By on March 3, 2014

06benz7 (2)

At age 64, I have been driving legally for 48 years. I have bought and sold many, many cars. Some were good, some were not, some were meh!

So a question emerges, what was the best car of them all?

As of November, 2013 I would have said, my last daily driver. A 2006 Mercedes-Benz W211, otherwise known as an E 350. I bought it off-lease exactly five years before. It had 42,000 miles when I bought it, and 87,000 at the end.

No car is perfect, of course, but as the years went by, I developed a surprising affection for what I called “my German taxi with plastic seats.” Previous rides that I had “holstered,” in Farago-speak, included BMW 540i, Acura TL, and Lexus IS 250. And the Benz was really reliable. Lexus reliable. It never failed to start or left me stranded by the roadside. It was serviced annually at the local dealer at fees ranging from $400 to $1,000.

The 2 major flaws I experienced were with a jammed sunroof and a failure of the electric trunklid closer. The sunroof problem the dealer estimated could cost as much as $1,000. Fortunately, a friend is very knowledgeable about this problem. When the roof is opened, a front wind deflector pops up, powered by 2 simple flat metal springs. These springs are held in place by (what else?) 2 plastic brackets. It is a horrible design. Even the mechanically illiterate would look at the bracket and declare it inadequate. And this design is found on many, many modern Mercedes. The brackets break, and the broken pieces end up jamming the roof track. New brackets are like $11.00 a pop, easy to install, and the track was easy to clean and lubricate. So I dodged a bullet on that one. The trunk closer fault was diagnosed to be a short in the rear electrical harness and the dealer replaced it for around $800. Not too bad for 45,000 miles of very pleasant motoring.

The car has many pluses. I have always thought that Mercedes-Benz, of all the imports, offer the best combination of ride and handling. They are designed to excel at autobahn speeds and they have amazing road sense. I have owned quite a few Mercedes before and this is a very common characteristic. The other strong point is the overall packaging of people and cargo. Lots of room, front and rear, and a huge trunk. The seats, front and rear were also very comfortable. The paint work was the finest I have ever seen. The Harman-Kardon stereo was also superb.

The main flaws were high levels of road texture noise, as bad as any I have ever experienced. And a way too “flexy” body structure. Over really bad bumps, all 4 doors rattled. That never used to happen on a Benz. Other W211s (and the replacement W212s) I have ridden in exhibited the same symptoms.

So, as I was saying, I liked the car. But five years is a long time and it was time for a change. I live in sunny Palm Springs, and had recently installed solar power on my house. I decided that my next car would be a plug-in hybrid. I’ll write about that selection process soon. So I put my immaculate Mercedes on Craiglist and Cars.com and soon had several interested buyers. During a test drive, one of the prospects said they could smell gas fumes outside of the car. I had it checked out, and sure enough, my car had developed a leak in the fuel tank. On a Mercedes, the fuel tank is beneath the rear seat cushion. The tank itself was sound, the leak was in the large plastic canister above the tank which included the fuel pump and sending unit. Here comes the good part. You cannot replace just the canister. It only comes as a unit with the tank.

What’s even worse is that this is a known flaw on the W211 series (and probably others.) My local dealer even had them in stock (for an 8 year old car), that’s how often they fail. So here’s your introduction to owning an older, out-of-warranty Mercedes (or any other German car). The fuel tank lists at $1,900 and another $600 for installation. Is this acceptable? “The best or nothing.”?
It made me realize that today’s Mercedes-Benzes are not nearly as well designed, or well built as they once were. The company that used to be run by some of the best engineers anywhere now operates as a maker of expensive fashion accessories. Since most of their customers lease their cars for 3-4 years, the cars are always under warranty. But who will want them when they become 7or 8 years old?

So the question I propose to you, the best and the brightest, is: does any automaker today design cars to really last?

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99 Comments on “Ur-Turn: Das Beste…Wirklich...”


  • avatar
    jems86

    I don’t want to sound like a fanboy or something like that, but I do believe Subarus are made to last. In my family we’ve had 5 of them (two ’93 Dl wagons or “Leone” in my country, ’94 Legacy wagon, ’00 Forester and ’13 XV Crosstrek)and they’ve been pretty much flawless.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The GF’s ’12 Forester sucks oil at about 3 quarts between changes. Do you think she’ll top it off without me? Cold start clatters like a diesel!

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      A couple of friends have had expensive issues with the AWD system as well. My personal vote would be Camry’s and Accords as long as you don’t hit a lemon like the automatics in certain Accords. If you are buying used then that problem is mitageted as they ususally pop up within a years or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I agree with Subaru. While someone’s cousin’s wife’s neighbor’s tennis coach’s brother-in-law is bound to end up with a lemon, the general trend is great.

      Living in WY/CO, it is amazing the number of 10-20 year Subarus on the road with 200k plus miles on them.

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        Subarus are generally indestructible, or at least have been. I’ve seen several go through the tortures of hell and walk out the other side still smiling.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Subies are very popular in my mountainous/ski areas and they seem to last forever ‘IF’ you replace the CV boots whenever needed and do regular maintenance.

      People who own them have told me they service them once a year, right before the winter/snow season and they’re good to go for another year.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      That’s the general consensus – CR ranks them around the peripheries of Honda and Toyota, which is fantastic considering the head gasket debacles in the early-mid 2000s.

      Only on TTAC are Subarus equated with VW in overall reliability and total ownership/repair costs for some reason.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Thats because some of us live in areas with potholes and road salt, Subaru’s are quite fragile. .you want reliable and solid buy a truck, when it has to start every day and you need it to make a living there’s no room for nostalgia

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Emissions warranty related?

    Just because manufacturers have to add US emission stuff to the orginal design, does make them bad to own/buy?

    I removed the pcv from the intake of my Verano 2.0T to avoid oil-gummed up intake. It also lessens the chance of ingesting enough motoroil to starve it.

  • avatar
    sandmed

    Trucks and truck-based SUV’s made by Toyota and the big three are the longest-lasting vehicles. It seems to be impossible to get nice-to-drive and long-lasting at the same time. I liked JB’s idea of getting an Accord coupe, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      I had a similar opinion about the Accord coupe until I read the just-released Consumer Reports auto issue that shows the current Accord coupe as have dreadful reliability ratings. BTW, it’s the only version of the Accord with this black mark. All others are very highly rated for reliability. Why there should be such a divergence is a bit confounding.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        What was the black mark on the Accord coupe for? Was it something unique to the coupe?

        Different reliability ratings for cars that are near identical mechanically drive me crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      tinbad

      Yep, my experience with domestic US brands is very good. This is my list of cars that I’ve owned in the last 8 years or so:

      95 VW Golf automatic: lasted about 60k miles before all kinds of things went wrong, dumped it fast
      98 Volvo S70 Turbo: amazing car but at 150k miles it just died
      72 GMC Suburban: put 50k miles in 3 years and no problems except for a broken water pump once
      07 Chevy Avalanche: 140k miles and still going strong (only changed throttle body at 120k)
      10 Mustang Convertible: made it without any problems to 60k – had to git rid of it because “too many cars”
      14 Fusion Hybrid: only at 3k miles but so far so good

      So yeah, my impression is that American cars are way more reliable than their European counterparts (and I’m originally from Europe!!). My parents have been driving Subaru/Honda and they haven’t had any serious problems either. From what I hear from friends, French cars are probably the worst. Luckily they don’t even sell them in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Trucks and truck-based SUV’s made by Toyota and the big three are the longest-lasting vehicles.”

      I’m with you on that one. They also depreciate slower than European luxury SUVs (Range Rover, X5, Cayenne, etc…) relative to their original MSRP’s. The Lexus LX/Toyota Land Cruiser is a beast, and so is the Lexus GX, which is known in other parts of the world as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, and which is related to the 4Runner, Tacoma and FJ Cruiser…

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Let’s get this straight right now- a Mercedes IS a high-performance automobile. I don’t care what anyone says about the C-Class’ horsepower or the like. Mercedes is all about performance- in particular, driving dynamics. If you’ve ever driven ONE, than you likely know how the rest of them feel behind the wheel: heavy, brute, solid, very well mannered, extreme fit and finish with quality materials inside.

    Therefore, do not purchase a performance-oriented automobile and be shocked when you spend $1,200 on a headlight repair (S-Class) or, say $200 for an oil change (although you can go up to 10k miles, depending on when the vehicle’s diagnostic system/computer deems necessary). Or even $2K for a fuel tank.

    Further, in 2014 and beyond, companies are finding more ways to stretch their dollar, pound, and so forth. So NO- they don’t make them-or ANY vehicles- like they used to. It wouldn’t make economic sense. Car companies make cars- hopefully, good cars- but they also need to make a profit, and hopefully- a LARGE profit (see where this is going?).

    I am sorry, Sir, that your W211 required the unfortunate expense of needing a whole fuel tank replaced. While this is certainly an expense, and a larger one at that, if you wanted affordable motoring, you would have purchased a Civic (which, I hate to break it to you, even Honda is cost-cutting, they just find less obvious ways of doing it as their core competence is in none other than engines- small engines, in particular).

    In turn- no, your E350 is not a 240D. Or the over-engineered 190E from the days of yesteryear.

    No, they don’t build them like they used to.

    Further, I am rather stunned about the body flex you mentioned on your E350…? The GLK in our stable is like driving a damned bank vault.

    Also, make no mistake about it- a Mercedes-Benz is a damned good car. It is also one of the finest cars in the world. However, if you want to look the part, driving something as asthetically pleasing as fine art, be expected to pay a premium for maintenance.

    If you want to own a Mercedes-Benz, have another vehicle as a daily driver. You do NOT want to drive the snot out of a Mercedes. Keep it maintained while having its records up to date (use log book in owner’s manual), keep it clean, and drive it sparingly. Don’t put 50k miles a year on a Benz… stay true to the marque. Go and drive the crap out of your Toyota, Honda, Ford, what not. Your Mercedes will be a much happier vehicle and treat you much better.

    • 0 avatar
      CriticalMass

      Lordy, you speak of the Benz as though it were a Ferrari, all delicate cream confection and passion. Drive it sparingly? You DO indeed want to “drive the snot” out of a Benz. Leaving it sit is the worst prescription that I can think of for the car. I bought my first S-Class back in ’73 (no bumpers) and drove it exactly as designed to my delight. At that time the cars were already deteriorating from what the 280’s, etc. had been in the ’60’s but they were still solid lumps with honest “bank vault” personae. Changing economics, even then, included “mining the brand” (I’m looking at you Toyota and Honda) accompanied by huge infusions of Turkish guest workers whose learning curve was steep. This “cheapening” has only become worse to the point of being endemic given their cost. Embarrassing really. Not for them, it’s only business you see, but embarrassing for those who spend silly money for the privilege of being seen in this “icon”. Mental masturbation takes many forms.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Mental masturbation. Lol

        You may, by all means, ride yours and put it away wet, then discard it like a rag doll when you’re done having your way with it.

        A well-maintained, lovingly-driven Merc can and will stay in the family for years.

        Don’t believe me, take a stroll on Ebay and tell me how many older MB’s are there.

        • 0 avatar
          CriticalMass

          I agree with you as far as that goes, there is great pride of ownership for us car nuts. “Driving the snot out of it” is rhetorical flourish on both our parts. Mine have always been lovingly maintained and not abused. Even if they didn’t need it they got every little (and big) broken part fixed immediately and their eight quarts of syn on an accelerated schedule. Nobody sells better used cars than mine. All this talk of abuse and syn reminds me that I spanked it quite often on a variety of cars so I cast no aspersions sir. God bless you and whatever recreation you choose. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      @ raresleeper

      You have a nice way with words, but just in case you haven’t noticed 99.9% of all motor vehicles end up in the junk yard. From there they are parted out. Then comes the crusher. Ashes to ashes. Rust to rust.

      Any mass produced motor vehicle must be evaluated according to its primary function which is normally that of a daily driver or as a service truck. If it fails in its primary mission, it fails.

    • 0 avatar
      jjf

      As the owner of a 2007 C(heap) class (W203) that I bought off lease I fully intend to drive the snot out of it. I really like the beauty and driving dynamics, but in the end it is just another used car used for daily transportation.

      Overall the Benz has a lot of nice quality touches and is reliable, but it is afflicted by cheap Achilles heels. So far it has dinged me with about $500 yearly in cheaply designed/made part failures, which isn’t that bad. I plan to enjoy the car for another 3-4 years, but I fear old age combined with cheap parts will eventually make ownership a burden.

      Overall though I am happy and would buy another. To me it is worth it, although a major part failure would change my mind.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        My experience with Mercedes-Benz is dated (1972 220D Euro spec) but I will say that at that time it was a better engineered, more solid, better handling car, than our 1972 Olds Custom Cruiser was.

        And the M-B 220D rode smoother and had better NVH than the Olds did. In fact, we took it on our long-distance trips all over Europe for the eight years I was stationed there.

        The Olds was used for local trips and grocery-getting at the Commissary.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Those W114/115 cars were built like tanks, yes. (And just today getting lunch, I saw a green W108 280SE…)

          But Mercedes hasn’t built cars *like that* for probably 20 years now. Arguably more like 30.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yes, that’s what my wife’s uncle in Heidelberg also said.

            The brown perforated M-B Tex in our 220D wasn’t fancy but it was loads better than the pleather of our Olds.

            At one time I wanted a Dark Blue 280SEL/stick shift to take back to the US with me at the end of my military tour there, but due to a variety of factors I was never able to make that happen.

            The lead time was around 1 year and I didn’t have that much time left there.

            There are several very old M-Bs still running around my area, each brought back by an American GI from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy or Turkey where those guys were stationed. And each has become a show piece, a Sunday driver.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      Rare sleep how can it treat me better if I follow your suggestion, To rarely drive it, why invest in a Benz or other high end car to need an Accord to put the miles on? Yes a e class will require more money spent than an Accord but really $1900 for a cracked plastic tank????? The author did not abuse this car, and it seems this is a know kink in the e class. Maintain a Benz but this does not fall under maintance in my book.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Im going to leave it at this:

        a Merc (or two) is a joy to own and drive; however, it is a terrible choice for an everyday/daily driver.

        It will come back to bite you if you treat it as such.

        You’ve been warned.

        • 0 avatar

          You might find one or two taxi drivers in Europe who disagrees with you. It’s been a few years since I’ve been back there, but it used to be that the vast majority of taxis were Mercedes, and those guys drive the crap out of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Yeah, and they’re getting paid to drive them, and the fees pay for maintenance. A $2k repair after most of a decade isn’t so bad in that context.

            The “Munich Taxicab” trim levels in Europe also, last I looked at MB Germany’s website, are *way* decontented compared to even the most basic US market stuff.

            Which helps, since it’s often the fancy electronic frippery that fails, this past decade or two.

            And since it’s not a “luxury car” in that format and market, it doesn’t feel as “cheap” when it needs a $2000 install of a piece of plastic they couldn’t bother to separate from the fuel tank…

    • 0 avatar

      No, I’m sorry raresleeper, but this is wrong.

      Since when did it become okay for manufacturers to design things poorly just because they are “high-end” or “luxurious”?

      We have long perfected the gas tank, why is this issue excusable because it is a Mercedes? Why is it okay that the replacement was so ill-planned you have to pay for parts you don’t need?

      When I pay a lot of money for a car, I expect two things. One, I expect refinement and quality. The Germans delivery well on this. Be it the sportier BMWs or the softer Mercedes’, they do a good job of nice driving experiences, nice interiors, etc. But when I pay a lot of money I also expect great design, which means reliability, quality, ease-of-repair, etc. Lexus, Infiniti, Acura have traditionally done better at this, with Lexus (and maybe Infiniti) being the only brand that has consistently fallen with in the middle portion of the venn diagram of requirements.

      Just because it is expensive and more complex, doesn’t give companies carte blanche to design poorly, but that is what they do time and time again. I’m paying for refinement/luxury, and I’m paying for more intelligent (and more thorough) R&D that allows this without a dramatic drop in reliability. Cars like this do not deliver on that, and that’s pretty unforgivable.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      If you’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at the dealership on an out-of-warranty Mercedes-Benz, especially the taxi cab E-350, you’re doing something wrong. Mercedes-Benz cars are common enough that they have a great forum for swapping information. http://www.benzworld.org/ Always research the problem on the forum before opening your wallet. Many repairs are noticeably less expensive as a DIY job. If the repair does require the help of a mechanic, find competent independent mechanics that charge much less than the dealership.

      At some point the luxury features of a Mercedes-Benz will cost more to repair than the car is worth. Time to accept that almost every car including a Mercedes-Benz becomes a beater. The power seats may be stuck in one position and some of the windows may not roll down, but you still have a sleeper RWD sedan you can hoon the hell out of without attracting the cops.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There was a time when a Mercedes-Benz was an investment in something that would last a very long time and feel good while doing it. Ditto for Volvo. However, that time has gone. Today’s lease-minded culture has ensured that European luxury cars, in particular, prioritize cutting-edge technology that isn’t durable for any longer than 6 or 7 years, and I think that’s just the kind of experience that you sign up for when you purchase one.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Which is why Mercedes was in something like 10th place in the CR survey posted last week and Lexus was number one.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Of course, 28… Lexus IS a mechanically superior car.

          People buy a Merc because they want to. Not because it’s “reliable”.

          Lexus is reliable… because… wait for it: It’s a Toyota. And Toyota’s are what…? Utterly reliable.

          It’s why people buy a LR4 instead of a Pilot. Of course the Pilot will be much more reliable. Efficient. I could go on and on.

          But the individual who buys that Land Rover (and hopefully gets rid of it once the lease it up) will enjoy it to the fullest. It’s what that person wanted. It’s pleasing to their eye.

          Aside from the way a MB drives, its all aesthetics from there. Nothing more.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      You sir are a twit, this is why the big two own the truck and such segment, rack up 250k of seat time in 5 years drive it hard and put it away wet they will do just fine no reason to be delicate with her like a flower.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      High performance automobile? That’s simply isn’t true. The cheapest Benz starts around $30K and there isn’t anything high performance about it except for maybe price.

      I got to drive a brand new C300 AWD a couple of years ago. It was an utter $40K piece of trash. Heavy, ugly, weak and pathetic. Fit and finish were on part with your average Accord. My $27K Subaru of same model year, while a bit more crude will wipe the floor with it on any track on or off road. High performance automobile my foot.

      The fact that the author had to spend “only” $800 and then another $2500 in a measly 45K miles (not counting regular maintenance) speaks volumes on what kind of car zee Germanz can build nowadays. Which is why I avoid them. It’s not so much the cost but rather the realization that I’m paying for a brand which has nothing to back it up anymore. When I pay $50K it better be like a modern equivalent of the T34 tank started after 50 years of sitting on a pedestal.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Sure, a Benz is frequently a superlative vehicle. But what does that gas tank, and its particular failure point, have to do with its performance capabilities? That just sounds like a poorly designed, cheapened out component that the Daimiler mothership has decreed acceptable because it rarely affects the original owners (you know, the people who actually directly give money to MB).

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Exactly. Basic components should be made to last, and for the few that do fail, service parts should be available. Having to change the tank, and pump, and whatever else because a plastic part failed is crappy engineering. You know, even cheap GM put an access door in the trunk of the W body to allow easy access to change the fuel pump, and by the way, the sending switch for the fuel gauge is serviceable as a separate item. Mercedes not only cut corners on what you can see, they gutted what you can’t. My brother spent $5K for a transmission and a controller board on his CLK at 63K miles. Mercedes has no interest in his problem either.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          I’ve taken five and returned to explain why this is.

          A Mercedes is a vehicle designed around, again, driving dynamics. As is the same with its brother from another mother BMW and Audi (notice I left out VW).

          A Honda, Toyota, or even the domestics provide driving feel. It’s rather modest and completely stark in contrast with the Germans. Even the Lexus, which yes, is highly regarded, provides different driving feedback than said German models. Some people live for the driving feel that the high-level Germans provide.

          People don’t buy German cars for their reliability. Why, the Germans want’s something that can fly down the Autobahn, and as far as their concerned, all of the little plastic pieces and electronics are working fine… at 120 mph.

          Anytime a vehicle is designed around driving dynamics, it WILL cost more to maintain. Period. Certain small items, but rather annoying- such as plastic shims around fuel tanks, or- plastic arms for the moonroof- MAY just be overlooked for other items such as stiffer control arms, or tweaked transmissions. In turn, the little stuff (which I agree with you, can be a big P.I.T.A.) is sometimes overlooked for the items that aid in delivering this specific, desired driving feel that the manufacturer is going for.

          Sorry, but the plastic filler neck/shim/what have you has nothing to do with the price of eggs with the way this car absorbs bumps, accelerates, or its manners on the Autobahn.

          In turn, the writer seemed to have overlooked an Accord, Camry, or Avalon (hey!) with his name on it. It was what should have been.

          Because the Germans aren’t interested- that much- in your little plastic pieces that caused great stress in your household.

          Now, let’s start picking apart “the ultimate driving machine”. Why isn’t it more like the Accord?? *sniff *sniff (tear)

          I like to put on my big boy pants one leg at a time. :)

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Oh, and… by the way- a “flexy” body? All four doors rattling? Any rattling at all is skeptical.

            Hmm…

            It would be hard to make lemonade out of this lemon.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I can’t believe you find the fuel tank issue defensible just because it is a Mercedes and excels in other areas. The attention spent on suspension design does not take away from the fuel tank or sunroof. Those components are a known commodity that have been installed in cars either forever, or for quite a long time. There is no engineering required to get that part right.

            As a BMW owner, I’m OK with replacing bushings and balljoints and other items related to how the car drives. I’m not OK with designs where a cheap component forces the replacement of a much more expensive assembly.

            And enough with the “go drive an Accord” rebuttal. If everyone accepted these situations as just the way it is and didn’t push for improvement, where would we be? It’s perfectly reasonable to call out the Germans for these design decisions. Those mistakes are not OK because they are good at high speed cruising.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      “You do NOT want to drive the snot out of a Mercedes”

      Then why buy it?

      I’ve never had, or known someone who has had, to replace an entire fuel tank on a car, truck, or motorcycle – ever.

  • avatar
    imag

    The question at the end seemed like a bit of a throwaway.

    But since you are asking: the answer is clearly Lexus.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I think much of this comes down to cars being engineered to expectations (or what they can get away with). People generally expect (and accept) higher maintenance costs for German cars despite the claims for German engineering. Lower maintenance is expected of Asian cars, even in premium dress (ie Lexus, Acura, Genesis, ect).

    Possibly the cars best designed for the long haul are cars in segments where OEMs compete, at least in large part, on reliability. That would be your CamCord class where cars are expected to work and, on the rare instances that they don’t, are expected to be cheap to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      Windy

      A very good point ccd1, the thing the jumped at me from this ( apart from the inability to repair a small leak in the fuel tank for less than silly money) was the comment about the short in a wire ing harness. I had a short in the wiring in a grand wagoneer limited in the early 90s that while not easy to fix as access was bad so it took me several hours to find and fix.
      But just the fact that we still see this kind of fault. If harness passes its AC check at the time the sub contractor builds it why should it ever fail… This is old tech after all and things like connector failure should by now have been engineered out. Yet we still see these problems sometimes after many years of faultless service.

      Failures caused by vibration and flex in connections that were sordered that in turn caused a stress concentration leading to fatigue failure have been long understood and we know how to prevent them.
      As to a short inside a wiring bundle again this should show up at the AC check and not 5 years later.

      Of course there will be causes like minor accident impingement, flood corroding and bad after market installers messing about but baring these why do we still see wiring faults

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        If you want a good example, go to YouTube and look up a Porsche 991 owner’s experiences in the 1st 6 months of ownership. The number of problems would get a CamCord returned under a state lemon law or burned in front of the dealership.

        However, this owner keeps going back to the dealership for fixes AND still loves his car. With this type of customer, why would any OEM engineer its car to run faultlessly???

        • 0 avatar
          Windy

          My folks bought a new 250SE in 1967 factory delivery for about $6,800. When my dad died in 1985 it became mine I kept it till 1997 when I sold it to person restoring the convertible version who wanted it for parts for $2,500. Yes it was well cared for oil change and greased every 3000 miles and the engine and transmission lasted over 240,000 miles. The limited slip differential (an option my dad went fore due to lots of winter driving) developed a very loud pinion whine that was not economic to repair and it was suffering from tin worm when I sold it. My sister had a 1964 Volvo station wagon for more than 20 years and kept it on the streets of Cambridge MA.

          The point of all this is that back then a US car was a 5 year to beater status ride and Volvo was advertising that in Sweden Volvos were lasting 11 years on bad roads.

          It is not that good European cars are not lasting as long as they did but the good cars from the rest of the world are lasting longer as are the good cars of Europe.

          It is the perception of quality that they had when the rest of the world did not that is costing them respect today as they have not maintained that gap.

          If most cars today are 10 to 12 year keepers before they slump to beater status then those European cars would need to be 15 to 17 years to beater status to garner the same respect.

          Its a moving target that is not economic to chase today so most quality cars from around the world have a very similar service life given like conditions

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        In recent years, EU environmental requirements that cars be recyclable has led to changes in the composition of the insulation on automobile wiring, making it less robust and prone to dry out and crack over time, causing a short. IIRC, in the 90s Benz had huge problems with this, especially with the S-class cars which “self-recycled” into junk.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “The main flaws were high levels of road texture noise, as bad as any I have ever experienced. And a way too “flexy” body structure. Over really bad bumps, all 4 doors rattled. That never used to happen on a Benz. Other W211s (and the replacement W212s) I have ridden in exhibited the same symptoms.”

    This is interesting because I’ve also driven or driven in MANY W211s & W212s and NEVER experienced either of these issues.

    The issue with the road texture noise (especially if over concrete) I MAYBE could attribute to type of tires being used/wear, but the “flexy body structure” and “all 4 doors rattling over and bumps” is extremely un-E Class like, based on my experience, AMD would be more indicative of an E Class that suffered damage during a prior wreck.

    I’m not saying that you didn’t experience these problems nor that your car didn’t display them, but they are the opposite of my experience with both generations of E Class you mention, and that if anything, these two generations had a stiffer body structure, less susceptible to flex and twist (i.e.’high levels of torsional rigidity) than 90% of their sedan competitors.

    As for your other issues, those are part and parcel of owning a modern Mercedes … because “the best or nothing” or some absolutely bull$hit marketing tagline or something – and you actually got off easy, compared tk many “best or nothing” and “engineered like no other vehicle” owners.

    p.s. -Mercedes does know how to apply paint very well. I must confess that.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “best or nothing.”?

      !!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Daimler does some things really well, such as chassis rigidity, paint, quality of steel, aluminum & other metals – and then they do some things horribly, such as unnecessarily complex components &, for instance, incorporating a fragile part in a location or assembly that’s prone to break and difficult to access.

        They could learn a lot from Honda engineering when it comes to what to shave costs in and what NOT to shave costs on – I have seen components within Honda inline 4 motors that one would assume would be prone to premature failure just based on how they appear or feel, yet these components last an incredibly long time (Honda had to have put meticulous thought & research into where it can shave costs without compromising reliability).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Now we know. Where to find a. Writer just like dearly departed Doug DeMuro.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    One thing the Japanese are still getting right is durability, at least when they are not trying too hard to cut costs.

    Lexus and Acura continue to top the medium-term reliability ratings, which are a pretty good proxy for long-term durability of the sort you’re asking about. They don’t have the prestige of Benz, but they’ll just keep on going without many issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That durability is due to precisely putting the pieces together sequentially. Unfortunately, when a buried part has to be replaced, that precise sequence has to be undone, and then getting that precise sequence put back together is a problem.

      That’s why I got rid of my old Altima: the upper timing chain guides became misaligned and the solution was to remove them. To get at them, the front of the engine needed to be disassembled and then reassembled. $115 in parts (gaskets) with $900-$1100 in labor!

      • 0 avatar
        Aquineas

        Which is only a tad more than having a timing belt replaced, which you’d have to do on Honda/Acura etc. If it’s not one thing that gets ya’ it’s another :-(.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Our very first venture into buying a brand-new Japanese car for use in the US was a 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited 4X4.

      It has been flawless and never had to go in for repair for the entire time we have owned it. We have almost 100,000 miles of the clock and it is now doing duty as my 16-yo grand daughter’s daily ride to/from school/town/work.

      I say durability and reliability are at the top of our experience with Toyota since all I have ever done to it has been regular maintenance and replace the rubber when it needed replacing.

      My wife’s sisters who bought the American-made Highlander however, were not as fortunate, having endured several recall and fixes, each time losing their vehicle for up to three days.

      Parts may be parts but where they are made and who the supplier is can have a lot of influence over durability and reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        NeinNeinNein

        Nein nein nein, they’re all assembled the same way(the most cost effective way…..with the same components)–seriously doubt the reliability of one car vs the same car made in a different country is any different in a statistically meaningful manner. Chalk it up to anecdotal evidence….. mileage may vary.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Anecdotal evidence? Three different sisters with Highlanders from three different years; 2009, 2010, and 2011?

          Mine has many Nippon-Denso parts. The American-built ones have NO N-D parts.

          We would assume that the same car made in different countries would enjoy the same quality levels.

          But in real life that is not the case, as with a 1989 Japan-built Camry V6 belonging to my BF vs a Kentucky built 1989 Camry V6.

          Hell, the parts aren’t even the same, and not interchangeable. We found that out when we replaced his CV-joint boots, AC compressor, front struts, and muffler system.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          You’ve obviously never worked in manufacturing. Workforce, supply chains, QC implementation, SOPs, equipment, etc. tend to vary by location with variation growing as distances increase and national boundaries are crossed.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Even *if*, by some small chance, the American-built Highlander was worse than the Japanese-built one, I’d still be upset at the Japanese executives, because the workers and the plant in America are agents of that Japanese company, and the Japanese company is ultimately responsible for quality control across all of its locations, all over the world. That same Japanese quality can, by whatever means, be replicated elsewhere, and it is up to Toyota’s Japanese operations to make it happen. This also goes for Volkswagen, where people claim that Mexican built Volkswagens (like my Jetta) are problematic—to which I’d submit that *all* Volkswagens are problematic…

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          My take on all this is that buying a new car is always a crapshoot. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

          I’ve won three in my lifetime (the Highlander, my wife’s Grand Cherokee and my Tundra) and lost all the rest.

          I’ve already outlined my experience with American-built Highlanders vs our Japan-built Highlander.

          Now let me tell you about my experience with Grand Cherokees.

          Same three sisters; they traded their three Highlanders for a 2014 Grand Cherokee each, again based on our excellent experience with our 2012 Grand Cherokee.

          You can read about their experiences on cars dot com kicking tires Grand Cherokee recalls section.

          All three have voiced their disgust with the problems they are experiencing with their new rides.

          And as far as VW products being problematic? A friend of mine who owns a Mexican-built VW Bug, lives where I live and works for the Border Patrol in El Paso, TX, roughly a 200-mile roundtrip for her everyday.

          She had some warranty issues early on, like within the first year. But the dealership in El Paso is pretty darn good and has given her excellent service, even providing her a loaner.

          Her Bug has a lot of miles on it now from the daily commute, but if you can get past the wear and tear, it is still a darn good commuter.

          She now has to use 20-50 motor oil in it every 7500 miles to keep it from belching out blue smoke but it still runs and it is cheaper than buying a new commuter.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    “. . .I decided that my next car would be a plug-in hybrid. I’ll write about that selection process soon. . .”

    OH PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write up another “I bought a (insert greenwashed shitbox here)!!!!! I don’t think I can stand another day of NOT reading another article about how some journalist switched to a hybrid and can’t stop gushing over how super-super-green it all is. Make sure and tell us about how many girls at the Palm Springs Starbucks don’t throw their panties at your car.

    If you want to write something, write about burning a Spotted Owl in an old tire splashed with diesel oil under a desert sunrise. I’m sick of the greenwashing.

    • 0 avatar
      Aquineas

      Because there’s an absolute shortage of car writers writing about 400+ hp sports cars and sedans, people who write about green cars should be punished, right? Maybe the problem is with the reader.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      You do know TTAC offers a full no-questions-asked refund on any articles which don’t agree with your sensibilities, right?

  • avatar
    wreath and crest

    Let me say,as someone who has worked at large MB dealer service department,I’m a little suprised at some of these repairs.We have replaced many fuel sending units for leaks,but never a fuel tank.Yes they are indeed available seperately.As far as the rear harness,another weak spot that usually takes out everything on the trunk-lock,tag lights.The harness does not need replacement,just repair where it flexes and breaks.Much cheaper.As far as the rattles,although I’m not the biggest fan,These cars rattle less than almost any other car on the road.Believe me,I would have heard otherwise from some very demanding customers.

  • avatar
    sco

    Does any automaker today design cars to really last? Sure but I think you may be looking at the wrong end of the market. If you have no power sunroof with wind deflector you have no sunroof problems. Electric trunk closer- really? By definition, the simpler you keep your vehicle the fewer problems you are likely have. You may not be happy with this type of pared-down vehicle, but it will last.

    • 0 avatar

      This.

      I had a W211 (E320 wagon) for a while, and the things that people complained about on the message boards were the more “advanced” technologies and systems – things that were either introduced with this generation (look up SBC brakes for entertaining reading) or the things that make the luxury car more luxurious, like air suspension and fancy electronics.

      I’m not saying this is an excuse, but it’s a fact of life for most auto makers now. The goodies that get people excited are also the things that are fairly new and not proven/refined over many generations. For the W211, you’ll likely see far more fairly basic E320s on the road in 10 years than E500s simply because they don’t have as much fancy stuff in them.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Some are not the biggest fans on this site. Yet the Hyundai Elantra GT is not a bad car. In fact I own a elantra gt 6spd and I avg 36 mpg combined and I run the heck out if it. And I can get 43mpg hwy at a steady 72 mph. I payed $16,100 and it even has heated seats and satellite radio. The rear seats fold flat which turns it into a little wagon. It my family’s 3rd Hyundai and all they have needed was basic maintenance even up to 195,000 miles.

  • avatar
    NeinNeinNein

    As someone said–ze Germans are in the business of making zee money……like any automaker. The challenge is to do so, while making a very high performance vehicle with a low cost–while designing it within the parameters set by the bean counters in consultation with the engineers. I have ZERO doubt that German cars could be designed to the reliability of their Japanese counterparts BUT BUT BUT—then they’d most likely drive like a CamCordHyundai. If you want to get from point A to B and you dont care what you drive—then buy a Corolla, or a Civic or an Elantra—or SUV/Truck by these manu’s. If you want to drive comfortably, look good and have some performance and dont want to deal with any repairs–buy a Lexus. You want the looks and performance of a German car—then be prepared to pay or DIY. Simple as that. Go in with the expecttaion, as the Germans themselves do, that you car will occasioanlly need repair and thats the price of business. Maybe you get lucky–as MANY do and your car performs well. Maybe you dont and your car needs repair. If you cant afford dealer prices–shop around for an independent Euro shop and do business with them. Better yet, do a youtube/google search, grab some tools and do as much DIY repair / maintenance as you can. And if you cant afford a German car or cant handle a wrench or dont want the issues—thats fine–but stop with the bashing of the cars and their owners who can and do enjoy these fine driving automobiles. My old mechanic–a guy from Jordan–he told me buy a Camry–what does he drive a nice, big Mercedes! I bought an Audi and now fix most of it myself. 54K mi and 3 years later–Im loving it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Oh—good point there—easy-to–read- too—-.

      • 0 avatar
        CriticalMass

        Pure supposition on my part, and I can’t be the first to say it, but I have long suspected that the reason MB, BMW and other Euros provide the driving feel (not speaking of overall reliability here) that they do is due to the use of what I would call “sacrificial” parts and not their vaunted engineering finesse. In other words they are not designed to be “durable” in the sense that we are discussing them here (replacement control arms anyone?). Top Gear and others, out of deep insecurity, can disingenuously mock the “lack of refinement” of US built cars (rightly and wrongly) as compared to many Euros but in my experience the US bushings and other sacrificial parts do tend to last longer on everything from tens of thousands of miles on section line roads to our battered urban/suburban landscape.

        • 0 avatar
          ccd1

          You can also fault the car review business. Journalists typically review new cars. Generally, at most, they will purchase a new car and own it for a year and report on the needed repairs during that time. They are not looking at how well a car holds up over the years.

          Sites like TrueDelta can provide much needed info IF sufficient owners participate in their surveys. Not easy to get a clear picture of what you are getting into over the long term.

  • avatar
    salhany

    If the W211 in question is a PZEV car (option 917 on the list), then the fuel tank is warrantied for 15 years/150K miles in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, California, and NY. The fuel tank replacement would be free.

    Worth checking before dropping $2600 on a new fuel tank.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    @ dead weight
    When I bought my car I drove at least 10 others, 06s and 07s. the creaking was present in all, to varying degrees. it might not be the actual structure, but maybe the brittle plastics used for the doors, dash and console. my car had 17″ wheels, the 18s were noticeably worse. I know that tire type has a role in noise transmission. when I bought my car it still had the original Michelin Pilots. I did online research and selected Bridgestone Potenza Serenitys because they were specifically designed to filter noise. Actually, though, they were worse! (But lasted for ever, maybe 1/3 tread left after 40,000 miles.) I also drove ’10 & ’11 CPO W212s and they were similarly creaky and road-noisy but maybe not as bad as the W211s. I guess I was spoiled by the several W124s I have had. They were truly tanks.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    This is insane. ALL automakers are building cars to last, more than they ever have. I cannot fathom how this myth that cars were once built with a durability that’s been sacrificed in the name of profits persists.

    Let’s start with the data. The big one, of course, is the median age of all light vehicles in this country: 11.4 years. Record high. 10.1 just five years ago, and 9.7 five years (of booming economy) before that. 1990? 6.5 years. 1969, the time of big V8s and heavy body on frame sedans? 5.1. Five years. Less than half of what it is now. That really should settle the argument, but wait, there’s more.

    Let’s talk about price. This one’s a bit harder to pin down, but the bottom line is that consumer price index – adjusted new car prices hardly ever budge. Up slightly in the seventies and eighties, it’s been steadily declining since the mid nineties. This, despite the fact that cars have been getting bigger, heavier, more powerful, and more feature-packed. More car for the same money, year in and year out.

    So what about your Benz? Well, clearly some engineering compromises were made. The engineers had to make some choices with every single one of all 10,000+ parts, balancing the price, durability, weight, and functionality. As it turns out, they didn’t get it right 100% of the time. The gas tank should have been more modular, the sunroof brackets should have had a different material or design. The optimization wasn’t quite ideal. But for the vast majority of the car, the optimization was stunning – better than any that’s come before.

    And every automaker is doing it. Sometimes there are deeper problems with a design, or those not-quite-right parts are more important to the operation of the vehicle, but the vast majority of cars sold will last a long time – longer than any older car.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Also worth noting is just how much cheaper Benzes have gotten – something like a W124 300E had an MSRP of $45,950 in 1990 (works out to roughly $80k today). After nearly 25 years, a base E-class starts at like $51k (even the W211 in question had a base price of $50k in 2006).

      • 0 avatar
        glwillia

        My W124 1994 E420 had an MSRP of $51,400. It hasn’t exactly been cheap to own, and it has its share of squeaks and rattles over bumps, but that could also be from all the times I’ve disassembled and reassembled the interior to replace various things… On the other hand, it still is more pleasant to drive than most newer cars I’ve ridden in, including W211s.

  • avatar
    George B

    For most reliable 2014 car I’d probably buy a 4 cylinder Toyota Camry. The engine and automatic transmission are old-tech carry over models from the previous generation where they were very reliable. No worries about intake valve deposits or expensive transmission replacement.

    For a reliable 2014 car with the best long-term resale value it’s hard to go wrong with Jack’s choice of a V6 manual transmission Honda Accord Coupe. The only major built-in maintenance expense is timing belt replacement. People spend money to keep coupes and pickup trucks running long after they abandon 4 door sedans to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My BF still owns a 1989 Camry V6 but his faith and trust in any Camry built in the US is non-existent. Several of our mutual friends have bought them from the local Toyota dealer, paid way too much for them and got lousy service from the dealer when they needed warranty work done.

      Since his wife’s daily driver is their 2012 Grand Cherokee Laredo, he is hard-pressed to buy a replacement for that ’89 Camry since his grand daughter is now using it, which leaves him only his 1992 S-10 truck, which is also getting long in the tooth. It’s OK for local travel but I wouldn’t want to take it out into the desert on a long trip.

      So far, he hasn’t seen anything he likes yet, and he has been looking. While Mercedes-Benz sedans are great, they’re not exactly trouble-free. And since the nearest dealer is 120 miles away that only complicates things.

      My suggestion was to buy an Accord V6 Automatic from the local dealer, and trade it for a new one before the warranty runs out.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Well, good to see that there are still many folk who attribute mythical qualities to Mercedes Benz. I know two such myself, otherwise sane and rational folk.

    As the Mercedes tech wrote, no you don’t have to replace the entire gas tank, nor the entire rear wiring loom. But one of the things Mercedes’ owners like is to be fleeced by the unscrupulous dealer so that they can boast about the sheer expense of the repair to the proletariat they cross paths with. It is these nitwits the dealers see coming a mile away, the customers who truly believe that “Let’s get this straight. A Mercedes is a high performance car.”

    You’re so right. Of course.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      That’s quite a perspective you have there, Ace.

    • 0 avatar
      NeinNeinNein

      As the Mercedes tech wrote, no you don’t have to replace the entire gas tank, nor the entire rear wiring loom. But one of the things Mercedes’ owners like is to be fleeced by the unscrupulous dealer so that they can boast about the sheer expense of the repair to the proletariat they cross paths with. It is these nitwits the dealers see coming a mile away, the customers who truly believe that “Let’s get this straight. A Mercedes is a high performance car.”

      <>

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    “Who is making cars today that are built to last”?

    This is a question that cannot be answered because the only way to answer for sure is with long-term reliability data on a car model. And by the time that data is relevant for the long term, that model is no longer being made.

    For example, I could wax poetic about my 1998 LS400, that car was definitely made to last and still does, 249K miles and still going strong with very few problems in my 12+ years of ownership. Owners brag on their solidity and reliability all the time in online forms. But so what. Lexus doesn’t make 1998 LS400s any more. The LS line is now on, what, its third generation since then? So my LS400 experience is completely irrelevant in the new car market.

    That said, if I had to take an educated guess based on current knowledge and medium term experience, your answer would be one that many here would not like: the Toyota Prius certainly looks like a car that’s shaping up to be a vehicle that lasts. These seem to be reliable over the long term, and the dreaded “worn out battery” issues just aren’t happening after the line has been on the road for, what, 10 years? Now, could you live with one for the long term? That’s a whole other question.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      From what I understand, Toyota’s programming takes careful consideration of battery-conditioning, and that’s probably why people aren’t seeing expensive replacement procedures after ten years and tens of thousands of miles. IIRC, the software won’t let the car deplete more than 70% of the battery capacity at any one time.

  • avatar
    Calico Jack

    I drive a 1983 Mercedes 300D as a daily driver, and do most of the work on it myself. (Steadily reversing thirty years of entropy!) Adjusted for inflation, it cost around what an E-Class would cost today. But it is a pretty simple car overall, not loaded with a billion features like they are now.

    I would suggest that simplicity and development time is what you were paying for with the earlier cars. Everything is well thought out, inside and out. Everything was tested thoroughly and designed with service in mind, and even the tiny parts were well built. It’s easy to design something complicated. Designing something very simple to do the same job is the mark of superior engineering. And it’s what a modern Mercedes is utterly lacking. Today’s fast-paced product cycle has probably done more than anything else to hold back automotive engineering.

    I love the w123s, but I’d never buy a modern Mercedes. Go get a Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      blowfish

      i stick with diesels of w123 , 126 , 116 & 115.
      they’re much simpler sans all the computer gizmos.
      I ran used vege oil, atf and small mix of used motor oil.
      have mixed up to 30+% of reg gas, it gave her some extra oomph too.
      As soon as the newer 86 yr came up is slowly going down hill.
      Go ask anyone who has a 350sdl?

      I did talked to a guy he loves his 350, i guess he never drove her hard enuf yet.

  • avatar
    suckbangblow

    As I found out when I purchased a 2003 Passat, german cars are a comprimise. I love how they handle drive and feel but your going to have to either pay for repairs or spend a lot of time working on it. I chose the latter and finally gave up on the car and sold it. In my opinion much of the problem with german cars are the quality of materials parts that go into them. In working on the passat(a rebadged audi) I found the engineering to be on point but executed with low quality materials. In the two years I had the car I replaced the waterpump (leaked at 70,000 miles), both axles (found out these had been replaced twice before by previos owner, valve cover gasket (leaking oil), cam seals in head(rotted out another oil leak), leaky sunroof, motor mounts(leaking hydraulic fluid), front motor mount (rubber rotted away it crumbled when i removed it) 2 heated seat switches, bad pcv valve, air conditiong leaked (never repaired this just kept adding freon), interior plastic was falling apart, needed ball joints and tie rods(never repaired this), and the final straw was a water leak at the thermostat housing (made of plastic!). When I sold it it had 95000. I now drive a chrysler product with 100,000 miles that has had no problems. Not at all saying its great but considering Chrysler’s reputation it really makes me never want to own another german car.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I think Lang laid this to rest with his average milage at trade metric. There’s the BOF Lexus SUV’s, and then there’s the other stuff. Not something I want to drive, but 300k miles is a big number.

  • avatar

    Somebody buy my ’03 CLK 500. We’re under.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    when a company running policy to shaft u to pony up 2 grand for a new plastic tank filler neck , does look good to the bean counter. As when the neck can only command for $30.
    So as one time i listened onto a not so happy merc owner as his mid 90s c body requires a door lock to the price of 6 bills including installation. It was a due to a micro switch one can buy at radio shack for $5 or less. Some how the micro switch is all one unit of the door lock. Its function is to send signal to the computer as once u have been driving for 200 yds the door lock mechanism will lock all doors. This sensor’s job is to feed back the cpu that all the hatches/locks are secured. Without the right signal the cpu will keep sending signal to the locking solenoid to repeat its action, is becoming a hammer sound or clicking, clicking sound, until u find the 5 bills is worth it.

    Gouging the 2nd, 3rd owner will only make the resale market less supportive. Most folks will stay away from all these gadgets and gauges.
    Recently i bought a 97 c230 the prev owner sold her for a song, reason is it shakes when idling and misfire when running. If it were older cars without cpu it will blow back smokes thats all. But these new engines can recognize it and shut down the fuel to that cylinder.
    I went to a couple of specialized merc guy, who has the real merc cpu interface. One said is the ignition coil, i was going to get one, the 2nd guy a friend says he has old coils around and he can try it before i pony up $100 for a new one. He checked and the coils turned out to be ok. Then he changed 1 plug to new, and the plug was dirty. The 2nd guy told me it looks like my injectors were bad, he was going to try a set of used ones in his possession, but he didnt have the right one.
    And he had to be away for 2 wks. I went home thought nothing to lose but buy 3 more new plugs. Voila it ran like a swiss clock again , no missing in high speed and no engine light comes on. The engine sense the over rich of unburnt gas so the cpu restrict the fuel there, and engine light comes on, plus the car shakes like a wet dog, almost as bad as my diesel.
    I can turn off engine to reset the cpu and the eng light goes off, but soon as I throttle a bit hard it will go into protection mode again.
    Sometimes all these cpu protection will become a victim of its own charm!

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Hard to avoid responding to this one. My first Benz was a ’92 S 430 which had 8,000 miles on it at purchase in ’93. The window sticker which I still have some where said something like $94,000, not adjusted for inflation. Before buying it, I sent an email to David E. Davis asking for his opinion. As close as I can remember he said something like “it’s the most over-engineered car in the world. If you can afford it, buy it.” It was a truly remarkable car that was trouble free for the time I owned it. The thing with Benz is that they lead. They were the first with anti-lock brakes, air bags and lots of other stuff. Got parking sensors on your car? The ’92 S had little chrome rods that popped up in reverse so you knew where the back of the car was! The problem with this, being first, is of course is that occasionally you (or the sub vender) get it wrong and it screws up. So when the wife got her Grand Cherokee, my S went for the first SLK. Waited 14 months for that one. It, too, was problem free. Then there was the much hated ML when they came out. I had an ML 430, somewhat of a hot rod SUV in its day. Then the wife got a new CLK 320. I fell in love and traded for a CLK 430 which had a window regulator fail under warranty! Horrors! Then, THEN, MB started selling the G500 in the US and both CLKs went I trade for one of those beauties. Drove it everywhere including coast to coast at 14 mpg. It turned heads wherever it went at the time, including Vegas, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Top of the Mark in SF, up Pikes Peak after a new snow… I was the only one that day that made it to the top. The Gwagen went for a new ’06 CLS500… The first one in my town in May ’05. After 8 years, it has needed tires and a front right strut at 30,000 miles. A true disappointment since it was out of warranty. Cost me about $500 (installed) for a rebuilt part with a lifetime guarantee. So I’ve had lots of experience with MB and don’t disagree with much that is said by others. They are flawed in some ways but they are SAFE and most generally reliable. Sure Hondas and Toyotas are reliable but so are most refrigerators. If you view your car as an appliance, a necessary evil, you shouldn’t be part of the conversation here. I’ve spent more on cars in the past 20 years than many spend on there houses (and my wife doesn’t let me forget it). Mazdas are just as reliable as the Camcords, but far more fun to drive (several Miatae, a 626, and a RX-8). Did have a Honda Civic del Sol VETEC for a year or so… Just dull. I drive hard and fast and Benzs are wonderful cars. Flawed? Yes. But make no mistake, people know and still the S Class outsells all Lexi models (and Jag, BMW 7s, et al). Now, only the Tesla puts the S Class at some risk in the US.

  • avatar
    sophocles

    when i found oil in the radiator of my w202 6-cylinder C class (1994), i made a service appointment with the dealer; drove there in the morning and picked up the car in the evening with a new head installed. since there was no advance notice, it is obvious that they had a head and gasket kit at my small-town dealer – and were able to replace it on a hot engine in one day. that car also suffered a jammed drivers seat control, defective rear wheel bearings, shoddy brake discs, a bum instrument panel and lots of other stuff. one of the worst cars we ever owned, altho it was sweet to drive. when i was able to drive it.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My ’04 Accent is right around 100k miles, about 60k of which my wife and I have done since she bought it 4 years ago. In that time, outside of consumables (I’m hard on the brakes), we’ve replaced the washer fluid pump and the coil (so, figure equivalent to one monthly payment on a new Accent). It’s an utterly miserable car, but I think it’ll keep lasting out of spite.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    If you’re looking for a manufacturer whose cars are all reliable, you’re asking the wrong question.

    In this day and age, no manufacturer builds enough pieces of their own cars to be reliable as a unit, I don’t think. Even the best companies can have bad models — for any marque that isn’t Lexus, the difference between models is probably going to be as much as the difference between marques.

    My logic would be as follows:

    1) Buy at the end of the run. Design problems tend to get fixed over time, suppliers get replaced, etc.
    2) Buy something simple. The fewer options it has, the simpler its design philosophy, the likelier it is to last.
    3) Buy something common. The more there are of a given model, the more likely its design problems are to be known — and the less it will cost to fix what inevitably does go wrong.

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