The second generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class came on the market in 1995 when it replaced the legendary Mercedes-Benz E-Class W124. It took the code W210 for the sedan and S210 for the station wagon. In 1999 the German car underwent a restyling which brought various updates to the technical part and some design changes. Among the most visible innovations we can note the new mirrors with integrated direction indicator, body-colored handles, new bumpers and new light clusters. It was produced until 2003 when it was replaced by the next generation – Mercedes-Benz E-Class W211. Let’s see the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 review with the most important information, faults and common problems.
Table of Contents
- Impressions and Description
- Reliability and Issues
- Engines and their Problems
- Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used
Impressions, Interior and Comfort
Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 is a high-end car designed by the German company in the mid-90s. The modern German automotive school was developing a lot in that period. The E-Class W210 was significantly improved compared to the previous generation and looks like a shortened version of the older Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140, which it came close to in terms of equipment and comfort.
On the technical level there have been important innovations and changes. In terms of mechanics, the car was both modern and very reliable, but we will talk about this in more detail later.
Among the most important improvements we must mention the general increase in engine power. On the previous Mercedes-Benz E-Class W124 the engines of the normal versions were weak, good performance was only had on the sporty E420 or E500 versions, but these were very expensive, they were also different in body structure and suspension and were also produced in a Porsche factory . The new W210 could give good performance even on simple versions of the car.
Unfortunately nowadays it can be difficult to find a Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 in perfect condition. Despite the great initial reliability of the car, several important problems can appear over the years. In this article we will see if the maintenance costs will not be exaggerated to use a similar car.
Platform and Body
The platform is traditional for this German manufacturer: with a longitudinally installed engine and with rear-wheel drive. Optionally, the 4MAtic all-wheel drive system could be fitted to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210.
The front suspension is with double wishbones mounted on a subframe, the rear is multilink.
When the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 hit the market, fans of the brand were in shock. The new body design was totally different from what has been seen before on Mercedes. In place of the severity and seriousness of the past, softness and innocence have now arrived. Among the things that have attracted the most attention are the headlights (the subject of discussions and criticisms).
Obviously design is a subjective thing, some like it, some don’t. However, this style also spread to other models of the brand and remained for a fairly long period with the Mercedes models. Eventually everyone got used to it. One of the positive points of this design is the good aerodynamics, on the Mercedes E-Class W210 there is a Cx of just 0.27 (very good for this category of car).
Aesthetically, the car is attractive, both before and after the restyling, especially in the more equipped versions.
The second generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class is available in two body styles: sedan (W210) and Station Wagon (S210). For the Coupé and Cabriolet versions, the new CLK class was created.
The German car has a length of 4818 – 4839 mm, a width of 1799 mm and a height of 1450 – 1496 mm. The wheelbase is 2833 mm. The weight of the car varies from 1365 to 1735 kg depending on the version.
Comfort and Practicality
Interior space has increased significantly compared to the previous generation. Under this aspect the Mercedes E-Class W210 was one of the class leaders at that time. This happened not by chance, in fact obtaining the maximum possible space was one of the main objectives in the design phase and the engineers did a good job to achieve it.
The trunk/boot has a volume of 520 l in the sedan and 603 l in the station wagon (by completely folding down the rear sofa, it can reach 1995 l).
Even though we defined the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 as a short version of the S-Class W140, in terms of ride comfort they are incomparable – the S-Class wins hands down (as it should be). However, the W210 E-Class also performs very well. Important work has been done to improve stability and handling on the road, the softness of the suspension is great.
Finally, a Mercedes E-Class has also become fun to drive as well as just soft and comfortable. On long journeys the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 feels very pleasant and the passengers do not get tired even after a long time on the road.
Interior and Equipment
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 is attractive, especially in the richer versions. The interiors have changed compared to the past and now convey more sensations of luxury and quality. The seats are large, comfortable and do not make passengers tired. The space is sufficient and the ergonomics are good. The quality of materials and assembly is high. Despite the outdated design nowadays, everything is pleasant to the touch and is resistant over time.
On some elements, serious signs of wear may appear at high mileage. First of all, of course, the most used elements wear out: the steering wheel trim, the gear knob, the climate control buttons and more. At high mileages, wear and tear on the seat upholstery is also unavoidable.
The good part is that all traces of wear and tear present in the cabin can be eliminated if desired. Some pieces can be replaced, others can be repainted or restored.
The soundproofing is very good and the interior remains silent in any situation.
Among the pre-facelift Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 you can find cars poor in terms of equipment even with the best trim levels (Elegance, Avantgarde). On these you could have manual climate control, simple radio, fabric seats and manual rear windows. Luckily the first owners generally added power windows (electric windows), automatic climate control and leather seats as options. In addition, you could have climate control with automatic recirculation which excludes the passage of dirty air from the outside and xenon headlights which illuminated the road much better.
After the 1999 restyling came the new Command 2 multimedia system, a new steering wheel with multimedia control buttons and a different design of the dashboard.
Nowadays, both the pre-facelift and the restyling multimedia systems are outdated. The audio quality of the system is relatively good, but obviously doesn’t quite match modern standards.
In addition to the great work done to improve comfort, a lot of work has also been done on safety and many new safety-oriented electronic systems have been added. Before the facelift ESP could be added as an option and after the facelift it was fitted as a basic option. A system called Brake Assist also appeared. This offered for the first time to a car the ability to decide when to make an emergency stop. It was enough to quickly press the brake pedal and then the system did the rest automatically. Tests have shown that even 2 meters were gained on the asphalt.
Do not miss the ETS traction control system. Furthermore, there were already two front airbags as standard and after 1997 side airbags were also standard.
In the EuroNCAP safety test, the Mercedes-Benz E Class W210 got 4 out of 5 stars. Crash safety is quite good, but to decrease the risk you need good tyres. Tires are almost the most important thing for safety on the road.
Reliability and Issues
Gearbox and Transmission
On the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 you can meet both manual and automatic transmissions.
The manual gearbox shouldn’t cause any particular problems, but it is still likely that at high mileage it will be in bad shape. Clutch and flywheel life is quite good.
Automatic gearboxes with hydraulic management
Before 1997, two automatic gearboxes were mounted: 4-speed 722.4 and 5-speed 722.5. These gearboxes already at the time of production of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 were considered old. They have a very quiet and slow nature. They don’t have torque converter lockup and they don’t have as much electronics. Thanks to these characteristics they are very resistant and also tolerate overheating well.
Between these two, the 5-speed version is considered slightly weaker. After many kilometers, fifth gear may require repairs. The 4-speed gearbox however will continue to go without problems.
With periodic oil changes, they can both live for a lot of miles.
5G-Tronic automatic gearbox
After 1997, the ultra-modern (for that time) 5G-Tronic automatic transmission of the 722.6 series was installed, which was fully electronically controlled, had torque converter lockup and could work in partial engagement mode.
In general, it can be called quite reliable, but in the first years of production it had some “childhood” problems, which were then resolved. On Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 manufactured before 2000, these childhood problems can be encountered. The most famous problem is the one with the Teflon bushing which can break. This bushing was mounted between shafts K1 and K2. Then the gearbox was modernized and the problem was solved by installing a roller bearing.
On non-modernised gearboxes, if action is not taken to solve the problem, there is a risk of breaking the planetary mechanism. In the worst cases, the situation is so serious that the entire gearbox has to be replaced. Furthermore, before the modernization the pressure regulator spring of the hydraulic block (Valve Body) was fragile.
Due to the already mentioned partial locking of the torque converter, on some gearboxes the converter can be found already worn at 150,000 km (95 k miles). The first signs of wear will be rough gearbox operation and even the inability to shift into “D” until the car warms up. At first the problems are felt only when the gearbox is cold, but as the situation worsens they will also be felt when the gearbox is warm.
After 150 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles) it may be necessary, in addition to overhauling the torque converter (due to the wear just mentioned), changing the solenoids and cleaning the hydraulic block which accumulates dirt if the oil is not changed regularly. Many people do not replace the gearbox oil at all and as a result its service life is shorter than on gearboxes on which it is replaced regularly.
Drivetrain and Transmission System
Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 with rear-wheel drive do not give any particular problems up to high mileage. If you have a particularly aggressive driving style, there could be problems with the rear cardan shaft (drive shaft) support even every 50 – 60,000 km (30 – 40 k miles).
The 4Matic all-wheel drive versions were developed in cooperation with Magna Steyr. It is a permanent all-wheel drive system. The most problematic part here can be considered the transfer case. Until 1999 this was capricious and problematic. After 1999 they no longer suffer from noise and breakage of various bearings. But you still need to keep an eye on the chain and oil level.
In general, problems with the chain and planetary reducer occur after about 200 – 300,000 km (125 – 185 k miles). If the transfer case is in bad condition, it can also lead to incorrect operation of the automatic transmission and its wear. Repairing a bad transfer case can be costly.
The constant velocity joints need attention and periodic checks.
Suspensions, Steering and Brakes
The suspensions are not as reliable and strong as the engines and gearboxes. The rear suspensions are considered particularly fragile (if you travel on roads in bad condition). Even the front suspensions are not eternal and the cost of the arms is quite high.
In order not to have the suspension damaged, it is necessary to carry out regular maintenance and change the worn parts in time. If you have rarely (or in some cases never) serviced, due to the great age it could be difficult to repair the suspensions. Many elements rust, can no longer be disassembled or can break during work.
On average, the stabilizers must be worked on every 40 – 60,000 km (25 – 35 k miles).
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 is already low on its own, but if the springs wear out, the car lowers further to levels that can be annoying for daily traffic. The shock absorbers (dampers), on the other hand, are quite reliable, but the mileage of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 is now so high that they have almost certainly been changed and perhaps are not even original.
Spare parts from alternative manufacturers are often found fitted here due to the high prices of original parts. It is also fine to mount non-original parts, but you have to choose good quality ones.
When the time comes to do major work on the suspension, it’s best to redo everything together, otherwise you risk having to go back to the workshop in small intervals of time, each time for some new worn element, spending more money on the work. Better to change everything once and then not worry again for many miles. The work must be carried out in specialized workshops since the suspension system is quite complex (2 links for each front wheel and 4 links for each rear wheel) and not everyone has the necessary knowledge to avoid causing trouble.
The steering system is quite reliable. The steering rack may begin to leak over time. The repair work is relatively difficult. It might be cheaper to buy a new rack (or used) which can be found at acceptable prices.
The brakes perform quite well. There shouldn’t be any particular problems, but some checks on the system must be done periodically given the great age of the car. The life of the pads and discs depends a lot on the driving style, but in general it’s good.
Electronics and Electrical System
The electronics and interior electrical systems are quite reliable and work well even after many years. In any case, however, the more the car is equipped, the more the risk of having problems with the electronics increases.
On many cars, the cables wear out under the hood and may be in bad shape by now. On the pre-facelift Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210, the rear electric windows fail quite often.
If you want to buy a used Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 it will be good to check all the elements: headlight leveling, rear headrest lowering system and sunroof. Repairing the most complex mechanisms will not be cheap.
Problems with the electrical system can lead to power leaks that will drain the battery in no time (even just one night).
The interior temperature sensor may fail, but it won’t cost much.
Nowadays it is difficult to find a Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 without any signs of rust. Corrosion resistance is good, but not excellent, and the marks are noticeable (especially on cars used in places with a particularly severe climate). It is the fault of both advanced age and new metal protection technologies (Mercedes was trying to make them less toxic at the time).
It would seem that after restyling the corrosion resistance has even worsened. Better to intervene immediately at the first signs of rust to prevent the metal from corroding too much. Large rust marks can also be seen on cars that have been in accidents and then poorly repaired.
The paint at that time was still of good quality and its layer was thick. Nowadays however, since so many years have passed, it is difficult to find a car with the paint still in good condition. Scratches and a loss of initial shine can be seen on almost all cars. Chrome elements are almost always in bad condition.
The air conditioner could start to malfunction due to the wear of several elements. Among the most fragile is the mechanism for distributing air flows. Air conditioning repairs are expensive. Central locking system can also malfunction, especially on cars used in cold places.
Headlights can become dull over time and this slightly spoils the aesthetics. Up to a certain point it can be solved with polishing, but in the most serious cases the headlights will have to be changed. A new xenon headlight (optional) can cost a lot.
Headlights, direction indicators and wipers are controlled by a single controller (lever) and consequently this is quite complex. In case of breakage the repair will be expensive.
Engines and their Problems
Diesel engines list :
|Version||Engine||Power||Top Speed||Acceleration||Fuel Consumption|
|E200 Diesel||2.0 l OM604D20||88 hp||177 km/h or 110 mph||17.6 s||7,6 l/100 km
US: 30,1 mpg
UK: 37,1 mpg
|E200 CDI||2.2 l OM611DE22LA red.||102 hp||187 km/h or 116 mph||13.7 s||6,3 l/100 km
US: 37,3 mpg
UK: 44,8 mpg
|E200 CDI||2.1 l OM611DE22LA red.||116 hp||199 km/h or 124 mph||12.5 s||6,2 l/100 km
US: 37,9 mpg
UK: 45,5 mpg
|E220 Diesel||2.2 l OM604D22||95 hp||180 km/h or 112 mph||17.0 s||6,6 l/100 km
US: 35,6 mpg
UK: 42,8 mpg
|E220 CDI||2.2 l OM611DE22LA||125 hp||200 km/h or 124 mph||11.2 s||6,3 l/100 km
US: 37,3 mpg
UK: 44,8 mpg
|E220 CDI||2.1 l OM611DE22LA||143 hp||213 km/h or 132 mph||10.4 s||6,2 l/100 km
US: 37,9 mpg
UK: 45,5 mpg
|E250 Diesel||2.5 l OM605D25||113 hp||193 km/h or 120 mph||15.3 s||7 l/100 km
US: 33,6 mpg
UK: 40,3 mpg
|E250 Turbodiesel||2.5 l OM605D25LA||150 hp||206 km/h or 128 mph||10.4 s||8 l/100 km
US: 29,4 mpg
UK: 35,3 mpg
|E270 CDI||2.7 l OM612DE27LA||170 hp||225 km/h or 140 mph||9.0 s||6,9 l/100 km
US: 34 mpg
UK: 40,9 mpg
|E290 Turbodiesel||2.9 l OM602DE29LA||129 hp||195 km/h or 121 mph||11.5 s||6,8 l/100 km
US: 34,6 mpg
UK: 41,5 mpg
|E300 Diesel||3.0 l OM606D30||136 hp||205 km/h or 127 mph||12.9 s||7,4 l/100 km
US: 31,8 mpg
UK: 38,2 mpg
|E300 Turbodiesel||3.0 l OM606D30LA||177 hp||220 km/h or 137 mph||8.9 s||7,9 l/100 km
US: 29,7 mpg
UK: 35,7 mpg
|E320 CDI||3.2 l OM613DE32LA||197 hp||230 km/h or 143 mph||8.3 s||7,8 l/100 km
US: 30,1 mpg
UK: 36,2 mpg
Petrol/Gasoline engines list :
|Version||Engine||Power||Top Speed||Acceleration||Fuel Consumption|
|E200||2.0 l M111E20||136 hp||205 km/h or 127 mph||11.4 s||9,1 l/100 km
US: 25,8 mpg
UK: 31 mpg
|E200 Kompressor||2.0 l M111E20ML||186 hp||231 km/h or 143 mph||8.9 s||9,9 l/100 km
US: 23,7 mpg
UK: 28,5 mpg
|E200 Kompressor EVO||2.0 l M111E20EVO ML||163 hp||222 km/h or 138 mph||9.7 s||9,1 l/100 km
US: 25,8 mpg
UK: 31 mpg
|E230||2.3 l M111E23||150 hp||215 km/h or 134 mph||10.5 s||8,3 l/100 km
US: 28,3 mpg
UK: 34 mpg
|E240 V6||2.4 l M112E24||170 hp||223 km/h or 138 mph||9.6 s||10,3 l/100 km
US: 22,8 mpg
UK: 27,4 mpg
|E240 V6||2.6 l M112E26||170 hp||229 km/h or 142 mph||9.3 s||11,3 l/100 km
US: 20,8 mpg
UK: 25 mpg
|E280||2.8 l M104E28||193 hp||230 km/h or 143 mph||9.1 s||10,4 l/100 km
US: 22,6 mpg
UK: 27,2 mpg
|E280 V6||2.8 l M112E28||204 hp||230 km/h or 143 mph||8.9 s||10,8 l/100 km
US: 21,8 mpg
UK: 26,2 mpg
|E280 V6 4Matic||2.8 l M112E28||204 hp||223 km/h or 138 mph||9.4 s||11,5 l/100 km
US: 20,5 mpg
UK: 24,6 mpg
|E320||3.2 l M104E32||220 hp||235 km/h or 146 mph||7.8 s||10,4 l/100 km
US: 22,6 mpg
UK: 27,2 mpg
|E320 V6||3.2 l M112E32||224 hp||238 km/h or 148 mph||7.9 s||10,3 l/100 km
US: 22,8 mpg
UK: 27,4 mpg
|E320 V6 4Matic||3.2 l M112E32||224 hp||234 km/h or 145 mph||8.3 s||11,4 l/100 km
US: 20,6 mpg
UK: 24,8 mpg
|E420||4.2 l M119E42||279 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||7.1 s||10,6 l/100 km
US: 22,2 mpg
UK: 26,6 mpg
|E430||4.3 l M113E43||279 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||6.6 s||11,4 l/100 km
US: 20,6 mpg
UK: 24,8 mpg
|E430 4Matic||4.3 l M113E43||279 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||6.8 s||12,3 l/100 km
US: 19,1 mpg
UK: 23 mpg
|E50 AMG||5.0 l M119E50AMG||347 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||6.2 s||11,6 l/100 km
US: 20,2 mpg
UK: 24,3 mpg
|E55 AMG||5.5 l M113E55||354 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||5.7 s||12,1 l/100 km
US: 19,4 mpg
UK: 23,3 mpg
|E60 AMG||6.0 l M119E60||381 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||– s||– l/100 km
US: – mpg
UK: – mpg
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 was fitted with both old generation diesel engines and new generation engines with the acronym CDI which indicates electronic injection.
The old engines could be either with or without a turbine. The behavior of these engines is very similar to that of engines mounted on trucks (or tractors) and do not give particular satisfaction due to strong vibrations, loud noises and bad smells. However, they are very durable and long-lasting.
The CDI engines fitted since 1997 perform much better, offering more pleasant sensations and are more suitable for a premium car. These engines also proved to be reliable.
2.9 l OM602 diesel Engine
Among the older diesels fitted to the W210 E-Class we have those of the OM602 series. Only the 2.9 l turbo-diesel version with 5 cylinders and BOSCH injection system is present here.
These engines can be capricious after so many years, but overall they are very durable. Even in bad condition they still start and work. There have been many cases where these engines go over 1,000,000 km (620 k miles) without major problems.
You have to pay attention to the correct functioning of the cooling system to avoid overheating. There is a need to replace the glow plugs periodically. Over the kilometers, the high pressure pump could leak, but this is easily repaired and in reality there are rare cases of problems. More often malfunctions occur with the pump control system.
The large vibrations created by the engine ruin its mounts. The timing chain lives about 200 – 250 thousand km (125 – 155 k miles) and if it breaks, the cylinder head will be damaged. If low-quality oil is used, or if it is rarely replaced, the hydraulic compensators (hydraulic pushers) fail every 90 thousand km.
OM604 diesel Engines
Initially the small 4-cylinder 2.0 l and 2.2 l diesel engines were of the OM604 series. They are aspirated and weak engines that won’t give much satisfaction, but they are quite robust. There shouldn’t be any big problems for at least 400 – 500 thousand km (250 – 310 k miles).
The main weak point of these units is the Lucas diesel pump. The high pressure pump seals dry out over time and not every garage will be able to fix it.
The timing chain stretches at around 200 – 250 thousand km (125 – 155 k miles) and if action is not taken in time the cylinder head will be damaged. The latter doesn’t even like overheating, during which it can crack.
OM605 diesel Engines
Initially, in addition to the old OM602, 2.5 l diesel engines with 5 cylinders of the OM605 series were also installed. These are present in both naturally aspirated and turbodiesel versions. The naturally aspirated version will perform poorly, while the turbo performs better.
They are basic reliable motors, but some faults may appear over time. The large vibrations created by the engine ruin its mounts. The timing chain can be lengthened to around 200,000 km (125 k miles).
It will be best to keep the cooling system in good repair. The aluminum head does not tolerate overheating and can crack.
If poor quality oil is used, or if it is rarely replaced, hydraulic compensators (hydraulic pushers) fail quickly.
OM606 diesel Engines
The largest diesel engines initially fitted were of the OM606 series. These are 3.0 l engines with 6 cylinders in line. These are present in both naturally aspirated and turbodiesel versions. Even the naturally aspirated version has acceptable performance, but it’s better to opt for the turbodiesel which will be more pleasant.
These are mechanically strong engines and also have a reliable high-pressure pump even if equipped with electronic injection timing correction – Lucas. However, they are not ideal, even here the large vibrations created by the engine ruin its mounts.
The timing chain is not too long-lived, in some cases it already stretches at 150 – 200 thousand km (95 – 125 k miles). The cylinder head does not like overheating, as a result of which it can deform or even crack. If low-quality oil is used, or it is rarely replaced, the hydraulic compensators (hydraulic pushers) fail even every 100 thousand km (60 k miles).
After 500,000 km (310 k miles) it may be necessary to work on the piston group. Periodically there may be problems with the K40 relay block.
2.2 l CDI OM611 diesel Engine
After the engine modernization, the 2.2 l CDI (also known as 2.1 l CDI) engine from the OM611 family was installed as the smallest diesel unit.
The OM611 series engines have presented themselves very well, are very reliable and have a long life. The thing is, by now they’re all of a great age and generally great mileage too, so it’s almost inevitable that you’ll run into some annoying problems as well.
At the beginning of their production on the 2.2 CDI there were problems with the high pressure pump. Repairing this is generally expensive. Furthermore, on the first production 2.2 CDIs there could be small cracks in the cylinder head.
Injector washers do not have a long service life, mechanics recommend replacing them every 60 thousand km (40 k miles). There are also problems with the intake manifold. At high mileage problems can occur with the high pressure pump and the EGR valve.
Well treated engines also live more than 500,000 km (310 k miles) without fatal defects.
2.7 l CDI OM612 diesel Engine
After the modernization, the 5-cylinder engine mounted is the 2.7 l CDI OM612.
The OM612 5-cylinder engine fitted to the E270 CDI versions offers good power and doesn’t cause many problems. In terms of reliability it is similar to the OM611 series motors.
Over the years and the miles passed, the plastic elements could crack and the rubber elements of the crankcase ventilation system wear out. Leaks can be seen due to wear on the engine gaskets. It may also have small problems with some sensors, but everything can be easily resolved.
There are engines with dirty injectors, but even these problems can be solved relatively easily. The distribution chain lasts at least 150,000 km (95 k miles) and on some specimens even more than 300,000 km (185 k miles) with the original chain. Its duration depends on several factors and the most important is the right maintenance with not too long oil change intervals.
You can rarely have problems with the cables under the bonnet and there are cases in which the cylinder head cracks.
It will be best to keep an eye on the intake manifold. If this is in bad condition, it can be destroyed and cause damage to the engine.
3.2 l CDI OM613 diesel Engine
After the modernization, the largest diesel fitted is the 3.2 l CDI of the OM613 family.
OM613 series 6-cylinder diesels are reliable and do not have serious problems. Before 200,000 km (125 k miles) they should not require any type of intervention. Problems can happen with the intake manifolds. Also there could be problems with the throttle valve and the EGR valve getting dirty and stopping working properly. On some engines there are leaks from the crankshaft oil seal.
At high mileage problems with the common rail injection system, catalytic converters, lambda sensors are possible and also possible problems with the engine management system cannot be ruled out. From an electronic point of view, among the weak points we have the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors.
The range of petrol/gasoline engines is wide enough. There are 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines. Actually Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 got more familiar with big V8 engines and there appeared AMG E50 before facelift and AMG E55 after facelift versions. Thanks to the large amount of space under the bonnet, some tuning centers managed to fit a V12 engine with which the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 was considered the fastest sedan in the world for a time.
The 4-cylinder petrol engines were of the M111 series throughout the production period. The 6-cylinder ones initially mounted were of the M104 series, then they were replaced with those of the M112 series. The 8-cylinder ones were initially from the M119 series, then they were replaced with those from the M113 series.
The four-cylinder M111 series engines are simple and relatively powerful. They have a modern management system (for the time when the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 was produced) and a well thought out, strong and durable mechanical part.
In reality, the power of these engines (those under 150 hp) is not quite sufficient to dynamically move the heavy sedan, but not all owners need too much power. These engines have proven their endurance on commercial cars such as the Mercedes Vito and Mercedes Sprinter that have traveled many miles and often are heavily loaded.
The 2.0L Kompressor engine has good power and still remains reliable. The crankcase ventilation system is better and the timing chains are very durable. Only in rare cases will the chain have to be changed at 200,000 km (125 k miles). This often reaches 300,000 km (185 k miles) without any particular problems.
The 6-cylinder engines of the M104 series offer it all. Their reliability and longevity is truly legendary. These engines are part of the “millionaires” list and this means that very often they reach 1,000,000 km (620 k miles) without any particular serious problems. The most important thing is to pay attention to the correct functioning of the injection, to have regular services and to avoid overheating. In fact, the cast iron block tends to deform in case of overheating.
On older Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 it is important to check the condition of the cables under the bonnet. These can be ruined and cause problems. Even the sensors under the hood are not eternal, the flow meter, lambda sensors and temperature sensors are considered particularly fragile. Due to the high price of original spare parts, non-original and often not completely compatible parts are fitted to many cars.
The situation is especially critical if the radiators or the thermostat are not original. This can lead to problems with the head gasket. The risks also increase if the radiators are dirty or badly worn.
The V8 engines of the M119 series are well known thanks to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140. They offer good performance and have good reliability. But they can also have some problems, especially after so many years.
The M119 series engines have an aluminum block and because of this they are even more sensitive to bad maintenance. These engines don’t like problems with intake and dirty air filters. From the point of view of temperatures, however, the engines perform better than the M104s. Even if the temperature slightly exceeds the norm, there shouldn’t be any particular problems. However, it must be said that due to the high operating temperature, the cables under the hood suffer a lot.
The timing chain of these engines lasts approximately 120 – 180,000 km (75 – 110 k miles). There are also some weaknesses in the lubrication system.
For the rest, the M119 series engines are very resistant from a mechanical point of view and are able to exceed 500,000 km (310 k miles) without problems.
M112 and M113 Engines
After the 1997 modernization on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 came the new V6 engines of the M112 series and the V8 engines of the M113 series.
The 2.4 l, 2.6 l, 2.8 l and 3.2 l engines are present here from the large M112 family. The 4.3 l and 5.5 l are mounted drom the M113 family. The problems are about the same for all of these engines.
These engines are much lighter than those listed above. This was achieved thanks to the use of aluminum for the production of the cylinder block. A special feature of these engines is that they are wider than engines with in-line cylinders. This fact can make maintenance more difficult. Indeed, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 has a space under the bonnet that is more suitable for engines with in-line cylinders.
Among the most annoying/difficult works is the replacement of the spark plugs. It is advisable to fit only original spark plugs.
The new engines are reliable, but there may be problems with the crankcase ventilation and oil scraper rings. These little problems can lead to an increase in oil consumption. Also there may be oil leaking from under the valve cover and from the oil cooler. To have a leak-free engine it is important to periodically replace the gaskets and clean the crankcase ventilation system. Furthermore, it is advisable not to increase the engine revs up to the red zone of the rev counter.
These engines generally live without major problems up to 250 – 300,000 km or 155 – 185 k miles (when used and treated correctly). Among the weakest parts we can mention the catalytic converters which over time could cause problems and need to be replaced.
Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used
Mercedes-Benz E-Class W210 was a great car when it first hit the market, but it’s been so many years now. It’s not a car that feels affluent nowadays, but it can offer a good level of comfort.
Due to the great age, the initial good reliability is partially lost and more and more defects appear. In addition, one feels that the technologies used are now too old (especially on pre-facelift cars). Old age is felt by the way the car rides, it has a lazy and calm demeanor.
If you want something more modern, you can opt for a car from the last years of production (preferably with a more powerful engine) and with the modernized 5G-Tronic 722.6 automatic transmission. These have a behavior that resembles more modern cars.
The most important thing is to find a car in good general condition.