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Discussion Starter #1
Folks,

I tried to google and search for a thread discussing the pros and cons of buying a well-cared for higher mileage W220 versus one with lower mileage and maybe less of a care record.

Couldn’t find one, but perhaps my search terms were too long. I’m no power searcher, so that may be the case.

With that said, what’s your input? Do I buy a really well-cared-for W200 with 190K+ miles? Or should I snag one with less mileage but less maintenance history? There are a few “locally” (I use quotes because I’m not opposed to driving a few hours to see one and potentially buy it) for sale that fall into one or the other categories. Ideally, I’d love to get one that’s a deal, has decent records, and isn’t plumb worn out.

If you have any input as to what you did or what you learned by doing it this way or that, please let me know.

Thanks!!
 

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Hi,

I am a firm believer that I would buy based on price, and what I find when I check out a Car, (and it's owner).

Lower Mileage and Service History may well mean nothing, it is almost a certainty that a caring and meticulous owner will do a better job maintaining his Car than a Garage / Dealership, so Full Service History is a lottery.

Whatever Car I buy I know I am going to spend at least £2000 getting it up to scratch. A nice Body and to some extent Interior is much more important than a few worn Ball Joints etc, which can be easily fixed over a weekend.

At the end of the day it depends if you are an avid DIY'er with a good tool kit, or if you take it to a Garage every time it needs a lamp bulb........................

If the latter, I might suggest that a W220 may not be the best purchase choice.

Finally whatever you choose, factor in from £400 for an SDS Diagnostic system, and teach yourself how to use it .......................

Regarding SDS do not get sucked in by the nay sayers, if they do not own and have never used it how can they have a valid opinion ??

They are simply guessing it is like their £40 OBD Diagnostic junk, it is waaaaaaay more !! Guessing like they do when the change this that and the other parts in failed attempts to rectify a problem :wink

Have a read of our Buyers Guide in the Blue Stickies at the top of the Forum Page ;)

At the end of the day, your money, your choice :smile

HTH,
 

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Discussion Starter #3
In all honesty, I try to do much of the maintenance on my cars myself. I had to learn when I was much younger as I didn’t really make enough to take a car somewhere and let someone else do the work. So, I learned and slowly acquired the tools over time. These days, I don’t have nearly as much free time, but I also am better at making time to complete tasks like this...so I’d definitely be in the DIY category.

These cars seem to be decently straightforward and the amount of knowledge out there is vast. That’s partially why I want a W220...if there’s an issue, someone has solved it and written about it. Additionally, I was planning on snagging an SDS. I have a code reader at the moment, but I’m aware that these won’t really work with Mercedes, so I’ve also been on the hunt for an SDS that I can pick up for future work on the car.

I’ve checked out the buyers guide here and on w220.ee for reference and to learn the right questions to ask sellers. It’s helped me weed out the cars and sellers whom just don’t measure up to what I’m looking for.

Thanks for the reply and the insight...I’ll keep it in mind as I search for the right car.
 

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Sounds to me like you'll fit in nicely here then, most of us are enthusiasts who work on our own Cars, I am an enthusiast who is also a glutton for punishment and run my own Indie Garage specialising in MB's and Electronic Gremlins across all marques :wink
 

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From everything I’ve read, these look like cars anyone could work on if they’ve got the ability to read and comprehend...also the willingness.

When I was much younger than today, I used to think cars were horribly complex and impossible to do anything on without the proper schooling. I have since hit reality and learned that most things can be accomplished with the right tool and knowledge.

Again, there seems to be a vast repository of knowledge out there for these. That being the case, I feel I’m in good hands here if I have an issue I can’t solve on my own.

Thanks again for your input!!!
 

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Spirtnoye, I'm a n00bie with these cars, only having started in 2016. Unlike Dave, I'm not a professional mechanic, more of a hobbyist, though I do take the hobby fairly seriously. Like you, I used to believe cars were so complex that only a "professional" could possibly understand them. This, as you also have discovered, is not necessarily the case.

Given your background, it sounds like you have a good idea how to tell if a car's been neglected or if it's been cared for. I'd look for one that's been cared for. Accept faults that you know that aren't too difficult to fix, e. g. suspension issues. Reject faults like body rust, which are difficult, or any faults with especially the 7-speed transmission.

I was actually surprised at how relatively easy the W220 is to work on. SDS is pretty much a must, as Dave said. I was one of the naysayers before that was looking for iCarsoft and Autel and the others, until I bought SDS and actually started using it. Yep, Dave's right. I often say that if I can do it, anyone can, and it really is true (I'm not all that smart!). My mechanic buddy has a couple of W220's and loves them. His daily driver is a 2003 S500.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I just think that if you read about something and are interested in fixing it, it's not impossible. I've owned two Jeeps in my life and while they don't necessarily compare to a W220, you really do learn that if you need to fix something yourself, you generally can. Additionally, there seems to be a similarly-minded DIY community with both of those vehicle aficionado groups. Anything you needed to ask or have explained was done with concise information and a friendly attitude. It's tough to not love the community when it comes to these. After all, we're all car people...just different styles of admiration.
 

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True. Jeep owners seem to be similar in spirit to Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners, in that the DIY spirit is strong. The same is true in the Mercedes-Benz community, for a few chief reasons.

1.) It's horribly expensive to take these cars to any shop nowadays. Of course, that's pretty much true of any vehicle nowadays....

2.) If you do take it to a shop, it's not a Ford, Chevy, Toyota, or Honda; some of the procedures are specific to Mercedes-Benz, and you cannot be sure that the shop won't screw something up (it's happened to a lot of people).

3.) It's awfully satisfying to fix up your own vehicle and know it cold. This latter point can have serious advantages if you're in a spot.

Here's a recent example of how DIY helped me get out of a situation. This was a month or so ago. The then-fiance' (now wife) and I were in the '03 S430 running errands in town. The S430 has about 156,000 miles on its clock and runs great. We were maybe two and a half miles from home. Went to start the engine. Turned over great. WOULD NOT START. Whoops, sounds like a Crankshaft Position Sensor! Fortunately, I had bought one for all of our cars, just in case this were to happen. I had the CPS in the glove box. I could've bought a 10mm socket and 1/4" socket wrench at the local hardware store. However, it was a beautiful day, so she and I used that as an excuse to have a nice walk home. We came back with my truck, which had the tools in it, and I got to work right there in the parking lot. First time doing it. About an hour later, the CPS was replaced. S430 started right up, she drove that car home, and I drove the truck. Problem solved.

I would not have known about that without this forum. I certainly wouldn't have had the confidence to replace the CPS without having been DIY'ing our cars previously.

When we got back home, I did her car, the project 2000 S500, as a preemptive measure. It has about 146,000 miles on it, so it was probably about due. Having just done the S430 and now knowing the tricks, this one took me only about 20 minutes.
 

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One other thing. When I bought the S600 TT, it had 160,032 miles on its clock. Yes, I remember that exactly for some reason; go figure. Apparently the previous owners were using it as a car service, especially airport travelers, so it got driven very regularly. Not a bad thing, far as I'm concerned.

I didn't know about the ABC suspension being a potential land mine. But the rest of the car seemed like it was in good shape. Clearly the previous owners had serviced the engine and transmission at something at least approaching regular intervals. When I did the valve cover gaskets, I saw more evidence of this. The valvetrain was clean.

The one thing they didn't do right was their apparent use of the green (Prestone-style) antifreeze/coolant. But it looked fresh, and it was full, so apparently they were still changing it at regular intervals. Yes, it got a flush with distilled water, followed by a 50/50 mix with the blue G-48. I didn't know about that when I bought the car, but it wasn't leaking or overheating, so apparently it's still fine. But it's something to watch out for in any prospective purchase.

It *definitely* needed a suspension overhaul. I could feel it, and the ball joints were squeaking like mice with megaphones shortly after purchase. Since that's been done, the S600 has given me very little trouble.

So, high mileage isn't necessarily a bad thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That’s why having some spare parts can save all the headaches! I used to do that with my Grand Cherokee 5.9! Loved that car but it was JUST old enough to start doing the “fix one thing and another breaks” game that I’m sure we’ve all played. I had a few instances where a couple of spares saved the day when I had the feeling they’d be going down the tubes at any moment.

I’ve already started making a list of the spares box I’m going to start acquiring based on your feedback and the feedback I’ve seen in other threads. I’d much rather spend the cash on some spares and be prepared than be caught out in the open without them!

I suppose I also need to see what special MB tools I need (other than SDS....I need to source that but I’m definitely getting the kit). I guess it’s true what they say: a man’s toolbox is the real treasure.

Next step: find the right W220 that’s not halfway across the country.
 

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"When we got back home, I did her car, the project 2000 S500, as a preemptive measure. It has about 146,000 miles on it, so it was probably about due. Having just done the S430 and now knowing the tricks, this one took me only about 20 minutes."

Having that "working when removed" CPS and a cheap Harbor Freight 1/4" drive set in the car sounds like a great idea - at least, that's why I have them in my spare wheel...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've usually kept some sort of tool set in my cars throughout my years driving older vehicles. It makes sense to have some basics that can get you home if you're stuck further than your AAA membership will tow you. I know I've learned that the hard way by not being prepared. Luckily, I have some great friends who came with a few wrenches and sockets that I was able to use to replace something critical.

Lesson learned, though. This endeavor will be no different!
 

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One more question for those of you who have any insight into the pros/cons: Should I look for a Keyless Go optioned car or forgo that bit?

I think I'd like the convenience, but it also seems a bit gimmicky to me. I do enjoy the turn of the key to start a car and I've always enjoyed that startup feel. However, the idea that I can just keep the key on the key ring in my pocket and hit the road is mildly alluring...gimmicky feeling and all.

Thoughts?
 

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Most northeast W220 will suffer from rust . You really want a southern car or CA car

Having service records is not going to really help you avoid suspension issues or electrical issues , which is the majority of problems these cars face. Unless you happen to find a car where someone totally rebuilt the entire suspension and all struts there’s still plenty of old suspension. parts still on the car, no matter if it has 80,000 miles or 180,000 miles

The thing with high mileage cars like the 190,000 car you mention, Is that major things like transmissions are due for failure . Most failed W220 transmissions happen in the 180-250k mile range
 

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^^ And that's because people don't typically change their transmission fluid/filter. I've seen W220's go well in excess of 300,000 miles. One of those, the owner does the fluids religiously. The thing still runs remarkably well.

Buying a late-2003 to 2006 W220 is your best bet to avoid rust issues. It was in the 2003 (North America) model year in which M-B started switching to the double-galvanized steel. By late-2003, as evidenced by both of my 2003's, they had apparently used up all the earlier, left-over body panels from 2002 (my two '03's have no rust--they do use road salt here).

Since you're in Rochester, NY (i. e. snow and ice), I'd suggest considering a 4Matic. Just know that the suspension components for 4Matics do tend to be a bit more expensive than the 2WD versions. However, it'll be worth it when you drive the thing. Count on the need to do a full front suspension overhaul, and possibly the rear AIRmatic springs as well. If you do go 4Matic, then that takes care of two other things as well. First, all 4Matics are post-facelift (2003 and later) cars, so body rust won't be nearly as big a problem. Second, all 4Matics use the more durable 5-speed transmission.
 

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^^ And that's because people don't typically change their transmission fluid/filter. I've seen W220's go well in excess of 300,000 miles. One of those, the owner does the fluids religiously. The thing still runs remarkably well.

Buying a late-2003 to 2006 W220 is your best bet to avoid rust issues. It was in the 2003 (North America) model year in which M-B started switching to the double-galvanized steel. By late-2003, as evidenced by both of my 2003's, they had apparently used up all the earlier, left-over body panels from 2002 (my two '03's have no rust--they do use road salt here).

Since you're in Rochester, NY (i. e. snow and ice), I'd suggest considering a 4Matic. Just know that the suspension components for 4Matics do tend to be a bit more expensive than the 2WD versions. However, it'll be worth it when you drive the thing. Count on the need to do a full front suspension overhaul, and possibly the rear AIRmatic springs as well. If you do go 4Matic, then that takes care of two other things as well. First, all 4Matics are post-facelift (2003 and later) cars, so body rust won't be nearly as big a problem. Second, all 4Matics use the more durable 5-speed transmission.
I currently have my eye on a 2004 S500. Has the push-to-start, usual options, nothing too crazy and a decent interior. I think it's got 140K on the clock? I don't have the ad in front of me at the moment (saved on my phone), but it seems to be in decent condition. It's not a true Southern car, so I need to ensure the story I'm told about the rust is actually true. It's about a five hour drive to go see it, so before I make the trek, I want to be sure it's mostly in order before I drive out there and look for myself. Seller says the only issue is a speed sensor which causes the car to occasionally go into limp mode. I haven't googled that to see if the logic is there and I'm fairly certain he doesn't have the SDS, so I'm planning on setting up a PPI. If that's really the case, I'll just buy four speed sensors and replace them if I decide to go ahead with this vehicle. Definitely going to start stockpiling the common-failure/worn parts ahead of time so I can have them in case.

I have a bit more research to do and more talking to the seller to get my questions answered. Just when I think I have everything answered, I come up with another thing to ask. Hate to be "that guy" when communicating electronically with constant questions, but I also want to ensure that what I'm buying is in decent enough shape that there's still some enjoyment left in it.
 

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Hi,

Awwwww c'mon, half the pleasure of owning a W220 is learning SDS, becoming all intimate with it, and the challenges of fixing it up and really understanding what makes it tick :devil

And at that point, "grasshopper" :grin , you will be like myself and other members here and realise exactly what fabulous, and ahead of their time Vehicles MB's are, especially the higher end ones :smile

Cheers :wink
 

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Hi,

Awwwww c'mon, half the pleasure of owning a W220 is learning SDS, becoming all intimate with it, and the challenges of fixing it up and really understanding what makes it tick :devil

And at that point, "grasshopper" :grin , you will be like myself and other members here and realise exactly what fabulous, and ahead of their time Vehicles MB's are, especially the higher end ones :smile

Cheers :wink
Oh I plan on getting an SDS and doing all sorts of swaps/repairs/tinkering with the W220 when I pull the trigger. That's half the fun of owning a car - knowing it well and the satisfaction of fixing something that keeps it going.

Weird how for some of us, that's something we enjoy for our weekends. Others I've come across hate that. Oh well...to each their own.

But yes, I enjoy the higher end cars for that reason - they're really quite nice and have some features you still see today as standard. As the great Jeremy Clarkson once said (not really quoting) "if you want to see what's going to be standard on cars in 10 years, look at what's on the Mercedes S Class right now."

Words to live by.
 

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That speed sensor...is it the one in the transmission's conductor plate, by chance? If so, then if it's the 5-speed transmission, then you can buy it from eEuroparts or FCPEuro or somewhere else similar and replace it yourself (I've done it--it's about an hour and a half's work). If it's the 7-speed...then that conductor plate is one of the "Theft Relevant Parts" and you have to go to the stealership.
 
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