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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All-

In a nutshell, do I hold onto this car or do I sell her and buy a slightly used (whatever) to replace her?

Here are the details:

My '92 400E has 211,500 miles on it. It is my daily driver and I do about 100 miles/day. The car is very reliable. But like any car this age, I have to repair or maintain something every month or so. I've got about $12k into the car over the last 3.5 years and it has safely taken me 120k miles during this time. I've got nothing to complain about @ $.10 per mile. All of the predictable stuff is done: 3 wiring harnesses, a Sun Valley transmission, new gas tank, completely new suspension components, and a bunch of more minor repairs like a fan clutch and a blower fan, etc, etc, etc...

This really should be someone's second car. But I only need 1 car. Right now I've got a bunch of repairs that need to be done ~$2,000 plus another $500-$700 for rust remediation that I do each year to keep it looking presentable. If I replace it, it will be with a $15k, 2-3 y.o. Japanese compact car coming off a lease with a warranty. My cashflow is not bad right now, so I can afford to fix the car. I'm just wondering how long it is likely to remain reliable. Without making the repairs, I won't get much if I sell it. It really is a lovely car to drive, and I'm reminded of that every time I get into a modern Camry, etc.

What to do???? :confused:

Thanks,

Glen
 

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If you sink $3,500 on your MB; how many mile do you think you'd get out of it? on the other hand, how many miles do you think you'd get out of a 2-year old $15,000 used car?

The answer may guide you to which path to take. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm guessing that a 3 y.o. $15k Corolla with 40,000 miles would give me 100k miles over 4-5 years without much investment beyond the purchase price. I' don't know how much people spend on these W124's to get them to 300-350k miles like I've occasionally seen posted. I think if I put around +/- $3000 this summer to get her back up to spec, and then got another 50,000 miles (2-years) of reliable transportation, that would be a good investment as long as the car remains as reliable as it has been. In fact, if I spent $5,000 in the next 2 years, I'd remain @ $.10/mile. As long as it continues to run when I turn the key...
 

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How does the math work out if you sell your e420 and get another, low mileage e420 or e320? I'm guessing $1500-$2k to sell yours. $4-5k for a 120k mile e420. It would need to be maintained, but less than a 200+k mile car.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's a good question. I just made the 100k-200k+ mile journey over the last few years with this one. Financially, it wasn't bad in the end. But I had several white-knuckled repairs. At least with the current car, I know what I won't need to repair. And I have a sense (not data, just a sense) that a 2000 or so model year E420 would have systems that are more expensive to fix than the W124 which by today's standards is a primitive car. In addition, the series that followed the 124 (W210?) with the cool oval headlights all seem to be rust buckets when I see them on the road up here in New England.
 

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When faced with something like this I usually do a spreadsheet, do 3-5 year plan cost comparisons of various options. That usually gives the objective answer.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I guess in the end, I have to agree with tjts1 said. I've got to decide if the fun I have driving it is enough to keep the car. I know that I really like driving it and the kick of the V8 is still a rush. But constantly being involved in its care and feeding is not as much fun as it once was. There is something to be said for getting in the car, having my phone immediately go hands-free, and just make a payment and do fluid changes... The car's at the shop today getting hard estimates. Then I'll make a decision.

Thanks for all of the input!

Glen
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ha! Now don't candy-coat it. Tell us what you really think!

I agree that there's something palpable about driving a car this well made. I get into my brother's new Maxima, and it's plenty competent. But it's not one of these 124s. My dad's 2010 S550 doesn't have the solid feel either. But as someone on this thread implied, you really have to stay involved with the car to keep it reliable. And listening for every little sound, diagnosing and going on a treasure hunt for the best replacement part... it's not as much fun as it used to be. I could probably afford to keep the car and buy another. However, machines like to be used. I think that this car is as reliable as it is because I drive it just about every day. One thing I do know is that if I keep the car, I'm getting out of the part sourcing business. I'm going to turn the maintenance over to my mechanic, who is reputable, and simply write the check. It's all I have the interest for at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ha! Now don't candy-coat it. Tell us what you really think!

I agree that there's something palpable about driving a car this well made. I get into my brother's new Maxima, and it's plenty competent. But it's not one of these 124s. My dad's 2010 S550 doesn't have the solid feel either. But as someone on this thread implied, you really have to stay involved with the car to keep it reliable. And listening for every little sound, diagnosing and going on a treasure hunt for the best replacement part... it's not as much fun as it used to be. I could probably afford to keep the car and buy another. However, machines like to be used. I think that this car is as reliable as it is because I drive it just about every day. One thing I do know is that if I keep the car, I'm getting out of the part sourcing business. I'm going to turn the maintenance over to my mechanic, who is reputable, and simply write the check. It's all I have the interest for at this point.
 

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Ha! Now don't candy-coat it. Tell us what you really think!

....
I thought I did. :wink

I hear ya that at times the DIY gets to be old. Been going through that myself the last couple of years, leaving almost all maintenance other than oil & filter to my local MB dealer who I have known since 1977 when I got my first MB. In fact, whenever they get a older non-OBD2 car in the shop that their guys can't figure out, they call on me to help figure it out.

However, if you're gonna leave the maintenance to a indy, make sure he uses good parts. None of that URO, Meyle, Febi, Hamburg Technic dogshit made in China.
 

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For comparison, when I decided to "trim the herd" I ended up deciding to sell my 2000 e55 and keep 2 w124 wagons. Objectively the e55 is better in every way, but subjectively, as a DD I like the w124 more. So you can imagine what my thoughts about an econo box are.
 

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One thing you didn't mention is whether you have ever replaced the timing chain and the plastic chain guides. The timing chain tolerances can open up due to wear, causing it to "stretch". You will notice this in the form of a rough idle. When one of the chain guides breaks away your engine gets turned into a giant paperweight.
 

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I have faced this decision many times in keeping my cars running. When my daughter had a fender bender and the insurance company totaled the 400E, it was time for a serious decision. I always ask myself, 'where can I get a car this nice for $(insert repair cost here)?'

So far I haven't been able to and I keep fixing up the cars. BTW, I bought it back for salvage and fixed it back up and it runs like a top today. My daughter even got her picture in her yearbook on the page titled Students who drive old cars! I was insulted! It doesn't feel old to me. The 400E is now showing some rust issues in the wheel well that I have to fix asap before they spread, but it shouldn't be a big issue. It really needs a paint job anyway. As long as I don't have to ask that question of myself too many times in a short time span, I seem to be keeping them.
 

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Sounds like you have lost interest in these cars. So I suggest you just move on to a "point A to point B" car. Take your pick. The issue of Consumer Reports that just came in the mail has four used car suggestions. Get one of those.
 

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a toyota corolla/camry 4 cyl from mid 2000s to mid 2010s is about as cheap and reliable and lowest total cost to own car as you can find. of course, its also an extremely boring car to drive.
 

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If it where me i would Keep the 400E or get another with fewer miles. It will still need maintenance but a economy Japanese or Korean alternatives are going to drive you crazy after a year. They just have no soul. if you enjoy driving and appreciate quality in design then they wont be for you.

Let us know what you end up doing
 
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