Gas engine longevity

Hi all,
You have been helpful with my diesel questions, now I would like to solicit some info about the gasoline variants.
I think I am looking for something along the lines of either a 1995 E
300 wagon or a 1998 E 300 wagon (I have 4 kids). It has been my experience that the MB diesel engines (I have owned 2 MB diesels) are good for several hundred housand miles if you changethe oil, filters and do regular maintenance.
Assuming that the owner was a reasonable driver and performed regular oil/filter changes and did routine maintenance, what can one expect from these two gasoline variants?
Any other general comments would be great as well.
Thanks!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The models you cite have different engines. Through '97 the E320 used a 24 valve 3.2L straight six, starting '98 an 18 valve 3.2L V-6 was installed and it continued until '06 when a 3.5L 24 valve V-6 succeeded it. The old 4 speed hydraulic transmission was used thru '96 MY and a 5 speed electronic box replaced it in '97.
As to longevity. The straight six has a cast iron block and an aluminum cylinder head; these dissimilar metals expand and contract at slightly different rates and that seems to tax the head gasket so, around 150K miles it is prone to fail. The straight six is known for oil leaks from its front cover and valve cover. This engine's oil & filter should be changed every 7,500 miles and its spark plugs done at 35K miles (fixed maintenance schedule). I own one of these understandable engines and do the spark plugs myself. I believe its useful life will be 250K miles given scheduled maintenance.
The all aluminum V-6 has had problems with its harmonic balancer. Apparently the balancer fails and its pieces damage the engine to various degrees. The other issue is with (correct) synthetic oil use given its variable (computer determined) service interval. Traditional oil used by some owners (apparently not having instructions to the contrary) didn't stand up to extended service intervals and those engines subsequently burn oil. A liter or more consumption in (only) 700 miles seems to be the threshold for M-B's repair assistance. The only way to really know if an engine was refilled with synthetic oil is to review each service bill - the oil's higher cost should indicate that fact. But to find a used car complete with such receipts won't be easy.
I hope this helps you even though additional data makes things more, not less, complicated.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I can't argue with Tom's excellent summary, but I will add that engine longevity seems to be the least of concerns with these cars. I have both a '95 (137K miles) and a '99 (90K miles). The mid-90s models have some notorious problems. While there's the head gasket issue that Tom mentioned, there's the infamous "bio-degradable" wiring harness. On top of that there are aging A/C concerns, etc. So if you find a '95, get the maintenance and repair history and make sure that stuff like the A/C is solid (some $$$ can be spent here). And on a '95 wagon remember that you are buying a 10 year old car so stuff like ball joints, radiators, water pumps, sensors, etc. need to be replaced at some time. That being said, my '95 wagon runs fine and looks/runs better than any Asian- or American-built car its age or mileage. Heck, it looks/runs better than some cars half its age. But then again I put time/money into maintenance/repairs.
My '99 is a nice engine/transmission package - and a wider stance. Hardly any problems (except for the hand-grenade option known as the harmonic balancer that Tom mentioned), but it's still a relatively "young" car as far as I'm concerned.
Josh
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Another thought. In '97 a E300 non-turbo diesel was sold here and better, in '98 and '99 a well regarded E300 turbo diesel was sold here. Unfortunately not too many of these turbos are available, but if you should come upon one I suggest you give it some consideration.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't believe a wagon version of the 98 or 99 E 300 turbodiesel was sold in the US. I have a 99 sedan version that is just a pleasure to drive. Terrific power, excellent fuel economy, and trouble free. I have seen several on Ebay for sale with over 230K miles.
Raj

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the quick and informative replies. I have owned a number of MBZs and I prefer the diesels, hence my questions abiut gasoline longevity. I'd really like to find a nice low mileage diesel wagon in the 93-98 age range nut I don't think there were wagons made in all of those years and I'm not sure of the wagon years which had diesels.
Any other items to be aware of in the 93-98 years?
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There were no wagons in '96 or '97 (at least not in the US market) and I believe that the last year for a diesel wagon was '85.
Josh
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Last year for the diesel wagon (at least in North America) was 1987. I owned one and it was good car.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.