Farewell to our E500 4Matic Wagon!

Just to be perfectly clear: No automobiles were injured in the making of this blog post.  

The fate of my beloved wagon has been up in the air for quite some time. A little more than a year and a half ago I purchased a 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 4Matic wagon, a proper estate car. This car had traveled 120 some-odd thousand miles total from new under the command of just one owner by the time I made the acquisition in Northern Virginia in March of 2016.

When purchasing the car I knew the myriad of Mercedes-Benz quirks that go along with this generation E-Class, as it wasn’t my first. 2003-2009 (W/S211’s) were known for SBC brake system issues, so much so the warranty was extended 10 years and unlimited mileage. On my previous E350 (2006) I helped aid the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration apply pressure to the folks at Daimler due to habitual fuel leaks resulting in complete tank and fuel sensing unit replacements; not an inexpensive proposal on rapidly depreciating luxury sedans and wagons. This time consuming process resulted in a 15 year warranty coverage of the aforementioned parts. Last but not least, I wouldn’t properly have a screw loose without seeking one with the Airmatic air suspension setup.

It took only a few weeks of commuting in excess of 140 miles a day until my first (and only) air suspension fault, a leak in one of the rear air springs, which causes the entire hind end to nearly drag in the ground. This scenario is no big fret these days with the help of Arnott Industries, replacements are remarkably affordable, more labor friendly, and carry a limited lifetime warranty.

Fast forward an additional ten thousand drama free miles to September, and I have a brief encounter with a deer that cracked the bumper cover and the drivers side headlamp mounting tab. I took this opportunity to do a little facelift with the E55 ///AMG bumper, new headlamps and an entire respray of the front clip. I’ll be sure to continue on this tangent below.

The fall of 2016 had a need for a whirlwind trip south of the Mason Dixon line to deliver car parts. Large car parts at that; a panoramic folding hard top assembly for a R230 chassis Mercedes-Benz SL. I had acquired a large collection of parts a few years prior, and finally found a home for this piece with one of my friends clients at Blue Ridge MB in greater Atlanta, an independent repair and restoration facility that’s done extensive work for me previously on my Euro W140 S600, among a few other projects. It seems that every time I go to pay Jono a visit one of the cars throws a fit. This time the wagon kindly let me know it was time for spark plugs and wires ( all 16 of them) and one coil pack as a precaution. Nothing that should surprise any of us at 140k miles. The M113 5.0 Liter V8 felt like it had its first breath of air after this $900 freshening.

The winter with 4Matic all wheel drive was brilliant, aside from a lack of ground clearance. The peaks of central New York are just too susceptible to significant amounts of snow for a car of any kind if you have to travel secondary roads. Luckily, I only ended up royally stuck once. Wheels and tires in the 245/40/18 configuration also probably weren’t the best move either.

Within the first ninety days of the deer strike repair, not only was I disappointed by the initial craftsmanship of the repairs, but the paint started to depart on its own, in mass quantities, like 1990’s dodge neon style. Aside from fisheyes, poor panel fitment, lack of paint with exposed primer in more than one place this became the icing on the cake England Collision in New Castle, Delaware completed some of the poorest quality bodywork outside of Earl Scheib shops. A second attempt of repair was made and the clear coat began releasing from the hood within the first 10 days of completion, colors were not matched, and none of the prior complaints were addressed.

January of 2017, the plot just had to thicken en route to the Philadelphia Auto Show. A pothole managed to leave no less than two damaged wheels, two ruined tires, a broken axle and more.

The day I collect the car (In May!) it’s still not right on its drive home, I’m advised it needs a transfer case, and my insurance company refused to pay another penny. I’m just thrilled by this point, and financially it makes absolutely no sense to dive head first financially in a car now with in excess of 145k miles. Also; the service advisor to handle the second half of this was less than enthusiastic about taking on the battle, surprising for someone in a commissioned position.

A quick servicing of the parts in question and a Hail Mary has had the car back on the road for nearly the last twenty thousand miles. Despite how many miles I’ve utterly thrown at this E-Class it’s never left me stranded, but lord is this getting old!

Despite being an absolute looker, and returning 18.5 miles per gallon (over nearly 40,000 miles!) and unspeakable smiles per mile; December 2017 marks the end of an era, as I traded the car in to a local luxury car store to avoid any headaches in trying to sell privately.

Despite my woes, not all of the fault of this car I will always be an advocate of driving highly depreciated luxury cars. That being said, I sincerely hope that not a single one of my readers ends up with my lipstick covered pig.