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Mercedes - quality & reliability problems

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Old 02-28-2008, 05:12 PM   #1
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Mercedes - quality & reliability problems

Not to beat this horse to death, but rather try to understand how much the public perception about MB's quality & reliability problems are based on fact.

As some of you might know, I have never owned an MB - been a BMW guy the whole time. Finally, I decided to buy a Benz and ordered an 08 S550/AMG (which will be delivered in April). From talking to business acquaintances and friends (most of whom have owned or still own MB's), the overwhelming responses are that MB's are VERY problematic. Some have even gone as far as telling me that they are the WORST car to buy as far as reliability is concerned. One person who owned a 2004 ML for 3 years told me that she had immense issues with oil leaks, burning oil and electrical problems. Another guy tells me that he owned a 2005 C-class and it was in the shop more than in his garage... another colleague tells me that his 2005 S500 was a nightmare - many electronic/electrical issues, etc. Then, my wife's good friend told her last night that they were considering an S500 in 2006 but there were so many issues and bad reports about it (W220) that they settled for a Lexus....

While I understand that even the media's favorite bellwethers - Accord/Camry/LS400, etc. have issues, there seems to be this overwhelming outcry about Mercedes' quality! Hello, isn't that exactly what MB was known for? If not for quality (and to a lesser extent looks), why would the car even be worth $110k+? What is MB thinking? Why can't they get on it and fix this damn image problem with their cars? Could it be this stubborn/arrogant attitude that exemplifies MB or simply a lack of customer relations and evaluation of public feedback? This problem has been going on for too long now...... and you would think that a company that spends so much on technology would try to get the basic things working without faults.... How can Lexus get the electronic/electrical and mechanical nuances right, while MB and BMW keep stumbling and bumbling around? With that being said, the W221 seems to have it right for the most part, but then you still see all these issues people are having now with the parktronic, distronic+, etc. Now, consumer reports has the Lexus LS460L rated as it's best luxury sedan and while most here might dismiss it as "just consumer reports gibberish", it still speaks volumes about how far MB needs to go before it can rightfully reclaim that spot as the worlds best luxury/performance auto maker.

For those of you out there who have been in tune with MB, HOW MUCH truth is there to this? More importantly, is the W221 in the same mould?

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Old 02-28-2008, 05:36 PM   #2
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Old 02-28-2008, 05:54 PM   #3
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Holy Cow!!!!!

I'm still trying to pick my self up off the floor. That's simply insane!

Interestingly enough, someone in another thread warned me about Park Place in the Dallas area... How have things been going for you since 2004? Still have that C class?

Since I plan on buying (not leasing), I'm now having SERIOUS thoughts about that S 500 with my name on it....... seriously thinking about calling the dealership and telling them that I don't want the car.

RLPIII - in one post you've blown the air out of my bubble

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Old 02-28-2008, 05:57 PM   #4
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I did a little comparison of the last "solid" S-class (according to myth, at least), the W126, and the W221.

I compared a 1990 420 SEL with a 2008 S550. The MSRP of the SEL was $62,600, which is $106,000 in 2008 dollars. The MSRP of a base S550 is $87,525. More on this in a moment.

The bullet-proof W126 got you 228 horsepower, 201 ft-lbs. of torque from a 2-valve per cylinder SOHC engine mated to a 4-speed automatic. It came with 205/65-15 rubber. Yes, 15" wheels. It had a top speed of 128 MPH, did 0-60 in 9.3 seconds, pulled .72g on the skidpad and had a semi-trailing arm rear suspension.

The S550 has 382 horsepower, 391 ft-lbs. from a 4-valve DOHC engine and a 7-speed. It rides on 255-45/18 tires, has a limited top speed of 130 (with lots more potential), does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, pulls .83g. The better handling is due, in part, to its 5-link rear suspension.

In addition, the W221 has the following standard goodies that were not available in 1990: Airmatic/ADS-II suspension, ABC, BAS, ESP, COMAND with GPS navigation and much better audio with CD changer, memory mirrors, bi-xenon headlights, tight voice-control integration, Smartkey, garage opener, Teleaid, ambient lighting, cluster display, multi-function steering wheel controls, easy entry options, dual-zone climate control, 15-way seats, pre-safe, air curtains, TPMS and a bunch I can't think of.

And if we include options that can be had without exceeding the inflation-adjusted $106,000 price of the base 420 SEL we can add: Parktronic with parking and blind spot assits, Distronic II, night vision, rear camera, active ventilated seats, trunk closer, Keyless Go, ABC and 19" wheels with lower-profile rubber. And there is a lot more discounting now than we could have hoped for from MB in 1990 so the goodies per buck ratio is even higher.

What does this have to do with reliability? Look at the list! All of this technology, unimagined in the "golden age" is incredibly complex. Who asked for it? We did! Camry drivers don't. Yes, the Japanese make very reliable cars. But there is no technology showcase like an S-class. If you don't go into one with your eyes open to that, you can be unpleasantly surprised. Considering the complexity, I think the W221 reliability record is amazing.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:05 PM   #5
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whoover

You seem to know your cars very well but I'm sure if you go down the list of standard and optional packages, Lexus/BMW and MB are pretty equal. At least I would think they'd have to be in order to compete in the same echelon of world class luxury/performance sedans.

Just one thing you forgot to mention: The Lexus LS (and BMW 750iL for that matter) are EVERY bit as complex and have the same amount of gadgetry. Yet, their reliability (fact wise or public perception wise) seems to be WAY higher - at least for the Lexus.

Why is that?

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Old 02-28-2008, 06:21 PM   #6
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You can't compare ADS-II, much less ABC, with anything that Lexus or BMW has, and you can't compare Distronic with the Lexus equivalent either. The MB systems are more complicated and, I think, effective. I think that's why you can't compare the driving experience of a Lexus and an MB. You may prefer the extra reliability to pushing the envelope, but the engineering is certainly different.

There was a time that BMW pushed the envelope and MB was more conservative. That's no longer the case. And I don't think BMW has a markedly better reliability record in the real world. I know my experience with one was dismal.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:23 PM   #7
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Holy Cow!!!!!

I'm still trying to pick my self up off the floor. That's simply insane!

How have things been going for you since 2004? Still have that C class?

Since I plan on buying (not leasing), I'm now having SERIOUS thoughts about that S 500 with my name on it....... seriously thinking about calling the dealership and telling them that I don't want the car.

RLPIII - in one post you've blown the air out of my bubble
I found an expert on AMG cars at another MB dealership in Plano that has been great. If it was not for them, I would have dumped my C32 for something else not MB. They have fixed all the quality problems I've had, and did it very quickly without any lip (also very important .)

I can not stress enough that if you buy an MB, especially and AMG, make sure the dealer you are servicing with has an expert with AMG vehicles that knows how to diagnose and fix problems. The AMG is not built the same as the other MBs and should be serviced accordingly.
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AustinGuy View Post
Not to beat this horse to death, but rather try to understand how much the public perception about MB's quality & reliability problems are based on fact.

As some of you might know, I have never owned an MB - been a BMW guy the whole time. Finally, I decided to buy a Benz and ordered an 08 S550/AMG (which will be delivered in April). From talking to business acquaintances and friends (most of whom have owned or still own MB's), the overwhelming responses are that MB's are VERY problematic. Some have even gone as far as telling me that they are the WORST car to buy as far as reliability is concerned. One person who owned a 2004 ML for 3 years told me that she had immense issues with oil leaks, burning oil and electrical problems. Another guy tells me that he owned a 2005 C-class and it was in the shop more than in his garage... another colleague tells me that his 2005 S500 was a nightmare - many electronic/electrical issues, etc. Then, my wife's good friend told her last night that they were considering an S500 in 2006 but there were so many issues and bad reports about it (W220) that they settled for a Lexus....

While I understand that even the media's favorite bellwethers - Accord/Camry/LS400, etc. have issues, there seems to be this overwhelming outcry about Mercedes' quality! Hello, isn't that exactly what MB was known for? If not for quality (and to a lesser extent looks), why would the car even be worth $110k+? What is MB thinking? Why can't they get on it and fix this damn image problem with their cars? Could it be this stubborn/arrogant attitude that exemplifies MB or simply a lack of customer relations and evaluation of public feedback? This problem has been going on for too long now...... and you would think that a company that spends so much on technology would try to get the basic things working without faults.... How can Lexus get the electronic/electrical and mechanical nuances right, while MB and BMW keep stumbling and bumbling around? With that being said, the W221 seems to have it right for the most part, but then you still see all these issues people are having now with the parktronic, distronic+, etc. Now, consumer reports has the Lexus LS460L rated as it's best luxury sedan and while most here might dismiss it as "just consumer reports gibberish", it still speaks volumes about how far MB needs to go before it can rightfully reclaim that spot as the worlds best luxury/performance auto maker.

For those of you out there who have been in tune with MB, HOW MUCH truth is there to this? More importantly, is the W221 in the same mould?
You won't find anyone who is more critical or obsessive about their car than me. I have owned five MB's and understand the source of the criticism. Some of it is justified, and some of it stems from the frustration of owners with regard to systemic deficiencies. I'm probably one of the few people who read the manual cover to cover and do a lot of research to understand how everything works.

My bottom was the 2002 W220 - nice car, but cheap materials on the inside and many problems with systems. Too many new things - airmatic, comand, etc.that weren't tested long enough. Lot's of things failed and the dealer fixed them promptly, and for free, but you can't fix the quality of the parts after they are installed. The 2004 W220 was a different car, looked the same but much better on quality. I honestly did not have that many problems in the four years I had it. An airmatic sensor in the front left wheel was the biggest problem.

I now have a 2008 s550. This car sets a new standard for quality in Mercedes. Nothing has gone wrong with mine. Stopped back at the dealer for the initial check and haven't been back since. That was 5 months ago. The quality and feel of ever thing has been upgraded and the systems work very well. My understanding is that MB ran a large fleet of these cars with blackboxes inside for an extended period of time to catch all of the failures. From my standpoint it worked. Sure, there may be some nitpicky software issue here or there, but I haven't heard of anything really major.

The distronic+ parktronic sensor issues are mostly not issues at all, mostly warnings regarding system interference which isn't a system failure. I use to think mine was going off for no reason at all when I pulled into the garage. Now I understand its picking up the pole supporting the beam if I drive too close to it.

I think Consumer Reports is wrong in their assessment and time will prove that these cars are much better in quality.

Enjoy your new S when you get it. I'm sure you'll be pleased.
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:25 PM   #9
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I did a little comparison of the last "solid" S-class (according to myth, at least), the W126, and the W221.

I compared a 1990 420 SEL with a 2008 S550. The MSRP of the SEL was $62,600, which is $106,000 in 2008 dollars. The MSRP of a base S550 is $87,525.
think about that... you get aaaaaaall these extra, complicated, expensive, features, and you still pay less than you would for a w126 in today's dollars.... and we wonder why reliability is an issue?
the days of building the best car possible and then pricing it accordingly are long gone. these cars are now built to a price, and sacrifices will have to be made to get all these features into the car.
if they built the car as best they could, it would cost more, but they would sell less, so this is the best balance.
the main difference between the two cars? the w126 was built by an engineer. not an accountant...
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:07 PM   #10
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whoover

You seem to know your cars very well but I'm sure if you go down the list of standard and optional packages, Lexus/BMW and MB are pretty equal. At least I would think they'd have to be in order to compete in the same echelon of world class luxury/performance sedans.

Just one thing you forgot to mention: The Lexus LS (and BMW 750iL for that matter) are EVERY bit as complex and have the same amount of gadgetry. Yet, their reliability (fact wise or public perception wise) seems to be WAY higher - at least for the Lexus.

Why is that?
If you go by Consumer Reports, They always BASH merc s class, While they recommend the bmw 7, pretty pathitic on mercedes!
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:57 PM   #11
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If you go by Consumer Reports, They always BASH merc s class, While they recommend the bmw 7, pretty pathitic on mercedes!
Consumer reports is bought and paid for. Don't use that junk for research.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:02 PM   #12
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Need to talk to car nuts whom one trusts who buy relevant new S/CL/SL63/65 frequently, e.g., every 6-12mos, to have better anecdotal data....

Need to assess (via common-sense engineering and real-world driving analysis) active/passive safety of various cars....

And place own bets...

Based upon my amateur analysis, have never been impressed w/overall active/passive safety of any car on planet vs curr-gen S/CL63/65....

Based upon anecdotal feedback and own expce, doubt any car on planet today has better quality/reliability than curr-gen S/CL....

IMO, part of what's fun/intellectually interesting re: cars is that full data set is unavailable re: any car....need to place own bets based upon common-sense analysis/judgment; anecdotal feedback; and own driving impressions....those who can't successfully manage this bet prob aren't particularly sharp anyway and also struggle w/most risk/reward bets in their career/life generally.....Darwinian selection often prevails.....after all, where/when else in US is an affluent guy more at physical risk (and instantaneous decision-making risk, based upon driving judgment/skills and active safety tech) than in his daily commute???....
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:28 PM   #13
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This is a fabulous thread to read and raises great questions and viewpoints. I , for one, am one of the biggest fans of luxury cars that I know. I study this crap to a point of obsession and I KNOW that the current S class is the best car in the world and will hold that position for at least 5 years if not longer.
As in any business/product life, it takes years to build a great reputation but only minutes to destroy one. The Chrysler era is the only thing that messed up dear old Daimler and we need to be understanding of this and get back to the grass roots of what is real and that is: Mercedes Benz is the best car company across the board. They made a mistake and they know it. When I was 5 years old, I distinctly remember crawling into a 1968 Mercedes S class and even at that young age, I knew this was a special vehicle. I just didn't know it would develop into a sickness for me

Rest assured, your decision to buy an S550 is not to be regretted. You will be happy. What little problems I've mentioned over the past year are so minor that it simply adds entertainment for the forum if nothing else.

I LOVE MY W221 !!!!!! Best car I've ever driven. That doesn't mean I don't miss my W215. That too was one of the best cars I've ever owned. Still wish I could grab a 2005 CL65 just for fun. This fellow just can't squeeze it into his budget

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Old 02-28-2008, 10:34 PM   #14
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IMO, just fork out $4800 for the extended warranty and you're covered for 7 yrs, 100k miles for a S-class amg. That way you will have piece of mind.

Most S/63/65/600 are leased, therefore, the warranty issue is moot.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:09 PM   #15
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Indeed, always interesting to compare vs prior gens and today's comparables....

I recall as a kid carefully examining the ?'92 S500.....my elders tell me it was a well-engineered, reliable car....simple arithmetic tells me today's new S65 only costs about as much as that new '92 S500 costed (adjusted for inflation and interest rates).....doubt that '92 S500 offers even somewhat comparable safety vs today's new S65 (or 550).....and, as much as I mock the 65's codgerly quilted leather and wood steering wheel, S65 interior IMO is far more elegant/ergonomic than '92 S500's....

I recall a couple of colleagues in late '90s who got new Lexus ?GS400.....was amused by their various electronic glitches...and, more disturbingly, was dismayed by one of these new GS (I was a passenger) having a fuel-line failure on a busy urban fwy in NYC....it was NYC, so fwy speeds were lethargic...would have been a near-death expce on a fast CA fwy....

Along w/many car nuts on this forum, have collected enough anecdotal expces and first-hand driving/ownership expces to view a new S/CL as a no-brainer for anyone seeking to maximize perf/safety/daily-useability....the various media "analyses" are great amusement.....

Interestingly, do know many very smart guys who aren't car guys....guys who astutely analyze various risk/reward situations in their day job (and even carefully consider their choice of private plane and the qualifications of the pilots, etc), yet mysteriously/?absent-mindedly choose weak cars (or fail to realize that risk exposure to a LincTownCar (or any non-new S-Class) from airport to hotel more than offsets safety of any $50MM+ pvt plane).....I've managed to badger enough of my affluent non-car-oriented colleagues to, at the very least, get a new S550, w/ABC and Dist, every 2 yrs for their own safety and that of their passengers....
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:12 PM   #16
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. . . Still wish I could grab a 2005 CL65 just for fun. . .
Funny you mention the 2005 CL65. I was extremely close to buying it about 6 months ago. The dealership I get my car serviced at does great service, but is horrible in sales. I had been almost literally drooling over the Black CL65 they had on the showroom floor since 2005. It was there so long I finally decided to put up an offer. After doing a test drive, I was ready to buy. At about the time I put down my offer, they do the "I have another bidder on the phone offering $130k" B.S. At that time I was just so pi$$ed, I just jumped up and said thanks for completely wasting 3 hours of my time, they can have it, and never looked back. . .

I must say it was a great , I would highly recommend one if you have the opportunity .
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:41 AM   #17
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Not to beat this horse to death, but rather try to understand how much the public perception about MB's quality & reliability problems are based on fact.

As some of you might know, I have never owned an MB - been a BMW guy the whole time. Finally, I decided to buy a Benz and ordered an 08 S550/AMG (which will be delivered in April). From talking to business acquaintances and friends (most of whom have owned or still own MB's), the overwhelming responses are that MB's are VERY problematic. Some have even gone as far as telling me that they are the WORST car to buy as far as reliability is concerned. One person who owned a 2004 ML for 3 years told me that she had immense issues with oil leaks, burning oil and electrical problems. Another guy tells me that he owned a 2005 C-class and it was in the shop more than in his garage... another colleague tells me that his 2005 S500 was a nightmare - many electronic/electrical issues, etc. Then, my wife's good friend told her last night that they were considering an S500 in 2006 but there were so many issues and bad reports about it (W220) that they settled for a Lexus....

While I understand that even the media's favorite bellwethers - Accord/Camry/LS400, etc. have issues, there seems to be this overwhelming outcry about Mercedes' quality! Hello, isn't that exactly what MB was known for? If not for quality (and to a lesser extent looks), why would the car even be worth $110k+? What is MB thinking? Why can't they get on it and fix this damn image problem with their cars? Could it be this stubborn/arrogant attitude that exemplifies MB or simply a lack of customer relations and evaluation of public feedback? This problem has been going on for too long now...... and you would think that a company that spends so much on technology would try to get the basic things working without faults.... How can Lexus get the electronic/electrical and mechanical nuances right, while MB and BMW keep stumbling and bumbling around? With that being said, the W221 seems to have it right for the most part, but then you still see all these issues people are having now with the parktronic, distronic+, etc. Now, consumer reports has the Lexus LS460L rated as it's best luxury sedan and while most here might dismiss it as "just consumer reports gibberish", it still speaks volumes about how far MB needs to go before it can rightfully reclaim that spot as the worlds best luxury/performance auto maker.

For those of you out there who have been in tune with MB, HOW MUCH truth is there to this? More importantly, is the W221 in the same mould?

Well first off, all of the vehicles you've listed are previous generation vehicles. There is nothing Mercedes can do to "fix" their reputation with those vehicles. All they can do is repair them as they break. The darkest period for Mercedes is from 1998-2005/06 depending on the model series in question.

The new S-Class and CL have proven (so far) be a complete turn around for Mercedes compared to the previous S-Class and CL models.

Secondly you simply can't use a lame review from CNNMoney to give you the entire picture on a Mercedes, or any car for that matter. For one they aren't car experts, only automotive "writers". Ditto for Consumer Reports. Their reliability data is what it is, but all they can do is "project" what the reliability will be for the new S-Class based on the old model. Pretty dumb IMO. Everyone in the known world already knows that the new S is way different from the old S, but at Consumer Reports they don't acknowledge this in their reliability stats, only to say that it is "projected". I am dying to see what Consumer Reports says in their data this spring which will include actual hard data on the 2007 S and CL models, not some projection crap. The upcoming data will give the stats on the first year of ownership, not the first 90 days like J.D. Powers does.


The new S/CL does just what you ask, gets a handle on the problem and their image and it has done so (so far) with smashing results. You also have to realize that people with older troubled Benzes are going to harp about it forever and forever until they either get a newer and have a better experience. After a while it just becomes meaningless drivel because their cars are no longer relevant or related to the current crop in quality, design, reliability.

I have a W208 CLK430 Cabriolet, one of the troubled cars from the darker years of Mercedes' quality woes so I know first hand about this to a certain degree, but I also have the sense to know a W221 is a different car. There comes a time where you have to make up your own mind and use more than one (bitter) source.

There is no denying that Mercedes-Benz suffered (or suffers depending on how you look at it) a severe drop in quality. Generally the worst offenders were/are:

1998-2005 ML (W163) - Worst vehicle Mercedes-Benz has made in the last 25 years!
1998-2003 CLK (W208)
2001-2007 C-Class (W203)
2000-2006 S-Class (W220)
1996-2002 E-Class (W210)

Then you have some cars that were iffy at the start, but seemed to have improved greatly:

2003-2008 E-Class (W211) - The 2003-2005 models were worst, but from 2006 onward things seem to have gotten better, but the real improvement came with the 2007 facelift. The initial data (JDP) suggest a complete turn around, but I'm still waiting to see is Consumer Reports mirrors it.

2003-2008 SL (R230) - Like the current E-Class, the 2003-2005 models were problematic, but the 2007 facelift seems to have turned things around.

Then you have some that still seem to be problematic:

2003-2008 CLK (W209) - Still seems to be more problematic than any of the above cars. Not sure why at this point. Still better than the W208 cars, but not yet straightened out it seems.

2006-2008 GL, ML, R-Classes. All share the same chassis and most parts, still seem to be problematic going by the boards here. These being built here seems to have a lot to do with it, but that is a whole different story.

Overall I'd say MB's quality is on the mend, but they still have a long ways to go. Ideally everything they make would be as trouble free as the W221 is proving to be. We'll see if the new C-Class can repeat this in the hands of far more consumers in much greater number than the S-Class.

M

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Old 02-29-2008, 09:23 AM   #18
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. . .1998-2005 ML (W163) - Worst vehicle Mercedes-Benz has made in the last 25 years!. . .
I completely agree with this point. When my wife wanted an SUV, we test drove at least half a dozen. She HATED the ML. I feel bad now because I drug her back up there to do a 2nd drive to make sure she was not imagining things. When I drove it, it felt like driving an American truck. I was very displeased with it too - then we started hearing about its problems and decided that MB just should stick w/ what they know - cars not SUVs.
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:42 AM   #19
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I completely agree with this point. When my wife wanted an SUV, we test drove at least half a dozen. She HATED the ML. I feel bad now because I drug her back up there to do a 2nd drive to make sure she was not imagining things. When I drove it, it felt like driving an American truck. I was very displeased with it too - then we started hearing about its problems and decided that MB just should stick w/ what they know - cars not SUVs.
I still wish that Mercedes was a car-only company. I can remember when Mercedes was the truly exclusive high end car that you thought of when that topic came up. Back in the '60s, '70s, and most of the '80s, to have a Mercedes was special and exclusive. You didn't see them very often in the average town as you usually had to drive to the upper class neighborhoods in a city to see one. I remember when everyone would get all excited when we saw one going down the road. It would be similar to the reaction of seeing today's Rolls-Royce.
It seems that the quality issues started popping up when they left that bread- and -butter lineup of cars that only included the S class and its variant 2 door coupe versions, the diesel cars like the 220/240s (later 300 TD) and their convertible SLs. That was the only things on their menu to select from and if you had any one of these cars, you stood out like a sore thumb with exclusivity. Having a MB was big time special but nowadays, just about anyone can claim to be driving a MB especially with so many models and sneaky financing that gets someone behind the wheel of one.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:46 PM   #20
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Well first off, all of the vehicles you've listed are previous generation vehicles. There is nothing Mercedes can do to "fix" their reputation with those vehicles. All they can do is repair them as they break. The darkest period for Mercedes is from 1998-2005/06 depending on the model series in question.

The new S-Class and CL have proven (so far) be a complete turn around for Mercedes compared to the previous S-Class and CL models.

Secondly you simply can't use a lame review from CNNMoney to give you the entire picture on a Mercedes, or any car for that matter. For one they aren't car experts, only automotive "writers". Ditto for Consumer Reports. Their reliability data is what it is, but all they can do is "project" what the reliability will be for the new S-Class based on the old model. Pretty dumb IMO. Everyone in the known world already knows that the new S is way different from the old S, but at Consumer Reports they don't acknowledge this in their reliability stats, only to say that it is "projected". I am dying to see what Consumer Reports says in their data this spring which will include actual hard data on the 2007 S and CL models, not some projection crap. The upcoming data will give the stats on the first year of ownership, not the first 90 days like J.D. Powers does.


The new S/CL does just what you ask, gets a handle on the problem and their image and it has done so (so far) with smashing results. You also have to realize that people with older troubled Benzes are going to harp about it forever and forever until they either get a newer and have a better experience. After a while it just becomes meaningless drivel because their cars are no longer relevant or related to the current crop in quality, design, reliability.

I have a W208 CLK430 Cabriolet, one of the troubled cars from the darker years of Mercedes' quality woes so I know first hand about this to a certain degree, but I also have the sense to know a W221 is a different car. There comes a time where you have to make up your own mind and use more than one (bitter) source.

There is no denying that Mercedes-Benz suffered (or suffers depending on how you look at it) a severe drop in quality. Generally the worst offenders were/are:

1998-2005 ML (W163) - Worst vehicle Mercedes-Benz has made in the last 25 years!
1998-2003 CLK (W208)
2001-2007 C-Class (W203)
2000-2006 S-Class (W220)
1996-2002 E-Class (W210)

Then you have some cars that were iffy at the start, but seemed to have improved greatly:

2003-2008 E-Class (W211) - The 2003-2005 models were worst, but from 2006 onward things seem to have gotten better, but the real improvement came with the 2007 facelift. The initial data (JDP) suggest a complete turn around, but I'm still waiting to see is Consumer Reports mirrors it.

2003-2008 SL (R230) - Like the current E-Class, the 2003-2005 models were problematic, but the 2007 facelift seems to have turned things around.

Then you have some that still seem to be problematic:

2003-2008 CLK (W209) - Still seems to be more problematic than any of the above cars. Not sure why at this point. Still better than the W208 cars, but not yet straightened out it seems.

2006-2008 GL, ML, R-Classes. All share the same chassis and most parts, still seem to be problematic going by the boards here. These being built here seems to have a lot to do with it, but that is a whole different story.

Overall I'd say MB's quality is on the mend, but they still have a long ways to go. Ideally everything they make would be as trouble free as the W221 is proving to be. We'll see if the new C-Class can repeat this in the hands of far more consumers in much greater number than the S-Class.

M
I can't say I agree with your assessment of the 210. I would place the early 211 cars as substantially more problematic.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:47 PM   #21
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If you go by Consumer Reports, They always BASH merc s class, While they recommend the bmw 7, pretty pathitic on mercedes!
Consumer Reports seems to believe its value to consumers is finding the product that sells for less, but in their view is just as good. If they were to rate ballpoint pens, they would probably rate the Bic over the Montblanc because the ink lasts longer, or some attribute they could put forth to justify the better rating.

When comparing the Mercedes to the Lexus they admitted the Mercedes had more agile handling, better steering feel, and a slight edge in ride comfort and acceleration. Yet they said the Lexus easily won because of fuel economy and the confusing comand system. I couldn't disagree more. The comand system interface is far superior to any control interface preceding it. It's as natural a progression as the windows interface and mouse was to the PC. It allows you to control everything using a single common menu standard and interface. I don't see anybody wishing to go back to a comand prompt screen for their PC. Maybe these guys are just getting old. Certainly handling, steering, ride comfort and acceleration are more important than fuel economy to me. I've been keeping track - To date they are the only publication that has rated the Lexus over the new S-class. Everybody else can't be wrong.
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Old 02-29-2008, 01:07 PM   #22
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One thing that this thread demonstrates is that we can argue this topic ad nauseum.....

Tha fact of the matter remains that the MB brand today represents a weird conflict of ideas and innuendo. On one side you have the enthusiasts (as represented on this board) who vouch for the brand, while others (who seem to be a large majority) think that all MB's are very problematic. A lot of that has to do with the price point vs. what you're getting for your money. Lexus is making it very very hard for MB/BMW to sell at that price point. All I'm saying is that this new LS460 is the closest Lexus has come to battling MB right on it's own turf ...... I test drove an LS450 the other day (before forking over my $5000 deposit for the S550!) just to see how it played, and.......... I was pleasently surprised! I drove it hard, stepped on the gas with a vengence, slammed on the brakes, took 90 degree turns at 60 mph ()) and I was hard pressed to find a huge difference between it, the 750iL and the S550/AMG. Of course there was some difference in the handling but $25,000 worth of difference? Hhmmmmm...... I don't know.

With Lexus's committment to building the ultimate performance-luxury sedan, the next few years are going to be fun to watch.

That being said, I would never be caught dead in an LS

Last edited by AustinGuy; 02-29-2008 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:49 PM   #23
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Interesting thread. Anyone remember AUdi's "unintentional acceleration" problem? Ruined Audi for years. Right now, MB is going through reputational problems. And deservedly so.

Adding to that problem is free maintenance by BMW, and the Japanese improving their own products every day. (Who thought Toyota could go one on one against the Germans in the luxury dep't)?

MB has finally noticed this, and have created the 221. But it will take time to re-acquire their world-class reputation. I"m looking forward to the '09 E-Class. (I will say, I don't know why the new C is made in SA). If MB wants to bolster its rep, all MB's should be made in Germany - IMO. I"m not saying those cars are inferior (or the Austrian made E-AWD), but I wouldn't buy a Ferrari if it were made in Spain.

The thing with MB is a love affair bet. the car and the owner. I bought my first MB 4 months ago, and there is nothing like it. With years of heritage and renown capaibilities, there's a reason why MB is what it is today despite its recent fallacies. Its like driving an impregnable vault which has incredible hp, tq, braking, suspension and steering. AND I hate automatics!! But every time I drive mine, I'm like "this is king".

I honestly bel. the MB of today is troublesome - but more "annoying" trouble, such as constantly clicking dynamic seats, rather than serious engine/tranny problems. I hope the 221 problems owners are experiencing are electronic and not mechanical. The smarter thing would be to buy a Lexus, but for the above reasons, I cherish my MB. It truly is world-class.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:37 PM   #24
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(I will say, I don't know why the new C is made in SA). If MB wants to bolster its rep, all MB's should be made in Germany - IMO. I"m not saying those cars are inferior (or the Austrian made E-AWD), but I wouldn't buy a Ferrari if it were made in Spain.
Where is this info from? Traditionally SA produces right hand driven C-class sedans. Bremen and Sindelfingen should be doing the LHD cars (perhaps some RHD too).
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:52 PM   #25
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I'm on my second MB and I'm happy to say the worst problem I had with the car was a punctured tire. When I got my first car people were telling me that I'm going to have so many problems with it and I should sell my car as soon as I get it. I'm happy to say that they have been proved all wrong. I have not had a single problem with my cars before. Not to turn this into a religious war or anything but all my BMW owning friends are having problems. I guess it's just the luck of the draw ?
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2003, 2008, abc, cl63, class, consumer, electrical, lexus, ls450, mechanical, mercedes, ml, problems, reliability, reports, s550, w210, w220, w221


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