We have been extremely happy with our 1990 300E. After 10 years with the 300E, we decided to trade it in for a new E-class. We decided to pay extra for the E430 instead of the E320 because of the improvement in performance with the bigger engine and upgraded trim from the E320. The 2000 E-class has a color coordinated panel under the doors. In previous years, the panel was black. There is an extra antenna on the roof, we assume for the GPS module used in the TeleAid Emergency Calling system. Otherwise, no real change in looks from a 1999 model. Here is a list of our experience so far. We got the car on Jan, 2000.
1. We love the extra performance of the bigger 430 engine. This comes in handy especially driving around southern California having to merge in and out of freeways. Unfortunately, we are now totally spoiled and probably will never go back to the E320 series.
2. The car came with Goodyear Eagle unidirectional Z rated tires. They look sharp, especially combined with the 5 spoke light alloy wheels. We were happily surprised that the upgraded tires and wheels came with the car. Handling and cornering are superb. The tires transmit a little more road vibration than our standard Michelin MXV4 H rate tires in our 1990 300E, but we gladly traded the improved handling for the mild road vibration.
3. The interior is typical MB. The gauges are clear. The new trip computer calculates fuel efficiency and supposes to be able to check your oil level sitting in the car (we have not figured out how to do it yet). The wood trim, burl walnut, is upgraded from the 320E. Interior trim fit and finish are of excellent quality typical for MB. The new car smell is totally irresistible.
4. We ordered the car with an electric rear window sunshade. We highly recommended it especially in southern California.
5. The glass sunroof is a nice change from the old solid sunroof.
6. The new keyless entry system is great. You can lock, and unlock the car, open the trunk, and there is also a panic button on the remote. The valet key is ingeniously incorporated in the remote unit- typical MB engineering.
7. We can go on and on and describe how great the car is, however, it is probably more interesting to tell you some of the misses and problems.
1. Less than a month after taking delivery of the car, the fuel gauge began to malfunction. The gauge would read half full even with fuel topped off. A trip to the dealer after less than a month of use is never a pleasant experience. The service manager clearly stated that there has been a problem with the fuel gauge, especially with the CLK models and also noted in the E models. They blame the whole thing on California fuel additives. MB apparently knows about the problem in early 1999 but has not fixed it. The service manager said that she knew a customer that has had to get the fuel sensor replaced 3 times.
2. We found the climate control fan switch somewhat inconvenient. There is no fan off switch. If we want to turn off the fan, we have to repeatedly push the lower fan speed button to lower the speed and then to the off position. Push and hold does not seem to work either.
Overall lots of hits, some minor misses, and one major fault with the problem fuel gauge. If this were ice skating, the MB 2000 E430 would have performed a flawless routine except for a major deduction. Without the fuel gauge problem this car would have been a 10. Now we rate it at 9.6.
Update December 31, 2001:
1. No further problem noted with the fuel level sensor since it was replaced.
2. Engine oil level sensor light came on at 7,000 miles, sensor replaced by dealer.
3. Left rear window stopped working at 7,100 miles, faulty regulator replaced by dealer. Rear window shade does not seat completely, and was also replaced by dealer.
4. AM radio reception was bad at 8,600 miles. Dealer replaced the window antenna amplifier. (Dealer pinched wires in the trunk and required a second trip for repair.)
5. Original tires showed significant tread wear at 17,500 miles requiring replacement Dec. 2001. The original tires were Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D2 235-45ZR17. We replaced them with Michelin Pilot Sport 235-45WR17 tires. (BTW, they cost $828.42 from TireRack.com, and hopefully the Michelin will last a little longer.)
Overall we are still happy with the car. With the new tires, the car is quieter. We still like the power of the larger 430 engine.
Update Feb. 14, 2002:
Well, it’s back to the shop again in Jan. 2002 for our second fuel sending unit. With 19,000 miles on the car, the fuel gauge started to give erratic readings again. I called Mercedes corporate in New Jersey to see what’s going on with our “yearly” fuel sending unit repairs. They basically denied there is anything wrong with the fuel sending unit and refused to offer any type of warranty past the 4-year warranty period.
Our ABS light was also coming on intermittently. They replaced a Stop Lamp Switch to fix that problem. Our rear window sunshade also had to be replaced for the second time in Jan. 2002 due to cracks in the material.
After the above repairs at the dealer under warranty, we were unable to unlock the trunk. They found a pinched ground wire caused by the previous repair. In total, we made 3 trips back to the dealer in Jan. 2002.