Saturday, July 11, 2015

What to look for when buying a 1996-2002 Mercedes W210: A Buyer's Guide

"There's nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes." - Owner, Cheap Mercedes

First thing's first, I'm not telling you how to buy a car. If you don't know how to check the tires, windows, Heat/AC, etc, you shouldn't be buying a car - I'm aiming to point out the car's biggest weak points to make your buying decisions easier. No surprises. 

We'll start this out by saying this isn't a definitive guide for those looking to buy into the W210. This is a culmination of information I've put together by having many W210's, servicing those W210's, and daily driving those same W210's. Even though I'm fairly well versed in the chassis and by driving them often, I've found each and every car is different in it's own right and some things may be wrong in different parts of the country and some things won't - it's strictly up to you to decide whether or not those problems are something that you're comfortable dealing with. If you see something in the guide that you feel should be added, leave it in the comments or send me an email and I'll add it in. There's always "something" that pops up, even as these cars age.

With that out of the way:

The W210 is a very do-it-yourself friendly chassis. If you're mechanically inclined, servicing a W210 is easy. So much so, that I'd rather work on any W210 than any of the previous "E" class cars (W123, W124). There are some computer systems that aren't accessible unless you have the Mercedes HHT (Hand Held Tester) or a higher end scanner (SnapOn Modus). While build quality definitely isn't on par with the earlier cars, the simplicity of diagnosing and repairing W210's outweighs the build quality when choosing it as a car to drive everyday. Don't get me wrong though, they're still tanks compared to other marques of similar years.

While they don't have the soft and plush ride of the earlier cars, I'd take a W210 over the earlier cars for trips over 4 hours. The soft, bouncy seats in previous generations tend to take a toll on the body with their general lack of support. W210 seats are firm and support you in the right places - you may not feel it initially, but your body will thank you for any extended journeys. The rack and pinion steering is very direct and feels nimble. They're also much easier and less expensive to repair/replace than the earlier recirculating ball box steering of the earlier cars.

Some engines (M119, M104, OM606 NA) carried over from previous generations, just ultimately refined and the best of breed...while some new engines were introduced (M112, M113, OM606 Turbo). You can't go wrong with any of them though, they each have their quirks, but they're all extremely stout and reliable engines.

We'll start with what you should be keeping an eye out for across the model range, regardless of year:


You guys that live where salt doesn't show it's face, consider yourselves lucky, but not free of trouble. If the cars have been anywhere in the rust belt, then there are some very key points to be looking for in terms of rust. Some of it strictly cosmetic, but it's the stuff you don't see everyday that gets you at the worst time. Prevention is key. MB going to water based paints in this time sure doesn't help the issue.

Spring Perch
The front spring perches on these cars are absolutely notorious for rusting away and then dropping springs, leaving the nose of the car on the ground. While it still may be driven to safety, it's not a pleasant sound or feeling to have your car dump to the ground. 

While this may "seem" alright and not catastrophic, it's what's underneath the Mercedes applied seam sealer that is going to get you. If you even remotely see some rust spots on or around your spring perch towers, get a wire wheel and get rid of all the seam sealer in the area to expose any rust. Coat with POR 15 or other sheet metal protective product and then apply a few heavier coats of rubberized undercoating over that to prevent future failures. When caught, problems are prevented.

Here's a perch that has finally detached itself from the unibody. 

Here's a picture of what was a small speckle of rust that was investigated further. Seam sealer removed and you can see how far the rust has penetrated. 

A completely severed spring perch. This get's bad and is a fairly easy check when buying a W210. Take a screwdriver and start stabbing away around the spring perch. If you get stuff that's flaking away, make it a point to either prepare to deal with it, or run away. 

This is a Mercedes technical bulletin on priming the new metal surface when redoing the spring perches.

Outside of MB, there are a few aftermarket suppliers of new stamped spring perch replacement panels. Fitment is generally good with whichever route you go, as long as the welding (riveting) and prep work is done properly, it'll last the lifetime of the car.

This is the "direct from MB" document on the new procedures for spring perch replacement.

Front Lower Control Arm
This one may not show it's face as easily as the spring perch, but when it fails, it's a bit more catastrophic if you're at speed. What happens is the outermost portion of the control arm, where the spindle meets ball joint and ball joint meets control arm, snaps clean off. This doesn't happen on new parts due to their redesign, nor does it happen to cars that are void of rust. All happens because of some terrible drainage holes in the control arm itself. They get clogged, they keep water and debris for ages, and they weaken the welds and snap off.

The best and only method of checking this properly is to get the car up in the air, take the wheel off, and start stabbing the drainage holes with a very thin screwdriver to punch through any debris. 

You may get lucky and not lose the wheel completely, but don't count your chickens before they hatch. 

Here's a picture of one that is still together, but about to pop. 

Body Rust
I'm going to put this as blunt as I can, these cars are apocalyptically rusty. There are so many places for it to rust, that if a W210 doesn't have rust, I'll be wary. You should be too.

Fender Rust
Front fenders are known to dumbo ear at speed when the lower mounting screws completely rust off and let the fender fly free in the wind. It's just bad water drainage. If you ever have a chance to just remove the fenders from your W210, get in there with a wire brush, POR 15 and some heavy doses of undercoating and you'll be fine.

Most of this is caused by years and years of debris collection in between the fender and trim pieces and vibrations rubbing through the paint. Standing water and salt expedite the process and you'll have floppy fenders in no time at all. Usually, the mounting peg behind the fender itself will be rusty too, but not to the point where it can't be treated and used to mount a new fender.

The fender lips on all four corners are also prone to rust a lot. Thin paint, poor metal treatment and many rock chips make these areas more prone to rust than anywhere else on the car. Rusty fenders aren't a huge deal breaker for me, rather, they're letting me know there's more than I should be looking out for. 

Yes, doors. They suffer some odd fate of having random rust bubbles popping up out of no where. Most of it is centralized around the very bottoms of the doors and along the trim pieces. I'll drill a few 2-3mm holes along the bottom of the door to aid in water drainage. If I have the door panels off, I'll clean out the inside of the doors and coat the bottom of the door with POR 15, or just some random spray paint that will provide an additional layer before the water get's down to bare metal. The trim pieces suffer from trapping debris and vibrating it down to metal. Those areas rust and if left unattended you get catastrophic results to the door's structural integrity. 

This is a rather extreme example of what happens, but you get the idea. It CAN happen.

This is what "usually" happens if the rust in those areas get bad enough. Definitely requiring a new door because this isn't worth saving. 

Mercedes does have a recall campaign for the doors. Only, it's literally just wiping some excess silicone sealant off the bottoms of the doors as they trap water. Service campaign 200503005 

Headlight Buckets
The area behind and around the headlights is a terrible spot. The drainage plugs in those areas get clogged up and leave standing water behind, leaving all sorts of problematic, oddly difficult to repair rust.

This is how you'll usually find the headlight area on rust belt cars. This is relatively simple to repair if it hasn't completely rusted through and you'll be able to do it in a few hours. You can get a paint matched aerosol can from or some other online retailer and once you've removed all the rust and prepped/primed the area, spray away. It's not really a vital area to look out for, but it's somewhat easy to see on either side of the car if you really look for it.

Same goes for under that same area. 

In general, there are few other places the W210's rust. Everything beyond these areas is pretty much standard rust for Mercedes cars. Look around the rear subframe bushings for excessive rust (difficult to repair) and get a general idea of how the bottom of the car looks. Rockers usually stay solid, as do the floors. Keep an eye out for rust and you should be in good shape. Drivetrain's usually last longer than the bodies of the cars themselves, thankfully.


722.6 Transmission
So the 722.6 5 speeds are electronically controlled. They're a super stout transmission and rarely fail mechanically. They're the 1st in line with the Mercedes "sealed for life" service campaigns, which is a huge sham. The transmission should be serviced every 30k miles - filter and fluid draining. Try finding a car that has had it's transmission serviced often. Aside from that, the transmissions have a conductor plate that usually fails before anything else. It will set the transmission in limp home mode (2nd gear only) or it will be stuck in whichever gear it failed in. With conductor plate replacement and a transmission control module reset, the trans will be good as new. The last two W210's I've had I bought with "blown" transmissions. Only to replace the conductor plate and have two of the most reliable W210's I've ever owned. The transmissions also have an o ring and plastic plug that go into the transmission that will leak trans fluid - sometimes that fluid will wick up the wiring harness and get into the TCM, causing a failure - though it's rare.

Window Regulators 
You'll mostly find the rear regulators going out on all W210's. This isn't year related, it's just a fact of life. It's not a particularly weak design, as when the window tracks are lubricated every so often, window regulator replacement is a moot point. The main plastic guide breaks away when it gets caught up on a poorly lubed window track. Every W210 I've bought had a broken rear regulator at some point in it's life. 

Broken sunroofs are common as well. They're not too difficult to repair, but they have their moments. Frequent use usually prevents failure, believe it or not. There's no lubricant for the sunroof sliders, as they run along a polished metal surface on felt pads. Not using the sunroof frequently gums up the sliders, the sliders grab and the sunroof cables buckle and break out of their mounts. If the sunroof opens, awesome. If not, there are a few websites and DIY articles that show you how to go about fixing it. The best thing you can do is to open the sunroof all the way and take a clean rag or a couple q-tips and clean the sliding tracks. They're polished and look chrome, clean them of and use your sunroof once a week or so.

Heated / Self Dimming Mirror Delamination
The heated and self dimming mirrors on some cars equipped with them delaminate and the fluid that MB used in them leaks out and creates a fishbowl look. The mirrors turn brown when it's starting the process and it'll look like brown liquid sloshing around when it finally breaks through. It's very unsightly and replacement lenses for the self dimming is expensive. There are stick on replacement mirrors on eBay for around $15 and they'll somewhat transfer the heat during the winter. You lose self dimming, obviously. 

Front Suspension Knocks / Squeaks 
In addition to those front control arms catastrophically failing now and then, the front suspensions develop on odd deep knock when going over bumpier roads. Luckily the knocking is usually an easy fix: sway bar links. They wear out every 50k miles or so, not a huge ordeal in cost or time to replace. Should be about 45 minutes at most to do both sides. Front control arm bushings go out at the normal rate, crawl under the car and check for cracking in the rubber. Cracking = replace. Lower ball joint boots should be soft and relatively pliable. If they're leaking grease, they need to be replaced ASAP. They're not expensive and take about an 1-2 hours per side dependent on proficiency. Same story for the upper ball joints. 

Key Fobs
Replacement keys are about $230, so take care of yours. The early cars with the switchblade keys have sensitive tumblers. Don't have a janitorial set of keys hanging from your key ring when running your W210 - the tumbler will wear prematurely and failure means you won't be able to turn it. If you replace it as preventive maintenance the part is $70, if you replace it because you can't turn it, expect the repair to reach $1200 + any tow fees. I'll replace the battery's in the fob every 2 years.

Early cars also utilize infrared receivers in the door and trunk. They have some cheap plastic-like glass that will wear out and become very brittle. When working, opening the car a green light flashes, when closing a red light flashes. If you're not getting any flashes from the sensors, then they've gone kaput. Replacement door sensors are about $380, trunk sensors are about half. Or if you can live with them not working, free.

This is how the broken IR sensors look. Once they get to this point, all hope is lost.

Vinyl Interior 
Some early cars had some cheap vinyl armrests that wore through over the years and get sticky and really unsightly. Late cars had leather stitched stuff that lasts longer and wears much better.

Seat bolsters wear from getting in and out of cars. It's more prevalent on drivers sides. Same deal, but the B-pillar trim pieces will wear away if the seat is set further back (tall people). Headliners can sag, although it's extremely rare. Lift up the carpets and make sure they're dry - if they're wet, the sunroof drains are clogged and most likely leaking. If the rear headrests are up, test the button on the dash for auto down. If they don't drop down instantly, there's a vacuum leak.

Catalytic Converters
They just get noisy. They break away from their mounts and start rattling up a storm. Usually you'll hear them causing a ruckus when you're in one spot at idle. You can give it a small test by holding your foot on the brake and trying to accelerate a bit, if they're rattling away, guess what? Cat time.

Instrument Cluster Pixels
This goes for just about every single Mercedes with digital clusters. You'll get dead pixels on the instrument clusters. It may be one line, or all the lines - it's up to the cluster to decide which ones it doesn't want to display. It's relatively simple to fix and there are many companies that do the repairs for not much money. More of an annoyance than anything else.

Brake Lamp Switch
A faulty switch will throw ABS and ETS lights on the dash. Super simple and cheap fix!


The OM606 diesels are fantastic engines. Smooth power delivery, much quieter than earlier Mercedes diesels. They aren't without faults though. Although, their faults are small and annoying.

Glow Plugs
The 606's use really long glow plugs. The glow plugs also have an odd taper at the sealing end that doesn't seat too well and let's some soot stop up the threading a bit after many heat cycles. This causes problems come time for removal because they're known to get stuck in the heads. Often times requiring cylinder head removal for replacement. If anyone has followed my posts on replacing these, the best trick ever is to plug in the block heater for a few hours before doing the job. I used my 20v Dewalt 3/8" impact driver to break the plugs free then just spun them out by hand. The biggest thing is heat, the hotter the engine when removing the plugs, the better for you!

Fuel Lines
Not sure why Mercedes decided to use plastic fuel lines on these, but what's done is done. There are about 6 different plastic fuel lines scattered all around the injection pump to supply and transfer fuel between various components. There are twice that of O-Rings used to seal these plastic lines. With modern day Biodiesel and people attempting to run vegetable oil through these very precise diesel injection systems (rather than the more crude systems in earlier generations) - the orings deteriorate rapidly and cause air and fuel leaks. Luckily, it's fairly easy to spot air leaks on these engines because of the plastic lines as you'll see air bubbles flowing through them. The same air leaks can cause the engines to not start, or start roughly. Repair is replacement of o-rings and possible fuel lines if they're brittle.

Shut off Valve
The shut off valve suffers the same problems with fuel leakage. There's a single O-Ring behind the valve where it attaches to the injection pump. Fuel can leak profusely from this spot. Just as well, a failed SOV will struggle shutting the car off and will throw fuel temperature codes. An annoyance, but it's about a $115 part on eBay / AutohausAZ.

EGR's on these are sensitive and allow dirty sooty exhaust into the intake tracts and usually clog them up. On naturally aspirated cars, you can block off the exhaust outlet with a block off kit and then route the EGR so it takes in fresh air from the air cleaner box. This works well because the car will still think everything is working correctly, only it will be taking in fresh clean air. On turbo cars, the EGR is a bit trickier - there are a few forum posts all around that show a few electrical modifications you can do to make the EGR function differently.

Resonance Flaps
Because the EGR's soot up the intact tracts, the resonance flaps in the intakes get stuck and will throw check engine lights. They're usually remedied by removing the flaps, soaking them in acetone and taking a brass wire brush and getting the soot off. Make sure the flaps hold vacuum and open/close properly is another step in making sure they're in good working shape before reinstalling.

Vacuum Leaks
There aren't many vacuum lines on the OM606 as it's mostly electrical (which is nice). Those vacuum lines that are present are often overlooked and will cause some odd problems with the resonance flap system. Replacing lines is a surefire way that you won't have any problems.


Sans V8 cars, the M104 straight 6 is the smoothest running of them all. Though, isn't without faults. 

Timing cover
The front upper timing covers leak profusely and often. If resealed properly, the seal job will last about 50-60k miles. It's fairly easy and should only take about 2 hours to do the job. You can't use a ton of RTV as that's what causes more leaks. Being frugal with RTV or using the proper Mercedes sealants (or something similar) will yield great results.

Head Gasket
When the engines were first assembled, the head gaskets were somewhat weak. Within about 100k miles of heat cycles, the right rear corner of the head gasket will start leaking oil. Rarely do the gaskets pop and have coolant mix with oil - it happens, but rarely. New gaskets from Mercedes come with reinforced corners and shouldn't have to be done again for the lifetime of the engine.

Electronic Throttle Actuator (ETA) 
This is more prevalent on the 96 cars than the 97's - but the early throttle body's had some biodegrading wiring harness issues that affected the ETA wiring as well. With the car's age, chances are it's been replaced already, but if car has service records, comb through them really fast and see if you can come up with something.

Wiring Harness
Again, this really doesn't affect anything 98 and newer, early cars had odd biodegradable wiring harnesses. You'll find this across most German marques as it was some sort of attempt at helping the environment - only to make it worse because they had to make twice as many harnesses to replace the junk!

M119's are super smooth, super reliable and super easy to maintain. They are legendarily reliable and have racing provenance. They do take up quite a bit space so they're a bit tight when you need to do something, but they're a great mix between great everyday power and fuel economy.

Cam OilersFor some reason Mercedes changed over from aluminum cam oilers to plastic in 1993. Why they did that, who knows. I'm sure it couldn't have saved them that much money in the mass production process. The plastic oilers will crack and break off and won't do their job - you'll get valve tick. Common practice is to find the early set of aluminum oilers and throw them on for essentially a bulletproof set up. Or get a new set of oilers from Mercedes and replace them every 100k miles or so. Not a bad job once the valve covers are removed.

Rear Main Seal
Not sure why this goes out frequently on these, but there's really nothing to do but replace it, or deal with a leak. A couple drips here and there for the rust belt guys is considered rust proofing, so take it for what it's worth.

That's it, really. The engines are damn near bulletproof. Timing chain guides get brittle like everything else and SHOULD be replaced every 200k miles or so and you'll get another 200k out of them. I wouldn't try to test the longevity of timing chain guides, not worth jumping a chain.

This is for both the M112 V6 and M113 V8 
Harmonic Balancer Recall Campaign No. 2005020003
Please make sure the car you are looking at has had this recall done. It will save you a headache, you can call the 1-800 Mercedes number with the VIN and check if the recall has been done on the car in question. 

The M112 gets amazing fuel economy and have fantastic usable power. The 2 spark plug, 3 valve design makes for great performance from an otherwise very small package. Though, they aren't as forgiving as earlier engines for those individuals that don't maintain their cars very well.

Oil Cap Check
If you pull off the oil fill cap and see a white gooey substance, don't be afraid, it's not a blown head gasket! If the engine isn't allowed to get up to full operating temperature to burn off any water vapor in the crankcase, you'll get a milky substance hanging out at the highest point in the engine (oil cap). Wipe it off and drive your car further.

Any more than this and you REALLY need to take your car on a long trip.

Carrying on with the whole maintenance and oil ordeals, the M112 (and M113) are known to sludge up rapidly if their oil services aren't done frequently. Mercedes and everyone on the planet will tell you change the oil every 7500 miles or so with synthetic. Screw that, I want my engines to last. Change oil hot and change oil often. My M112's get 0W-40 Mobil 1 and fleece filters every 5k miles - on the dot. Have had NO issues with sludge, ever. None. Zip. Nada. Don't buy into the sucker scam to ruin your engines. Pay the extra couple bucks or buy something Japanese.

Crank Position Sensor (CPS)
This will totally knock out the car. They're about $40 and can strand you anywhere. About 15-20 minutes replacement time. Dig through service records or ask the owner if it's ever been done - if it hasn't, JUST DO IT! Totally worth not getting stranded.

Outside of the harmonic balancer and sludge issues, the M112 is honestly an engineering masterpiece, internally.

The M113 is the cream of the crop next to the M119. 2 plugs per cylinder, 3 valves each, it's a smooth and powerful (less powerful, but more torquey than M119) V8 bundle of joy. It returns slightly better MPG's than M119s and it's much more "drivable" than M119 cars, but that's mostly due to more electronic wizardry. It's a bit more expensive to maintain, but in my opinion, if this is going to be an everyday driver car and not some performance machine - who cares.

Same deal as the M112's. Change your oil and don't fall victim to the extended oil life range craze of synthetic oils. Change oil hot and change oil often. I can't stand how many cars I've had come around that have had sludging issues and improper oil pressures and scoring camshafts.

Crank Position Sensor (CPS)
This will totally knock out the car. They're about $40 and can strand you anywhere. About 15-20 minutes replacement time. Dig through service records or ask the owner if it's ever been done - if it hasn't, JUST DO IT! Totally worth not getting stranded.

All the above applies for the wagons. They're 100% the same aside from being a foot or so longer and not having any rear shocks. That's right, no shocks. Wagons came with hydraulic self leveling SLS suspensions. Instead of conventional shocks, they have hydraulic rams with small reservoirs that act as the shocks. They're totally amazing when loading up the back or when towing. If the US got wagons in diesels, I'd be ALL over them. Though I won't discount a nice one when it shows it's face.

There are a few things to look out for when strictly buying a wagon - mainly having to do with the rear self leveling suspension.

Take the car over as many speed bumps as you can - if the rear feels bouncy, or extremely stiff than the self leveling accumulators are toast. They're not difficult to replace, just fairly time consuming. Get Mercedes or the best aftermarket than you can find, cheap replacements will only last about a year.

When looking at  wagon, load up the back as much as you can and rev up the engine to around 2k rpm. The rear should lift up to standard height within a minute or so. If it doesn't life up, there's either a weak pump (rare), the self leveling valve has a leak or has failed. They're more expensive fixes than the accumulators, but they're rare.

The actual hydraulic shocks themselves don't really fail (I've never seen or heard of one actually failing). What will happen is they will leak externally and drain your hydraulic system. That's about it. 


  1. great write up, i have a w210 e320, '02 and it had a lot of these problems (except for rust).

  2. super write up,i have a w 210 e200 kompressor 02. i am the first owner ,had minor rust on the wings and stone chip damage on the underbody,easily cleaned off treated with fertan anti rust treatment. re painted with stone chip paint. the manifold cracked at 20k miles common problem on the 2 liter engine. front drop links replaced twice.brake light switch also. thats it . not bad for 105 k of rough rural roads. regular service of engine auto box and diff done.

    1. regular service and treatment of rust will keep these old rockets on the road for some time! thanks for the comment!!

  3. the shortage of salting on our roads really helps with the rust, our climate is temperate. the w210 is so well built it still drives like new. a completely rattle and squeak free car. i also drive a saab 93 . it feels a lot looser all round at the same milage, considering it a much lighter car,it does not hit our pot holes and bumps with the same forces as the w210 , which has all its original bushings still in perfect shape. thanks for all your wisdom!!

  4. Thanks for the therouw list!
    I live in Norway and we feel the rust problem veery much here. Every winter its salt and small stones(gravel) trucks that drive at least two times a day to try to keep the roads nice and not slippery up here.

    Im about to buy my second MB, i daily drive a W212 350 CDI wagon and now im getting myself a W210 E55 AMG.. Is there anything specially to watch out when it comes to the engine?

    Thanks again for the article!

    1. It's the same engine layout as the E430, and E320 just with more cylinders. All these engines suffer from the same problems with the valve cover gaskets, head gaskets, and timing covers. PCV breather gaskets are always the first to go.

    2. Also, the one item he failed to mention in the article, ENGINE MOUNTS, that's the other weak point on these cars. Very common replacement item, lots of aftermarket mounts available, spend according to how long you plan on keeping the car.

  5. Many many thanks for this very good info.
    Two years ago, I purchased an W210 300 TD Avantgarde which is now 19 years and 420.000 km old, and works fine (very fine).
    I found a couple of issues that are common (in a 20 years old car !!):
    1. Insulation of headlights inside cables and of external mirrors simply disappears, one needs to re-build those harnesses (I did not find any harness spare for Xenon headlights)
    2. Air conditioning: fresh at left side, hot at right side (I select fresh at both sides); I did not fix it yet; solution seems to be to clean the duovalve, such device is quite accessible.

  6. Awesome article - thanks!
    I am in the UK and have a 2002 W210 E220Cdi estate / wagon - which I acquired 4.5 years ago with 117k miles on it. Problems fixed: fuel lines, corroded brake & hydraulic (s/l suspension) lines, brake light switch, broken front springs, worn front suspension components, *** very badly corroded front cross-member ***, water pump, battery , turbo hose, fuel filler neck rusted, park brake, dodgy rear brake lamp holders, leaking transmission gasket, tranny oil leaking up harness to ECU. Is badly corroded around rear subframe & suspension - which I think will be the death of it eventually.

  7. I'm looking to buy a W210 E430 at the moment. Thanks for this information, it's extremely helpful when I'm about to inspect cars.

  8. Mercedes Benz 1993-2000 used different brands of Electronic Throttle Actuator (VDO, Bosch etc.) - but did they all use biodegradable wiring - or is it possible to have good one in your MB from this period?

  9. I'm looking at getting another 210, this one being the 320 wagon, not 4matic. Has been a Florida car, no rust underneath it seems, some rust bubbles on the roof near the rear hatch though. Has 127k miles on it, they are looking to get $5850. Wanted to see what your opinion was on that price. Car is super clean. Thank you!

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Awesome and valuable write-up! Cheers. I just purchased a 97 w210 E50 AMG with low kms. I was searching for DIY rust proofing and found your blog. Just going thru a personal check up on this over the winter (as the car is and will be kept in a heated garage) to convert some lighting to LED and check on any rust issues. So far nothing after some close exterior inspections with a few that you've mentioned in your blog. (ie. headlight bay area). Ive been tinkering with the car and taken apart some things to "clean-up and touch up" things. I get pretty anal on these issues looking for things to do on this W210. I appreciate your write up.

  12. Nice write up, I'm not that much of an able bodied DIY'er but my W210 wagon has a bad water leak, that's water leaking in from the rain - it was parked in the rain for three days while on a bush holiday and when we left and hit a downhill all of a sudden a sound of sparking cables igniting and burning through came from the back left seat. We pulled over and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, and there was no smell either.

    Eventually it seemed to resolve it self, but when I got into the car I realized the speakers were no longer working (original Bose setup). I've been trying to figure out how to remove the panels under the seat to get a look but haven't managed to, any advice there would be great - I've got the seats off and can see the carpet covered cardboard type covering, and prying it up I can see some wiring under there.

    I don't believe that's where the cause of my problem is though, I was inspecting the car and when I opened the boot flap where the cd changer and amp is I noticed that the bottom of that fender area was about 5 inches deep in water, so it must be leaking in from somewhere.

    I know we need to get the cabling sorted, but there's no use fixing the cables unless we've addressed the leak. I felt along the interior of the car pretty much all around and couldn't find any wet spots, any ideas as to where I should look and how I should troubleshoot this sort of problem ?

    Your guys' advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. do a search or post your issue either on or Plenty of support and info on both.

  13. I have a 1997 w210 E300 diesel non turbo I bought the car with 100,000 miles on it. Now it has 300,000 miles on it and I had to replace the transmission on it at 260,000 miles on it and have not had a problem with it every since. very reliable for 300,000 miles and still handles like new.

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  16. A useful article but it's worth remembering that these are seriously luxurious and strong cars so if you pay a bit in maintenance, you are still getting superb value.
    I have two 320cdi estates, my third and fourth. I had an s211 220cdi estate but it was a worse car in many respects so returned to s210s. This Winter we drove from London to the Alps and back for skiing. Unbelievably relaxed, 40mpg and that for a 150,000 mile car.
    Yes we've had problems - one is slow to start, the other had some wiring burn out, front suspension knocks need sorting from time to time - but they still offer excellent value for money and amazing carrying space. I'll be sorry when they're no longer available.

  17. A useful article but it's worth remembering that these are seriously luxurious and strong cars so if you pay a bit in maintenance, you are still getting superb value.
    I have two 320cdi estates, my third and fourth. I had an s211 220cdi estate but it was a worse car in many respects so returned to s210s. This Winter we drove from London to the Alps and back for skiing. Unbelievably relaxed, 40mpg and that for a 150,000 mile car.
    Yes we've had problems - one is slow to start, the other had some wiring burn out, front suspension knocks need sorting from time to time - but they still offer excellent value for money and amazing carrying space. I'll be sorry when they're no longer available.

  18. to be honest, you forgot two major drawbacks of the W/S210 series which maybe either a annoying at least or also very expensive.
    First problem is the V6 engines pre-facelift but mostly the 240 version which wasn't avaible in the us but also could affect the bigger engines. There was a oil return line in the head for the oil to return to the sump. Some of those weren't made properly and oil couldn't drain back to the sump as fast as it was pumped into the head. As these engines had a big oil capacity this wasn't a problem of the oil pump running dry but the head was then full of oil and causing the engine to consume oil via the valve stem seals. Easy to fix yourself as removing the valve cover and is easy and then pushing that little seam through was all that's required.

    Second: Until the facelift the 5G Tronic was proone to spin a bearing and thereby causing catastrophic failure. It's not a question of if it'll happen but when. Maintaining it properly this point could be pushed outside of the life of the body if not this point will be rather early. A good sign of that is a harsh shift from 3rd to 2nd just before standstill when running in ,,W'' . Also this transmission REALLY doesn't like braking shift down so you want to use engine braking. REALLY!!!
    In the run of the facelift, that bearing was revised which made that transmission bulletproof. Unluckily they removed the torque converter drain plug in the same run :( but flushing is very easy with common materials from the hardwarestore just to give you an idea. Only use fresh oil without any special cleaners.

    otherwise thanks a lot for that review and what I also missed, which is easy to check, is the sidepocket on the wagon, where the spare tire is stored, as they also tend to rust out

  19. to give you an idea of the sidepockets. Use the automatic translation to understand at least somethiung. Just tried them in English myself. They're hidious but at least you understand the most important part and that idiot bought that car for 500 bucks and wants to save it..... and our state inspection doesn't allow ANY rsuted out parts. Just millenial to create some clicks and people even donate. 400K on the odo and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (was that enough?) of problems. Lots of them ;)

  20. I like your content very much and it is very informative and helpful for all and I am sure about this. We always just think that this old model Mercedes is not so good but I have to say this car is the best one for it's engine. And for servicing you should visit mercedes maintenance because of to get rid of any problem for your car.

  21. My w210 e230 dont look like this a buy it last year its on great condition have not any rust, and its only cost 1000$ btw its perfect for daily car bc have not any engine sound, have some comfort for 1000$ car

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  23. Good write up I’ve own 97 E420 One spring perch replaced 2000 E430 Sport Cali Car 74,000 miles with Comand and Monobloc wheels. recently sold 2001 E430 4matic 145,000 miles. A W211 E320 RWD Fla. car That gets 33+ MPG Highway 120,000 miles and a 2004 E320 4matic with Premium package 160,000 miles. My question is did any of the W210 AMG’E55’s have the Sport Badging on the fender side moulding. I bought a set of black Sport side moldings supposedly from an E55 to put on the Silver E430 Sport just to break up the mono coloring it’s a quick change 15 minutes for all of them. I’ve looked for images of E55 with Sport mouldings and I’m beginning to believe they didn't. I still have all these cars except the E430 4matic and have experienced most of the problems you’ve described but I still love these cars. The E430 Sport I bought in Cali and drove it home cross country 4000 plus miles and absolutely no problems. It’s one of the cleanest W210’s inside out and underneath I’ve ever seen built 11/99 it has every cd for Comand still working in original case. Original First Aid kit. Rear window screen. Thanks for the awesome write up