S-Class Buying Advice

DesignJunkie

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Hello newbie advice needed from experienced friends - links or advice appreciated - I’d love to own and S-Class (!!! ) and on a bit of a budget I’m looking at a petrol auto S350 2004 on 140K for £2500 on autotrader, has history and receipts which I’m going to check out next weekend but any thoughts on 140k work needed - am I looking at big bills other than the usual check the electrics, air con, panel gaps - eg wear and tear on suspension arms / bushes etc.
I’m going to do 6k miles a year driving from London to Wiltshire every other weekend (2 1/2 hrs each way) and the odd Cornwall run so nothing too crazy (and want to arrive as super unstressed as possible)!
Thanks folks
 

DrFeelgood

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Air suspension struts are prone to failure as is the gearbox.

Can be expensive if you don't have the experience to source and fit replacements/refurbs.

On the border in terms of age for being galvanised, should be OK but worth checking for rust.

The gadgetry was advanced at the time but looking outdated now, will be facelift though with the wider screen sat nav.
 
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DesignJunkie

DesignJunkie

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Air suspension struts are prone to failure as is the gearbox.

Can be expensive if you don't have the experience to source and fit replacements/refurbs.

On the border in terms of age for being galvanised, should be OK but worth checking for rust.

The gadgetry was advanced at the time but looking outdated now, will be facelift though with the wider screen sat nav.
Thanks so much! Hard to tell if struts or gearbox about to go I guess (other than sagging suspension & clunks).
 
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DesignJunkie

DesignJunkie

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Air suspension struts are prone to failure as is the gearbox.

Can be expensive if you don't have the experience to source and fit replacements/refurbs.

On the border in terms of age for being galvanised, should be OK but worth checking for rust.

The gadgetry was advanced at the time but looking outdated now, will be facelift though with the wider screen sat nav.
DrFeelgood how bad are the electrics (S-Class 2004) and is there any way of telling if likely to go? I guess my question linked to should I steer clear of 2004 S-Class with complex electrics and buy something more boring/ uncomfortable? Thanks
 

DrFeelgood

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DrFeelgood how bad are the electrics (S-Class 2004) and is there any way of telling if likely to go? I guess my question linked to should I steer clear of 2004 S-Class with complex electrics and buy something more boring/ uncomfortable? Thanks
I don't recall anything electrical (or mechanical for that matter) that caused a breakdown, however, the electrical failures were things like the dashboard graphics.

I put 100k miles on it in 2 years and lots of things started to go wrong such as shocks, gearbox, injectors and so on.

It was a lovely drive though and if you afre doing less miles and the car is cheap it might be worth a punt.

A lot of the expensive repairs were done under warranty at a dealer and their costs were huge but I wasn't paying!
 

Mattns

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Hello newbie advice needed from experienced friends - links or advice appreciated - I’d love to own and S-Class (!!! ) and on a bit of a budget I’m looking at a petrol auto S350 2004 on 140K for £2500 on autotrader, has history and receipts which I’m going to check out next weekend but any thoughts on 140k work needed - am I looking at big bills other than the usual check the electrics, air con, panel gaps - eg wear and tear on suspension arms / bushes etc.
I’m going to do 6k miles a year driving from London to Wiltshire every other weekend (2 1/2 hrs each way) and the odd Cornwall run so nothing too crazy (and want to arrive as super unstressed as possible)!
Thanks folks
I've run a 2005 320CDI for the last 3 years, 7K miles per year, now sitting on 83K, I needed to replace the thermostat when I got it and an air compressor pump last year, two front tyres and tracking as part of normal life. runs fine 36.4 MPG on yearly millage trip over the past 4K miles. If paperwork stacks up, it drives solidly and it's nice inside and out, then give it a go.
 

zipdip

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Well it looks like it has sold,it is a good choice as it is petrol,but to be fair less mileage is normal for a petrol S class,as always with a older car check that everything works on it and take it for a test drive,at that sort of money,make certain the air con is cold,a new condensor is over £200,let us know how you get on.
 
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DesignJunkie

DesignJunkie

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I've run a 2005 320CDI for the last 3 years, 7K miles per year, now sitting on 83K, I needed to replace the thermostat when I got it and an air compressor pump last year, two front tyres and tracking as part of normal life. runs fine 36.4 MPG on yearly millage trip over the past 4K miles. If paperwork stacks up, it drives solidly and it's nice inside and out, then give it a go.
Thanks @Mattns
 
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DesignJunkie

DesignJunkie

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Thanks
Well it looks like it has sold,it is a good choice as it is petrol,but to be fair less mileage is normal for a petrol S class,as always with a older car check that everything works on it and take it for a test drive,at that sort of money,make certain the air con is cold,a new condensor is over £200,let us know how you get on.
THanks @zipdip
 

steveskeggy

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Hmm, I just got a new condensor from Autodoc in Germany for £65 including shipping, dont know what make it is, but it looks OK.
Now, my 2003 S55 AMG has been stood for 2 years while I overhauled the engine, I have had quite a few electrical gremlins since I got the engine back together, including moisture in the ECU, faulty ABS sensors, a blown prefuse, a faulty brake light switch, and a broken wire in one of the ECU plugs (I have no idea how it happened either) which stopped the air pump working and put the check engine light on.
However, had I been driving the car, I have no doubt that none of these would have happened.
The hardest thing about working on the electrics on the W220 is the Mercedes wiring diagrams, you need to be Allan bloody Turing to decypher them!
If you are prepared to get your hands dirty, then owning a W220 can in theory be no more expensive to own than any other car of that vintage, you need to shop around for parts, not just using Ebay, but motor factors of all description and locality, Germany and the USA can be the only source of some parts.
Dont use main dealers, unless you really must, sometimes you can get a fault that only a STAR machine can figure out.
Important! Get a decent diagnostic reader, I went for an Autel Maxidas ds708 instead of a STAR, because I also have a Land Rover Freelander, so the machine works on both.
I swapped my ABC suspension for a strutmasters coil set, partly because I hate hydraulic/air suspension, and partly because the car is of the age where the suspension starts to go wrong, and can cost a fortune.
I also swapped the comand system for an Android head unit and a couple of amps, this gives me digital radio and TV, and will let me play DVD`s.
The only downside is that I lost the Linguatronic, handy for making phone calls, and the clock on the dashboard. You lose the built in phone, but Bluetooth means you get to use your mobile.
 

mercmush

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I swapped my COMAND system for a double DIN Pioneer unit that I had previously installed in my 2007 E class.
My ICE guy had to find a wooden panel to fit around the unit and it is almost a perfect match with the existing wood surround.
I now have Apple CarPlay which is fantastic and even better after the recent iOS upgrade.
I can npw receive calls without using Bluetooth and sound quality for audio and music is far better through the USB cable as well.
I coughed up for a new ABC pump but apart from that the car hasn't been too bad (2003 S500 lwb).
With the recent rainy weather I love the way you can raise the car's suspension if you can't avoid a huge puddle.
The wife and family also love the heated seats front and rear and my 16 yr old son loves the dynamic massage seats and extra legroom as he is aleardy 6'3".
The headlamps needed a good machine polish with the 3M kit and I also put in new Xenon bulbs (D2S I think) as well as new uprated H7 bulbs.
Now in the middle of nowhere you really can see where you're going!
Good luck with yours.
 

s500colin

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I was given two bits of advice when I brought my S class,

Consider how deep your pockets are.

If you buy a champagne car, don't expect to run it on a beer budget.


S classes are well built, but the electronics can be complex to repair so make sure everything works perfectly.
The suspension can be expensive to repair so again check the car is level and it doesn't drop quickly after the engine is turned off,
There should be a button to raise the suspension, check it rises promptly when pushed.
Also worth checking that the SRS light warning light goes out correctly after starting, when they stay on generally it's the passenger
Occupancy sensor unit (about £200 to repair)

Having said all that, it's a fantastic car to drive and it's nice to be on first name terms with all the staff at my local indie
 

Pontoneer

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DrFeelgood how bad are the electrics (S-Class 2004) and is there any way of telling if likely to go? I guess my question linked to should I steer clear of 2004 S-Class with complex electrics and buy something more boring/ uncomfortable? Thanks
At that age you are looking at the W220 model , while I’ve never owned one I’ve been in and around a few - we had a couple of S320 CDI at work from new and taken to high mileages and I’m not aware of anything out of the ordinary service items with them . My pal has had a petrol S320 for a number of years and again no mention of any electrical issues nor problems with suspension or gearbox .

In contrast , I had a 2003 , pre facelift C Class and that was one of the most troublesome cars I’ve ever owned .

As long as you ensure the gearbox is serviced on time it should be fine - servicing is important and if neglected it will lead to trouble .

My neighbour also had an S500 ( still a W220 ) and I know he had bother with the airmatic suspension , both rear struts needing replaced ( that , I understand , is not uncommon ) .

I also have an S320 petrol , but the preceding model ( W140 ) my car is a 1999 , with only 75000 miles , and other than the air con needing regassed and the crappy Blaupunkt radio packing in there have been no major issues . My car had lain unused for about a year before I got it so I did a full brake rebuild and new tyres , also one door mirror had been accident damaged , but that isn’t the fault of the car .

Both the W140 and the W220 are now of an age where rust will start to manifest ( later W220s , I believe , were galvanised but early ones can rust badly now so do check the body work carefully and be sure you aren’t buying a rusty car that has been resprayed.

Both models are lovely cars to drive and feel very solid and well screwed together . I’m now on my fifth S Class , over three generations , and befitting Mercedes flagship models they are very safe , very comfortable and , if maintained correctly , very reliable .
 

wrdcc01

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Unless you have a spare car to use and a willingness to fork out hundreds a year I wouldn't go for a 220. Struts changing, air pump, valve block. Fan control module, rear SAM (not due to water) Ins' cluster flickering, trim popping off, cubby doors breaking or just going slack. Heavy on tyres, rattling cats, weak engine mounts, clear coat failures, the list goes on. Mine spent so much time up on ramps and at the dealers it was pointless. Beautiful when it worked but it was never for long and I never trusted it to get me home unaided. It had so many lifts home by the AA they refused to recover it anymore! Waste of 7 grand plus at least half again in parts and repair on a 6 year old car as it was then.
 

zipdip

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Well as I have said before the W221 S320 cdi has to be the bargain mercedes at the moment £8000 will get you a very well equipped one with less than 75 grand on the clock the S 350 is also getting a bargain as well,I think the shape is standing the test of time,the long wheelbase gets you a sunroof as standard,I would always look for a fully loaded one if possible,what any potential buyer has to understand is that practically everything was a extra on the S the minimum I would look for is heated front seats, memory seats, and the uprated sound system,the next things you might like are soft close doors,night vision,rear blinds ,heated and reclining rear seats, cooling and massage seats,headlamp washing,uprated wood steering wheel.
The ride is superb,you can do 400 miles in it and get out like you have driven 20 miles,the seats are great,and put it in sport and she will pick up her skirts and you may well lose your license.
 

John

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I wish.
The OP hasn't been back for nearly a year so I imagine he (presumably) is sorted by now.

For anyone else considering one reading this - I personally think your better off with an early W221 as they are much better built.

Especially as the youngest 220 is 15 years old now.
 

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