Why do the new SLs have such patchy reliability?

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The new SL is gorgeous (outside especially) but I keep seeing horror stories from owners who post their experiences on various Internet websites. They are remarkably similar - aside from smelly designo
leather those car have rattles and spend more time in the shop than with their owners.
Curiously, other SL owners seem blissfully free of any problems.
Why are some SLs so "bad" and others so "good"?
It's nowhere near a cheap car so how can MB allow this degree of owner disatisfaction? Anyone care to comment on their '02, '03, '04 SLs?
Michael
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Michael, check out my website and see how I perceive Mercedes SL's with my experience with a 1983 380SL. www.380SL.8k.com
Personally, I would not ever again purchase a new Mercedes and feel that you would be better off with a pristine example 10 years old where you can examine its engineering, its design, and reliablity. Mercedes are neato vehicles, but to purchase a new one is a crap shoot - MHOOC.

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I've recently acquired a low-mileage 2002 SL500 with 7K miles, so my experience thus far is limited. However it replaced a 1998 SL500 which I had under a 3-year lease, and got rid of it with 51K miles. The original buyout in the lease was $42K but just before turn-in MB Credit offered it to me for $28K. I was sorely tempted to take it because the car was in excellent shape and had minimal problems over the 3 years I had it. The only major problem was the "Check engine" light came on at about 30K. The dealer diagnosed it as an oxygen sensor out of calibration. They replaced both sensors under warranty (would have been $1500 if I paid for it) and the car ran perfectly for the next 20,000+ miles. I've heard anecdotal reports that the new 230-body style SL's are more problematic than the 129-body that I've got. Maybe that's just the teething pains of a new design. That's why I won't buy the first year of any model. I got my 2002 SL for $54K from a dealer with 6800 miles in perfect shape. It still has 2 years remaining on factory warranty and I got an additonal 4 years of Starmark warranty. I'm not clear why someone would buy a new SL for over $86,000 with a 4-year warranty when one can get a low-mileage late model SL for over $30,000 less than MSRP with a 6-year warranty. I suppose some have to have the latest model and have the money to burn.

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I imagine MB was concerned the R230 would affect resale value of the R129. It's tough to turn down a great price for a car that you know is good. Still, after 3 years you probably wanted a change,
I've heard anecdotal

It appears to be what you suggested along with an overdose of technology mixed in with some spotty quality control issues (as not all specimens seemed to have been affected).
That's why I won't buy the first year of any model. I got my 2002

That's a great price for such a low-mileage car. I think some people buy new because they want specific options, trim or colour schemes but it is a huge premium over deals like the one you got.
Having said that, here is a link to "artist's impressions" of what the face-lifted R230 may look like in a year or so:
http://www.autospies.com/article/index.asp?articleId001&categoryId=7
Michael
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snipped-for-privacy@ca.inter.net (Michael Low) haute in die Tasten:

For me this looks more like a Lotec body kit to the R230, which should be available right now. IMHO the factory design looks better.
Frank
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(Michael Low) haute in die Tasten:

Let's hope the factory agrees with you.
Michael

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Sorry to say, I think the "new look" is a step down from the current styling of the R230. It looks from several angles like it needs a rhinoplasty (nose-job).
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from snipped-for-privacy@ca.inter.net (Michael Low) contains these words:

Mercedes used to be totally reliable cars which were manufactured to high tolerances.
They are now amalgamated with Chrysler. Need I say more...
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Gerald L R Stubbs wrote:

Also known as _to Schrempp a company_...
Juergen
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(Michael Low) contains these words:

Still 20 years ago, Mercedes was part myth and part reality. Look at the fiasco of single timing chains used in the 380SL and 380SE models. That fiasco makes most Chrysler engines look very reliable. Today, its not part myth - its all myth, you buy a Mercedes because its pretty, not because it is the best built car. The Japanese make the best "built" car but not necessarily the "prettiest" car.
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Oh yeah, just look at all those old Toyotas, Datsuns and Hondas still on the road.
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"prettiest"
But, we like what is "pretty" - that is why you see so many SL's on the road when we just junk those old tired Mercedes sedans. In addition, with the 'myth' as part of our conscience, we pamper a Mercedes and abuse those Japanese models. In essense, many Mercedes survive because they are pampered. The few Japanese survivor examples were pampered too. My whole point is that the Japanese models can go 200k - 300k without much pampering and can keep on running with more abuse than a Mercedes.
Hey, I stll like *some* Mercedes autos, the SL's and especially my 380SL, but I don't consider Mercedes across the board as superior mechanically. My dream vehicles would be a 107SL with a Japanese engine and transmission. My dream van would be a Chrysler LXi Town & Country with a Toyota Sienna drivetrain.
Mercedes and Chrysler was truely a merger of equals - manufacturers of style and desires, not engineering or reliability.
Carl www.380SL.8k.com
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You should read what some people in the Chryslet NG think about what happened to THEIR company after the takeover by Merc...
DAS
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I don't get the Chrysler NG. What is the gist of the comments?
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rec.autos.makers.chrysler
Very critical. Mixture of jingoism, regrets for the passing of great old cars (rosy specs), lousy new cars... as well as some positive comments, of course. That said, most comments are the usual bread-and-butter-ones like here, about problems, maintenance, fuel price...
The big diff is that the non-North American participation is very small. Not surprising, given how few are sold in Europe. (Jeep and Grand Voyager sell quite well in the UK, for example, but not the whole range is available -- yet, though it is in Germany. However, in the grand scheme of things, sales of US-sourced cars are tiny.)
DAS
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ACK. The GM subsidiary in germany is Opel, and they do not sell any single car made by GM in the US. They sold a rebadged minivan called Opel Sintra (don't know its US brand name), but the car performed so lousy in the euro crash test that Opel kicked it out of their showrooms. There is a company called GM Europe, they try to sell SUVs and pickup trucks to the german market - with rather small success. You see way more Mercedes ML 55 AMG in the streets than Chevy Blazer. A Hummer is a very rare event, even rarer than a Ferrari. Just recently GM signed a contract with a dutch distributor to sell Corvettes and Caddilacs to Germany. These cars are quite rare on german streets, rarer than Porsche Turbo or Bentley, for example. I tis the same with Ford. AFAIK the Ford Explorer is the only US car currently sold by Ford Germany, the Windstar has been discontinued a while ago. AFAIK the Mustang is only available through grey importers, the same is valid for almost all other Ford cars from the states. Currently Chrysler seems to be the only US brand which sells a whole range of passenger cars, suitable for german needs and adjusted to german wishes.
Frank
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Probably because Chrysler does not have manufacturing plants in Europe. Since the takeover by Merc I would not be surprised if extra efforts to sell in Europe are made for political reasons. DC can hardly NOT sell (offer for sale...) the Crossfire, for example. Even the new 300 is coming to the UK next year.
What fascinates me is why anyone (in Europe) would buy a Sebring Convertible instead of a CLK Cab, other than rarity... I saw a German-registered one (not US military) parked in a residential section of Wiesbaden at the end of April. I rented a Sebring in the USA a couple of years ago (LA, where else?) and, while I found it quite nice and roomy I would only consider it at US prices, otherwise it is too close to a CLK.
DAS
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Price! A four year old Sembring with full options will cost you some 15.000 Euros, a CLK of that vintage will demand double the price.
Frank
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

Ok, time to pick some nuts: They do _have_ manufacturing plants in Europe in the sense of _using_ (but not _owning_): Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler Voyager for Europe are built at Magna Steyr in Graz-Thondorf, Austria <http://www.magnasteyr.com/news/hauptcontent_news_en_2193_ENG_HTML.html and the Chrysler Crossfire Coupe and Roadster are exclusively built at Karmann in Germany <http://www.karmann.de/__C1256DF700512B86.nsf/html/en_d4270b6c3c850555c1256cfe0054e1c7.html
Juergen - 1982 W123 built at the Sindelfingen plant ;-)
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Karmann? Oh dear.
"Jaguar invented rust, Karmann perfected it". - Anon CSi owner.
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