Mercedes-Benz Forum banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was recently updating my car's repair log, when I had what I though was a great idea: why not post it here? So the plan is to post my W211's service history, ailments, and tribulations here as a catalog for myself, and also a place where I can get advice from those of you that know a lot more about cars than this long time Manhattanite. Hopefully, others can find useful information here, as well. First, let me begin with the background.

In July 2016, I retired from the NYPD. At that point, my wife and I, dedicated Manhattan residents, decided to begin planning to cross the Hudson, and to move upstate into America Proper. This would necessitate us having to buy a car, so in the Autumn of 2017 I went to work finding one.

With the exception of inheriting my father's 2000 Dodge Intrepid (which I kept for a few years before bequeathing it to my mother when her truck finally died), I had never owned a car, much less ever purchased one. But, heck, people do this all the time. What could go wrong? After much research into my wants, needs, and budget, I came to the conclusion that I wanted: an AWD wagon. I dislike SUVs, and the wagon would provide enough cargo space for a little wife, a big dog, and future wee ones. AWD would be a big help since we planned on heading to Central New York with many hills, sharp curves, and frightful winters.

On Cars.com I found a lot of wagons. Again, I did my research, and narrowed my preferences down to older Volvos and Mercedes. My thinking was that these cars were most likely to have been owned by suburban housewives that only used them to shuttle the orange slices to their crotch fruit's soccer games, so they would be low mileage/low wear, and most likely regularly maintained since the owners were people who weren't afraid to write a blank check to the dealership. A car like this would be cheap (er), also, since nothing depreciates like a European luxury barge. I also had an ace up my sleeve. Within the precinct I had patrolled for twenty years was a dedicated German auto shop. Autobahn (Park Ave and E123 if anyone in Manhattan needs a great mechanic) was (still is) a family affair run by Stefan and his sons, and I'd known them for years. I could be assured of having top flight maintenance available.

Lo and behold, one morning I found the perfect one. In Bridgewater, CT was an '04 E320 Wagon with only 60000 miles, and for less than 7000 (I can't remember the exact number). I called the dealership, and told them I'd be up on the next train to check it out. Sales rep told me to wait until the next day, because they were still doing maintenance and it wouldn't be available to test drive until then. I told the rep in no uncertain terms that unless this thing caught fire on the test drive, I planned on bringing it home. Next day I called up to make sure we were good to go on the test drive, and was told that the car had been sold over the internet to someone in AZ. Looks like I wasn't the only one with this idea. Back to square one.

Square one ended up leading me to a shady used car lot in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, which advertised that they had two volvos and a Mercedes on their lot. The one Volvo I saw was a high mileage wreck. The Merc was something else. The car was in very good shape, but with some obvious flaws. It was, again, a 2004 E 320 4Matic Wagon, silver exterior, charcoal interior, 137,000 suburban Westchester miles (an average of less than 10,000 miles a year for a then 14 year old car that came in service in October 2003). It'd been on a lease its first two years, and then sold CPO to the previous owner in Scarsdale. Other than some pitting on the rims (salty winters), hazed over headlights (what was up with headlights in the early aughts?), and some minor scratches/road rash in the front, the exterior was in excellent shape (I failed to notice the dent on the hatch; I like to think this was because of the "patina" of an unwashed car, and not the fact that I was blind). The interior was in fantastic condition with the exception of a repair of a tear in the leather on the driver's seat, an embedded crease on one of the rear seats (most likely from a baby seat), and a perpetually open ash tray on the passenger side door. Appearances aside, how was the car really?

I played with all the switches, and pulled at all the levers. The driver's side outside mirror wouldn't adjust. The rear hatches over the spare and third row were warped shut. The test drive revealed "something" was up with the undercarriage; most likely something not good. They wanted $5200. I told them I'd drive it home then and there for $4500 total, including the several percent they wanted to bill me for paying with my AMEX. They went for it, and I resigned myself to paying about 50% more than that to Stefan and his boys to make it roadworthy.

I gave it to Stefan, and told him to pretend he'd just bought this thing for his sainted grandmother, and to do whatever he would do to give himself piece of mind while Oma was out driving around. The next day I was awakened by a phone call from his son Matias (who sounds oddly like kermit the frog with a German accent) giving me what seemed like a five minute rundown of all the things that they recommended fixing/repairing/replacing culminating with the piece de resistance: a front drive shaft. That was the mysterious undercarriage "something" that even auto-ignorant me sensed was wrong.

Several days, and $3600 later, I was on the road. I was finally a proper American. I had a car, that I had purchased for myself. Like a grown up. And the car had a name. And a gender. My wife had christened her "Missy", because she liked the name (and the eponymous character portrayed by Michelle Gomez on Doctor Who). We were ready to cross the Hudson to America Proper. What could go wrong? :)
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Initial Services

So what did I get for my initial $3600 in November of 2017? New trap doors/handles for the third row and spare tire. A new driver's side mirror motor. New air filters. New drive belt. Two front brake rotors. Two front brake pad sensors. One front brake pad set. Four brand new Continental tires. One OE drive shaft. I was also told the front driver's side CV joint didn't look too hot, but didn't need to be replaced just yet. Maybe in 3,000 miles.

Fast forward to August of 2018. We had made the move to Central New York (my old college town, as a matter of fact), and we were there a week when I started getting a groaning from the front driver's side. Sure as shit, I had put 3,000 miles on the car and the CV joint was making noises. I learned two things right there: Stefan is very good, and I was going to have a hard time replacing him.

New York City is filled with shops that work on Mercedes, and have experience with them. I took it for granted I would always have top mechanical support. Once I started looking for dedicated Mercedes mechanics close to our home in what I affectionately call The Triangle of Nowhere I realized that they don't exist like that up here. I eventually found a great garage a couple of towns over where they specialize in VW and Audi. They changed the joint, and for a lot cheaper than what I would've paid in the city, but they made it clear they didn't have specialized tools and equipment for more complex stuff. I'd have to rely upon the nearest dealership (a 45 minute drive) more than I was expecting.

That's how I ended up at the dealer in December of 2018. I was due for an inspection, and I figured I'd let them do it; ya know, to build up a relationship, and junk. Discovered I was going to fail inspection for a busted tie rod on the driver's front (oops), so that was replaced, along with an oil/filter change, tire rotation, and an alignment.

Also in December of 2018, we experienced an extended polar vortex, and the deep freeze played havoc with the suspension. Usually, in cold weather, the back will collapse, and then rise back up once the car is started and the compressor kicks in. For a few days there, the compressor would give up before the rear moved an inch, although the car would rise normally a few hours later once the air temp had warmed a few degrees. I'm still trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening again this coming winter (short of constructing a garage).

In February of 2019, I thought I may of had a bearing issue developing. Then I got the ASP and ESP malfunction lights. Brought her back to the dealer, and needed to replace the tone rings and wheel speed sensors. This was $2400. Oh, and it required doing another alignment. :)

In the meantime, the wife and I were settling into our new lives of living in a small town. We also were loving Missy, because even though she was a beautiful money pit, she was just so pretty, and drove so well, and was so comfortable. People would stop us to compliment us on the car. We liked that. The dealership had given me a new CLA to use as a loaner, and it couldn't hold a candle to Missy when it came to the quality and comfort of the ride. Even our dog, Noodles, who disliked riding in the car, took right away to Missy, and would curl up and lie down in the way back (as opposed to panting and drooling for hours on end in a rental). I even discovered the six disc CD changer hiding behind the burled wood of the console when I accidentally hit the release button for the fake front while cleaning the car (I'd seen the option listed on the original sales invoice, but for the life of me I couldn't find the damn thing). As we approached June 2019, the wife and I planned on leaving for a two week trip to visit family in Singapore and the Philippines, and when we returned we'd take road trips through Central New York to fully explore our new home in the lovely Summer weather. Maybe we'd find other secrets hidden in Missy, like gold, or jewels, or a secret compartment that would perfectly hold my 1990s CD binders. What could go wrong?
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
A Mechanic! My Kingdom for a Mechanic!

We returned from our trip in mid June 2019. We'd driven rental cars to JFK for our flight, because the five hour drive was actually more convenient than regional airlines, buses, or trains (welcome to the Triangle of Nowhere). My mother had ridden with us when we picked up the rental for our initial drive, so that she could bring Missy home, so it was a bit surprising when she picked us up in her own car. Turns out my mom had left the lights on when she parked Missy, and she was stone cold dead when my mom returned for her two weeks later.

Upon returning home, GEICO roadside sent us an amiable gent who promptly battery packed life back into Missy. He also owned the very busy looking garage several blocks from my house, and stated that he was used to working on German luxury cars. Being a college town, he had worked on rich college kid cars for years. Good to know. Maybe I finally found myself a local, and very convenient, mechanic. That night, driving Missy to a nearby town for ice cream (seriously, what is the deal with ice cream stands in Central New York? They're all over the place), I discovered two things: the engine was not charging the batteries, and she was sagging noticeably at the passenger front.

Next day, I phoned the amiable gent with the battery pack (henceforth known as Hillbilly Bob), and asked if he'd like to give his flat bed some work. He gathered up Missy, and the next day told me the front passenger suspension coil spring was broke, and would need to be replaced. "No problem. Get her fixed, please", I said, and he replied he'd be ordering the spring. To make a long story short, it took Hillbilly Bob nearly three weeks to replace the spring. Hillbilly Bob had never heard of the internet. If he had, he'd have known he didn't have to wait a week for a parts supplier to send him a spring when he could just get it overnight from Pelican. If he had, he could've gone to YouTube and seen any one of a thousand How To videos where the first thing they tell you about changing the spring on a W211 is that it's pretty straightforward IF YOU HAVE THE CORRECT TOOLS. But Hillbilly Bob didn't know about the internet. Or about Youtube. Or about the special over engineered tools Mercedes has a love affair with. And he didn't find out until far too late that he didn't have the means to compress the spring, so he vainly hunted all over the immediate area for anyone that could help him get this spring on. Like I said, it took me nearly three weeks to get my car back. I don't know what horrible things were done to Missy in the meantime (every time we drive by I pat the wheel and say "There, there, Missy. I won't let the bad man hurt you ever again), but, eventually, and not long before the return of the Bal Sham Tov, I retrieved Missy with a new passenger side spring, and a new alternator. And I'd located a real independent Mercedes mechanic to double check Hillbilly Bob's work.

The place I'd found was Lincoln Garage in Utica, NY. It just so happened that I had a periodontal appointment nearby, so after the appointment I'd swing by, and ask if they'd please double check Hillbilly Bob's work. My wife tagged along, because she wanted to go to the mall when I was done (she'd missed Missy, also). What transpired was one of the worst things that could happen, but under the best possible circumstances. I was in the midst of changing lanes on the highway, just before an on ramp, no less, when I was suddenly stunned by a dashboard discotheque of lights, and the loss of power steering. I manhandled the car off the highway, onto the side streets, where I decided to forego the dentist and drive straight to the garage that I happened to fortuitously have the directions to printed out in my car. On the way, I also notice that my AC was out, and that my temperature gauge was rising precipitously.

I arrived at the garage, and the nice man inside (Mike) told me they'd get to Missy on Friday. Being Wednesday, and in the middle of nowhere miles from home, I started hunting for rental cars. I couldn't find a single damn rental car. None. Zip. Nada. So what I did, in between cursing up a storm, was google my problem. THANK YOU ALL!!! Because, here, on this forum, is where I found out that my Missy had a busted idler pulley. I mentioned it to Mike and his son, Chris, and they said "Oh, heck, that's easy. Let's take a look". It was a busted idler pulley, and in the time it took my wife and I to walk to a nearby Greek restaurant for a nice long lunch, they'd ordered the part, and had Missy back on the road. Frickin' awesome.

I kept the Friday appointment, anyway, and returned to have the transmission fluid changed for the first time in forever (the transmission is much smoother now, btw). While Missy was on the lift we noticed that the driver's side front suspension spring was busted, also (how long had that been overlooked?), and we discussed the SBC issues with the car. I already knew about those, but in speaking with Chris I remembered that Mercedes had sent me a letter extending a lifetime guarantee on the system. Pursuant to that conversation, when I returned home I retrieved the letter from my files and made a startling discovery: the damn speed sensors that went out in February were covered under warranty! I promptly took that into the dealership to arrange a refund, and then preemptively spent that refund by scheduling a service of the newly discovered busted spring (Chris and Mike thought it best to have the dealer do it, since there would be no doubt that they'd be able to compress the spring; I love that).

And that's where we are now. Yesterday, 9 August 2019, I took Missy to the dealership and had the front driver's suspension spring replaced. Hillbilly Bob's passenger spring was confirmed to be seated fine (fingers crossed), and my tires were balanced, and an alignment performed (AGAIN! For those following along at home, that's three alignments in eight months). :) The car rides like a dream, and we're all a very happy family: Jen, Noodles, Missy, and I. At least until the next time she tries to kill me (Missy, not Jen, although I'm probably due for that soon, also).

To be continued...
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Missy Service History

"Missy". 2004, Mercedes E320 4Matic Wagon. In service: 10/2003. Purchased by me on 10/20/17. 137,888 miles. $4500.00.

Initial service dated 11/15/17. Autobahn, 1767 Park Ave, NY, NY.
- Two bench handles.
- Driver's side mirror motor
- One air filter set
- One drive belt
- Two front brake rotors
- Two front brake pad sensors
- One front brake pad set
- Four 225 55 16 Continental tires
- One OE drive shaft

12/7/17. 138,186 miles. Autobahn.
- NYS Inspection

9/4/18. 141,002 miles. Pierce Auto, Bouckville, NY.
- Driver's front CV joint. Listed on invoice as "Front Left Axle Assembly OE"

12/27/18. 142,262 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
- NYS Inspection.
- Oil and Filter change
- Tire rotation
- Alignment
- Driver's front tie rod replaced
- Headlight Restoration

02/21/19. 142,918 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
- Replaced left and right rear tone rings and wheel speed sensors.
- Alignment

06 to 07/19. 145K. Hillbilly Bob.
- Replaced front passenger side suspension spring
- Replaced alternator

07/09/19. 145,393. Utica Lincoln Garage, Utica, NY.
- Replaced idler pulley
- Replaced serpentine belt
- Test battery charging system
- Clear error codes

07/12/19. 145k miles. Utica Lincoln Garage.
- Change transmission fluid and filter.
- Brake clean.

08/09/19. 146,356 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
- Replace left front spring
- Tire balance and alignment.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Pending Issues

As of 8/10/19:

- Compressor won't lift back end in frigidly cold weather.
- Will need to buy snow tires this year.
- When car sits after getting a full tank there is a strong odor of gas. Only when filled up, and when car sits. Bad seal on fuel return valve? Fuel system under extended warranty, but Missy's expired in 10/18.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4matic wagon. 1998 sl500
Joined
·
21 Posts
Hello,

My mother owns the same exact year 4matic e320 wagon.

She loves the car and I try to do most of the maintenance.

It has less than 60K miles and I bought it for her brand new December, 2003


Been a good car , but had some issues. Especially with the air strut suspension, had to replace both front ones at separate times. First was a Indy maechanic $1700 second time was me, because I didn’t want to spend $1700.

Needed new keys and Ecu programming $600

Eats through tires, because it’s a 4matic

Rear suspension has been leaking air, don’t want to know how much that is to fix.
Check engine light has been on for over 2 years (Evap leak). and will pass roadside emission
Needed a new fuel sender , speed sensors and a lot of other misc things

Now I am dealing with a noisy suspension. Replacing all 6 bushings on both control arms, lower ball joint, sway bar end links, upper control arms , both front drive axels hopefully this will take care of the noise and handling issues. Lower control arms cost $500 a piece, so thats why I am only going to replace the bushings.

Didn’t mean to hijack, but just wanted to share some of my experience

Enjoy Missy and keep us updated
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Didn’t mean to hijack, but just wanted to share some of my experience

Enjoy Missy and keep us updated
Not a hijack at all, Bro. I want to hear about others experiences. There might be some good warnings for the future there. :)

Btw, why’d you have to replace the keys?
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4matic wagon. 1998 sl500
Joined
·
21 Posts
Had issues with the keys not working with the remote


Replace one key and reprogrammed all the keys.


Fuel smell is a bad seal under the rear seat. I replaced the fuel sender and seals for less then $150, non oem part

Make sure the fuel tank is pretty empty, because you need to stick your hands in there to replace sender and make a connection

Obliviously be careful of the gas and vapor
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Made it almost three months without a new issue. :) Heading out to work on Sunday morning, and I noticed a new (bad) sound coming from the engine compartment. Popped the hood, and observed one of the engine pulleys wobbling. Check of the engine diagram online revealed this to be the water pump pulley. Called my mechanic on Monday, told them I needed a new water pump, and was given an appointment first thing Wednesday morning. Roundtrip from work, and a one way to the garage, amounted to about 75 miles after discovery of the problem; the water pump was pretty chewed up inside when we took it off. Just an FYI for anyone that's ever wondering how far they can go with this issue.

Service history updated.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Missy Service History

"Missy". 2004, Mercedes E320 4Matic Wagon. In service: 10/2003. Purchased by me on 10/20/17. 137,888 miles. $4500.00.

Initial service dated 11/15/17. Autobahn, 1767 Park Ave, NY, NY.
  • Two bench handles.
  • Driver's side mirror motor
  • One air filter set
  • One drive belt
  • Two front brake rotors
  • Two front brake pad sensors
  • One front brake pad set
  • Four 225 55 16 Continental tires
  • One OE drive shaft
12/7/17. 138,186 miles. Autobahn.
- NYS Inspection

9/4/18. 141,002 miles. Pierce Auto, Bouckville, NY.
- Driver's front CV joint. Listed on invoice as "Front Left Axle Assembly OE"

12/27/18. 142,262 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
  • NYS Inspection.
  • Oil and Filter change
  • Tire rotation
  • Alignment
  • Driver's front tie rod replaced
  • Headlight Restoration
02/21/19. 142,918 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
  • Replaced left and right rear tone rings and wheel speed sensors.
  • Alignment
06 to 07/19. 145K. Hillbilly Bob.
  • Replaced front passenger side suspension spring
  • Replaced alternator
07/09/19. 145,393. Utica Lincoln Garage, Utica, NY.
  • Replaced idler pulley
  • Replaced serpentine belt
  • Test battery charging system
  • Clear error codes
07/12/19. 145k miles. Utica Lincoln Garage.
  • Change transmission fluid and filter.
  • Brake clean.
08/09/19. 146,356 miles. Mercedes-Benz of Syracuse.
  • Replace left front spring
  • Tire balance and alignment.
10/10/19: 148.551 miles. Utica Lincoln Garage.
  • Replace water pump
  • Replace Thermostat
  • Replace coolant
  • Replace serpentine belt
  • Replace tube from coolant reservoir to engine (had electrical tape on it; change it just in case that was someone's cheap way of plugging a leak).
 

·
Registered
87 300D 5 speed
Joined
·
5,413 Posts
Hello,

My mother owns the same exact year 4matic e320 wagon.

She loves the car and I try to do most of the maintenance.

It has less than 60K miles and I bought it for her brand new December, 2003


Been a good car , but had some issues. Especially with the air strut suspension, had to replace both front ones at separate times. First was a Indy maechanic $1700 second time was me, because I didn’t want to spend $1700.

Needed new keys and Ecu programming $600

Eats through tires, because it’s a 4matic

Rear suspension has been leaking air, don’t want to know how much that is to fix.
Check engine light has been on for over 2 years (Evap leak). and will pass roadside emission
Needed a new fuel sender , speed sensors and a lot of other misc things

Now I am dealing with a noisy suspension. Replacing all 6 bushings on both control arms, lower ball joint, sway bar end links, upper control arms , both front drive axels hopefully this will take care of the noise and handling issues. Lower control arms cost $500 a piece, so thats why I am only going to replace the bushings.

Didn’t mean to hijack, but just wanted to share some of my experience

Enjoy Missy and keep us updated
So glad I held out for a RWD E320 wagon when the vast majority sold were 4matics. The repair costs on 4matics are at least double.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
So glad I held out for a RWD E320 wagon when the vast majority sold were 4matics. The repair costs on 4matics are at least double.
It is what it is. Missy is a 15 year old European luxury barge; ongoing maintenance, and higher costs, are to be expected. That being said, one of the reasons I bought the car was for the 4Matic. Where I live, I refuse to own a car that doesn't have AWD.
 

·
Registered
E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
Joined
·
36,218 Posts
Beside for need for new boots every 10 years and slight fuel penalty, there is not much cost to own 4M.
I had 1 in no-snow, no mud, California and admired it for higher clearance, what was making getting in easier as well as fact that I could drive it over high curbs without traction problems.
Was the pump impeller plastic, or metal?
The plastic ones do have shitty records.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Beside for need for new boots every 10 years and slight fuel penalty, there is not much cost to own 4M.
I had 1 in no-snow, no mud, California and admired it for higher clearance, what was making getting in easier as well as fact that I could drive it over high curbs without traction problems.
Was the pump impeller plastic, or metal?
The plastic ones do have shitty records.
Metal, I believe (judging by the sound I heard when my mechanic was playing with it after removal). I’d also bet dollars to donuts that it was the original fuel pump that shipped with the car in 2003.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Oh, and I just received a phone call from the dealership. They’re going to refund me $600 and change for the work in February to replace the speed sensors, since those were covered under the SBC extended warranty. The bulk of the cost was the labor to replace the tone rings, so I have to eat that part of the bill, but a little bit is better than none at all.
 

·
Purple Moderator
99 ML430, 00 ML320, 05 E500 4matic Wagon
Joined
·
21,872 Posts
I also run mine with full snow rated tires when I have to use it in the winter. Wit our kids off to college I drive the ML430 in the winters with Nokian snow tires on it and will go through deep snow with confidence.
 

·
Registered
2004 E320 4Matic Wagon
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I also run mine with full snow rated tires when I have to use it in the winter. Wit our kids off to college I drive the ML430 in the winters with Nokian snow tires on it and will go through deep snow with confidence.
I’ll be getting the Michelin’s fitted next month. Four days a week, I have a 20 mile rural commute that’s a fun drive in Summer, but treacherous as hell in Winter, so I hedge my bets. Heck, I even fitted deer whistles under my side views, yesterday. :)

I must admit to being a bit taken aback when I saw your username as my dog’s name is Noodles. :)
A14E4198-AF94-4F48-9947-8B25BF0E59CF.jpeg
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top