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Discussion Starter #1
I am a new member to this great forum and also considering to be a new owner of a W220 S430 4matic. I did not own a Mercedes Benz before and I didn't look that much in owning a Mercedes S class due to reliability issues. However, things change and not long ago I had a chance to drive an old S430 for about 50 miles and what can I say, it impressed me. Than I read about the S430 and found out that these models are reliable, sturdy and fair much better compared with the new ones.
To make this short, for the last 2-3 week I spent many hours on all car sites to look for a decent buy. I realize though that I do not have the necessary experience in making a the best decision, no matter how many hours of research I spent in the last 2 weeks. So here is where I need the advice from a forum like this.
I found a 2004 S 430, 4 matic, grey color, charcoal/black interior in what appears to be excellent shape. The car has only 35K miles, 2 previous owners.
Like I mentioned before, car is in good shape, no rust. Car fax shows a minor accident. At the dealer they also showed me that the valve cover has some minor seepage, which they mentioned is normal for this age. To be honest I like the car. The problem I have is the price.
Out of the door price is a little over 10k. Is a car like this worth the money? I saw a few local cars in the 3k-5 K, with mileage between 118 k-140k, and on ebay a nice black on black with 96 k miles, 4matic for 7,500 $.
Is it a 2004, S430, 4matic worth 10k ? or it would make more sense to look for a lower priced car, (no morere than 130k ). I know the W220 comes with a strong engine/transmission.
I plan to use the car for daily driving.
I appreciate any advise you can get me, and thank you in advance.
 

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A W220 daily driver is a viable possibility IF you are willing and able to do most of your own repair work. If you must rely on an independent shop, and know for certain that you have an honest, capable shop who are familiar with the W220, it is a shaky possibility. If you must rely on a Mercedes dealer, run away!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Would a 35 k miles S430 still run into the same, electric, airmatic, etc issues like a100k miles car?
I am not that good to do the repairs, but I have a good mechanic that I usually go to.
thank you, wallyp
 

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10k is a Fair price for a 35k mile car . You do pay for low mileage

Keep in mind that things like valve covers , air suspension and bushings , hoses etc are all near end of life just due to age , and not necessarily mileage .
 

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A W220 daily driver is a viable possibility IF you are willing and able to do most of your own repair work. If you must rely on an independent shop, and know for certain that you have an honest, capable shop who are familiar with the W220, it is a shaky possibility. If you must rely on a Mercedes dealer, run away!
/\ /\ /\ I absolutely agree with every word of @wallyp 's post above.

I completely disagree with your statement about MB reliability ...................

One only has to read an increasing number of posts on this very forum from people who insist upon cheaping out on maintenance and that is exactly what causes problems ...............

Lack of Maintenance or use of cheap absolute rubbish Amazon EBay etc etc parts ................

Everyone and his dog wants to buy a cheaper MB, drive around looking flash and then the reality dawns that yes, this Car that cost £80k 14 years ago is expensive if you maintain it correctly, and for a lot of guys they either can't afford decent parts or are just plain tight fisted and always know better :(

If you have to pay labour charges, perhaps consider a more mundane run of the mill Car ;)

Also bear in mind that a lot of good Mechanics do not have a clue about MB's nor the correct and essential Dealer Level SDS Machine which is necessary to maintain these Cars.

HTH, Cheers Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you Dave, Tusabes for your input. I expect a different type of maintenance for this car and I know that using original parts is an important factor. My other car that my wife drives is VW. Phaeton and believe me that car is complex and has quite a few issues.
My dilema is if a 10k $, 35 K miles S430, would need a lot less maintenance ($) than. a 5k $, 100 k miles S430.
 

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As tusabes says, the two main determinates for automotive failures are age and mileage. It often appears to me that most of the failures on our twenty-year-old cars are age-related, rather than wear-related. If that truly is the case, then the difference in your examples would be less than you might expect.

In addition, a 100k-mile car might have (extreme example, just to make a point) 50,000 two-mile trips and be completely worn out in every respect, or it might have 100 round trips to vacation destinations five hundred miles away, and show very little wear. For "average wear", 100k is not high mileage for a W220.

A twenty-year-old car might have spent twenty years outdoors baking in the Florida sun, or might have spent twenty winters in Detroit ice and salt, or might have spent twenty years almost entirely inside an Atlanta garage. Lots of difference.

In my opinion, in the end it comes down to individual cars, and the life that they have led and the maintenance that they have been given. And then, after you buy the car, it comes down to pure luck in a lot of cases.
 

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Well, here's my "n00bie" perspective. I've been doing this now for about three and a half years, since 2016. Compared to other the forum members here, I'm definitely a rookie. But I do know something about business and car values.

Is that car worth $10,000? Well, let's take a real, honest look. Just checked NADA, which is what most used car dealers and local governments now use. Here's the price range for a 2004 S430 with 35,000 miles and 4Matic, i. e. the car you're looking at.

Price + Options
------------------------
$2,300 (rough trade-in)
$3,400 (average trade-in)
$4,350 (clean trade-in)
$6,175 (clean retail)

That's including the $1,450 price bump for the low (35,000) miles.

So, $10,000 looks like not just too much, but way too much. That dealer's asking for almost $4,000 above clean-retail, so at that price, personally I'd pass. Used car dealers do tend to be rather overly proud of what's on their lots, which is why I avoid them like the plague.

Now, as to reliability and repair of the W220?

I got started with Mercedes-Benz cars in 2016, after inheriting my Dad's 2000 S430. The car had 75,000 miles on it. It now has about 86,000, and it continues to drive like a dream. Since then, the W220's at our house have multiplied, with a W211 Diesel also joining the family. We also have three Honda Civics, so since Honda is one of the gold standards for reliability, I can make a direct comparison.

Generally speaking, W220's are well-built, reliable automobiles. They seem to hold up reasonably well even when people don't take the best care of them. However, if you want a trouble-free car, you must first make sure it's in "good repair". I've talked about this in a few other threads what that means. Here's my definition.

"good repair" = "I would entrust my wife's well-being to it on a road trip from Seattle to Savannah, even without the safety net of AAA, and not be concerned that the car will leave her on the side of the road."

There is no other definition of that expression, as far as I'm concerned. When a W220, especially a V8-equipped W220, is in "good repair", it's very nearly Honda-like in its reliability and trustworthiness. I'm speaking specifically of the ones with the V8 and five (5) speed transmission, which all 4Matics have. I've seen them with well in excess of 300,000 miles and showing no signs of quitting. That's how well built they are.

WITH ALL OF THAT SAID....

If you're going to own a Mercedes-Benz of any year or model whatsoever, including the W220's, you really should learn to do some things yourself. A little scary? I understand you completely, and as every W220 forum member here will attest, I, too, was rather intimidated at the prospect.

Like you, see, I wasn't very good with wrenching on cars, either. What motivated me? Well, I figured, "gotta keep Dad's car in good repair, so time to get crackin'." First thing was all fluids and filters. Turns out W220's are pretty easy to deal with when it comes to that.

Next up was brakes. Remember, I have Hondas as well. Doing a W220's brakes is actually slightly easier than on a Honda Civic! I was fairly astonished by that one...but it's true. All of our W220's got new pads, new disc rotors, and the wife's S500 got a new left rear caliper (it was seized).

After that, I took on the front suspensions. By this time, I had the four W220's that you see in my signature. I've rebuilt the entire front suspension on several W220's now. It's really not that hard, it turns out. I was again rather surprised at how difficult it wasn't to accomplish this job, and yes, I mean the entire front suspension--tie rods, AIRmatic, and all. It takes maybe a day (7.5 hours) to do the whole thing, from pulling the jack out to "ready to drive again"...and I could do it faster if I chose. But it's fun, so I don't rush it and instead just enjoy the work. :)

The valve cover gaskets came after the suspensions, since by then winter had given way to spring. Turns out that doing valve cover gaskets on our engines, i. e. the M113 V8's or their M112 V6 brethren, are also not difficult. They're really not. Same goes for spark plugs and ignition coils, when those need doing. Serpentine belts, including the idler pulleys and the belt tensioner pulley, again not difficult.

None of this work is really that hard, I found. Between this forum and YouTube, there's almost no problem that I haven't yet been able to solve reasonably quickly.

Best bet for any parts is, as others above have said, to avoid "Chinesium", i. e. the made-in-China junk. Always, always use the OEM parts, and that means either Genuine-MB or the company that makes it part for MB (e. g. Bosch, Behr, Wabco, Bilstein, INA, Lemfoerder, Mann, TRW, etc.--those kinds of folks). ALWAYS. The good parts really are not that expensive, I've found, and they're totally worth it over Chinesium.

At this point, I don't waste my time with shops. I do all maintenance on our fleet of cars myself. Turns out to be not just fun, but also I know the car's maintained properly. I've seen shops, including even dealership shops, do some really stupid things on automobiles, and it sickens me. There's exactly one local shop that I'd trust, and they have done some work for me in the past.

It appears that whomever was on the design committee for the W220 chassis, they listen to their mechanics. W220's turn out to be pretty easy to maintain.

Hopefully this helps.
 

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Just saw @wallyp's last post about mileage and reliability. Here's real-world what I see with our own cars. Bear in mind that this is after I had gotten them into "good repair".

The car I drive the most, the 2003 S430, is Honda-like in its reliability. It has over 160,000 miles on it at present (I bought it with 139,000). The thing just doesn't break. One time, the car wouldn't start, and it was my fault. I hadn't replaced the crankshaft position sensor (CPS) when I was supposed to. Twenty minutes under the hood later, the car started like nothing had happened. I fully expect to see another 150,000 miles out of this car, at least.

Wife's 2000 S500 (formerly, "the project 2000 S500"). Has close to 150,000 miles on its clock and rising, as it is her daily driver. Car doesn't break. I bought it in kinda rough shape with 135,000 on it, got my wrenches, and Made a Mercedes Great Again (yuk yuk 😁 ). Right after I did the '03 S430's CPS, I did hers as well as a preventative measure. That car has taken her on multiple road trips and is her commuter to and from work. She loves it. Like the '03 S430, it simply doesn't break at this point. Again, another 150,000 miles are expected from this car.

Dad's car (2000 S430). Had 77,000 miles or so on it when I inherited it. Drove it from Las Vegas to its new home in Virginia, where I live. Felt great, smooth as a sunbeam. Found out later that it did need some suspension work, so I did it. That car, too, runs perfectly every time. It's used for special occasions, being Dad's car, so it probably won't see another 150K miles, but it too is dead-nuts reliable. Never given me a problem.

The "sports car" (2003 S600). This twin-turbo V12 beast currently has 175,000 miles on its clock. It was apparently used as a high-end car service vehicle. Hard to get better than an S600 for that. So, this car got driven quite a bit. I bought it with 160,000 miles. Engine and transmission were fine. However, the hydraulic ABC suspension apparently wasn't cared for, and I paid for that by being stuck on the road. I thus converted it to a set of really good coil-overs, and All Was Good. That car gave me no problems for three years. When I got married this year, that car was my mother and stepfather's car to drive around, and they loved it. Currently it's up on the jackstands because I'm troubleshooting a rather strange issue. It's still quite driveable, but I want this thing running perfectly like it had been. I'll find it, rest assured, and then it, too, will be back to totally-trustworthy "good repair".

The fuel-sipper (2005 E320 CDI). Not a W220, but rather a W211, but in the same age and generation, with 145,000 miles at present. This is the fuel-sipper, the Diesel. Apparently owned by a so-called "snow-bird" couple going between New Hampshire and Florida, this car was clearly well cared for and had seen lots of highway miles. If memory serves, I got it with 135,000 on the clock. In the last 10,000 miles, the only thing I've had to do to it is replace one glow plug, so I did all six, pre-emptively. Solid as a rock. @Rossafuss's 2005 E320 CDI has over 450,000 miles on it (yes, you read that right) and shows no signs of quitting any time soon! This year, he finally had to overhaul his 5-speed automatic transmission, because he started feeling a little slippage..after 450,000 miles...and even then, it only needed the torque converter and friction plates replaced. Everything else in there looked almost brand-new, he reports. That oughta tell you something about these 5-speed trannies, and yes, it's basically the same one used in the W220's as well.

So, if the dealer won't come down to actual market value, I assure you, there are plenty of other cars out there. Look at Craigslist. That's where I've gotten every car except the E320 Diesel.
 

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Funny story, I didn't even need to rebuild the whole tranny, only the torque converter and valve body were giving me issues. ;)

But once the trans is dropped to get to the torque converter, might as well rebuild it "while you're in there."

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you, cowboyt. it really helps. I can leave aside now the “impulsive decisions making”.
i”ll contra-offer 7.5 k $, which I am sure it will be rejected, but then I”ll keep my search open.
Funny how some people, including me can be hooked to “ good things in life”, I feel almost guilty that driving a S430 made me do all this extra effort just to find one and buy it, even if not really needed. But then, I think, why not, spending so much time a year driving back and forth to work and what not, deserves a little bit of fun.
Awesome forum. Thank you.
 

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I didn't even need to rebuild the whole tranny
Doesn't surprise me at all .............

I found exactly that with two 350k mile hard working Vito W639 Minibuses, both had the T/C Shudder, and both Trannys were still like new inside, but yeah, while i was there and all that jazz ;)

Awesome forum. Thank you.
And when you do get the right car there are many of us here who can lead you to the water regarding how to do a job, what tools you need and what parts to buy ...............

It is of course up to you whether you choose to drink that water as some guys simply do not get it ;)

Hopefully you will become one of the former ;)

HTH,
 

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Thank you, cowboyt. it really helps. I can leave aside now the “impulsive decisions making”.
i”ll contra-offer 7.5 k $, which I am sure it will be rejected, but then I”ll keep my search open.
Funny how some people, including me can be hooked to “ good things in life”, I feel almost guilty that driving a S430 made me do all this extra effort just to find one and buy it, even if not really needed. But then, I think, why not, spending so much time a year driving back and forth to work and what not, deserves a little bit of fun.
Awesome forum. Thank you.
You raise a very interesting and salient point. I didn't really understand why people bought these cars, either. Dad's car was the first "high-end" car I've ever spent any quality time driving. Oh, sure, I'd driven it around Vegas when I'd go to see him, but that was about it. Just in-town driving. I knew it was nice, but I didn't really get it. Ain't an Accord or a Maxima good enough?

Then I did that drive from Vegas to Virginia...2,450 miles, one way....

Lesson learned. That's why people buy and drive these cars. I've done several nice, long road trips since, and I'm really not tired after even over 11 hours of butt-in-seat. That's now nice these cars are. The previous year (2014), I had done a 3,000 mile round-trip to western Nebraska and back in the Honda Civic, and the Civic's a good little car. It really is a sweet little car. But there's just NO COMPARISON TO DA BENZ. And that's not knocking the Civic at all. It's just that Da Benz is Da Benz.

The wife had a 1998 Mercury Sable, with the 200 HP, 3.0L Duratec V6. That's actually a good engine, reliable and fairly powerful for the car that it's in. Transmission is a good one, too, well matched to that motor. Once you hit its power band, the party's on. Comfy car, too, as you'd expect from a Mercury; we'd gone to the beach and back on quite a few occasions in that car. It was the first "new, really good" car she'd ever bought.

Then, in 2016, she drove my W220's. And she was forever spoiled. She says to this day that her S500 even leaves her Sable--again, a good car--in the dust.

There's nothing at all wrong with treating yourself to a nice, high-quality automobile. I can tell you, driving the S600 TT is almost as good as having sex, hence its name.....almost. :-D And the S430 is...ahem..."rumoured" to be perfectly stable and totally comfortable at 130 MPH. How that information got to me, I...umm...am having difficulty recalling at this time..... ;)
 

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When I was a kid growing up, you had to be rich or well-to-do to own a Benz. I got my first Mercedes in 2003 on Craigslist the ad read, Steal This Car. A nice lady was selling it because it had really worn-out brakes, and a dealer had offered her $1200 for it. I met her and treated her with respect, so she sold it to me for that price. Just a few brake discs and pads later, the car was VERY close to new in appearance and performance. Fourteen or more (I lost count) Mercedes later, today I have four of them, just graduating from 300E's to 300CE, W140, then W220 as well as R230 SL600TT and R117 SLK, and a GL450 and I have to ask, why would I want anything else. Okay, there's a Maserati in the garage, and I wouldn't mind a Bentley or maybe a Ferrari but there's no room to park them. My W220 I bought from a kid who had inherited it and its rear SAM was toasted by water ingress, but that whole issue was solved with a mere $149 out of pocket. For the amazing crash protection alone these cars are the best. Why die in a Subaru or Toyota when a Benz is so much safer. I know some folks might take offense at that, but I really do think the Benzos are better engineered - and will likely do a better job of saving you from that drunk, texting careless idiot crossing the center line. And comfort? Fugettaboutit... I'm just thankful for the depreciation. My SL600 cost $136,000 new and today I can afford to own a very fine example. Sure it can take a deep pocket for maintenance or repair but not that deep.. In part, thanks to Benzworld. I learned early on that doing one's own maintenance and repair is the only way to keep from throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars!! First lesson was a 1987 W124 300E: a shop wanted $400 to install front brake pads. Period. Just brake pads. Just front! I went home, learned how easy it is, and priced brake parts. Never went back! I'm gonna go drive one of these babies right now. Happy Motoring! Thank you Benzworld!
 

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And the S430 is...ahem..."rumoured" to be perfectly stable and totally comfortable at 130 MPH. How that information got to me, I...umm...am having difficulty recalling at this time..... ;)
I had my CDI up to 152 mph with a brand new HPFP and Pirelli P7's. ;)

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And if you are searching for a w220 I recommend you find one with the heated and ventilated seats , not so much for the useless weak ventilation. But because they use a higher quality leather (fully perforated ) versus just heated seats which used a cheaper grade of thicker harder leather and is only perforated in the center .

There’s a big difference in feel. And even greater in the w221
 

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Discussion Starter #17
just as I thought, the dealer rejected the 7.5k $ offer. it seems they have another buyer for 10.3 k $. obviously this model is well regarded.
 

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I would recommend you to get acquainted with the options and features a W220 can have: https://w220.ee/Option_codes
I would go only with facelift. Memory seats and keyless go is convenience feature worth to have. If you will carry passengers (or a lot of stuff), then extended wheel base is nice feature.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
thank you for the tip, tusabes.
Any thoughts regarding RWD versus 4matic?
I leave in Chicago area, so 4matic would make sense, but I will not pass a clean RWD if I came accross, at least this is how I see it.
 

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4MATIC sounds nice, but as far as I have seen from repair manuals, it is a bit harder to get some repairs done. Someone with 4MATIC can comment on this.
 
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