Mercedes-Benz E-Class Maintenance and Repair

spotty100spotty100 Member Posts: 1
I just found this board yesterday and can't believe all the problems people are having with this car. I thought it was just me as the dealer has been tight lipped about the issues.
I bought a new 2003 E500 in October 2002 and had the following problems
SRS/Airbags defective
Tele-Aid system not working
Audio-some many problems I can't list them all here but the best was when it would just inadvertently come on when the car was locked and I was away from the vehicle.
Headlights randomly coming on while car turned off
After months of arguing with the mercedes regional rep who was of absolutely no help I finally did some research and I tell you what changed everything. I sent a formal Lemon Law letter to Mercedes (google search by your state but plenty of information out there). Once that happened they completely changed their attitude towards me. They worked hard to resolve the problem but never did. Finally, in May they just gave me a new car with about $3,000 more in options on it.
Well, I wish that was the end of the story but my new car has been in the shop for 13 days with guess what? Electrical problems. They all seem to be related to the Audio system this time so I guess you can call that progress but it is unreal to understand the frustration I have gone through and having spent $60,000 on this car.
The new car has been in 3 times now and some tech specialist from Chicago is flying in next week to examine my car.
I finally had one of the mechanics pull me aside this morning and said effectively, "it's not just you MB is having a ton of problems with this vehicle and are trying to keep a lid on it best they can".

All I can tell you is I am fed up, but MBUSA completely changed their attitude when I sent them the first Lemon Law letter. I suppose they are about to get another one from me if they can't get this fixed.
Best wishes to all


  • nelsonr1nelsonr1 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 E-320 - love the car, but can't keep it in my garage and out of the dealers. Problems started on my drive home after picking it up with a "return to repair shop - brake problem" message. Problems with the parking sensor system, a shield under the car coming off, now the computer shows I should schedule service "C". Not sure what happened to service "A" and "B". And a problem with "Tele-Aid" to cap it off.

    Bottom line, many days in the shop, where it currently is. Seems to be the problems are all in the computer system.

    Any similar experiences?
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    states that they cannot recommend ANY Mercedes Benz model because of low reliability. If you read some of the other Mercedes forums you'll hear experiences similar to yours.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,126
    Revision: Topic re-opened! Let the problems roll...

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  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    I need that quote - I saw that statement about the ML - can you shoot me a link or e-mail me?
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    Not sure if you mean the quote about CR not recommending any model MB or the one about the M-Class having 60% more problems than average.

    The M-Class number is from a bar chart on pg 31 of Consumer Report's 2001 Annual Auto Issue. I found the CR 2002 Annual Auto Issue. In that issue on pg 27 the bar chart shows the M-Class with about 50% more problems (difficult to be precise because of the way the bar chart is graduated). By the way, the same page has a chart showing the MB CLK with 94% more problems than average! The CLK number is more precise because the CLK bar was actually off the chart in the bad direction so CR printed the numerical value.

    The statement about CR not recommending any MB model because of reliability is in the CR 2003 Annual Auto Issue. I don't have a copy of that issue (read it while waiting for a prescription), but it's on the newstand now.

    Hope this helps.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
  • hicairahicaira Member Posts: 276
    Also, read the article(s) in the Wall Street Journal (Section D)of yesterday. They mention the increasing problems in the MB as well as the narrowing gap between luxury cars and your basic "bread & butter" types. They imply the blame lies in the electrical complexities that are now common features in the luxury laden autos. There may be some merit to that argument (Volvo has something like 16 different system warnings - ranging from "Check at next Service" to "STOP! Get Out!! Run for your Life!"), but, if true, Lexus seems to have found a way to avoid them, for the most part.

    Elestrics aside, anyone seeing more general mechanical problems on the E series?

    The other article in the WSJ was about longer warranties and owners who are now being labled "Warranty Hypochondriacs". Good reading for someone in your field.

  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    the majority of the issues I'm seeing on the M and E Class are normal engine management issues, normal electrical issues and brake problems.

    I see continual problems with EGR Valves, 02 sensors, throttle position sensors (TPS) and fuel system-related problems.

    On the electrical side, it's simple stuff like power window switches, sunroof motors and stereos zapping themselves.

    On the brake side, it's warped rotors, premature pad wear and failing ABS sensors.

    The point is, I see the same things on a Pontiac Grand Am or Ford Taurus - it's not just a Mercedes thing. Mercedes has repetitive issues in these areas, and just like other manufacturers, aren't stepping up, in accordance with Federal law, to take care of consumers.
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    You have a unique perspective. Most of us have access to only limited anecdotal data from our experience or friend's experience. The sources with large amounts of data (Consumer Reports, JD Powers) show the data only in summary form. And the manufacturers with the most data seldom share it at all.

    I would be interested in a long post from you based on the data you have access to, addressing some of the quality/reliability issues that have been raised here on Edmunds such as current German luxury cars vs. Japanese luxury cars, has quality at Honda/Toyota slipped recently, have the Korean makes improved, etc.? Perhaps, you could even get into some specific problem areas. I know this is a lot to cover, but I think lots of us would find it informative. How about it?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    No problem, though.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    I am shocked at the quality of Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. This misconstrued understanding we all have that if you pay more, you get more, is ridiculous. In Germany, car owners worship their vehicles, shop guys wear white coats and have 14 diplomas - a far cry from the "gas it and go" mentality of today's consumer with little or no attention, ever, to preventive maintenance. Most people don't realize their fuel injected car has a fuel filter. Here, all a "technician" has to do is fog a mirror and hold a wrench to get a job, and all he has to do to keep the job is to not make stuff blow up. With all this in mind, European cars don't last very well here in the states - they never have, with the exception of those with owners predetermined to maintain their vehicles.

    I don't believe Honda and Toyota quality is slipping - I think people have assumed these vehicle are totally perfect, and that simply is not the case. I've done lemon law cases on Hondas with blown motors, bad tranmsissions (one Accord had 3 transmissions before 20K) and I've seen my share of Toyota engine management problems. They aren't perfect, but these two manufacturers are a darn sight better than anything else out there.

    The Koreans, Lord knows I respect them, have always built "average" cars. My opinion, and I get paid for my opinion, is that Kia and Hyundai service departments compound the relaibility issues 10 times over by doing shoddy diagnostic work, poor repairs and poor follow-up. Most Kia and Hyundai techs simply don't care and are pissed that they couldn't get a job in a high-line dealership. The Korean manufacturers, and their legal representatives here in the states don't trult understand how someone could be dissatisfied with a product and want to sue them. In America, we have laws in place just for this action. In Korea, people are happy just to have a car, for those of them who own cars.

    General attitudes and opinions - I'll do my best with any specific questions you have.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    the manufacturers are responsible for training and certifiying technicians. If your car is misdiagnosed or repaired incorrectly, it's still the responsibility of the manufacturer. Manufacturer's attorneys, in every arb I've gone to, try to blame the dealer - hang them out to dry - what we bring up is that the dealer is the manufacturer's authorized service facility - you can't drive up to the front doors of the Ford plant and say "Fix my car" - you have to go to a dealer.
  • glamourlifeglamourlife Member Posts: 49
    Absolutely no problems. Solid as a vault without a shake or rattle. Was a little leery about buying another 1st year MB, but to date I am completely satisfied.

    My previous 96 E-Class had lots of minor issues with the light bulbs repeatedly blowing out. The build quality and durability however were bulletproof. Took a couple years and several dealerships before the faulty relays, bulbs, and assembly on the lights were completely worked out. The car had over 120K miles, and aside from the annoyance of blowing light bulbs, was bulletproof.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    Glamourlife - Your experience matches mine exactly. I finally took care of the bulbs myself. Other than that, I had the usual rear window regulator. These two issues aside, the car is still nice and quiet after all this time.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    94-96 were probably the peak of quality and reliability of all brands as the late 95/96 conversion to OBD2 caused many teething problems.
    But it made diagnosis easier and cheaper as everyone can afford $200 worth of software.Understanding what the codes actually mean FULLY is quite another thing!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think people lump EVERYTHING into the word "quality".

    If the dealer flubs the diagnosis, it's the car's fault.

    If the technician does a bad job, it's the car's fault

    If one part on a car containing 15,000 parts fails, or worse yet, fails twice, the entire car, from tip to stern, is a "lemon"

    If indeed the car does break down a couple times but is built well and saves your life in an accident, the 'quality' is still "no good".

    And last of all, if car A with an MSRP of $20,000 has only two warranty claims, and car B with an MSRP of $40,000 has 5 claims, then car A is better than car B and buyer B was a damn fool.

    This is not to say it isn't annoying when an expensive car has faults, nor is it excusable since some cars seem to be somewhat more reliable than others, but generally between dealer's mistakes and incompetence and buyer's nit-picking, the quality of modern cars is being mis-judged badly IMO.

    There is a hyperbole and hysteria about it that is simply not justified.
  • irvnirvn Member Posts: 11
    I have had my share of electrical issues with my E430 from a faulty O2 sensor to replacing the yaw sensor three times to replacing the COMAND and a control unit to replacing the CD changer. I love the car, but I am concerned that I will not be able to keep the car past the warranty period. I understand that the vehicle is complex and things will wear out, but I think the number of electrical issues is a bit more. My wife has a Toyota minivan and we have not had any issues with that car in 26,000 miles and two years.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    As most consumers buy a car and service as a package (essentially a black box), does it really matter who or what creates a fault ? I mean, the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for the dealer network providing service. You can't drive your car to the factory and say: "Fix it!" Ultimately, the consumer only cares if there is a problem, not who created it.

    There are many reasons to buy a car other than quality. In the luxury segment, it's probably mostly about how a car makes you feel, both driving and simply owning it.
    At the same token, Lexus has shown that you can build cars of equal complexity with less initial defects. I wish Mercedes would catch up.

    As far as hysteria is concerned, I would agree. According to JD Powers, car quality has generally improved over the years. Blindly picking any car from any manufacturer, you are probably better off than you were ten years ago.
    On message boards at Edmunds, problems are likely to get overamplified.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well sure the factory is *ultimately* responsible for quality, and a bad dealer network will kill off a car as sure as a bad car itself will (can you say "Renault"?), but the factory can't micro-manage the dealership, not actually or even legally. Best thing Mercedes can do is be more careful who they give franchises to in the first place.

    Lexus had a great advantage here in building up Lexus dealers from scratch. No bad habits, no old ways. They did a good job, too.

    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. The other 25% of the difference between Lexus and Benz is genuine, but not worth choosing a Lexus over a Benz, at least not to me. My sweetie's 1998 Lexus is about the most boring, isolated, numb car I have ever driven in my entire life, next to a 76 Eldorado, which takes the crown.

    Nice ride, though, and runs great, so I can see why some people would give up a smudge of reliability and chose a Lexus. Me, personally, if I had 2-3 trips a year to the dealer, even on a tow truck, I'd pick a Benz every time. As long as I have a warranty, as long as they fix the car, and as long as the car finally "settles" down after the first year, I'd be fine.

    If my new E Class kept kicking up a fuss as warranty's end drew near, then maybe I'd bail and admit that Benz isn't building a great car anymore.

    But I do wonder, if we really dug into CRs complaint file, how many of these "black marks" are really legimate, serious, *repeatable* defects, and how many are just people who cant' stand the thought of their new car breaking down or who are getting reamed by a sloppy, diffident dealership.

  • r1_97r1_97 Member Posts: 181
    Granted, the manufacturer can't micro manage the dealer, it can and should monitor the service function and yank an franchise of an under performer.

    I don't understand what you mean "..give up a smudge of reliability and chose a Lexus." You may have meant Mercedes. I have and did. MB had to replace my transmission on a '98E-320 after less than 30k miles. The fault here was the manufacture not the dealer.

    I suspect many people view a car as a utility and opt for a Lexus even though a Mercedes or BMW may be more fun to drive. At some point degraded quality will neutralize the advantage of better handling. It's a question of how much inconvenience poor manufacturing and poor dealer service pushes a buyer to a boring but reliable car.
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    "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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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".
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    "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 Member 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. . .

  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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 Member 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.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    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 ?
  • innerloopinnerloop Member Posts: 26
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    They are terribly complex, German cars. A German switch has 37 parts in it (just making up some number here for argument's sake), is probably tempermental and will last 40 years; a Japanese switch has 17 parts, looks like a German switch, and works great and lasts the projected life of the car, maybe 10 years; an American switch has 12 parts and falls apart 2 days after warranty.

  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    "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."

    If I've done my math right, you're contending that 80% of the posts complaining about Mercedes Benz are fabricated. Are you serious? Most the posts complaining about Mercedes have been similar to sddlw's #36, a few posts after yours - someone who has owned MB and has had specific complaints and problems. These posts tend to be very specific, citing the model purchased, the year, how the problems were resolved, etc. And you're telling me that 80% of these are by people who do not even own the car? Would love to know the basis for this assertion.

    You're correct that Consumer Reports does not distinquish between severe and minor problems within a category (such as electrical). However, CRs data is much more detailed than, say, JD Powers that simply counts number of problems. Even though you may not be satisfied with the granularity of the CR data, I believe it is the most detailed reliability data available to the public. And in CRs defense, the level of detail that CR currently presents is probably pushing the limit of what consumers really want to know. Any more detail and CR might become an engineering journal or something only for the diehard enthusiast.
  • dmac8dmac8 Member Posts: 54
    I've owned 2 MB products, a 1979 240D and a 1987 300D. The 240 evokes enough memory of solidity and quality to inspire me to buy a used one. On the other hand, the 300D was a negative experience over 4 years and 44,000 miles.

    Imho, MB and BMW have done such an excellent job of maintaining their brands cachet, that many of today's buyers overlook the nitty gritty of the value /reliability /performance equation.

    For those who can afford and store a fleet of cars, marginal reliability in a product with fabulous style and driving characteristics, may not be such a big deal. But if you have to get in it and go, as part of your livelehood, frequent trips to the dealer are a colossal waste of time.

    Add to this, the condescending and surly attitudes found in a lot of MB dealers and you have an opportunity for Lexus et al. The debate will probably rage for sometime about the sterility versus character aspects of MB and Lexus products, but, I'll wager there are many more former MB owners making a transition to Lexus ownership, than there are in the other direction.
  • r1_97r1_97 Member Posts: 181
    Our host is determined to defend MB's quality (or lack thereof). Talking w/ my friends, it seems generally agreed that MB has a major quality problem. If the advanced technology warrants the high status price, then it better work reliably or its worse than not having it at all.

    Today, my '98 E320 died due to a dead battery. I had to have it towed and the radio and window code reset. I don't mind replacing a battery after 5 years, but I do mind the absence of a warning light telling me the battery is getting low. How much technology do you need for that? I'd rather have than than air conditioning in the storage space between the front seats.

    Notwithstanding that MB is a great car to drive, it seems obvious that MB has a serious quality problem that needs to be admitted and addressed.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    Since the battery voltage doesn't really tell you anything until it is way too late, and the amps under load may depend on too many factors, I would suggest the following:

    Mercedes Benz should implement an impedance test (no load) of the car battery. An increasing impedance is a pretty good indicator of the battery's impending demise.
    Something like this could be executed at every start, with the impedance values stored in memory for a trend analysis. (No other cell available for reference)
    Problem is: One would have to factor in the temperature changes, too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    R1_97: Bad boy! You are supposed to change a battery at 4 years. So that's your fault, sorry. That's one complaint you can't hold against Mercedes. I change mine out at 48 months. That's what the battery maker says to do.

    Rubicon, please note, don't put that one on your scorecard.

    I'm not determined to defend Mercedes quality--that's a complete misunderstanding of what I'm saying here. I'm only calling for a sober look at the "statistics" and the "complaints" and see what is really there in concrete form, and what might be "poof", brand-bashing, envy or misunderstanding of the data.

    I've done the same for Toyota in the infamous "sludge" discussions, you all remember that. Also stuck up for Audi and Corvette many times.

    Same motive. I don't think careless use of data is beneficial for public forums so I try to help explore and clarify it. It's kinda fun to fine-tune our vision, isn't it?


    If you look at CR criteria, what they say right there in the book is that to get a black dot you need to score a problem rate of 9.3% to 14.8% from the surveys sent out to readers.

    So let's say 9.3% of readers complain about their Mercedes, okay? Black Dot.

    What percentage of these complaints are valid and true? We don't know.

    What percentage of these complaints are really serious? We don't know. What does "serious" mean exactly? Break-down? Aggravating? Multiple times? Makes me mad? CR doesn't tell us in the book.

    Let's say we throw out half of them for one of three good reasons:

    1. as owner's fault (like not changing your battery every 4 years)

    2. or the dealer's fault (didn't fix the problem or made it worse, and owner got really made and turned Mercedes in to CR)

    3. or nit-picking (headlight burned out, "rattles", etc).

    So then we're left with about 5% solid legitimate, undisputable Mercedes screwed-it-up complaints.

    Well 5% problem rate is bottom line for "better than average", a red dot.

    You see the problem here?

    You can't look in a book and then announce to the world that "Mercedes has a serious quality issue here". That is simply not justifiable criticism.

    I'm going to go read the CR report and see *exactly* what it says about Mercedes and I'll tell you what I think of their conclusions when I've digested the whole thing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Quick note:

    The following are considered "serious" by CR and added in for a black dot:

    tire balance (Suspenion defect)
    parking brake (Brake defect)
    loose trim piece (lumped in as Paint/trim defect)
    squeaks and wind noise (integrity defect)
    transmission cooler lines (goes in as transmission defect)
    check engine light (Fuel defect)
    bad hose (cooling defect)
    light bulb (electrical defect)

    So if 9.3 people out of 100 Mercedes owners complain about burned out light bulbs, that's a black dot in the Electrical category.

    When you read that, that word "Electrical", do you think light bulb or do you think alternator, battery, computer, etc.?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    stats from real lemon law files over the next few weeks. That way, we can see real issues on real cars, not fake, unreliable CR statistics or whiners with dash rattles.

    I'm one of the few guys who gets to wade through the BS (on every car, mind you) and see real complaints every day. I certainly dismiss the guy who has a vibration at 70 mph when he's still on OEM tires at 45,000 miles.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    What I'd reallly like to see is warranty payout dollars per car statistics, but that won't be easy to find.

    But I'll bet you'll find Benz no better or worse than the average car for complaints, which is about where the company has always been.

    I think this is still most people's sticking point. They don't "get it" that Benz has never been tops in reliability. I worked for them in the early 1970s and they had all kinds of pesky problems then, too--pretty much like what people are describing now. What we didn't have in 1970 was CR publishing so much and the Internet with its high rumor capacity on top of its ability to also dispense accurate information.

    Last of all, I don't think many people really grasp that Mercedes is not some dinky manufacturer hand-building cars. They are a mass-producer and make a lot of cars, so you are going to hear more complaints than you did 20 years ago.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    I SEE INVOICES! (Joke based on the "6th Sense" - "I see dead people")

    I see the warranty copies with all the dollars for parts and labor on every case I look at. Adding up a couple is no big deal, but at 75-80 hours a week already, I'm not running some kind of 200 car comparison, just so I can be argued with with no benefit for my work.

    If the "statistic junkies" need that, I'd sooner concede the election. If you want a few, no problem. For instance, I went to trial on a CLK430 that had 7 (SEVEN) nav systems installed, at $5,800 each, with 24 total visits for major electrical failures, like losing all the dash lights, losing all controls to the power windows/locks and losing the stereo/diagnostic center (7 times).

    We ain't talking about dash rattles here.
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