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Discussion Starter #1
Ladies and gentlemen.

The question of Mercedes Benz quality, and it's adequacy is often mentioned in this forum and elsewhere. The problem with this is that most people define quality differently. Quality should be a measureable fact, defined by the producer or by an industrial branch norm like DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norm). It seems to me that the DC (Daimler Chrysler Corp.) defines QC (quality control) with a broader focus than DB (Daimler Benz AG) once did. That means perfection is not the main parameter anymore, it's now just a factor sided with economy, profit margins, logistical requirements, standardization, and so on.

DB was once two manufacturers. Real hard times forced the two companies to merge in 1926. Not only were they competitors, they were also archrivals. But they spoke the same language, and shared culture. And had great potential for building fantastic cars. And to make a lot of money.

They focused on great engineering and technichal perfection, while still offering lower end products for simpler needs. One thing was common in a plain 170 and a luxurious 770. It did exactly what it was designed to do. There was sufficient quality, and there was surplus quality. One could follow a logical string in all parts used in the cars, big or small. And it was virtually foul proof. Just look at the status and reputation they gained.

Since the amalgation in 26, times have been better and worse, but nobody ever questioned the lads in Stuttgart, and their ability to produce. They have always been innovative and conservative at the same time, giving great improvements, but without losing the spirit and the "MB touch". No tricks or shortcuts. The spirit even survived may 45 and the not too great label, "producer of Gestapo cars".

Then came Chrysler. I don't know exactly why, where and when, but to my great horror, they actually merged. I think that led to a lot of chop work. And a culture crash. Of course the whole meaning of a horizontal merger is rationalizing production and resources. So whenever they detected identical functions, they chopped one. While it gave great effects on the current P/E, it was the chime to todays quality problems. It seems to me that Crysler was to learn engineering and design by MB lads, and MB was to learn how to shop parts and cut deals by Chrysler guys. Because in my experience, Chryslers have become better, while MB's have become "normal digital cars". Where they once were miles above, they're now right in it alongside with Renault, VW, and English cars. If you buy a Mazda 6 today, it will statistically have fewer problems than a W211.

As a child of the sixties, I know how big difference it once was between a Benz and normal cars. When you compare a 1968 W115 with contemporary compeditors, there's no doubt at all. Innovative engineering and conservative design. Commitment to the bone. W108/109 is the real Benz in my mind. With a M100 engine, nothing comes close in my mind. Or a W113 Pagode. Mmm. But that's because I'm born in 61.

I consider that all cars today are hybrids between analog and digital cars. If one accepts that as a fact, one can also gather that all production is in transition as well. That means the products are vunerable for errata similar to the PC industry in the early days. It took some time before IBM, Intel, and Microsoft got their act together. Likewise, the specification guys in Stuttgart may lack the necessary data and experience to correctly specify lasting digital solutions. So they will need more time to get it together. Hopefully not on your expense.

The goal of every car producer is to have one universal part that covers all their models. Just like the PC world. Look at the Jaguar X-Type and Ford Mondeo. Same platform/boby. Imagine a hole in every hood, made for a Chinese produced hood star. Then you could upgrade a Hyundai or Kia to a E-class Benz. Later you could continue to S-class. How does that sound?


Only potential buyers of new cars can contribute to rectifying this situation. The DB management of the sixties and seventies would never ever release such models as W211. They would boldly declare that the digitalization technics has not come far enough to be useable in a Daimler Benz. I just know they would.

Remember, it's BEFORE you buy you have ATTENTION. After the delivery, you only have attention. I would certainly demand a written clause in the contract with a guaranteed subsitute car whenever the car was away for "diagnosis". If I couldn't get it, I would steer away. I don't think it's unreasonable to have a certain "attitude" against electronic and mechanichal flaws. And owners must be sick of hearing about wiring harnesses needing changing.

If it were only electronical plagues, I wouldn't worry to much. But mechanical flaws flourish too. A big Norwegian newspaper recently received a Viano with less than 20 000 kilometers on the odo for testing and reviewing. The first thing they did, was to take it to the dealer, and swap a front drive shaft. The knuckle was mashed. Hmm.

Some areas are still pretty good. Safety is one. It is definitely safer to crash in a W211 than a W210. The W210 is safer than the W124, and so on. The S class is a real tank. And they do look nice, some of the new ones.

Watch out for "Chinafication" of production parts. I don't know where the current ECU's and other stuff are produced, but I suspect more and more are produced in Taiwan, China, and Korea. The actual quality might be good, and pay off logistically. But the production prosess will be harder to monitor. And the end result will be harder to guarantee.

So I blame Chrysler. I may be wrong, but it makes me feel better. I think. Just love watching Stratus owners trying to locate their battery the first time. And watch people lending a manual Voyager, and trying to start without depressing the clutch pedal.

Regards

Geir
 

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The switch from Asian suppliers to sources in the former soviet block countries may have caused more of the problems. Germany has had major problems intergrating former East German workers and their factories into their work ethic and quality demands. A growing number of (west) German citizens would like to see the Wall go back up because of this.
 

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If they went to Asian suppliers for components, the quality would triple overnight. where is it you picked up the notion that German made cannotes quality? Advertising and bias, I suspect. Engineering? That's another story. That's subjective and could be argued forever. Virtually everyone agrees that Lexus, Acura, infiniti et al are high quality machines. The debate then turns to the "passion" of the car or some such thing. That's fine. But I'll put up the quality of a Camry Or Hyundai or even a Kia against the best Mercedes has to offer. With the HUGE price difference, you can build it to perform in any manner you wish and even pick up the parts yourself in Japan or Korea.

BTW, the quality issues at Mercedes have been ongoing for over a decade. The merger took place in 1998.
 

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I have thought a lot about this topic lately, and really do appreciate the global view of MB issues. A couple of thoughts.

1. The merger has certainly been significant, but MB needed it as much as Chrysler did.
2. There have been significant changes in Germany over the years, though I do not pretend to have great insight. Certainly, the importation of foreign factory workers in the 70's and German reunification have been significant.
3. What is really shocking is when you compare MB's to some other vehicles. I compared an Acura TL to a C320 and a Mazda 6. Comparably equipped, the Acura is over $10k US less expensive than C, and the Mazda is even less. That will cover for a lot of missing "soul" in the Acura, and the Mazda is US built.
5. The Acura RL tops out at about $50k. That makes the E look quite expensive, as well.

Some differences are difficult to ignore, and harder yet, to rationalize.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi guys.


The Norwegian MB importer announced today a recall program, which I think will be a very good thing. The voltage regulators in six and eight cylinder Benz's produced between june 01 and november 04 will be checked and replaced. Additional damage will be assessed. E's and CLK's from january 02 to january 05 will get a battery control software update, much needed. E's, CLS, and SL's from june 01 to march 05 will get some sort of brake system update.

Some owners get more mad than others. A Vaneo owner in Bergen Norway has set up a van by the side of a main road with slogan signs against the importer and dealer. He has four, and is threatening to place all four around Bergen. I have no idea why this car deal has souered so much, but the perception of the term quality, is certainly not identical.

http://www.dagbladet.no/dinside/2005/03/31/427588.html

To E300pos.

As I said, I don't know exactly where MB produces their parts today. But if they were to be produced in Germany today, and then switched to Asia, the quality certainly wouldn't be trippled. There is simply not room for that. It would be Germans teaching them how to, just like the mostly American computer industry taught them how to successfully produce high tech computer components.

You want to know why I have high thoughts about German industry? Well, that's a pretty big question, and I don't know where to begin. I think a good place to start is tradition. German industry has never failed it's country. Even in their maddest hour, say in january 45, the industry performed great, spewing out cutting edge planes, u-boats, V- missiles, and other very advanced weapons. The problem was no gas and pilots. And the political leadership. The Reich had no future, but it's industry had. Hounded as they were by the RAF and USAF, they never really touched their production capacity.

The good thing isn't that every German is so brilliant. It's in the culture, ways, and doings. And what they do to ensure that the correct specifications are met, well that's what they used to do anyway. I have been to most DB werks, and many other German factories. And I can assure you that building a Benz is no laughing matter. They view it like this; if you laugh and joke at work, you are using surplus energy that Could/should be used in the production. so they don't. Literally.

If they need to lift 12 tons, they will want a 15 ton crane. Where the Americans will have a 100 ton crane for universal jobs, the Germans would like to have a suite of cranes, big and small. They hate wasting and over calibration. Genau muss sein. That is reflected in all German cars.

Then there is the question of quality again. There are different schools, you know, so it's only natural when ordinary people use the phrase quality differently. There are also different approaches to controlling quality, which contributes to the confusion. When you compare a Kia with the best of Benz, you are comparing a planet with a star. The qualities are of course going to be different. But that doesn't mean that the Kia is the wrong car for anyone. If you're interested, you can google on ISO 9000, SixSigma, and TQM (total quality control).

I agree that Toyota, Mazda, Lexus, and likewise are nice and dependable cars. Asian manufacturers have a different philosophy than the Americans and Europeen producers. I am responsible for the maintenance of my mother and sisters cars. So I equip them with Toyotas. It's just the right car for them.

I think the trouble started when W210 moved in to Sindelfingen.

To 5thMB.

Whether DB needed a merger or not is way over my head. Who knows what goes on in inner circles. But I really think that they should have found another than Chrysler. But maybe I'm just nostalgic. Have to admit that the 300S is very nice to drive. I'm certainly coloured by a lot of negative Chrysler experiences at the road side as a wrecker. In Norway, the name is connected with Simca / Talbot by us not too young.

http://gallery.kak.net/simca

Again, comparing those cars you mention is fine, but a poor substitute IF you want a Benz. Price is not scientifically connected to quality. The price is a reflection of how desireable a car is. And the cost to produce. That's why the producers want a module based digital product. Fewer parts give higher profits. Because they know desire evolves, and they have to be able to change production fast and often to keep up. Whenever a successfull consept is born, it's only a question of time before every producer has a matching model. Even good old DB was forced to that.

That's why digitalization isn't there for your pleasure and gain. It's for making your car cheaper, faster, and flexible to produce. At the end of the day, when all is stretched out, it will be to your gain too.

No matter what, something fishy is going on in Benz land these days. The evidence is absolutely there.

Regards

Geir
 

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Personaly I believe Chrysler has benefited & it seems to me DB has suffered mainly in reputation. I work on cars for a living & believe the automobiles of today are overpriced,overengineered pieces of technojunk. i.e. you have to remove the front clip of a new beetle to change the battery. Thats real cute. Give me the "old" stuff any day when the average person could do most repairs themselves & you didn't have to have a $1500+scanner to "talk" to them.Hey they can keep on making that @#%& & I'll be glad to work on it if you got the money honey for $100+/hr. When cars were first being introduced to this world thay were richmen's toys. I'm afraid it's coming around full circle. The Koreans & Chinese car producers will be the Henry Fords of the new mellinium.
 

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Mercedes-Benz = stone on wheels..passenger safety along with vehicle safety too..


Daimler-benz manufacturing is more like japanese cars, more plastic and delicacy ..when u crash the vechile is totalled by default..
 
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The Rules:

1. Mercedes Benz is the BEST. Period.

2. Chrysler is CRAP!!

3. Asian Produced parts and systems are CRAP!

4. East Bloc produced parts and systems are CRAP!

5. Computerized "Digital" cars are CRAP!

6. Mechanical Masterpieces RULE!!!

7. Anyone who says otherwise is an IDIOT!!

need i go on.............
 

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you do need to go on.

i own both chrysler and mercedes cars(both genuine articles, neither after the merge) and theyre both fine.

the chrysler(neon) has given me far less trouble. although i do admit it was new when i started driving it and the mercedes was purchased used(but with the same mileage on both, does it really matter?)

i could go on about all this, but i dont really feel up to it.

in closing, i'd like to say that at the end of the day, any car is just a car. pretend as much as you want that youre more important because your car cost x dollars and has y number of options. it is still just wheels on pavement with an engine, tansmission and tailpipe. like a vespa, a go kart or a kia rio. ALL things were made better even a few years ago. remember when kitchen tools were made out of stainless? theyre plastic now. remember when houses lasted a century? guess what! they dont anymore. nothing is the same. the x-men have muscles now, imagine that.

instead of living in the past and comparing cars built whenever fuels were plentiful and raw resources were also, think about the current world climate for a change.

be thankful you can choose to own a mercedes, its still a nice car. maybe not as nice as when you rode in the back seat of one, but when you were 5 you didnt think about quality. we had a monte carlo i just loved riding in when i was little. im not on a chevrolet board complaining that its a glorified lumimpala 2 door, am i?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi iNeon.

I seem to have offended you, somehow. In that case, I'm sorry. Before I adress that, I would like to say I'm glad that you have few problems with your cars. That probably reflects good ownership. And yes, I do think it matters how a car has been treated.

Why are you so concerned about what I think and feel, instead of what I wrote about? I mean, the issue has been debated, and I sense a lot of people are giving it some thought.

When you talk about pretention and guessing what, I feel you are trying to make me look stupid. And if being concerned about current production and specification policy is concidered living in the past, that's just too bad.

That last chapter, I don't understand it at all. How do you know that I didn't think about quality when I was five? And what's wrong with complaining on a board?

Just for the record. There are a lot of good cars out there. Mercedes Benz is not the only good choice. I even once had a 76 GAZ Volga. It didn't fail me untill it's last trip to the importer, when an exhaust valve split. It didn't even stop, just smoke and ramble on. The importer bought it, and shipped it back to Soviet. How is that for lessing climate burdens?

I too could go on about this, but like you, I really don't feel up to it.

Regards

Geir
 

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no offense taken!

i just think theyre both great cars and i cant wait to have one with the qualiies of both.

i would gladly pay more for a neon if the trim demons were worked out, and im sure that most people would like a howly overpowered benz without the AMG pricetag.

maybe im just hoping for something that wont be built, and i guess we'll both find out what the merger really means in short while! "combo" products are just now coming out. chrysler seems to have benefitted more though.

good for me, i cant afford a new mercedes yet(maybe never)! heh heh

to get back to the point though...

i just dont know about comparing DCX and DB, theyre two companies working in two different times on different products! When mentioning DB are you talking about w210 benz? or like 1960s tank benz? ive written essays on something of the same comparisons, the pantheon v. monticello comes to mind. everything is comparible , but sometimes i dont see value in the comparisons that result. its a personal difference, nothing that really matters much![:p]
 

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NordStern - 4/1/2005 10:10 PM

The Norwegian MB importer announced today a recall program, which I think will be a very good thing. The voltage regulators in six and eight cylinder Benz's produced between june 01 and november 04 will be checked and replaced. Additional damage will be assessed. E's and CLK's from january 02 to january 05 will get a battery control software update, much needed. E's, CLS, and SL's from june 01 to march 05 will get some sort of brake system update.
And like usual my local dealer knows nothing about all of this.

I feel like driving my 211 into the windows of the MB dealership,... now there's an idea[:D]
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi Storm.

Don't worry. Your time will come. Let's just hope it occurs before you need it. Besides, you could threaten to come over with the whole fleet, and clog up the driveways pretty good. [8D]

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000100&sid=aoes_3AkGcP4&refer=germany

It seems that the stock owners are getting worried too. That's a good sign for those who need not only luxury and yada yada, but also absolute dependability.

http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0504/04/1auto-138936.htm

One thing is certain. A lot of hard working people are eager to bite into typical MB markets, and those who just want a nice car without any hassle will be easy prey.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/automobiles/03KOREA.html

To iNeon.

When I mention DB I'm talking 1926 untill the merger. The W210 was developed by DB, and the first ones were definitely more reliable then the latest. What made them rust so bad, beats me. Maybe it was the new "lösemittelreduzierten" water based paint? And what is there to compare? I think start, and start not, or drive / drive not, are pretty obvious comparison values.

The fact I can't understand, and wonder about, is how can you know, and always have known how to make great cars, and then suddenly stop doing just that. And it's not because the technology is new, they were quite used to leading the way. Setting standards. Because picking up a brand new SLK and have it dying on you with 4 km on the odo is horrible. Queing up with E220 taxi's outside the Taxi Express, waiting for a new alternator. Delivering a Viano test van for newspaper reviewing with a broken driveshaft and under 20 000 on the odo. I could go on. I want to know, how can these guys who knew it all suddenly fail. [B)]


So, if Prof. Schremmp read this, I would like to say, hold back the controller guys from Chrysler, and let the Germans do their magic. Please get the Sindelfingen Express back on track. Before they forget how.

Regards

Geir
 

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i guess i dont really get it, i own the tank mercedes and have not a single experience with the new models. so ill quit yapping!

theyre handsome cars, but i have to say i'd spend my 30 grand on a v8 domestic before i'd spend it on a mercedes.

so yeah-- the mercedes isnt as good as before, neither is the vw and i wouldnt buy a new one of those either!

i guess it is beyond the bounds of this website, but i think if you want to talk about radical changes in quality, theyre very much the same. or volvo after ford, saab after gm.

maybe they just need "seating time" ,i dont know!
 

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Yea, speak the truth!

My family has gone through 6 Benzs since 1986, so I can somewhat understand your angst, NordStern.

I read an article (less than a year ago maybe) regarding a survey of initial quality, given to new car-owners, and it ranked the results by manufacturer and the average number of defects/problems per car they had in the initial 6 (or 8) months of ownership.

The top winner was (no surprise) Toyota and Lexus with 1.xx problems per car. Mercedes was a dismal 3.xx problems per car (close to the bottom of the list). Heck, I remember even Chrysler had a better quality ranking than Mercedes in that survey. And the funny bit was that the survey noted that Mercedes-Benz had claimed that their quality standards would only get better after the merger, but in fact their quality/customer satisfation ranking had only gone down from the previous year's results. [Now I really wish I had a link for that article.]


And the cheapening of the parts... I had received a loaner W203 ('02 C240, I believe it was) when I had brought my car in for repairs. I was totally shocked to see on the center console... large, fat, rubbery knobs that were used for the climate controls, and the car stereo head unit. These looked like they were lifted straight from some Chrysler minivan. It was utterly ridiculous to see that in a car of that cost, even if its considered Benz's "entry-level" sedan. I was shocked that something like that could be approved for production. Thankfully, those have been updated/revised in the newer model.

However, it still leaves me wondering.. what exactly are the people at Mercedes-Benz doing to the future of their cars?

They say it takes about 10 years for the reputation of a carmaker to catch up to its current-day reality. (ie. Audi's bad rep from the 80's for self-accelerating cars has finally faded into history) I'm curious what Mercedes-Benz's rep will be like 10 years from now...
 

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I think you guys are making excellent points.

Here are my two cents worth...

The Germans have been chasing Lexus who has been beating them on price and features -- and someone forgot that quality is an important part of the equation. Actually I think the accountants are hurting DC the same way they have hurt American car companies. Cars today are built with a specific product life. Why, they ask, do you build a windshield wiper motor that will last 20 years or more when the car will be long sold 2 or 3 times by 90% of the owners by then (if it's not destroyed in a road accident [?]

Remember also when you try and make cars more feature laden ( anyone remember the feature set on the quite lovely 1984 300D's? they didn't even have electric seats - never mind 3 memories) and you try and keep costs down -- well you know what happens. The Japanese have been able to do it because they have a clean sheet of paper, need less margin and outsource more to subsidiaries they control.

I think everyone is bring up excellent points and Geil, I think you have put a lot of careful thought into it, but if you put yourself in DC's shoes you realize they are between "the devil and the deep blue sea". It's very hard to win. Work as a Product Manager sometime if you want to be driven crazy. Realize that EVERYTHING is a trade-off. You want nicer leather in the seats? OK, your car just went up $130 and weighs 15 lbs more. And Oh, by the way, if I give in to you -- I have to give everyone else a chance to sell their point ( thicker paint? anyone?)

The reason they seem to fall apart with the slightest collision is due to all the computer modeling of energy absorption. Everything gets thrown into the mix in an attempt to absorb or dissipate energy while keeping the passenger cage intact and safe. it's true of every auto today - not just DC.

I think the water based paints caught everyone by surprise. The change was forced by Clean Air Laws and it was a problem everyone thought was solved. Yes, they could have insisted on an extra coat of zinc or undercoating, but like the leather and paint -- you have to make your case.

These problems started well before the merger was contemplated. I had a 94 W124 that was busy destroying its engine wiring loom - much to my distress.

I do fault DC for not making it right by the owners for all these problems. They give ( in the States anyway - around the world? too?) full discretion and a warranty allowance to their dealers. These pin-headed dealers then parcel out the favors to customers who are there regularly for their service and ( of course) new cars. Well that leaves most of us out in the cold and really, ( REALLY) pi**ed off

Realize this is all very relative. German car buyers are not very forgiving of car problems of any kind (look at us) and are quick to complain at the slightest problem.

Still, they have to get back to what they do best -- not just make great drivers, but great quality drivers.

In the end we have to look at ourselves. What kind of car do you really want? In the mould of a W123? ( well it has A/C - what else do you want?) or more like the W211 and most Lexus ( OK, here's the mandatory climate control in a 3 zone model....)

They are trying to give us what we want and not get priced out of the market. Ask yourself what's in your driveway?

What would you do?
 

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Hi Y'all,

I've been contemplating buying a used S Class (500 or 600) and need advice on what is the latest model year I can get that was made prior to the Daimler/Chrysler merge. Would that be a 1997, 1998, or 1999?

Thanks,
Charles
 

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MB or DC must know something the car owner doesn't.
I recently visited 2 dealers here in eastern PA. One in Allentown and the other in Doylestown. These dealerships are in the progress of building huge over opulent showrooms/service buildings and allied outbuildings. They are on the scale of ancient Greek revial buildings, with, to mention the Doylestown dealership, the front columns that bring to mind a palace.


How they can build such palaces to sell vehicles that have less and less reported relaibility and customer satisfaction? I just shake my head as I pass by, and I doubt my purchase of a couple of gallons of anti freeze will help their bottom line.

Yes the older cars were more reliable and better engineered. Reliability doesn't sell like it used too...
 
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