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Mercedes E class W211 (2002-2009) – Buyers guide & Common problems

The Mercedes E-class W211 is a serious contender for best value car in 2019. Here is what you must watch for.



mercedes e class

The W211 Mercedes E class has the potential for being one of the best old cars to buy in 2019. It had some major electrical problems when it first came out but has gotten a lot better after the facelift in 2006. This article will list all the problems buyers have reported and the problems Mercedes reported.

The W211 Mercedes E class is a classic business limo that still looks good if you get one in good condition. It is a comfortable long-distance traveler with a comfortable interior and ride. The engines were good, reliable and most of the electrical problems were solved after the first few years of production.

Major faults

  • Model years from 2002-2006 had many braking and electrical problems and were not considered reliable, avoid these or look for cars that had these problems resolved.
  • SBC braking system. Most early models had major problems with this system. Mercedes admitted the flaw and fixed the problems under warranty but there are still cars out there that did not have these problems sorted. Fixing it on your own can cost you 1000s of $.
  • In the V6 petrol-powered E350, some owners reported early engine timing chain failures which resulted in a catastrophe. Ask about the condition if buying an E350.
  • If the car has air suspension AIRMATIC, you can expect needed repairs after 100 000 miles. Very expensive to repair.
  • Diesel engines made before 2003 had many turbo failures.
  • Diesel engines have problems with fuel injector seals causing them to not function properly due to additional air intake.
  • Watch out for 7G Tronic automatic transmissions, many of them have major flaws causing them to fail even with low mileage.
  • Models made before 2003 had a major fault on the engine oil cooling system. Coolant would eventually mix with engine oil and cause damage to the engine.
mercedes e class w211 wagon
The T-model wagon has a huge loading area.

Minor faults

  • Diesel engines made before 2006 had much more problems with fuel injectors. 250$ per fuel injector, not a small amount.
  • Some owners report problems with front suspension. Front suspension arms needed early replacement. 4WD versions do not seem to have these problems.
  • CDI diesel engines had gas leaks at the fuel filter. Mercedes was aware and fixed the problem under warranty.
  • Some owner-reported loss of engine power due to bad catalytic converters, a replacement was needed.

How can you tell if a car has been in a crash?

The only tool that reveals the truth if the car has been crashed and repaired is a Coating Thickness Gauge. Every professional car appraiser and all dealerships use it. Never trust the seller.

This one tool can save you 1000’s of $ and a big headache. It also cost less than a fancy diner. Get one. Now.

Click here to learn everything about what a Coating Thickness Meter is and how to use it:

Coating Thickness Gauge: Measuring Car Paint with a Digital Paint Meter

Or click here to see which Coating Thickness Gauge’s are the best in every price range:

“The Best Coating Thickness Gauge For Every Budget (with Reviews)”

Body and interior problems

  • The exhaust system was prone to rust until 2006
  • Cars with wooden interior had problems with the wooden details cracking and braking.
mercedes e class w211 interior

Electronic problems

  • The main problems with the early models were with the SBC braking system. Owners say it is a real nightmare.
  • Xenon headlights leveling system failures. Lights would get stuck in the highest position. Fixed in 2006.
  • Diesel engines have problems with the additional engine heater. The heater would not turn off even when the car is turned off. This caused the battery to get drained. The heater is tough to access and expensive to replace.
  • Fuel injector problems caused the onboard computer to miss read the fuel consumption. Usually, the displayed consumption was too low.
  • Models after 2006 have bad key buttons quality, owners report that lock/unlock buttons are breaking.
  • Water leak at the third breaking light. LEDs need replacing. This is a very common problem.

Are you buying a Mercedes-Benz E class in the US? Save up to 60% on any Mercedes at public car auctions!

We recently wrote an in-depth guide on buying a car at public car auctions. We found that you can save up to 60% on a car compared to the prices at dealerships.

How is this possible? The truth is that car dealers do it all the time. They buy up all the cars at the auctions, pretty them up and sell them for massive profits.

Here’s our Ultimate Guide on buying a car at a public car auction:

And here are real database examples of Mercedes cars sold at auctions, with savings examples:

Our recommendation

Try and find a facelifted model Mercedes E class made after 2006. Most of the major faults were known and fixed. This will save you time and money. The refreshed headlights and front bumper also make the car look much more modern. The diesel engines are a good choice, especially after 2006. They are still considered one of the best, especially the 320CDI. Petrol engines were also very reliable and durable but remember to check the timing chain. The interiors are nice and high quality. Top of the line models had many options and was very well equipped which is something you want to look for. Good luck with the search!

Recommended diesel engine: 320CDI (true workhorse, reliable and strong enough)

Recommended petrol engine: Any (engines were reliable, if you’re looking at a 350, check the timing chain condition)


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