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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedans



  • <<
    As far as Lexus goes, yes they make a nice car. But its front wheel drive, and frankly I'm giving up on front wheel drive now.
    A few Lexus models are rear wheel drive: GS300, LS400, etc.

    The $2500 a year might include repairs as some of the MB 103 and 104 motors need head gasket every 50 kmi ($1000 plus job), time cover every 50 kmi, etc.

    Ask MB mechanics what % of MB cars, older than 3 years, leak?
  • spndxspndx Posts: 36
    There is one simple difference between MB (and I'll admit, BMW/Audi...) and Lexus/Lexus wanna-bees: German cars are engineered from the ground up. The Japanese focus on churning out good cars at low cost by sharing platforms and other key components (or is there a Lexus factory somewhere that I don't know about?). Every class of German car is designed and built with a certain vision as to its performance and driving characteristics - and of course, cutting-edge safety/durability. Look at a 15-year old Lexus and a 15-year old MB, and you'll see which one isn't just a bunch of pretty sheet metal hung on a multi-purpose frame.

    The C-Class is built outside Stuttgart and Bremen (I've seen them being made). There are apparently some being built in Brazil and S. Africa as well - just don't buy them. I can't believe that anyone is taking MB owners to task for buying a car 'for the name', considering that the 'luxury' Japanese brands were invented only as marketing tools for competing against the likes of MB outside Japan.

    And as the former owner of a 1997 C230, I can say that I spent less on maintaining my MB ($300/year) than I did on my 1997 Subaru during the same period. So far, same luck with my 240, but I also know to keep my expectations realistic and understand that there is no such thing as the perfect car.
  • edarteedarte Posts: 41
    While you toss in quite a few catch phrases (e.g., built from ground up) I don't think you are facing the reality of the automotive world. Can you honestly look at the C class and tell me it was built from the ground up when, in reality it shares so much of its engineering and design with the S.

    It does not make sense in today's manufacturing techniques to design every model from scratch. Maybe in the past, this was done, but now even MB is facing this reality if they are to compete.

    "Every class of German car is designed and built with a certain vision as to its performance and driving characteristics - and of course, cutting-edge safety/durability" Is this your original thought or have you been raised from birth by MB marketing reps. Lets face it, all modern manufacturers have a "vision" of the product. They consider market, cost, volume, etc. MB knows safety sells and they put R&D money into it. I am glad because then Lexus benefits from that, builds it into their cars, and does a better quality job "Churning them out" as you say. (I suppose all the MB factories - even Brazil & South Africa produce each C by hand with loving care? (No the C is shipped as a kit in a box to Brazil to be put together there). And, as to safety, I believe if you look at the crash test results Lexus does a fine job. What about the problems MB had with the (I believe) A class rolling over. I admit MB did a quality job of fixing this problem but it shows MB is not as perfect as your posts seem to imply.

    There are more than "some" C being built outside Germany and the number is growing. (Go back and read the posts in this board as proof). If as you say "every class of German car is designed and built..." why would you suggest not buying one built in Brazil? Is this admitting that maybe, just maybe, MB production techniques might not be as perfect as your statement implies they are or does Brazil "churn out " cars?

    You are correct that Lexus was marketing when it started (I stress was). Again, can you quote many independent surveys in the last few years showing MB Quality. The most recent that I am aware of has Lexus on top and MB in tenth position. So it may have started with marketing but my point is that they are delivering with the product. I can't help but feel MB is living on its past reputation and it is starting to show signs of wear.

    And why keep repeating this thing about Lexus not being an individual car company like MB? I think the point is obvious (just like Ford and Jaguar) that it is just a matter of time before MB and Chrysler are doing the same thing (then you won't have any justification for spending more money for a car built with leas quality. MB may still be a great car but after my experience this year with both MB and Lexus there is no comparison. Lexus is a cheaper car (I can live with this). It is also a better built car (this is a fact I base on all quality surveys, personal experience and reading every single post on the C class after I put my deposit down).

    I like MB cars. I fully expect to give the new E a serious consideration when it arrives. But, up until five months ago I simply assumed MB was a better car and a step up from Lexus. After my experience with the MB organization, a particular MB dealer, and the C class production and mechanical problems I will not just assume MB's superiority any longer. They have some serious problems relative to Lexus and the loss in market share is showing this.

    As this is really an MB board, and you have all been very understanding letting me spout my Lexus perspective. I just can't help but feel MB needs to hear that MB owners know that the competition is getting pretty good and that maybe MB should be doing a better job.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    It's a fact that Mercedes-Benz cars aren't what they used to be. I believe the main problem is their German production base. It simply costs more to build a car in Germany than anywhere else. Mercedes has cut costs and they still cost more, often thousands than the competition. So I'm not really seeing the benifit of their cost cutting on the S and new C Class cars when it comes to the "sticker price". I do see the downside when it comes to the structural integrity, and quality of materials, especially in the S and C Class cars. These were the two areas where Mercedes excelled over all else. Even GM admitted that Mercedes (300E) was the car to beat in solidity at the time. Lexus does benifit from being able to share costs across the board with their cars. Everytime someone buys a Corolla it benifits Lexus' cars in the long-run. No doubt. Mercedes doesn't have that luxury.

    Now people say what about Chrysler. Well Mercedes and Chrysler have nothing to do with each other yet than being on paper under the same parent company so that point isn't valid. There isn't a Chrysler that shares Mercedes parts or a platform...yet. Mercedes made a decision after the 1992 S-Class wasn't recieved well all around the world. Certain members of the board wanted Mercedes to keep making the best car they could and let the price be dammed, but after the new over-the-top S didn't fly others wanted a change in policy. A much broader product range, and more importantly more competitive sticker prices and even more importantly...MORE SALES. Mercedes struggled to sell 60K car in 1993 here, last year they did over 200K. Quite a jump in 8 years. I personally would have like to have seen Mercedes just build the best car possible with just a little more reguard to price (i.e. cut out *some* of the over-the-top stuff)...but not building to a specific "price" as they are done today. For anyone not familiar with Mercedes there is an easy way to see the difference between these newer Benzes and an old-school Mercedes. Check out the current SL and a C or S Class on the dealer floor. There is quite a difference there. It pains me that Mercedes seems to be giving up what it did best. I'm waiting on the verdict of the new SL's build. If Mercedes compromises their most precious car like the rest, I don't know what else to say other than that they must not see a problem. Or they don't want to see it.

    Another point. Mercedes for years had the first this and the first that. Safety, fuel injection, diesel technology, etc. However the competition has so diligently studied Mercedes' cars to the point where they've all caught up in most areas, but I still maintain that nobody has caught up in every area...not yet. So it's kinda up to Mercedes to re-invent themselves and whole "motorcar" theme so they can get back that luster they've had for so long. They still have that "feel" when driving them and I still think they lead the world in safety when it comes to real-world crashes, with only Volvo being on the same page. Crash test aren't *always* indicative of some of the freak accidents that can happen on your local interstate. Mercedes still strives to exceed governement crash regulations be leaps and bounds. Mercedes still tests their cars in more situations than anyone other than Volvo. A few years ago I got a chance to view a tape at the autoshow in the Mercedes VIP room. Some of crashes the new C-Class (at the time 1994) was put through would have broken other cars in half. I also want to mention Saab is also a safety leader too. Their testing regimen is downright wierd, but seemingly effective.

    Mercedes' competition is right there with them, either they're realize this and take action or they'll be like others that have fallen from grace. Hopefully they'll wake up soon.

  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Interesting discussion. ....I think the $2500/year maintanence costs were quoted from me and I was refering to the last E-class I owned for the 3 years (30K-75K miles) prior to me selling it. In those 3 years I replaced the head gasket, front struts, rear shocks, all 4 brake discs, radiator and water pump, some electrical components, .... I know there's more, but it's like having a child. You forget the unplesent stuff or you'd never have a second. Our first MB was the "pre- C-class 190E. We averaged $1000 a year keeping it on the road. These numbers include scheduled and unscheduled maintanence. Currently the only MB we have is an older SL my wife uses as a daily driver. Suprising that after we restored it (for about $13K) it has been pretty much trouble free for 2 years. But we did spend about $6K on mechanical work 2 years ago to bring it back.

    To keep my comments in perspective, the only really negative thing I have to say about MB is the reliability/maintanence issue. I love the cars, the way they handle, the feel of the ride, most of the various styles. I think the current E and the upcoming 2003 E-class are simply works of art. If money were no object, perhaps I wouldn't mind so much. But I just don't think any car, especially ones selling for $35-60K (for the C and E class) should require so much maintanence, especially when some manufactures can make a damn near bullet-proof car for $12K. ......Still, when I see someone drive past me in their E, I sometimes sigh to myself and think I may be back yet again.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    This morning during my run, I cut through the MBUSA parking lot and saw a few "Euro-Spec" cars they have over here for evaluation. I have no idea if any are going to actually be imported for sale, never the less, here is a list of what I saw:

    C270 TDI - This car looked like a fully contented C320 with what apparently is a 2.7-liter &#147;Turbo Direct Injection&#148; diesel engine. Sounds interesting.

    E240 - Which by looking closely at it, seemed to be a slightly de-contented E320. By that I mean such things as the seat coverings being cloth instead of leather, no moon roof and so on.

    Several Smart cars in various color combinations.

    While I suspect that the first two would find a certain audience here in the U.S., I cannot understand the appeal of the Smart car.

    Best Regards,
  • Interesting discussion going on. One thing I havent seen mentioned here is the customer service the MB vs Lexus dealerships provide. I purchased a '00 E Class for my parents. Part of the wood grain was scratched at service A and the dealership agreed that it was their fault and they would replace it. That was over 8 months ago and after a dozen calls, their attitude is just as arrogant and careless as ever. They keep telling us the part will be here next wk, and have repeatedly not returned our calls.

    Would you believe this dealership kept the car for 9 days for service A (mainly an oil change and no loaner was provided). The reason they kept it because they ordered the wrong color woodgrain part. But NO ONE from the dealership bothered to call us to let us know that and inform us to pick up the car.

    I hope my experience with MB is unique and most dealers are better than this. Do I like the car? Yes. But I will NEVER again buy a MB product. In fact I have discouraged several people from buying it and instead go for Lexus. Go to the Lexus board and u get the impression they are extremely well treated. It is no surprise that Lexus is adhead in customer satisfaction and is surpassing MB sales. In 25 years of buying cars, MB service has been the absolute worst, and the only time in my life that I am writing to a company management with a complaint letter.
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    I've been away for a few days and just wanted to comment on a few things...

    sddlw -- Last week you asked why I join in this board if I don't want to own a Mercedes right now. Well, I do get curious about "premium" cars and like to know what motivates people to buy. That's all. I don't intend to say anything bad about Mercedes since I like their cars, I just don't want one right now (I've ordered a new 2002 ES 300). Does that make sense?

    ghays -- You mentioned how Mercedes are so much safer than Lexus models. I was in a Mercedes dealership about two years ago (a friend was looking at an E320), and the salesman kept raving how the car was so much safer than the GS 300. He happened to have the latest AutoWeek magazine on his desk, which I subscribe to. I told him to check the issue, because in it the government rated the GS a higher safety rating than the E.

    Also, doesn't reliability = safety? My girlfriend's VW Passat died once on the highway at 60 mph for no reason and without warning. Then, after being fixed, it did it again on a local street. The fact that Lexuses are so reliable is in itself a safety feature.

    spndx -- As for German cars being designed from the ground up, you'll find an awful lot of similar parts and features in an Audi as a VW. No different than Lexus/Toyota, Lincoln/Jaguar, etc. That's the way the automotive economy works and how it helps make manufacturers make better cars cheaper. Haven't Chrysler and Mercedes already said they will share certain parts and platforms in the future (when a new line of RWD Chryslers will be coming out)?

    I know this doesn't all relate to the C-Class, but I do love hearing what people think of all these cars. There are no right or wrong opinions and that's what makes the car world fun.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Name that dealership, please. If it's in the DC area, I want to make sure I avoid it. Thanks.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...if you lined up all of the engine and drivetrain combinations available to the rest of the world, but not to us, you could fill the parking lot with nothing else.

    Yes, both the E and C are available with a range of common-rail turbo diesels that are simply marvelous, and simply unavailable to us as long as the US govt refuses to put the shoulder to Big Oil to force them to get the excess sulfur out of our motor fuel. What goes into diesel fuel tanks in this country is, if you'll pardon the word, is illegal in the EU. There are endless proposals on the table to get the level of sulfur down to where it is now [and has been for some time] in Europe, but the oil companies whine and complain and nothing substantive happens. Until it does, the diesel revolution that is under way in Europe will pass us by; these cars are fast, quiet, clean, and 30-50% more economical...but everyone thinks Americans are anti-diesel and don't care. We might start caring if another oil boycott breaks out...

    I doubt we'll see anything like the current Smart here, but they have already done everything but actually commit to bringing us the next version of the A-Class, when it is redesigned in '04. The current A is a nice package, but flawed by the suspension compromises they had to jury-rig in order to take care of the moose-avoidance scandal. The result was a rocky ride and general lack of refinement that would not fly here with an MB badge - the new one should fix that problem. The latest iteration, the long-wheelbase A, actually comes pretty close to fulfilling the promise of the original design, but now they want to wait for the new car, which is probably wise.

    Anyway, the list of what the rest of the world can buy from MB, that we cannot, be it engine combinations or interior treatments, is so long as to be mind-boggling. Part of this is to make sure that the carefully crafted "brand image" that has been debated here is not "tarnished"...why a cloth seat option in an E-Class would "tarnish" the brand is a question I can't answer, but it's an example of the way they think in Montvale.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    Actually, oil companies are working on *zero emissions* diesel. One of the folks on the M-Class mailing list works in the industry and he's shown me a few articles on it; it's actually pretty cheap to make. You just don't hear much about it in the media because they like bashing oil companies...
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...came from Automobile magazine, not exactly a shill for either the government or consumers. They compared the latest VW Lupo diesel with the two readily available hybrids [Prius and Insight...and yes, we know the Civic is coming soon with the hybrid drivetrain]. They actually had to have a brace of VW engineers tooling behind them on their cross-country trek with a cartload of EU diesel fuel in order to conduct the test.

    Look, no one hopes against hope more than I do that rationality prevails in this area. And if the US oil giants have suddenly acquired religion on this topic, that's great news. With no shortage of PR people available to them, one wonders why this great news is not being shared with the public. I am aware of several projects ongoing between oil and auto companies to "do something"...what makes you wonder is why it needs to be such a brain-surgery discussion, when the formula obviously exists - it is being sold [and produced and refined by the same oil companies] all over Europe as I write this.
  • The dealership is Smith Motor Co in Charleston, WV. They have a monolopy in the area and feel they can get away with anything. In DC with all the competition, I suspect the service is much better.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I had the opportunity to consult to MBUSA for several years during the mid to late 1990s. During that time, I was working out of the building that was the first to receive all new goodies that Stuttgart sent us. This is just an observation, however, I noticed that rarely did a product come over here for evaluation that did not make it as a product here within a year or two. The Smart car seems to be one of the few exceptions; I have seen them running around my neighborhood for a couple of years now.

    As for the C270 TDI, to the best of my knowledge, MBUSA does not keep their own supplies of diesel fuel, the implication being that any diesel cars they currently have here in New Jersey are running off local pump fuel.

    I will call a couple for friends over there tonight and ask around.

    Best Regards,
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    I've used both Hohen MB and Lexus Carlsbad in the north county San Diego area. Both have been professional, courteous, and have about 50% or more of their loaners be MB or Lexus. The other 50% are cars from the other outlets the dealers have, Hondas for Hohen, Toyotas for Lexus. If you plan ahead, you can usually reserve a good car as a loaner. MB never damaged my cars so I cannot say how they would react, but at Lexus Carlsbad they twice scratched the wood panel around the shift gate and twice replaced it without comment, only appologies.

    The only other difference I can note between the two is that it costs me more at the MB shop. So much that I began using an independent for non-waranty work once our cars were a bit older. That would be Ziggy's Car Clinic in Mira Mesa. He doesn't have loaners but he'll pick you up and drop you off anywhere in town and charges about 50-70% of Hohen on any substantial work. I have nothing but praise for his work and attitude.

    lenscap - that's a great attitude. There are many great cars out there. I wish I could have more of them in my garage.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    As long as they don't plan to submit the car for an emissions test, the quality of the local fuel is not an issue. Nothing I would like to see more than the 2.7 CDI engine in any of the three cars it currently occupies in the EU [C, E, ML] here in the US...I'm just not holding my breath.

    VW wanted the Lupo that Automobile was testing to behave exactly like it was designed...and it was designed to take diesel fuel with less than 5-10 ppm of sulfur. To meet the regs planned for '06 and beyond, the diesel in the EU has to basically free of sulfur altogether...and they will get there well before then.

    VW can't bring in enough of the current TDIs in those states that allow them to be sold...that ought to tell the market planners something...
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    No idea why they haven't approached auto mags to do a story on their new stuff. I wish they would. It'd be a reason to get people excited over diesel.
    I also got my description wrong. They're working on zero *sulphur* stuff...not zero emissions ;-)
  • sddlw:

    I totally agree with you.

    This is one of the 4 Mercedes discussion group I read daily and I hear from east to west, north to south that for the E class, head gasket (leaks on every E class), radiator (plastic neck breaks), and water pump are, laughably, wear items for Mercedes. Mercedes designed the water pump so well that it take 10 hours (flat rate) to do a R&R. Believe it or not, for the 124 E class, the water pump usually out-last the head gasket and the radiator!!!
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yes Lexus customer service is better, but you're experience isn't typical either. I can't see why they would keep the car for 9 days for an oil change when you could be driving it if they're only waiting a piece of wood trim to arrive. Something doesn't jive there. I would have showed out a little. Lexus is mainly ahead or Mercedes in sales due to the bulk of their lineup (i.e. bestsellers) being under 50K. Mercedes sells a lot more cars on the top end, and of course they won't generate gee-wiz sales figures, but even still it's a close race.

  • 404c404c Posts: 146
    Are the engines noted for leaking the older inline 6 or the V6? I have heard some mixed things about the old inline 6 engine regarding such matters.

    Any head gasket worth its salt should never blow in the entire service life of an engine, assuming that there's no overheating.

  • mbnut1mbnut1 Posts: 403
    The inline sixes were noted for headgasket oil leaks. They weren't "blowing" as you suggested just seeping oil.
  • Most just seep, but some did blow and see oil in coolant and coolant in oil.

    In another list, one guy had the head gasket replaced three times under 50 kmi on his 1994 E320.

    Just yesterday, a 1992 W140 owner had the AC evaporator fixed. Total bill (labor and parts), $6,000!!! He saw the car when they took everything a part to get to the evaporator and he said it looked like an assembly line. Well engineered. Maybe too arrogantly engineered.

  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    I'm glad to see you wrote of the $6000 cost to fix an AC. Some people on another board questioned me when I had a similar story.

    My girlfriend's father had a 1995 SL600 that he bought new. Earlier this year the AC broke (the car only had 33,000 miles) and the dealer wanted $6000 to fix it. Most of the cost involved labor to tear apart the dash and get to the parts.

    Rather than spend that kind of money on a car that was only worth $35,000 he just traded it in.
  • Good move, lenscap. Trade that $35,000 S class for a $12,000 Toyota and you will never have AC problem.

    These Mercedes designers are just nuts.

    Here is another one for those 190E (201) 2.6 owners. You need to remove the radiator to change the belt.
  • 4murphy4murphy Posts: 20
    I see that this board is still alive and well. I gave my 2001 C240 to my daughter because of the mental anquish that it was causing me. She thinks that it is a great car that handles wonderfully.
    Since she has never driven a non 4x4 in the winter, I suggested that we put snow tires on the car. She is concerned that the handling will suffer with snow tires. For those out there who have used snow tires, what kind did you buy and did it effect handling?
    Since my car is a pre December build and the remote unlocking feature doesn't work, is it worth continuing with teleaid?
  • Anyone know if the changer for the 01,02 C class will play a CD-R (assume no MP3, just regular redbook cd audio) - also, anyone know if the radio on the C320 (bose) has an aux in for an MP3 player or the like.
  • afmbguyafmbguy Posts: 19
    There is an interface for the MP3 put in the cassette slot. It works well in other makes , but the 'flip open LED' door in the radio blocks the interface wire in Mercedes. It does not work well. That was the reason I brought the CD-changer, otherwise it would be a lot cheaper to use the MP3.
  • tlam625tlam625 Posts: 13
    My C320 is due for the first service (10k miles) soon.

    Just wonder what will be included in the service other than oil change? Anyone familiar with the service bulletin know? Also heard about service A and B, what are the diff and at what mileage are they performed?

    BTW, the engine is really nice and smooth now, better than brand new.
  • dogcowdogcow Posts: 8
    Yes, the CD changer in my 2001 C-240 plays CD-Rs. BTW, Clair parts sells the CD magazines for about $22.00.
  • michhalamichhala Posts: 375
    I miss Drew. As a poster belonging to two minorities (female and blonde), he helped guide me through the anxieties I felt with my C320 in a knowledgeable and courteous manner. This was the first car I purchased on my own and needed someone to hold my hand through the early months.

This discussion has been closed.