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MY96 S500 & MY96 S600
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I've now owned all late model MY96+ (no distributors) engine types on the W140 chassis. Here's my updated buyers guide for the engines and accessories with some under car and suspension at the end.



All engines:

Check the oil filler cap for milky emulsified oil indicating a head gasket leak.

Check under oil filler cap for sludge built up in the head/s from poor servicing and/or incorrect oil.

Coolant should be clean with no scum or anything under the filler cap or in the expansion tank. Black residue can indicate a head gasket leak. The color should not be faded to opaque dirty water.

Steering box can leak requiring seals to be replaced, access to which is tight. PS lines can leak too.

If you have a compliant seller and know your way around a W140 remove the aux belt and feel for looseness on PS pump, alternator, water pump, tensioner, everything.

Test the AC and heater at full blast, test operation of both sides at different temps to check duo valve operation. Leave the AC on full for a while, the two elec. AUX fans should work.

The engine fan has a viscous drive and should engage if the car idles for any length of time at full engine temp. It should engage at cold start up too.

The temp gauge might be dead or can move about from a faulty gauge in the cluster. Can read engine temp accurately on Climate Control readout in diagnostics sensor mode 6. (Hold REST button down for a while to enter diagnostics sensor mode and press left Auto button to select mode.)

After you have driven the car with the engine at operating temp check for leaks with engine off as the coolant system will be under pressure.

Listen to the engine while idling for any noises, make sure the AC compressor and PS pump is very quiet or silent, give the car a bit of a rev but while stationary to listen to any noises but the ECU limits the engine to ~4,000rpm (safety for the torque convertor). Both my M119 cars have a vibration around the 1500rpm range, the sixes an 12 don't do that.

All engines should be damn quiet inside a closed W140 cabin. If there is groaning or vibration the car needs engine mounts.

The coil pack ignition on these engines is quite forgiving for worn spark plugs. Any misfires is will most likely be a coil or in rare cases the coil to spark plug risers.



M104 I6 S280 & S320 engine oil leaks etc:

Engine cam cover gasket at the rear, oil can seep down then wick around to the exhaust side due to the angle of the engine. This might look like a head gasket oil leak but it is not.

Common leak is the front "U" seal between upper and lower section of the timing chain cover, the seal dries up over time and leaks. This might look like a head gasket oil leak but it is not.

Cam cover is magnesium. High mileage cars can have oil seeping through the magnesium metal, causing the paing to flake off. If original this is an indicator of the genuine mileage of the car.

Rear main seal is a common leak with a completely revised rear main seal available from Mercedes to fix. Front main seal does not have this issue but is much easier to check and fix if required.

Can leak around the engine oil level sensor.

Right hand drive cars have an oil cooler located under the oil filter. The perimeter seal can perish and oil then leaks down the side of the engine above the starter motor.

Power steering pump seal at the front manifests as a slow leak, requiring removal and rebuilding. Steering box can leak quite a lot of oil requiring seals to be replaced, access to which is tight.

Transmission fluid cooler is inside the radiator. A leak will result in engine coolant in the transmission.


M119 V8 (S420 & S500) engine oil leaks etc:

Oil leaks are not as prominent on the M119, less prone to leaks out of all the engines.

Cam covers are a common leak but easy fix.

Front main seal is not a common problem leak.

Rear main seal is not a common problem.

Can leak around the engine oil level sensor.

Have a look at youtube videos with the dreaded cam oiler ticking noise to familiarize yourself with this sound but it's actually quite an easy fix to replace with metal oilers.

Power steering pump seal at the front manifests as a slow leak, requiring removal and rebuilding. Cars with SLS had a tandem pump, can develop same leak but more difficult to rebuild.

Transmission fluid cooler is inside the radiator, and leak will result in engine coolant in the transmission.

S500 has a separate engine oil cooler, the lines can leak at the joins.

Check the condition of the magnesium cooling fan and harmonic balancer.


M120 V12 (S600) engine oil leaks etc:

The V12 has the most oil leaks.

Biggest leak comes from the dual timing chain cover seals joining the lower cover to the two upper timing chain covers, in behind the water pump.

Rear main seal in not a common problem, in fact it is the same part number as the M119 rear main seal.
Front main seal is not usually a problem.

Cam cover seals can leak.

Cam covers are magnesium. High mileage cars can have oil seeping through the magnesium metal, causing the paint to flake off. If original this is an indicator of the genuine mileage of the car.

Can leak around the engine oil level sensor.

Can develop hydraulic lifter tick if the oil is a bit thin.

Most S600 have SLS with a tandem pump, it can leak out the front seal behind the pulley.

S600 has a separate engine oil cooler and separate transmission cooler, the lines can leak at the joins.

Check the condition of the magnesium cooling fan and harmonic balancer.


Transmission 722.3 733.4 722.5

Mostly on pre MY96 models the transmission is hydraulic controlled with mechanical shift linkage mechanism with further vacuum control. Check the oil with engine at operating temp in drive (chock the wheels!) Level should be in the safe range and healthy red-orange colour. If the oil is in the darker burnt to greenish black colour it shows abuse of the gearbox or it is out of adjustment, and possibly very old oil and has absorbed moisture from many many years.

When engine is still cold the transmission will delay shifting to 3rd gear, this might seem abnormal but it is normal operation. Check for smooth shifts both up and down, test for healthy kickdown, test manual shifting at sensible speeds. If something doesn't feel right it could be a multitude of causes, ranging from a simple adjustment or vacuum leak up to possibly detrimental wear or failure of an internal component. If the shifter mechanism feels a bit loose it is just old tired shifter bushes.

On a M104 car at full throttle from a stop the car should change through the gears near redline, gear changes should still be smooth but no flailing.

On M119 or M120 equipped cars the transmission starts off in 2nd gear, unless pushed to kickdown. Manual shifting is required for aggressive redline shifts, the car short shifts if left in Drive.

Test reverse, it should not take excessive time to engage and should drive the car with confidence just as the forward gears do. If you need to rev the car for it to move, if it feels weak and/or strange noises in reverse gear are symptoms of the common reverse lip seal and/or spring retainer failure.

On 722.5 equipped cars make sure overdrive 5th gear works.

There are half a dozen or more seals transmission oil can leak from off the top of my head. Rear seal is the easiest to spot, and seals at the front at the input shaft are hardest to fix due to access requiring removal of the gearbox. If there is oil leaking at the front of the gearbox it could be the engine rear main seal, color of the oil should be a tell tale sign.

Reverse failure from a torn lip seal is common. If the car does not have a documented rebuild, factor this into your purchase.


Transmission 722.6

This transmission does not have a dipstick and was marketed as "sealed for life", so it will be hard to check the oil when looking at the car and there is a greater chance the oil has never been changed since they put it in at the factory. Can buy your own dipstick, if checking the oil have engine running at operating temp, in Drive with wheels chocked! Being electronic, this transmission either works or it doesn't. If not it will got into a limp mode letting you drive home stuck in gear.

Can develop a leak around the brake lockout connector and rear main seal. Front main transmission seal leak is very rare.

On all 722.6 equipped cars oil wicks up the wiring harness and fills the TCU. This requires TCU cleaning and new connector and connector seals on transmission. No big deal.

Conductor plate failure from worn speed sensors is common. No big deal.

Complete failure from K2 bushing bearing failure are common, replacement internals and rebuilt transmission is required, updated to K2 roller bearing.

If the car does not have a documented rebuild factor this into your purchase.


Under the car and suspension

Check the two rubber flexdisks on the tailshaft for cracks. Small cracks are ok but the rubber should be structurally sound. Check boots around sway bar links as the boots on cheap non-genuine parts can crack very easily. Check the suspension bush condition, cracked and off centre needs replacing.

While driving if the steering wheel shakes it is either from out of balance wheels or out of round wheels/tires. If the car has sat it may take a while for the flat spots to me massaged out from driving. Shaking steering while braking is warped brake rotors. There can be a slight shake at certain speeds from old suspension bushes but I have not experienced this, correctly balanced and round wheels will expose this problem. If there is bump feedback through the steering the car requires a replacement steering damper.

Check suspension for clunks and knocks, make sure steering isn't too floaty. Can adjust the steering box to fix free play, or might need a new steering idler arm bush. Also make sure tires are at proper pressure around 30 psi as this can be the difference between thinking the shocks and bushes are gone, to thinking the car rides ok. W140 seems to be very sensitive to tire pressure for ideal ride quality.

Scrubbed edges on tires indicates that a wheel alignment probably won't fix the problem.

If you get the lift the car off the ground, check the ball joints for play. Slightly loose front wheels indicate the front bearing need to be re-tightened. If passenger side front wheel can be steered independently of driver side the steering idler arm is shot.

On car with ADS/SLS if there is a sharp crack coming from the rear over big bumps, the lower and/or upper shock mounts need replacing.


That's it for now. :cool:
 

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #163

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #164 (Edited)

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Merc. 1991 W126 300 Sel; 1998 S600 W140
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ADVISE ON BUYING 1996 OR 1998

Dear MB W140 Members,

I am considering plunging into the world of w140 S600. I am owner of w126 300 SEL. Currently I am negotiating two deals in UK. One is 1998 S600 (green and blue) with 58,000 miles sparingly used by Co. and now bought by retired employ who lives in London. Says the car works perfect and well maintained except slight dent at the bumper, soft close doors not working and parktronics. Other than that car is ok. He has come dwon to 12K Pounds from 16K GBPs.

The other one is a 1996 S600 (blue) with about 130,000 miles, clean with service history and used by about 3 owners. looks really neat and polished. new alloy rims etc. apparently no any issues reported and some recent repairs documented. He is asking for 12K final dwon from 16K GBPs.


Now I will appreciate your thoughts and recommendations on:
1. which option is better
2. Any difference between 96 and 98 models ....physically they look the same to me including interior Napa leather etc
3. weather mileage - higher or lower makes any difference?
4. Price- is 12K Pounds worthy investment for this car or I would rather top up and get the newer 2011 models?
5. Any other advise you may deem useful to offer.


Best regards,
Erastus
 

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1986 560SL 1986 420 SEL
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91 Posts
great read, very informative.

i justified buying my 95 420 with 65k miles for 8k knowing that it was dealer maintained all its life by the single previous owner, and that even with all the repairs that it would potentially need, my baby would still be cheaper than a new car I would have purchased. Also, you cant buy that bank vault feeling of safety anywhere with a comparable pricetag.

This car has saved me twice so far (both rear ended, both times no damage to my bumper but their Hondas were practically totaled), and that feeling of safety i cannot put a price tag on.
I remember a cartoon - looking at the front view of a 140. The driver is talking on the phone and says "Hold on for a moment there is someone at the front door. There is some small POS t boning the w140. The Pos is of course destroyed. It was on this forum but maybe 18 years ago under humor.
 

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #167
I remember a cartoon - looking at the front view of a 140. The driver is talking on the phone and says "Hold on for a moment there is someone at the front door. There is some small POS t boning the w140. The Pos is of course destroyed. It was on this forum but maybe 18 years ago under humor.
You mean this one ! .:thumbsup:
 

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #169
Never seen this one . Really enjoyed watching it .:thumbsup:
 

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #171
Bill's Description of a W140 is Spot on .
He never mentioned the main faults (Ac Evap & Wiring Issues ) , i close an eye about that not being mentioned but all the rest Word for Word is correct & a little funny as well,really enjoyed watching it all which i rarely do .
Well Done Bill , Hope you don't mind it's here . Two :thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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W140 Moderator
"CHRIS" Merc 92 600SEL / Sold > 93 600SE / 93 S500 / 89 560SEL / 413CDI / B180-CDI /A170-CDI
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Discussion Starter #172

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Premium Member
'99 S420 116K
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1,394 Posts
Came across this ,another Great read story from a Happy W140 Owner .
Read the Comments down the Bottom as well .


The W140 series.
Great write up about the W140's.
I suggest also, if you have the time, do the research about the author, Jean Pascal Remon.
He is a candidate for "The World's Most Interesting Man". The Most Beautiful World.
Composer-Electronic Dance Music, published author, photographer, traveling the planet in a Jeep...
the Dude is Livin' the Life! :cool:
 

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There are many things that can and do go wrong with these cars. Suspension, AC, Wire Harnesses, Throttle Actuators

I found that A/C and Wire Harness are the most popular, but suspension and Throttle Actuators are not as reoccurring. “Masters� please confirm…


The best years for the W140 are 97 - 99. Those years are the last 3 years of the model run and therefore are the most sorted out. The S320 is not an all aluminum V-6. It is the venerable M104, Inline 6, variable cam timing, 228 HP. In the opinion of many, one of the best engines MB has ever produced. I had a '93 E320 with that engine that had 254K on it. Engine ran perfectly. My '92 300E M103 has essentially the same engine, with a different head and valve train, 242K and running strong. The M104 engine in the S320 is very easy to work on due to the size of the engine compartment.

I am considering a S320 for MPG purposes….



The car has the 722.6 Electronic Transmission that is allegedly "Sealed for Life". A '99 will have software upgrades and the latest build specs. This is a good thing. MB now recommends changing tranny fluid and filter every 40,000 miles or so.

I forgot to what specific model(s) this statement refers to. “Masters�, please advice…



What are the issues? Potential A/C Evaporator leak, cost $3,000 as the entire dash must be removed. Head gasket leak, probable replacement required, if not already done. Lower control arm bushings will be due for replacement, say $500.00 installed.


Hopefully, your target car has records. Spend the money for a Pre-Purchase inspection.

THIS IS A MUST!



In reference to the following statement: The best years for the W140 are 97 - 99.
This is what I found very informative…

The most sorted out perhaps but also the most cheapened, and with the most troubled and expensive to rebuild transmission. For 1990s for Mercedes was a mad dash to reduce build costs while trying to minimize degradation of the product. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. A mid-90s S320 with HFM and 722.5 transmission is a very nice car, same EPA rating as the later cars, better in many ways for a DIYer, and very much worth considering. Wiring harness issue, yes, but they have virtually all already been updated.

Post '95 present these changes:

1/ New bumpers and new plastic side flanks
(New design to make the car look less bulkier)

2/ New rear lenses (softer edges, and if you buy them at the parts dept.: much, much cheaper compared to pre-95 models)

3/ Deletion of rear parking assist antennas (a great design touch omitted because of high-cost and the introduction of the new "Parktronic" -extra cost feature in most markets, as opposed to the antennas that were standard everywhere-).

4/ New A/C electronic center dash panel controls (much cheaper to manufacture than the previous one).

5/ New interior door panel design. It deletes the very useful storage compartment pre-95 models had, although it addresses a problem that the armrest was too thin and people's elbows would not reach it comfortably (the new armrest is much thicker, although it reduces seat space a little). This change also omitted several internal parts in the doors (including some electric wiring) which also saved them a lot of money.

6/ New headlight lens design (much cheaper to make, although it is said to be 30% brighter, which I would say it is!). Remember that the new Xenon lights (much more expensive) were optional in most markets

7/ Ride height was lowered an average of 1.5 inches, depending on model and extras fitted. This was done mainly to reduce bulk look and to favor airflow (read: more mpg).

8/ Mechanically many systems were changed in the engine compartment and the chassis. Bits and ends mainly to reduce costs.

9/ The infrared remote lock system was changed by a more reliable (and cheaper to manufacture) system.

10/ Some interior materials were cheapen also, the standard leather for example. But, the new more expensive and softer Nappa leather was made available.

98 and 99 models made in several markets more standard equipment (to make the car more appealing in its last two years of life) available.

1/- The engine wiring harness problem was fixed worldwide at production on late 1995. Some early 1996 US models might have the problematic setup. After that, you are safe.

2/- The leather story is quite peculiar. The change basically came around mid 1994 (1995 for US) for the facelift. The facelift tried to fix two issues: optically to reduce the size appearance of the car and to cheapen production costs. Hence, some changes were made to side moldings, bumpers, front and rear lamps to address the first issue and many interior and electrical parts received an update to address the second one.

They cheapen the standard leather and added a more expensive leather option (either one or two tone).

So, pre 1995 models have a better standard (i.e. softer) leather as standard compared to post 1996 models, UNLESS the post 1996 is fitted with the extra cost leather in which case it would be softer and richer than the pre 1995 standard upholstery.

3/ The heated seats has always been standard on S 600s. In the US it varied according to market. They were optional across the line but most dealers on the northern East Coast will order their 500s with them (customers expected to have such an option on a 500). Most dealers on the West coast did NOT added the heated seats to their 500s.


1997 is a good year, one of the best. 1997+ are all about the same IMO. The body is basically the same as the older W140s but has color matched lower trim, European style clear tail lights and many other small changes on the interior and the rest of the car (different keyless entry/alarm system, side airbags standard, etc).

Worldwide, mid-1996+ production date is a good reference to get a great W140. By then, Parktronic/Xenon/water sensitive wipers were already introduced and the engine wiring harness problem was long gone.

The problem is that most updates made to production Benzes get delayed on US models. Hence, 1996 is a tricky date to recommend an US model. That is why most forums recommend 1997-1999.

The final updates which included the BAS system and the electronic maintenance/service interval computer were available on late production 1996 models worldwide, but did not enter US inventory until mid 1997. That is why SOME people will not recommend 1997 (some early 1997 US models may lack these features).

Remember that some peculiar issues, as the A/C evaporator failure and the self-closing door pump were NEVER fixed.

At facelift time (1994/1995 models) M.B. did over 1,700 changes to the S-class, MOST of them had the original purpose of cheapen the manufacture process (hence: quality!) and to simplify many over complex engineering systems which tended to be unreliable.

But, to begin with, the W140 was the most expensive vehicle ever developed by Mercedes-Benz in terms of design and production economics.

The first four years of production the W140 only produced losses to M.B., until the car was face lifted and production costs were lowered (along with quality and final consumer price, which allowed to raise sales proportionally).

There are two views of the issue of lowering quality for the facelift:

1/ Pre-facelift models were original and masters of quality as intended, BUT they had a lot of over complex issues which made the cars somewhat unreliable.

2/ Post-facelift models were cheaper versions of the original king in many fronts, BUT most of the over complex issues were dealt with making these models more reliable (and please notice that I stress the word "most of" - some annoying issues like the A/C evaporators were never fixed). Also, post-facelift models benefit from a series of newly developed systems such as xenon headlamps, parktronic, electronic transmissions and newer engines.

Some additional differences seldom noted:

1. Pre 95 models use seamless front seat back leather covers for a more 'seamless' look - no pun intended. With the headrests raised, notice the stitching that runs perpendicular to the front and back of the seat backs. My guess: a more cost effective production process. The little differences that matter most - especially to those enjoying the comfort of the expansive rear!

2. Another quality problem seen on many 95+ models is that the rear bench seat bottom becomes deformed and misshaped along the piping (which should be a straight). This of course comes as a result of use. Whereas, pre 95's with comparable wear and tear do not seem to experience this as early, if ever.

3. What has improved on the 95+ models: the longevity of the original floor mats - believe it! The backings of the pre 95's were prone to becoming detached from the rest of the mat. Also, the stitching around the mats would fray.

4. A very ANNOYING lacking of the pre 95's was the fact that you could not fit the leather owners manual case anywhere in the cabin! Where the new, but not pretty, gapping cubby space of the 95+ models enables storage on either the drivers or passenger door.

5. I also believe that 95 and 96 models used a better finishing process / clear coat for the 8-hole wheels, as I have seen MANY pre 95's with a hazy look to them - obvious damage. While NO 95's or 96's with similar haziness / fog. True the 94's are older, but 2 years should not make much of a difference, especially with 12 - 14 having already passed.

6. A nice addition to the post 95's were the tiny Bose badges on the rear speakers behind the rear seat headrests, which are readily visible to one standing outside and looking in through the rear window. BUT this does not in any way make up for the removal of the motorized rear mirror!

In all, if you put a 94 and a 95 S500 side by side, there are obvious differences in the quality of plastics used throughout the car: inside, outside, and under the hood. Besides more simplified electrical components, this, I believe is where most of the $8k difference ($95k - $87k) is realized - the plastic! Yet, the 92 - 94 500's did have the motorized rear seat back as standard - something I feel they should have kept on the face lifted models to better distinguish the 420's from the 500's.

Note that the 95's retain the pre 95 HVAC control unit, radio head (rounded button edges), 4-speed non-electronically adjusted 722.3 transmission, parking aid antenna, and other elements I am overlooking. Then in 96, these and additional electrical components were further streamlined.

So, to my knowledge the parking aid antenna were standard on 95's - not an option. You mention that you’ve seen some 95's WITHOUT the system. If so, these 95 must have been produced on the heels of the 96 run - some of the last 95's made? As to a specific manufacturing date where the change takes place - I do not know.

The post face lift is 1-2" shorter and 1-1.5" difference in height, that’s why they look much smaller

the frame is exactly the same, but the bumpers, lower plastic trim, and springs were changed throughout the years.

No doubt that the early models were built using better materials and a better overall build quality, but I will always prefer the 97-99 models due to three basic reasons.

1-Improved aesthetics:
I prefer the design of the second generation wheels, the revised tail light design, and the monotone look. It just looks SO much more modern IMO.

2- Improved electronics:
I like the revised design of the 1996+ HVAC controller, simpler to use, easier to look at, more intuitive. Plus, the later models just had more standard features.

3- Improved reliability:
Most of the major kinks were worked out. No more problems with wiring harnesses, but we still have the A/C Evaporator problem, and the 3.2L HG failure.

Power rear seats became an option for the S500 in 1995, and the heated front and rear seats continued as standard until 1999. Another feature removed I had issue with was the switch enabling the driver (and front passenger) to raise the power rear headrests from the front dash.



1992 is the most trouble-some year....

Any additional comments on this statement would be appreciated



THE FOLLOWING IS IMPORTANT!

As to the test drive question, I would do the following:

1. Ask to see the service records and take some time reviewing them.

2. Before you start the car, engine cold, take the top off the expansion tank and eyeball the coolant. Is it Green? If yes then that's a problem, as correct coolant should be sort of light orangish to amber colored.

3. Look at the brake fluid reservoir. Is the fluid dark colored? Dark could equal never changed.

4. Pop off the air cleaner top and eyeball the filter.

5. Take the oil filler cap off and eyeball what you can see. Should be clean.

6. Reach down and run your hand along the serpentine belt. Feel any cracks?

7. Look for white spots around the coolant system. Indicates past leak.

8. Look down the head on passenger side toward the back. See any evidence of oil leak?

9. Start car and test every function from A/C to Heat to Turn Signals. Try every seat control. Including the control that changes the length of the seat bottom. Check seat heaters on both sides.

10. Check the mirrors. Ask the salesman how you fold the mirrors back with the little control stalk.

11. On the drive check to wheel vibration.

12. Listen for wind noise. You should hear very little noise.

This is the reason for a Pre-Purchase Inspection. You may not know or be willing to do all of this inspection. Some of it can't be done without a floor jack or a lift. I always want to know if the center and rear mufflers are intact and not rusted through.

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Conslusion:

PROS (PRE-95, 1992-1994)
  • Better quality materials (no cheapened plastics like in 1996+)
  • Better aesthetics, more bulky look (which I like)
  • Rear Seats are powered (Post 95 seems like they are no longer powered)
  • Rear Seats Heating (Some have it, some don't)--I believe it was called a comfort package as my wife sold MBZ's. It was not standard on Post 95's.
  • Parking Antenna (gone after post 95's)
  • Taller Height (MB's got shorter after the 95 facelift)
  • Cars went over budget which means quality of materials where at their pinnacle. POst-95 almost feels like you're getting a stripped version of an MB, since they cheapened the car to recoup all the moneys they lost pre 1995. In 1992-1995, you are getting all the fancy stuff, but with fancy repair costs to fix.
PROS (Let's say to be safe- 1998-1999)
  • No more wiring harness (which is a real pain to fix, since you're care has to essentially be operated on, they have to take your car apart to get to this box, which is not strategically located for easy access. Fort Knox may be easier to access than the wiring harness in 1992-1995 W140's.
  • Better reliability because of evolution. The last 2 years seem to be the best bet, for easy ownership & minimal headaches.
  • Aesthetics: This is a pro or con depending on your taste. I loved the pre 1995 look. To me, you cannot beat it. Seems like 1998 & 1999, the cars got less bulkier, and more streamlined, evolving towards the eventual roundness that is seen in 2000 models.
  • Some goodies: BAS (brake assist systems) in 1998 & 1999, parktronic aid, rain sensors for windhsield wipors, zenon lights. Better keyless alarm system than previous, electrical sun shade on rear windshield which I believe came on some of the models.
Thanks for the very good advice on looking over an older Benz in general. I have a line on a '98 with 98,000 S600 V12 and wonder what your thoughts might be currently. Owner certainlly has the means and to have cared for it well, car only driven in the 'winter' apparently (can you even say Palm Springs and winter in the same sentence?) The price is very right, my issue is this; flying from MN to CA to purchase, relying on the brother of a friend to test drive and inspect.

Assuming I can get receipts for repairs and maintenance - not sure why I wouldn't - and the 'kid' looking it over for me is satisfied, are the odds in my favor that I can get it back to MN where the mechanics are known and trusted?
 

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Premium Member
1999 S600 & 1999 S500
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834 Posts
Thanks for the very good advice on looking over an older Benz in general. I have a line on a '98 with 98,000 S600 V12 and wonder what your thoughts might be currently. Owner certainlly has the means and to have cared for it well, car only driven in the 'winter' apparently (can you even say Palm Springs and winter in the same sentence?) The price is very right, my issue is this; flying from MN to CA to purchase, relying on the brother of a friend to test drive and inspect.

Assuming I can get receipts for repairs and maintenance - not sure why I wouldn't - and the 'kid' looking it over for me is satisfied, are the odds in my favor that I can get it back to MN where the mechanics are known and trusted?
Spend the $200 for a PPI at the local Mercedes dealer. That will tell you more than a friends brother. Is the kid an MB expert?

Also consider shipping the car home. It is cheaper than air fare and 1-2 nights in a hotel. I bought my 99 S600 based on pictures and the PPI stating it was a nice car. The pictures were excellent. I never saw the car until the truck unloaded it. I have not been disappointed.
 

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Premium Member
M120, M119, W126*2 + Silver Avantgarde wagon
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4,718 Posts
ADVISE ON BUYING 1996 OR 1998

Dear MB W140 Members,

I am considering plunging into the world of w140 S600. I am owner of w126 300 SEL. Currently I am negotiating two deals in UK. One is 1998 S600 (green and blue) with 58,000 miles sparingly used by Co. and now bought by retired employ who lives in London. Says the car works perfect and well maintained except slight dent at the bumper, soft close doors not working and parktronics. Other than that car is ok. He has come dwon to 12K Pounds from 16K GBPs.

The other one is a 1996 S600 (blue) with about 130,000 miles, clean with service history and used by about 3 owners. looks really neat and polished. new alloy rims etc. apparently no any issues reported and some recent repairs documented. He is asking for 12K final dwon from 16K GBPs.


Now I will appreciate your thoughts and recommendations on:
1. which option is better
2. Any difference between 96 and 98 models ....physically they look the same to me including interior Napa leather etc
3. weather mileage - higher or lower makes any difference?
4. Price- is 12K Pounds worthy investment for this car or I would rather top up and get the newer 2011 models?
5. Any other advise you may deem useful to offer.


Best regards,
Erastus
I have a 1998 S600 and it was, and is extremely reliable. I don't think you can get that in a 1996... (AC evaporator and wiring issues)

Most important thing is a detailed PPI on both and then get the best car.
 
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