1995 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S420 4.2 from North America


Good stuff


Brake booster hose - The one way valve broke in two.

EGR valve - Needed to be cleaned. Done. Easy job.

Finicky auto close features - Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't; either way the doors can close normally.

Amp getting gray and cranky - speakers sometimes make screeching noises, but quickly turning the radio off and then on makes it go away. Worse when it's cold.

General Comments:

It's heavy and feels heavy, and it's big, seemingly dwarfing my XJ8 VDP, which is supposedly in the same size class. These are not bad features. It is a very solid feeling car with complicated gadgets, but pretty simple to figure out and fix once one gets the hang of it.

Things to look for AS A MUST BEFORE, again, BEFORE, you buy one of these, especially the 1995 year, is the engine wiring harness. Make sure it's in good condition, or better yet, make sure it has been replaced with an updated version. Or all sorts of gremlins will happen as the original harness degrades, as it was curiously, designed to do.

And make sure the climate control works properly. The price to get it straight makes the W126 heating core job looks like pennies.

But overall after driving this car clear across the country, and up the country and back home, it was smooth and quiet, and pretty easy to drive. The seats are comfortable, not as cushy as the XJ8, but comfortable, and the ride is near the best outside of upgrading to a Rolls-Royce. Very very little wind noise even at high speeds (70-90 mph).

A cared for one is good to own. A dogged one is a PITA on the wallet to own.

The interior is classic; probably the last of the MBZ classic Teutonic straight business feel. Some will like it, some will not. I like it. Nice, classy and simple. Everything just about is electrically adjustable. Even the rear view mirrors, side mirrors and steering wheel all adjust with the memory seat function.

Plenty of space front and back, and the pop up antennae helps with placing that big rear end into tight spots, but the updated radar one works better.

DO NOT GET if you're looking for a gas sipper to putter around town. Forget about it, and don't bother asking about MPG city wise. More like "What is miles to the gallon?" On the highway, it's not too bad. Got over 500 miles per tank on the highway.

This car is no sports car, but if pushed will move decently with off the line, feeling so-so, but with plenty of passing power. But with more reluctant feel than the Jaguar, Audi or BMW, which seem always ready to rev and go.

Overall, for a nice highway cruiser, the MBZ S-Class is about it. For something more sporty, get a Jaguar or BMW, or for even more rougher or road feel, get an Audi.

This car handles well for its large size, it moves well for its size, and even accelerates well for its large size, but it's designed for cruising in quiet serene comfort while eating up highway miles. If a serene, quiet, smooth ride is "boring", the S420 is the wrong car. But if serene, quiet and smooth is what one is looking for, like I was, the S420 is hard to beat. Now if one is looking for that and straight simplicity, get a Lexus LS400 or LS430. Simplicity to the uninitiated, the S420 is not. But someone that is a MBZ enthusiast or knows how to work on them or knows how they work, then the S420 is good. For bit more pep, get the S500. And if that isn't enough and you want even more doodads, get the S600. The S320 is solid too, but don't expect to save much gas due to the sheer mass of this thing.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th April, 2014

26th Nov 2016, 22:53

Very helpful comments, I'm impressed. I've owned a few C and E class, but want to upgrade. My background is about every car made (my wife is a finance director at a Chevy dealership) and my work car is a 245 Volvo that I rally every day (very durable).

1995 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S500 M119 5.0L V8 from North America


Amazing car with options that most new cars don't have nowadays but costly to maintain. Typical Benz


Rear suspension going bad is a major problem on these cars. If the W140 is equipped with the self leveling system in the back, the accumulators usually go bad and cost $130 per pair; this assuming your rear struts are not leaking hydraulic fluid. If the struts in the back are leaking, they cost $600 per pair. Front Suspension is like any other car on the W140, shocks & springs.

Additional info from what I know:

The W140, the S600 and S500 comes standard with hydraulic suspensions in the back. The S320 and S420 have the hydraulics (aka SLS - Self Leveling System) optional. Most S320s and some S420s come with normal shocks in the back.

The transmission is known to go bad before you hit 120k miles. This is not usually a forward problem, but the reverse slipping. This is due to the reverse clutch plate, aka the B3 plate wearing out fast. A full rebuild from MB is $3500-2500. I would rebuild the tranny myself; just buy the kit online for $250 and do it yourself. It's really easy. No need to drop the motor, only remove the muffler and the tranny drops right out. The rest is easy, look for videos online.

Additional Transmission Info from what I know:

The trannys on these cars are numbered. Mine is a 95 S500, which means it has a 722.3 (look the back of owners manual for engine & tranny number). This is a mechanical 4 speed auto tranny. The 91-95 have almost same transmissions. The 96+ trannys change numbers, like the 722.5 or 722.6. Both these tranny's might fit on the motor, but they are for a newer production W140 96-99 and will not work with your pre-96 version. This is due to a new control module put in the 96+ w140s controlling the transmission & motor together. Remember pre-96 trannys are mechanically controlled with the throttle/pedal cable. A swap might be possible, but I would have to check myself before I rebuild my transmission this winter.

Car will run HOT. Hotter than any car you've ever driven. This is usually the V12 6.0L or the V8's 4.2 or 5.0, they get really hot. It's common to see the car running at 105 with the A/C on, even while cruising on a windy day. To fix the problem, you need to solder a resistor (1000 ohms) which triggers the fans at 90 degrees instead of 100. This will make your car run cooler. This is a safe procedure; if the resister fails, it triggers at 100.

The rest are stupid problems that might cost a bunch if you abuse your car.

Pre 95 W140's are known for bad electrical system, cables melting etc. This also depends on the location you live.

Evap problems - The nightmare of all W140's. Just hope you don't get this problem, but if you do, there is a DVD someone made, you will have to take the dashboard apart. Following the instructions, will help you take everything apart in 2 hours. The rest is history.

I read the 6 cylinder 3.2 has some head gasket problems. The V12 also has some common running problems. Usually having only one bank working and running only on 6 cylinders instead of 12.

Window regulators, I only got the car with the driver's side regulator broken. The others work fine, but I hear they do go bad. About $40 on ebay per regulator + time to put them on.

Head rests go up and down, but when people use the buttons and play with them, sometimes they bring them down too far, and break the clip that controls the headrest.

The back sunshade is known to get stuck on the upper position.

The side mirrors won't fold. This is due the drivers actually not folding their mirrors in when they park the car. Mirrors don't get used, lose the lubrication, and get stuck or move only an inch when you want to fold them. Use your hand, and someone press the button and flip em in and out a few times.

Sunroof, needs to be lubed up with good grease so it won't quit on you. Do it only once in 3-4 years, and you should be fine.

General Comments:

This is not my first Mercedes Benz, but it one of the best I've ever known.

The S500 I have is fully loaded to the bone. I mean to the bone.. And it's all standard.

- Reclining rear seats.

- Heated front and back seats.

- Up and down rear reclining headrests. Control from the driver and the back passengers.

- Power rear sunshade.

- Heated side mirrors.

- Power side mirrors, powered folding.

- Power rear view mirror.

- 3 different memory sets - front driver and passenger seat.

- Front seats have the bottom section of the seat move separately from the whole seat.

- Windows are all powered.

- Windows are one touch up and down.

- Window stops rolling if there is an obstacle in the way.

- Windows are doubled and thick. Some W140s have bulletproof glass.

- Integrated phone in the glove department. You can get connected with Verizon for $10/month.

The car is amazing, but when it comes to fixing things, it's not cheap. My father is a mechanic and I can afford the fixes for the most part of it, but this car is not perfect.

Due to its heavy weight, wear and tear of the main bearings needs extra attention, same with the transmission and motor. A lot of the extras in the car, although they are special options to have, they will be a problem at one point.

I'd be more than happy to help anyone with further information amuca@oakland.edu

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th September, 2010

12th Jan 2011, 22:39

Thank you. This was a really useful review. I work at a dealership and a S500 came in as a trade. Everyone is scared of it because we don't see them very often. I may use it for the winter and see how it goes.

30th Mar 2011, 17:06

Thank you! We just bought a 1995 S 500! Can you tell me more about how the phone works?