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I was typing this response on another thread and realized that It should be its own thread.

fabbrisd1 (quote below)-
I apologize if my comments were offensive to mercedes fans. And you are right--they should be taken in context. Mostly, they are the impressions of someone fairly new to these cars. But I am not totally ignorant either.

Despite recently spending hundereds of hours very recently shopping for a w210, I have owned a classic porsche (356) and BMW (2002), so I'm not completely new to German cars. I'm also a professor of industrial design, so i do have some training (I know "professor" is a might recall someone i don't want to be associated with). I also was the lead designer on a vehicle project for Mercedes (then Daimlerchrysler) abut ten years ago. I briefly worked for Mercedes--reported to the general manager for Daimler Asia.

Anyway, I think there should be room for different points of view here--and mine, at least for now) is that the w210 is a well designed car, and a lot for the money when bought at today's depreciated values. But some of the issues, such as it's propensity to rust, spring perch failure, shift module etc, are not minor, and are inexcusable for a car that people paid 50-60k for. It's no wonder that a honda or toyota from 2002 with 100k miles in good shape is worth about 1/2 it's original value when an equivalent w210 is is worth around 1/5th--if it's a sought after model like a 4-matic wagon. One can buy a really nice rwd sedan for what, 1/10th of it's original price? I also have al the service records for my car. Nice to have--but shockingly frequent and expensive when compared to a Japanese car.
I am very impressed with the expertise on this forum--many members are extremely knowledgeable and helpful--and I hope I am not jeopardizing my relationship with those people. I am just trying to be helpful when I can so that i'm not just being selfish in only asking questions.
Finally, I don't get to drive the car that often, since it's mostly my wife's. But when I do, I can see how people fall in love with it--despite it's flaws.



Pres's more recent comment is best case underexperienced - the OE cat systems for almost all Euro makers same years/period all have similar issues regardless of car brand. For those that don't know even the most common basics of cat operation or cat failure, even much less those who have not had their "other" German cars suffer from simialr cat failure - again, at best lack of expereince with cars of the period.

On "depreciation" from late '90's/early '00-'02 - depreciation factor between all German brands can be viewed as similar, and in several cases more extreme on average with both Audi and VW, when talking a quality low mileage German; Audi/VW are lowest, a uptick in value for BMW, and value for a slect MB in most cases a uptick above BM'er.

This type of "Mercedes poor quality, that's why the deprciation" is a bit galling coming from new owner's who have bought their cars just over the past couple of months (rather than longer term, or multiple MB owners), and most of those seem to focus on the general small issues (and with a W210 a slect few of those only) and then bemoan away on things theyhave yet to encounter.

Keep the beat !
 

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Myself, I see and appreciate both points of view. This is kind of off the cuff, but it's my .02 for right now.

I agree with Elvis that German makes, generally speaking, tend to lose their value more quickly than do Japanese makes, and probably for a combination of factors. I also agree with Fab that many don't appreciate the German approach.

I've said more than once that if I were not a DIY-er, I'd have sold this car long ago (or probably never have bought it in the first place). So for those who rely on others to repair their vehicles, be that an indie or -- horror of horrors? -- the dealer, I can certainly see where the "expensive problems abound" reputation comes from. And for all of their reliability, the cookie-cutter appliance machine of Japanese automotive technology lacks a certain "spirit" the Germans seem quite good at infusing into their cars. Drive an Audi, BMW, MB...and then go drive a Honda, Toyota and Nissan. The latter three will seem more similar to each other -- generally -- than to the first three, and vice versa.

There is also a sense in the world that the premium marques are overvalued: that the $55K E350 is not really "worth" 12-15-ish large more than the comparably-equipped offering from one of the big three Japanese makes, for example, and you're just "paying for a name." Ten years on, though, both cars sell for roughly the same amount in the used market, so perhaps much of the loss of value in the German makes is that the polish has worn off the plasticized-chrome "name."

In my own case, I doubt I'd recommend a ten-year-old Mercedes to someone who'd be running off to the dealer for everything (or to those who must have a beverage in the cupholder!); but for those who themselves undertake many of the common repairs, there is a quality in these cars that transcends the basic "car owner" relationship and makes them more valuable than the Japanese "equivalent".
 

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W210 96 E320 was my daily car until a month ago. It was a preowned car which I purchased from Markham Mercedes after the turn of the century.

Here are my recollections while owning the preowned E320 for over 10 years.

(1) compare to my 88 300E, E320 is a major advance in design, roomier and more luxury appointment for the interior.
(2) 96 E320 has the W124 engine, so its an inline 6, consider by many the most reliable motor MB has manufactured, except for some minor oil leakage problem associated with it.
(3) The four oval light is a well design concept, this car cannot be mistaken for not a Mercedes, as opposed to some of the current MB models, you have to get close to see the three-point star to distinguish them from vehicle make by other copy cat car manufacturers. Take a look at todya's Bentley and some Jaguar model, they still have the seperate oval headlight design. It is a clean and distinct design which keep the car look modern. Initially I don't like it as they remind me of the 1960 180 round headlights on my dad's car, but somehow it grown on me and I felt in love with the E320 design. I traded my 96 E320 for a 2002 CLK430 cabriolet recently, which also has the same oval headlight design. Did you notice that even the most current E has seperate head light design. It is an E class speciality.
(4) This is the car I look forward to drive every day. Somehow it gave me more satisfication then the 99 S500 which is a bigger car but more luxury to be in.
(6) Compare to the CLK, the E is a more gentleman/lady stylish 4 door sedan. CLK does has a more sporty look and handling than the E but lack 2 doors, for me, the cabriolet give me a better sky view than E's sun/moon roof..:)
(5) E320 is good on gas expense, E420 and E430 are still not too bad on gas mileage in compare to other 8 cylinders MB models of that era.
(6) Last I heard from the sales manager in the dealer is that my E320 is going to be auction off, it will be a sham if it ended up in the chop shops.
(7) If you find E320/E420/E430 in good body shape and checked out to be mechically sound, go for it as the price of these cars are so affordable as opposed to the full price that some of us paid for in the mid-90 days.

Most important, I still missed driving the E320 after not having it for over a month now. A good feeling that I get out of car that I have owned.

Hope this long append hasn't bore you...tt
 

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, I have owned a classic porsche (356) and BMW (2002), QUOTE]

Porsche 356 is one good looking car, its your a soft or hardtop. My brother-in-law used to own one of those half a century ago, it was a right hand driven model

BMW 2002tii was my dream car for quite some time. It is very difficult to find one which has not been abused and care for properly.

I envy your collection, you have very good taste....
 

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I have a w210 wagon and I have to say that I do appreciate the way it was designed. It is a complicated design. Sensors, here, sensors there, sensors everywhere. Fiber-optic lines for sound, hydraulics in the rear suspension for better handling under different loads, internally balanced motor, the list goes on...The problem with designing something so complex is that complexity tends to breed more complexity. Without the support crew (like aircraft, or a spaceship) the machine can not survive on its own. Blower regulator, hydraulic struts, valve cover gasket leak, broken springs, ball joints, replaced steering rack (rubbing noise), belt tensioner, broken window regulator, catalytic converters, stuck seat-belt, srs light. My problem list goes on. I have often driven without a silky smooth suspension, or heat in my w210. I am not sure if a simpler design would mean better engineering, but it sure might lead to less issues with the vehicle. I think the design intent was great and admirable. Design execution not so.. The blower regulators were redesigned in the 2002. Only to fail again. We can blame simple economics and the Chyrsler merger I suppose. Or maybe the company got too big and got left behind. Anyhow..I still love the design of it. I like to drive it when I am not trying to constantly figure out what is wrong. But such is love. it is not entirely a rational affair.
 

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Well... for starters I don't see too many 24 years old Toyotas to compare to our W124, that I have full intention to keep in the family for next 20 years.
Than I should appreciate bad publicity some are giving W210. I can buy them very cheap and have good drive for the years to come.
Than for me spring perch issue doesn't exist even closing on 230k miles, the $160 electric plate for the transmission was not a bid deal for the 200k+ miles car and what is the issue with gear shifter?
Can't resist mentioning that my diesel is worth now more than I paid for it 5 years ago :D
 

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The difference between a "Mercedes enthusiast" and a "Mercedes opportunist" is all about the owner's commitment - with a enthusiast, the onwer's committment is to his car and to the brand engineering behind that car. A Mercedes opportunist is someone who happened to buy a MB this time because it strikes their fancy and they believe they got a great deal...

Now, online enthusiast forums attract EVERY problem associated with a series, and when viewed by the unexperienced that can seem to be a lot, when in reality they are relatively rare problems that with breadth of internet accessibilty may appear to portray themselves as common.

From dki's port:

Blower regulator; Well gee, a W140 regulator replacement is like a $80 DIY, and of the four W210's I have owned I have never had to do one, of the three W140's I owned I have done two... and it's a Mercedes contracted design problem

hydraulic struts; Well gee, I have never bought a 4-matic wagon specifically because of issues like this, so I can't comment

valve cover gasket leak; defintely not common in W210's with V6 - what is more common are owners misinformed by dealers and indies that normal seepage and dirt accumulation is a leak. I have not personally seen any W210 gasket with compression for internal fluid leak

broken springs; I personally have not expereinced it, and I have not seen it, and seems to come up in some seriously poor road quality areas of the country

ball joints; W210 has very good quality running mornally out past 125K-150K on ball joints

replaced steering rack; W210 does not have common rack problems at all

belt tensioner; oh gee, original best replaced over 100K with a $110 part and 30 minutes EZ DIY - or these W210's are really breaking the bank

broken window regulator; rears are a weakness especially when owner's fail to "set" window controls after battery interuption/replacement

catalytic converters; this is from the tech of the period, common to all Euro and US cars, and not specific to MB

srs light: coomon to all Euro of the period.

Oh yeah, W210 "spring perch area" is a candle compared to the bonfire problems ALL BMW's have had with rear spring perch since early '80's... duuuuhh

So why would Car and Driver rate the W210 AMG "close to bombproof" when comparing high mileage sport sedan values at that time in the used market under $25K ?

We are talking about close to 15 yr old tech here...

For those who doubt Mercedes engineering, go compare the 2012 MB's (especially opening MB price points C and GLK, and mid-range M, SLK, and E, and in luxury drive the CLS as inspired by the Quattroporte.. compare the opening and mid agaisnt driving all the other Japanese and Euro and if you don't agree the respectable value MB is delivering at competitive market price points then immedaitely go get a drug test..
 

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Discussion Starter #8
fabbrisd1--
Yes--I do not carry any blind faith towards the brand, and do not hold any loyalty towards it. I actually, as a rule, don't have any emotional investment in any corporate enterprise.
I would not be surprised if the w210 got good reviews when it came out--but i would seriously doubt it's that statistics would show it to be highly dependable at this point. Probably better than the w211's, but not nearly as good as the 124. This, of course, is an educated guess.
We can all give anecdotal evidence, but I think a reliable source of data would be better. I'll look for it when i get the chance.
 

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fabbrisd1 I am only talking about my experience. I would consider myself more of an enthusiast. I also have a w124. Anyhow, I think we should accept some of MB's engineering goof-ups as well. Like the transmission that is sealed for life on the w210? Or the m104 head gaskets? Or the w124 evaporator? Of course their engineering is top-notch, but even then there are some weak spots. And true enthusiasts expect more out of mb.

I wish I could afford a new one to see where the company is today. I am still in 2002. As to why soulless Japanese machines need less maintenance. Go figure. They must be doing something right.

Truly, for the actual MB customer quality of the product does not really matter. What percentage of new mb drivers know how their car works? They also have a support crew at the dealership to keep the cars on the road. No worries. 3 year lease. Life is good.

I love the CLS, I am not too crazy about the new angular designs on the C, and E class. Everything seems carefully priced right below what the Bavarians are selling their rides for. And did you know mb will be making straight sixes again? Who is following who's lead here?
 

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Here come the famous W124 comparison.
So let me point couple things. The transmission vacuum lines on W210 don't break routinely like they do on W124
nor does the vacuum controller for clima system
 

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Ok, maybe should have kept w124 out of it. Anyhow, I want to add that I still have the w210 wagon and I am going to be working on it over thanksgiving :)
 

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I have always liked the way european cars drive - so I buy them ...... and put up with their strange ways .......... I also own a small company with various vehicles ...... without question the Lexus vehicles have been the most trouble free vehicles I have owned. We never have to do anything to them. That is why they have such a resale value.

The major service at 100k is about 1k ....... our 2000 has needed two coils an 02 sensor and a couple of cheap suspension bushings - the transmission went at 200k plus and I fixed it -- the car is still worth 4k and it was only 25k new! Obviously -- normal maintenance -- and a set of struts. Car was built with very high quality interior -- still in unbelievable shape ----- not one crack in the wood trim!

Our 05 has 75k on it -- I have done nothing to it other than f/r pads and a new set of tires - plus oil and filters.


MB's always need motor mounts - flex discs - ball joints -- other various suspension parts ....... and toss in a few modules.
 

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When was the last time that you sat in a 14 year old Accord and said... "Wow, this car looks great and drives great for 225,000 miles..." How 'bout... NEVER. Enough said.

The look, the feel, the rock solid door close sound even after tens of thousands of closes... the stable footing and still comfortable seats... the outstanding engine running up the revs on the interstate... shall I go on?
 

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I don't believe it is fair to compare an Accord to a car that was more than 2 1/2 times the price new. A Lexus depending on the model is a better comparison - Our 2000 is in unbelievable shape and is still worth as much as a comparable mercedes E class ....even though it was almost 1/2 the cost new.


I have seen many 15 year old LS400's around that are in very good shape - and still command prices higher than comparable MB's
 

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I have a 96 Lexus LS400 that I bought to drive until I get my 94 E320 wagon ready for daily use. I bought it for $6,200 with 128K on the clock. It is a one owner car with full dealer service history. It runs well, the interior is in great shape, paint is really nice except for one small area on the driver side C pillar where the clearcoat is peeling. The main fault is the suspension. I have spent about $600 buying parts to make it tolerable but it really needs a complete rebuild of both ends.

I have the window sticker and the car listed new for $57,500 and is a base model. According to the Lexus website, a new base model starts at $67,500 but I have never seen one on the lot for less than $75,000.

Around the same time, I bought a 99 E320 wagon for my wife. 128K on the clock and I also paid $6,200. No service history. I have spent about $300 in repairs to get it up to spec and I recently ordered about $500 in suspension parts that I believe will make it drive as new. As it sits on the original suspension, it drives far better than the Lexus at the same mileage and roughly the same age. I also have the window sticker for this car and it listed for $51,700 with leather being the only option. According to the Mercedes website, a new one lists for $57,500. That doesn't represent much of a price increase over the last 13 years compared to other manufacturers. It kind of makes you wonder if the quality is going downhill.

Anyway, I just happened to have both a Lexus and a couple of used Merecedes so I thought I would throw these figures out there.

As far as my opinions on both cars:

The Lexus looks dated as all non European cars do after a few years. It is bulletproof reliable but I can't see it as anything other than an appliance to get me from A to B.

In my opinion the Mercedes still looks great. In fact, I can't say that there are any European cars that have a body style that doesn't still look great. It is also much more fun to drive and has a solid feel to the cabin that I find unmatched by any other manufacturer.

The other thing that should be mentioned here is how much easier these cars are to work on then their Japanese counterparts. Even with their minor problems that arise routinely after 10-20 years of use, they are still overall pretty easy to own for an enthusiast that does the majority of the repairs themselves and I believe they are one of the best used car values on the market. It will be interesting to see if 10 years down the road the new models of today will inspire the same following from the enthusiast community.

By the way, here's a real mystery- Why does Rover continue to use Lucas electrics in their entire line? Talk about major depreciation! You can buy a pretty damned nice Range Rover or Discovery for next to nothing. The same could be said for Jaguar. I bet if they scrapped the Lucas electrics in favor of Denso (or at least Bosch), they could turn it around and start getting more respect within just a few years. Then if they would start sending us the diesels.............
 

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Lucas of today is not the same Lucas -- but I would have a hard time defending RR's reliability. I had an RR a few years ago and while it was a fantastic vehicle -- it was plagued with problems --- especially the suspension. The vehicle is simply too complex -- and the dealer network is small.


I have also driven Jaguar XJ's and XK's for many years -- and the four since my 1995 have been the most trouble free luxury cars I have owned. If you price the used S class MB's -- the depreciation is only slightly better (not counting the w140's).
 
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