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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedans



  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Thanks for the comprehensive write up.

    I'm impressed that you can see through all the service headaches and still love the car.

    However, I could only justify spending $50-55k for a 2003 E320 4-matic Wagon if I knew it was going to be a solid performer with minimal repairs for at least 8-10 years and 150k miles. You have raised a lot of issues that I will need to explore further.

    It is interesting that one of our frineds traded her previous generation E-Wagon (not 4-matic) for a Volvo Cross Country when she moved to Michigan. She regrets it, since the Volvo has been in for more repairs in 18 months than her Mercedes was in 10 years. That's actually what got me thinking Mercedes wagon.

    Thanks again for the informative write up. It does help and I wish you the best.
  • bigrobnhbigrobnh Posts: 114
    my pleasure. Again, I think my story would be a different one if I had access to a competent service department. My 6 major visits could have been reduced to 2 or 3. If the dealer were 5 miles away it would be a different story too.

    The car is gorgeous, is great in the snow (just watched my neighbor take two passes to get up his driveway in his FWD Seville STS), is an unbelievebly comfortable highway cruiser and has all the space and features I could want. I just fantasize about MBUSA taking the franchise away from the folks in Manchester and dropping a new dealer in Nashua.

  • maui19maui19 Posts: 31
    I love my E320 4matic, but I am disheartened by the number of annoying problems I've had. I've had to get the headrest motors replaced, had to have the CD changer repaired, the radio has quit twice, the blower motor is whistling, and now one of the sterring wheel multifunction switches creaks every time I use it. I also get some kind of shuddering every once in a while on sharp left turns. This is more unscheduled maintenence than was needed on my Pathfinder and Accura combined.

    These annoyances are compounded by the fact that the car has to go into the shop at least twice to get any single problem repaired. Some of this is due to the ineptitude of the repair people, and some is due to the fact that the dealer never seems to have ANY part in stock. Getting repairs done is now more annoying than these problems, so I'm just living with most of these things.

    I now am sorry I got this car, and probably would not get a Mercedes again. There are too many great luxury cars out there to endure these kinds of shortcomings.

    BTW, I was pleased to received a customer satisfaction survey from MB asking about my service experience. I told them what I thought.
  • carnaughtcarnaught Posts: 1,569
    What year E320 4matic do you have and are you in Hawaii?
  • maui19maui19 Posts: 31
    I have a 2001 E320 4matic, and I live in NH rather than Hawaii (but Maui sounds pretty good right now!)
  • retnavretnav Posts: 25
    I am curious, does anyone or the host of this board know whether anyone from Mercedes reads these boards or attempts to assist any one with some of these problems? Last year I bought my wife a 2002 Subaru Outback. Reading the boards beforehand made me seriously consider not buying. Nevertheless, I went ahead. That vehicle so far has been outstanding; the one problem we did have--- windshield washer wouldn't work one muddy day eight months after purchase--- the dealer repaired on the spot when we drove in unannounced.
             Now , with my new E-320, so far I have had no problems, but the glove compartment catch doesn't work right. This dealer said he would have to order parts which does not concern me now. However, service informs me they work on appointment only, so presumably an unannounced arrival would not be dealt with dispatch.
              It seems to me Mercedes-Benz should not be happy to read some of these boards if they are, in fact, reading them. Or do you suppose their attitude is each owner has to deal with his/her own dealer as best he/she can---too bad so sad!! Could there be a Mercedes rep of some stripe who might weigh in here???
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Mercedes is having these problems for several reasons.

    For one, Mercedes' cars were always of the nuts and bolts variety, not all the electronic wizzardry thats in place now. Mercedes was one of the last companies to switch to totally electronic fuel injection because they didn't trust the reliability of such a system. Needless to say that somewhere during the mid-nineties this philosphy changed and they went buzzerk with electronics. Just look at the difference between a 1995 E320 and a 2003 E320. Mercedes traded their world-beating build quality for cheaper fittings here and there, and more investment in electronics. I saw an article in CAR magazine a few years ago that put this in to perspective. They were talking with several long-time Mercedes "experts" and when they were asked if Mercedes cost cutting extended down to the "guts" of the car, the experts replied "No, all the thing underneath are just about as robust as ever, but things you see, feel and use {electronics} are significantly cheaper than before.

    Mercedes' biggest problem with reliability is their choice of suppliers. Mercedes is either buying from cheaper suppliers or they're letting the suppliers dictate the quality. There is simply no excuse for the amount of CD players, Comand systems, window switches (a popular VW problem too), lightbulbs, sunroof/seat switches, etc, etc to be failing when on Japanese cars they last for nearly the life of the car. I might could understand the exotic stuff not working once in a while, things like ABC since it's the only system of it's kind currently in production. I'm honestly dreading the day I hear about SBC not working properly.

    The next problem is the sheer number of models Mercedes now has and the frequency in which new models are introduced. For 2003 alone there is a new E, CLK, facelifted S-Class, additional C-Class models and a new SL. All launched within 6 months of each other. Mercedes has never had so much product. Dealerships all over the country are expanding their service bays and showrooms. In 1993 you simply had the 190, 300-Class, S-Class and SL. Not a whole lot to keep track of. The dealers weren't ready for this rapid expantion, neither was Mercedes. It's going to take years to fix folks.

  • bigrobnhbigrobnh Posts: 114
    Hey Maui, I don't suppose the service department you're using is in Manchester NH, is it?

    Merc1, I agree with much of your argument. Decontenting/cost cutting has clearly been done. I bought a 97 Camry which got blasted in reviews/press due to the fact that it had been "decontented". You know what, that car was flawless. Decontenting doesn't necessarily need to impact the overall quality. Looking at the problems I'm experiencing, it is clear that my car suffers from pure cost cutting. Trim cracking due to cold. Headrest motors failing after less than 20 uses. Repeated failures of the same part. The G.D. vanity mirror cover came off in my hand when peeling off the airbag warning label (the plastic was weaker than the adhesive on the sticker!). It's very sad for a car that cost me 53K. The fact that I don't have the support of a compentent service department has me very very worried. I had hoped to keep this car 10 years, it will be gone after the first non-warranty issue happens.

    However, I will not attribute it to the sheer number of new models. That may make things worse but is not the cause. The W210 version that I drive was introduced, I believe, in 1995 as a MY1996. I purchased my 2001 in 2000. You would think that a company with the reputation of MB would have perfected their highest volume car after 5 or 6 model year runs, no?

    There is no excuse for the service I receive, even with the huge growth in sales (and corresponding service). If I can go out on Edmunds and see that there are issues with the Fan Speed regulator or steering wheel groan, don't you think the service reps have seen these too? If sales are growing, don't you think they see a lot of them? These are very basic operational issues.

  • monakhmonakh Posts: 16
    If it makes you feel any better, I feel no different than you after buying my E500 which cost me almost 70K with taxes.

    Honestly, I received as good or better service with Honda. And guess what, their service department was better!

    I think, things are deteriorating all round. One would think that with a stumbling economy, the luxury marques would shape up...Guess not. WE will likely have to elect them out of office!
  • maui19maui19 Posts: 31
    You guessed it! I don't want to name names, but it starts with an H and ends with olloway. One reason I got the 2002 rather than the 2003 is because it should be far more trouble free than a new design.

    Let's see, your headrest motors broke. Mine broke. You'd think they try to keep replacement parts in stock for something that breaks all the time.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    If it makes you feel any better, my neighbor who recently traded his E55 for a 2003 E500 had a "lock out" this morning. Couldn't get the car open at all, parked inside his garage. Drove to work in his "weekend only" Honda S2000.

    As someone who spent a little over $70k with taxes for an M5 last spring, I concur that one should be able to expect better. I also think the combination of price creep on the standard (non-AMG) E-class and poor reliability/service is appalling. We would like to consider the new E500 Wagon when it is released later this year. I will be interested in seeing how the Mercedes dealer resolves my neighbor's issues.

    It is a beautiful car; I only hope the beauty is not skin deep.
  • carnaughtcarnaught Posts: 1,569
    could have perhaps gotten his car open with a call to Telaid. Or, did this fail?
  • Anyone know the likelihood of the 2004 model having DVD Navigation and 3.7L engine? When will it be available in the US? Thanks in advance.
  • bigrobnhbigrobnh Posts: 114
    yup, I agree. They should be able to do a frequency of repair analysis and keep heavy hitting parts in stock. Computers are amazing things. Maybe not on the SL or the CL but the E class is their volume leader. The part that really suprises me is that this is basic stuff. Has nothing to do with huge growth of the MB brand. Basic customer service and support. Geez, I had my oven repaired. GE Repairman shows up, I list the symptoms. He says it's either X or Y and I have both parts in my van just in case. Fixes it in 20 minutes, first try. At MB in Manchester (I too, will name no names) they look at you like you're a moon rock or something when you explain your issue. Scarily, I know more about the operation and features of the car than the folks that service it.

    As much as I love the look of the 2003, I'd wait till at least the 5th model year. And I would ABSOLUTELY buy the extended warranty (something that I stupidly, didn't do).

  • retnavretnav Posts: 25
    Earlier I wondered if Any Mercedes reps might intercede and indicate whether they pay attention to some of the problems people are indicating on this board. No response from any of them, but bigrobnh tells us of his problems, but then indicates he wishes he had bought an extended warranty. I think that if I have major problems with my MB I would be more inclined to get rid of it than continue to keep it.
          Does this tell us MB is really a pretty good bet in spite of it problems? Could this be why no MB rep of any stripe weighs-in on any of these issues, or am I just missing something?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Why in the world would someone from MB 'weigh in' here and tell you other than what is true?

    Do you think that MB is suprised by any of this? They DESIGNED the cars and chose the suppliers. They have an older production methodology that cannot equal what is being done defect-wise at Lexus, Infiniti, Toyota, Acura, Honda, Buick.

    The same is true at BMW and it's even worse at VW and Audi. A friend has one of the new hump-back 740's. It's on Rev 5.1 of the car software. This rev fixed the problem of the driver headrest accelerating into the ceiling! Not bad for 75K. What a joke.

    Like Bigrobnh said, the real problem is that if you like these cars, you need a really good dealer to help you keep it working right and on the road.
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    FWIW, I see BMW NA reps sometimes posting and asking owners to contact them so that they may assist, but I have not heard how effetive their assistance was. I see them on
  • bigrobnhbigrobnh Posts: 114
    your post intimates that I'm just blowing smoke about my problems...I complain yet I happily drive my car.

    Unlike most people (apparently) that drive cars like this, I don't have money to throw away. The sooner I unload the car the worse hit I take due to the way the depreciation works. Unload it now, after two years, and I'll lose 15 - 20K. Just about every other car I've driven I've driven for 5 years. I planned on at least this long with my E Class. Based on the legendary longevity of MB cars, this seemed to be plenty do-able.

    Why didn't I purchase the extended warranty in the first place? I've owned 2 Toyotas(Corolla and Camry), a Mazda (626) and a Honda (CRX). With the exception of the Mazda, my new cars which I maintain carefully, have been nearly flawless. The thought never entered my mind.

    I'll repeat, though. Cars are mechanical and will encounter problems. In my case:
      - I'm dissapointed in the number of issues I've experienced.
      - I'm totally dissapointed with their ability to fix the car. My dealer visits could have been dramatically reduced had they fixed the car the first try.

    Thanks for your time.
  • retnavretnav Posts: 25
    No, No,No, bigrobnh, I cast no aspersions on you, my apologies if you took my comment that way. My point was that in spite of your difficulties your regret was that you did not purchase an extended warranty indicating that in spite of the difficulties you would want to keep the car even for an extended period. That would indicate that in spite of difficulties MB must be pretty good. At post 4781 you said you love this car. To Mercedes-Benz that has to be a recommendation. To them it must mean it's between you and the dealer and so we do not see an MB rep off any stripe comment or offer to assist as post 4798 reports he has seen on the BMW board and I have seen Subaru reps comment on the Subaru board. Subaru has a pretty good reputation for making things right. Thus, in the end, someone thinking about buying an MB, instead of being discouraged by your comment may decide to buy.
         Nevertheless, there have been a number of complaints about MB on this board and I am still curious that no MB rep comments. Regards
  • acco20acco20 Posts: 208
    Read the last 8 or 10 posts. They are rather typical of the way things have been going at MB for the past several years. With all of ladies and gentlemen opted to purchase these vehicles anyway. I am sure the lure of the three pointed star on the bonnet,was a factor. There is little doubt that MB is simply not what it used to be. I think it can be, and in fact may again be, king of the road some day in the future.For now I wish you all good luck in dealing with the problems, large and small. Please don't "shout" back at me...not looking for an argument,just stating what appears to be fact.
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