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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Maintenance and Repair



  • "It's my opinion /guessimate/ hunch that maybe 75% of the difference between Lexus's reliability record and Benz's is because of the dealers bobbling the service and repairs"

    This might possibly account for some of the difference between Lexus and MB. However, Toyota also has very high marks for reliability from CR, yet CR ranks Toyota dealerships well below average. So Toyota's high marks in reliability cannot be explained by superior dealer service.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Yes, but while all Lexus dealers are Toyota dealers not all Toyota dealers are Lexus dealers. If CR culled out and polled only Lexus dealer surveys, I suspect the results would be much much higher. I have to say that my friend gets excellent service at her Lexus dealer, much better than I ever got at my local Benz dealer. However, my Benz parts department is excellent, I give them high marks.

    sorry, r1_97, I mis-typed. What I mean was "I could see people giving up some reliability to own a Mercedes rather than a Lexus because the MBs drive so much more accurately IMO".


  • My own experience with Mercedes parts departments has also been extremely positive. Most recently, the parts tech went out of his way to find an equivalent to a part that I had actually requested, which saved me about %50 of the cost.

    Last night, I got a good dose or road grime and brake dust into my mouth while removing my E's splash guard. Does that qualify as an 'Mercedes E-Class Repair Problem ?'
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Yes, you could have swallowed it and gotten sick. Mercedes should be held responsible and should have a "do not drink" label on all their brake pads.

    Mercedes parts network is awesome. They stock just about everything for my 1980 Benz, at least everything I've ever asked for, including sockets to hold the instrument cluster bulbs and the right front door automatic door lock actuating rod. I am very impressed with stuff like that.


  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    We've owned, and are current owners of both MB and Lexus. Various models and years of service. .... which car would I rather drive...hands down MB. Which car would I rather service.....hands down any Toyota product, in any price range.

    There is no question in my mind, MB is built to a higher standard of fit and finish and is a superior driving experience and probably overall a safer car. But MB drivers are being asked to be satisfied with the same level of parts and systems reliability as the 1980s while Toyota has continued to increase reliability to the point that they are now the bechmark for the industry.

    Why should an MB driver be content with failure of such non-hitech parts as shocks and struts or radiators or head gaskets, or be plagued by electrical gremins and systems failures in a $50K + automobile in the first 5 years of service when someone driving around in a $12K Toyota Corrola or a $50+ Lexus will have nothing but routine maintanence and wear out part replacement for the first 125k miles of service?

    It's not just an MB problem and perception. There are many other car companies that have not figured out how to design and buy parts and systems that are as reliable as their Japanese counterparts. And I don't think that I am alone when I say that people should expect the same level of reliablility from their new E320 then their Toyota Corrola.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, your point is well argued but I still feel people apply a higher standard to Mercedes than they do to a Corolla. I see this time and time again, and it is a most interesting phenomenon.

    The Toyota owner will insist their car is "great" and yet when I get in it and drive it I find many little things wrong or I hear or smell or see some potential problems. But they, driving as they do with no great expectations in either the performance or prestige department, simply ignore the little defects.

    The Benz owner, however, ESPECIALLY the first time owner, is over that car with a magnifying glass and an acoustic stethoscope.

    My sweetie's 98 Lexus 400 has a very annoying thump in the right front suspension, the tires wear out too fast and the seat heater couldn't warm a mouse on a beach in Hawaii.

    Does she complain? Never. The car is "perfect".

    You know, the Benz is like the smartest kid in your high school.The day he/she slips and falls into a mud puddle, everyone laughs.

    a) Another way that Benz is unfairly judged is in longterm durability and build quality. A Benz absolutely kills, demolishes a Lexus in fit and finish over the long haul. But how many people hold onto a car more than a 5-8 years anymore?

    As for why Benz owners must endure little glitches in basic components, well, that's a Benz. It's the same reason why people endure the eccentricities of Ferraris and Lotus.

    You wanna marry the librarian or the flemenco dancer? You want an SC430 or an SL500? They aren't the same, and to get the more exciting and interesting car you are going to probably have to trade off some reliability. You can't buy an SL500 from anybody else, so take it or leave it.


  • "But how many people hold onto a car more than a 5-8 years anymore?"

    "SC430 or an SL500"

    Not that I'm a particular fan of the SC430, but at that price difference, the MB should be "the flamenco dancer".

    I'm further wondering how much of MB's long-term reliability may be due to its design. MB boasts with a statistic of how many old MB's are still on the road. I may be biased, but old MB's have a certain classy look, while most older Lexi look like just that, old Lexi.
    I'd rather spend my money restoring/maintaining a good looking or enjoyable car.
  • irvnirvn Posts: 11
    I have enjoyed this discussion. . . I have owned four Toyota cars, two BMW's, and one MB (E430) and I have had more electrical problems and failed sensors in the first 5000 miles than with the Toyota or BMW products. I cannot say if I just received a bad E430, but I have noticed the same type of problems described in this Town Hall.

    I understand that parts wear out and I expect to maintain the car, but I am not sure if my E430 experience is normal; replacing two parts for the COMAND system in the first six months; replacing the CD changer in two years which caused the COMAND system to fail. I may not keep the car past 5 years, but that decision should be based on a desire to upgrade, not reliability. . .

  • Read back over the Lexus/MB related forums and count:
    1. How many posts from former MB owners who tired of repair costs and trips to the dealership, switched to Lexus and are glad they did.

    2. Vice versa

    Anyone who thinks there is a "slight" difference in reliability between MB and Lexus is fooling himself. Any source of reliability data will bear this out. To quote just one - the 2003 Consumer Reports car issue states that they cannot recommend any MB model because of reliability problems while giving highest reliability marks to Lexus.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    What reliability problems specifically? What components failing in massive numbers?

    In fact, CR doesn't even know. They just count dots, they don't weigh them. A burned out bulb is "an electrical defect" and a bad plug wire is an "engine problem". Whoever has the least black dots wins. This is pretty gross statistical analysis, at least by the time it gets into the magazine By "gross" I mean their "filter" has very large holes. It can spot very very bad cars but it cannot differentiate between a light bulb and a burned out alternator.

    Gentleman who just posted is a case in point. Annoying problems, totally justifiable complaint, but it's with his CD player and a fussy telemetrics program. His car is not falling apart, bursting into flames, or even sludging up its engine like a Lexus seems prone to do now and then.

    As for what you read on these boards, that is anecdotal, and if you added up all the "bad" comments about Benz, you'd find about 80% of them posted by 3-4 people, of which 100% do not even own a Benz. Proceed at your own risk.

    So while often amusing, intelligently crafted and interesting, I don't think Town Hall posts should be used to pass judgment on an entire automobile company.

    if we did that, Lexus would be in the dirt given the calamaties posted about them in Town Hall.


  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    after I was asked to post general opinions on cars I see, including the E-Class.

    I'll be glad to get specific on this series or any other vehicle, and I don't usually count burnt out light bulbs as a "serious electrical problem" unless there have been 25 of them in 4 months at one end of the car, indicating a heck of a lot more than a bad batch of light bulbs.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Even so it's still a light bulb, was my point.

    If Porsche or Ferrari or Mercedes Benz buyers had been faithfully following CR for the last 40 years, there would be no Ferrari or Benz or Porsche obviously. These cars NEVER, EVER, scored tops in reliability. They didn't "fall" because they were never up there. Try and chew on that idea for a minute, it's really a key to understanding what these cars are and are not.

    I personally, speaking for myself only, would endure one light bulb burning out each day in my new Benz or Ferrari or Porsche than have to face driving some other cars all my life.

    If the price of reliability is driving a Lexus, give me a busted CD, dark interior and dead nav system. (just dont' charge me for it--LOL!)


  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    Then again, it's 5 minutes to midnight, I've been doing lemon law case reports all day, and at this point, I'm very easy to confuse.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    That'll do it.

    I guess what I'm driving at here is that Mercedes has been burdened with this mythological reputation that has never had a basis in fact, and is held to a standard of reliability equal to the standard of truth to which we hold Abe Lincoln or George Washington. it is simply impossible to maintain, as it never existed in the first place.

    What I'm also driving at is that the Japanese have maintained a higher state of reliability by not taking chances and not innovating. Their engineering is derivative (in a good way) and conservative. Honda V-tech is just Alfa Romeo's, but 15 years later and much much better. Someday you'll see Mercedes 500SL features on an SC430, once all the bugs are worked out.

    Every new Lexus is about a 5 year old Mercedes with softer springs and a gold package.


  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    Did you see the engine sludge (Mercedes) topic?

    Doesn't make sense. Not to sound inclusive, but I work for the lawfirm that initiated both the Kia Sephia and Mitsubishi Galant class action suits - if there was a Mercedes case, we'd be on it, I would think.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Shifty, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that a Lexus or any other car is superior to MB or any other. Each car has it's plusses and minuses. Any by and large, once someone plunks down their money, they are convinced that car THEY are buying is the best. For whatever reasons they chose. It makes the world go round.

    And I agree that to a large extent, the reason Toyota and such are the way they are is because of what you called derivative engineering. I just wish that MB had done some derivative engineering on such mundane things as the head gasket, water pump, radiator, shocks, struts and AC system on my last E-class car. After replacing all of those componenets in less than 3 years I finally threw my hands in the air and sold it to some other poor soul.......... Does every system need to be redesigned every 5 years? Can't we settle for boring dependability on head gaskets and radiators? Would doing this detract from true inovation?

    But I still miss that car. It was as solid the day I sold it with 70K miles as it was the day it was driven off the showroom floor. At speeds in excess of 80 mph it just hugged the road, stable as anything I've ever driven. If it wasn't for the constant parts failure and cost of repairs, I would have hung on to that car forever.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, it's too bad you had such a disappointing experience, and I'm sure others have at times as well.

    I have to agree there is a kind of stubborness at Benz when it comes to how/when to design or redesign things. I suspect (and I am purely speculating here) that the German national pride is very much tied to their technical prowess, and has been ever since the 1880s, when Germany was easily the technological leader of the world by a long, long shot.

    Nobody is going to tell them how to make something, and by god, they'll drive that car right off a cliff rather than admit that the brakes are badly designed.

    I remember once suggesting a change in design for one model of Benz and I about got my head bitten off.

    Having said that, once they DO decide to change something, man, they go at it with the same gusto that they once defended the old system with.

    Most people think of Benz as a very sober, conservative company, but I find them rather eccentric in car design. Kind of like mad scientists. Brilliant, but you gotta watch 'em.


  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    All that having been said, I find myself looking though the classifieds every Sunday, checking the prices of slighlty used E-class cars. I realy love the current and the 96-2001 body styles.

    The E in question was the worst of the 3 benz we have owned so far. I'm hoping that it was just a bad one and our next one will be better. But it will be a couple of years before my next car. I've only got 30K on my Lexus.
  • It's not really that much an issue national pride, but a mode of operation. (combined with the inherent German stubborness)
    German companies like to follow a cycle of analysis, decision making and execution. How do you dare to change anything inbetween ?
  • One thing that always seemed different about Benz vs. similar makes. My parents always drove Benz cars, and so far I've driven other Germans (BMW, Audi, VW). In the Benz cars, there were alwaus a LOT more self-diagnostic systems than I have seen in my cars. I'm not aware of any display that pops up if one of the light bulbs goes out on my BMW, for example. But on the MB, as soon as one little bulb anywhere in the cars goes out, it flashes a warning like its the end of the world.

    It also seems like the MB models are trying to reach a lot further with technology, which will always lead to more trouble. My BMW puts the seat controls right on the seat - short wires from the buttons to the motors. Most MB put the seat controls in the door. Much better location for accessibility, but it requires them to route cables longer, through a flexible conduit, etc. MB connects their dash displays to the radio and phone system and uses optical networks to shovel data around, my previous cars don't bother with that. And the current MB key system seems at least two steps beyond anything I've seen for any other manufacturer.

    So it seems to me, at least part of the lower reported reliability for an MB might be a combination of better self-diagnostics, and a tendency to over-reach on the technology side.
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