New BMW's and Mercedes-Benz's

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austin, texas
Specifically 2009 bmw 335i and the 2009 mb c350, but regarding all new cars built by these manufactures in general... What goes wrong with these cars? Some say the electronics on mercedes [censored] out on you randomly. Many do not like the bmw transmissions... I have never owned either so i would like to know from those of you with experience with these cars, either owning them or working on them.
 
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Simple solution if you don't like the transmission: buy a manual. ;\) The only semi-general problem I can think of is among the cars with direct injection. If they're not functioning at their peak, they might build deposits. That seems rare, though. Other than that, common failure points are different for each car. The 335i has had fuel pump issues here and there, but that should be fixed by now. Generally the cars are pretty darn solid, BMWs more so from what I hear (although Mercedes is closing the gap).
 
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 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
Specifically 2009 bmw 335i and the 2009 mb c350, but regarding all new cars built by these manufactures in general... What goes wrong with these cars? Some say the electronics on mercedes [censored] out on you randomly. Many do not like the bmw transmissions... I have never owned either so i would like to know from those of you with experience with these cars, either owning them or working on them.
Since you're in Austin, you might go talk to these guys if you want the straight scoop (and service if you decide to buy) on the BMW: http://www.terrysaytherauto.com/Home.htm
 
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 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
Specifically 2009 bmw 335i and the 2009 mb c350, but regarding all new cars built by these manufactures in general... What goes wrong with these cars? Some say the electronics on mercedes [censored] out on you randomly. Many do not like the bmw transmissions... I have never owned either so i would like to know from those of you with experience with these cars, either owning them or working on them.
How long past the original warranty are you planning to keep it? If long, I'd get an extended warranty that will cover you up to 100k miles. You don't have to get it right away, just as long as you get it before the 50k factory warranty runs out. These cars' reliability is spotty - just depends on your luck. One can be very trouble free, and another could have a lot of electrical/electronic gremlins and other things. That's why just to be safe I'd recommend an extended warranty (straight from the manufacturer, not some third party) if you're planning to keep it long. In addition, with BMW you get all scheduled maintenance during the first 50k miles at no extra cost, although some argue that this scheduled maintenance does not amount to much these days, and I'd somewhat agree with that. If you're planning to hold onto this car for a while, you will probably end up doing some in-between services on your own dime.
 

mikeinaustin

Thread starter
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350
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austin, texas
i will own vehicle far more than 100K miles. I think the bmw maint. schedule for the 2009 335i is every 10k or 15k miles. so you are only getting 5 oil changes for free. i do plan on getting 6/7-100K mile extended warranty with either simply because the cost of parts and labor on even minor items can kill you on these cars. i looked up an alternator for the mb and it was around $1200.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
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the N54 in the 135i/335i can have issues with the high-pressure fuel pump. Many say its due to improper use or modding, but it is TBD, I guess. I am looking to buy a 135i, and keep it for 10+ years. The HPFP issue will not stop me unless I see compelling data and issues. Most issues Ive seen have been window regulators and electrical connections related to fancy gadgets... I dont think anyone who uses a car as described has real issues with an MT or a differential... Keep us posted.
 
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Haven't kept up with latest c class but older ones were known for electrical and other issues. Top gear survey of 52,000 owners ranked the c class 109th out of 152 models in 06'. Horrible showing for a supposedly high end brand. I considered a SLK 350 a couple years back but instantly ran away once I found out all the problems people were having. I would only buy this car if you were planning on selling it before warranty runs out. All german cars need proper maintenance and most are gadget heavy but Mercedes has had a quality problem lately. But hey, maybe the quality of the new ones are better? BMVee 3 series ranked 40th, which is very respectable. Please post if you locate a newer top gear survey, this is the only one I could find right away. http://www.topgear.com/content/carsurvey/2006/mercedes/c-class/
 
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Purchased the 335i recently, certified pre owned. This will extend warranty out to 100,000, which should cover major failures. When I saw the oil temp guage running at 230, decided that I would change oil every 7.5 k. Would you believe that they didn't even change the oil at the BMW dealer? They said it was done 9000 miles earlier, and BMW wouldn't pay for it. Taking it to a local import repair shop that uses BMW oil and filters tomorrow.
 

Kestas

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German cars have a killer nice ride, but are notoriously unreliable. They're loaded with all kinds of gadgets that eventually fail at an alarming rate when compared with japanese and american cars. Mainly it's the electronics. I have a 95 Mercedes E320. Outside of expected maintenance and repair, something always goes wrong that needs fixing every 2000 miles. Sometimes it's major, like the cabriolet top hydraulics leaking... sometimes it's minor, like intermittent high beam operation. This is why the price of used models drops like a rock. After every summer of driving 5000 miles, I always have a laundry list of items that need attention during the winter downtime. When I viewed the Apollo capsule in the Air and Space Museum in DC, my first thought was that the capsule was no more complicated than my E320!! Lately, Mercedes has been rated high in reliability. I cannot understand this. How can one judge reliability on a one-year-old model where the problems typically only present themselves mid-life into the car? If you buy new, expect to keep the car only through lease or warranty, then expect low residual values during trade-in. If you buy used, don't pay much and expect to spend a lot of resources for repair.
 
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To tell you the truth, I lived in Europe for a lot of years and didn't know that the Mercedes and BMW where unreliable cars. I only learned of that here in the US.
 
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My electronics-laden notoriously unreliable German car is treating me better at 151k miles than my sensible reliable Japanese econocar was treating me at 120k. German cars are only unreliable for people who don't drive and maintain them the way they're made to be driven and maintained (which, admittedly, is a lot of people in the US).
 

Kestas

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I can make a long laundry list of problems my Mercedes had that is completely unrelated to maintenance and driving style. It only has 90K on the odometer. Otherwise I agree that maintenance is critical to powertrain longevity.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Kestas
I can make a long laundry list of problems my Mercedes had that is completely unrelated to maintenance and driving style. It only has 90K on the odometer.
I have a long laundry list as well, and mine only has 55k miles on the odo. But then again, I didn't buy it new (it had 30K when I bought it). Some will claim that I just got stuck with someone else's problems, but I really don't think that is the case. A lot of the things that failed, failed later on. The previous owner would have no idea that they were about to fail. Also, they are very common BMW problems, so it's really no surprise, and they have nothing to do with maintenance neglect, whatever that neglect was during its first 30k miles (dealer-serviced).
 
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 Originally Posted By: CivicFan
To tell you the truth, I lived in Europe for a lot of years and didn't know that the Mercedes and BMW where unreliable cars. I only learned of that here in the US.
That's because a lot of people here in the US tend to skimp on maintenance. Some people think that if they buy an expensive car, somehow it shouldn't require maintenance at all. And if they find out how much the maintenance costs (high labor rates at dealers and even at Euro indy shops), again, they cut corners. Some other cars can stand up to such maintenance neglect, but BMW and MB usually can't.
 

mikeinaustin

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I disagree with the notion that americans skimp on maintenance, i believe strongly it is the other way around. almost all americans i know of (other than those on this board) have drilled into them to change oil and filter every 3k miles (just as an example). i believe both the mb and the bmw have oil change intervals of 10k-15k depending on year/model. There is very little maintenance one can do to keep an electrical fault from occurring; such as power window button no longer working, passenger seat forward/back control no longer working, sensor x intermittent failure, etc. everyone i know who own an expensive car do the exact opposite than described above, they treat it far better than a 15k car. regardless, it seems to me that the c-class reliability has gone up with the new model (2008). for the bmw, i'm not sure about that twin turbo engine. i would assume (which is not a good thing to do) that the 335d diesel engine would last longer and in general be a more reliable engine, but again, that is just an assumption. mb has made that 7-speed transmission for a long time now, not sure about the bmw transmission.
 
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 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
almost all americans i know of (other than those on this board) have drilled into them to change oil and filter every 3k miles (just as an example).
And most of them do that by going to their local JL for an oil change. You can do that with a typical domestic car, but I would never take my car to JL, and most BMW/MB owners wouldn't either, and rightfully so.
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everyone i know who own an expensive car do the exact opposite than described above, they treat it far better than a 15k car.
I'd venture to guess that they're enthusiasts rather than typical owners. That's a minority. Most of the new BMWs and MBs are leased. Nobody cares about maintenance on a leased vehicle. They do the bare minimum. It's then the second owner who suffers potential consequences.
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There is very little maintenance one can do to keep an electrical fault from occurring; such as power window button no longer working, passenger seat forward/back control no longer working, sensor x intermittent failure, etc.
Totally agree. Diligent maintenance can prevent mechanical drivetrain failures, but it will do nothing to typical electrical/electronic gremlins that sometimes plague these cars.
 
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23,591
 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
I disagree with the notion that americans skimp on maintenance, i believe strongly it is the other way around.
Uh, none of the four vehicles that I have owned in the US has at the dealer or at any independent shop ever received thorough, but passable maintenance at best.
 
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 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
I disagree with the notion that americans skimp on maintenance, i believe strongly it is the other way around. almost all americans i know of (other than those on this board) have drilled into them to change oil and filter every 3k miles (just as an example). i believe both the mb and the bmw have oil change intervals of 10k-15k depending on year/model.
You must live in a place where people drive a lot. Here, half the people I know can barely spell "oil change", let alone do they know how and when to do it. If it weren't for OLMs, they'd be screwed. One of my close friends -- you can imagine how much he's heard me talk about oil -- once went more than 30,000 miles on Wal Mart SuperTech dino. I've also ridden in and driven people's cars that have had clunks, rattles, and vibrations that the owners never noticed. Some days, it seems like half the cars on the road have underinflated tires. Shaking wheels, blown dampers, exhaust leaks, and jerky automatic transmissions are frickin' everywhere. Many americans see cars more or less as a commodity, and driving as something that "must" be done rather than a privilege or a luxury. That attitude strongly affects how much they know about cars and how to treat them, as well as their attitude toward maintenance.
 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
everyone i know who own an expensive car do the exact opposite than described above, they treat it far better than a 15k car.
"Expensive" cars, or German cars? And what does "treating" mean? Maintenance is only part of the story. The car has to be used the way it's meant to be used. German cars are designed to run for hours at full throttle on unrestricted sections of the Autobahn. In America, most people seem to drive them like any other car, running a lot of short trips in stop-and-go traffic and never exceeding 3,000 RPM. That's asking for trouble. You have to wind them out regularly and let them run on the highway.
 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
regardless, it seems to me that the c-class reliability has gone up with the new model (2008).
Yes. They seem to be going up every year. Service is still expensive as heck AFAIK, but quality is really improving.
 Originally Posted By: mikeinaustin
mb has made that 7-speed transmission for a long time now, not sure about the bmw transmission.
I'm pretty sure BMW's current 6-speed autos have been around a little longer than MB's 7-speed.
 
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