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Mercedes 500SEL 1984 to 1991

tomsrigtomsrig Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Mercedes-Benz
I am interested in purchasing a Mercedes 500SEL or equivilent between the years 1984 and 1991. How well made and how reliable are these cars? Is there an equivilent big type car you'd recommend instead? and why.

Tom Phillips


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Pretty bulletproof cars (after 1986 it is called a 560SEL) except for the following trouble areas:

    radio (hopeless)
    air conditioning (nearly hopeless but better as the years go on)
    power windows (very buggy)

    Of course, you should find a clean car with a good service history, and don't buy a "beater" hoping to
    save money. Major repairs on these cars, although not expected, aren't cheap, and they will not stand too much neglect.

    Also, you can expect heavy fuel consumption, in the 15 mpg range on average city/hwy.
  • ffb13ffb13 Posts: 181
    i am new to this board.
    suggest that you look into a 1989 or later 420 sel.
    it is the same as the 500 but,smaller engine and regular suspension versus hydraulic on the 500.that is it.
    i own one--1989- with 210,000 and i expect to get over 400,000 out of it.
    major problem areas----shocks and tires---about 20,000 per set.same for shocks.
    power windows---left front out twice.
    hydraulic lifters---just went out on one side.
    ball joints --once.
    oil leaks--once.
    water pump once.
    TIMMING CHAIN----i am told that i have to change it,but so far the guide rollers are still good.but will do it this month just in case.
    and,that is it..........
    oh,yes, i do change the oil every 3000 miles with mobil one,since new.
    and transmission fluid every 15,000 miles.
    mpg--city 14 to 15
    highway--18 to 21 speed dependent about 80 mph get 19 mpg on long trips.
    you can get a 1989 for about $ 9,000. but ,make sure that it has had good service otherwise,forget it.
    and, was in major accident about 4 years ago at about 160,000 miles---guy ran into my car at full speed trying to blow a red light.---
    cost to fix $15,500.
    in my car all o.k.
    the offending car---all to hospital for long stay.

    a great car..and i think that it is the best car mb has ever made in terms of quality,simplicity and ease of service.

    i am looking for a 1990 which was the last year for this great design and thus the newest and best that you can get.
  • dugtamdugtam Posts: 4
    As I recall, any 500SEL before 1992 was grey Market and not imported to the US by Mercedes. The early US models were 380SE/SEL's and were replaced by the 560 and 420 SELs. Don't forget the 300/350 SD or SDL diesels. S stood for S-Class, E for Einspritzer, or fuel injection, D for diesel and the "L" is long wheel base. On older (before 1983/84) S-Class, just an S with no E meant carburetors. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    I am looking at a 1991 300SEL with 19,000 miles. They are asking more than I can justify (nearly 30K), but it is stunning. Premium fuel I suppose. What kind of mileage and performance did the Six have in the SEL? What powers the door locks and is it prone to problems? Everything is over-built. Check out the door latches. Mercedes does not build them like this any more.
    It is like sitting in a Time Machine. Even though it is the last year of the body style, it still reminds me very much of my 1984 BMW. It is a simpler interior and fascia. They didn't even bother to hide the seat tracks. Manual rearview mirror adjustment through the driver's door and electric remote for the passenger side. Dual Airbags, though they seem to have taken out the dash glove box to do it. I am also looking at 1993 300TE wI/ 33K ($23,500) and 1995 E320 wagon with same mileage but $28,500. Both have Star mark warranties. I am replacing 1990 740 Volvo wagon with 235,000 miles, and I commute 20K+ a year. It might be a crime to do that to the SEL, but I am tempted. Seeing as the wife asked me to spend about 25K, I am also looking at Ford Escape or the Toyota Highlander. The logic behind looking at old Mercs is that I know they will go for 10 more years. Plus I have a soft spot for aging Euro cars I could not afford in their youth. Comments?

    Toms rig - For big sedans, I have always liked BMW Seven series. I had more fun tossing a 750il around a racetrack than the new at the time 850 coupe. The sedan was poised and balanced and the coupe was fat and sideways. But I hear they have higher and more frequent maintenance than some of the smaller BMW's. A Lexus LS-400 is also getting into the high to mid twenties. They are like driving a floating Lazy Boy arm chair. It spirits you from one place to another and you don't even feel it. Not as much feedback as a european car, but a silky ride all it's own.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Thanks for your comments.

    I think you need to ask these questions in the Sedans conference, as this Message Board is primarily for older cars, loosely (very loosely) grouped as "Classics". So for modern cars, I think you'll get better response in Sedans. Just use the drop down list on the left of this page.

    Since this topic has drifted and all basic questions answered, I'm going to make it Read Only and retire it.


This discussion has been closed.