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An ode to my failing W211

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E-Class (W211) 2003-2009

An ode to my failing W211

 
Old 04-24-2015, 05:05 PM
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W212 M276 DELA 30 ; W211 OM642 ; R107 M117, W163 M112 E32
An ode to my failing W211

Forgive me while I complain for a bit....

Growing up among several W126s (Diesel and Gas) and even having a tank of a 300SD in college, I decided to purchase my OM642 Diesel W211 in May of 2010 as she was just turning 3 and had 27K on the clock.

I had my reasons for wanting a diesel, mainly due to the interesting driving characteristics, the fuel economy and the quirky nature of a being one of the few people to own a modern diesel powered car in the states.

I also knew that Mercedes had suffered a lot in the early 2000's, particularly with the 220, 203 & 211 which had damaged their reputation. Still, my desire to have that modern diesel in a familiar wrapper coerced me to take the plunge.

I decided to go with the facelift model because I was suspicious of the 5-Speed that was originally marketed as a "lifetime fill/never change" transmission and had been known to fail around 100K unless people proactively went against MB's recommendations and vacuumed out the old fluid.

I also mistakenly assumed that MB had gotten their act together and corrected many of the 211 problems given that they had just released the much lauded W204 & W221 which were viewed as giant steps up in design and quality over the outgoing model.

I've put over 65K on her in the last five years, which is actually pretty lightweight usage. She's lived in garages either at work or at home, and for the last 3 years she's only seen about 6K a year due to a travel intensive schedule split with taking the DC metro.

Unfortunately, despite my care, things. just. break.

Here's a list of my failures over the last 5 years:

- Failed keyless go door handles on two doors right when I purchased it. Both replaced under warranty. The driver's door (the only one that gets used consistently) has since failed again. Common, known issue

-Panoramic roof that simply gets worse and worse with regards to flexing and rattles. Dealer pretended they could not reproduce. Independent shop has lubricated and checked for loose bolts/attachment points but everything is as snug as when it left the factory. It's just simply a design flaw that makes me want to drive the car off a cliff unless I'm on recently paved interstates. Common, known issue

-Transmission problems: Surprise! turns out the early iterations of the 7G were garbage too thanks to a poorly designed valve body with incorporated speed sensors. One of those little crappy speed sensors goes and you need a new Valve Body. I do believe this was changed in later iterations. Common, known issue on early versions of the 7G

-Wiring harness.... yes, seriously. My wiring harness developed a short somewhere that would have required pulling the entire engine to diagnose and replace. Workaround was to bypass rewire a connection to bypass the short. Haven't heard of anyone else with this

-Powered trunk closer: This fails in the most infuriating way possible. It's still mechanically perfect and can close the lid without issue, but there's a sensor problem somewhere. If there's any sort of slight incline/breeze or resistance, it will get about 80% closed (where gravity should take over) and then raise back up fully. If I press it again, it may or may not complete closing. Common, known issue

-MB-Tex: There's 5 W126s and 2 W210s in my family that are split between MB-Tex and real leather. I chose MB-Tex because it still looks perfect on otherwise beat-to-**** old mercedes, like showroom perfect. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I noticed what appeared to be a tear in my seat cushion a few days ago. I posted on this forum and provided a picture because I assumed me or someone driving the car had gouged it out with a key, and several people responded and linked me to other threads showing the exact same damage to their MB-Tex seats that happens to just be normal wear and tear. Nice one Mercedes, you managed to cheap out on my vinyl seats. Common, known issue

-Failed running lights on the bumper because they become filled with water.... OK, whatever. Common, known issue

-The ductwork that feeds boost to my turbo split apart but would only do so when under stress and hot in a non-visible area. That was a fun one to diagnose. Common, known issue

-Navigation - little by little it's getting worse and worse, as in it won't be able to read the disc. New discs have not solved the matter. Common, known issue

-Satellite radio - did it rain recently? Did you get your car washed recently? Prepare for satellite radio to get really spotty. Common, known issue


So here I am, trying to limp this ******* along for another year or so before I can convince myself to pull the trigger on another car. I had almost convinced myself for a W212 Diesel because everything I read tells me that "Mercedes is finally building reliable cars again!", but I don't want to fall for that same old crap again.

Of course my dilemma on a replacement is that I've basically been driving these things all my life and still think they're great cars (when functioning). I might end up biting the bullet and giving the 2014 535D a chance, but I doubt BMW is much better in regards to reliability, but at least it'll be a modern car.


Bonus: Pics from a couple of years ago (Yes, I got rid of those stupid wheels): https://imgur.com/a/oH9gw

Last edited by DubVBenz; 04-24-2015 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 04-24-2015, 05:18 PM
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THE C350
Wow sorry to hear that you are having so many issues since you are local you know our dealers can be a pain to work with but I have one that I do like and a service adviser who has always been good to me after using every dealer in NOVA and MD lol
Do you have any more info about the wiring harness issue curious what wire it was that had an issue? Very surprised they would have to pull the engine as most of the wiring goes in from the top.

Last edited by samaritrey; 04-24-2015 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:09 AM
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I feel your pain. I had a W211 E500 and had failure after failure and all the ones covered on this site. I went out of town on vac and had both power steering fail and the battery control module fail. I drove home with bcm out and disconnected the battery each stop. PS problem was corrected. There was no dealer w/in 500 miles that had the part in stock. 2 days after I returned home I was driving a new Chrysler 300C with the 365 HP hemi. I had more horsepower, could run 89 octane vs 93 octane and after 2 yrs and 30000 miles of driving only one plastic button broke. No brake issues/airmatic/door lock/bcm and many of the other items. I just can't force myself to buy another MB with all the failures. So I have been in your boat. The only thing I could offer you is, it felt great to see someone else drive off in my E500
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Old 04-25-2015, 02:58 PM
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Yeah I've had most of what you've had and I'm sure I'll end up having everything else and more go wrong. It really stinks and I'm very surprised with all the problems as, like you, my previous experience with MB was everyone in the family having MBs that were built like tanks and were super reliable. I'm not sure if I will ever buy another MB again now that it seems that MB is making a concerted effort to require MB dealer service.
All that said, I love the heck out of my car and will enjoy it right up until the end.
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Old 04-25-2015, 03:35 PM
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At least you don't have SBC maybe-brakes in your facelift car.
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by vettdvr View Post
I feel your pain. I had a W211 E500 and had failure after failure and all the ones covered on this site. I went out of town on vac and had both power steering fail and the battery control module fail. I drove home with bcm out and disconnected the battery each stop. PS problem was corrected. There was no dealer w/in 500 miles that had the part in stock. 2 days after I returned home I was driving a new Chrysler 300C with the 365 HP hemi. I had more horsepower, could run 89 octane vs 93 octane and after 2 yrs and 30000 miles of driving only one plastic button broke. No brake issues/airmatic/door lock/bcm and many of the other items. I just can't force myself to buy another MB with all the failures. So I have been in your boat. The only thing I could offer you is, it felt great to see someone else drive off in my E500
I think you got one of the worst years for the W211. I think it's still sorta true today, never buy a first year model. They usually work the bugs out in the 2nd year, but in the W211 case, I think things didn't really get better til 2008/2009 and they still have some issues like any car. I wonder how the W212 will hold up. Direct injection was new for 2012 and I don't think it's been long enough to see how that holds up.
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by cetialpha5 View Post
I think you got one of the worst years for the W211. I think it's still sorta true today, never buy a first year model. They usually work the bugs out in the 2nd year, but in the W211 case, I think things didn't really get better til 2008/2009 and they still have some issues like any car. I wonder how the W212 will hold up. Direct injection was new for 2012 and I don't think it's been long enough to see how that holds up.

I would normally agree but for $65000 in 2003 I expected MB to maintain it's reputation for reliability. The fact it took until 2008/9 just shows how much they had their head in the sand and ignored the issues. This is clearly a management of the company issue not engineering. My guess is marketing wanted more bells/whistles and when engineers said 'not Yet' marketing said do it anyway we know better. Unfortunately after spending $65000 MB should have been considering repeat business vs short term sales. Why should I trust them again with $65,000 on them saying. we fixed it.

To make matters worse I changed the idle pulley at 75,000 miles and opened it up to examine why it failed. The bearing in the OEM part was "made in china". Now that got me to thinking if they buy parts from china and aren't making their own I understand that. But if Toyota is using the same part what makes MB better than Toyota or any other brand.

IF the sum of the parts make up the whole then individual part is the weakest link on breakdown. So if the rubber in the airmatic is from who knows where and isn't the "best they could' find they just destroyed their reputation for a few bucks.

The value of MB in the market for reliability really is the competitive edge , not just the engineering design. Unfortunately for me they sold out the reliability and I know they had good engineering, the execution of parts manufacture makes me not trust their management to do the right thing on reliability.

Just follow the thread on fuel tank leaks, SBC, airmatic, cam shaft failures.

Now with direct injection and lack of lubrication on the intake valve we will see how long these engines hold up. My guess is another FUBA where they have to add another small injector to inject into the fuel stream before the intake valve a lubricant to return reliability.

All of this discussion is reliability and not engineering design.

IF they want me to buy another MB should call me, and offer me one at serious discount then prove reliability. Otherwise there are just too many
other brands that offer great cars that 'are' more reliable.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:30 AM
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Yep

I've got a 2008 E320 Wagon.


Keyless go door handles, learn to live with the failures. My driver side doesn't work at all, rear driver side works 50% of the time, passenger side works fine, rear passenger side doesn't work at all.




Rear hatch, sometimes it doesn't want to close at all, other times closes halfway, sometimes surprises me by opening up again unasked after I close it. Whatever.
Satellite radio, on my favorite stations cuts out for 10 seconds every 5 minutes. On some stations works perfectly all the time.
Bluetooth? Who knows. Some days are Bluetooth days, some are not. It's random and extremely aggravating.


Yesterday I took it to a VW dealer and threatened to trade it in on a new Golf wagon. But other then these random, passive-aggressive issues, it's a great car!
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Old 04-29-2015, 03:11 PM
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These horror stories scare me about my car, but so far with 73k miles its been rock solid reliable. Only thing I've had to replace so far is the drivers doorhandle for keyless go. Everything else has been good so far. Preparing for airmatic failure as i know it'll happen sooner or later.
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Old 04-29-2015, 03:46 PM
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I don't have keyless go, pano roof, easy entry trunk, or any of those exclusive bells and whistles. just a v8 with heated/cooled seats, thats the extent of my MB. It's interesting to see customers like you all complain about these cars and I couldn't agree with you more. I fix these cars and to be honest it makes no dang sense how expensive parts are and more importantly how often parts go bad. Usually the saying goes you get what you pay for, but in my personal experience owning/fixing MB for three years I personally can do without all the bells and whistles. Just too much random stuff to go wrong/expensive to fix. With all of that said, MB over BMW any day, again personal opinion... unless were talking about a E39 m5, otherwise I'll take any model benz over a beamer, just my opinion. I mean after all diamler did invent the first vehicle EVER so they know what they are doing... But some things are overboard. I'f oil coolers weren't such a big concern with the MB diesels I'd say jump the gun on a 212 diesel, but I'll be damned if i'm getting my oil cooler replaced at 30k miles. It also infuriates me that a lot of the parts on MB vehicles aren't made in germany which is a whole other topic I wont even get started on. You gotta pay to play.....
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:29 AM
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To give you a contrary point of view:

Unlike any Chrysler ever, ours has 117,000 miles and is rock solid.

Yeah, things break occasionally, and I get them fixed. By being smart about sources of parts, and having a good mechanic, the cost is acceptable, given the amazing quality, style and performance of the car. If I had a little less time (as I did earlier in my career), I could drop it at the area's one good dealer, drive a loaner, and get it back looking great with no thought at all, albeit at a higher price.

I'm not the kind of person that says, "Hey, of course it costs a lot, because it's a Mercedes. Get over it." Far from it. However, it doesn't HAVE to cost a lot, if one is smart about parts and where one gets it fixed. As far as I can see, there are wear parts that are VERY predictable as to when they will need to be replaced, there are a few very-well-known failures to expect and plan for, there are excellent sources of aftermarket parts and refurbished parts, a good availability of OE parts if one wants or needs to go that route, there are discount sources of OE parts, and the occasionally oddball symptom can be chased down and fixed.

What this car is not suited for is non-mechanical people who have symptoms that a good mechanic could diagnose and repair in a minute at a reasonable price, but instead want to figure it out themselves. That's going to be a problem.

The bottom line is that when one fixes whatever happens to be wrong at the moment, one gets back an excellent car that is solid, with no squeaks, and runs like a champ.

I really don't understand the whining.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by samaritrey View Post
Wow sorry to hear that you are having so many issues since you are local you know our dealers can be a pain to work with but I have one that I do like and a service adviser who has always been good to me after using every dealer in NOVA and MD lol
Do you have any more info about the wiring harness issue curious what wire it was that had an issue? Very surprised they would have to pull the engine as most of the wiring goes in from the top.
My dealer was in Tyson's. Because I didn't purchase the car from them and was kinda young, I found them basically rude and dismissive. I didn't purchase the car from them because they wouldn't let me test drive it by myself.... I was like 26 at the time.
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Old 04-30-2015, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by DubVBenz View Post
My dealer was in Tyson's. Because I didn't purchase the car from them and was kinda young, I found them basically rude and dismissive. I didn't purchase the car from them because they wouldn't let me test drive it by myself.... I was like 26 at the time.
They might well have been rude and dismissive, but it wouldn't be because you didn't buy the car from them. In fact, good dealers LOVE getting repair business from folks who didn't buy the car from them. Years ago, my Porsche dealer in Texas was a buddy of mine. He explained that they like people to think that they take special care of folks who buy from them, but, in fact, they considered service business on cars bought elsewhere as an opportunity to drive future sales and, of course, an opportunity to make money from service. The sale that put you in the car you're in is over, history, done. The NEXT sale to you is what they are focused on now.
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Old 04-30-2015, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by DubVBenz View Post
My dealer was in Tyson's. Because I didn't purchase the car from them and was kinda young, I found them basically rude and dismissive. I didn't purchase the car from them because they wouldn't let me test drive it by myself.... I was like 26 at the time.
Oh I know the feeling I got my w203 at 16 and yeah the dealers were not very nice towards me until they noticed that my dad had bought a few cars from them then they would be super nice lol. The Tyson's dealer is hit or miss it seems I use to have a service adviser there who always took care of me and hooked me up many times. I was working right down the street so it was much easier then going to my favorite dealer. The guy that took over for my old adviser is okay but doesn't seem to stay as up to date about new TSB's and such and I always have to print them out when i take the cars in for service.
Most places won't let anyone take cars out on there own I have noticed. My dad and I test drive cars all the time and they rarely let us take them out by ourselves. I have noticed the more expensive the car the easier it is to get it by ourselves lol go figure.
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Old 04-30-2015, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by wjcandee View Post
To give you a contrary point of view:

Unlike any Chrysler ever, ours has 117,000 miles and is rock solid.

Yeah, things break occasionally, and I get them fixed. By being smart about sources of parts, and having a good mechanic, the cost is acceptable, given the amazing quality, style and performance of the car. If I had a little less time (as I did earlier in my career), I could drop it at the area's one good dealer, drive a loaner, and get it back looking great with no thought at all, albeit at a higher price.

I'm not the kind of person that says, "Hey, of course it costs a lot, because it's a Mercedes. Get over it." Far from it. However, it doesn't HAVE to cost a lot, if one is smart about parts and where one gets it fixed. As far as I can see, there are wear parts that are VERY predictable as to when they will need to be replaced, there are a few very-well-known failures to expect and plan for, there are excellent sources of aftermarket parts and refurbished parts, a good availability of OE parts if one wants or needs to go that route, there are discount sources of OE parts, and the occasionally oddball symptom can be chased down and fixed.

What this car is not suited for is non-mechanical people who have symptoms that a good mechanic could diagnose and repair in a minute at a reasonable price, but instead want to figure it out themselves. That's going to be a problem.

The bottom line is that when one fixes whatever happens to be wrong at the moment, one gets back an excellent car that is solid, with no squeaks, and runs like a champ.

I really don't understand the whining.
the problem as I see it is that some of the stuff that breaks (and does so regularly), just shouldn't. Control arms, window regulators, keyless handles, motor mounts, etc.
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Old 04-30-2015, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post
the problem as I see it is that some of the stuff that breaks (and does so regularly), just shouldn't. Control arms, window regulators, keyless handles, motor mounts, etc.
What year car did/do you have?
I haven't really heard of control arms being that big of an issue as they seem to last around 75-100k or more that's fairly normal for most suspension parts in my experience. Same goes for motor mounts from what i have heard.
Window regulators/motors rarely seem to go out from what I have seen on Mercedes the only common thing I hear of going out is the keyless handles.
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Old 04-30-2015, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cmriv View Post
I don't have keyless go, pano roof, easy entry trunk, or any of those exclusive bells and whistles. just a v8 with heated/cooled seats, thats the extent of my MB. It's interesting to see customers like you all complain about these cars and I couldn't agree with you more. I fix these cars and to be honest it makes no dang sense how expensive parts are and more importantly how often parts go bad. Usually the saying goes you get what you pay for, but in my personal experience owning/fixing MB for three years I personally can do without all the bells and whistles. Just too much random stuff to go wrong/expensive to fix. With all of that said, MB over BMW any day, again personal opinion... unless were talking about a E39 m5, otherwise I'll take any model benz over a beamer, just my opinion. I mean after all diamler did invent the first vehicle EVER so they know what they are doing... But some things are overboard. I'f oil coolers weren't such a big concern with the MB diesels I'd say jump the gun on a 212 diesel, but I'll be damned if i'm getting my oil cooler replaced at 30k miles. It also infuriates me that a lot of the parts on MB vehicles aren't made in germany which is a whole other topic I wont even get started on. You gotta pay to play.....
I think the pano, keyless go, bixenon, headlamp washers, power trunk closer, etc. are some of the nicest features of a MB. I'm just planning on enjoying them until they break. To me, if you're driving a luxury car, it mind as well have some luxury items in it. I have the voice command too, but never use it.

I've noticed a lot of newer cars now have some sort of keyless go. When I bought mine, 3 of the keyless go handles were broken, but I got them fixed under warranty. I just plan to replace the driver's side one when it goes again and forget about the other ones if they break. I've looked through the W212 forum and things don't seem to be too bad, but maybe it's too early to tell because most things are still covered by warranty.
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