Buyers guide to the W126C SEC 19811991 | Mercedes 500SEC com

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Mercedes-Benz S 420 286hp W140

Advice on buying a W126C SEC

Revised 2010 02 14

Check the ABS (malfunctioning sensors)

Corrosion in the under rearwindow

Tempomat control) function, no surging

check so it gets cold

If is adjustable check the function

See to it all windows move up and down any problem

make sure sunroof will move in all

Check all warninglights that glow when engine is off, and that they “go when the engine is started SRS can/shall be somewhat slower the others)

There are NO “Bad” on the W126 to watch out for.

window delamination, watch the rearwindows dont come (app. -1300).

200 kw 274hp

205 kw 286hp cat.

220 kw 300hp cat.

560SEC (US market):

A much-improved W126 coupe is with the following new/revised

* Driver’s side airbag now instead of optional

* An all-new control system with mode

* Sunroof tilt/slide relocated to the roof header

* Revised map lights

* A new Becker Prix radio

* Newer console with revised window switches

* Newer VDO with smaller lettering and orange reflectivity

* Driver’s bolster

* 5.6L engine 238hp, 279ft. lbs. of

* 2.47:1 rear axle with limited-slip

* Standard ABS system

* Revised EGR system engine light”) and engine were improved in 1989.

* Bosch K-Jetronic fuel system

* 15″ 15-slot wheels and tires

* Different front caliper design

* Upgraded control system (more

* Revised catalytic converters

* mounted headlamps with washers/wipers

* Standard heated

* Smooth side moldings

* rocker panels with jack points

* Power circuitry is revised slightly

* telescoping steering wheel

* headrests and 2-position seat and wheel memory

* Revised bushings and mounts for the rear

* Available rear power

* Dual-tone horns switchable the dashboard

1987: ditto to model with revised bolts for air cleaner housing

an all-new 100w 10-speaker system with door (6.5″) and multi-channel amplifiers behind the rear seatbacks.

a complete all-new interior folded leather door folded leather rear-side ll-new seats front and with larger side revised EGR re-circulation system engine light”) and engine were improved, standard airbag, passenger-side knee center console storage with locking key and burl roll-top finish, higher heated seats (from 90w higher capacity rear

1990: Burl wood compartment between rear (under the armrest)

1991: of ASR (anti-slip regulation) traction is made available as an optional

Buyer’s Guide to the W126 Looking for an SEC?

Don’t be in a are lots of nice ones out Options include 4 place seating in sedans, metallic and velour seats (few US opted for) as well as seat lumbar support and the electric rear window (rare).

Colors I have and recall (there could be are gloss black, pearl cabernet, lapis blue, blue, white, cream, red, gold, silver, (gunmetal gray), smoke 1986 cars on have the same equipment as up to 1991 dual airbags came out in ’89 and ASR in ’91 I ASR is not a necessary option.

The largest best kept, rust examples will be found in California, especially Los Angeles. The selection there gives you a price break too. The S is the “staff car” down When you are ready don’t to ask for Carfax report, VMI from the and get the car inspected.

Fewer and fewer are up on MB dealers lots, don’t they have slid out the of the Kelly Blue book. problem areas are the notorious radio, the power window and Air Subtract from the price if the AC work. Other than the cars are pretty bulletproof, but are a little expensive, especially the trunk and hood.

A stock 560 SEC 0 to 60 in 6.9 to 7.1 seconds. But they respond to after market mods, lowering and AMG exhaust. However if I you I would look for one in stock with all books stamped, and available.

First, there is no “bad” from 1985 to 1991. You to be aware of the differences, such as the (500) motor is substantially than the 86-91 which have the 560 motor. If you must the 1985 motor you may save if you would like to buy one in the 85 year. be cheaper but there are reasons- of them. Thus, basically any 86 to 91 car be a US model, for the gray market ceased to exist in 1986.

SO, the thing you need to do is to take a look at your budget. How do you have to spend, here: The end, -12k will get you a 85 with high miles.

On the end, out here a 1990 SEC 7,000 actual miles, so new it had traces of cosmoline on the motor, on the market here in San Jose in for and it sold in 3 hours to a fellow in who bought it for the asking price, he on a plane and came and got it.

That you will probably need to out where your budget fit. With a car like the general advice seems to be you should pay at the beginning, the most-for the can afford, i.e. the newest, condition one you can possibly afford. The for that is that a bargain can quickly prove to be no bargain at all if you get extensive repairs right

To this end, perhaps would be a car in stock condition, by a fussy single owner ALL books and records.

Don’t to run a CARFAX report on the car, ( on the ask the dealer for a Vehicle Master on it – to show all repairs done at a under warranty, then you call 1-800-For Mercedes and ask to give you a copy of the original sticker-that will also you the dealer first delivered to.

in the books and records and call up the who worked on the car. If you are lucky you can get to at the actual repair orders, they are still around.

I told people over and I believe the safest source to for cars is Los Angeles because are best kept, the market is with them, the body and shops are generally most and the weather is most agreeable for them, and the prices are lowest and

the is widest because there are so of them around down The very very best even still are occasionally at Mercedes dealers down

As far as problem areas there are When I did join the list I did ask and read the buyers guide and is what I know.

Problem are…

These cars are bulletproof if you take care of If you don’t, they will a mint to fix. Therefore, be you get one that can be documented to have well kept, and you do the same.

one of all is the air conditioning. If the car you are looking at, the AC work, I would IMMEDIATELY off the price, because it could this much to fix. if-in some cases, all it is a new fuse. You can almost expect a here. Don’t be surprised.

radios are awful. These are the radio and I would dump one for a nice Alpine with a CD loader. Or other equivalent.

are sometimes trouble in the power locks and vacuum system. be surprised about that.

is danger of upper hose breakage on the original equipment This is MORE likely to if at any time NON Mercedes coolant was Don’t forget these are radiators and they can’t certain chemicals in other Plus, the necks on OEM radiators are not Therefore, consider these and due to be replaced at 100,000 miles.

around the rear window fails, water into the boot and the metal below the rear to watch for more:

I would the following checked then with the service person them FAX you the results, as well (BE

Interior… fading, rips, fit finish of parts, condition of checking for any wear full of seats, headrests, windows, everything… period

Exterior… body condition… full for rust, dings and fully sunroof, doors and shape of tires, front end parts, and if any are present

Engine… leaks, has it been compression check, fluids rust under hood?

shifts ok, no smoke at tailpipe cold upon acceleration, A/C is cold, brakes in good any squeaks, rattles?

Are there with it to give you an idea of its

Are you having it shipped, or are you close to get there then drive it Use their recommendation on shipping and the back of The Star for companies ship cars. Sometimes, it may be cheaper to fly there drive it

If car is warranted, then many or all would be under the warranty. advantage of that

Try to speak to the owner… know where it from why it was being sold

with your local for extended warranty details what level of repair it has to be in… might need to be spent by you or the warranty to get it under a new one… then enjoy it)

My father’s closely at a 1990 560SEL, and only got about 80,000 on the clock. Looks to be in very shape (no PPI yet, though)

want a PPI for sure. Before that far, check: and transmission oil. Both be clean. Look at the air filter Should be clean. Check hoses and water pump for of leaks, band-aid repairs. should not be oil plastered on anything.

compartments on these cars quite clean. Look for oil. Some light at rear main seal is (black on bottom of bell but should be no great quantity. should be dry (no transmission oil on bell or at rear). Rear axle drive (differential) should be

Start car with closed Should start right up on 8 rev up, and settle down to a smooth Any “clack-clack” from the valve is a sign of serious trouble

Run away from this. should engage in both and reverse smoothly. Pause in before shifting direction. You feel engagement start and lock-in in about a second. should be tight. Brakes have firm pedal.

for abnormal tire wear. loose suspension parts? rears as well as fronts)

car. Shifts should be not “soggy.” Try kickback/kickdown (downshift on opening). Should not run away shifting. I think the ’90 still is gear start. Check to first, 1-2 upshift may be abrupt

steering—should go straight ahead and not to one side; wheel should be Go over some bumps and for loose parts (open the window)

Check brakes—no from any wheel on modest Do a panic stop from 25 (warn passengers, check for behind) to check

ABS. No should lock up, and stops be true without pulling notice a “grinding” or vibration as the ABS its thing)

Check cruise Should engage positively 40 km/h, accelerate and decelerate hold speed without (not too difficult to fix, but for giving up)

Check heater/AC Open hood, put on normal arrow only filled Dial temp down and that A/C clutch engages. Put on EC and that clutch disengages. On check that air comes center and both side Set control for heat and check center vent shuts

Work all the seat adjuster and make sure that all the operate. Headrest up/down, back forward/back, seat and seat front (independent—push the ends of the knob) both go up and Repeat on both sides, and that rear seat functions

Check steering in-out adjuster (switch on left side)

Check all switches for up-down without or binding

Check radio, and see antenna goes up and down switching radio on and off

Check panel warning lights—should be lit engine stopped, all except SRS go out started, SRS goes out in less 10 seconds

If you feel it passes preliminary checks, then it to a pro and spend some money to get a pre-purchase inspection. Most will just look at the car and to it running, and decide whether to go Don’t be chagrined if your pro at it and declares it a “toad” (Stu’s is a certain 6th sense “savvy” one gets from doing sort of thing regularly.

The expensive fix is camshafts and leaking gaskets. Examine the cam lobes and the and examine the head gasket lines for oil leaks during the pre inspection..

Check floor pans, and back seat (if installed) or access panel on floor for Don’t be afraid to pull up the a bit to check. If the foam carpet is wet, it wasn’t “garage (doesn’t sound like be a problem)

Check steering play

Rotors and pad of course the safety stuff should be

Check under battery for of the box.

Put the hammer down on the and look for smoke, let it get good and up first

Check out the muffler. If original, it may be wearing thin

for leaks after the highway

Thorough check of all rubber window, trunk seals. may look good, but may be dried out and non

First, take your I don’t know where you but around here it is still to find terrific examples. a dealership might not have one for you on a given day, take time you’ll end up seeing a of them.

Second, Ignore how the car looks cosmetically. The paint and materials are of such high that an amateur with 6 available on a Saturday can make a wreck of a car look great. Six at a professional detailer you’d that that ‘pig in has never seen daylight, it just arrived from gorgeous, breath-taking, looks it’s never been sat in.

make sure the car has well records of all service. If somehow errr… become separated the car’, separate yourself the premises. These are MB’s model, therefore the most version. I’ve seen who buy them and then can’t to maintain them, so oil changes and things get put off, in addition to the big

These cars are your pits. According to Stu Ritter, if oil have been neglected of the camshafts can occur, and timing stretch will be greater. A familiar with these will know exactly you are talking about. While a timing chain isn’t too be seated when he tells you replacing the camshafts and related

Fourth, have the car inspected by a who is specifically very familiar ’90 – ’91 560SEL’s. Have them go the car with a fine tooth including a compression check. may cost you but if my experience is at all relevant, you uncover much more that in needed repairs then is a very strong point in arriving at a final

Life expectancy? I own this car and a of 123 chassis turbo diesels currently each have 200k miles on them. Do I my 560SEL to match the life of my 123′s. Probably not, but still a huge amount of in these cars if maintained

I tend to be overboard in how I maintain my and based on how it’s running, I’m to get 250,000 miles from the before any major work is While the trans operates I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it it to 250k, although Stu Ritter has that he has clients who’s last that long or

At 250k if I find that the and trans are toast, then a decision, as I suspect I could a rebuilt engine and trans MB for k and be ready for another 150k

While that sounds a lot, I could spend k on a Taurus and I doubt I’d get an additional miles out of it with the same of reliability and safety. Knocking on my 560 is a wonderful car. Things to be tended to from time to with me budgeting a year repairs / improvements, and so far it’s wonderful experience.

In addition to an incredible car to drive, I feel safe using it to drive and friends as I consider it a very car. It also has it’s but overall I’ve found it to exceeded my expectations and plan to own it for more years. Hope helps.

Mercedes-Benz S 420 286hp W140

This car is a rather old car was expensive to purchase and is expensive to Further, it is likely that it need significant repairs in the near future if they not already been done.

potential examples of *repairs* and failures (and *not* an list by any means):

A/C compressor — or for a non-DIYer

Climate control — or more for a non-DIYer

Cruise problems — for a non-DIYer

Front suspension rebuild — or for a non-DIYer

Rear suspension mounts and differential mounts — for a

Transmission rebuild — -2500 for a

Some potential examples of

Radiator neck breaking — car is significantly overheated, then – for a rebuilt engine

Cracked — or so

And these are NOT California prices are Texas estimates which are cheaper:

Purchase a car that has up to date service books/records There are simply too many of cars on the market today – have been meticulously and preferably at the dealer – to buy one that has even remotely neglected. If the car considering doesn’t have books that are up to the minute, a turnkey solution:

Go to several dealers nearby in person and say to the new and preowned sales people. them you’re in the market for a or perfectly maintained w126. them what colors like and the mileage you’ll Put it all down for them on a piece of with your name and

They’ll know you’re this way. Next, them you’d like help in finding a nice car and you’d be happy to pay them, or if you buy a car they locate for you. tell them that you are about buying by XX and XX date, and if one of their w126 clients like to come into the to look at a newer or new Mercedes … you’d be happy to meet at the dealership to examine their The word ‘new’ should up their ears.

If you do the above, the person will take you and most likely contact of their clients to alert of a prime opportunity to ‘move-up’ and or lease newer car. A sales person would be not to consult his or her Rolodex for existing owners who may now be ready to do so. Perhaps an couple who haven’t driven but are ready for a w140 or a 2000

You’ll be presenting a wonderful and moment for any good sales to do some win-win-win work — and get what you want and deserve a w126 in the bargain.

The engine in the 560 is a 5.6 v8 and the engine in the 420 has a 4.2 liter v8. The 420 is fast! The 560 is Both are heavy on the gas if you are heavy on the While keeping an eye on your consider very seriously the extra few thousand you’d on the 560 – to buy a 420 that is in even better

Both of these cars are to own and drive – provided they plague you with annoying costly) problems that are to arise if the books are not up to date.

I we’d all be surprised by the number of driving badly maintained “S” cars. They may still nice on the outside, but get under the or inside the cabin of most on the road today … and I’d bet half of have inoperative A/C, gear and troubled mechanicals.

Not poor engineering! But from a of maintenance by able wallets. The muffler on my ’87 420 was CDN at the dealer several ago. And if you put after-market stuff on the car no longer a true Benz and most likely perform

The question is – do you want a real or a problem on wheels for show? If you go a well cared for w126, all up to date, I assure you this car impress you Every time you and drive it. In my opinion — which is shared by many 126 owners if not all them — the w126 is a phenomenal car makes most 2000 year vehicles (by other pale in comparison!

The w126 is phenomenal (still readily me after 10 years), the engines are high speed steering is and perfect, high speed is even more breathtaking, the of the 126 is prized by all Benz mechanics as some of the most trouble-free and that Benz may ever – just ask them.

Let’s it, parts wear out. only natural. The self on the 560 has not been a problem. But yes, it wear out – and cost you a goodly sum it does as compared to simply the shocks as you would on a 420 — an easy, job. If you’re wondering if a 420 is comfort able than a the answer is no.

I’ve had 5 passengers in mine for 1000 km trips with luggage and the ride comfort is to any other car I’ve ever in – save for a Rolls, Bentley, or In fact, the heavier your the more comfortable the car is on highway It just hunkers down and to the road like glue – exacting precision.

Long cruising in a fully laden S at speeds above 140 mph will quickly impress you and turn you a lifelong Benz lover. Try in a 2000 Cadillac at 4 times the of a ’90 S Class … You won’t be near as or as comfortable.

You’ve probably fallen in love with the 126 – buy one that’s been wonderfully (no ‘ghost’ owners, forget the cars that are priced good to be true’) and the wonderful will last forever. more, a pristine, all-original with gleaming paint and in factory condition is still the most elegant sedan on the today.

P.S. If the tires replacing at the time of purchase, is an excellent opportunity to shod the car new “V” or “VR” rated tires. “V” tires will make you a happier 126 owner. Plus, you can a few dollars off your purchase when you tell the seller the need replacing soon. If like to hear more my experience with great on the w126, please feel to e-mail me and I’ll send you a of my recent post at the MBCA Forum.

Before buying my car I to a person at Hatch Sons who me that starting in ’89 the camshafts had a surface and therefore weren’t as to failure, but I’ve never able to confirm that so not sure if it’s correct or

These are great cars well maintained, but complicated/expensive to fix not, so just be extremely about having a really PPI done by a mechanic who has had years of working on 560′s, with a or leak down test.

Be suspicious if it’s the least bit or doesn’t drive idle – when right, these are silent smooth as glass. it’s typical to see evidence of dampness on the underside of these due to miles years, anything a slight dampness should put radar on full alert.

And any 126 chassis S class, the suspension be quiet as solid as a rock; the hydraulic system on this car is This was MB’s flagship therefore the most complicated they had, but a car that a smile on my face every I drive it.

There are many well maintained examples of cars around, so unless the is good and all service records are for your review showing not normal OF changes, but all the normal that should have fixed over the last 13 I’d be wary.

Maintenance Schedule

I am suggesting an aggressive maintenance It will save you in the long Based on my conversations with Mercedes owners in questions to the lists I would do the following

Oil changed each 3,500 – for sure if dusty or city

Air filters and fuel filters (2 filters) about each miles

Auto trans each 15k to 30k -depending on kind of

Brake fluid flush a year or 12,000 miles comes first. It really get dirty but the std is so rigorous because of 150 mph stops on autobahn, I guess

diff fluid each for models with LTD slip – use the Mercedes Ltd slip diff it is 90w

Tune up: new plugs each15k or 30k you feel is better

YES, even the power steering and filter each 20 or 30k, is not even in the owners manual but do it now or pay for a new later

Every 30k change the in hydraulic rear suspension or you risk big trouble on these. mounts last at least 50k but be watched

Wheel alignment each 12k – if necessary This may like a lot but it is preventative maintenance and you be rewarded with a reliable car if you care of it

Now then: I would shy from one needing body This is super expensive to done to the proper standard. more so than repairs.

there are cosmetic interior beginning in 1989. I believe models are fully equipped and means ABS and airbags, I think in 88 or 89 were dual but I am not sure. A with a dual airbag have a glove box, is how you tell.

From memory, I recall the options are few – they included on the 91, power rear electric window sunshade, velour US customers wanted), metallic reinforced seat frames and a support thing in the seats. For ’91 you could order traction something I personally would not Make sure the car you buy has its tool first aid kit and spare tire and in place.

There is mixed about modifying the cars to well. Some believe designed them to handle with the springs, tires and the car was supplied with, believing the geometry was best this Others like the aggressive and handling on a lowered car with bigger tires. My car was like and I have grown over the to enjoy the Eibach springs and 50 tires.

I hope this It is my opinion only, but at least it is a I have NEVER regretted this car-never- and it will my life in a crash too. It is as at 130 MPH as at 60 mph. (Don’t ask me how I know. ) solid as a rock, I love the of the doors as they shut.

I cannot believe I thought a new Volvo 960 and a Lincoln Towncar I was looking. This is definitely the for me. Plus, there is a dedicated of owners to help with relating to my ownership of the car. To end, you may contact me again. this helps.

One thing I and it is important: Change the timing tensioner guide rails at miles. If the chain stretches and or jumps the rail (more on the left side) it will a huge mess- a engine could be the result. More maintenance…

More Maintenance

At 65,000 miles you should – and CHANGE also the rear and power steering fluid, if no they were changed last 30k change it now. with Auto trans and spark plugs. ORIGINAL. You change the tensioner, timing and guide rails at 100,000

Behr radiator has unreinforced necks, they can crack and catastrophe. At about 75-100k put in a replacement radiator, whole new view as a consumable item. The have reinforced hose so unlikely to be a problem again. cars ask for a yearly brake flush, radiator fluid to be changed every other USE ONLY Mercedes coolant).

You can miles between oil changes, I not go more than that between them. I would watching the motor mounts now and the damper too. Perhaps them out at 100,000 miles. may seem like a lot BUT if you care for the car it ought to last you forever and new all the time.

Major maintenance every 30,000 miles, a big one at 60,000, and lesser every All of these should have done “by the book.” Keep in that you are maintaining a car that something like K new. You can buy it a lot but it still wants maintenance to a K car.

Any major problems the self leveling on this None in particular. There is a fluid tank and pump, special hydraulic oil (all I understand came from DS/ID technology), and the oil and filter changing every so often. are nitrogen spheres that up the ghost after a while, but are not that difficult to replace. this type of system to baffle the Joe Average mechanic, and want to run it by someone who knows cars inside out.

Model Run

Specs: Well, goes the 560SEC run down:

A much-improved W126 coupe is with the following new/revised

Mercedes-Benz S 420 286hp W140

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