Ok, my family has always owned all American cars, as far back as I can
remember, and we tend to keep cars for about 10 years. After having a
re-occurring timing-belt issue on a particular Chevrolet, in 1999 we happened
upon a used 1997 E420. Bought it, our first "foreign" car, and still have it
to this day. We keep our cars maintained very well, always hand-washing once a
week, doing all oil changes (Mobil 1 synthetic) and things on time and at the
MB dealer. However, in 2002, when the car was just five years young, the
front-right shock tower rusted completely through and had to be re-welded and
repaired for a cost of over $3000. Mercedes blamed it on the fact that
Chicago uses salt on the roads in the winter!?! I couldn't believe it, as
none of our previous cars ever had ANY rust problems. Anyway, after a battle
with the dealer, they agreed to pay half of the repairs, although we were still
unhappy. Just had the car in again last week for new tires, and when I get
the car back, the driver's-side mirror glass is hanging from mirror housing. I
notice this as soon as the porter pulled the car around. I get the service
manager, and he says that I have no way of proving that it wasn't broken
I brought it in for the tires. They want me to pay over $500 for a
new mirror, which *they*
broke! After an hour of arguements, we settled on me
paying half of the mirror cost, which was just under $200. So, I have to
bring the car back in because they had to order the parts. So, come back in,
they fix the mirror, and the porter pulls the car around for me. Normally,
they come in and give me the keys. This time, he pulled it outside and left it
running! So, I leave, and as soon as I take the key out of the ignition, it
falls apart! The button and the spring that pop the key out of the remote
were missing! So, AGAIN, I go back to have them fix it, and they claim that
it wasn't broken when they had it! Seems funny that the porter wouldn't bring
me the keys (first time that's EVER happened), and since no parts fell out of
the key onto the floormats, it's obvious someone knew it was broken before they
started my car and drove it around for me. After another hour of arguing,
they agreed to buy me a new key.
Back in 1999, my father was so impressed with my E-class, that he ordered
a brand-new, 2000 E430 4matic. The car is now four years old, and has barely
20,000 miles. This car is driven 2-3 times a week, for about 15-20 miles each
trip. So, low mileage, but the trips are long enough to heat up the
engine/oil. Because of Mercedes "Flexible Service Program", they wouldn't
service the car when we wanted to change the oil, not even after 5000 miles.
Now, the car is our of warranty, so we took it in the day after Thanksgiving
for an oil change (brought our own Mobil 1 as usual). After dropping it off,
we get a call saying that we need a fuel filter, spark plugs, and a new "hub"
for the 4matic system. Total cost? Over $1500!!! For a car that only has
20,000 miles on it??? According to the Mercedes tech, "they've been having
some problems with the 4matic systems." If Mercedes is having the problems,
then why are the customers forced to pay for it?
My father is so furious about this, he is going to trade the car and buy a
new Lexus LS430. He had planned on driving the E430 for 200,000 miles or more,
but not with costs like this at just 20,000 miles. In 2001, we bought a Toyota
Sequoia to replace an aging 1992 Suburban, and my sister just bought a Honda
Pilot. True, these aren't exciting cars, but the Sequoia hasn't had a single
problem and it has 80,000 miles on it already.
I know Mercedes are more complex than most American cars, and most
Japanese cars. I know that German cars in general possess an unexplainable
soul when you drive them, compared to most cars. Has anyone else made the
switch to a Lexus or Infiniti or Acura? Are you happy, or do you miss the
driving pleasure of a MB/BMW/Audi/Porsche? Mercedes slogan of "Like No Other"
seems easy to make fun of with our recent experiences with their service
department. No wonder they are doing away in 2005 with their "free
maintenance" program - it's costing them too much money.
Finally, does anyone know who we should contact at Mercedes? It seems
like SOMEONE in the company would want to know how their service departments
are costing them customers.