For Mercedes experts: W203 and W211 reliability

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I've been looking for a good W124 or W202 or even a W210 that has all the features i want for the past few months but i have to face that these cars are getting old and tired. I'm looking for something with an automatic transmission and cruise control since i drive a lot and in boring conditions most of the time. but most 124s are manual and have crazy odo readings. Same thing with the 202s and half of the 210s are autos but all of them are rust buckets.

Looking for a more modern car like a W203 or a W211 seems more realistical in the end. Most of them are autos, all of them have cruise control. However, can they be as good as the 124s and 202s in terms of reliability? I'm asking for a lot since i've been served so well by these cars so far.

What is your experience with these two chassis in perticular? What are the best years and years to avoid? What to look for for each chassis? It is worth mentioning that 90% are CDIs. The models i'm interested are mostly the C220, C270, E220 and E270 CDI, all with the 722.6 transmission. The gas versions are rare but i'm interested as well.
 
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I can’t really give any advice i will say its probably more about how well the previous owner cared for the car can help with reliability. Also I’m not sure what models had the sbc braking but i think they can be an expensive fix.
 

M119

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One thing to keep foremost in mind is this: NOTHING IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A CHEAP MERCEDES!
All of my cars were cheap Mercedes, so far so good! Many of the ultra reliable cars that people around me drive are ultra cheap Mercedes beaters.

PS: All of them are OM60x diesels with manual tranmissions, W124, W202 and W210 and they still hold on after years of abuse and neglect.
 
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I've been looking for a good W124 or W202 or even a W210 that has all the features i want for the past few months but i have to face that these cars are getting old and tired. I'm looking for something with an automatic transmission and cruise control since i drive a lot and in boring conditions most of the time. but most 124s are manual and have crazy odo readings. Same thing with the 202s and half of the 210s are autos but all of them are rust buckets.

Looking for a more modern car like a W203 or a W211 seems more realistical in the end. Most of them are autos, all of them have cruise control. However, can they be as good as the 124s and 202s in terms of reliability? I'm asking for a lot since i've been served so well by these cars so far.

What is your experience with these two chassis in perticular? What are the best years and years to avoid? What to look for for each chassis? It is worth mentioning that 90% are CDIs. The models i'm interested are mostly the C220, C270, E220 and E270 CDI, all with the 722.6 transmission. The gas versions are rare but i'm interested as well.
These are Chrysler merger era cars and IIRC Mercedes wasn't interested in building quality vehicles as they were in the throws of a merger gone bad.
 
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I have a 2008 Mercedes E-350, the W211. In the US, the bad years are the 2006 models as that had the first year M272 engine which had the bad balance shafts. They didn't fix that until sometime in the mid 2007 model year. Which is why I got a 2008 model to avoid any overlap in the 2007 model year. From 2003-2006, you had SBC which was the electronic brake by wire. In the US the warranty got extended to 25 years but I think in the rest of the world, that might not have happened. There was also a gas tank problem and MB's solution was to replace the entire gas tank along with the fuel pump/filter if you smelled gas in the car, that only had a 15 year coverage though and again maybe US only. Of course best years in typical MB fashion is the last years, 2008 or 2009. The 2006 was the worse, then maybe 2003 up to 2005 and then maybe 2007 as that still had some of the bad balance shaft issue. Early 2003 models had bad radiators so the coolant mixed with the transmission fluid so it trashed the transmission. The 5 speed is considered a little better than the 7 speed, the connector wicks transmission fluid so should be changed when changing transmission fluid. Otherwise transmission problems usually end up being the conductor plate and a new one needs to be coded by the dealer or you can send out the old one to be rebuilt which won't require recoding, but you have to wait while you send it out and wait to get back. Oh M272 engine problems didn't end with the balance shaft, the oil separator/cover also goes bad and oil gets into the intake so you have to replace the intake manifold at some point as oil gums up the flaps although at over 120k (miles) I still haven't had to do it yet.

You need to use a vin decoder like:

 
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But that's the best advice here.
Not really, that's hardly any advice. You have to pick the right year. Don't try and flip any 2006 E-350's. I like to read the ones on Craigslist and they tell you to just ignore that check engine light, they're sure it's probably nothing when they know it has a bad balance shaft and will require the removal of the engine to replace the balance shaft. The parts are cheap, but the labor is not.
 
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I would branch out on your research. Probably from first-hand owner accounts of both styles.

For W211: https://mbworld.org/forums/e-class-w211-20/

For W203: https://mbworld.org/forums/c-class-w203-3/

As a X204 style owner, I frequent these forums often and have found plenty of useful information.

If you can swing it, I'd look at W212 body E-class. The oldest model will be "only" 10 years old, so there should be plenty of great specimens to choose from. From my reading, they were excellent cars. If you can find a Bluetec E250 that's had the AEM recall work completed, you'd have an excellent long-distance cruise missile that comes with a 4yr/48k mile extended warranty from MB that covers a LOT of components.
 
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As an FYI, I also have a 2011 E-350 which still had the M272 engine. In terms of reliability, yes the W212 in general is more reliable than the W211 although some of the problems with the M272 still of course happen in the 2011. In 2012 they went with a newer M276 engine which also had more hp and better gas mileage with direct injection. Overall seems better than the M272 although spark plugs were harder to change than M272 as it was a 60 degree V6 instead of the 90 in the M272. But it doesn't have the intake manifold problem like the M272. The diesels I hear in the W212 are worse though, W211 is probably better for diesels but they're not that popular in the US so I don't really follow them.
 
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All of my cars were cheap Mercedes, so far so good! Many of the ultra reliable cars that people around me drive are ultra cheap Mercedes beaters.

PS: All of them are OM60x diesels with manual tranmissions, W124, W202 and W210 and they still hold on after years of abuse and neglect.
MB pre 1980 were good and the manual w/diesel indestructible, but here they are hard to find, with the newer ones MB switched from reliable engineering to "Bling" and they only exported to Northamerica the loaded versions which did not prove very reliable. Also MB needs specific maintenance with requires a paradigm shift in the mind of the average northamerican driver. ;)
 
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W202 is when the decline started...the bio degradable wiring loom. The car was still solid and reliable as always, but they went cheap on electrics and plastic, which was now hard and brittle.
 
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You are asking about Mercedes on European market. Here members have experience with US bound MB’s, and that is very few members. Rest think they know something because boyfriend of their sisters best friend cousin had one.

My brother has right now 2006 W211 E220cdi. It has around 370k km and he is using it not only as daily, but bcs. it is uber comfortable and very frugal, very often drives it to Budapest or Istanbul on business trips unless he goes by air. Depends on nature of the trip.

So far only common failure on ALL MB’s is heat exchanger that failed and mixed oil into coolant. Based on our experience with delivery vehicles in our business with Sprinetrs, Vitos, MB eventually will have that or leaky oil cooler.

Other than that, he is beating the living raw sewage out of that car.
 

JHZR2

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The market in the US is different than where you are. We got pretty consistently optioned vehicles, pretty different setups than you’re talking about. The w211 cars seem to have fared better than the w210. You’re right, the w210 has a tendency to rust bad. They were engineered in a time where Daimler lost focus on engineering, and instead pushed cost centric design.

The w124 definitely has a cheapened feel compared to w123, w126, and w140 cars, but they scoot around really nicely. Maybe it’s bad memory, but we did own a w210 thst felt a decent amount bigger than a w124, and I’d assume a w211 will be more like that.

Around here a manual w124 diesel would be a great find and command a premium. Not sure how it is by you.

How much do you value diy repair ability versus more complex, capable, comfortable cars?
 
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I have had lots of W210 and W211's in Europe. I would get a facelifted W211, 2007-2009 model. No SBC then, and the facelift gave some good updates. The first W211s had electrical gremlins (2003-2004). The 4matic W211 has a different front suspension than then 2WD version. The 4matic one is the most robust one of them. On the V6 diesel I had there were the usual oil cooler leakage (to outside only). The 5G tronic is a little more robust than the 7G tronic, and easier if something goes wrong, but the 7G tronic feels more modern. The 220 CDI and 270 CDI are good engines. 270 only on the older model years. I would avoid 200 CDI, too little power. Generally driven maybe 300.000 km in W211s, and haven't been plagued by problems, just regular things. The most fun W211 I've had is the E420 CDI, with the twin turbo diesel V8. The E400 CDI engine has problems best to avoid. I would like to get a E55 AMG with the M113K in the future. E63 engine can have headbolt problems. Regular petrol W211's isn't common here, I wouldn't want one smaller than a V8. The petrol V6 isn't good.
 

M119

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The market in the US is different than where you are. We got pretty consistently optioned vehicles, pretty different setups than you’re talking about. The w211 cars seem to have fared better than the w210. You’re right, the w210 has a tendency to rust bad. They were engineered in a time where Daimler lost focus on engineering, and instead pushed cost centric design.

The w124 definitely has a cheapened feel compared to w123, w126, and w140 cars, but they scoot around really nicely. Maybe it’s bad memory, but we did own a w210 thst felt a decent amount bigger than a w124, and I’d assume a w211 will be more like that.

Around here a manual w124 diesel would be a great find and command a premium. Not sure how it is by you.

How much do you value diy repair ability versus more complex, capable, comfortable cars?
Yes the W210 is a bigger car! It even feels larger than the W211 when you're sitting in one.

80% of the 124s are 250D, 300D, E250 D and E300 D with manual transmissions, no cruise control and cloth interior. Some 300s are autos and/or have leather interior but it's quite rare to see one with cruise control.

The last question is hard to answer because i want both haha! The best of both worlds would be a nice W124 with a M111 engine matted to a 722.4 transmission that has cruise control and AC. I guess it takes a trip to gemany to find one.

I would prefer a gas car because i can convert it to run E85 which is 2 to 3x cheaper than diesel and regular. I've been running my C180 on E85 for three years now and it makes it an extremely economical car. Even a thirsty 6 cylinder ran on E85 would cost me less in fuel than pretty much any diesel. The CDIs are more frugal than the earlier engines and are still are on my radar for that reason. I've been thinking about running a good old OM60x on WVO for a while too but it seems overkill and not realistic.
 
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