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2008 E 320 Bluetec (ELEGANCE) 2005 CLK500 (avant-garde)
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've seen several posts lately complaining about how unreliable the W140s are and how expensive they are to repair. The post usually ends up with the person saying that they have had it and they are going to buy a new luxury car of the Japanese variety.

If you wanted perfection why didn't you throw down a hundred grand and buy a brand new S550?

When you buy a W140 there are 4 things you should assume.

1. You are buying a car that is AT LEAST 11 years old.

2. You are buying a car that cost AT LEAST $100,000 in today's inflation dollars, in the case of a V12 around $200,000

3. At times a car that age will have major things go wrong.

4. A car that price will be more expensive to repair than a cheaper car.

Would the owner of a 1996 Rolls-Royce complain about a $10,000 major repair? Most times not because the owner of an older "Roller" understands that sometimes that is the necesary price of ownership. Well guess what...a W140 is the German equivalent of a Rolls-Royce!

Now don't get me wrong $15,000 to replace a wiring harness is really out of my ballpark but I did research and I knew how expensive a V12 would be. That's why I ended up with a V8 (probably should have ended up with a 6!).

Right now I'm debating whether to keep my S500 after retirement because I don't know if I can afford it. However I won't bad mouth it or Mercedes-Benz. It's the cost of ownership!
 

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C140 W140 C126 W201 W116 W210 W163 W251 R129 R170 928S 944S GTV6
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Amen!
 

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1997 s600
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If you are going to own one of these cars then you had better be handy with a wrench and an internet search engine! I myself jumped right in with a V12 with over 100,000 miles on it. I expected problems...and I got them .I have been a dealer tech for over 20 years so I have plenty of resources available to me.I find it challenging to find and resolve problems, and this car isn't very technically advanced so it's pretty easy to work on. These cars are a commitment.You are either commited to the experience or you aren't. If you aren't, may I suggest a Lexus?:D
 

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2008 E 320 Bluetec (ELEGANCE) 2005 CLK500 (avant-garde)
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Discussion Starter #4
Even a 17 year old Lexus with 150,000 miles on it is going to have some problems. Automobiles are man designed and man made therefore all have some flaws that show up the longer you own them! No car is perfect no matter how much you pay for it.
 

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1995 Mercedes-Benz S420 (W140), 1997 BMW 740iL (E38), 2011 C300 Luxury (W204)
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1,314 Posts
Lexus isn't going to give you problem free ownership. My cousin owns a '99 LS400 and he is having issues too. His front end suspension is shot, the OEM wheels are known to leak. He had to either buy new wheels or inflate them every week. There is paint quality I assume. The tops of the car (most obvious on the hood) is turning into a brownish/golden white whereas the rest of the body (sides, doors etc) isn't. At an angle it almost looks as if the sun is affecting it. Interior rattles in almost all door panels. This was all a one day experience with the car. Although the rest of the car seems reliable (engine super quiet, transmission shifts good etc).
 

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1994 Benz S320 SWB / 1986 Porsche 911 Targa / 1998 Benz CL 500
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1,290 Posts
I've seen several posts lately complaining about how unreliable the W140s are and how expensive they are to repair. The post usually ends up with the person saying that they have had it and they are going to buy a new luxury car of the Japanese variety.

If you wanted perfection why didn't you throw down a hundred grand and buy a brand new S550?

When you buy a W140 there are 4 things you should assume.

1. You are buying a car that is AT LEAST 11 years old.

2. You are buying a car that cost AT LEAST $100,000 in today's inflation dollars, in the case of a V12 around $200,000

3. At times a car that age will have major things go wrong.

4. A car that price will be more expensive to repair than a cheaper car.

Would the owner of a 1996 Rolls-Royce complain about a $10,000 major repair? Most times not because the owner of an older "Roller" understands that sometimes that is the necesary price of ownership. Well guess what...a W140 is the German equivalent of a Rolls-Royce!

Now don't get me wrong $15,000 to replace a wiring harness is really out of my ballpark but I did research and I knew how expensive a V12 would be. That's why I ended up with a V8 (probably should have ended up with a 6!).

Right now I'm debating whether to keep my S500 after retirement because I don't know if I can afford it. However I won't bad mouth it or Mercedes-Benz. It's the cost of ownership!
Well Said :thumbsup:

ADDITIONAL INFO: Beside all the said and done, a NEW car isnt going to be "Cheaper" to own or maintain AT ALL. Even though the W140 may have gadgets and sensors to play around with its definately much more reliable compared to the new generation luxury vehicles.

- W140 doesnt run on Windows NT system which will need continuous updates from a dealer and crash from time to time leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

- W140 is not going to destroy its pixels on the instrument cluster or other lcd reading screens.

- W140 is not going to continuously light up an "Airbag" warning due to the slightest oxidation of wiring or seat sensors.

- W140 is not going to have you replace every itsy bitsy steering component due to not being made of light alloy.

- W140 is not going to get flooded from the slightest rain and cost you a couple thousand dollars due to cheap water passages that get clogged up and ruin every ECU mostly located in the trunk these days.

- W140 is not going to have you replace your taillights due to faulty LED ballasts every couple of months.

My W140 has been running for 17 years, its been in the family since the day of its purchase in 1994 and even if I add up every damn repair bill up to date its not even close to the total amount I had to pay to keep a rival brand running only for a couple of years which was also in showroom condition.

LONG LIVE THE W140.

Best Regards To All.
 

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The mid-year S320s, maintained by a DIYer, are going to dance on the graves of these other schmucks, both the other 140s and the Lexi's. They are basic cars, very well made with lots of heavy duty mechanical parts. They were built to be reliable practical transportation when their days as luxury cars were over. For a DIYer it costs peanuts to take care of one. I don't know why all 140s get lumped together. For a DIYer an S320 is maybe one-tenth the cost of a 600.
 

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1996 S320 (Kuro) 1998 S600 (Weiss)
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The mid-year S320s, maintained by a DIYer, are going to dance on the graves of these other schmucks, both the other 140s and the Lexi's. They are basic cars, very well made with lots of heavy duty mechanical parts. They were built to be reliable practical transportation when their days as luxury cars were over. For a DIYer it costs peanuts to take care of one. I don't know why all 140s get lumped together. For a DIYer an S320 is maybe one-tenth the cost of a 600.
Interestingly enough my 96' 320 has been a money pit whereas my 97' 600 has ben a saint.

I'm sure the tides will turn at some stage though :)
 

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1997 S500V, 1999 S500 grand edition, 2006 s65 amg
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sure it might be pricey to maintain or repair but you know it will last forever once everything is fixed it will only need fluid and brake pad changes. the newer cars have way more issues since everything is electronic, for example my previous 2004 e500 had so many issues in 07 it wasent even funny(it was only a 3 year car and had fuel leaks and a vacuum leak also needed a head gasket)
 

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1992 S 600
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I have came across the opppurnity to get a S600 and I went for it, the past two years I was running around in a BMW e36 still have and and a VW Beetle sold for the Benz, so I am not scared to wrench around but at the same time I hope this Benz is kind to me.
 

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1999 S600 Sedan, 1999 S600 w/ 4-pl seating, 1995 S600 Coupe, 2-1992 600SEL's, 2002 ML55, 1998 SL600
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2,384 Posts
Nimrod,

you forgot to mention that MB LOST money on each 12-cylinder W140 it sold. It now makes money on each of its vehicles.

When the w140 was being developed, MB wanted to produce the 'best car on earth' regardless of costs.

Being the 'last of the over-engineered' Mercedes, the W140 set as its competition Rolls and Bentley. When MB was shut out of buying either brand in the mid-1990's, they developed their own brand, Maybach, of which the W140 was the baseline. it is no mystery that MB engineers designated the Maybach body the W240, the 2nd generation of the W140. The W220/221 are completely different cars from the W140, a different class of cars, lesser in many ways, packed with electronics to offset the reduction in bulk, reduction in engineering quality, reduction in status.

Present values our cars are trading at has no relation to the value they represent in terms of quality, durability and overall safety.

Present values also are impacted by the fact most owners feel they cannot justify putting into the car what it needs to truly keep them up. "How can I justify putting a $4500 repair into a car worth only $6,000?" may be a lament of current owners, but that's wrong-headed. To replace all that the W140 represents today, the cost would be substantially higher than present market values.

This mindset explains how new owners of W140's will likely find themselves with cars needing a lot of catch-up maintenance to bring them to 'good' condition. Be aware.
 

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1993 W140 500SEL Black/Black, 12014 Ford Fiesta ST Blk/Blk
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2008 E 320 Bluetec (ELEGANCE) 2005 CLK500 (avant-garde)
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Discussion Starter #15
Hate to correct you Andrew but it was rushed into production. The car had already been designed and several prototypes built and then Toyota announced Lexus, Nissan had Infiniti (remember the milk carton ads?) and Honda had Accura. MB got nervous and rushed the W140 into production. This is probably the cause of the initial front end problems and other quality problems that the 1st W140's suffered. MB even offered a huge discount to owners of the early 140's for trade in. My local dealer at the time even had 2 techs that worked on W140's only!

Again, I love my W140 but the initial ones off the line were nightmares!
 

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1993 W140 500SEL Black/Black, 12014 Ford Fiesta ST Blk/Blk
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Nimrod,

Besides AC, Improper tyres creating vibrations, wiring loom, the shimming of the tranny mount, what issues did they deal with?
My car has a build date of 11/92, I have metal cam oil tubes, metal t fitting on firewall, painted fuel tank, under engine cover, thicker leather etc.
How were the early ones bad otherwise?
 

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'94 S500 Now breaking. PM me '97 S500. MkII Golf Gti, 1980 mini
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W140's will be expensive to fix if they go back to the dealer. There are many people breaking these cars (such as myself-plug) who supply parts at much less than dealer. W140's have a lot of kit on board so with the increased kit, you could expect that there are more things to go wrong. Saying that though I've been running two W140 S500's for 12 months with no problems occuring during that time.
 

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2008 E 320 Bluetec (ELEGANCE) 2005 CLK500 (avant-garde)
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
The tires had nothing to do with it. It was the design of the front end. The front end spawned the 1st class action lawsuit in the US.

Well, in addition to what you have listed (Which for a Mercedes-Benz is a lot for my thinking), The infamous 3.5 litre diesel engine (that spawned the 2nd class action lawsuit that involved the W140), the mileage which dropped to the low teens to upper single digits (not the I6). In Germany the police took great delight in pulling over the 1st W140's that were fully loaded because the brakes did not meet the TUV (sorry I don't have an unlaut!) specs for the weight. In addition some of the earlier versions (read some) if you checked the oil level with the dipstick and accidently spilled a little on the VEE belt the AC compressor would stop working. Evidently the compressor clutch had a sensor that sent a signal to the ACC unit with the speed of the clutch. It compared to the engine speed and if they didnt match they would shut the compressor down. This could also be caused by driving through water, a coolant leak, etc.

MB's answer was to lighten the chassis to bring it's brakes into spec, lower the chassis which not only improved aerodynamics but also made the car look smaller as well as paint the bumpers and side panels matching paint (the Europeans made fun of the size calling them "bloating hulks" and change the design of the clutch. The lowering of the chassis as well as the lightening cured the shimmy in the front end that caused the W140 to eat front tires. In addition they changed the engine design from a 4 valve per cylinder to 3 percylinder and lowered the horsepower creating a mild rise in gas mileage.

Now after having said that, I like my earlier version for the reasons you have listed. The bulk, the classier materials, etc....I even like the tacky rear parking assist antlers and the "doors that suck" soft closing doors!

The W140 truly is "The KING of the road!"
 

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88 560SL - 01 C240 - 02 W210 4matic Wagon - W212 4matic wagon
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Not to start anything -- But the w140 was without question the most unreliable car I have had the misfortune to own. I bought it new and I was not alone. They had terrible problems and Mercedes lost tons of customers -- myself included. I have not bought a new one since the w140 as my primary car -- but I may soon. I own a few other old ones.
 
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