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post #226 of 545

Gents,

 

Any recommendations for a used Audi, BMW or Merc circa 2000-2006? Models to look for? No greater than mileage, issues to look for etc?

 

I've been mostly an American and Japanese driver for the majority of my life, but my VW Golf which was built on a shared platform with Audi has been stellar so far.

 

I realize its a very vague question, but I'm grateful for any and all opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant so far is that all three of those have issues after 100K miles that might be troublesome.

 

And yes, I've looked for a Lexus LS400 or 430 and they're either pricey because the owners know what they have or beat to hell. 

post #227 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob15 View Post

Gents,

Any recommendations for a used Audi, BMW or Merc circa 2000-2006? Models to look for? No greater than mileage, issues to look for etc?

I've been mostly an American and Japanese driver for the majority of my life, but my VW Golf which was built on a shared platform with Audi has been stellar so far.

I realize its a very vague question, but I'm grateful for any and all opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant so far is that all three of those have issues after 100K miles that might be troublesome.

And yes, I've looked for a Lexus LS400 or 430 and they're either pricey because the owners know what they have or beat to hell. 

If I were to pick any of those cars from that era I would only really go with the MB's. In terms of reliabilty and simplicity, they were much better than any Audi or BMW of that year. As you mention the LS, I'm assuming you are looking at one of the V8 flagships. The Non 4-Matic W220 S500 without Active Body Control (this also wipes out the AMG/600 series cars) is probably the lowest maintenance of the bunch. The E-class of these years (e500, or even the e55/63 are getting cheap) can also be a good buy, but don't buy anything with Sensotronic Brakes Control (brake-by-wire).

That said, if you can pay more up front for the Lexus, I would say it is worth it overall. We have an 1991 LS400 and an LX570 (both bought new) and both of these basically have the reliabilty and maintenance costs/schedule of a Toyota Corolla. If you could find an 04-06 LS430 Ultra Luxury, you would basically have the desirable options from the early LS460 (specifically radar cruise and Keyless Go). This thing would also have a way better resale than any of the german competition, even when it is older.
post #228 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob15 View Post
 

Gents,

 

Any recommendations for a used Audi, BMW or Merc circa 2000-2006? Models to look for? No greater than mileage, issues to look for etc?

 

I've been mostly an American and Japanese driver for the majority of my life, but my VW Golf which was built on a shared platform with Audi has been stellar so far.

 

I realize its a very vague question, but I'm grateful for any and all opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant so far is that all three of those have issues after 100K miles that might be troublesome.

 

And yes, I've looked for a Lexus LS400 or 430 and they're either pricey because the owners know what they have or beat to hell. 

 

 

That is a broad question, but I will do my best to answer. 

 

I know zero about Audi.  

 

For Mercedes, many people say don't buy anything NEWER than 1995.  I'm not quite that restrictive.  But, I do know a few things about the older models.  

 

Stick with the E class or S Class if you want a big car.   The general rules apply here.  The E class is the most popular and sold the most and was the most reliable.   The S Class has all the bells and whistles and with age, those things can be very expensive.  But, I have a few friends that have older S class and they say as long as you know which years to look for and what things to check, they can be amazing cars! 

 

The 210 Chassis (E Class 1996-2003) is a great car.  However, there were a bunch of them that rust problems.  Mercedes changed something in the solution they used to prevent rust and there were a bunch of cars that didn't the corrosion protection they need.   The simplest thing to look for is rust on the jack points (where the jack goes).  It is located on the side around the front doors underneath.  If there is rust there, do not buy it.  Do not make an offer.  Just say thank you and don't look back.  Also, pop the hood and look around at the strut towers.  There is a round plate thing that holds up the top of the strut/shock.  If you see rust there, again walk away.  

 

If you find one with no rust, check all the accessories and electronics.  Make sure they work.  And even though it is cold, check the air conditioning.  You can do that even when it is cold by turning on the defrost.  Look under the hood as a helper turns the defrost on and off.  Make sure the a/c compressor is kicking on and off.   The 210 chassis has some issues with the a/c evaporator.  The evaporator is one of the first things that goes in and the entire dash, wiring, electronics, etc goes in after.  So, replacing the evaporator is a HUGE job.   For newer E Class, the 2002-2006 models have been pretty good.  

 

For the S Class the 220 Chassis is a superb car.  But, they also have evaporator problems. I would stick with 2001 and newer. The last couple of years of the 140 Chassis are good, but stick with 1998 model.   

 

Beyond 2004, I know nothing about the newer ones.  But, if you want an S Class that is 2004 or newer, I wouldn't buy one without a very good extended warranty.  

 

Whatever car you look at, I would want to see the service records.  If they have none, that raises questions.  Open the glove box and look for them.  Call the local MB dealership and give them the last 7 of the VIN number and see if they have records and ask about any open campaigns/recalls.  

 

For BMW, I am very biased.  The very best BMW ever made in my opinion is the 1998-2001 BMW 740iL.   It is an amazing car.  I have two of them.  One 2000 740iL with 230,000 miles and a 2001 740iL Sport with 123,000 miles (I am actually going to sell the newer one because i have too many cars).   I know too much about these 7 series to explain it here.  So, if you find one, let me know and I can tel you more specifics.  In 1998, the 7 series recieved a facelift and most people want one that is post facelift.  There are minor differences.  What you want to avoid is the 95 or 96 7 series IF it has not had a REPLACEMENT ENGINE.   I don't mean a rebuild.  I mean a NEW ENGINE.   In 1995, BMW had the Nikosil engine and they have serious problems.  There is some debate about whether it was the type of gas or bad engines, or owner neglect.  The easiest thing to do is don't buy one with the Nikosil engine.  So, 1997-2001 is fine.  

 

The 5 series of the same era are also excellent cars.  But, the 540 will have the same engine as the 7 series in 1995 and 1996 so avoid that one.  

 

One of the better BMW will be the 5 series right around 2001.  Great cars.  

 

Don't buy a 7 series made after 2001 unless you can afford to go as new as 2006.  And then, buy an extended warranty.  

 

I would avoid ALL X3 SUV.   The X5 Suv is okay if you avoid the first 3-4 years of production.   I don't know much about the 3 series.  They are too small and used versions have usually had the piss driven out of them by a kid.  

 

If you get really serious about any of these cars, you can pay a mechanic to do a PPI pre-purchase inspection and very often things they find can help you negotiate on the price.  Don't pay someone $100 to do a PPI until after you have done your homework and checked it out yourself.  Save your money for the car you think you really want to buy and only after you are satisfied it is okay.  

 

With Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaquar, etc. the most important thing is condition AND MAINTENANCE.   Most modern cars will go 100,000 relatively trouble free.  Beyond that and issues with a lack of maintenace will start to pop up.  

 

100,000 is nothing on these cars if they have maintained.  Really.  Don't be afraid of the mileage.  If they previous owner actually took care of it, I would rather have a 100,000 mile car with maintenance than a 60,000 mile with no history of maintenance.  

 

Also, and this is probably obvious, look for structural damage, repaint, excessive wear, etc.  AND check the tires.  If they are worn weirdly then that is an indication of a lack of maintenance and singles structural or at the least suspension issues. 

 

Good luck and if you find a specific one, let us know. 

post #229 of 545
Noble covered pretty much everything on Merc and BMW so I'll just toss in a few thoughts about Audi. From the early 2000s, honestly, I would avoid them.

The A8 (if looking for a full size) would be an absolutely awesome choice, but, as is with most VW products from the time period they suffer from quite a few electronics issues. It'll be a situation where you may not have huge maintenance costs at once, but it will nickel and dime the shit out of you. They also had a propensity for some pretty costly suspension issues on the A8 in the early 2000s.

I don't know a ton about the A6, but the A4 is decent and the S4 would honestly be one of the better drivers cars made in the era if it wasn't for one small problem. They switched from a timing belt to a chain (yay VW, you tried catching up with everyone else!), but it is located at the back of the engine towards the firewall. This wouldn't be a huge problem, but the tensioners and a few other parts were absolute rubbish. Long story short, the engine is a ticking bomb. If you catch issues early, the timing chain fixes may only cost you 5-8k$ (woooo!), but more than likely, you'll be driving along and lunch an engine.

I think if I was making a choice in that range, I would look at a 210 E class, but as noble said, watch for rust. Some cars did quite well, others not.
I really like the S classes from that era, but I worry about electronics issues. Not that they were particularly unreliable actually, but there are more of them to go wrong than on the E class and when they do go wrong, they aren't cheap.
post #230 of 545
Thread Starter 

I'm going to be really Gentle about this: VW Products are Rubbish. it doesn't matter what the label says, or how much you paid for it. if you buy one new? you are a sucker - for the depreciation, and will later sell it to another sucker -for the repairs. :lol:  which is sad, because i always thought the A6 was a handsome car.

 

BMW are perhaps the most "Mechanic Friendly" of the group, which will become important come service time, or repairs. but whether you see this as a plus or minus is up to you..

BMW are the German Toyota, solidly built, sharing parts between models, and very simple/functional design. the closest comparison i can think of is, a 5 series is like a Toyota Crown. 

here they are just a regular car, as Bimmers are in Germany.  best to take @Nobleprofessor 's advice on the year models.  the Alpina's , and the 740/50 are super nice.

 

Merc's?  skip the C-class completely, unless you can pay up for the V8 ones. but if you could afford one of those?  - grab a sc400/LS400 and put a supra gearbox in it. (Trust me)

Always had a hard spot for the E-Class. specifically the E55. all i can say on Merc's is....  get the absolute best you can. the best condition, the best service history,the best engine,the lowest mileage. you can't make any exceptions.

- unless everything is perfect but it has a cracked window or some other easy fix/price dropper. saving 1k+ for a $400 windshield is a win. =Thrift.

 

Actually looked at one today, it was debadged on the rear, i'm guessing it was a E380. well optioned, low miles, beautiful green metallic. and lower priced than what really got my attention.....

but it was almost a contender as a daily for Mrs Vader. so no hate here.

post #231 of 545
Interesting...

I have a friend who owns a BMW service shop in the Bay Area. He drives a Volkswagen e-Golf.
post #232 of 545
I just inherited an old car (1989 Olds Delta 88 Royale Brougham) from a family member to use as a beater for a while until I get around to buying something newer.

One issue: in cold weather (sub-20, which we've been having this week), the door latches tend to seize up and won't release. It's not the lock cylinders; the keys turn just fine and I can hear/feel the lock mechanism turning. And it's not the door freezing to the frame, I don't think; usually in that scenario, pushing on the door from the inside yields enough force to dislodge it. But that's not working.

So I'm pretty sure it's the latch mechanism and the clasp isn't releasing the striker post on the door frame. Is there a good cold-weather anti-seize lube I can use on it? And can I lube it without taking the door apart?
post #233 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fueco View Post

Interesting...

I have a friend who owns a BMW service shop in the Bay Area. He drives a Volkswagen e-Golf.

 

I'm not sure I would judge the cars by what the mechanics drive.   When I worked at the Oldsmobile and Honda dealership, two service writers drove Chevy Pickups (because they liked to fish) Two drove Oldsmobile.  Most of the Mechanics drove trucks, minivans with a few Oldsmobiles here and there.   

 

More recently, a friend of mine who works on Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, etc and sells much of the same, drove an old Land Rover because he liked the way it got around on his farm.  His wife had a Jaguar XK8 convertible that he hated and his wife loved.   

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orgetorix View Post

I just inherited an old car (1989 Olds Delta 88 Royale Brougham) from a family member to use as a beater for a while until I get around to buying something newer.

One issue: in cold weather (sub-20, which we've been having this week), the door latches tend to seize up and won't release. It's not the lock cylinders; the keys turn just fine and I can hear/feel the lock mechanism turning. And it's not the door freezing to the frame, I don't think; usually in that scenario, pushing on the door from the inside yields enough force to dislodge it. But that's not working.

So I'm pretty sure it's the latch mechanism and the clasp isn't releasing the striker post on the door frame. Is there a good cold-weather anti-seize lube I can use on it? And can I lube it without taking the door apart?

 

An 89 Delta 88?   Those were actually fantastic cars.  They are old people cars that run and run and run.  You will probably get about 30 mpg on the highway.  They have more room inside than it appears.  They are super reliable.  You will just have to replace the alternator (an easy job) about 60,000 miles and replace the water pump every 75-100,000 miles.  

 

To help the lock problem open the door and pull the inside handle while pulling down the part of the lock that actually moves down.   Do this about two dozen times and then spray the heck out of it with lube (not wd-40).   

 

Send us a pic.  I always liked those cars.  

post #234 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobleprofessor View Post

An 89 Delta 88?   Those were actually fantastic cars.  They are old people cars that run and run and run.  You will probably get about 30 mpg on the highway.  They have more room inside than it appears.  They are super reliable.  You will just have to replace the alternator (an easy job) about 60,000 miles and replace the water pump every 75-100,000 miles.  

To help the lock problem open the door and pull the inside handle while pulling down the part of the lock that actually moves down.   Do this about two dozen times and then spray the heck out of it with lube (not wd-40).   

Send us a pic.  I always liked those cars.  

Thanks for the tips! I'll try that once it warms up tomorrow. Any particular brand or type of lube I should pick up?

It has about 145K miles on it. My sister (the previous driver) replaced the starter a couple months ago, and she says it occasionally will stall when you hit the gas too aggressively, but other than that it seems to be in good shape for the age.
post #235 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobleprofessor View Post
 

 

I'm not sure I would judge the cars by what the mechanics drive.   When I worked at the Oldsmobile and Honda dealership, two service writers drove Chevy Pickups (because they liked to fish) Two drove Oldsmobile.  Most of the Mechanics drove trucks, minivans with a few Oldsmobiles here and there.   

 

More recently, a friend of mine who works on Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, etc and sells much of the same, drove an old Land Rover because he liked the way it got around on his farm.  His wife had a Jaguar XK8 convertible that he hated and his wife loved.   

 

 

Of course, a mechanic also can work on his own car, much cheaper than the rest of us plebes paying him to do it...

 

But my friend has been raving about his car. Granted, it's brand new as of a month or so ago. We'll see in a few years when the battery starts to present problems.

post #236 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orgetorix View Post

Thanks for the tips! I'll try that once it warms up tomorrow. Any particular brand or type of lube I should pick up?
.

I've had good luck with royal purple's maxfilm after many bad rounds of spray white lithium grease on various door lube areas.

post #237 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orgetorix View Post


Thanks for the tips! I'll try that once it warms up tomorrow. Any particular brand or type of lube I should pick up?

It has about 145K miles on it. My sister (the previous driver) replaced the starter a couple months ago, and she says it occasionally will stall when you hit the gas too aggressively, but other than that it seems to be in good shape for the age.

 

I don't think any particular will lube matter. It needs to be thin enough so it won't gum up and make sure it can't be washed off with just a little water.  

 

The car probably isn't stalling.  I bet it is hesitating.   Try this: do an Italian Tune Up.   Find a long hill on the highway and start up it.  Then, floor it!  Go as fast as you can keeping your foot in it.  You will either blow a lot of old carbon out of it and it will run better.  OR, if it starts to cut out and buck, you probably need spark plug wires.   If the plugs haven't been done in a while, do spark plugs and wires.   Also, there is a little block where all the spark plug wires are connected.    If you start the car and disconnect each wire one by one (and put them back on), it should change the way it runs (because you are disconnecting a cylinder each time).   If it does not change the way it is running, then it possible that the block thingy is bad.  That happened sometimes.  It is more unusual for that to happen.  Usually, the wires will go bad and it will stumble as you try to accelerate up a hill.  

post #238 of 545
If you're looking Audi, the C6 generation of the A6 middling when it comes to reliability. I looked into them extensively when car shopping. You want to avoid the 3.2 as I believe that model that the carbon build up in the engine problems. The 4.2 is a stalwart engine used (and still used) extensively throughout the V.A.G. lineups and would be my choice. The 3.0 super charged is newer and more expensive which offers similar power output with greater fuel economy. However on a car getting on in years, I'd opt for fewer moving parts to go wrong and stick with the 4.2 V8.

Electronics will probably be finicky and prone to failing. Some window sealing trim will likely fail. Make sure that the tandem pump recall was performed. I'm sure there are other things to look out for.

I'd suggest going for a nicely spec'd and low mile 2001-2003 BMW e39 540i as that should be the most mechanic friendly (as already pointed out) with great power and that classic BMW driver's car handling. Watch out on the automatic transmission (if you get one) though, make sure it shifts smoothly with no slipping.
post #239 of 545
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobleprofessor View Post

I don't think any particular will lube matter. It needs to be thin enough so it won't gum up and make sure it can't be washed off with just a little water.  

The car probably isn't stalling.  I bet it is hesitating.   Try this: do an Italian Tune Up.   Find a long hill on the highway and start up it.  Then, floor it!  Go as fast as you can keeping your foot in it.  You will either blow a lot of old carbon out of it and it will run better.  OR, if it starts to cut out and buck, you probably need spark plug wires.   If the plugs haven't been done in a while, do spark plugs and wires.   Also, there is a little block where all the spark plug wires are connected.    If you start the car and disconnect each wire one by one (and put them back on), it should change the way it runs (because you are disconnecting a cylinder each time).   If it does not change the way it is running, then it possible that the block thingy is bad.  That happened sometimes.  It is more unusual for that to happen.  Usually, the wires will go bad and it will stumble as you try to accelerate up a hill.  

Thanks. I'll check that out. My first car (the old Dodge Aspen I showed on page 1) had the plug wire issue. One time, I thought I was going to be stranded in the middle of the West Virginia mountains and never get home. So I'm familiar with that issue. biggrin.gif
post #240 of 545
why are MB w209 front bumpers so freaking rare to find second hand, especially with headlight washers and pdc.

Hit a low concrete block while driving away from a parking spot today, and now have a hole in it. I know what a new one will cost me, which i'll do in 6 weeks or so if I can't find a suitable second hand one. But as it looks, it will be hard to find. My garage even told me that if i can find an amg one to buy that, even they find the new ones on the expensive side...
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