While I appreciate that this person has had a bad and expensive experience with his car, I have to strongly disagree about his comments on the 420SEL being a poorly designed car.
Work on the S-Class Mercedes started in the early 1970's with the goal of designing the world's best automobile. The "S" stands for "Super" -- or more correctly the German word that means super. Mercedes tried to use a no-holds-barred attempt at building the best car that they possibly could -- and this was back when design and engineering was done without computers. The result was a very good car, that by 1987 had been refined to be a truly GREAT car. The timing chain and tensioner should be replaced every 100,000 to 120,000 miles, otherwise you are asking for trouble.
The seats in this car were designed and made by a German furniture company, and among other things include horse-hair pads as one of the layers underneath the leather. This line of Mercedes was the last to use furniture makers for the seats. All of the newer Mercedes have foam seats. Indeed, I was told that the several of the master mechanics at my local MB dealer consider this car to be one of the best ever made, and some of them take great pride in owning one themselves.
With all of that said, if the car was neglected, then it can put you into bankruptcy!!! -- little is worse than an old and neglected S-Class, but a well maintained S-Class is a true delight to own and drive.
You should note that this reviewer bought a car with ALMOST 300K miles!!! -- Many cars won't even go that far, even if well maintained.
- Arlington, VA.
1989 Mercedes 420 SEL - Grey
1989 Mercedes 420 SEL - White.
(I liked my wife's 420SEL soooo much, that I went out and found a nice, clean used one for myself.)
Biggest like: Almost everything, but especially the classic styling and austere elegance inside and out. I smile every time I drive it.
Biggest dislike: I have two. 1) Horrible in snow... even with snow tires. And I mean really bad... much worse than an old RWD Oldsmobile I owned. 2) Oil changes run about $50 - $65 anywhere I go! Some places even charge up to $80!
I bought a black 420SEL a few months ago... a 1990 with 150K miles on it... a few cosmetic flaws, but it was well-taken care of and works perfectly. Absolutely nothing has gone wrong with it, and I've put 5,000 miles on it. It has great power and relatively good fuel mileage. I had a 1990 Olds 88 Royale before this... and it's six-cylinder got about the same (22MPG) with a lot less power and much more worry. Insurance was even higher on the Olds (no airbags or ABS). And, of course, it has beautiful styling inside and out. I couldn't be more pleased! I thought about finding a 560..but figured the 420 would be a bit more beneficial to me economy-wise as I had to drive a long way to work. But now I can't imagine what more power would really do for me... the 420 certainly does the job for me!
I bought a 1989 420 SEL graphite metallic palomino leather a year ago with 167,000 and a year later have 179,000. It looks like a new car after applying the 3 step Meguilars. My biggest expenses so far were having to unclog the EGR line, which required removal of manifold ($650) ; retorque head to solve small oil leak $225; plus added new brakes and 180,000 mile service at Mercedes dealer. Replaced EGR valve., and that's it. Now I have a luxurious automobile, which I enjoyed taking 3000 mile trip to San Diego and traveling up to 110 mph at one point. Regardless of speed of travel, I was getting 23 mpg on the trip. And to think it originally sold for $69,800 which was the equivalent of $113,000 in 2006 dollars. And I paid $6000.00.
I have a 1987 Merc 420 SEL with 89k on it. It's in great shape in and out; I have all the repair paper work, it's been well maintained, and I also have the window price tag from 1987; 57k was the price then..
I did a full tune up when I got it. Distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs and wires, fuel filter, tranny fluid, radiator flush and new fluid, oil change, oil filter change, and spark plugs..
In other words, a full tune up in every way..
So I went away on business for 2 weeks. Before I left, I went out to start it and it didn't start; it cranked, but never turned over. So I left on my trip; when I got back the other day I tried to start it and it started right up... so I drove it and enjoyed it as I usually do.. I went out this morning and cranked it and it did it again; it did not turn over... at this point I'm confused and I'm not sure what it could be at this point... any ideas? Someone has to know something. Let me know your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Please help me troubleshoot...
I have an 87 420sel with 55000 miles. It also decided not to start on me one day. Turns out that the wiring to the fuel pump relay had come disconnected. The last comment has problem of turning over, but not starting and the second time not turning over/??? I have had to replace the head gaskets on this car when I bought it with 48000 miles???? why I do not know, may have overheated! Anyway, it is a great car and I love to drive it!!!! Joseph
Hi, I have an 1987 420 SEL. I drove it one day, and the next it would not start. I pour gas in the carb and it starts and dies. Can any one help me? Thanks.
I have a 1987 420 sel, with 210,000 miles. The timing chain broke. Damaged the valves, $5000.00. Two manifold sensors cost about $350.00. Now the Fuel Distributor is gone. I got a used one at the junk yard for $42.00. Worker fine for about 2 months. Now I need another one. New they cost about$2000.00, rebuilt is $420.00-$480.00, used is about $250.00. The problem was hard starting, then no starting in the morning. I replace the cold start injector as well. This one is starting to cost to much. I'll try one more Fuel Distributor, used. Also replaced the Radiator- $300.00.
For PJB in Arlington:
John in Vancouver here - considering a 1989 420 SEL with 69,000 miles. I see you have two you're fond of - any suggestions or recommendations?
Price is right at $5900. Appears immaculate.
My 1989 420 SEL was great until of late; it will run fine for a while and suddenly it stops and will not start until I recharge the battery. My car has a few add-on's, CD player, remote start and blue alarm light. Help Help I need to know how to repair my Benz. Any help will be appreciated. We love the Benz.
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