Mercedes Benz W210 is the second official generation of the world-famous E-Class. This car had some pretty big shoes to fill, and many are still wondering whether it ever rose to the task. The truth is that this E-Class had a few problems that have persisted for as long as the car was in production. Our goal today is to give you a rundown of these issues and point you at things to look out for if you’re planning on buying one of these awesome cars.
In the Shadow of W124
The phenomenon that was the W124 is partially responsible for Mercedes Benz’s reputation of reliability all around the world. That isn’t to say that this brand wasn’t well known by the time this car was launched, but the W124 was a real game-changer. Not only was it the first official E-Class, but it managed to do something very few thought was possible – be better than the W123!
The W124 came with a rock-solid selection of engines ranging from the boringly reliable diesel models to the beastly E500 with its 5-liter V8 designed in cooperation with Porsche. Of course, there was also the E36 AMGs. However, the W124’s time had come to an end by the mid-’90s. Considering that it was made for over a decade, this legendary car was ripe for a replacement, and it came in 1995 bearing the W210 designation.
Although many argue that it was not quite as good as the W124, the W210 platform had proven to be a solid car in its own right. With that said, several issues became apparent as more and more of these cars rolled off the production line. We’ve put a list of ten most common problems you might run into as an owner of a W210. Let’s start!
Top 10 Problems to Look Out for on W210 E-Class:
One of the biggest issues the W210 owners had to deal with was rust. Around the time this particular model was released, Mercedes switched to water-based paint. Combine that with sub-par prep work, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for rust. The most affected were the early model cars. However, Mercedes hasn’t done much to sort out the rust problems even towards the end of the production for this E-Class model.
The body panels and parts you’ll want to pay close attention to are the front fenders along the bumper line, side sills, trunk lids, and jack points. Needless to say, rust belt cars are often much worse off, so pay extra attention to those.
Unfortunately, rust isn’t only found on the bodywork of the W210. You’ll often find it on the spring perches as well. This car’s unibody is designed in such a way that it allows water to penetrate the seams of the spring perches, which are spot welded onto the body. Once that happens, the perches are compromised. Best case scenario, you’ll notice the rust and act accordingly. The worst-case scenario includes the perches collapsing, separating the suspension system from the car itself.
Always check for spring perches and change them as soon as any signs of rust appear. We strongly suggest that you use a brand new Genuine Mercedes perch only.
Weak Sway Bar Links
As far as suspension goes, there aren’t too many issues worth singling out. One thing that comes to mind is the problem with weak sway bar end links. They would fail more often compared to most of the compared to other cars from the segment.
Fortunately for everyone, a failing sway bar end link rarely jeopardized the safety of the passengers. You’ll recognize a failing link by clucking or rattles that happen at lower speeds. Changing a sway bar end link is cheap and fairly easy as well.
Valve Cover Gasket
As we move into the engine bay, the very first thing you’d want to check for is the valve cover gasket. This applies to the M104 I6 engine only. The gaskets on these engines were fairly weak out of the factory and would spring a leak at the rear of the cylinder head.
Changing the gasket is an easy task anyone can DIY. The gasket is easily accessible, and replacing it requires minimal disassembly. Just make sure to get an OEM gasket, and you should be more than fine.
Oiler Tubes on the M119
If you’re looking at getting an E400 or E420 with the M119 V8 engine, definitely check the oiler tubes. These tiny plastic tubes were recognized as a weak point in the early models of these cars and would often fail.
Harmonic Balancer Pulley Failure
Unfortunately, the engine issues that appeared on the W210 weren’t all benign. The M112 V6 and the M113 V8 from the E55 AMG were prone to harmonic balancer pulley failure. If caught on time, this problem can be limited to changing the pulley. However, let it spiral out of control, and you’re looking at catastrophic failure of the pulley that can drag the entire engine down with it.
The good thing is that Mercedes Benz quickly got on top of this defect and issued a massive recall for affected vehicles. Since W210 is well within its second decade of service, the chances are that the car you drive or the vehicle you plan on buying were subject to the recall. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check!
Conductor Plate Failure
Back when this E-Class first hit the streets, it featured one of the most modern automatic gearboxes in the world. Mercedes 5G-Tronic (722.6xx) gearbox was an innovative electronically controlled unit that has proven to be more than reliable over time. However, time does what time does best, leading to several issues with this gearbox.
The first common problem comes in the form of the conductor plate failure. This plate controls the transmission solenoids while also transmitting the speed and fluid level signals to the transmission control unit. Fortunately for everyone, swapping the conductor plate is an easy, non-invasive job that can be done without removing the transmission.
TCM Connector Failure
Next up, we have the TCM connector. Over time the O-rings on the TCM Plug housing fail. As a result, you’ll find the transmission fluid seeping passed the seals, and getting into the connector. This, in turn, causes contact point interruptions while there’s also a small chance that the transmission control unit can get damaged as well.
HVAC Blower Motor Regulator
Having a working AC is one of those creature comforts most of us take for granted. If you live down south, it’s a legitimate necessity.
There are generally two known issues with the HVAC system on the W210, and one of them is the blower motor regulator failure. You might notice that your AC isn’t blowing as hard as it used to. In fact, a failed regulator can reduce the max fan speed to barely 50% of its usual speed.
Here’s the thing – Mercedes has used a variety of different regulators in these cars. You’ll have to pay extra attention when looking for a replacement one as not all regulators will fit. We strongly suggest that you use our VIN tool to figure out which replacement parts will work for your year and model. Be ready to change the entire blower motor in some cases too. Needless to say, Mercedes may have overcomplicated the solution to this issue.
Heater Bypass Valve Failure
If you thought that lack of cooling was the only potential problem you might have with your AC, you thought wrong! There’s a chance that you might run into the heater bypass valve failure as well. This valve controls the flow of hot engine coolant to different zones of the cabin.
Since it’s comprised of two solenoid valves in a side-by-side configuration, you could experience one or both failing at the same time. This problem manifests itself by having some or all vents blowing cold air when the heat is on. There’s nothing to worry about, though. The part itself is very easy to reach and replace. Additionally, you might be able to temporarily fix it in a pinch by tapping on the valves.
Last but not least, we have a simple and often benign problem that is known to be a pain in the rear. It appears that some W210s never had any issues with window regulators, while others were plagued to a point where owners had to replace them multiple times.
Granted, window regulators are fairly easy to change on these cars, but no one wants to deal with a rolled-down window they can’t close. Do yourself a favor and check every window regulator on a car you’re looking to buy. If you notice that some are lagging or having trouble closing the window normally, you might want to plan ahead for this simple but annoying repair.
W210 E-Class – A Good Car or a Missed Opportunity?
The problems we’ve listed above might paint the wrong picture of this car. If you take a closer look, the only serious issues are the harmonic balancer pulley failure and the spring perches failing. Mercedes have addressed the former with a recall while the latter is relatively rare to begin with.
Everything else on this list is minor in comparison and can easily be attributed to the high mileage nature of most W210stoday. While it is still arguable whether or not this car lived up to the fame of its predecessor, it is undoubtedly a solid piece of German engineering.
Maintain Your E-Class with eEuroparts.com
Here at eEuroparts.com, we live and breathe Mercedes. Our catalog offers a wide range of Genuine and OEM parts for a variety of Mercedes models, including the one we’ve talked about today. To find the parts you need for your car, simply head over to our store’s page and input your vehicle’s make, model, and year. Our system will take that info and list out every part that matches your car.
In case you have any further questions regarding our selection of Mercedes Benz spare parts, feel free to get in touch with us via our contact page. Our customer support staff is waiting to answer any and all questions you might have.