By on December 23, 2015

2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

I’m not entirely sure why, but most products from Mercedes-Benz have never appealed to me. Perhaps the buttoned-down, staid appearance of the cars and their owners didn’t match my own self-image? Anyhow, I recall walking through various car shows as a kid, completely ignoring gorgeous vintage Pagodas and Fintails to admire leaking British roadsters.

The lack of manual transmissions is likely a factor. Even the spectacular SLS, SLR and AMG GT are missing a third pedal, a turn-off for me. And the one Mercedes that really appeals to me, the 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth, is not a realistic family ride.

And it’s with this attitude toward the Tri-Star that I turned on Netflix for some inspiration from three English buffoons who loved the AMG sedans for the massive, tire shredding power.

Today I bring you another in our “Imagine Chris Doesn’t Have to Pay For Gas Or Tires” series of bonkers sports sedans. This 2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG looks subtle from the curb, and with some badge removal would look even more demure. Upon ignition, however, there is no mistaking the big supercharged V-8.

How is reliability on these newer Benzes? I know there were some serious electrical problems on cars in the ’80s and ’90s. Were those issues generally sorted by the new Millennium? I’ve read the air suspension can be very expensive to repair, but I’d have to imagine that real shocks and springs could be retrofitted.

I’ve done a bit of research, and I can’t find any compelling reason why this is a bad idea. I’m sure I’ll be set straight shortly in the comments.

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69 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well as he begs the question: “Are AMGs more reliable than their more common MB counterparts?” Does the handbuilt nature of the powertrain make it better?

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      I don’t think that any of MB’s cars are really struck down by the reliability of their engines and transmissions. The old 5-speed in the AMG’s isn’t really any better for reliability than the 7gtronic and all their engines, especially the naturally aspirated V8’s, are dead nuts reliable in general. MB and BMW do seem to build incredibly durable engines — I’ve seen lots of 80’s and 90’s V8 and V12 cars with over 250k kms with basically untouched drive-trains.

      The killer for AMG cars is the ABC suspension, but that’s only on the S and SL, IIRC. I’ve read about some problems with the air-water intercoolers in 55 series cars as well, but that can be fixed via the aftermarket.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Dunno much about this vintage, but the only Mercedes I would buy out of warranty would be the 91-94 500E (the Porsche built one.) A real Q-ship built like a tank. Would definitely buy if the transmission is solid and the tuners haven’t had their way with it. Plus a somewhat decent investment since only a small percentage of the production run made it to the US.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I remember liking these okay (I think they have some weird electronic brakes though).

    However, the M156 in the *63 AMGs is the actual naturally-aspirated V8 Hammer of God so that’s where my nonexistent Benz cash would go.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      While probably the most awesome engine ever put into a production sedan, the 156 is a bit more finicky than the 113.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Not that I’m in the market, but how much would a headbolt fix on a 156 run?

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          I don’t remember the exact price my old dealer charged, but it was quite expensive. The best thing to do is get one built in the second half of ’09 or newer, or just get a car with the supercharged 113 as mentioned in the article. Other than the things I mentioned below, you want face much more than basic maintenance.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The reliability on these is actually very good. There are no major issues with the engines. The 113 engine is pretty much indestructible even with the attached blower. The only real supercharger issue is the clutch, and that’s not that bad. Minor annoyances are leaking valve covers, waterpumps, crank sensors. The transmission is good, other than a conductor plate and data connector pilot bushing. The air suspension on these is better than most, but still can add up. Budget replacing all 4 struts, compressor, and valve block into any purchase. On these cars the modules that lasted this long are usually past the point of failure. The sensotronic brake control unit is about $1800 and has a service life. Make sure it’s been replaced already or budget accordingly. Almost everything except the SBC unit can be purchased for reasonable prices online. Just make sure you are buying parts from their original suppliers.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My cousin, a serial benz owner in the harsh climate of Siberia, vastly prefers the w210 cars for cheap running costs and relative lack of electronic modules and over engineered controls that hamper shade tree repair. He’s owned a w211 but it proved a bit much. He currently has a ’98 E320 (w210) with 500k km on it, much of it in Russia in the hands of something 7 previous owners. He says the suspension and brake components “look like they came off a locomotive” compared to the usual JDM iron over there, very sturdy and overbuilt. The 5spd autos are beyond durable, there are stories of people running them with leaks until all the ATF is gone and the box seemingly locks up. Tranny is topped up and you’re back in action as if nothing happened. Their true enemy is salt, w210s and w220s are one of the few German cars that rust really readily. I think this was corrected for the 211. He’s had some things go wrong on the 210 as expected, but the basic underpinnings are rock solid outside of body corrosion.

      When his son is being fussy before nap time, he takes him for a spin in the 210, despite the potholed roads his son is fast asleep within 5 minutes and he circles back home. That’s the stuff of ads right there!!

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I can definitely see a 210 being a better car for Siberia than a 211. They are simpler.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I do repairs for my girlfriend’s W210. I tease her about her “taxi”, but her car seems to be pretty sturdy. She got it as a $5000 Craigslist car with 100k miles. She’s put another 150k miles on it so far. The air conditioning has required major repair twice, but everything else that broke has been relatively inexpensive. The negatives about her E320 are 1) it’s not that much fun to drive and 2) some of the replacement parts take more effort to get than for a US-built car.

  • avatar
    That guy

    I think the key to any older performance car is to budget for repairs. These cars have some expensive systems with known failure rates. I would budget for the air suspension and brake modules on this car.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Over the years I’ve considered many MB, I really like the old fin tails. But even as an ex-Audi owner I’m shocked at the price they charge for parts.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Mercedes is usually cheaper on parts prices. Just be careful when buying parts. Some dealers gouge like crazy. 250% markup isn’t uncommon. There are plenty of dealers that sell online. Always double check these when approving any repairs. (That goes for any car, not just Mercedes)

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “I’m not entirely sure why, but most products from Mercedes-Benz have never appealed to me.”

    I am the same way. I’m sure this car would be fun, but I think it is limited by too much weight. It errs of the side of luxury, and that has (in my opinion) always been my issue with Mercedes.

    On a daily basis, I am reminded of my sterotype of a 50/60+ yr old Mercedes owner. Just never felt I was part of that demographic and the AMG badge never seens to matter.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t want to buy any German car this old.
    You LEASE GERMAN and you FINANCE Japanese. I’d trust Toyota or Lexus if I had the misfortune of having to buy a car this old, but not the Germans.

    V8 engines without forced induction are damn near bulletproof. You need only maintain them with fresh oil, change spark plugs/ coil packs and THAT’S IT.

    Inexpensive repair parts that can be done by typical mechanics without massive reprogrammings.

    As for one of these cars…there are so many parts prone to failure – you are basically buying a financial black hole and hoping enough of them have been wrecked to be able to get inexpensive parts if necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      What specific things are prone to failure other than what I mentioned above? These cars are actually pretty stout, and there’s not many things that go bad. SBC is expensive when the unit needs replacement, but that’s once every 7+ years depending on how it’s driven if the proper SBC brake flushes are performed every two years. Just be ready for the few things that will go wrong and these can be a very good answer to daily driver duty. (If you can tolerate the fuel economy)

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    In the spirit of Christmas…

    I wouldn’t touch that with a 39-1/2 foot long pole, nor any 10 year old Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      You’re a mean one, Mr. Hypnotoad. However, you’re right. All glory to the hypnotoad.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Yes, Chris should come here every day and just show us the same old Camry. Maybe to be really adventurous post a Honda Accord.

      But let’s assume there’s a minority of people out there who have the interest and can actually afford the fuel, tires and insurance of a supercharged V8 beast like this. Maybe they loved their Roush Mustang but family requirements drive them to a four-door sedan that seats five.

      What constructive suggestions do you have for people in the 450+ HP four door sedan market? Which engines are more reliable than the Mercedes M113 when boosted to 500 ft-lbs and more of torque?

      Perhaps you could provide a list of better, more dependable choices form your favorite brands?

      I’m thinking the Cadillac CTS-V is just maybe a cheaper alternative than this because it doesn’t have the SBC brake issues. What are your suggestions?

      • 0 avatar
        Chris Tonn

        “Yes, Chris should come here every day and just show us the same old Camry. Maybe to be really adventurous post a Honda Accord.”

        THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.

        Next week, forget the other hotrod sedans. Digestible Collectible: 1988 Nissan Stanza, Beige Edition.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I mean, I can choose to be afraid of owning a 10 year old AMG car with 88,000 miles and cheap tires that sold at a BHPH lot. That’s a reasonable thing. I still read every one of Chris’ Digestible Collectible articles. Just because I wouldn’t buy this car doesn’t mean that I dislike the article.

        Out of the last nine vehicles he’s posted in Digestible Collectible, I would like to own three or four; the 540i, Pulsar, 240Z, and the 318ti. I don’t know if I’d own those specific examples at those prices, but the exercise is fun.

        My constructive comment for those in the 450+ HP German sedan market is lease or be comfortable paying for expensive maintenance. Otherwise, go see the General.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’d probably just buy a new SS, Golf R, C450, or SRT8.

      • 0 avatar
        CarnotCycle

        “What constructive suggestions do you have for people in the 450+ HP four door sedan market? Which engines are more reliable than the Mercedes M113 when boosted to 500 ft-lbs and more of torque?”

        I recently acquired a 2008 E60 M5 with the S85 V10. Always wanted this ‘formula one family car,’ happened to look on eBay a couple months ago (actually tangentially due to BnB post I read) and was amazed how cheap they were.

        And then I really read up on the car. SMG trannies are annoying for most people to use and are mechanical time-bombs, rod-bearings wear out fast, VANOS valve-phasing gadgets can go, etc. Between those problems and the power one gets from a E60 535 with a JB tuner-box and voila – originally $100k M5 cars with low miles selling for ~$20k.

        In retrospect, trick to finding a good example of this category is to find example of good previous owner(s). The vehicle I acquired was owned by two people – the person who leased it, and a well-heeled exec who put highway miles on the vehicle and meticulously fixed anything and everything on the car, and had the resources to do so.

        There is not one thing malfunctioning on my new-to-me M5, the interior is factory-perfect, there isn’t even a chip on the paint. Zero error-codes, VANOS pumps sealed (not one hint of weep), no mods, has every option, and it has the relatively bullet-proof E39 M5’s manual instead of the techno dead-end money pit SMG. Only 630 were ever made with the manual in color of my car (black-on-black).

        First thing I’m doing with this car is of course fluid updates all around, and will take oil sample from original engine oil and send it off to Blackstone Labs for analysis. That report will tell me how much particulates, metal, etc. is in the oil, and that will tell me if I need to change rod bearings now or later. Do homework, know the car’s history behind the miles, be patient for good deal, and one can get an amazing automobile for the money shopping these hi-po German sedans – if that’s your thing of course :)

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin Jaeger

          The M5 is an awesome car and I’m jealous that you have an immaculate example. Enjoy.

          But I was hoping to be enlightened on which car is the choice for the discerning gentleman who wants dependable, affordable motoring in his supercharged V8 sedan, since this Merc is such an unreliable POS. I’m not sure the B&B had the M5 V10 in mind when they dis this car as an irresponsible choice.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Buy the previous owner. Just because I don’t like this particular vehicle doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take a stab at a depreciated German vehicle. I’d certainly have cash set aside for issues that would happen, and be okay with that. I don’t think you are ever going to get “affordable motoring” in a supercharged V8 sedan. You are either paying top dollar new, or accepting that you will have to pay when something goes wrong. There is nothing irresponsible about owning one. Just expect to pay one way or another.

            What you want is the 2nd gen CTS-V. 6.2L LSA engine. Tremec 6-speed. Unfortunately, they haven’t depreciated to this level yet. Most examples are in the upper $30K range or higher.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If you want an E55 AMG then go for it, you have our blessing. It is a cool car. I just like the E63 more.

            But who cares what we think anyway? I own Dodge Chargers and Northstar Cadillacs. I hardly buy on reputations of quality.

          • 0 avatar
            CarnotCycle

            “But I was hoping to be enlightened on which car is the choice for the discerning gentleman who wants dependable, affordable motoring in his supercharged V8 sedan, since this Merc is such an unreliable POS.”

            I figured you were just talking about 450+ HP sedans. Terms such as “supercharged V8” and “affordable” or “dependable” are somewhat mutually exclusive, especially in the category of used premium automobiles. Two out of three of those properties maybe, but not all three items are checkable in one ride.

            What are choices? Merc, Caddy, and Jaguar. That kind of says it all for the “dependability” I think.

          • 0 avatar
            Kevin Jaeger

            Yes, clearly there is nothing remotely economical in any vehicle with this level of performance.

            Probably the cheapest conceivable way of achieving it would be to throw a truckload of aftermarket performance parts at a Mercury Marauder.

            But then you’re driving a modified vehicle that can probably only be serviced at a highly specialized tuner shop. Those types of vehicles aren’t exactly known for reliability or dependability either.

            Every time Chris comes on here and posts about an interesting performance vehicle we hear the same old refrain about what a terrible idea it would be to own such a thing.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            The Mercedes isn’t an unreliable pos. Mercedes issues are walks in the park compared to bmw issues, especially on the M5 V10.

          • 0 avatar
            CarnotCycle

            M5 V10’s, indeed whole powertrain, have bad rap mostly from SMG transmission and oil-starved rod bearing failure from excessive hooning. A single clutch changing gears in 60ms is pushing technical margins, combine that with boy-racing with the paddles or the exceptionally dim computer equals whole powertrain getting routinely slammed – especially the VANOS phasers under the pressures they run at. There are also things like sensor resets etc. that nobody knows about or performs with that transmission either, but are supposed to after certain maintenance events such as new tires. An SMG properly maintained and operated is reliable mechanical video game of a transmission, but with a used car who knows?

            The 6MT improves situation considerably; it removes SMG slamming and any ‘launch control’ beat-the-car takeoffs are gone along with the launch control itself. It is just luck the SMGs have dragged prices of the manuals down with them, though a separation is already becoming apparent in the market as people catch on to this.

            It really comes down to same advice for anyone considering these kinds of vehicles, which is to understand car in question to understand good one when one comes across it, have good insight on previous owner/history, and at end of day be ready to wrench even if it wasn’t in the plan :)

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            “Excessive hooning”? It’s an M5; I would call that the expected use case. BMW doesn’t get to stuff a quasi F1 powertrain in a road car and then expect customers to baby it. Either design it to take the abuse or build in more safeguards. Failing that, accusations of poor reliability are completely fair.

          • 0 avatar
            CarnotCycle

            To drive a car like F1 car one must maintain it like F1 car if one expects it to continue working. This is true for Corollas, actual F1 cars, and every car in between.

            BMW has tried solving rod-bearing issue; S65 in E92 M3’s is basically S85 minus two cylinders and redesigned pump/pan setup. It did not fix problem, a lot of M3 guys deal with rod-bearing troubles. If one could criticize BMW about this, I would say it is not having dry-sump setup from the get-go in these engines given the assumed use-case. Perhaps they have a technical reason for that decision, the cynic in me says the dry-sump omission involves BMW being cheap knowing they’d be stuffing iterations of S-engines in SUV’s etc. But I don’t know specifically.

            Either way, previous owner behavior is critical to evaluating any used car, but especially weird complex cars like AMG’s or M’s.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “To drive a car like F1 car one must maintain it like F1 car if one expects it to continue working.”

            Would that be a full engine and drivetrain replacement every 20 hours like a Mercedes F1, or every 2 hours like a Honda F1?!

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Not that I’m against this E55, but if owning it seems intimidating, a 300C SRT-8 might be a reasonable alternative? I mean, not to suggest Camry reliability, but I don’t think they’re excessively problematic, and don’t have as many expensive, unobtainium parts. Of course, you’re getting a (nasty) DaimlerChrysler-era interior, and not quite the same bank vault interior, but it’s not an unreasonable tradeoff. Oh, “only” 425hp as well, but the aftermarket can resolve that easily enough.

  • avatar
    JD23

    “I know there were some serious electrical problems on cars in the ’80s and ’90s. Were those issues generally sorted by the new Millennium?”

    Wasn’t the period from the late 90s – mid 00s the nadir of MB reliability, not the 80s?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The wiring harnesses in the early-mid ’90s cars tend to disintegrate with age. That was the first salvo in the long, hopeless war between German engineering and the electron.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Once the 112/113 engines came out, most of the issues were resolved. The biodegradable wiring was early to mid 90s as has been pointed out. The 220 S class gets ragged on for reliability, but that is the price you pay for complexity of debuting new technologies.

  • avatar
    JD23

    I just realized that I pass the used car lot selling this car every morning on the way to work. Maybe I should make a quick detour one day for shits and giggles.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    Your two best days with this car will be the day you pick it up and the day you sell it to another optimist. The time between those two days will be determined by your finances.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    Read up on the MB forums and find out the common failure points – At this point anything that was defective should have broken already, so any future repairs you should be able to anticipate.

    Yes, the parts and labor is more expensive, but a lot of the things you should be able to DIY (otherwise stay away from any car 10+ years old or older, regardless of brand, as labor costs will kill you).

    I don’t see any issue with getting this, as long as you are well informed and aware of what repairs / running costs you might be facing.

    Most of the European cars get a bad rap from owner #3, 4, 5 that bought a car needing 2 years of deferred maintenance cheap, then complains about it needing $5,000 to catch up on everything.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Very well put.

    • 0 avatar
      ridwan

      ^This.

      And that the general “lifetime” of each of the systems mentioned above — SBC brake module, front airstruts, rear airshocks, are about 100k miles and each cost aboout 1500 to replace (per pair for the supension, +-$300)
      Oh, and there’s transmission fuid that should be changed every 40k miles else problems.

      I’ve been driving an E500 wagon for the last 75k miles (in 2 years) and it’s been worth every dime of fixing the air suspension and sbc. About another 1-2k of repairs have added up over time, but all for things I thought were reasonable (engine mount, pads, etc). I’ve never driven anything else that is so wonderfully calm for a long road-trip but will liven up so nicely when you put your food down.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        A family friend bought an ’06 E500 from its original owner, and also loved the drive. It’s definitely a nice ride, but his running costs and the amount of things that went wrong were ridiculous. He was very disheartened when it was finally essentially scrapped for like $500 after he somehow shorted out a transmission module and the thing became undriveable, with no one being able to figure out how to fix it. Even before that, a bunch of stupid, expensive things went wrong with it. I remember he mentioned that the front airstruts were quoted at around $900 apiece.

        To be fair, he’s a shadetree DIYer, and some of his methods, including buying the cheapest jobber parts he can find, are a little suspect. Even so, it’s worth accepting that your running costs aren’t going to be that of a Camry before deciding to get into something like this.

        • 0 avatar
          Rick T.

          The transmission module likely went out due to the cooling system leaking into and contaminating it. This is about the only known issue that did not happen with my 03 E500. Knock on wood.

          It’s left me stranded TWICE last week – once with a failed fuel pump and the second with a front air strut blown out along with a failed compressor. Within the last year it’s been the back struts (2nd time), battery module, mass air flow module, SBC pump (2nd time), and motor mounts (2nd time). Just when you think you have it sorted for another 50,000 it’s another $2-$3k.

          Edit: Forgot about the headlight lamp and ballast as well as a few front suspension bits. Both were under $1k so they almost slipped my mind.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            It’s not the cooling system. It’s transmission fluid wicking up the harness because the data plug bushing has been leaking for 5 years and ignored. Even if fluid gets in the module, they appear to be resilient. On my wagon, I poured the fluid out, cleaned up the circuit board with brake clean and contact cleaner, and replaced the bushing. About $12 in parts and you are on your way. The biggest danger to these cars is people working on them that don’t know what they’re doing. That doesn’t exclude dealer techs unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        A 211 wagon like yours will likely replace my 210 wagon. Fantastic car.

  • avatar

    The front suspension has a ton of ball joints that wear out faster than you would anticipate. The airmatic suspension especially the rear shocks is another weak area and not cheap to replace.

    SBC brakes in Canada there is now a 15 year warranty on the pump which simply lets go with a huge red light in the dash. Ideally SBC brakes need to be deactivated with the DAS prior to doing a brake job. If the car has been in a corrosive climate there is the possibility that a brake line will start leaking.

    The rear ABS sensors are on the axles, if they become defective need to replace the axle not cheap, or go around without ABS, Traction, Stability, cruise control until you find a used axle.

    Crank sensor will hopefully strand you in a parking lot and not an intersection. The serpentine belt tensioner might also let go when you least expect it.

    If the suspension starts squatting down usually in the rear it will cost you an air pump as the first variable to solve the problem. The air suspension act up more in cold weather.

    If you run the engine hard and the aftercooler gets too hot, the engine will shut down. If you put a Renntech ECU it will make an appreciable difference.

    Usually the individual that can afford the purchase price, is challenged to maintain the car to factory specs. With such a car having a friendly mechanic and another car is essential.

    Wonderful driving car…

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Many things wrong or exaggerated in that statement. There are three ball points per side in the front. The thrust arm ball joint is part of the arm, the upper control arm ball joint is serviceable on the updated arm, so you might need to replace the arm the first time. The lower control arm ball joint is serviceable from the factory. That’s two more ball joints in the front than a Accord. Not really anything crazy.

      The sensor reluctor wheels are part of the axle. They only fail from improper care when they need to be removed from hub. The sensor is normal and can be easily replaced.

      You can get the updated Hella crank sensor on rockauto for $40.

      The brake lines are very corrosion resistant. It’s still possible, but your chance of them rusting through is about the lowest of any car.

      Air suspension is what it is. The 211 system is better than other cars, but eventually things will fail. The original Wabco compressor is about $300 on partsgeek. Make sure you replace the relay at the same time and inspect the connector. The factory front Bilstein struts go for about $500 each, and a little less for the rear springs.

      • 0 avatar

        When the ball joints are not engineered to last, you start over when the clunking sounds start again. Absolutely not a stout front suspension.

        Fail from improper care around a rear axle, please explain how you care for that ring on the rear axle.

        Crank sensors are not a big deal until it decides to strand you at an intersection on a Sunday morning. The flat bed is more than the sensor, the inconvenience is priceless.

        In Canada there is additional corrosion, suddenly you see a leak in front of a rear wheel, its a brake line leaking.

        With age the air suspension require increased maintenance due to wear the parts are not so cheap, and it cascades from one item to another, and another.

        In the rear there is the air spring, the shock, and the expansion tanks which have a tendency of corroding they are quite low and the hose fittings are the first to go. Its interesting when at minus 25 centigrade the car squats down on the suspension stops and refuses to come up.

        The story line on an E500 http://www.thestrada.net/project-200k/

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The life of the ball joints is on par with the better ones out there. Sure there are 6 vs. The 2 on a McPherson strut car, but the life is decent.

          The expansion tanks are part of the spring assemblies, and eliminated on the updated parts, so listing those seperately is exactly fair.

          The reflector wheel only gets damaged if you are removing the axle from the hub, and hit it against the knuckle. Being careful, this will be avoided, and no new axle is required. It doesn’t just bust off on its own. Although not particularly difficult to work on, competence during service is very much required.

          The car squats down when it goes cold because the air pressure in the struts goes down with the temperature swing. If it has an issue with the compressor, it won’t compensate. In an environment like yours, or in Michigan where I spent most of my carrier repairing vehicles, any car will have wear and tear on the suspension.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And the trick is, replaced the parts that can strand you BEFORE they strand you. If a crank sensor is less than a tow, replace it preemptively. It is not hard to get an idea of the lifespan of these parts in the Internet era. Same with the air suspension parts. If they typically last 100K, and you have somewhere near 100K on the car, replace it all if you expect the car to be reliable. Why is this so complicated for people?

            I have a 15yo Range Rover with air suspension that works absolutely perfectly, because it has been maintained properly. ALL the O-rings have been replaced, along with the air bags, before they failed and left the truck banging along on the bump stops. And wear out the $$$ compressor in the process as the poor thing runs overtime compensating for the leaks.

            One of the few bits that will commonly strand my ’11 e91 328i is the electric water pump. They typically last 80K-120K. When my car hits 80K, it’s getting a new pump, and a thermostat while I am in there.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Agreed krhodes1. I put a new crank sensor in my wagon when I was resealing the the valve covers. It’s one screw and an electrical connector and it’s out of the car. The upgraded Hella part is $40 on Rockauto as I have said, and they don’t seem to have the same issues the original Bosch units did.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    If you’re going to spend real money on an out of warranty Mercedes, skip this and buy yourself an ’07 C216 CL550 for $25K. I’ve never liked this generation E. It was an improvement over its hideous looking immediate predecessor (in some areas) but it’s SO BLAND and it looks so outdated. The interior is incredibly dated, and the electronics are stone age.

    The last CL doesn’t look dated at all. They barely changed the looks when it was refreshed, and only M-B enthusiasts will know that it’s not a new, current gen S-class coupe. The COMAND system in the C216 is still no match for what you can get in a new Hyundai Elantra, but at least it’s not embarrassing.

    If you’ve just got to have a lot of power in a midsized German four door, I think a V10 C6 gen Audi S6 is a better choice.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      That’s hilarious. The CL is for the Mercedes S class customer who wants S class size on the outside, Civic coupe space on the inside, and V12 Jaguar reliability. Everything coupe specific seems to constantly be failing. Terrible cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Waftable Torque

        Funny, I looked up Transport Canada’s stats on the CL, and it’s classified in the same Compact size class as a Mazda2 and Fiesta. At least the Continental GT keeps it company.

        Autotrader Canada lists a pristine 2006 CL600 V12 with 107,000km for only $18k Cdn. My dream car from 10 years ago, but I’d be a fool to own one today.

        http://www.autotrader.ca/a/Mercedes-Benz/CL-Class/Mississauga/Ontario/5_24686340_ON20080116103533937/?showcpo=ShowCPO&orup=12_15_52

    • 0 avatar
      CarnotCycle

      “If you’re going to spend real money on an out of warranty Mercedes, skip this and buy yourself an ’07 C216 CL550 for $25K.”

      One can find those much cheaper than $25k. I do like their look, but for their multiple problems and costs they are a little too pedestrian. If one is going to buy a maintenance problem, at least make it a cool maintenance problem. One can actually step up to a CLS63 for $25k, if that is way one wants to go with this body style.

      “If you’ve just got to have a lot of power in a midsized German four door, I think a V10 C6 gen Audi S6 is a better choice.”

      Those vehicles have significant motor-loss failure modes from timing chain problems; a true time-bomb.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Good news: that E55 and all the other W211s in the USA are “three pedal” cars already!
    Bad news: what you want is actually a “four pedal” car.

    I found the parking brake in my four-pedal 1987 300E to be great. Foot comes off the clutch and then stomps on the parking break in a single stroke at the end of a trip. The brake release is via hand, which doesn’t let you modulate the release but at least is very easy to use (even when the brake is clamped hard) and works well enough when starting up going up a steep San Francisco hill.

    The W201s have hand operated parking brake, so you would be choosing between 2- and 3-pedal designs with the Cosworth. Yeah… it’s hard to believe there is an automatic version of the 2.3-16. So sad. Most people shopping for a 2.3-16 wind up with the original M3, which isn’t nearly as high-tech.

    If I were Mercedes-shopping (particularly the person above dreaming of a 500E), I’d get a 1992-1995 400E/E420 and retrofit an additional pedal. You can get the pedal, shifter, and various connecting pieces. Replace the over-sized American brake pedal with proper brake pedal. The only catch would be finding a transmission and clutch that fits the space and can handle the 295 pound-feet of torque that 400E can dish out. Oh… I guess I’d have to flee California regulation too.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I did some reading about these cars not too long ago and couldn’t find any reliability show stoppers. It obviously won’t be cheap to run, but no major weak points compared to things like carbon buildup/vanos on the E39 M5 or timing chains and scored cylinder walls on B6 S4s. Even the much more pedestrian BMW 540i recently featured in this series might have scarier servicing costs.

    If that were in my area I would probably check it out. Unfortunately, my local craigslist can’t find any of these cars at any price.

    The E63 with M156 sounds like an overall better driving and steering car, but I can’t get my head wrapped around $2k in brake rotors every 30k miles. E55 has more reasonable maintenance costs there.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Good cars, those W211’s. I’d buy one any day.
    One thing to watch out, is the rear light control module (SAM) – that’s a finicky little bastard, can go bad on its own, and unless you find one with the same HW/SW version as the one already in the car, it is a giant pain in the ass to replace/recode.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      It’s not the hardware software level, but the coding. Many things have to be set correctly. You would have to find one out of an identical car to code it correctly. If you have a good Mercedes specialist it shouldn’t cost you more than an two hours to have it swapped out. Luckily, in the case of these older car, they don’t really fail anymore unless there is some outside influence like poor collision work causing a water leak.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    I had a 2003 for a few days when it was new. What a wonderful car. Super Luxury, very powerful, epic brakes. This is one of the automotive peaks of all time. One of the real good ones. It was very expensive new, but the price today is dirt cheap to my mind. I think this can only be because the people who have owned them from new are very wealthy and shrug with an exasperated sigh. To them it is an old car. The people who see them listed and are pussyfooting, just have no idea how good they are. I was offered one this past spring and I dillydallied and it was sold out under my nose for virtually nothing. I am still grieving.

  • avatar
    salguod

    You could save $9K and step up to an S55:

    http://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/5363690618.html

    4 years older and 26K more miles, but you’re way ahead saving for repairs to the already squatting air suspension.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Without getting into too much boring personal stuff, I will say that the owner later bought the V10 M5, but really that was a next generation car that is currently twice the price. For the “last of the V8 interceptors” E55, pay no more than $24. From memory, (as I’m sure you know) the E55/SL55 were some of the last hand built AMG engines from the independent tuner – before it was bought out and corporatized by Mercedes. The numbers don’t show it, but this car has significantly more upper speed thump than the turbo 550. That car needs two more gears to barely hang with it- look at the top gear acceleration numbers. Consider that while a McLaren P1 supercar is doing 180 mph after 16 seconds, the E55 is doing 130 mph, and that is saying something!

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