1987 Mercedes-Benz S-Class SEL 5.6 from North America


Worth it


Slight smoking issue, blue smoke, used a combo of Valvoline High Mileage 10w40 and Lubro Moly to fix this. Since then, no more smoke, and not losing any or burning any oil.

Transmission started to drip very slightly; did a flush, changed the filter and added a combination of Amsoil, Valvoline High Mileage and Lucas Trans Fix.

General Comments:

The car has a lot of power and torque!

All the room of a big American car, and all of the power and handling of a German car.

This car is rock solid. I want to share some advice for those of you who purchase any of the W126 cars.

If the car is smoking, "blue smoke", use Liqui or Lubro Moly!

Oil, Rotella T6 5w40 synthetic, Amsoil, Liqui Moly, Valvoline High Mileage 10w40.

Coolant, aftermarket "Zerex G-05" approved by Mercedes! About half the cost of the dealer stuff.

Differential oil, Mobil One 75w90.

Transmission oil, Amsoil ATF, Valvoline High Mileage.

I would have given this car higher performance marks, however I test drove a 1999 S500. Amazing!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th August, 2012

16th Aug 2012, 16:21

Either monitor or replace the timing chain on those V-8 engines, if you feel the jump timing or it makes a short rattle sound during cold starts. Failure to do so, can induce bent valves and other engine damages, which can be costly. The W126 420SEL model had required the same.

Also the 560SEL W126 is the only model in its class to have a rear hydraulic shock, and once it goes out, then the ride will not be smooth. Also the car will look like it is sagging.

Other than that, great car with lots of horsepower and torque, which consumes lots of fuel.

1987 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560 SEL 5.6 Liter V8 from North America


When it works the way it should, it is a fantastic highway cruiser


Rear fuel pump at 130k.

Ignition control module at 125k.

Master brake cylinder at 125k.

Brake rotors - rear at 125k.

Alarm system at 129k.

Fuel pump relay at 125k.

Intake hose at 118k.

Spark plug wires at 118k.

A/C aspirator at 117k.

Front brake rotors and calipers at 114k.

Passenger side exterior mirror at 114k.

Lower ball joints at 114k.

Right front wheel bearing at 115k.

Steering shock at 111k.

Transmission rebuilt at 108k.

Cruise control at 108k.

Hood pad at 108k.

Radio antenna at 108k.

Tachometer at 108k.

Power steering gear box at 105k.

A/C compressor and dryer at 105k.

A/C hose seals at 97k.

Mirror switch at 97k.

Torque converter seal at 97k.

Starter at 90k.

Exhaust components from cat. converter back at 85k.

Right rear window lifter at 75k.

Right rear sub frame and outer bushing at 74k.

Front brake rotors and pads at 74k.

Right rear window lifter at 57k.

Fuel regulator at 50k.

Sunroof clips and springs at 49k.

A/C pulley at 46k.

Drag link at 46k.

Front brake pistons at 46k.

Replaced battery at 40k.

Transmission valve rebuilt at 40k.

Throttle sensor at 40k.

Spark plugs at 40k.

Timing chain at 39k.

Replaced battery at 38k.

A/C dryer at 37k.

Fuel filter at 36k.

A/C recharge at 36k.

Front brake pads at 36k.

Hydraulic suspension hose at 35k.

Brake hose at 35k.

A/C recharge at 35k.

V belts at 30k.

Front brake pads at 30k.

A/C recharge at 28k.

A/C receiver and dryer at 26k.

Front brake pads at 17k.

A/C air pump at 4k.

Not listed are all oil and filter changes, and other routine services.

General Comments:

Obviously, the front brakes were not designed or made tough enough to handle the weight of this vehicle.

The A/C system and various components are of questionable quality, as evidenced by the repeated service and replacement of the system.

Suspension is also not strong enough for the weight of the vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd July, 2010

1st Sep 2010, 20:28

Don't get me wrong, but I always thought brake pads/V-belts/fuel filter/spark plugs/battery were routine.

But the early stuff, I say wow! You have one bum of a AC, and I'm kind of curious about why the timing chain had to replaced that early. I wonder what causes that. You had lot of stuff done to it, and so far it mostly seem to be the battle against the AC.

Mercedes AC was notorious for problems. It's been one their problem areas for a while now. They have these state of the art AC systems that do all types of cool things ahead of their time, and customers end being the test dummies. By the time other cars got to their AC to the point where the W126 was decades earlier, Mercedes was well into the W140 system, and drawing up the W220 system.

And the W126, especially the 560, was known to go through brake pads like a termite through wood. And the suspension I think was made for more comfort in mind than actual longevity. That suspension has the most rubber parts I've ever seen in a 80s era vehicle. But it gives a nice controlled relative noise free cushioned ride, but that rubber wears out and tears, and the rear suspension ain't supposed to support the weight of the 560, that's what the hydromatic is for. The 560 rear springs are way more soft than the ones found on the i6 and 4.2 versions, and if you get your springs crossed, you'll see. But for all its faults, there is nothing like a Mercedes when it's running.

6th Oct 2010, 21:41

This is a really useful maintenance timeline you put up! I agree the W126 is a great car, but there's a lot of "downtime" if you do many highway miles. For instance, if you do on average 20k miles / year - and on average your car is being repaired or serviced once every 3k miles or so (based on your table). This means your car will be in the garage every 2 months.

Even if money is no problem, the "downtime" starts to become impractical if you use the car for work.