Buying advice Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220) 1998-2006 Common Issues Engines Inspection
Hi everyone we are back with our buying review series.
Today we will take a look at the Mercedes S-class W220. This was the successor of the iconic W140. The W140 was very reliable, so how about the W220 ?
Lets find out.
In this video we will focus on the S-class that was launched at the beginning of the 21th century. This S-class is in my eyes the most beautiful S-class to date. The internal code is of this particular car is W220.
It is perhaps one of the most prestigious brands on the market, Mercedes Benz. When you think about a Benz you almost immediately think about the S-class, the most luxury Mercedes of all the various Mercedes models. This is the chosen car for captains of industry and state officials. It is both luxury and full of the latest technology.
In the S-class you will always find a combination of the latest technology, and Mercedes goes to extreme lengths to make the car the most comfortable of its class. This makes it a popular car even for second hand buyers. But there are issues that you should look out for.
The Mercedes W220 was build from 1998 until 2005, and this was the fourth generation S-class. By the way, the S from S-class stands for special. The car came with a whole list of engine choices, from a inline 4 engine, to the various v6, v8 even a v12 engines.
AMG also tuned the S-class in 2003 with the introduction of the s65 AMG. At the time the most powerful engine to be placed in a S-class so far.
This car is now potentially 20 years old since the early models are from the late nineties. It this a good car to buy and how about reliability ?
The W220 had many new technologies, like air suspension, automatic body control, 4matic all wheel drive, radar guided cruise control, active cylinder control, and of course ABS, traction control and many other computer guided safety features.
While some car magazines called the W220 not reliable, the later facelifted models build from 2003 until the last production year 2005 seem to be more reliable. Especially when it comes to the electrical issues that early production models suffer from.
Build quality is overall good, but keep your eye on the rust on the body panels of the car, this issue is well known and documented for every Mercedes that rolled of the production line in the early 2000’s. The paint had a water basis and this results in rust 10 – 15 years down the line, depending on where you are from. Check the front and rear fenders for rust, and the doors.
Obviously a Mercedes S-class will rust easier in Scandinavia then for instance Southern California.
So is this a car you should buy ?
These cars depreciated far enough so that this car is in reach for many people. It is big and heavy car with lots of complex technology. It has a stylish and timeless design and it has quite some road presence. Of Course the technology in this car is 20 years old, but the overall look and feel of the car are its major selling points.
You can own a flagship Mercedes Benz for little money nowadays, but to be able to keep it rolling you will need to put aside some money and time. These are complex vehicles that deserve time and effort.
Again they are reliable, but if something breaks you better have some cash. This is not the type of car you should buy with you last money so to speak. You can use this car as a daily driver for instance, or just as a luxury car for the weekend to cover long distances in great comfort.
Let’s talk about the engines
Mercedes had 15 different engine specifications for sale for this model. Both diesel and petrol powered units.
Engines are quite reliable especially the CDI diesels.
When opting for the s320 CDI make sure to check if the injectors have either been replaced or check the overall condition of the injectors since these parts of the CDI engines can cause trouble. Injectors are always costly to replace for diesel engines and the Mercedes S-class is no exception.
Other technologies like active body control is delicate technique that could break down, and this is expensive to fix. Keep that in mind. The same goes for the airmatic suspension. Nice technology but when its brakes it will cost you dearly, so make sure you check if the car is levelled horizontally when parked. The airmatic pump is a pricy part and the replacement will take the mechanics quite a long time, this is result into a huge bill especially at the Mercedes dealership.
So yes, you can buy this type of car for less than 10% of the original purchase price, but make sure you still have some cash to pay for repairs if needed. And as always make sure the car had regular maintenance done to it, especially the V12 engines.
If you know a thing or two about cars you can do the maintenance for car yourself, if would go for a v8 engine, its less complex than a v12 and its easier on fuel and it can take more of a beating.
If you are less into do it yourself repairs and mechanics, I would definitely go for the facelifted models from 2003 until 2006. These cars tend to be more reliable then the early production models.
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