Thoughts on the 1995 S500 - Mercedes-Benz Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-29-2004, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thoughts on the 1995 S500

Hello,

I'm looking at purchasing a 1995 S500 Sedan and wanted to find out what I should be aware of in purchasing this vehicle. The vehicle has 91,000 miles. Everything appears to operate correctly. The ride is quiet and smooth, and the vehicle accelerates quickly.

One thing I noticed was condensation on the lower part of the windshield when the air conditioning was running. Why might this be happening, is it of concern, what might be done to address it, and what might it cost?

Are these vehicles known to have certain problems that I should be aware of and look for?

I'll have the vehicle checked by a mechanic, but wanted to do some research first to insure it is a worthwhile pursuit.

I was driving a 1988 560SL - beautiful car and a joy to drive. Sadly, it was in an accident and the cost of repairs was such that the other party's insurance company decided to declare the vehicle a total loss.

I was looking at a 1991 560SEC that appeared on the surface to be a very fine automobile but upon closer examination was found to have several problems. Though I was trying to stay with a pre-1992 Mercedes, what I have found in my area has been limited, and often in less than ideal condition. So my search has brought me to a more recent Mercedes. Though they were most reliable pre-1992, this will hopefully make for an enjoyable vehicle.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice.

Yash
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-30-2004, 06:58 AM
 
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My best advice to you concerning the purchse of an older 140 is to make sure a thorough pre-purchase inspection is performed by some one that has lots of experience with these cars. The 140 is one of my favorite cars ever to drive around in (especially the 500/600). There are few driving experiences as rewarding on a day to day basis as this car when it's in its proper state of tune. That being said, there is a lot that needs to be maintained on the vehicle. These cars can become very expensive to own very quickly. It was almost $100,000 vehicle when new, and the cost of maintenance reflects that. Parts are very expensive and a lot of the work is very labor intensive. There are also not as many techs out there that I would want to work on it, compared to other vehicles (read: not German) out there. The pre-purchase inspection is everything. Check through this forum to see some of the majotr issues detailed. The jist of it is the powertain is absolutely bulletproof. The m119 is one of the best motors ever made by any car company. They run strong, forever. In all my years working on these cars, I've never seen one put out of commision by an enigine failure. It's everything else that will get you. I would pay very close attention to that condensation problem, as it could indicate issue with you cimate control system (the infamous 140 evaporator leak-big money). Don't spend your last dime getting one of these cars, no matter how nice it looks. You'll need to spend to keep it running right, although in my opinion, it's worth every cent. Just find a good one to start with and you'll be ok. Again, the pre-purchase inspection is everything.



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post #3 of 8 Old 08-30-2004, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
 
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what should i expect in terms of maintenance costs?

Hello PHAEDRUS242,

Thanks for the detailed follow up. I plan to have the pre-purchase inspection done tomorrow. I've read a bit about the evaporator issue. It's good to know what I'm getting into, and I'm hoping that this problem was addressed -- I should be getting the service history for the vehicle later today.

You mentioned that the cost to maintain this vehicle is not small. What should I expect?

Thanks,
Yash
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-30-2004, 10:32 AM
 
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It's tough to give an exact figure, but it will be about 1.5 to two times as much as your 107 car, depending on it's conditiON.

Once a lot of things have been done on the vehicle, they won't bother you again for a long period of time. The caps and rotors (I'm pretty sure '95 still had those) are BIG money. Little things are 5 times what they would cost on a Honda. If you've got the service records, study them carefully to see what will need to be addressed. You could even post them here and I'll let you know what to question.

If you get a good enough price on the car and aren't scared to get your hands a little dirty, you could hang a few parts on it and have a great ride. There are a lot of variables to weigh. Make sure the person doing your inspection knows this car specifically. A lot of old time indies may work miracles on a 107, but might scratch their heads on 140 issues. It would be worth it to pay the dealer two hours labor to get a full check out (work in a way to split the cost with the seller).



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post #5 of 8 Old 08-30-2004, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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service history

Hello,

I have a summary of the service history, though the descriptions are very brief.

The vehicle was taken in for A/C related problems in Nov-2003, Jun-2002, Jan-2001, Sep-2000, and May-2000.

I spoke with the service manager at the Service Center (dealer is American Service Center) and found out that the AC compressor has been replaced twice over the years. Other work has also been done. I ask specifically about the evaporator being replaced, and he indicated that it had not been replaced. They will be providing me more detailed reports of service history within the next day.

Other issues mentioned include engine oil, rear axle and transmission fluid leaks in Sep-2002 and reports of excessive bounce in May 2002. I thought it was in my head that the suspension may need work, but my brother thought it felt okay.

The AC is certainly of concern -- is this sort of service record to be expected? Also, is the suspension and the leaks something I should be worried about if these problems were addressed when they occurred?

Thanks,
Yash
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-30-2004, 03:15 PM
 
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Unless you are getting a killer deal on the car, I would stay away from a 140 that has not had the new evap put in. You're looking at upwards of 30 hours labor (the whole dash and heater box assembly has to come out) and some expensive parts. On top of this, since so much is being disassembled, unless you've got a tech who's very familiar with the car, you may get some squeaks/rattles/etc in the dash that never seem to go away. Caveat Emptor and all that.

I've heard that the failure rate on these evaps is actually only around 15%, but every 140 I've followed for a long period of time eventually needs one. Again, if the price is right, you can calculate the evap into the cost and see if it's still worth it.



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post #7 of 8 Old 08-31-2004, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
 
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decided against this vehicle

Hello,

Well, after speaking with my mechanic (Peter at Silver Star Motors in Vienna, VA), I have decided not to purchase this vehicle.

He also indicated that the 1994 and 1995 models have an issue with the evaporator, and that it costs upwards of $3500 to fix because you have to get under the dash. He also mentioned other issues with the 1994 and 1995 model year.

He suggested I look at a 1996 or 1997 where the evaporator issue has been addressed. He also suggested I consider the 1999 E class.

My uncle's getting rid of his 1999 E430 which has recently had some work done (AC compressor replaced, other work done). The vehicle has 70k miles on it. My uncle has sworn off Mercedes, preferring to go with Lexus. His 3 Lexus purchases have been trouble free, while this E430 has given him some grief. I've owned the Lexus RX300, and my wife is buying a Lexus. But to me, it still feels like a Japanese car, and I really like the feel of a Mercedes.

So my search continues. I had looked at a 1997 S500 coupe, but the vehicle didn't give a very smooth ride. I'll consider the E class, but more than likely, I'm going to look for a later edition S class.

Thanks again.

Yash
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-17-2004, 05:00 PM
 
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Dude -- You should have purchased my S320. Too late now, I am absolutely in love with the car and am really glad I did not sell it. It's funny how a car can grow on you. I test drove a new SAAB back when I was still thinking of selling the Benz and it felt like a go-cart after driving my car! What a piece of crap! Good luck in your continued search, Yash, and do keep in touch.
-Andy
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