-idler-gear-issue.html). These problems apply only within certain engine serial number ranges, and they may have been fixed; you should check the service history of the particular car.
 

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If looking at a '08, you'll want to be sure the particular car does not have a balance shaft problem (You are being redirected...); if looking at an '07, check that it does not have a timing gear problem (post 15, https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w221-s-class/1553540-2007-s550-engine-problems-2.html and post 9, https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w221-s-class/1686351-2007-s550-idler-gear-issue.html). These problems apply only within certain engine serial number ranges, and they may have been fixed; you should check the service history of the particular car.
Thank you, that's exactly the type of info I was looking for. That helps a lot and are things I didn't necessarily key in on when browsing the forum! Cheers.
 
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