Do you know what a 124 is? Ever hear of a 140? These are internal Mercedes-Benz terms for the 86-95 E-Class and 92-99 S-Class chassis’ respectively. Typically MB will roll out a new chassis with a variety of engines, and for convenience’ sake it is easier to refer to the chassis designations than to all the different models. Below is a list of typical chassis designations, the “public” names for the cars and the years they were produced. This list is by no means comprehensive and may not include gray-market cars brought over from Europe. Just for fun, see if you can identify your car in the list and from now on you’ll refer to it by the Mercedes-Benz designation instead of the public one.
SL Class from 72-89. Always popular and never lose their value. Massive for their size.Examples: 72-80 450SLC, 72 350SL, 81-85 380SL, 86-89 560SL, 73-80 450SL
The S-Class precursor to the 126. One of which, the 450SEL 6.9 is a classic. Examples: 75-76 280S, 77-80 280SE, 73-76 450SE, 74-80 450SEL, 78-80 300SD
One of the most widely produced and successful MB chassis’ of all time. They were durable, relatively simple and safe. Just ask Cliff Matthews. Many 123s are still around today. Examples: 77-83 240D, 76-81 280E, 77-81 280CE, 300D and 300CD, 78-80 300TD, 82-85 300D Turbodiesel, 82-85 300CD Turbodiesel, 81-85 300TD Turbodiesel
The successor to the 123 and also a top seller. More refined than the 123, with higher torsional rigidity and a lower coefficient of drag. All around one of the best chassis’ ever made by anyone in the world. Examples: 260E, 86-93 300E, 87 300D, 94-95 E320 and E420, 92-93 400E, and 92 500E 126
The S-Class chassis from 81-91. Excellent reputation as a solid, dependable, long-legged ride. Examples: 81-83 380SEL, 86-91 420SEL and 560SEL, 81-85 300SD, 86-87 300SDL, 88-91 300SEL, 90-91 350SDL R129
The vaunted SL class. Massive for their size. Strong and aggressive stance. Beautifully styled. What more could you want? Examples: 90-97 300SL or SL320, 90-93 500SL, 98 SL500, 93-98 600SL or SL600
The flagship S-Class from 92-99. Massive chassis with many luxury amenities. Very solid and safe cars (as long as you wear seat-belts!) Examples: 92-93 500SEL and 300SE and 600SEL, 92 400SE, 93-94 400SEL, 94- 99 S500 and S600
The ML Class. Unique 4-Wheel Drive system. VERY popular Sport-Ute. Examples: 98-Present ML320, 99-Present ML430
The SLK. Smaller and nimbler than the SL. Electric folding hard top is a mechanical symphony. Example: 97-Present SLK230 Kompressor, new for 2000 SLK320 (V-6)
Also known as the 190 class. Many of the ideas pioneered in the 1984 190 were transferred to the E-Class in 86. Main problem is lack of rear legroom and early models were problematic. Examples: 84-94 190E and 190D, 190E 2.3- 16, 190E 2.6
The C-Class as successor to the 190E. Improved rear legroom but still limited. An excellent car as a first MB. Examples: 94-97 C220, 94- Present C280, 98-Present C230
The CLK. A personal luxury and performance statement. Examples: 98-Present CLK320, 99-Present CLK 430
The successor to the 124. Especially known for the bold, round headlights. Key change is rack and pinion steering instead of the old recirculating ball type. Again a definite world-class chassis. New V-6 engine introduced in 1998. Examples: 96-Present E320, E420, E55, 320 Estate, and E300
The new S-Class. High-Tech Tour De Force. New suspension. Complex Command Center. Examples: 2000 S430 and S500
If you are in the market for a used Mercedes or plan to purchase one sometime in the future, consider the value of having a professional inspection of all the major systems and overall condition before making an offer. It’s known simply as a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) and it can save you BIGTIME $$$$$ plus steer you away from purchasing a lemon that looks like a dream. Here’s the scoop.
No matter how knowledgeable you are about cars, it seems that all logic and reason fly out the window when you spot that gorgeous smoke silver S-Class you’ve always wanted with a For Sale sign and your name written all over it. It’s magical, but before getting too carried away, follow these steps. Carefully inspect the car for rust, body damage, uneven tire wear, fluid leaks, paint condition, body panel fit, interior condition and overall cleanliness. Ask if there are any maintenance records, which is a big plus if all scheduled maintenance is accounted for in writing. Take the car for a drive and make sure to include city and highway driving. If everything is a go, then ask if it is OK to have a mechanic of your choice at another shop inspect the car. If the owner or dealer balks, head for the hills and don’t look back. If given the green light, schedule an appointment with your favorite mechanic who specializes in MBs and who is knowledgeable concerning your particular model. Even if the car carries a warranty, is “certified” or is Starmarked, get a PPI or you could leave too much of your hard earned cash on their table.
A PPI involves simply paying an automotive technician to professionally inspect and evaluate a used car under consideration for purchase. The mechanic will put the car up on a lift, remove the wheels to inspect the brakes and suspension components, check for evidence of body repairs, check for rust, look for paint overspray, check all lights, check for leaks, test climate controls, note interior condition and finally do a test drive. If there are any questions about the engine’s performance or condition, there are several diagnostic procedures available for an extra charge. Mercedes automobiles can be made to LOOK beautiful cosmetically, but hide many mechanical defects, which is why an experienced eye is indispensable. Most mechanics have a PPI checklist to make sure all systems are inspected, which will include space to show what repairs are needed or will be needed soon and estimates for the cost of repairs. Take the inspection sheet back to the owner or dealer and use it as a bargaining chip in negotiating the final purchase price. Thousands of dollars can be saved, but wait, there’s more. You will now possess knowledge concerning when to expect certain parts to wear out so there will be plenty of time to financially prepare and you will have a MUCH better opinion concerning the overall condition of the car.
The cost of a PPI may not be cheaper, varying anywhere from $100 to $250 for a full inspection, but it’s worth it every single time. Let’s assume the car passes inspection with no suggested repairs, then by all means pay a premium for a well maintained MB. If the car fails inspection, then walk away from it and save thousands in repair bills and countless headaches. There are plenty of Mercedes beauties out there so don’t get too focused on just one. Be patient, find an excellent example, have it inspected, and enjoy driving the best car in the world for many years to come.
As Autumn recedes again into the distance and we look for the clocks going back at the end of this Month, in Great Britain at least, we are again faced with the dark cold months of Winter. Dark when you go to work and dark when you come home! Time to check that our vehicles are up to the challenge of Winter and that any breakdowns, which occur, are unavoidable and not something that for the sake of a half hours checking we could have avoided.
Time spent now along with a few pounds if necessary will be well spent, if standing at the roadside cold, & wet awaiting assistance can be avoided.
These few items in particular need to be thought about, and if necessary attended to Lights and Batteries bearing the biggest responsibility during this coming season, and who is going to bet on how harsh or otherwise it may be? Albeit here in the South we get off light compared with some! Battery Servicing is as important as on any other component or service, and with services so far apart these days there is little option but that you do it yourself. If you have a Battery that requires trickle charging to keep it in a serviceable condition during the summer months then be assured it’s going to let you down when it gets cold, when the engine requires more effort/power to turn it over and we start to use our electrical services more & more, therefore our battery needs to be in tip-top condition.
Original batteries tend to last longer than replacements, however a battery with a life of three years + needs to be cared for, if it is not going to let you down. Remember it doesn’t always happen when starting the car to go to work, it can happen on the road as well, and with no battery power you can’t even warn others of your presence!
Basic checks, ensure terminals are tight and free of any build of up of verdigris, ensure acid levels are up to the mark, If it is found that the acid/distilled water level is low then top it up in two parts, add water prior to a run thus giving the Alternator a chance to build the power back up before placing it back in the cold garage. If in doubt get it checked by your local garage they can test each of the six cells to ensure they are providing maximum power. Don’t forget all batteries are affected by the cold; check your key fob batteries don’t get caught out for the sake of a £1.00.a a small amount of silicone into the door lock slot won’t be wasted. Vehicle Lighting
Already we can see that many vehicles on the road are running with defective lights, agreed some of the bulbs on the ‘A’ Class are reasonably difficult to replace, but one way or another they must be done if we and other road users are to remain safe. It’s no good cursing the driver in front, if the driver behind you is doing the same!
As some of you are aware from my previous comments, I do not rely on the automatic warning devises, I am a firm believer of physically checking to ensure all bulbs light. If I can see them so can others. This of course includes lighting within the vehicle, My site, (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/albert.rowe) p26 gives a good indication what should be lit when the lights are on and also what dash symbols are visible when the ignition is on before we start the engine. Remember if travelling in France you are required to carry a spare bulb kit, in my opinion a good sound idea and one I have followed for years in England. Coolant Reservoir Contents
Should of course be checked before Winter arrives, if for some reason you have topped up the reservoir throughout the year make sure the contents still meet the requirements to prevent freezing of the engine taking place, many an engine has been severally damaged by the odd cold snap that always arrives when you least expect it! Small hydrometers can be purchased which enable Owners to check to ensure that the specific gravity will prevent freezing, and of course for the owners of cars in colder parts of the World, very important indeed. To have this system checked at a garage will only cost a few pounds and it could save hundreds. Screen Wash Reservoir
The same applies, firstly ensure that it is kept topped up and remember the contents are much more likely to have diluted over the last year Approx £2.00 for a bottle of concentrate and you will know that your reservoir along with the contents will do their job and remain free of ice. The 160/2002 ‘A’ Class has heated screen washer nozzles, as far as I’m aware there is no way of checking them, nor am I aware that they are checked for operation on either of the services? Even more important therefore, that the fluid doesn’t freeze in the tubing. Wiper Blades
For those of us that still use MB for servicing, they should be in good condition but check anyway and don’t forget the rear! A poorly wiped screen is dangerous, as is a frosted or partially frosted side window, it’s worth carrying a can of defrosting agent/de-icer with you in the car rather than being caught out, albeit the rapid heating of the screen and the car for that matter is a big help. But only if you are prepared or have time to wait those few extra minutes, before commencing your journey. Remember these minutes could save your life or that of somebody else. Full vision is imperative for safety; The ‘A’ Post is a big enough impairment to good vision on this car without ice up screens as well! And remember ‘cyclists ride on the pavement during the day and on the roads at night,’ usually without lights so take care.
When the heater is on MAX and the fan on Full the ice quickly gets moving. Air conditioning will also assist in keeping the car demisted, if working efficiently and the filter has been changed thereby allowing maximum airflow and efficiency. Rear heated screen
It’s worth checking to ensure that this does work, and that your vision isn’t going to be impaired by the misting up of the rear screen. Tyres
In addition to the above we do of course need to ensure, both tread and pressures are satisfactory and correct, that little extra tread can mean the difference between slid and grip when road conditions are bad. Trying to get the extra hundred miles from a set of tyres can cost you a lot more in Winter! Speed of course has a large part to play, and allowing that extra space at this time of year between you and the vehicle in front can make all the difference when it comes to stopping! Keeping an eye open for the ABS warning indicator that conditions are slippery can also afford us that little extra warning giving ourselves extra time and adjusting our driving style to suit the road conditions, along with allowing extra time for braking. High Visibility Clothing
Having considered items on the car, and got ourselves onto the highway lets take every precaution to ensure we ourselves return, For a few pounds high visibility waistcoats can be purchased which will ensure that other road users can see us should we be for any reason be stopped and on the highway. Easily stored under seat or in the driver’s door, when worn our greater safety is ensured. Having gone to whole hog, don’t forget that a coat of polish before the Winter sets in will help protect your paintwork and a wash of the underside, wings etc at regular intervals throughout the winter period will assist in reducing the corrosion to our more exposed components being exposed to the salt and grit, that our highways and byways seem to become coated with in an attempt to keep the Country on the move. Take care and safe driving.