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Entries in 2003 E500 (7)


Update June 2015

After having gone through a winter with cold, snow, more cold. Then spending time parked here and there as we do vehicle reviews. Walter was due for a spring maintenance.

The car performed well all winter long, starting during the coldest days, getting stuck in snow once when the traction control tells the rear wheels to stop turning, and not many road trips this year. Basically a quiet winter.

What developed this winter.

  • A slight exhaust leak on the left side, a clamp unfastened and developed a minor exhaust leak and rattle.
  • The rear suspension started leaking air, with the rear of the car occasionally lowering itself.
  • The front suspension developed more noises that either a suspension arm or ball joint is worn out.
  • The SBC issue we covered in our last update (scroll down).
  • The brakes have a slight pulsation which is tolerable.
  • We endured the winter tires till last week, the car was parked all over the GTA for extended periods.
  • The rust blob on the right quarter has increased in size.

Not so bad for an almost 13 year old car experiencing a another winter.

What service/maintenance was done by our friendly mechanic?

  • Oil and filter change.
  • Exhaust leak repaired.
  • One ball joint in front suspension replaced.
  • Rear suspension not touched its relatively expensive the install new redesigned shocks.
  • Summer tires and wheels finally installed by the Strada pit crew as usual.
  • The car has 165,000 kms still a way to go to reach 200K

Not bad so far this year, compared to last year when Walter was very needy with all sorts of items, getting stuck and flat bedded at the most inopportune times.

Agreed...Walter needs to spend a few hours at the Strada Spa for its annual treatment.



Update March 2014

Its still winter, although spring is only a few days away. Been colder than usual, and as you know with cold there are always a few additional clunks, clanks, noises coming from any vehicle.

"Walter" is no exception making its contribution towards a few more sounds especially when starting on a brisk morning.

As you can imagine we are compiling our mental list for the upcoming spring inspection.

With cold weather the ticking valves until the engine warms up are more pronounced, and a few other sounds that go away ounce operating temperature is reached. 

Its up to 149,000 kilometers...agreed still a way to reach 200K.

The car has been on a few road trips as well as the usual errands on surface streets. It starts, it warms up quickly, and runs very well under the present conditions. Obvious...there are new wiper blades, winter tires, regular fill ups of windshield washer fluid. There are benefits to a 7 liter winshsield washer container.

As you can see from the photo salt is used profusely to keep roads in driveable conditions.

The sensor on the rear axle is increasingly acting up, with a few lights blinking in the dash, we are waiting for warmer weather to do an update. When the sensor on the axle acts up it affects the ABS, ESP, SBC, and traction controls, its the joy of a car with all sorts of tehcnology. 

As you know cold conditions are not ideal for any kind of fuel economy, whatever it is we simply gas up the car, on the highway it tends to use an additional liter to cover 100 kilometers.

On the list for "spring"


  • The right rear axle.
  • There is still a minor clunking sound from the front suspension.
  • Oil change
  • Check the rear suspension which drops down in cold temperatures.


The car does what its supposed to do, and does it very well under the present frigid conditions.



Update May 2013

Although its Poject 200K we are wondering when we will reach 200K with this car, in December 2012 the car had 128,000 kms and after two road trips it now has 134,000 kms. it has a way to go before reaching 200K.

What has been going on for the past few months?


  • After the "Ouch" was resolved in January, and we did an oil change too, we have used the car sparingly, and its been parked a few times while we were driving other cars. 
  • Agreed that 5,000 kms in 6 months is not much usage.
  • We did not spend any money maintaining the cars during this time, obvious we invested enough last year.
  • This past winter the sticky lifter did not act up, was it fresh oil prior to winter?
  • The A/C is blowing cold...yes we were surprised...almost expected the A/C to act up, but not yet.
  • We have some stuff going on and the folding back seat is very useful...we even put a lawn mower in its box in the trunk/ rear seat. Agreed we are huge fans of folding rear seats in  sedan, especially when they fold flat, with the seat cushion folding out of the way, and also being completely removeable.
  • Surprising how much stuff and how big you can fit in the trunk, rear seat combination.
  • At the time the folding rear seat option was a ridiculous price of over $1,000...which seemed crazy until you put it to good use.
  • Fuel economy on the highway cruising at about 2,300/2,400 RPM is constantly in the 9.6 to 9.8 liters per 100 kms.

Obvious that we need to have some challenges with an older car, if you remember we had a rumbling sound coming from the front, which seeamed like wheel bearings or tires...we eliminated the wheel bearing variable in the fall.

Our conclusions with this car...


  • High performance summer tires, the first half of the tire from new to 50% wear, is dramatically better than the second half from 50% wear to lower (25%)....especially when tires are also a few years old (swapping summers/winters).
  • The same applies to winter tires, the second half is not interesting, the winter tires were increasingly rumbling this year.


This year the car required new summer tires, we installed a set of Falken Azenis FK483 strange name, awesome tires.

Yes Falken is involved in racing.

The rumbling sound is gone, we have through the years found that Michelin tires are rounder and smoother that most other tires, these tires are just as good.

By now you probably know that we enjoy our "moments" on our favorite on/off ramps. The reason we like V8's, big brakes, high performance summer tires. 

The tires have a superior performance envelope, which is truly exhilerating. Performing at several increments higher than our previous summer tires. 

To be blunt a 5 point harness would be useful to truly work the tires.

The car has a name "WALTER"




Service in 2012

As you have concluded by April 2012 the car requires a level of service, as usual we visit our friendly mechanic. 

We provide a list of items that require attention, which elicited the comment "Do you want a new car?" we know about the rear brakes, more ball joints or something else in the front suspension, some bracket is lose in the exhaust system, the BAS light is on, some sort of rumbling in the front, it probably needs spark plugs, air filters, and an oil change. 

It was a relatively long list, with "here is the car, just fix it" was our comment. 

Front Upper Control ArmThe front suspension is the continuing story of most components having undergone a cost saving process with abbreviated durability. More ball joints, and an upper suspension arm and the current issues are resolved. By now we have literally replaced over 50% of the front suspension components on this car. There is a wear and tear reality, and there is a cost saving effort by M-B (we hope the folks that worked on the front suspension of the car all got a promotion for saving a few Euros).

The rear brakes are normal wear and tear, with the discs and pads replaced. On the E500 the rear discs are ventilated similar to the fronts. The ABS/BAS light which might have been a simple sensor, turned into the sensor on the axle, the price of an axle will take your breath away. Obvious that you cannot "just buy the sensor" you need to buy the axle shaft. As you can imagine the sensor on the axle shaft is over one thousand dollars, and a great forum discussion subject. Wow this light turned on, the sensor is on the axle shaft, its "big money" to repair.

Rear AxleThe reasonable price solution is to locate a used axle shaft, at approximately one third of the price of the new part.  

The spark plugs were replaced, all 16 (yes 2 per cylinder). although they are supposed to last for 160,000 kms, we concluded that after almost 10 years and 120,000 kms it was time. 

New spark plugs make a difference, the engine is crisper, more responsive.

The exhaust is a spot weld on a bracket which has "unspotted" itself; its tack welded back, and the minor ratlle at idle in gear is gone.

The rumbling sound is a front wheel bearing (more cost saving on the front of this car, hopefully the entire department that engineered the front all received deserved promotions by being exceptional spreadsheet jockeys). Lets cut a bit here, shave a few thousands there, while making certain that it lasts longer than the warranty. 

Rear Brake DiscEmulating the spread sheet jockeys (engineers) we conclude that there is still some life remaining in the bearing, lets see how much longer, and how the slight rumble magnifies in sound, and when can we say that the bearing is gone. The car has 120,000 kms now lets see how much longer.

Now the car has new rear brakes, all the lights in the dash are off, the engine is crisp, and we are good to go for a while. 

Until something else rears its head, since it seems that this year (2012) this car will need more attention that we probably planned or anticipated....stay tuned.

How much did it cost...what do you think? Yes over one thousand....

If you do not enjoy servicing cars, having fun diagnosing what is amiss, having your own alternate transportation while the car is serviced/repaired. Having a friendly mechanic that understands you, and that you understand and trust.  Playing around with an older car is not for you, and we do not suggest or encourage you to "play" with an older car. If you enjoy older cars, there is a fun factor.

So far this year we have resolved the cracked wheel in February, rear brakes, ABS/BAS sensor on the axle shaft, ongoing front suspension parts, spark plugs, air filters, oil change, exhaust bracket, and front wheel bearing (postponed).

We will continue.....




The Car in 2012 

We start 2012 with air dissappearing from the winter tires on the original alloy wheels. Its another riddle like the mirror, first time it was ..."Did we forget to check the air pressure?" "Something is up". Not a big deal, we have a compressor, tire pressure gauge in the door pocket, easy to replenish the air and check the pressure. 

In hindsight if air is disappearing from alloy wheels, it could be a big deal, have the tires dismounted from the wheels and take a look (inspect) at what is "going on". 

We did a road trip in early February, having done a previous road trip in January with another vehicle, its was exciting to embark on a road trip with this car, and obvious at some point deal with snow, inclement weather, salt, while using industrial quantities of windshield washer fluid. 

During the road trip, we were very lucky to crawl to a gas station for air in the right rear tire, instead of having to install the spare tire. Subsequently discovering a cracked alloy wheel while getting quite disturbed that a wheel would crack. As per the manufacturer wheels crack when one hits a bump, we remain with our version of the incident. Put it this way its not unusual for wheels to crack, without hitting a bump. 

We are thankful that nothing untoward happened, we solved the problem, and as usual "there is nothing that money can't fix on a car".  We went from rather ugly corroded original alloys to a set of 5 spoke (M Class) aftermarket alloys that look good on the car. 

A few times during the winter the traction control light would come on for no reason, it could be the cold. 

In late February/early March the "visit workshop brakes" light comes on...yes must be the rear pads, and by the time the light comes on there is little friction material remaining. One thing leads to another, and about a month goes by, in the meantime the ABS/BAS light is on...the dash is starting to look like an illuminated billboard.

By now its early April, its time to visit our friendly mechanic with a list of things that need to get done. 

Obvious that the year is not complete we will do a later entry to complete the year.

We will continue... 



Service in 2010 

By early December 2010 the car requires some TLC, we visit our friendly mechanic.

The clunking sound in the front suspension which was increasingly irritating: 

Its the aluminum lower suspension arm, historically Mercedes has always designed ball joints on the smaller than bigger philosophy, and this suspension arm has a ball joint for the stabiliser bar link, and bushings (which probably follow the same smaller vector). The you really want to know (close to $300 each), and yes replaced both arms, left and right.

Front Brakes: 

While a portion of the front suspension is coming apart, and the front brakes are approximately 70% worn, might as well replace the front rotors, pads, and sensors too. As you probably know in any Mercedes the bigger the engine, the bigger the brakes, and obvious the price of the parts escalates. 

Front brake discs








The small battery: 

Finally replaced the small battery that was telling us to visit the workshop.

Windshield washer fluid: 

The windshield washer tank is behind the right front wheel fender liner...yes remove the wheel, remove the liner to access the tank, and reseal a fluid line that is leaking....its one of those where a dab of rubber cement (what was known at one time as yellow death) solves the problem, and it takes about an hour of labor to solve the problem. 

Oil and Filter:

Yes..changed the oil and filter...yes synthetic oil.

The clunking sound in the front suspension is gone, the brake pedal is higher, we can actually use the windshield washer (helpful in winter), and a fresh oil change.

In addition to encountering this big puppy while the car is being serviced.

You might be curious as to how much it all cost, the suspension arms were close to $300 each, the front brakes pads about $100, front discs $150 each, the small battery $130 we are over $1,000 of parts. Its easy to quickly invest over $1,000 on any car.

At that time the car had close to 100,000 kms...

Wondering about the left rear shock absorber? We contacted a dealer that had one in inventory for over $700 and this dealer was not interested in selling only 1 shock, wanted to sell the set (2), we were not interested in replacing both rear shocks. Postponed for another time.






Performance - Maintenance

We are unabashed auto enthusiasts, enjoy power in any vehicle, and have high expectations of vehicles especially when its a Mercedes-Benz. 

Although an S Class with an ABC suspension and serious power is a wonderful machine, its also a little over the top, and perhaps too obvious. The moments with such a car are extreme fun, and remain priceless memories.

When you are packing serious adult horsepower, and torque the components must deliver a corresponding level of performance.

With an older car you decide at what level of performance the vehicle is maintained. Do you just repair what is amiss, are you pro active to remain ahead of the wear and tear curve, and a variety of alternatives. 

Usually older vehicles tend to fall through the cracks, with reconditioning and maintenance being done on a times a tight budget. These vehicles are beyond the factory warranty, can generate unexpected surprises, and can get expensive to repair. 

From our perspective, if it does not drive, feel, perform like a Mercedes-Benz its not much fun or much of an enjoyable car. 

Not only is there the wear and tear of consumables (oil, filters, tires, brakes) which are similar to a new vehicle. There is also the wear and tear of time which is often the unknown aspect of maintaining an older vehicle.

When one is around vehicles for a few decades. The more you know, the more you are familiar, often the more issues you can uncover, which is not always a good thing. 

As vehicles get older they are not welcomed with open arms at franchised dealers, who prefer to deal with newer vehicles having a warranty as the facilitator for unexpected repairs. Warranties are a convenient interface between franchised dealers and customers. You need a friendly trusted mechanic that has the resources to repair and maintain the car, and has an understanding of your expectations. 

Our expectations are not to save money by having economical maintenance performed on the car. The urban legend that the franchised dealer will kill you with the labor rate compared to an an urban legend. 

We have an extensive knowledge base of these cars, from several perspectives. We have long standing relationship with several service alternatives. In addition to having our own mechanic to maintain this car, and we enjoy doing our own "old school diagnostics" when an issue arises. 

It becomes an enthusiast, gear head experience, which is at times aggravating but more often fun, and satisfying.

You don't fool around with an older car to save money, you do it for the enjoyment, the fun. 

One more thing, the more new vehicles we review the more this E500 holds its own. Perhaps if we did not review new vehicles we would have a different perspective.