Buying a 1996 E300 diesel

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4 replies [Last post]
Qbaum's picture


I'm looking to buy a 1996 E300 non-turbo. Anybody got any advice?

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SalC's picture

Re: Buying a 1996 E300 diesel

Keep looking.
Check for rust under the front spring mounts. Ask if the ignition switch has been replaced. All the other usual stuff like documentation etc.
Get the average prices and start from there. You'll pay more for a car in excellent condition.

Anonymous's picture
Re: Buying a 1996 E300 diesel

I recently purchased a 1997 E300 w/145k miles for $11k. I purchased it from an elderly-women who originally bought the car new in Monterey, CA from Stahl Motors. She lived and worked in San Jose and had it routinely serviced and maintained by the same Mercedes mechanic all its years; docs, clean title, oil changes, repairs, etc. all included during purchase.

I looked and researched for 3 months for a car that could replace my 2001 Saab 9-5 SE Turbo: 200hp/229 lb. torque, 21 mpg commuting on a curvy road. After 3 months, I finally narrowed my search to a 1996 - 1999 Mercedes E300. This was due in part that I am 6'3" tall, wanted a car I can comfortably fit in, rides smooth, looks nice, diesel, saves gas, and is priced right.

My choices were narrowed down further because Mercedes offers two E300 options from 1996 -1999: a non-turbo and a turbo. I originally wanted a 1998-1999 E300TD. However, what I experienced while testing a few 1998-1999 E300TD was that most were not one-owner vehicles and did not have full docs. The E300TD's which were one-owners and had full docs had an average asking price of $16k - $24k. On the other hand, the 1996-1997 E300's had an average asking price of $9k - $18k.

Given my criteria on pricing, the 1996-1997 seemed like the better bang-for-the-buck. In addition, I noticed that most Mercedes forums spoke negatively of the W210 build quality. However, because I like the body-design of the W210, those remarks didn't sway me but did influence how much I'd spend on a purchase. If the forums are correct on the W210 build, then I would rather spend $9k - $12k on a 1996-1997 E300 purcahse, and use the extra saved money for any repair costs.

After 1 month of ownership, how is my 1997 E300 treating me? Excellent! My Mercedes mechanic says it's very rare to find one in such great condition with all service records and priced so low. The E300 is a big, comfortable, stable, smooth, heavy, fuel efficient, nicely designed car, and has given me no problems. For a daily commuter, the horse-power is a non-issue. When traffic is flowing up steep-hills from speeds of 55mph-70mph, 4th gear has the pulling power. When traffic slows down to speeds of 55mph - 35mph on steep-hills, 3rd gear has the pulling power. When I'm on flat-fast-moving freeway/highway traffic, 5th gear (Drive) is a great cruiser gear. If a person doesn't mind working the gears on hills, the non-turbo E300 is a great car at a great price. Currently, on my commute through the hills I am averaging 32mpg.

Conclusion: For the price, the non-turbo E300 is turning out to be a great car; I'm looking forward to putting over 500k miles on mine!

pch2021's picture
Rockledge, FL
Joined: September 15th, 2005


Re: Buying a 1996 E300 diesel

Issues with the w210 cars seem to focus heavily on wiring issues- the harness for the glow plugs is very suspect.


Pierre Hedary
...happily servicing vintage Mercedes-Benz in sunny Florida...
1972 280SE 4.5 252K
1970 280se 3.5 coupe 108K
1971 300sel 4.5 121K
1991 420SEL TMU, but looks brand new!
Mercedes technical advice: 407 765 2867

Former Member
torkydzl's picture
Joined: September 12th, 2000


1995 E320 Wagon
1990 300E 4MATIC
Re: Buying a 1996 E300 diesel

I owned a 96 E300D and put about 160K miles on it over 10 years. The car was a real pleasure to drive, especially on the highways. Nice firm ride, an improvement over the prior iteration. However, the build quality was not as good as the 124 series. Reliability was also a bit suspect, esp. electrical as has been pointed out. The life expectancy of my glow plugs was less than what they should have been. I went through more sets than I should have.
I also used biodiesel (from the pump) with regularity. No conversion or other issues at all, although you may need to replace the fuel return lines more often as they may start leaking with age.

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