Maintenance Costs for a Used S-Class: About $60,000

This spreadsheet was posted over at BenzWorld.

He drove an early 90s S-class from 211,000 miles to 295,000 miles (still going) starting in August of 2005. So far, his maintenance and repair costs have exceeded $58,000.

wpid-300SE_W140_1993-2012-03-10-08-23.jpg

Date Mileage Description Cost Running total Cost less paint
.
8/10/2005 211295 Balance and rotate tires 51.8 58541.89 48976.89
.
9/27/2005 213631 Washer level sensor 574.32
.
LF window switch Miles covered Cost per mile
.
Front pads 83439 0.586978391399705
.
Rear pads
.
Rear rotors
.
10/27/2005 214934 A svc, B svc, plugs, console wood, ball joonts, booster hose, alignment, front bumper replaced/paint, rear bumper paint 6249.59
.
2/23/2006 216869 speaker grill, wheel balance, rear fender liner, 3rd brake light cover, 376.79
.
3/20/2006 221383 neutral safety switch, oil svc, 306.19
.
4/4/2006 221943 Door assist pump, faulty headrest seat switch, 1538.38
.
6/30/2006 225047 Oil svc, tire bal/rotate, instr clstr bulbs, floor mats 343.63
.
7/31/2006 225710 rt headlamp assy, rt headlamp wiper motor, rt rear seat belt 1325.47
.
9/21/2006 227727 washer nozzle, 4 tires, windshield, fader, flex discs 2010.32
.
10/3/2006 227966 Radiator, t-stat, repl all coolant hoses, cool tank 2400.55
.
11/1/2006 229743 body accel sensor 500.88
.
12/22/2006 232015 Oil svc, washer fluid, trans fluid, techron 120.22
.
3/27/2007 235380 front pads, wheel balance, lower control arm bushings, trans mount, oil svc, alignment, center supp bushing, u-joint 1948.17
.
4/24/2007 236751 o2 sensor, brake light switch 449.48
.
7/2/2007 239401 charge a/c,oil svc, drive belt, p/s pump, rt aux fan, shift linkage bushing, steam eng 1428.22
.
9/19/2007 242782 30k svc, rotate tires, door lock switch, rear pads, trans cooler hose,oil svc 1425.41
.
11/16/2007 245092 vacuum hoses, replace ezl, neutral safety sw 3897.27
.
1/16/2008 248203 oil svc, ac svc, wheel bal, 259.42
.
3/4/2008 250765 oil, lf rear seatbelt, frnt pads/rotors, heater diag 719.53
.
3/26/2008 251837 heater valve assy, seatbelt 1267.94
.
7/1/2008 256101 oil svc 130.3
.
8/6/2008 257147 seatbelt, 3rd brake lite 524.36
.
8/19/2008 258552 left taillamp 160.63
.
10/29/2008 261726 oil, rotate tires, bulbs 253.16
.
1/21/2009 264416 oil 135.66
.
3/25/2009 264416 total repaint 8267.16
.
4/17/2009 265100 a/c compress hose, seatbelt latch, rt rear bulb holder, starter 2089.29
.
4/21/2009 265827 condensor 924.21
.
6/8/2009 267689 align/bal, oil, coolant, brake svcs 422.18
.
9/17/2009 270876 60k svc, tire rot, front pads, rear pads/rotors 1735.23
.
10/1/2009 271219 smog 50
.
10/29/2009 271984 idler arm bushing, ctr link, steering shock, tie rods, align 801.93
.
1/14/2010 275305 oil, drvr headlamp, 143.92
.
1/21/2010 275587 lft cam adjustor, amp svc, plugs, cap, rotor 1552.06
.
3/17/2010 275587 transmission replaced, rear main seal, engine mounts 4337.07
.
4/19/2010 279531 o2 sensor, cam oilers, timing chain guides, valve cvrs 1394.56
.
5/12/2010 281169 drive belt, oil 143.31
.
5/19/2010 281387 ac blower motor, filter 1264.09
.
7/29/2010 283690 oil, rotate/bal tires, gas cap 145.9
.
10/18/2010 286418 rr console window switch, oil, new p/s pump/hoses, master cyl to ABS hose, hood star 2226.47
.
12/28/2010 289768 oil, rot/bal tires, abs accumulator 2869.49
.
2/25/2011 292376 broken hose betw shutoff valve and switchover valve 152.89
.
4/18/2011 294363 lr seat belt, oil, frnt pads/rotors 1059.35
.
6/6/2011 294545 fuel 40.08
.
1/24/2012 294734 caps/rotors, smog, fuel 500.01
.
2/14/2012 295766 pse (dc motor replaced w/ 124 unit) 25

He claims that “practically everything” done to the car was DIY rather than paying a mechanic, except for oil changes, which leaves behind mostly parts and fluid costs.

He covered 83,439 miles over 6.5 years at a cost of about 59 cents per mile. Per year, that’s around $7,534 (excluding paint and body work).

He drove about 13,000 miles per year, which is on par with the annual mileage of most Americans (12k-15k).

That means that for every year of average mileage, it cost him $7,640.

That’s high, but consider that it’s an S-class, a top-level executive German sedan that achieved six-figure prices in the 1990s. Consider also that most luxury cars tend to cost $1000-$4000 per year to maintain, then factor in the mileage — this well-aged W140 now has just under 300,000 miles.

For most cars, maintenance costs for the first 100,000 miles are significantly cheaper than the second 100,000, and this S-class is on its third round. By 300,000 miles you’ve likely replaced everything but the doors and engine.

For comparison, my 2001 Cadillac Seville cost 80% less per mile to go from 109,000 to 149,000 miles. At around 180k it likely would have needed a head gasket and maybe some transmission service, but nothing bizarre like an entirely new wire harness — older German cars used soy-based insulation that degraded.

Some parts costs appear to be quite outrageous. It looks like he spent over $2500 for an ABS accumulator on 12/28/2010, a part I paid $80 for on my Saab. Even for the exotic 1995 BMW 8-series, a new German aftermarket accumulator (made by the OEM supplier) is only $400. For a late 90s Range Rover it’s $250 for an OEM part.

wpid-ACB093-2012-03-10-08-23.jpg

GenuineMercedesParts.com lists a W140 ABS accumulator for $1952 with an astronomical MSRP of $2690. Aftermarket units are available for under $500.

Alternatively, instead of driving and restoring his old car, he could have made monthly payments in the amount of $636 on a newer vehicle. In 2005, over 72 months, that would have bought him a new $45,000 luxury vehicle like an E320.

wpid-2005_mercedes_e320-2012-03-10-08-23.jpg

However, it wouldn’t have the six-figure prestige and timelessness of an older W140, nor would it have the comfort, power, and space. For those who keep and preserve their cars forever, Mercedes-Benz continues to stock and supply parts for cars going back decades, though they come at a cost.

For most Americans, $7000 per year is almost a sixth of their personal annual income. For the German auto enthusiast with money to burn, it’s a drop in the bucket for a car that would have cost 2-3 times more to buy new. Unfortunately, some of these old luxury cars depreciate to a point where they end up at buy-here-pay-here lots in low-income neighborhoods. Some poor sucker will choose one over a used Corolla, not knowing what he’s gotten into.

Such is the life cycle of an old Mercedes.

The next time your old Nissan Maxima needs a radiator for an “outrageous” $150, don’t feel so bad.

One Response to Maintenance Costs for a Used S-Class: About $60,000

  1. Alfred says:

    So much for the myth of the German car. On the other hand any car with 200k on it is just a well worn, clapped out ride and every part needs changing. The same car with less than 100k on it would probably cost 5 times less to maintain. Nothing lasts forever, Mercedes doesn’t know anything that lesser manufacturers don’t. Miracles happen in fanboy’s wishful thinking, not in the real world.

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