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Buying a W211 E320

Some tips from Richard Jackson

Selection and Initial Preparation

Some of you may have heard that I have sold the W114 which went to a good home in Victoria. I needed a Mercedes for club events and general running around, so I wanted something relatively modern and comfortable. I have always liked the W211 E-Class, as they are a pretty car and look like a Mercedes should look in my opinion. Mercedes are better when big and substantial with chrome and timber trim in the cabin.

Fortunately I found what I was looking for, a one owner W211, E320 Elegance with leather upholstery, keyless starting, 95% continental tyres, in Zircon Grey with timber trim. The car is 13 years old with 101,000 kilometres on the clock.  It has a complete service history and was astonishingly cheap. The original owner was a retired school teacher who lived in Mosman, Sydney. He was an elderly gentleman and the car had a couple of small dings at the back which I felt I could fix at home to an acceptable standard.

These cars are not simple, and have more electric motors than I care to think about, so the cars history is of vital importance.

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When I buy a car like this I always have another $3,000 to 5,000 put aside to fix any gremlins. In this instance this point was important because I want to keep the car for another 100-150,000 kilometres. Our sons visit us generally by plane so the car is lent to them. I did not want to have a heart attack if something happened either inside or out in a new car.

Having purchased the car I gave it to one of our club sponsors with the instructions to go through the car and fix what needed doing. We did an engine and gear box flush, changed all fluids, replaced all filters, replaced all spark plugs, did a wheel alignment, both front and back, replaced a drag link, new windscreen wipers and finally a complete diagnostic check. All in all, it was $1900.00, not cheap but I have a base line to start from.

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Front Upper Arms

Since acquisition, the car has been to Brisbane and Dubbo and twice to Wagga. Following all this tripping the front end felt a little loose. I took the car to Pedders in Phillip. I have dealt with them for the last 15 years and we understand each other after a discussion 9 years ago.

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The ball joints on the upper wishbones at the front needed replacement.  You may say shock, horror, but they had an American solution to my problem.  The factory fitted ball joints are moulded directly into the cast wishbone and to replace them you have to buy the complete wishbone. The cars are heavy and the top joint which is small in diameter, takes a pounding.  An American company has designed a pressed metal wishbone with the ball joint bolted on the end. Considering that these joints may need replacing again in the future, I elected to go down this route, and it’s also cheaper.

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Along with new upper wishbones I put in new Bilstein shocks. What a difference it has made.  The cost $1800.00, which included another wheel alignment was not cheap, but the car is as good as I can get it and hopefully will give me the kilometres I want. I guess the answer is that if you want to buy a modern complex car, factor in the $3-5000.00 to get the vehicle up to speed and hopefully ownership will be a happy one from there on.

Final Touches

One thing I did find though, under the bonnet are two lots of earth wires bolted to the wheel arch (circled red in photo opposite). I undid these, cleaned them and then refastened. It made a noticeable difference. By cleaning and refastening these the constant changing from 1st to 2nd at speeds below 10-12 km/h has disappeared.

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I also purchased a Mothers brand headlamp polishing kit from Mark at Battery World, another club sponsor, as the covers had clouded. It took some work but they are now nice and clear. If you have an electric drill you can use the rubbing pads which go from 800 to1500 grit to be followed by a plastic polish applied with a sponge applicator.

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The car is a delight to drive and I recently discovered the video player which entertains you whilst the car is stationary. Di, my wife, loves it and as testament to this, falls asleep while we travel. There is something special about these cars.

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