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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedans



  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    That was, I suppose, the core point behind my thoughts - these cars behave differently [a positive difference] than the competition, and that makes them seem worth the hassle.

    I should also mention that one of the reasons we focused on a really basic C240 [though in our market one can't duplicate the simplicity of the Classic available in Canada] is that it avoids a lot of the electronic doo-dads that have been at the heart of the failures - no memory seats/steering wheels, no COMAND, no electronic climate control [I would have done without the sunroof if I could have] - all of which have been implicated in the "recent unpleasantness". This still leaves one vulnerable to the fuel sending unit problems [this is shared across all German makes - they all use the same supplier], the engine software, the purge valve name a few that I know of. Again, solutions to all of these are in the hands of dealers now.

    Let us know what you decide.

    John R.
  • paul_ppaul_p Posts: 271
    John and John,

    Thank you both for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Although my car is a W202, I enjoyed reading your posts, and now have a better perspective on the recent C-Class electronic issues.

    Mbnut1, I fully agree - even an auto wholesaler would not turn down a deal like that! Guess it all depends on whether or not you are willing to live with the potential repair issues.

    So far the only major issue with my '00 C230 has been the battery - the original replaced last November, and that one replaced last month. The dealer suggested I use a trickle charger when I don't run the car for extended periods in the winter.

    Also, at 12,000 miles the ContiSportContact tires seem to be wearing a bit faster than my former C's ContiTouringContacts. Btw, I do have them rotated and balanced every 5,000 miles.

      - Paul
  • mleskovarmleskovar Posts: 171
    What a deal, if you don't want to buy it can I take your place? And I don't even need a car. My '01 C320 went through most of the well known problems in the first year, a few after. None of the problems affected the car's reliability but were more in the nuisance class. I now have 60K miles on it and it's a joy to drive. I believe the problems were mostly poor vendor parts quality and MB has a lot to learn about vendor relations before they approach Japanese quality.
  • Thanks to all posters for sharing your experiences. We have another couple of months to run before this expires, so will keep our fingers crossed.

    For the record, our car has been with the dealer for over a week now and still now word on when it will be returned. Guess it sure is handy to have alternate units to fill the gap ... :-)
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...what are they working on that is taken over a week?

    In the US, of course, you would be driving a dealer's car under these circumstances.
  • sleakesleake Posts: 47
    Hi Folks. I used to post regularly, but haven't for a couple of years. Just check in once in awhile instead, but this particular conversation seems right up my alley. I can't offer any better advice about purchasing the leased car than what's already been stated. But I can share my experience. My car was bought in Oct 2000, so it's one of the early models. Even today, I have only 22,000 miles on it. However, by the time it had reached 18,000 miles, it had spent 68 days in the shop (approximately 1 day for every 264 miles) and trips to the shop occurred, on average, every 1500 miles. Mostly all electronics and electrical problems. However, as the car approached 18,000 miles, the problems got worse--or should I say more serious, in that control modules kept going out affecting my ability to lock the doors, close windows, use side view mirrors,etc. (On multiple occasions I had to detour from my planned destination, to the dealer because of "no go" problems arising.) Also had fuel sensor problems causing the car to stall twice, and so far, every exterior light on the car has been replaced at least twice. Between 18,000 miles and the current mileage, I've experienced a power steering leak, and a possible transmission leak and both tail lights burned out again, making it the 3rd replacement for each. Thus, it hasn't really shown any clear signs yet, of "settling down." Of course, the fact that it's nearly 4 years old but still very low mileage makes this a somewhat difficult call to make.

    I have no complaints with the dealer, and as others here have noted, I love driving the car. But, the hassle factor has been very high, and as it stands now, I'm constantly worrying about what's going to go wrong next. I've talked with John about this in the past (I'm the woman from Sacramento), and his advice at that time was to dump the car. What John doesn't know is that I've subsequently filed a lemon law claim against Mercedes Benz. The outcome remains unknown, but it's not costing me anything to play it out and see what happens. (The attorney collects from MB if we win, and if we loose he gets nothing.)

    I'm reasonably certain that I do not want to be driving the car when the warranty runs out in October, so I'm now starting to think about a replacement. I love the new E320, and would buy it in a second, but I worry about having the same problems? (Your thoughts/comments on this would be appreciated.) After observing the problems I've had with the C, most of my friends consider me nuts for even considering another MB -- but then, they've never owned one, so what do they know?? The 530i is also a definite possibility. I'm waiting to see if the looks might "grow on me" some. The G35, which I drove this past weekend, is quite peppy with 260hp, but it just doesn't compare to the MB or BMW. And I find the Lexus to be totally boring.

  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    You're right....long time no hear!

    As you describe the situation, clearly things have gone very steeply downhill since we last discussed this online. I think your Lemon Law filing is right on - whether or not the strict definition of the law will eventually be found to apply, it is no big secret that MBUSA has been known to offer up settlements that often take the form of a heavily subsidized trade-in on a new car in circumstances like yours. IF you are still interested in an E when and if they decide to settle, you may find something attractive on the table.

    But I think there is a generality that needs to be part of the consideration in this discussion: the more complicated the system[s], the more chances for things to go wrong. We've been fortunate so far with our C240, but then there are two things that are true in our case that stand out: 1) our car was built in January of 2002 in Bremen, some 19 months after initial production began, and 2) we are without so many of the electrical "assists" and "features" that are the source of so many of the problems. Otherwise, it's the luck of the draw.

    The new E has had its share of teething problems, as well...but this time you would have the advantage of those 18 months or more of production experience. I would nevertheless stay away from COMAND at all costs, as well as such cutting-edge features as the pano roof. A basic E320 is a virtuous piece of work. I don't think it's insane at all to keep it on your shopping list.

    The new 530 [or prejudice for keeping it simpler and less costly] is certainly a fine alternative, though subject to the same new-model risk that you took on with the C. On the other hand, the BMW 3er is a mature product that is very, very nice [it was, as I said, a very near thing between these cars for me]...if you don't need the room in the back seat, as it fails to provide space for real adults back there.

    I'll have to admit that one of the things that pushed me in the direction of MB vs BMW was, at least at the time, a positive familiarity with MB-Sacto [both in sales and service], vs. no knowledge at all about either Niello or Roseville BMW.

    Since our move to Vancouver, WA, I have had only one experience with our dealer in Portland [there are two in the area, owned by the same principal], which was mostly positive. However, I haven't asked them to solve any problems...which is the big test. The problems I laid at the doorstep of MB Sacto were always solvable locally [wheel alignment, the diff leak], i.e. they were not design or basic engineering failings that could only be solved by a fundamental change back in Stuttgart. BMW has gone through some real doosies with the current 3er, but that is mostly behind them now - an advantage of being near the end of the life cycle.

    Do let us know how it plays out - I will be very interested to know how MBUSA responds.
  • mbnut1mbnut1 Posts: 403
    Sorry I get first dibs on Johncdnrockies C320.
  • neskierneskier Posts: 6
    Hi all,

    It has been a while, but I thought I would chime in with a report on my 2002 C-240.

    My 2002 C-240 is just about to roll over the 70,000 mile mark. It has been a great highway car that I use all the time for business travel. However there have been problems, but not so many I am upset.


    - Seemingly chronic problem of going through front ball joints. They were replaced under warranty at 35,000 miles, and now at 70,000 it feels like they are due again without the warranty, I will be paying cash. Not sure exactly why this happens, but it does.

    - Driver's side power window. It is stuck in the up position. I can hear the relay click to try to lower the window, but nothing happens. I suspect a frozen pulley or cable. Who knows what that will cost...

    - Exterior lights... I have gone through about 3 or 4 bulbs which is ok at $1.50 each, but it does seem strange that they burn out so often.

    - Parking brake cable. Cable was too loose to put on the parking brake. I suspect the techs at one of the service intervals caused this problem, and then at the next interval charged me a hours labor to fix it. Either way, it works fine now.

    - Windshield issues (Not Mercedes fault)
    I hit a rock which cracked the windshield, I contacted my insurance company and they had the windshield replaced by Diamond Autoglass. The first shop I took it to in Philadelphia accidentally dropped the new windshield and shattered it. No new windshield for me that day. The next shop I went to in DC put in the windshield, but did a horrible job. The roof rails are all crooked, the rubber seals are visibly out of alignment, and the rain sensing wipers have now lost their mind. Upon recent inspection from a Mercedes dealer, they confirm that the glass was put in haphazardly and in the process of doing so they broke one of the mounting pieces for the rain sensor black plastic cover. The rain sensor is very sensitive and needs that cover on in perfect alignment and thus its poor performance. I am still negotiating with Diamond Autoglass... If they replace the glass (THEY SHOULD!), I will watch them like a hawk while they do it. Too many of these glass dealers just slap the glass in and drive away, the rest is your problem.

    - Tires... My first set of Goodyear Eagle RSA's lasted about 35,000 miles. They scalped so badly and were loud that I replaced them with Continental Contitouring CH95's. The Continentals are so quiet and comfortable without sacrificing much performance at all. I would highly recommend them for high speed highway driving that you want to be smooth and quiet. However, they only lasted 35,000 miles as well. They are evenly worn. I think my next set will be Pirelli P6. Maybe they will last longer, who knows. Hopefully they will be quiet like the Contis. I go through a set of tires per year, so I figure I might as well try a new set every year... anyone have any suggestions?

    There are no other problems. The car has actually been a joy to own and drive. I can't complain.

    Perhaps I could complain about the maintenance costs... It looks like the Service B at 60-70K will cost about $400-600 plus the window motor and the ball joints.

  • paul_ppaul_p Posts: 271
    You might want to look at Tire rack has an incredibly detailed survey that gives consumer's ratings for various manufacturer's tires.

     - P.
  • sleakesleake Posts: 47
    Thanks for the reply. You've made a couple of good points that I will definitely consider: mainly that the E Class is now 18 months old with some of the bugs worked out, but the same cannot be said about the new 5 series. btw..I have not considered a 3 series BMW because if anything, I would prefer a slightly larger car than I currently have.

    As for the law suit, I was hoping that MB would start negotiating before we got to court, but so far they haven't, and my attorney tells me that they rarely do. I would be open for an especially attractive deal on an E class if that were to come up for discussion. We are still waiting at this point, for a court date. It was nice hearing from you again.

  • bobcatmanbobcatman Posts: 51
    Who says the G35 doesn't compare to the new Benz or BMW? Quite silly. That's like saying the new 7 series is more reliable or better built than an LS430. The C class is one of the worst new Mercedes along with M class piece of junk. Bad, bad marks in the CR lastest issue. If I had as many problems with a model or brand they would be long gone in my book. That's why I'll never give a penny of business to the problem Germans till they get their act together.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    I can't remember anyone recently "dissing" the G35. I tried one before buying our C, and was quite impressed, but for two issues: the ride was firmer than I thought necessary [and the sports pkg only makes it more so], and the standard seats [not the power, leather option] were simply too soft and poorly shaped for either my wife or me.

    That it doesn't work for me does not make it an unworthy competitor to the Germans in this class. I also tried very much to like the IS300, but again, ride quality had been compromised to achieve handling numbers - a tradeoff that I think is too common among the Japanese competitors in this segment.

    What has always set BMW, MB, and Audi apart from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda is a fine balance between ride comfort and handling ability, along with an early appreciation of the importance of a complete safety package. No question in the mind of this automotive veteran, however, that the Japanese Big 3 have it all over the Germans for reliability and lower long-term ownership hassles.

    Having owned cars from ALL of the manufacturers in the previous paragraph, I think I have a pretty good perspective on the competition.
  • bobcatmanbobcatman Posts: 51
    I respect your views and I was a little too harsh in the post, but I'm certainly not alone that the Germans are in for a rough ride if they don't clean up the quality problems and soon. I've met some very P'd off former customers of Benz. who will never again go back not only because of problems but lousy dealer experience and support.

    Mercedes riding on their past glory will only go so far in today's very competitive luxury market where Japan is the leader in quality and closing the gap fast on handling and road feel. The G35 is just better executed all around then the IS300 which has sorta juvenile styling but a great inline engine and very decent handling. I'm sure Lexus learned alot from the criticsm and the 2nd gen. car will be much better executed.

    The G35's engine is a marvel in smoothness and great torque curve. Overall it's a little more rough around the edges then a 3 series but it's got BMW scrambling which up till now had no real true compet. The G35 cheapish interior finally gets a complete remake this fall. The C class is a few rungs below the current G35 and 330 series in being a true sport sedan and most of the mags. agree.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...but then I didn't want a "true sports sedan", I wanted a "true touring car". I subscribe to and read all of the magazines, and my preferences and needs, as they say, get no respect. Everything is about handling, handling, handling. I went through that a long time ago - I had one of the first BMW 1600-2s imported to the West Coast - but now I don't need to go around corners so as to make your eyes bug out.

    In any case, anyone who buys a G or an IS over the competition gets no serious argument from me - it's all about what you want and need.

    A final observation: Lexus [as distinguished from Toyota] has set a standard for dealer service and overall attitude that everyone would do well to emulate. Infiniti and Acura [I've dealt with both] haven't yet set themselves apart from most MB and BMW dealers. ALL tend to be better than Audi/VW. But the differences between individual dealers are so vast as to almost defy generalization - I've had good and bad experiences from just about everybody.
  • mleskovarmleskovar Posts: 171
    "but now I don't need to go around corners so as to make your eyes bug out." :-) My sentiments exactly. The car mags definitely cater to the high cornering/accelerating/stopping G forces. Been there, done that.
  • mbnut1mbnut1 Posts: 403
    that the Japanese are making more competitive cars with the Germans. That makes Mercedes even more affordable.
  • marcegmarceg Posts: 8
    When this year's Consumer Reports automobile issue came out, I was a bit surprised to see the 2003 C-Class' overall reliability rating as much worse than average given good reliability scores the car received in most all of the individual areas. (Three of the areas were identified as better than average, the rest were much better than average.) I believe CR weighs problems in some areas (engine, transmission, etc.) more heavily in other areas, so I searched for other 2003 models in the magazine with the same ratings for all of the individual areas. The closest one I could find was the 2003 Saab 9-5. The ratings for this car were almost identical, except the Saab actually 4 areas that were just "better than average" compared to the C-Class' 3. However, the Saab was given an overall rating of average. I really don't understand why the C-Class didn't receive the same rating.

    Just thought I would share this...
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    You must read the introductory pages that lead into the reliability scores in Consumer Reports with great care. They meticulously explain why a lot of good individual scores [especially in the most recent year of the survey] can add up to a "Below Average" bottom line. There are weightings associated with each of the separate areas or reliability, and these account for individual differences after the scores are rounded to one of the five "dots".

    It's complicated, but I trust their data more than any except the manufacturers themselves, who of course are not about to tell us what they know about their own products' warranty claims. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets larger sample sizes and uses more objectivity than CU. But you have to take the time to read their "guide to the data" for the overall scores to make sense.

    Bottom line: MB's cars still have more things go wrong on average than most of the competition. The 03 Cs are better than the 01s and 02s, but still below average in CU's survey. I don't doubt that is correct.
  • sweetc230sweetc230 Posts: 33
    I must be an isolated or lucky case, but I have now owned by '03 C230 Kompressor Sport Sedan for 1 year and have put a little over 13K on it. It has only been to the shop for the one routine service @ 11K and I had the tires rotated @ 7K. Maybe it is b/c I have the 6spd manual and I only put the C2 package (sunroof and automatic rear sunshade), Bose, CD Changer & heated seats options on the car (less to go wrong). This has been the MOST trouble free first year of ownership EVER. I have owned a BMW 318is, Honda Prelude VTEC, Jetta GLX & Passat GLS and everyone of those vehicles were in the shop at least twice in the first year for reasons other than routine maint. And the VWs, don't get me started, these cars drove me nuts with their problems.

    But I must say, I love this car as much as I did the day I picked it up. It blends price, style, comfort, luxury, handling, gas mileage, & safety better than any vehicle in its class. I would HIGHLY recommend this car to anyone.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...recommend this car to anyone who really wants a nearly ideal touring car. We too have been fortunate so far in that we have had a very enjoyable ownership experience - again, with a car that has only the C2 Package and automatic.

    But the larger picture is undeniable: D-B [and VW and BMW] has a lot of work to do to get within shouting distance of the statistical probability of a trouble-free life compared with most of the Japanese.

    Having owned 14 MBs, 4 BMWs, 4 VW/Audis, 10 Toyotas, 4 Hondas [and many other one-of-a-kinds] in the past 42 years, I can say that the data doesn't lie....but the data didn't keep me from buying our latest MB, either.
  • sweetc230sweetc230 Posts: 33
    I'd say you've owned a FEW more cars than I have (I've only been buying cars since I got out of college in '96)!!:) And you are right, I can't argue the reliability issues, I just hope/think that MB has worked out most of the problems with the C-Class by now. I read MANY posts of owners who have had lots of issues with their '01 C's, but not many after the early production models. It seems to me to be a mistake to buy ANY of the first year (read totally new) BMWs or MBs (i.e. 5 series, 7 series, new E Class, etc.). But my problem with CR's report is that it seems to me that MB has corrected a lot of it's problems with the C & even with the '04 E's (HVAC systems, etc.). I just don't hear the first year woes that I was reading about 2 and 3 years ago. It is still NO EXCUSE that MB & BMW don't get most of these issues resolved before the cars hit the market. We're not hearing any real issues with the TOTALLY new G35; except for subjective negatives, not reliability issues.

    But like you said, nothing from CR is going to stop me from buying European. . .ITS ALL ABOUT THE DRIVIN' EXPERIENCE!!
  • paul_ppaul_p Posts: 271
    Last week on Rte. 495 a rock hit my '00 C230 windshield, and within a day spread from one inch to over ten inches. There was an issue bewteen the dealer-recommended glass company and my insurance company in regards to covering an OEM (actual MB) windshield.

    I was told the main difference is not the quality of the glass (as all windshields have to meet DOT standards) but the decal that bears the facsimile of Mr. Daimler's signature.

    After a few phone calls insisting on the OEM glass, the insurance comapny agreed to cover the additional $70.00 difference. It's not over 'till it's over though, and replacement is scheduled for next Tuesday 3/30.

    Hope this helps for your future reference. Will let you know how it turns out.
      - P.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    $70 for the decal? Or is there more to it than that?

    Do you have the rain-sensing wipers? If so, installation needs to be very careful to keep the sensors functioning properly. If not, never mind...
  • ger3sfger3sf Posts: 29
    Are the facelifted C-class sedans available now on ED US-spec cars? Or do they become available only when they're sold in the US? Thanks.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...EU delivery was still focused on the '04s. However, since production has already begun on the new Cs, I think that if you actually placed an EUD order now, with the usual 6-10 week lead time, it would almost have to be the new car that would be the product that actually gets delivered. Only a dealer, I think, would know for sure, though some of them can be remarkably clueless at transition times. Have you called MBUSA to ask? [Nothing like the direct approach...]
  • chawehchaweh Posts: 3
    Hi. I bought my 2001 MB C240 sedan last June 2003. It is approaching 48,000 miles and will be out of warranty soon. I would like to know if it is worth it to get an extended warranty. I am concerned because when I took it for Service B this week, the technician found a few problems : electrical fault, trans connector leaking transmission oil, balancer worn-out, belt tensioner, etc. which they fixed because the car is still under warranty. Would someone recommend a company that offers extended warranty ? I know that you can only buy it from MB dealers if the car is within 1 year of purchase. I did some research and found 2 companies in the internet : and Has anyone had experience buying from the internet ? Thanks so much in advance.
  • ger3sfger3sf Posts: 29
    Good suggestion. Per the MBUSA phone rep, it would be available with my timeframe of a late May or June ED.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    chahweh - be sure to stop by the Finance, Warranty & Insurance board - there has been lots of conversation about both of those companies. :)

    You could also find discussions on them by using the Keyword search on the left side of the page.
  • marcegmarceg Posts: 8
    A few years ago my windshield was cracked by a rock and needed to be replaced. I requested an OEM windshield which my insurance company covered. However, after the windshield was installed I noticed it didn't have the "product" sticker - but it was infact an MB windshield. Anyway, I was able to purchase a sticker over the Internet and apply it myself - stayed in place and looked 100% original. I just did a quick search on eBay and noticed someone is selling these stickers for about $1 each.
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