BEST Used Benz for $5000 - $7000

OK. Here is my "Best Used Benz Challenge" for you guys.

Terms of the challenge --

(1) Must be $5000 - $7000 (2) 4-Door Sedan (3) Mid-1990's & earlier (4) Diesel preferred (5) Must be reliable for Daily Driving (6) Must be comfortable (minimal engine noise, smooth ride, etc.)

Winner will have the deepest gratitude from this MB newbie :)

Figaro

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Figaro wrote:

That would be a w124 E300D I guess...

Unless you want to go w140 350SD(L) which are more luxurious but also more problematic and expensive to maintain.

X.

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Thanks, I found a local car, a 1994 E300D, for sale @$5295 Also a 1991 560SEL for a couple $1000's more.

Both look great inside and out.

Which one is a better deal?

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Also- is there a big difference between the E300D and E320CDI in terms of reliablity and performance? Their prices are about the same in the used market...although I have heard MB reliablity is *Very Poor* in late 1990's.

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Ximinez, great estimate...spot on.... :-)

DAS

To reply directly replace 'nospam' with 'schmetterling' --

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Thanks for all your insightful comments. I am in Los Angeles area...

I am coming from Jaguars, so I understand all about brand mystique & loyalty. But I am willing to give MB another chance after a not-so- hot experience years ago with my cousin's 1997 S420 (He later traded it in for a Lexus LS. "Too many issues"- he said). That car felt big and heavy like a tank, unlike my Jag XK8 at the time.

So far I have looked at: early 1990's E300 (gas & diesel), 300SEL, 560SEL. I like the styles from this period better than the newer cars, and the prices are fantastic... despite the uniformly stratospheric mileage on these cars. This tells me two things -- either (1) these cars are near bullet-proof reliable like the Toyotas & Hondas, OR (2) the pride of ownership far outweighs costs of maintenance (kind of like my love-hate relationship with my prior XJ6 series-3).

I do want to find a reliable MB daily driver so I can retire my XK8 (still pristine and light on the foot) for the weekends and special occasions :-)

Cheers, Figaro

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I found this 1995 E300 Diesel: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/cto/1723510992.html

The price seems rather steep at $6000 for the year & 170k mi (Edmunds.com suggests $2572) - but is this a good model/year to get???

Thanks!

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No one is gonna sell off a MB diesel for $2600... not gonna happen but $6000 is a bit steep. He must have all service records all the way to beginning of the first ownership to even ask for that price.

It is a CA car so it is rust free. From what I see, it seems to be a basic base model... just like mine. Feel free to email me for all questions as I own the same car.

At that mileage, the issue is sway bar links/bushings, fuel lines leaking... I mean all of them. Possible fuel injector pump leaking (I have this issue now and it is all because of new diesel low sulfur formulation), Transmission is critical... must be verified working.

I love my car, it is not too big and yet sport enough. The W210 is defintely bigger and longer but the 5 speed tranny is a dream along with the latest and best old time diesel engine.

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Figaro wrote:

I'd say it's a good model and year to get, but this one is too expensive for the mileage.

In general US benzes are more affordable than out here in Holland. I just paid 12000 EUR for a '5 E280 wagon, but it only has 50kmiles on it. I also get a full 6 months warranty, which is a nice feeling...

I'd definitely get the E instead of the S.

X.

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Neither IMHO. Both cars are over-priced unless they're mint and there's seriously low mileage on them. Keep in mind Chrysler handled/built everything after '87. I own a pair of 300Es (87 and 88) that are "bullet proof" reliable but they keep me busy with repairs. Wires, cap and rotor run $300 for a basic tuneup. Water pumps the same.

Assume they're being sold by dealers? Compare prices on Craigslist or eBay first.

The 300D is at the crossroads for extensive repairs when they have 200 to 300K km on the clock. I tuned in late and don't know where you're located. I'm in chilly Canada and all those 300Ds need to be plugged in (block heaters) wherever you park to start at temperatures below freezing if that's a consideration.

Not to say they won't clock a million KM during their lifespan, but they do demand that you throw money at them. Repairs on the 560 will be through the roof unless you're able to do your own work.

Buying a Benz ten years old works best if you're networked with local places that stock good used parts and wreckers with parts cars, and a mechanic that doesn't treat you like 99% of mechanics do when you call about a Benz that needs work.

That said, there's no other car like a Benz and once you're hooked there's no way out.

Then again, if you're made of money - go nuts! =)

--
"Ward, weren't you a little hard on The Beaver last night?" --June Cleaver


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You are definitely 'mad'....

I disagree with alot of you what you said. Especially the Chrysler part... you could not be any more wrong. Chrysler never handled anything Mercedes...

They were allowed to use Mercedes technology and parts but still insisted on their 'modification.' Nothing of Chrysler were ever adopted into MB cars. and you are about a decade+ off when Daimeler acquired Chrysler.

We don't know where this person is located and cars can be alot more expensive than in USA.

Parts are plentiful for old MB... zero problem in USA. No need to stock used parts unless it is absolutely necesary.

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1997 E300D non turbo with 5 speed auto transmission 1998 E300TD turbo with 5 speed auto transmission

This is for USA cars.

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are u aware MB cars are generally unreliable and cost lots of $$$ to maintain?

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MB cars have serious problems with being reliable. I've seen lots of my friends cars with electrical gremlins (some serious enough to warrant replacing of major components, others just annoying). For that money, I'd suggest getting a good japanese car that is FAR superior in reliability. You also don't mention that with cars this old the seats are probably worn out and in most cases the seats will be uncomfortable. The first thing to make the car useful would be to get seats fixed (new cushioning material - maybe new covers). My experience with MB autos is that they WERE great 30-40 years ago. Now it's just riding on a reputation from a long time ago. For the past 10-20 years MB autos are awful build quality. Very unreliable compared to say a lexus LS400 - LS430. For about $10k I'd suggest getting one of these cars. Much better reliability. Now if you really enjoy wasting your money and giving it to a MB mechanic to fix these money pits - be my guest :)

Status symbol = I can afford to waste lots of money on a car that requires high maintenance.

search google for unreliable luxury cars. You will see MB autos (german cars in general) come up rather often...

I'm quoting from the Forbes article for unreliable luxury cars - this is around 2007

Over the years, we have heard a lot of gripes about unreliable luxury cars.

Lamborghinis LM002 had the durability of a potato chip, one car- industry analyst remarked. Your typical Land Rover, one reader wrote, is as reliable as a drunken house painter.

And there are entire Web sites dedicated to jokes about Lucas, the company which used to supply mediocre electrical components to Jaguar, giving the automakers build quality a miserable reputation that has endured for decades (Q. Why do the English drink warm beers? A. Because they have Lucas refrigerators).

In other words, if you buy a luxury car, dont expect it to be trouble- free. In Pictures: 2007s Most Reliable Luxury Cars

But some brands, particularly Japanese luxury automakers, are known for immaculate manufacturing. At the start of this year, half of the markets 16 most-reliable luxury cars -- the models which earn Consumer Reports highest marks for predicted reliability and/or J.D. Powers highest marks for manufacturing quality -- were Japanese, including Toyota Motor's (nyse: TM - news - people ) $61,000 Lexus LS flagship sedan, which the carmaker just overhauled.

Dependable Drive The new LS is the fourth generation of the car since Lexus introduced the line in 1989, and it has garnered more awards for quality than any other luxury car, says Lexus. It has also won J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Index study every year it has been eligible.

Lexus builds five of the 16 most-reliable luxury cars. Its slogan used to be "the relentless pursuit of perfection," and it wasn't just lip service.

While the company has world-renowned manufacturing methods, "the pursuit of perfection" is implanted so vigorously into Toyota's corporate culture that Lexus engineers its trademark reliability into cars before they ever hit the factories. The companys designers and engineers have mastered the science behind the creation of reliable vehicles, and they dont need to wait to see how their technology and engineering will hold up on the actual cars, at least not to the extent that other manufacturers do (to test things out, other automakers need to build more pre-production prototypes than Lexus does).

Increasing Competition Given Toyotas merits, we were surprised to find that several other luxury cars compare favorably with Lexus models, despite being issued by companies that are hardly Toyota-like.

DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people ) Mercedes-Benz subsidiary, for example, has had reliability issues resulting in massive recalls and dreadful Consumer Reports ratings. However, J.D. Power has given two of the carmakers vehicles (the SL and SLK convertibles) its highest marks for manufacturing quality. Power reports that SL and SLK owners, within 90 days of taking delivery of their new cars, are seeing very few problems with features, accessories, interior components and body quality. Could Mercedes finally be tackling its quality-control issues?

Were asking the same question of other German cars this year. In general, they are known for having technology that is prone to failure because of its complexity. Yet we were surprised to see cars by Mercedes, BMW and Porsche on our list this year.

The Findings Our list is made of new-model cars. A car is on our list if it has the highest marks for reliability from Consumer Reports and/or J.D. Power. Both use one-to-five scales for evaluating quality and reliability. A top marks indicates a five from Power or Consumer Reports, or both. The vast majority of luxury cars are not on our list.

Whats more, not every luxury car has reliability ratings. If a car was new or overhauled for calendar-year 2006, dont expect to see it here. For example, Consumer Reports has not issued reliability predictions for Cadillacs Escalade and Acuras MDX, two SUVs that were overhauled last year. New cars like these need to be on the market longer in order for customers to report problems the vehicles may be having. And such blue-blooded cars as Maybach and Bentley models tend not to have reliability ratings from Power and Consumer Reports because the vehicles volumes are too low to make for effective studies.

Power bases its overall manufacturing quality score on problems that have caused a complete breakdown or malfunction of any component, feature, or item--i.e., components that stop working or trim pieces that break or come loose. Both Power and Consumer Reports base their quality and reliability ratings on owner responses to their surveys. Consumer Reports asks owners if they have had trouble with their cars engines, electrical systems, paint, audio systems and other components.

Rest assured, its possible to find luxury and reliability in one vehicle. And thats no joke.

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That is a generalisation. SOME Mercs had major issues, unfortunately incl some of the top sellers.

My understanding is that many/most of the problems have been licked.

E.g. 1st generation A Class not great. Present generation fine.

B Class never had a problem.

Any disagreements?

DAS

To reply directly replace 'nospam' with 'schmetterling' --

wrote: [...]>

MB cars have serious problems with being reliable. I've seen lots of my friends cars with electrical gremlins (some serious enough to warrant replacing of major components, others just annoying). For that money, I'd suggest getting a good japanese car that is FAR superior in reliability. You also don't mention that with cars this old the seats are probably worn out and in most cases the seats will be uncomfortable. The first thing to make the car useful would be to get seats fixed (new cushioning material - maybe new covers). My experience with MB autos is that they WERE great 30-40 years ago. Now it's just riding on a reputation from a long time ago. For the past 10-20 years MB autos are awful build quality. Very unreliable compared to say a lexus LS400 - LS430. For about $10k I'd suggest getting one of these cars. Much better reliability. Now if you really enjoy wasting your money and giving it to a MB mechanic to fix these money pits - be my guest :)

Status symbol = I can afford to waste lots of money on a car that requires high maintenance.

search google for unreliable luxury cars. You will see MB autos (german cars in general) come up rather often...

I'm quoting from the Forbes article for unreliable luxury cars - this is around 2007

Over the years, we have heard a lot of gripes about unreliable luxury cars.

Lamborghinis LM002 had the durability of a potato chip, one car- industry analyst remarked. Your typical Land Rover, one reader wrote, is as reliable as a drunken house painter.

And there are entire Web sites dedicated to jokes about Lucas, the company which used to supply mediocre electrical components to Jaguar, giving the automakers build quality a miserable reputation that has endured for decades (Q. Why do the English drink warm beers? A. Because they have Lucas refrigerators).

In other words, if you buy a luxury car, dont expect it to be trouble- free. In Pictures: 2007s Most Reliable Luxury Cars

But some brands, particularly Japanese luxury automakers, are known for immaculate manufacturing. At the start of this year, half of the markets 16 most-reliable luxury cars -- the models which earn Consumer Reports highest marks for predicted reliability and/or J.D. Powers highest marks for manufacturing quality -- were Japanese, including Toyota Motor's (nyse: TM - news - people ) $61,000 Lexus LS flagship sedan, which the carmaker just overhauled.

Dependable Drive The new LS is the fourth generation of the car since Lexus introduced the line in 1989, and it has garnered more awards for quality than any other luxury car, says Lexus. It has also won J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Index study every year it has been eligible.

Lexus builds five of the 16 most-reliable luxury cars. Its slogan used to be "the relentless pursuit of perfection," and it wasn't just lip service.

While the company has world-renowned manufacturing methods, "the pursuit of perfection" is implanted so vigorously into Toyota's corporate culture that Lexus engineers its trademark reliability into cars before they ever hit the factories. The companys designers and engineers have mastered the science behind the creation of reliable vehicles, and they dont need to wait to see how their technology and engineering will hold up on the actual cars, at least not to the extent that other manufacturers do (to test things out, other automakers need to build more pre-production prototypes than Lexus does).

Increasing Competition Given Toyotas merits, we were surprised to find that several other luxury cars compare favorably with Lexus models, despite being issued by companies that are hardly Toyota-like.

DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people ) Mercedes-Benz subsidiary, for example, has had reliability issues resulting in massive recalls and dreadful Consumer Reports ratings. However, J.D. Power has given two of the carmakers vehicles (the SL and SLK convertibles) its highest marks for manufacturing quality. Power reports that SL and SLK owners, within 90 days of taking delivery of their new cars, are seeing very few problems with features, accessories, interior components and body quality. Could Mercedes finally be tackling its quality-control issues?

Were asking the same question of other German cars this year. In general, they are known for having technology that is prone to failure because of its complexity. Yet we were surprised to see cars by Mercedes, BMW and Porsche on our list this year.

The Findings Our list is made of new-model cars. A car is on our list if it has the highest marks for reliability from Consumer Reports and/or J.D. Power. Both use one-to-five scales for evaluating quality and reliability. A top marks indicates a five from Power or Consumer Reports, or both. The vast majority of luxury cars are not on our list.

Whats more, not every luxury car has reliability ratings. If a car was new or overhauled for calendar-year 2006, dont expect to see it here. For example, Consumer Reports has not issued reliability predictions for Cadillacs Escalade and Acuras MDX, two SUVs that were overhauled last year. New cars like these need to be on the market longer in order for customers to report problems the vehicles may be having. And such blue-blooded cars as Maybach and Bentley models tend not to have reliability ratings from Power and Consumer Reports because the vehicles volumes are too low to make for effective studies.

Power bases its overall manufacturing quality score on problems that have caused a complete breakdown or malfunction of any component, feature, or item--i.e., components that stop working or trim pieces that break or come loose. Both Power and Consumer Reports base their quality and reliability ratings on owner responses to their surveys. Consumer Reports asks owners if they have had trouble with their cars engines, electrical systems, paint, audio systems and other components.

Rest assured, its possible to find luxury and reliability in one vehicle. And thats no joke.

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Are you aware that Lexus cars ride and handle like the toyotas which they are?

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please drive an LS 460 and then tell us what you think. This thing can blow away an S-class MB in luxury, performance and handling.

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I found this 1983 300D Turbo, 180k mi, for $3900.

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/ant/cto/1754185233.html

Is it a good buy??

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Yes. Assuming what the seller says is true, that is a very good buy. One thing, though, the W123 Mercedes of that era, which this is, had a really poor design in the gearing of the odometer. Almost all of them break. As a result I always question the mileage estimates. Even if fixed, people will go a long time without attending to a broken odometer that doesn't affect the speedometer. That said, if well- maintaine, these cars are super reliable and will run practically forever. I currently own two. :)

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