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In Chicago I would definitely get 4 matic. You have real winter weather several months out of the year
 

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2005 S600
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Honestly, for Chicago, I would get a RWD - simpler maintenance, lower ownership cost.

Then, using the savings, buy four actual winter tires. Michelin X-ice, Bridgestone Blizzak, or Nokian Hakkapelliitta.

I’ve seen dozens and dozens of wrecked AWD cars, including Subaru, in Vermont. They all thought that AWD helps in snow.

It doesn’t help you stop, or turn, though.

BUT - that’s when most wrecks happen - you can’t stop in time or make that turn.

Take it from a Vermonter. Four actual winter tires. That’s what will help.
 

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I’ve seen dozens and dozens of wrecked AWD cars, including Subaru, in Vermont. They all thought that AWD helps in snow.

It doesn’t help you stop, or turn, though.
Bravo !! 👏 👏 👏

During our Winters you would not believe, (well you likely would), on a particular notorious and local stretch of road how many eejit's overtake us when we are driving smoothly and doing 40 - 50 mph in the humble C Class 220 CDI with it's Winter Tyres !!

They are always in 4X4's of all guises, (Cars, Pick Up Trucks, Off-Roaders like Land Rover, etc etc ) ...................

We carry on and a little further, there they are, stuck upside down in the ditch, tree, field etc etc ...................

The mind boggles how some of these know it all Car idiots that are about in droves actually manage to get out of bed and down the stairs in the morning ;)

Thanks for making me chuckle :ROFLMAO:
 

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2000 S430, 2003 S430, 2000 S500, 2003 S600 TT, and 2005 E320 CDI
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4Matic is nice in the snow, or mud, or anything else that gets kinda mushy and slippery, no doubt. I'm actually considering a 4Matic W220 later on for the wife, but with that said....

We've got a few hills around here, not steep ones by any means, but little hills. Definitely not San Francisco- or Seattle-style, though. We've also got some driveways that can be a little steep. In my experience, good tires and proper driving technique are the biggest difference. The '03 S430, with its Bridgestone Potenzas, did OK even in icy conditions. The S600, with its Michelin Pilot Sports, didn't do nearly as well in that environment, specifically on our hills. Both cars are RWD. I should've put some Blizzaks on the S600, then it would've been fine.

Years ago, my Dad had a 1988 BMW 735i, a RWD car. He had summer tires on there. He didn't make it up the rather steep hill to our house and had to hoof it. The next day, he got some good all-season tires on that car, and it went right up the hill without issue. Being originally from Detroit, MI, he also knew how to drive very well in the snow.

Now, isn't Chicago relatively flat? If so, then given the aforementioned Seattle results, you should be just fine with a RWD car with good tires.
 

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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.
I
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.
Even though I’m in Australia, I would like to tell you about my ownership experience in owning a W220 long wheel base, bought with only 60,000 klms 2004 model subsidise black exterior, black Nappa interior. I paid $30,000 three years ago. The paintwork and leather were in excellent condition. I found it has a rear seal engine leak which surprised me given how little it had been driven. I fixed this with AT-205 reseal stuff after the oil and filter were changed. Note: Good idea to use one bottle every time you change the oil. It is amazing stuff. There are others that do work, but none that work this well.
All door speakers (sub woofer was ok) where seperated and very cheap paper cone type speakers. This Gas (Petrol in Australia) engine was the 3.7 V6 which was not known for any issues. The 3.5 had that soft metal sprocket at the end of the balance shaft that would be chewed by the timing chain, leading to the engine needing to come out of the car to (as well as other parts) be replaced at SERIOUSLY BIG EXPENSE.
The 5 liter V8 also had issues.
It also had a plastic part in the shifter mechanism that I could not find the correct remanufactured part, so I had no choice but to superglue it together and on one side use superglue with cut hard plastic for extra reinforcing. It worked very well. Again, Mercedes Engineers should have made this part from alloy so it would be impossible to brake.
What it did was not allow you to take the gear selector out of Park, or put it back into park.
Of course those stealers wanted to replace the ENTIRE gear lever assembly for mega bucks. That made me mad, those low life thieves.
The engine had to have both valve cover gaskets replaced, the MB sealant gaskets for the oil breathers needed replacing as well as the breathers themselves (quite a lot of $ in labour-but a mechanical minded owner could do it with first finding out how to do this.
Getting the liquid gasket perfect is a fairly skilled job.)
After all was cleaned, replaced and repaired the rebreather rubber hose was cracked and hard, so that was also replaced.
Now I eventually traded this old girl in for a V6 diesel W221 long wheel base (so V221), metallic black on black nappa leather.
The seats in this 2008 V221 are much superior and more comfortable. All the knobs look far nicer with a better layout. I found the ride to be similar, though it did handle way better on bends, corners etc. I also believe the large wheel arches give this vehicle a more sporty stronger look.
The W220 was just bland.
The quality everywhere in the W221/V221 is much superior.
Even still, upon purchase the dealer had to import a “gateway” card for $1000 AUD plus installation. My European mechanic picked this fault up.
Also the centre tailshaft bearing was stuffed. Since then I have not needed to spend a cent.
I would recommend looking for a well cared for W221. It would be worth it.
Oh I forgot, the V221 in certain parked angles when it rains water gets into the boot, even though it should be impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Thanks V220 for your input. I am still looking for a well cared S430-W220. And is more difficult than I thought to find a good one at a decent price. It seemed the price for S430 (2003-2006) with under 100k miles increased in the last months, at least for midwest area. (around 7.5-8 $ k) A few S 350 popped up at Mercedes dealer close to me, but I do not know too much about the reliability for S350 compared with a S430.
I agree with you, a well cared car is everything.
 

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I wasn't going to bother replying to post #25 .................

However in the interest of other newer members like @marcus70 who may read it and become mis-informed ..................
I absolutely do not agree with most of post #25, and I am certain that most of our sensible, knowledgeable and long standing membership will agree .................

Just one example from that post ................
For heavens sake, the M113 V8 is one of, if not the most reliable and best Engine MB have ever produced.

I cannot be bothered to waste valuable time replying to the rest of the "issues" discussed in that post, atm there are just way too many noobs coming here and on other Forums that have had the same software "upgrade" which we recently got, and they are spouting absolute rubbish, based upon god knows what !!

HTH,
 

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True, a well-cared for Mercedes-Benz is a wonderful thing. There's a reason I have four W220's. Actually, not so long ago, I had seriously considered putting up the '03 S430 for sale, simply because I have that many cars. I ended up deciding to keep it, because it's just that nice to drive. That's why Dad's car, which I will obviously never get rid of, is now for special occasions.

Having and maintaining all these W220's has taught me a lot about these cars. The notion that they're unreliable is, as Dave might say, "bollocks". I'm not about to suggest that the W221/V221 is a bad car; far, far from it. @Skylaw, one of the moderators here, has owned both for years and currently drives a W221. They are indeed excellent automobiles. It's simply that the W220/V220 is also an excellent automobile and will be somewhat more DIY-friendly in certain regards.

Indeed, it was after my mechanic buddy saw my W220's that he got the idea for looking at one. Gotta love depreciation. :) His daily driver for the last couple of years has been his '03 S500, the 2WD version, and he loves it. He drives it in all types of weather without issue. His wife has been lusting after it to be her daily driver for some time now, heh heh!

As for the "bland" styling...I actually agreed at first, when they came out. I thought M-B had copied the 1994-1995 Honda Accord's rear end. :-D However, the car's looks have proved to be rather timeless and classic, and it will continue to look good 15 years from now, especially with the post-facelift taillights.
 

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I have a w221, they are actually more reliable than the w220 (except for the 2007 s550 which had an engine defect that was part of a class action) .

Both the air matic and abc systems were improved , as well as the front suspensions don’t wear out as quickly as a w220.

They do have their share of electronics issues as they age . with advanced tech such as distronic/parktronic and the Harmon kardon stereo amp and power panoramic sunroof shade all being problems I’ve encountered
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Hello again,
Today is a good day for me, and this is not because the weather got a little bit warmer in Chicago area. After lots of searches on all possible car sites, today I just bought (from Craigslist) a beautiful 2006 S430 4matic. The car is in great shape, with 73.800 miles and I got it at a good price (5k), from a family who really took care of the car.
I have a few items that I need to address before I can say the car is in excellent driving condition :
1. CV boots need replaced. I am not sure if it makes sense to replace the axle or only the CV boots. The labor is almost the same at an Indy shop that I know and trust.
2. The command unit, shows " System unavailable" when I try to play radio or anything else. It powers on, but in less than a minute shows that message and then it powers off. I did a little bit of research and it seems there are some troubleshooting videos involving some fiber optic coupler that helps bypassing the radio, phone, or amp helping this way to identify the culprit.
3. A good detailing

I am attaching a few pictures with Henriette (still debating Henriette versus Marlene :) )
 

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Nice score--that thing looks like it's in good shape. And it's got some nice options, like Parktronic and push-button start. And since it's a 4Matic, you've got the good 5-speed transmission.

Just had a look at the price of axles. Even at a discount, you're looking at an average of US $1,000 per axle to get new ones. FCPEuro has the CV boot kits for about US $40 for each side, so about $80 total. I'd seriously consider the latter option, as long as the joints themselves are in good shape.

 

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If the axle is good, re-booting is the way to go. Caught early, before they're starved of grease, the axle itself will be fine. Get good grease, clean thoroughly, re-grease, re-boot, be happy.

GKN makes good axles, new, from Europe. Genuine Mercedes are good axles.

Nearly all rebuilds are complete junk. You will be very unhappy if you go with a Cardone, or Chinese, or auto-parts chain axle. "Lifetime warranty" is worthless if the axle vibrates and shakes the car from day one, and you're returning it, and getting another junk axle that vibrates.
 
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