Reliability of the E Class

I am considering the purchase of a new E320 4Matic but am hesitating because I have been hearing that Mercedes has been experience a serious drop in quality/reliability ratings and that customers have had to bring their
vehicles back a number of times for the same issue. Before I made a decision one way or the other I wanted to ask you folks if you could share what you know on the topic. It's one thing to buy a cheap car and have problems but at $54,000 well, I have a problem with that.
If you have any other insights on the new E Class I would appreciate it if you would take the time and share with me.
Be well,
Jeff snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net
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You recognize the dilemma anyone seems to face when purchasing a "luxury" good. Its complexity makes it more difficult (and expensive) to service so significant additional "luxury" cost follows its purchase.
I expect higher than average quality at these prices but have learned it's simply not so. OK, they fix things without argument during the warranty but its YOUR time that's wasted taking the car to the shop. That seems to be part of the "ownership experience" of most luxury goods, whether a Mercedes-Benz car, or a complicated Patek Philipe watch, it's the same. The product's sophistication is often beyond the ability (or interest) of the local service organization.
I've come to the conclusion to stay with the most popular model - the one with the highest volume production - and absolutely avoid anything "exotic" or "hand built" for such exclusivity comes at too high an aggravation cost, in my experience. The failures aren't in the major components but rather in all the purchased "stuff" that's hung onto the car. And the Germans' electronics just aren't up to the reliability of the Japanese, regardless of brand. Year after year the same. Astounding isn't it?
The 4-matic option adds a lot of complexity; if you plan to trade the car before its 4 year warranty or extension thereof expires then it's probably OK, otherwise consider if you can live without this option. I don't say this out of specific knowledge of 4-matic drive but the general penalty of added complexity in a car.
Remember, if you buy one, it's just a car.
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MB has indeed fallen dramatically in terms of quality/reliability and owner satisfaction. In a recent survey of German owners MB finished NEXT TO LAST, beating only lowly Land Rover. I'd advise you look at Lexus until more sound management takes over at Daimler / Chrysler, I know I will.
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owner
LAST,
sound
reliable.
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It's interesting the respondents (mostly North American) tend to praise Toyota among Japanese brands, but I had the impression that Honda was tops. They also have a 'premium' end. Also more expensive, maybe?
DAS --
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tops.
Among economy cars Honda seems to have the perceived edge among the Asian cars in the US. Among Asian luxury brands, the Lexus (Toyota) seems to be the perceived best choice over Infinity (Nissan) and Acura (Honda). I use the term "perceived" because my opinion is that the quantifiable differences in them is negligible.
Scott D
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Well, I think the original respondent's point about looking at Lexus simply had to do with vehicles of comparable size/performance. Lexus offers larger, more stately vehicles than Acura. Lexus offers cars that are intended to compete directly with the E and S classes, while Acura's cars tend to be smaller and nimbler, and probably more comparable to BMW's 3 and 5 series, although Acura does not offer RWD on any car other than the NSX supercar.
I don't know of anything Acura makes that could be compared to a 7 series or an S class.
It's clear from reliability reports through various organizations that Honda and Toyota dominate pretty much everyone else. In a recent Consumer Reports buying guide, Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura combined to take something like 8 or 9 of the top ten spots for vehicle reliability.
--Paul ** Note "removemunged" in email address and remove to reply. **
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I have owned several Mercedes and I currently own an E class car along with two older Mercedes. I don't think there is any question that the quality of Mercedes cars has dropped in the last 15 or so years. Last time I was visiting my local Mercedes dealer to pick up a part, I got into a little conversation with one of the managers. After he learned that I was purchasing a part for a 23 year old car, he told me that all the new Mercedes had too much plastic and way too much electronics. I would have to agree that the build quality simply isn't there anymore. It's not like I'm a big fan of Japanses cars but I just don't really see a quality difference in the way they are build compared to Mercedes. And the customer surveys seem to indicate the Mercedes isn't very dependable either.
My only real suggestion is to stay away from the 4matic.
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My impression is that in the 'old days' Merc used to lag in the introduction of new technology, making sure it was properly tested first.
Now they want to be first. Maybe that's what impresses the clients (at the purchase decision stage)?
DAS --
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dies gedichtet:

Mercedes had huge problems when introducing the W124 (cracks in the windscreen, loose rear axle joints, worn out camshafts etc.). The W123 T- Model had a design flaw which let the rear door rust very fast. The 2.5 litre six cylinder engine of the 60's and 70's had a bad reputation for being an unreliable oil and gas guzzler. And the single link rear axle of most of the 60's cars made their handling in curves quite unpredictable. Have you ever seen a W140 with just any bit of rust on it? Or a W116 without rust?
People tend to glorify the past and to over-dramatize the present.
Frank
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The quality differences in all the top end cars like the E-Class are relatively minor. With things so close, owner polls, quality surveys, and magazine articles mostly show who did a better job with their Marketing budget. Consider all the aspects of ownership. The quality of all cars has risen dramatically. Also, a lot of the survey data is from owners the older models anyway.
The E-Class is a wonderful car to own and drive. It will put a grin on your face even 10 years and 200,000 miles down the road, The 4-Matic does add a few extra parts but is a relatively simple and reliable system that Mercedes has refined on the E-Class for well over a decade. Depending upon the amount of snow and ice you face, you may find the simpler ASR traction system enough.
This is so close, that buying a Mercedes, BMW, Volvo or Lexus is essentially a right-brain left-brain dilemma. The Japanese luxo-cars may come out a few percent ahead on a computer spreadsheet, but buying a car like this is more than charts and graphs. You have to drive these cars - ask for a weekend test drive. The passion and feel of the machine certainly goes to Mercedes and BMW over the Japanese models - and that is no coincidence. Those subjective qualities are designed in too - traded off against he thousands of other aspects of engineering the cars If you let the accountant in you win - a Lexus will do. The E-Class decision comes from the driver in you.
After putting well over a combined 500K miles on the many E-Class cars we have owned, I have found the cost of ownership quite reasonable especially considering they can easily turn over 200K miles without major problems. And, when factoring in the driving and ownership experience, a bargain. Overall owner and driving experience of the E-Class is unmatched. Much is summed up in a common reaction you'll get after your analysis results in a purchase of any of Japanese model - "oh, so you didn't get the Mercedes?"
Scott

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It sounds like the majority of your E Class experience has been with the W124 chassis.
IMO- the W124 is much better overall vehicle than the 210 replacement.
Even the dealer mechanics say that....
Best,
Ross

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I bought two W210's this summer. One replaced a 300TE with about 300k miles.
So far I am extremely happy with the w210's, but have only put about 20k miles on them. More miles will tell. Slightly more tire noise is my only complaint so far over the W124s. The W210 has MANY good points.
Scott D

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If you're leaning towards a MB then buy one , as long as you have the origional factory warranty or the starmark you're fine. I would not own one without some type of factory warranty , it's too much of a crapshoot . In my opinion , purchasing any european vehicle without a manufactures warranty is asking for trouble. -Dana

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"<<<. In my opinion , purchasing any european vehicle without a manufactures warranty is asking for trouble.>>>
Warrantees are indeed a gamble. I'll bet on Mercedes quality and good maintenance. I just consider that the warranty company knows the odds like the House knows the odds in Vegas. I am on our 7th Mercedes, averaging about 80K miles when purchased and most driven well beyond 200K miles. Other than minor repairs, the only major repair expense I have had is an A/C compressor and hose ($1300). Only bought one of the Mercedes with a warranty so I figure to have saved $15-20K in used car warranty expenses.
To further sour my taste for used car warranties - guess which car had the A/C go out? Yes, the only one I bought a warranty on and yup, you guessed it again - they refused the claim!
Scott D
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Jeff, As a tech, who is employed at a "Main Dealer", I can only comment on the faults I see, from day to day. I must stress, I have not been there long, on my experience with the product is somewhat limited but, I feel I have an appraisal to give to every owner of a "new" MB. First of all, there is a genuine takeover by MB, that concerns the majority of Dealerships. (In the U.K. at least) I have to say as an employee this is a bonus... Without dragging various company names into disrepute, at least we are all talking on one level and not a minority in, a majority. At least, this will allow the Techs to go on the course's, to enable effective repair of your vehicle. Something which has been sadly lacking, within the company I, Initially started with. Lots of things are promised within the dealership. New P.C. systems are being installed, lots of change, by god It's needed.... Bear with the dealerships. They're not as bad as the painted picture portrays. They would rather help you, than upset you as to them, Upset customers don't come back. As for faults, On the newer car's... B.A.S. fault, E.S.P. fault... Usually a faulty brake light switch. Change it and it Usually fixes the fault. Can't get the key to turn in the ignition?... Is it in Park or Neutral? If that don't fix it... don't' bother. Call the breakdown service and have it recovered to the nearest MB- Dealership. Ouch... Ball joints knock on all models. "A" Class suffer with rear trailing arm bearing wear and rear spring breakage. And front Anti-roll bar drop links. "C" Class squeaks over bumps (Especially sleeping policemen) is usually down to front anti-roll bar to chassis bushes. There is a modification which involves the replacement of the mountings, bushes, and additional weather seals added to the assembly "E" class. I don't see to many to comment on. I'm sure this will change... Any comments? "S" class. At the moment, it seems to be Navigation problems that are No.1. Not sure of the fix. Lot's of comms with technical at moment. "ML" Rear brake pad wear. Shit loads of ML's with inner rear brake pad wear, usually scraps the disc's, 533.00 to replace, BIG ouch... Lots of faults. NOT our fault. Next time you take your MB in for repair remember.... 1) No matter HOW MUCH you paid for your vehicle (WHATEVER model it is), It's a Fact. It will (at some point) go wrong. 2) Scream and... 3) The person you scream at, WILL put you at the bottom of the pile. They are not responsible for your problem(s) 4) The person you talk to WILL try to help you if, you help them to do there job. 5) They will, do as much as they can to resolve the ANY problem's that they can help with. 6) Ask to speak to the "tech" who worked on you vehicle, If a "brickie" was working in your building, You'd at least say "morning" to him on your way into the Surgery or Office to him? 7) The comment " I paid xxxxxx.xx I don't expect it to break down", means nothing. See 1) 8) Get a good person you know, AND have a rappor with, they will you more than you would expect. 9) LEAVE YOUR WHEEL NUT KEY OUT FOR THE TECH TO FIND IT... Do you really want the tech to search the the car for your wheel nut key?... Thanks for all yor help. Bilko130
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Dealt with dealerships in and around London for years, even now with factory takeover of many independent dealerships.
Can't say that the people have, on the whole, been anything but helpful.
One Advisor, then in west London, really put himself out to pick me up from airport after a long flight to help me pick up my car from service. Heaps of praise.
DAS --
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all this bashing. Well, I have a 300e with 250k km on it and have done absolutley nothing to it in terms of repair except brakes and muffler. So in my view, I'm not aware of anything much better out there for the price.
regards
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Well, quality and reliability are a thing of the past according to recent surveys where Mercedes is on the bottom of the list. For example, go to http://www.forbes.com/2003/12/02/cz_jf_1202flint.html
I own a '99 E300 with less than 30,000. If I had to replace it today, I would definitely consider Lexas before Mercedes.

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