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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Benzworld!

I've been contemplating buying a new (to me) car for a couple months, so I've been checking out this great resource; this is my first post! Originally, I wanted a W126 diesel but decided against that when I could have something much newer for a similar price! My commute is short and relatively traffic free so I don't need to worry about economy much.

I went to look at a 1996 S420 tonight. The body and interior are immaculate as far as I could tell under the lighting conditions. The place was closing so I didn't take it out on a drive but it started with ease and made no troublesome noise from the engine.

There are some things that either could or could not be major issues, so I need some opinions from people who know and love these cars; I have a feeling I've come to the right place!

Faults:
1. Passenger side climate control temp increase button does not work
2. Spare tire has a gash in it
3. Trunk does not close on every try, takes two or three tries
4. Floor mats are rubber Mercedes ones, but they look the wrong size for the car
5. Duct tape residue on the rear window, top center. Trunk is dry. Leak?
6. Service book last checked off in 2002 for the 48K Km service

Perhaps the trunk not closing might be result of collision damage incorrectly repaired. It's a local car, so any damage over $2000 will be on record.

It looks really nice for it's age and only has 133K (~83K miles). Asking price $5995.


Should I avoid it based on the above things or should I look into it more? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!!!
 

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93 SL500, 95 SL320, 96 S320, 98 S500, 2002 E320 4Matic Wagon & A little 91 5.0 FORD Mustang
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Welcome aboard...

These are great cars,

I'm going to answer your questions:

1. Passenger side climate control temp increase button does not work

I've fixed the buttons with 5min epoxy, and some bits of plastic model plastic, but you could get one ebay for under 100 bucks..

2. Spare tire has a gash in it

Used tires are under 50bucks

3. Trunk does not close on every try, takes two or three tries

There is a torx-bolt adjustment on the wall of receiver of the latch from the trunk, but you may have have to remove the black plastic sill to adjust it - not a big deal..

4. Floor mats are rubber Mercedes ones, but they look the wrong size for the car

Not a big deal at all..

5. Duct tape residue on the rear window, top center. Trunk is dry. Leak?

No sure here, you are just going to have a peak under the paneling, but impossible in your condition since you do not own the car.

6. Service book last checked off in 2002 for the 48K Km service

I would look at the Carfax for what type of service has been performed.

Conclusion:

Get a professional inspection that is all I can say to you. If you are savvy mechanic you may have an edge, still not good enough to know about these cars. I would make sure all the gears engage properly, and reverse gear should not click as you drive it in reverse; All the gears should engage rapidly(especially reverse gear).

A beautiful car, I would look for paint over spray under the car, to see if the car has been repainted from an accident. I would run a refrigerator plastic magnet around the body above knee level for traces of body filler. The lower door panels have plastic decorative panels that will not help if body was damaged.

I'm not sure if this model has pneumatic shocks, but if it does the car may sag in one direction. I have no experience here since my S320 did not come with this feature. Maybe others can chime-in here

How is the leather? Refinishing the leather is a real pain to do. I'm not the kind of person to put seat covers, or drive with torn seats. I want the elegance of the leather.

The color of the brake fluid? it should look like apple juice... If it looks grayish, It needs to be changed quickly to avoid rust damaged to the brake system since brake fluid absorbs moisture.

Open the radiator reservoir cap( the fluid should look clear-the cap is on the passenger side near the fender-do it while the car is cold!) Mercedes coolant is clear-not green-orange or milky white(a possible head gasket problem or possible transmission cooler section of the radiator has ruptured- coolant maybe in the transmission-these cars do not have transmission dip-sticks, so you can test for evidance of burned fluid, or their lack of fluid...)

If the car's engine oil has not been changed in a while, that's a good thing. Pull the dip stick smell it. It should not smell like gasoline if it does smell. The car's engine is warn-out-lots of engine blow-by..

Last thing, bring a partner to start the car-put the car in drive with the break-on, and lightly accelerating. What you are looking for is broken/warn-out engine and transmission mounts. The engine should not rotate

Make sure all the engine lights turn on the instrument cluster. NO BURNED OUT BULBS !!!!!!

Hopefully others chime-in, and say other things to watch out for.

Best of luck,

Martin
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Martin, thank you for your detailed reply! It's exactly the kind of info I was hoping for. I was worried that a bunch of minor things wrong might be an indicator of overall quality. Sure, it looks really nice but it's amazing what a good detail can do for a quality car. I think it would be best to have it inspected. If it checks out mechanically, I'll offer much less than the asking price to fix all the minor problems.

Cheers,
Ken
 

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1995 Mercedes-Benz S420, 2011 BMW 535i M-Sport
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I'm not sure if this model has pneumatic shocks, but if it does the car may sag in one direction. I have no experience here since my S320 did not come with this feature. Maybe others can chime-in here
Hey there, the S420 does not have the Self-Leveling Suspension. To be absolutely sure, look under the hood on the driver's side for a removable plastic cover about the size of an iPhone. If you have a self-leveling suspension, there will be a fluid reservoir under there.

Good luck!

-Z
 

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"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Martin (Mava)Unless we talking a diifferent Car or i missunderstand your perfect Advise to the Buyer here ,it may not be a big Deal but the Transmission Dipstick is found behind the Engine on the V8's, just before the Firewall on the left side standing in front of the Car facing the Engine .It has a Redish Cap on it ,lift it up on the Side & Pull up .
Ciao :thumbsup:
 

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current fleet: 1996 s500; 1997 BMW 328ic; 2000 Nissan Frontier; 1966 AC Cobra
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Good bargain on 1996 s500

Hello Benzworld!

I've been contemplating buying a new (to me) car for a couple months, so I've been checking out this great resource; this is my first post! Originally, I wanted a W126 diesel but decided against that when I could have something much newer for a similar price! My commute is short and relatively traffic free so I don't need to worry about economy much.

Thanks in advance!!!
Wow, timing is everything - I just offered up my 1996 s500 before I traded it in. Could not make the deal in time so I did trade it in. My car has no issues at all - even though the ones you listed appear to be minor. My s500 has been carefully maintained and is in pristine condition. Here is the link to the dealer's site where it is located. The dealer may be willing to deliver or meet you mid way. The car is wonderful

C.A.R.S. Inc. Inventory of Used Cars for Sale, Tampa, FL, 813-431-4022

Owners name is Judd Cook - might be worth a phone call. You can tell from his web site that Judd deals with upscale cars ONLY.

Good luck
 

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93 SL500, 95 SL320, 96 S320, 98 S500, 2002 E320 4Matic Wagon & A little 91 5.0 FORD Mustang
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Sorry,

I thought the 1996 S420 had 722.6 tranny-No dip stick, so the S420 does have a Dip-Stick.

Good, no auto leveling shocks-no $600-$1000 shocks!

Find out what you're buying, what your perspective car comes equiped with. Get professional advice.

Do your research here. I've spent several months reading all the topics of(good/bad/ugly) repair. I've spent about 80hrs here before I took the plunge on buying a W140.

Best of Luck

Martin
 

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Just dealing with the issue of the trunk not closing: this could be something or it could be nothing much. These are complicated cars and you may not be aware that they have a power-assisted door-closing system. When the door hits the catch it is pulled fully-closed by a pneumatic system: this applies to all doors and the trunk. If it's not working on the trunk, then there are some latches inside the trunk lid which need to be moved across to allow for this.
The following link will display the manual for this model:

http://bayhas.com/w140manu/1996 S320 S420 S500 Owner's Manual Edition B.pdf

Have a look at page 124 re manual-closing and 34 re power-closing. If the trunk power-closing is not working and the latches have not been moved across, manual-closing of the trunk can require quite a slam and is definitely not recommended. To check if the power closing is working at all, try closing the doors one at a time. If it's working at all, then I would expect at least one door to pull in. This system can go wrong but in the initial stages it can be reset by pulling fuse #9 in the fuse box in the side of the trunk, accessed by opening the hinged cover in the trunk liner. Replace the fuse after about 5 secs or so - may be the dealer would let you do this(?)

If no doors are pulled in then it is still possible that the system can be adjusted at no cost to a DIY-er: excellent info on this Forum. But if the motor on the pneumatic pump is nbg, then you may have to replace the whole unit at a cost of $200 to $400, depending on how you go about it (fairly easy DIY job).

Of course, the trunk could have had a prang or the catch could be badly adjusted but problems with the power closing are not uncommon, as a search on this Forum will confirm.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just dealing with the issue of the trunk not closing: this could be something or it could be nothing much. These are complicated cars and you may not be aware that they have a power-assisted door-closing system. When the door hits the catch it is pulled fully-closed by a pneumatic system: this applies to all doors and the trunk. If it's not working on the trunk, then there are some latches inside the trunk lid which need to be moved across to allow for this.
The following link will display the manual for this model:

http://bayhas.com/w140manu/1996 S320 S420 S500 Owner's Manual Edition B.pdf

Have a look at page 124 re manual-closing and 34 re power-closing. If the trunk power-closing is not working and the latches have not been moved across, manual-closing of the trunk can require quite a slam and is definitely not recommended. To check if the power closing is working at all, try closing the doors one at a time. If it's working at all, then I would expect at least one door to pull in. This system can go wrong but in the initial stages it can be reset by pulling fuse #9 in the fuse box in the side of the trunk, accessed by opening the hinged cover in the trunk liner. Replace the fuse after about 5 secs or so - may be the dealer would let you do this(?)

If no doors are pulled in then it is still possible that the system can be adjusted at no cost to a DIY-er: excellent info on this Forum. But if the motor on the pneumatic pump is nbg, then you may have to replace the whole unit at a cost of $200 to $400, depending on how you go about it (fairly easy DIY job).

Of course, the trunk could have had a prang or the catch could be badly adjusted but problems with the power closing are not uncommon, as a search on this Forum will confirm.

Mike
Thanks Mike! I will definitely give it a try with the other doors. The car is at a local dealer, and of course the salesperson seems *really* nice, but he doesn't know anything about the car mechanically. It was all brute force and ignorance closing the trunk lid! I read up on the pump in the KB thread; seems like something I could easily do myself... Although, if it's not closing other doors I'll be asking for $400-500 less than I want to pay for the car! In addition to costs of the other fixes...

Thanks for the link to the manual too. I've been trying to digest as much information as possible before I go further with my purchase. Unfortunately my current car senses this and is falling apart at an unbelievable rate! I hate to be rushed :(
 

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........Faults:
1. Passenger side climate control temp increase button does not work.....
One other system you should check or have checked is the a/c. Although the above button has a problem, does the a/c work? Evaporator leaks are a well-known problem on 140s and evaporators cost several arms and a few legs to replace (centre console and dash taken out for starters - $4k to $5k, maybe). In my not-so-humble opinion, if the a/c system pressure is low then you should consider the evaporator as suspect until proved otherwise. Of course, the system may simply not have been recharged for years but, on the other hand,............

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #13
One other system you should check or have checked is the a/c. Although the above button has a problem, does the a/c work? Evaporator leaks are a well-known problem on 140s and evaporators cost several arms and a few legs to replace (centre console and dash taken out for starters - $4k to $5k, maybe). In my not-so-humble opinion, if the a/c system pressure is low then you should consider the evaporator as suspect until proved otherwise. Of course, the system may simply not have been recharged for years but, on the other hand,............

Mike
The button works to turn the temp down, just not up! Haha. With the air temp being rather low this time of year how much colder should the AC blow than the outside air? I'll borrow a thermometer from work and check it out. Let's say it is not blowing cold... Should I avoid the car altogether? $4-5K is pretty much the asking price!
 

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The button works to turn the temp down, just not up! Haha. With the air temp being rather low this time of year how much colder should the AC blow than the outside air? I'll borrow a thermometer from work and check it out. Let's say it is not blowing cold... Should I avoid the car altogether? $4-5K is pretty much the asking price!
The a/c system has various built-in diagnostic capabilities. Have a look at this link, it's for the earlier type of a/c controller but I think that the method for reading the sensor values is much the same on the later one: K6JRF Auto Page

If the a/c is running properly, the evaporator temperature (sensor value #5) should cycle between about 2 degC and 6 degC as the compressor clutch switches in and out. Sensor value #7 is the system refrigerant pressure in bar. It should be around 4 bar or so without the system running and anything from about 7 to 15 bar when it's running. These values are v. approx. because they depend on ambient temp. and humidity. Anything under about 4 bar static and 7 bar or so running might suggest low pressure. Note that the #7 value when the a/c is running will also cycle high and low as the compressor clutch cycles in and out.

If the pressure is low, it could be because of an evaporator leak or because it hasn't been serviced for years. If the evaporator has a leak and there's UV dye in the system then this can be seen underneath the car with a UV light because the dye will run out with the condensate off the evaporator down the drain hoses.

If you just want to check the minimum temperature with a thermometer, then press the blue button on the dash centre vent - this should then send cold air straight from the evaporator - perhaps 2 to 3 degC min.

I would hate to put you off what may well be a good car but, personally, I would certainly want to check the a/c or get it checked before I committed. Act in haste, repent at leisure comes to mind.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Mike, thank you again!

The AC is reporting within the above spec. I suspect it doesn't get used heavily in the mild Vancouver weather.

Unfortunately, my instincts are telling me to avoid this specific car. Upon closer examination in the daylight there has been some recent paintwork on the lower part of the two tone (What do you call that part? Trim?). I found masking tape covering the chrome trim sprayed in the lower body colour. The tape came off easily, so I guess it was relatively fresh. Also there is a ~$6000 collision declaration from 1999 :( The consensus on here seems to be stay away from collision repaired cars, correct? The instrument cluster has two cracks in the lexan. I have no idea how they would get there! Last, the sunroof binds on the passenger when closing and will not pop up without some help. It smeared in grease on the glass when I checked the function.

On the bright side, puling fuse 9 in the trunk fixed the trunk closing issue temporarily and seems to have activated it on all the other doors. It sure surprised the salesman who was insistent that this car did not have that option =P

So the search continues!

Thank you to everyone who posts on this forum. It gives me great confidence to know that there a lot of people out there who know and love these cars; one day soon I hope to join your ranks :)
 

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Probably a wise move, although I would guess it's easy to run up a $6000 repair without too much trouble. I don't know how adjustable the sunroof tracks are - or whether this binding is indicative of a slight distortion from the earlier crash, though my gut reaction is that that's unlikely. The masking tape on the trim may not be so significant - I occasionally 'freshen up' mine when the scars from London parking have accummulated sufficiently.

The cracks in the Lexan probably result from someone inexpertly pulling the cluster to replace an instrument illumination bulb. This requires a pair of 'pullers' to be inserted, one either side of the cluster. If not done with care the 'glass' will crack (how do I know?). The entire cluster case needs to be replaced - if you can find a secondhand one, it's an easy job.

Anyway, good luck with your search.

Mike
 

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"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Mike, thank you again!

Thank you to everyone who posts on this forum. It gives me great confidence to know that there a lot of people out there who know and love these cars; one day soon I hope to join your ranks :)
Dont worry ,if you really are to an Afecionado (LoL,what a word) of these Cars, it will grow on you to .
Only Today i yet had another one of those Laughs inside myself when i park the car under the Sunshine with all it's Shiny Paint in front of a Shopping centre where a lot of People walk Pass't ( I'm inside the Car,preventing possible Damage from trolleys/doordings etc ),People who walk Past ,Walk forward and look back looking at the Car only to smash there Heads into some Pole /Sign or other People , not looking where the F they going ,it's really funny .
Ciao :thumbsup:
 

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I don't know how adjustable the sunroof tracks are - .Mike
The Sunroof TRACKS are not adjustable they are firm on the top ,the only adjustable Part is the Sunroof itself ( The Sliding Panel ), it can be adjusted by a 1 or 2 cm movement for the aligment with the external Roof ( up/down/forward/back/left & right, but only a little bit ) .The Tracks are different from Model to Model ,A 400SEL Sunroof Track will fit into the S500 but you wont be able to reefit the Windrubber edge as that is where the fitting is different ,the partnumber is the same yet they are different ,400SEL has Cloth windseal while the S500 has the Rubber edge Wind Seal on it ,with a special Guiderail just for that Part attachment .
I should ad more info about this in the Sunroof Threads .
Ciao :thumbsup:
To Change the tracks is not a Difficult Job,looks comlicated but it really isnt .
 

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broken lexan in the cluster

MikeJT mentioned pulling the cluster, and it is easy with the Benz 'hooks' and quite often will crack the lexan.
The problem I have is an outside temp sensor that reads but doesn't light up. If I pull the cluster and unplug things is there a tiny bulb to replace or does, [as the Benz dealer says] the unit have to be replaced?
 
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