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The blizzaks, are, paradoxically, quieter than the F1's! I keep the tranny switch on "W" when the Blizzaks are on, since treadlife for winter tires is also less than all season jobbies.
After the comparison, I couldn't wait for the F1's to wear out, which they finally did. When this happened, I switched over to Bridgestone Potenza S-03's. Rain perfomance matches the F1's reasonably well, they are MUCH quieter, and cheaper, to boot. The tread design isn't as sexy, but who really cares? I've done all my tire purchasing for this car from www.tirerack.com and have had good service from them. Most local tire dealers do not stock tires appropriate for the E430 performance, and tirerack gets you tires much faster than special order from any of the normal local sources, I found.
I notice that Goodyear is advertising a new F1 design here in the states. In the photo, the "parabolic" grooves in the tread are much more "streamlined" on the U.S. versions than those that came on the car. Perhaps they're quieter, but who would want to bother doing the experiment!
On an entirely different subject, comparing the E-Class with the BMW 5-series: to me, at least, there really isn't a comparison. I'm a 6-footer and occasionally have more than two passengers of similar size. The 5-series is much smaller inside than the E-Class, to say nothing of the trunk, and the E-Class is designed for the 95th-percentile male adult. The 5-series seems much smaller than the E-Class, which may partially account for it's sporty aura. And, so far as I know, the AWD option is not available on the BMW. Thus, disqualified before considered, at least for me. Just another opinion for the discussion, of course.
Interesting impressions from your new E500. Is this your first E-Class or have you experience with an earlier version?
I've a 2000 E430 4-Matic and am certainly going to wait for that option (not available on 2003's yet) before I even think about an upgrade.
Interestingly, my son and I were at the Boston Auto Show last evening, compliments of M-B. We went to their hospitality suite, ate some 'dervs, watched their new E-Class ads on a big screen, and received a little gift bag that held, among other thing - - (drum roll) a plastic M-B HotMug (that is, a cup).
We spent the rest of the evening viewing cars and used the M-B cup as the "standard" for assessing cup holders. This was humorous and interesting. Most striking was that the E-Class cupholder wouldn't hold the cup that M-B was handing out to those special folks they invited to their hospitality suite! And that was just with one cup. If you try to put both of them in at once, fuggiddaboutit (or, bring a sponge). Such irony!! None of the German cars were much better. I guess Germany doesn't believe in using cups in their cars.
Other than that, we couldn't get too close to the E-Class since there were always 4 people sitting in it. It did draw some attention!
Speaking of ashtrays, most folks were trying to put their sunglasses in it. What sort of coin holder does the E-Class have? I made a liner for my front ashtray that will hold perhaps $10 in change 'cause I'm not a smoker, either. BTW, I don't recall paying road tolls in Germany, either, although I'm sure they have 'em. as well as parking meters.
One vexation with the radio in my car is its lack of FM sensitivity. The Nissan Maxima that M-B sometimes rents for me during service episodes has a radio perhaps twice as good as in my M-B. Multiple trips to M-B service have failed to address the problem. Any chance the new radio is better? Do you have a comparison for this? Dealer as much as said that M-B doesn't care much about it's radios - - perhaps because they can't figure out how to fix it.
You may find the HVAC system a little different if this is your first M-B. At least on mine, if you hit the front defrost button, the system immediately goes to full blower, full heat, clearing the windshield 'fer sure, but also mussing up your hair, melting your plastic eyeglasses frames, and leaving your feet cold. I think this should be labelled as a "fog panic" button. I finally figured out that the best way to get continuous, lower levels of defrost by going to manual operation, directing the air to the glass and your feet, and then adjusting the temp and blower to your taste.
When you were describing the windshield wipers, you did pluralize that word. Does that mean that there are now two blades instead of one? The single one doesn't do a very good job, Pep Boys and NAPA do not carry blades for it, and that's always been a weakspot in the design. Perhaps they have finally fixed this.
Enjoy your new car! - - and give us another report after 5-10k miles!
Removing the cluster is pretty easy. I believe I still have a short write-up somewhere. You essentially extend the steering wheel all the way out, remove the lower dashboard cover on the driver's side, reach behing the cluster and push the instrument cluster out. (The cluster doesn't use any fasteners. It's just a tight fit.)
I took the following picture and numbered the fasteners and connectors, but I still have to look up the detailed steps. (Sorry, I did that quite a while ago.) I promise to follow up shortly.
0. Extend the telescoping steering wheel all the way out and down. If you forget this step, you'll have a fun time removing the cluster.
1. As with any work on the electrical system, disconnect the battery. (Remember to have your radio security code handy.)
2. Take off the heating vent (#2 in my picture) by turning its plastic screw 90 degrees.
3. Unscrew the screw at the hood release (#3).
4. Unscrew the plastic screw at the very end of the lower dashboard cover (#4). (located near the accelator pedal)
5. You have three screws remaining on the underside of the lower dashboard cover. Two should be clearly visible and easily accessible. One, near the center console, is quite recessed. I used a 6' extension for my 1/4'' drive to get to it. (#5)
6. Now push the whole cover TOWARDS THE PEDALS. This should cause the plastic clasps at the center console and the dashboards to release.
7. You may now slip the cover out of the car, or just lower it onto the hood release. Either way, you can now reach through the opening and behind the instrument cluster.
8. Reach through the opening and behind the instrument cluster. You should be able to push it out. Make sure to push it out evenly and not angle it in any way. It's a tight fit, but there are no fasteners.
9. The instrument cluster is connected with two electrical connectors. (#1) They have grey clasps that rotate around the connector. This rotation can be used to release or set the connector without the risk of bending the pins.
10. Remove the instrument cluster from the car.
11. The light bulbs are easily accessible at the back for the cluster. The bulbs are available at your MB dealer.
12. Installation is the reverse of the removal.
13. Enter the radio security code after re-connecting the battery !Good Luck !
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