Poor MB Build Quality -- Why do you guys still buy MB?

Is it because you think it's a status symbol and therefore overlook its lackluster quality?
Since when did MB quality get so bad and why?
As a prospective MB buyer I would like to know.
Figaro
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General information is that since 2004, it has been in general decline in reliability. Majority of the problem is usually electronics and latest one is transmission issues and the 4 matics.
They produced too many models and configurations is why it got into trouble. They stuffed too many electronics to control simple things.
My advice is if you want to buy new MB, buy as simple as possible.... forget 4Matic when you use or can use snow tires Forget the built in GPS if you don't mind easier Garmin GPS. But do buy basic luxury such as HID headlight, heated seat... etc.
Same goes for the engine, if you can stick with 6 cylinders or diesel, go for it... the 8 and 12 are more problematic.
Above all, always buy extended warranty, because it is in your favor for major problem cropping up on you after your standard warranty expired.
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I gather (from an MB garage/workshop here in London) that particular models were affected and that the problems have been solved.
1st generation A Class, South African produced C Class. Early M Class...
My 2001 CLK has been fine.
Current A Class fine. B Class never had a problem.
Am interested to hear if there are contrary opinions.
I also agree that it is wise to keep it simple, but I suspect that applies to all cars.
DAS
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My 2008 ML350 has been completely reliable. I owned 3 MBs before (2000 E320, 2003 CLK320, and 2006 E350), and they did have problems, but my latest one has not. J D Power confirms quality is improving, as does Consumer Reports (over half MB models are now recommended).
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It has been my understanding that MB hit its lowest ebb around 2003-04. The reasons for the poverty of the quality are manifold. They wanted to sell high volume for what had always been a smaller luxury only player. The mechanical engineering in all of their products went through total reinvention. The electrically driven luxury equipment increased in number by multiples as all car companies started to compete on content. It put a great burden on the engineering departments, and the semi-robotic manufacturing system they use lends itself to poorer quality control. The port of Baltimore I know now runs dozens and dozens more checks than they did in even five years ago to make sure that they check every possible factory error before the car is delivered to the dealer.
In my opinion, it is the way that Mercedes decided to address the increasing demands for content in the cars, which was to add hard wired electrical equipment. That lead to multiple computer systems, and strained the electrical system. Just as another way of looking at it, GM has as much functionality that it offers outside of the car in its satellite fed Onstar system. That choice allowed them to simplify their cars much more than any of the Germans.
I also agree that Mercedes quality is coming up since they have reengineered those things that didn't work, and dropped those features that couldn't be reliably engineered like the Electronic Brake Force distribution they used on some early this decade SLs and AMGs.
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Not necessarily or depends what you mean.
Mercs -- C & E Class -- have been in the Top-5-selling cars in Germany for years. Not sure this year, haven't checked.
Even 20 years ago the W123 200D sold extremely well to business (incl taxi companies, of corse) because it was reliable and very economical (incl low depreciation rates).
You never see the smaller-engined models in the US, from what I can make out.
DAS
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The North American Market is still the major volume market for the world. If you want to sell volume, then you have to sell more cars in North America. The fact that 190D cars with roll up windows have sold well in Germany has nothing to do with sales volume globally and since the German market is and has been fully saturated, there can be no gains there. I have seen basement level Mercedeses sold in North Africa and some other parts of the world as taxis, however they do not sell in other parts of Europe, England, North America or Asia. As much as Mercedes has previously wanted to sell lower priced volume product, they were entirely unsuccessful anywhere outside of Germany in any volumes that mattered. The current C Class is of course successful in doing so for the past ten years, and the sales of their higher end vehicles went up with the debt bubble. The Mercedes Company today, its mission and market position is very different than it was 20 years ago when it sold only to the wealthy.
I disagree that particular factories in either North America or South Africa are responsible for the "bad cars". Fundementally, it is an engineering and production method issue more than individual manufacturing mistakes, although those are a problem too. Actually my mother-in-law's 2002 MY AMG CLK, had every type of problem. The electronic braking still doesn't work reliably and never will due to bad engineering, the electronic starting system failed from cheap manufacturing quality at a vendor, the engine had to be completely rebuilt (at 2,500 miles) due to manufacturing error at AMG. The other ancillary break downs have been more normal problems, but to say that because the car had been made in Germany means that it is better than cars made elsewhere is belied by the record of this German built Mercedes.
To me the problems at Mercedes Benz are systemic from ownership, straight through management to manufacturing and finally to the dealer network which has been expanded and pressed for higher sales volumes. At no point in the chain is there to be found the luxury ownership experience that one had in buying the car from 1970 to 1990. The company is engaged in brand debasement, and the quality of the cars has followed the path set by that management strategy. That's how I see it.

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"The North American Market is still the major volume market for the world. If you want to sell volume, then you have to sell more cars in North America. The fact that 190D cars with roll up windows have sold well in Germany has nothing to do with sales volume globally and since the German market is and has been fully saturated, there can be no gains there. I have seen basement level Mercedeses sold in North Africa and some other parts of the world as taxis, however they do not sell in other parts of Europe, England, North America or Asia. As much..."
In my view the above is piffle, as is some of your other stuff. On what basis do you make this claim?
The German car market may not be as large as the US one but it is still large. Mercedes is not a global 'volume' saloon car manufacturer like Ford or Toyota. Their efforts at buying their way in -- Chrysler -- ended in failure for whatever reason. Mercedes is certainly Europe's (and probably the world's) largest lorry and bus manufacturer.
They certainly have had and may still some quality problems is known, but they are past their trough. Your mother's vehicle is already 7 years old and form that time. Like I said, my regular, non-AMG CLK 2001 Cab has runs fine and my previous W123 230E went on and on with only one major issue at 60K miles. Years ago my then W123 200 had some engine fault at about 2000 miles; engine replaced under warranty, no more problems.
Given the range of models and extras they sell to 'rich' and 'poor' alike. Why is it relevant that only relatively few people can afford a full-spec S500?
DAS
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Piffle is a little insulting. I could say the same thing about your assertion that Germany is the most important car market in the world. If we were talking about France and England as well as Germany being major markets for base model Mercedes Benz then you might have a leg to stand on, but Germany itself is just too small to make a real difference to Mercedes sales volumes. I base my assertions on changes in Mercedes sales number over the past 15 years. Look them up.
All of what I have said is of course my opinion. I believe that there has been a drive from ownership of the company to increase sales volumes and that drive has lead to a fall in quality over the past 15 years.
In my first post, I stated that IMHO the quality of their cars hit its nadir in 2003-04. Yes, the CLK is almost 7 years old now from prodcution (5 from delivery), but it was given as example of the types of quality problems that the company was experiencing then. It was not meant as an example of build quality today. That would be silly. The C class that we bought 2 years ago has been more reliable, but like the CLK it is only one car so who cares what happens with either of them.
The OP asked for opinions as to what caused Mercedes quality to fall. My opinion is that increased sales volumes as well as the inclusion of too much new content too fast caused that drop in quality. IMHO all of the German car companies have fallen into the trap of building over contented cars that have too little engineering time spent on new systems, but that does not explain all of what has been seen in poor build quality. There are also problems coming from the assembly process itself. I do not think that blaming any particular factory, which has been a popular thing to do in the car community, holds water. I think that it is the chosen manucturing process that is more at fault. I further believe that these changes were intentionally come to by ownership to increase sales volumes across the price range.
You ask for support for my opinions. It is an opinion. I am not going to support it. You can believe what you want to believe, and I will believe what I want to believe. The facts that I base my opinion on are mostly widely avaialable, and I have merely come to a different conclusion. Have a great day, and enjoy your car.
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Actually it's Mercedes' biggest market by volume. Get the Daimler annual report and read it.

I have -- they're in the Daimler annual report.

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Quite!
To Howard re "your assertion that Germany is the most important car market in the world."
That, too, is piffle, as I made no such claim. Nor did you provide any support for your claim about MB cars being for the wealthy, even 20 years ago.
I think my use of the word is quite justified, as it means "nonsense":
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/piffle?view=uk
" It is an opinion. I am not going to support it." Correct.
"The facts that I base my opinion on are mostly widely avaialable..." That's the question!
The fact that MB had quality issues on some models is not in dispute, and I am sure the heavy loading with 'cutting-edge' electroncs has something to do with it. Furthermore there have been and probably still are dealer issues in Europe and North America, though I have been lucky with my experiences. The Merc-owned garage I use in west London (no sales showroom attached!) has given me very good service without always trying to charge me top dollar.
To counteract problems in the UK the company bought up the dealerships in the three (or four, can't remember) main metropolitan areas as they became available, having previously only owned a handful (or less).
DAS
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If you are aware of this why do you keep looking at MB? I'm very disappointed with german car quality in general! A lexus LS460 will blow away just about any german luxury car. I've seen several comparisons with the LS460 vs the S class. Several journalists say the Lexus is superior and for about half the price.
Have you seen the Lexus LS460? It truly is amazing AND RELIABLE!!!!
Good luck,
Oskar
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In what respect? Not power. Not handling. Not braking. Not styling. Not acceleration.

And who would those journalists be?

Also rather bland.

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I dont know what are you talking about. My 1989 Mercedes W124 is very good quality construction. I am using it today, 20 years after production.
Present engines are a lot better than old engines.
Anyway, I dont like the look of new Mercedes, those that look like japanese or korean.
My advice: If you dont like Mercedes, dont buy it. Buy a japanese, they have very good cars. Dont worry about us.
Be happy.
Have a good purchase.

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Yes, there are some things about the construction that I don't like. My 97 E, and I understand that this is nearly a feature, developed a shimmy in the lower left ball joint. But so what? It has a solid ride and reasonable economy. Roughly the same as my wife's 97 Camry with more space and comfort. My 87 300D -- I like the ride but the seats are terrible! If only the later seats would fit ... But are they built any worse than anything else? Maybe, but today so many cars are built so well that there is little to complain about. Unless you buy a Hyundai.
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