Buying review Mercedes-Benz G-Class (W460-W461-W463) 1990-2018 Common Issues Engines Inspection
Welcome back to another car buyers review, today we will take a look at the first generation G-Class that ran from 1990 all the way up to 2018. The G-Class had various models that I will list now, it all started with the W460 that ran from 1979 until 1992, there is the W461 that is in production since 1992 and the W463 that went out of production in 2018. This is car was in production for so many years and the terrain capabilities got better and some G-Classes become more luxury, there are 3 different models, baureihe in German or models in English.
The military spec G-Class that was also for sale for the public is the W461. These are for instance in use by the German military forces.
So this is in the basis quite and old car that had many enthusiasts, mostly in the military. In recent years the AMG models where getting popular, especially in countries where the petrol is cheap. Think Dubai, United Arab Emirates, California etc.
In the basis the G-Class was designed for the military. Where you have the Hummer H1 in the United States, you had the G-Class in Europe. This car is tougher than a landrover when it comes to durability and terrain capabilities. The car was in production for 28 years. It has many special models that where modded for specific tasks, also a few AMG models which I will go into later.
Let’s focus on the obvious, this car will never be cheap to own or to run, but if you want a rugged car that can serve you long time, look no further. The G-Class. Some of the weaker point of this car are;
When it comes to the petrol v8 engines, the 4.7 and 5.5 liter v8 are prone to several oil leaks coming from the oil cooler gasket, oil filter-housing gasket and the thermometer gasket that has the potential to leak coolant as well. The PCV gasket that is located at the back of the car also has the tendency to leak oil, this is quite a common issue. When this PCV gasket leaks it will leak oil on the hot exhaust manifold and thereby it will start smelling.
Then when you do want to fix these leaks, use proper Mercedes parts, so look for OEM parts as much as possible. Knockoff parts will sometimes even increase leakages and all sorts of trouble.
There are reports of the seals on the powersteering pump can become brittle over time, so inspect these regularly. It annoying but cheap and easy to fix. Just keep in my that these vehicles are old but not very complex. It needs to be easy technology to be able to get fixed in the field. So woking on the G-Class, especially the normal versions, the V8 petrols or diesels, can be done. The AMG models are way more complex so I do not advice to work on these engines yourself but let the maintenance be done by AMG experts.
Many parts are still available and parts are relatively cheap. Labour costs are at Mercedes are however quite expensive.
Moving on to the issues that can be found on the diesels, the fuel filter hoses are prone to leak fuel. The turbocharger is also a weaker point, the tend to leak oil as well. The turbo needs a constant supply of oil to cool down, if this supply is in danger because of leaks the turbo becomes extremely hot and this will result in a short lifespan, replacing the turbo is not a cheap fix if you have to outsource it. Doing this yourself can safe quite some money. Just keep inspecting the turbo’s from time to time and hunt for traces of oil near the turbo’s.
Next thing are the 7G tronic automatics, these are 7 speed automatic gearboxes that Mercedes uses in quite some models, weaker points of this gearbox is the integrated speed sensor, they can fail and than the gearbox would shift lets say between gear six and gear two. Replacement can cost between 700 up to 1500 dollars depending if you go for a new or refurbished model. The older 5G tronic is more reliable and would be my choice for this car. Overall gearboxes are quite reliable but the 7G tronic could have some electronical issues, in this case with the speed sensor.
Chassis wise some of the shocks may fail on you, especially if you go for the airride. If would go for normal springs myself. If you want a comfortable yet responsive shock obsorber go for bildstein stocks for instance but do your own research on stiffness and comfortable driving yourself before replacing the shocks. This being such a heavy car and terrain capable, it is quite important to have the right set of shocks on the car. Safety wise and offcource to increase the comfort of driving this small container on wheels on the autobahn.
When it comes to the breaks, these are quite good and reliable, the only problem could be a vacuum pump that can leak over time.
This car is most suitable with a big diesel engine if you plan to use it as a work vehicle, the torque and range of the diesel suits this car best. If you want a fast and luxury G-class, look at the G500 with the v8 or even the G63 or G65 AMG models with the bi-turbo V8.
All issues discribed will apply to most of the engines, each Mercedes engine has a individual engine code. Look up this code for more indepht information on the engine you intend to buy. The list is too long to put it all into 1 video.
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