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1999 E320 Repairs

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Convertible529's picture
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Hi Folks,

I am new to the Mercedes Club and the forums. I recently took my 1999 E320 to a local German car repair shop and they gave me quite a repair list. I was sort of stunned because the car runs and drives fine. I had a few questions about some of the things they put on the list.

First, they told me that I should have the ball joints replaced, and the car itself only has 64,000 miles. The car handles just fine, though. Also, they told me that the spark pulgs should be replaced, even though the manual says that it could be done around 100,000 miles. The car runs fine, with no misfires, perfectly smooth.

They told me a few other things, but I just wanted to see what the consensus was on these items. I might make a new post with other findings. I have had the car for a year and it has had no problems.

-Frank

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ersquared's picture
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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Since you don't indicate what part of the world you live in, it is difficult to answer. But a second opinion is definitely in order.
Ed

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Here is an addition to my earlier post:

I know this is sort of a common problem, but the LAMP DEFECTIVE light has been flashing on periodically. The repair shop I took my 1999 E320 to said to repair the entire right tail lamp assembly. I took the car there for them to give it sort of a once over and to give the car a State Inspection. After looking over the car, they gave me this list of things to repair on the car:

-Tail Light Assembly, Right side (should be replaced)
-Lower Ball Joints (should be replaced)
-Rear Brakes need service (rotors and pads replaced)
-Spark plugs should be replaced
-Air/fuel filter shoudl be replaced
-Transmission should have standard service
-Left catalytic converter should be replaced (still passed the state inspection however)

The total they gave me for all of the parts and labor is $2,500 dollars. I am taking the car to another shop, for a second opinion. The main thing that I want to have looked at are the brakes. The car stops fine but my brother and dad said they noticed that the front brakes seemed to be more of the problem, not the rear. I just wondered if some of these repairs make sense being as this car drives just fine, and is great shape, or if other owners had some experience with any of these items on the list, with their E320.

To answer the previous question, I live in Western North Carolina. Any advice would be helpful, this is my first Mercedes Benz.

-Frank

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Hello again,

Thanks for all of the advice. A few more details about that catalytic converter. It makes a rattling noise when I accelerate in the car. The first mechanic I talked to said that it was in fact the catalytic converter making that noise. He said it would be good for about one more year, and would cost about $300.00 to replace. I don't know if this is the case or not, but he said this a common problem for this car. The E320 still managed to pass the required state emission inspection though. I will check on some of the other issues.

My dad and I have messed around with the tail lights. It is in fact the right tail light when the warning light comes on. My dad usually unplugs the sockets and plugs them back in. Sometimes we have taken the bulbs out and then screwed them back in, tightening them a little. Both ways seem to fix the problem for a few weeks or month or so. It is the main brake light though.

-Frank

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I wrote a reply yesterday, and then hit the delete button.
Don has a good post, I agree with him.
I assume you have no knowledge or service records of the cars previous life., that information would really help. Also, if you knew where the car was previously serviced they would have all the service records.
As to the shop, a good shop will have the computer that reads the entire function of the car. They read every switch, bulb, circuit, spark plug and malfunctions and from that they should show you exactly what your car needs.

The tail lite assembly. Don and your Dad are correct. The sensing circuit for these bulbs are very sensitive. Just a little bit loose or corrosion on the contacts will register a failure. Wipe off the contacts and replace them. Sometimes you may need to replace the bulb.

The ball joints would depend on the driving in the previous life. A lot of rough roads or heavy loads could cause wear. Around town driving should not give a problem, have them show you.

Rear brakes sound reasonable if they have not been replaced. Fronts go much faster depending on use. I live in the hills and brakes can go in 12 - 15000 miles.

Filters. Previous history would help. If the previous owner used moonshine for gas, yeah, filters, plugs, cats or who knows what. Filters are cheap insurance, and a profit item.

Transmission service I would do. However, the shop needs to know what they are doing or you will be buying a new one. The fluid is expensive and the procedure exacting, make sure you know the shop and trust them.

I have not heard of the cats going bad at this mileage unless they were damaged by going over a curb or rocks, or plugged up with moonshine or leaded gas. Also, $300 is not a realistic price for a new cat. That might be for labor or repairs, but not a new cat.

All in all, get more specific information from these guys or get another shop to take a look.

I think this is a great car. I have a '99 wagon with 101,000 miles and couldn't be happier. By the way, one thing you should have checked is the front perch spring. There has been a problem with these in wet or salty road conditions. You don't want these to fail while driving. If they are bad you might get MB to repair them.

Good luck,
Ed

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Yes, "mechanics" don't believe in 10K mileoil changes and 100k mile spark plugs because it means less business for them.

That was the intent, in fact.

If mechanics knew as much as designers of Mercedes, they'd have better jobs.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Hello again,

Thanks to everyone for all of the advice. I am going to take the E320 to another shop later this week. I will post the findings. I actually tried to get the service records from our Local MB dealer, but they said they would have to get consent from the owner. As far as I know they have done all of the service on the car, before I got it. The only reason I have hesitated to take the car there is because their prices are a little unreasonable, and we have had unsatisfactory service on other cars we bought from this dealer in the past. As far as I know the car was owned by a lady who traded it on a brand new E-class. Other than that, not too much. The dealer keeps sending letters to ask if I am satisfied with the car, but they keep labeling at as an E320W in the letter, even though it is a sedan! I bought it used about a year ago.

-Frank

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Convertible529;144627 wrote:
The dealer keeps sending letters to ask if I am satisfied with the car, but they keep labeling at as an E320W in the letter, even though it is a sedan! I bought it used about a year ago.-Frank

E320W = sedan

E320S = wagon

W210 = sedan

S210 = wagon

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I might suggest that you take the car to the dealer and have them do something not terribly expensive, like and oil change or have them check the tail light bulb that flickers on and off. Now, when you sit down with the service guy to sign up the work order, you can ask him about previous service, such as brakes, filters and some of the other items you have in question. They can give you a recommendation on what they think and a price.
They should even print this out for you since you are now the owner and have a right to know about the service.
Ed

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Convertible529;144627 wrote:
The only reason I have hesitated to take the car there is because their prices are a little unreasonable, and we have had unsatisfactory service on other cars we bought from this dealer in the past.
-Frank

Unsatisfactory service at dealers is the main reason some m-b owners go to indie mechanics when the car needs fixing. The trick is to find a qualified one you can communicate with.

That you distrust the diagnosis of the first one you went to is reason enough to go to a second one. The right indie ought to answer the questions Don suggests without you having to ask.

A place to start finding a good indie for your car is to get a personal recommendation, based on his experience, from someone you know.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I could not agree more with Alex. I steer a wide path away from our local dealer. They used to be good before Auto Nation took over. I have had a competent and honest indie for 26 years, they are worth digging around for.
The only reason I suggest Frank going to the dealer is to get the car registered with them and retrieve the prior records. And it could happen that one may meet a good service adviser and have a good experience. Might be worth a try.
Ed

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Just curious - i have a 2001 E320 wagon w 68k miles. The dealer has recommended the spark plugs be replaced - they noticed the wagon is running a little rough - and yes it is. Personally I prefer going to the dealer - I bribe my service advisor with free books. Are new spark plugs unheard of at the next service date?

thanks.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I am from the "old school". 100,000 mile spark plugs really stretches it for me, and I would include 15,000 mile oil changes. I think if a trustworthy mech. state that a set of plugs are in order at anything over 50,000 miles, I would agree.
But, my grand kids are having a hard time getting me into the computer world.
Ed

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs, UPDATE

Hello,

Just to update, I took the E320 to another independent today, and the results were a lot better. I had the oil changed and had them look at the brakes and the Cat. It turns out, the rotors only need to be machined, and the pads replaced. The front rotors are actually glazed, and so I guess the machining will fix that. I think I will hold off on the spark plugs and trans service for now. The cat needs to have a gasket replaced, and that's it. The only thing is, they need to disassemble the exhaust system to get to it.

-Frank

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs, UPDATE

Convertible529;145027 wrote:
Hello,

Just to update, I took the E320 to another independent today, and the results were a lot better. I had the oil changed and had them look at the brakes and the Cat. It turns out, the rotors only need to be machined, and the pads replaced. The front rotors are actually glazed, and so I guess the machining will fix that. I think I will hold off on the spark plugs and trans service for now. The cat needs to have a gasket replaced, and that's it. The only thing is, they need to disassemble the exhaust system to get to it.

-Frank

My advice is to replace the rotors if they are warped. "Glazing" is a term they used to use when they got too smooth and chattered and you can hit them with a sanding stone to break that. If they chatter have them roughen them up that way and if they vibrate due to warping let them replace them. They are not too expensive (even from M-B) and only take about 20 minutes to replace each of them. For a long time M-B did not sanction machining their rotors at all and frankly I would not do it. I'd bet the difference in price will be less than $75 for the job if you replace them.

I would also NOT hold off on the tranny service. If the original fill is in there have it replaced, along with the filter and make sure they use only the M-B brand of fluid. Be sure they drain the torque convertor too. That service is $200 well spent!

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Frank, as nhdoc mentions MBUSA strongly advises replacing rotors and not machining/turning them. You're apt to still have problems with machined rotors and end up replacing them in short order. It's surprising that a MB-trained independent tech would even consider machining your existing rotors.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs UPDATE

Hello,

I have had the rotors machined and pads replaced. The car drives just fine. Why is it that they don't recommend machinging the rotors? I didn't think that there would be too much difference between rotors. The cat was going bad, and it has been replaced. The front rotors were just glazed (coated), not warped, and they were able to be machined. There is no noise, and they all seem to work fine.
-Frank

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I'd bet you won't find a tech under 40 that would ever recommend machining rotors on these cars and I'd bet the shop you brought it to was full of older guys. Your shop probably does it because they have a disc lathe and they want to generate some income from it before it goes into the automotive tool museum.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Any shop that would machine your rotors is unethical.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

The reason most shops don't machine rotors these days is because there is very little "extra" material in today's rotors, so once a rotor has been in service 10,000 + miles, there isn't enough material left to machine them and remove scores, warpage and glazing. Given that context it isn't worth the risk to the shop of comebacks that will likely occur if they machine the rotors. HOWEVER, provided the shop did not machine the rotors below the minimum stamped on the rotor there is nothing unethical about doing so.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

I'm not even certain they still stamp minimum thicknesses on these rotors any more. That was common when machining them was common. Since most shops today don't machine them I can't recall seeing the thicknesses stamped on them...but maybe I just haven't been looking.

What I don't ever understand it why people post to these boards, receive good advice from others who have no incentive (financial or otherwise) to steer them wrong and yet choose to ignore the advice and allow themselves to be sold work that is improperly performed by people with an incentive to do so. Then ask "why shouldn't" this or that have been done. The fact is we told you what M-B and most good techs would tell you...don't machine them yet you chose to listen to your mechanic. Obviously you put more weight on what he's telling you than what we told you.

You also mentioned putting off on doing the transmission service...another bad piece of advice. When M-B starting making the "sealed for life" 722.6XX transmission (which your car has) they boasted it would never require fluid changes for its lifetime. Then they found its lifetime to be about 100,000± miles without fluid changes. Now they advise that their "filled for life" transmissions should be serviced once at 60k KM (or around 40,000 miles). Better, but still not right. My recommendation is that if you want your transmission to last more than 100,000 miles you have the service done, with the proper M-B fluid and filter and make sure they drain the torque convertor if it is possible to do so on yours (early '99s have a drain plug - later ones don't). And do it again every 60k or so miles. I'm sure the mechanic you said all this wasn't necessary will be happy to sell you a new transmission for $5-$6K in a couple of years if you ignore it now - after all that's a lot more profitable work than the couple hundred dollars to change the fluid is.

Good luck and happy motoring!

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

The rotors are still stamped on the side of the "hat" section.

Not machining them is more of a shop decision than a braking effectiveness decision. I don't have them machined because they usually measure too close or below the tolerance limits. Also, any hard spots usually require too much material to be taken off. BUT, it can be done successfully under the right circumstances.

For all the "experts" - how many actually measure their rotors with the proper calipers - the calipers with "nibs" on the jaws? That is the only way to get an accurate measurement of the thickness.

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Re: 1999 E320 Repairs

Hey all,

I am new to the site. Having a Camaro I have decided to upgrade to a 320e. I have not gotten it yet but am looking forward to getting it. Before I do I wanted some advice and opinions from people who know their stuff. I am a 21 year old female and I LOVE cars, especially oldies. Anyways enough on the intro. I am wondering if this car is really expensive and costly to maintain. I am a graduate from school and love the car but I also want to make sure to make the right decision. How often do you feel these cars are serviced. How much would you guestimate it would cost yearly? BTW it is a 1999 and has 50,000 miles for 7,000. Plese help its greatly appreciated.

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