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Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Car Safety, Sedan
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#6785 of 7297 2001 C320 - long
Mar 16, 2004 (1:37 pm)
Hi Folks. I used to post regularly, but haven't for a couple of years. Just check in once in awhile instead, but this particular conversation seems right up my alley. I can't offer any better advice about purchasing the leased car than what's already been stated. But I can share my experience. My car was bought in Oct 2000, so it's one of the early models. Even today, I have only 22,000 miles on it. However, by the time it had reached 18,000 miles, it had spent 68 days in the shop (approximately 1 day for every 264 miles) and trips to the shop occurred, on average, every 1500 miles. Mostly all electronics and electrical problems. However, as the car approached 18,000 miles, the problems got worse--or should I say more serious, in that control modules kept going out affecting my ability to lock the doors, close windows, use side view mirrors,etc. (On multiple occasions I had to detour from my planned destination, to the dealer because of "no go" problems arising.) Also had fuel sensor problems causing the car to stall twice, and so far, every exterior light on the car has been replaced at least twice. Between 18,000 miles and the current mileage, I've experienced a power steering leak, and a possible transmission leak and both tail lights burned out again, making it the 3rd replacement for each. Thus, it hasn't really shown any clear signs yet, of "settling down." Of course, the fact that it's nearly 4 years old but still very low mileage makes this a somewhat difficult call to make.
I have no complaints with the dealer, and as others here have noted, I love driving the car. But, the hassle factor has been very high, and as it stands now, I'm constantly worrying about what's going to go wrong next. I've talked with John about this in the past (I'm the woman from Sacramento), and his advice at that time was to dump the car. What John doesn't know is that I've subsequently filed a lemon law claim against Mercedes Benz. The outcome remains unknown, but it's not costing me anything to play it out and see what happens. (The attorney collects from MB if we win, and if we loose he gets nothing.)
I'm reasonably certain that I do not want to be driving the car when the warranty runs out in October, so I'm now starting to think about a replacement. I love the new E320, and would buy it in a second, but I worry about having the same problems? (Your thoughts/comments on this would be appreciated.) After observing the problems I've had with the C, most of my friends consider me nuts for even considering another MB -- but then, they've never owned one, so what do they know?? The 530i is also a definite possibility. I'm waiting to see if the looks might "grow on me" some. The G35, which I drove this past weekend, is quite peppy with 260hp, but it just doesn't compare to the MB or BMW. And I find the Lexus to be totally boring.
Mar 16, 2004 (3:31 pm)
You're right....long time no hear!
As you describe the situation, clearly things have gone very steeply downhill since we last discussed this online. I think your Lemon Law filing is right on - whether or not the strict definition of the law will eventually be found to apply, it is no big secret that MBUSA has been known to offer up settlements that often take the form of a heavily subsidized trade-in on a new car in circumstances like yours. IF you are still interested in an E when and if they decide to settle, you may find something attractive on the table.
But I think there is a generality that needs to be part of the consideration in this discussion: the more complicated the system[s], the more chances for things to go wrong. We've been fortunate so far with our C240, but then there are two things that are true in our case that stand out: 1) our car was built in January of 2002 in Bremen, some 19 months after initial production began, and 2) we are without so many of the electrical "assists" and "features" that are the source of so many of the problems. Otherwise, it's the luck of the draw.
The new E has had its share of teething problems, as well...but this time you would have the advantage of those 18 months or more of production experience. I would nevertheless stay away from COMAND at all costs, as well as such cutting-edge features as the pano roof. A basic E320 is a virtuous piece of work. I don't think it's insane at all to keep it on your shopping list.
The new 530 [or 525...my prejudice for keeping it simpler and less costly] is certainly a fine alternative, though subject to the same new-model risk that you took on with the C. On the other hand, the BMW 3er is a mature product that is very, very nice [it was, as I said, a very near thing between these cars for me]...if you don't need the room in the back seat, as it fails to provide space for real adults back there.
I'll have to admit that one of the things that pushed me in the direction of MB vs BMW was, at least at the time, a positive familiarity with MB-Sacto [both in sales and service], vs. no knowledge at all about either Niello or Roseville BMW.
Since our move to Vancouver, WA, I have had only one experience with our dealer in Portland [there are two in the area, owned by the same principal], which was mostly positive. However, I haven't asked them to solve any problems...which is the big test. The problems I laid at the doorstep of MB Sacto were always solvable locally [wheel alignment, the diff leak], i.e. they were not design or basic engineering failings that could only be solved by a fundamental change back in Stuttgart. BMW has gone through some real doosies with the current 3er, but that is mostly behind them now - an advantage of being near the end of the life cycle.
Do let us know how it plays out - I will be very interested to know how MBUSA responds.
Mar 16, 2004 (5:32 pm)
Sorry I get first dibs on Johncdnrockies C320.
#6788 of 7297 2002 C-240 High Mileage report
Mar 17, 2004 (1:28 pm)
It has been a while, but I thought I would chime in with a report on my 2002 C-240.
My 2002 C-240 is just about to roll over the 70,000 mile mark. It has been a great highway car that I use all the time for business travel. However there have been problems, but not so many I am upset.
- Seemingly chronic problem of going through front ball joints. They were replaced under warranty at 35,000 miles, and now at 70,000 it feels like they are due again without the warranty, I will be paying cash. Not sure exactly why this happens, but it does.
- Driver's side power window. It is stuck in the up position. I can hear the relay click to try to lower the window, but nothing happens. I suspect a frozen pulley or cable. Who knows what that will cost...
- Exterior lights... I have gone through about 3 or 4 bulbs which is ok at $1.50 each, but it does seem strange that they burn out so often.
- Parking brake cable. Cable was too loose to put on the parking brake. I suspect the techs at one of the service intervals caused this problem, and then at the next interval charged me a hours labor to fix it. Either way, it works fine now.
- Windshield issues (Not Mercedes fault)
I hit a rock which cracked the windshield, I contacted my insurance company and they had the windshield replaced by Diamond Autoglass. The first shop I took it to in Philadelphia accidentally dropped the new windshield and shattered it. No new windshield for me that day. The next shop I went to in DC put in the windshield, but did a horrible job. The roof rails are all crooked, the rubber seals are visibly out of alignment, and the rain sensing wipers have now lost their mind. Upon recent inspection from a Mercedes dealer, they confirm that the glass was put in haphazardly and in the process of doing so they broke one of the mounting pieces for the rain sensor black plastic cover. The rain sensor is very sensitive and needs that cover on in perfect alignment and thus its poor performance. I am still negotiating with Diamond Autoglass... If they replace the glass (THEY SHOULD!), I will watch them like a hawk while they do it. Too many of these glass dealers just slap the glass in and drive away, the rest is your problem.
- Tires... My first set of Goodyear Eagle RSA's lasted about 35,000 miles. They scalped so badly and were loud that I replaced them with Continental Contitouring CH95's. The Continentals are so quiet and comfortable without sacrificing much performance at all. I would highly recommend them for high speed highway driving that you want to be smooth and quiet. However, they only lasted 35,000 miles as well. They are evenly worn. I think my next set will be Pirelli P6. Maybe they will last longer, who knows. Hopefully they will be quiet like the Contis. I go through a set of tires per year, so I figure I might as well try a new set every year... anyone have any suggestions?
There are no other problems. The car has actually been a joy to own and drive. I can't complain.
Perhaps I could complain about the maintenance costs... It looks like the Service B at 60-70K will cost about $400-600 plus the window motor and the ball joints.
#6790 of 7297 2001 C320/John
Mar 18, 2004 (10:42 am)
Thanks for the reply. You've made a couple of good points that I will definitely consider: mainly that the E Class is now 18 months old with some of the bugs worked out, but the same cannot be said about the new 5 series. btw..I have not considered a 3 series BMW because if anything, I would prefer a slightly larger car than I currently have.
As for the law suit, I was hoping that MB would start negotiating before we got to court, but so far they haven't, and my attorney tells me that they rarely do. I would be open for an especially attractive deal on an E class if that were to come up for discussion. We are still waiting at this point, for a court date. It was nice hearing from you again.
Mar 18, 2004 (11:07 am)
Who says the G35 doesn't compare to the new Benz or BMW? Quite silly. That's like saying the new 7 series is more reliable or better built than an LS430. The C class is one of the worst new Mercedes along with M class piece of junk. Bad, bad marks in the CR lastest issue. If I had as many problems with a model or brand they would be long gone in my book. That's why I'll never give a penny of business to the problem Germans till they get their act together.
Mar 18, 2004 (12:26 pm)
I can't remember anyone recently "dissing" the G35. I tried one before buying our C, and was quite impressed, but for two issues: the ride was firmer than I thought necessary [and the sports pkg only makes it more so], and the standard seats [not the power, leather option] were simply too soft and poorly shaped for either my wife or me.
That it doesn't work for me does not make it an unworthy competitor to the Germans in this class. I also tried very much to like the IS300, but again, ride quality had been compromised to achieve handling numbers - a tradeoff that I think is too common among the Japanese competitors in this segment.
What has always set BMW, MB, and Audi apart from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda is a fine balance between ride comfort and handling ability, along with an early appreciation of the importance of a complete safety package. No question in the mind of this automotive veteran, however, that the Japanese Big 3 have it all over the Germans for reliability and lower long-term ownership hassles.
Having owned cars from ALL of the manufacturers in the previous paragraph, I think I have a pretty good perspective on the competition.
Mar 18, 2004 (1:52 pm)
I respect your views and I was a little too harsh in the post, but I'm certainly not alone that the Germans are in for a rough ride if they don't clean up the quality problems and soon. I've met some very P'd off former customers of Benz. who will never again go back not only because of problems but lousy dealer experience and support.
Mercedes riding on their past glory will only go so far in today's very competitive luxury market where Japan is the leader in quality and closing the gap fast on handling and road feel. The G35 is just better executed all around then the IS300 which has sorta juvenile styling but a great inline engine and very decent handling. I'm sure Lexus learned alot from the criticsm and the 2nd gen. car will be much better executed.
The G35's engine is a marvel in smoothness and great torque curve. Overall it's a little more rough around the edges then a 3 series but it's got BMW scrambling which up till now had no real true compet. The G35 cheapish interior finally gets a complete remake this fall. The C class is a few rungs below the current G35 and 330 series in being a true sport sedan and most of the mags. agree.
Mar 18, 2004 (3:37 pm)
...but then I didn't want a "true sports sedan", I wanted a "true touring car". I subscribe to and read all of the magazines, and my preferences and needs, as they say, get no respect. Everything is about handling, handling, handling. I went through that a long time ago - I had one of the first BMW 1600-2s imported to the West Coast - but now I don't need to go around corners so as to make your eyes bug out.
In any case, anyone who buys a G or an IS over the competition gets no serious argument from me - it's all about what you want and need.
A final observation: Lexus [as distinguished from Toyota] has set a standard for dealer service and overall attitude that everyone would do well to emulate. Infiniti and Acura [I've dealt with both] haven't yet set themselves apart from most MB and BMW dealers. ALL tend to be better than Audi/VW. But the differences between individual dealers are so vast as to almost defy generalization - I've had good and bad experiences from just about everybody.