W211 e500 buying

iacabu

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Hi all, 5 years ago I asked about purchasing my first v8, a clk55. I never did get one and now I'm back, once again looking for my first v8!

Budget will be sub 5k for an e500. It isn't the only option I'm considering but it's top of my want list.

They seem to be praised everywhere I look, including from a friend who owned one for a year.

The main issues I can see are related to the air suspension and sbc pump.

Should I worry about the sbc? Does it really cost 1k to sort, or are there cheaper options to fix now?

I assume the air suspension doesn't all need replacing in one hit, should it fail. With that assumption in mind, it doesn't particularly concern me. However, there's a car for sale at the moment where it's been replaced with bilstein shocks and springs. I appreciate many of you would prefer air, but is it a reliable consideration?

Anything else worth mentioning? I'll only be doing maybe 6k miles a year in it.
 

merc85

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Id deffo pick one with AIR matic infact i think most have it.

SBC yep around £1,000 but again worth having its a great system,

Re m113, id check for rear main leaks they all seem to, everyone ive had has to some degree,

Gearbox for smooth changes and fluid changes at every 40k
 

Gbrowncls55

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I had one for 5 years and loved it. The air suspension is brilliant, and the M113 5.0 v8 engine pretty much both silent and bullit proof. I had mine from 60k to 112kand did not have to replace the SBC pump or any of the airmatic system. If the SBC pump goes or passes its pedal count its about £1200 to replace (I had to do ot on my wifes SL r230) although there are now people who refurb them for less. The airmatic bits and pieces can be replaced bit by bit should they fail. Personally I would stick to airmatic rather than go "analogue"
Most 500s are pretty well specd and I would say if you hunt around and wait for the right car you should find a well looked after low ish mileage (70kish) one within your budget that should prove reliable.
The only real problem you will find is finding a good one as there are not too many about. But with patience the right car will come along
 

Phil1968

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After having a 2003 W211 E320CDI about 12 years ago (which I loved) I wanted a V8 too about 2 years ago. Found the E500 to be quite thin on the ground & then after research found that the CLS W219 is basically a W211 underneath. CLS 500s are a fair bit more plentiful (therefore more choice) & I ended up buying one, have been very happy with mine, so don't discount them. The M113 5.0 V8 is pretty bulletproof, as said above check for rear main oil seal leaks (mine weeps a little but have been told by my indy that they all do it & to only get concerned when it starts leaving oil spots on the drive), cam cover gaskets leak (quite common, but once done last another 10 years) & don't be afraid of the air suspension as aftermarket air struts are about 300 quid a corner. Air compressor rebuild kits are also available. I seem to remember reading there's a company that rebuilds the SBC pump for considerably less than a replacement from Mercedes. Make sure the transmission shifts almost imperceptibly & that it selects "D" without a thump.
 

bolidemichael

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Airmatic is usually replaced in pairs, particularly the rear which involves dropping the rear subframe. However, there are indys that will replace one at a time without dropping the entire subframe.

The SBC can be rebuilt, but the system needs to be bled with a STAR diagnostic machine in order to ensure that they last.

The gearbox can suffer with a circuit board failure, but a replacement should be available without having to replace the valve body unless it's an early one (ask me how I know).

Oil leaks are never a good thing as the engines are supposed to keep the oil within. I stamp on any that arose with mine immediately. I have been scarred from my first experience with my E500 which suffered from a leak not addressed at the crankshaft rear oil seal -- there was quite a lot of damage from the oil seeping into the lambda sensor housing and also the ECU via the loom from a poor crimp design.

Wheel alignment should be done by someone who understands the eccentric bolts that can be used to adjust the camber.

Other than that, you're good!
 

John

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E500 has AirMATIC as standard so they will all have it unless someone swapped it out.

I think if someone buys an E500 and swaps it out for conventional springs and dampers, there's no point in buying an E500 in the first place really.

AirMATIC is a very reliable system generally.

It's expensiveish to replace the air struts on each corner but worth it when it is working well.

Having had an E55K previously, also with AirMATIC, it was an amazing system.

I would drive an E500 personally and if you like it, don't worry about SBC or AirMATIC.

Just ensure you have a reasonably healthy slush fund and go into it with a realistic mindset.

If you think about it all the time, it will spoil your enjoyment and you may as well go for something without either.

Get any car you are looking inspected by a trusted independent if you can and take it from there.
 

bolidemichael

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I forgot to add, that the suspension components benefit from a refresh too (bushes, arms etc). Of course, that probably applies to any aged car, but the airmatic set up really benefits from a nice pillow soft ride. Also. opt for 17" alloys over 18" - ride, handling and no cracking of alloys are the benefits.
 
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iacabu

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Thanks for all the replies.
I tend to over think and over research purchases like this, but sounds like I'll be pretty happy if I just get on with it and enjoy it and worry about any issues as and when they come up.

I have briefly looked at the cls. I prefer the e on looks, but won't discount either if the right car comes along.

While there are 17s that I think look smart, it's really the 18s that make the car for me. Swapping the wheels post purchase isn't a realistic proposition this time, although I did just that on my current car and factored in the cost.

This is my friend's old car, which would be the perfect spec pretty much
 

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MikeInWimbledon

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I agree with all the technical points above, which summarise the situation well.

The commercial comment I’d add is that the challenge is to find the right car which has been properly maintained over two decades.

It’s easy to say find an e500 on 70k, but its more difficult to find a well-kept expensive car that’s averaged 4 or 5k miles a year over 16 years.

Good luck !

.
 

Londonscottish

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Thanks for all the replies.
I tend to over think and over research purchases like this, but sounds like I'll be pretty happy if I just get on with it and enjoy it and worry about any issues as and when they come up.

I have briefly looked at the cls. I prefer the e on looks, but won't discount either if the right car comes along.

While there are 17s that I think look smart, it's really the 18s that make the car for me. Swapping the wheels post purchase isn't a realistic proposition this time, although I did just that on my current car and factored in the cost.

This is my friend's old car, which would be the perfect spec pretty much

Bolidemichael summed things up nicely. One thing I'd add in the crank pully. It's got a lot of rubber bushing in it which can break up - it did on mine and is quite common on those V8's. And the wiring looms in the door mirrors can crack - I stopped mine from folding for that reason.

I ran mine from 95k to 145k before selling to someone on here. I replaced the Airmatic compressor on mine, the subsequent owner did the rear air bags I think.

Mine was great when I had it and I moved onto a 212 500 which has been almost fault-free for the last four and half years - except for rear airbags which were £250ea + fitting.

ETA; it's worth pointing out that the rear air bags on the 212 are a different design from those on the 211 and seem more prone to leak at around the 10 year mark, as mine did. On quite low miles too, around 70k. The ones on my 211 had done 145k over 12 years without failing.
 
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iacabu

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You're absolutely right about finding a good example, as also mentioned earlier.

There are obviously cars that have been maintained fastidiously, however I have to consider that my budget is relatively low and that I can't always expect the best.

There is a silver car I've got my eye on at the moment, however I still need to sell my car before I can do anything. It appears to have a reasonably clean mot history, and provided a couple of jobs have been done based on previous advisories, it could be a nice car. Very low miles at just over 60k, which I'm not sure if it puts me off or means it's a clean example.
 

Gbrowncls55

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Airmatic is usually replaced in pairs, particularly the rear which involves dropping the rear subframe. However, there are indys that will replace one at a time without dropping the entire subframe.

The SBC can be rebuilt, but the system needs to be bled with a STAR diagnostic machine in order to ensure that they last.

The gearbox can suffer with a circuit board failure, but a replacement should be available without having to replace the valve body unless it's an early one (ask me how I know).

Oil leaks are never a good thing as the engines are supposed to keep the oil within. I stamp on any that arose with mine immediately. I have been scarred from my first experience with my E500 which suffered from a leak not addressed at the crankshaft rear oil seal -- there was quite a lot of damage from the oil seeping into the lambda sensor housing and also the ECU via the loom from a poor crimp design.

Wheel alignment should be done by someone who understands the eccentric bolts that can be used to adjust the camber.

Other than that, you're good!
MB Brooklands replaced my left front airmatic strut as a single without me asking. Indeed they suggested it. The rear is different and you may as well do both airmatic bags whilst you are in there. The rear also operates differently with separate shock absorbers which can be replaced if they start to leak without touching the rest of the system, but as with all shocks probably best to replace the pair.
 

Gbrowncls55

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Thanks for all the replies.
I tend to over think and over research purchases like this, but sounds like I'll be pretty happy if I just get on with it and enjoy it and worry about any issues as and when they come up.

I have briefly looked at the cls. I prefer the e on looks, but won't discount either if the right car comes along.

While there are 17s that I think look smart, it's really the 18s that make the car for me. Swapping the wheels post purchase isn't a realistic proposition this time, although I did just that on my current car and factored in the cost.

This is my friend's old car, which would be the perfect spec pretty much
Those with the AMG sport pack ( AMG bodykit, tail pipes and some suspension changes I think ) as mine was, came mostly with the 18s in your pic. Mine was as your photo but with the cream leather interior. They still look great today and have aged really well in my opinion
 

bolidemichael

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MB Brooklands replaced my left front airmatic strut as a single without me asking. Indeed they suggested it. The rear is different and you may as well do both airmatic bags whilst you are in there. The rear also operates differently with separate shock absorbers which can be replaced if they start to leak without touching the rest of the system, but as with all shocks probably best to replace the pair.
I believe that's accurate, yes. Both my front airmatics were replaced individually, though failed within a short time of one another! Replaced by the previous owner.
 

bolidemichael

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You're absolutely right about finding a good example, as also mentioned earlier.

There are obviously cars that have been maintained fastidiously, however I have to consider that my budget is relatively low and that I can't always expect the best.

There is a silver car I've got my eye on at the moment, however I still need to sell my car before I can do anything. It appears to have a reasonably clean mot history, and provided a couple of jobs have been done based on previous advisories, it could be a nice car. Very low miles at just over 60k, which I'm not sure if it puts me off or means it's a clean example.
Unless you're fortunate, you're unlikely to find a car without deferred maintenance. Those that do enter into a 'sunken cost fallcy' (yours truly), will hold on to them because of the high outlay and quality vs low selling price. I understand that you're looking for a saloon and I'm only really familiar with the market for estates (which you could consider also?), but there are a couple of guys that have been advertising their cars for over a year, holding out for an ambitious sum that even the inflation of pricing during covid hasn't resulted in a sale. This is one example.

You can read up more on my four year/50k ownership experience on PH, but you'll have to wade through some travelogue type posts to get to the big bill stuff. If it doesn't put you off, then you're probably more profligate than I.
 
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iacabu

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Unless you're fortunate, you're unlikely to find a car without deferred maintenance. Those that do enter into a 'sunken cost fallcy' (yours truly), will hold on to them because of the high outlay and quality vs low selling price. I understand that you're looking for a saloon and I'm only really familiar with the market for estates (which you could consider also?), but there are a couple of guys that have been advertising their cars for over a year, holding out for an ambitious sum that even the inflation of pricing during covid hasn't resulted in a sale. This is one example.

You can read up more on my four year/50k ownership experience on PH, but you'll have to wade through some travelogue type posts to get to the big bill stuff. If it doesn't put you off, then you're probably more profligate than I.

Ah, I did come across your post after searching PH. Although I didn't get through it all so missed the costs involved. I'll have a read through.

I'd seen a couple of ph members offered on another estate, currently advertised at 6.5k but the owner is holding out.

I actually really like estates, it's just that there aren't as many and seem to command a premium.
 
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iacabu

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Just skim read a few pages looking for the juicy bits...

Firstly, if I ended up with a car that looked like yours, I'd be a very happy chap.

Second, there are bills, then there are 2k bills. That would certainly cause some issues for me. I suppose it's take the risk for a car like this, or stick with something I'd find miserable that would cost less when it goes wrong (in theory)
 

MikeInWimbledon

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Silver is a great colour, especially with that full length panoramic roof. (Cough)

Beyond my original point, there’s maybe a need to think through cars which have effectively sat unused for a handful of years recently.

The type that did 10k a year initially but maybe 1k a year for a while.

They may need some recommissioning when you start driving them properly again.
 

bolidemichael

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Ah, I did come across your post after searching PH. Although I didn't get through it all so missed the costs involved. I'll have a read through.

I'd seen a couple of ph members offered on another estate, currently advertised at 6.5k but the owner is holding out.

I actually really like estates, it's just that there aren't as many and seem to command a premium.
Is it this one at 6,495? I think that it was advertised for lower on ebay,
 
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iacabu

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Silver is a great colour, especially with that full length panoramic roof. (Cough)

Beyond my original point, there’s maybe a need to think through cars which have effectively sat unused for a handful of years recently.

The type that did 10k a year initially but maybe 1k a year for a while.

They may need some recommissioning when you start driving them properly again.

Very good point. I mentioned earlier that the low mileage actually puts me off more than anything. It might just be a ticking time bomb for me to replace all the items that should have been already had it done 100k.

Although I won't be adding many miles to car myself.

Is it this one at 6,495? I think that it was advertised for lower on ebay,

Yes, that's the one. It had a £4000 starting bid with a reserve. £6495 buy it now price.
A couple of PHers had made offers below 5k that were rejected.
 

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