Car Deal Canada

Is the Mercedes E-Class Reliable?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has long been a hallmark of luxury, sophistication, and performance in the midsize sedan segment. As one of the brand’s core models, the E-Class represents the epitome of Mercedes-Benz’s engineering prowess and commitment to delivering a premium driving experience. With its sleek design, advanced technology, and powerful yet refined powertrains, the E-Class has garnered a reputation for quality and prestige that resonates with discerning buyers worldwide.


For Canadian consumers in the market for a used luxury sedan, the E-Class stands out as a compelling option, offering a blend of comfort, style, and driving dynamics that few rivals can match. However, reliability is a crucial factor when considering a pre-owned vehicle, as it directly impacts the ownership experience and long-term costs. As such, an in-depth examination of the E-Class’s dependability across various model years and configurations is essential for making an informed purchasing decision.

Get Pre-Qualified in Under 60 Seconds

All Credit Approved and 0 Money Down Options Available

 

History and Evolution of the E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has evolved significantly over its generations, with each new model introducing advancements in technology, performance, and luxury. The lineage can be traced back to the W124 generation, introduced in 1984, which set the stage for the E-Class as a mid-size luxury sedan with a focus on comfort, safety, and engineering excellence.

As Driven to Write notes, while the W124 may seem like a step change compared to its predecessors, it was an evolutionary progression from models like the 190 and the W126 S-Class. The W124 introduced innovations such as the first production car with a straight-six engine and four-valve-per-cylinder technology, as well as advanced safety features like anti-lock brakes and airbags.

Subsequent generations continued to push the boundaries of technology and refinement. The W210 (1995-2002) introduced the brand’s first V6 engine and established the E-Class as a leader in luxury and performance. The W211 (2002-2009) brought a more aerodynamic design, advanced safety systems, and cutting-edge multimedia features.

The W212 (2009-2016) and the current W213 (2017-present) generations have continued to refine the E-Class formula, with a focus on efficiency, technology, and driver assistance systems. Engines have become more powerful yet more fuel-efficient, and transmissions have evolved from traditional automatics to advanced dual-clutch and nine-speed units. Interior appointments and infotainment systems have also seen significant upgrades, cementing the E-Class as a benchmark for luxury and technology in its class.

 

Reliability Ratings and Expert Views

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has earned a reputation for being a well-built and dependable luxury sedan, though its reliability ratings have fluctuated over different model years and generations. According to Consumer Reports, the E-Class has scored above average for predicted reliability in some years, while falling below the segment average in others.

Expert reviews from outlets like Edmunds and J.D. Power generally praise the E-Class for its solid build quality, high-end cabin materials, and robust engineering. However, some critics note that the E-Class can be prone to more issues compared to rivals like the BMW 5 Series or Lexus ES when it comes to overall dependability and problem-free ownership over the long term.

 

Common Issues Reported by Canadian Owners

While the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is generally regarded as a well-built and reliable luxury sedan, Canadian owners have reported some recurring issues across various model years. Based on an analysis of owner reviews and surveys, some of the most frequently cited problem areas include:

 

  1. Electrical and electronic system glitches: Many E-Class owners have experienced issues with the vehicle’s electrical systems, ranging from faulty sensors and control modules to problems with the infotainment system, power windows, and other electronic components.
  2. Air suspension failures: The air suspension system, which provides adjustable ride height and improved comfort, has been a common point of failure on certain E-Class models. Leaks, compressor issues, and faulty air struts can lead to costly repairs.
  3. Transmission problems: While Mercedes-Benz transmissions are generally robust, some E-Class owners have reported issues with rough shifting, slipping gears, and premature transmission failures, particularly on older models with high mileage.
  4. Rust and corrosion: Despite Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for build quality, some E-Class models have been prone to rust and corrosion, especially in areas with harsh winter conditions and heavy road salt usage.
  5. Engine cooling system issues: Problems with the engine cooling system, such as leaks, faulty water pumps, and radiator failures, have been reported by some E-Class owners, potentially leading to overheating and engine damage if left unaddressed.

 

It’s important to note that the frequency and severity of these issues can vary depending on the specific model year, maintenance history, and driving conditions. Proper maintenance and addressing problems promptly can help mitigate the risk of major repairs and ensure a reliable ownership experience.

 

W124 E-Class (1984-1995) Reliability

The W124 generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, produced from 1984 to 1995, is widely regarded as one of the most reliable and durable models in the lineup. These vehicles were built with a focus on over-engineering and longevity, resulting in a reputation for exceptional reliability.

According to discussions on enthusiast forums like BenzWorld, the W124 E-Class is known for its robust construction and ability to withstand high mileage with proper maintenance. Many owners report their W124s running well past 300,000 kilometers with few major issues.

However, like any older vehicle, the W124 is not without its potential problem areas. Common issues reported by owners include electrical gremlins, issues with the vacuum-controlled central locking system, and problems with the timing chain guides on certain engines. Additionally, the diesel engines in this generation can be prone to issues with the injection pumps and injectors over time.

In terms of cost of ownership, the W124 E-Class can be relatively affordable to maintain compared to newer Mercedes models. Parts and labor costs are generally reasonable, and these vehicles were designed for easy serviceability. However, as with any older luxury vehicle, proper maintenance and addressing issues promptly is crucial to avoid more expensive repairs down the line.

 

W210 E-Class (1995-2002) Reliability

The W210 generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, produced from 1995 to 2002, has a somewhat mixed reputation for reliability. While these cars were generally well-built and durable when properly maintained, there are a few common issues that prospective buyers should be aware of.

One of the biggest problems reported by W210 owners is related to the engine wiring harness. Over time, the insulation on the wiring can deteriorate, leading to shorts and electrical gremlins. Replacing the entire harness can be a costly repair. Issues with the climate control system, power window regulators, and suspension components have also been frequently cited complaints on forums like BenzWorld.

Certain engines, like the M112 and M113 V6 gasoline units, have proven to be generally reliable if properly serviced. However, the M104 inline-six found in earlier W210 models has been known to develop oil leaks and other issues as miles accumulate. As one owner on VWVortex noted, “The M104 engine in my ’96 E320 has been pretty bulletproof, but I’ve read enough horror stories about head gasket issues to make me a bit nervous about keeping it long-term.”

Overall, while the W210 E-Class isn’t regarded as quite as durable as the preceding W124 generation, with proper maintenance and care, they can still provide reliable service for years. Addressing issues like the wiring harness promptly is key to avoiding cascading problems and major repair bills down the road.

 

W211 E-Class (2002-2009) Reliability

The W211 generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, produced from 2002 to 2009, has a somewhat mixed reputation for reliability. While it offered advanced technology and luxury features for its time, this generation also experienced some significant issues that impacted dependability.

One of the major concerns with the W211 E-Class was the prevalence of electrical and electronic gremlins. The complex systems and wiring harnesses were prone to failures, leading to issues with various components like the power windows, sunroof, and instrument cluster. Owners reported problems with the Command system and other electronic control modules as well. According to discussions on BenzWorld, these electrical issues could be frustrating and costly to diagnose and repair.

The air suspension system, known as Airmatic, was another trouble spot for the W211. Leaks, failed components, and costly repairs were common complaints from owners. Suspension problems could lead to a rough ride and handling issues if not addressed promptly.

Certain engines were more problematic than others in this generation. The M112 V6 and M113 V8 engines were generally reliable, but the earlier M272 V6 and M273 V8 engines suffered from balance shaft failures and other issues that could lead to costly repairs or even engine replacement.

 

W212 E-Class (2009-2016) Reliability

The W212 generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, produced from 2009 to 2016, is generally regarded as one of the more reliable and well-built iterations of this iconic luxury sedan. According to discussions on enthusiast forums like MBWorld, the W212 is considered one of the best Mercedes models ever made in terms of build quality and dependability.

Common issues reported by owners include potential problems with the air suspension system, which can be costly to repair if neglected. The cold Canadian climate can exacerbate issues with the air suspension compressors and lines. Other areas to watch out for are electrical gremlins affecting various electronic systems and components, as well as premature wear of certain engine gaskets and seals.

Proper maintenance is key to maximizing the reliability of the W212 E-Class. Following the recommended service intervals for fluid changes, inspections, and replacements of wear items can go a long way in preventing major issues down the road. Owners should also be diligent about addressing any warning lights or unusual noises promptly to catch potential problems early.

 

Best and Worst E-Class Model Years for Reliability

When it comes to the most reliable and recommended model years for Canadian used car shoppers, the 2003-2009 W211 generation stands out as a top choice. This generation benefited from Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to improve build quality and reliability, with fewer reported issues compared to previous models. The 2003-2006 models, in particular, have proven to be dependable choices, with owners praising their solid construction and robust powertrains.

On the other hand, the 1995-2002 W210 generation is often cited as one of the least reliable E-Class models, plagued by numerous electrical and mechanical issues. Common problems included transmission failures, engine sludge buildup, and various electrical gremlins. Canadian buyers should exercise caution when considering a W210, as repair costs can quickly escalate.

The 2009-2016 W212 generation is generally regarded as a reliable choice, with fewer reported issues than the W210. However, some owners have experienced problems with the air suspension system and certain engine variants, such as the M272 V6. Proper maintenance and addressing any known issues promptly can help mitigate potential problems with this generation.

Among the older models, the 1984-1995 W124 generation is often praised for its legendary durability and longevity. While not without its faults, well-maintained W124 E-Classes can easily surpass the 300,000 km mark with proper care. This generation is a solid choice for those seeking an affordable and dependable used Mercedes-Benz.

 

Mercedes E-Class Engine Reliability

When it comes to engine reliability, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a mixed track record, with some powerplants proving more durable and dependable than others. Generally speaking, the straight-six and V8 gasoline engines have demonstrated greater longevity and fewer issues compared to the four-cylinder and V6 options.

Among the most reliable and recommended engines for the E-Class are the M104 straight-six (found in models up to 1997), the M112 V6 (1997-2005), and the M273 V8 (2003-2009). These engines are known for their robust construction, smooth operation, and ability to accrue high mileage with proper maintenance. The Mercedes Spare Parts website notes the brand’s commitment to quality and reliability.

On the other hand, some engines have gained notoriety for their propensity for issues. The M271 four-cylinder (2002-2005) was plagued by balance shaft failures and excessive oil consumption. The M272 V6 (2005-2008) suffered from problems with the timing chain guides and tensioners. And the early iterations of the M273 V8 (2003-2006) were susceptible to scored cylinder liners and excessive oil consumption.

 

Diesel vs Gasoline Engine Reliability

When it comes to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the choice between a diesel or gasoline engine has been a longstanding debate among owners and enthusiasts. Both options have their merits, but from a reliability standpoint, there are some key differences to consider.

Historically, Mercedes-Benz has been renowned for producing robust and durable diesel engines. According to a discussion on MBWorld.org, many owners have reported exceptional reliability from Mercedes diesels, with some engines lasting well over 300,000 miles with proper maintenance. The inherent design of diesel engines, with their heavier-duty construction and lower combustion temperatures, often translates to longer service life compared to their gasoline counterparts.

However, it’s worth noting that diesel engines can be more expensive to maintain and repair, especially when it comes to components like fuel injectors and emissions systems. Additionally, while Mercedes gasoline engines may not have the same reputation for longevity as their diesel siblings, they are generally simpler in design and can be more affordable to service.

Ultimately, the choice between a diesel or gasoline E-Class may come down to personal preferences and driving habits. Diesel engines tend to excel in situations that involve frequent highway driving and towing, where their low-end torque and fuel efficiency shine. Gasoline engines, on the other hand, may be better suited for those who prioritize a more refined driving experience and spend more time in stop-and-go city traffic.

 

What to Check When Buying a Used E-Class

When purchasing a used Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection to ensure you’re getting a reliable and well-maintained vehicle. Here are some key areas to focus on:

 

Paint Consistency: Inconsistent paint might be a sign of repairs after accidents. Inspect the body panels closely for mismatched colors or overspray, which could indicate previous damage. 

Upholstery and Trims: Check the interior for excessive wear and tear, stains, or any signs of damage to the upholstery, carpets, and trim pieces. These can be expensive to replace and may indicate neglect or abuse.

Maintenance Records: Request and review the vehicle’s maintenance history to ensure it has been serviced regularly at a Mercedes-Benz dealership or reputable independent shop. Look for any gaps or missed services, which could indicate potential issues.

Test All Features: Thoroughly test all electrical components, including the infotainment system, climate control, power seats, and exterior lights. Intermittent electrical issues can be challenging to diagnose and costly to repair.

Questions for the Previous Owner: Ask the seller about any known issues, accident history, and how the vehicle was used (highway miles vs. city driving). Inquire about any recurring problems or recent repairs.

Signs of Good Maintenance: Look for signs that the previous owner took good care of the vehicle, such as detailed service records, a clean engine bay, and overall well-kept condition.

 

Preventative Maintenance for Reliability

Following the recommended maintenance schedule is crucial for maximizing the reliability and longevity of your Mercedes-Benz E-Class. According to Mercedes-Benz of Delray, you should bring your vehicle in for service every 7,500 miles or at least once a year, whichever comes first. Adhering to this schedule helps ensure that essential components are inspected, serviced, and replaced as needed, preventing potential issues from escalating into more significant and costly repairs.

Key maintenance milestones for the E-Class include the following services:

 

  • 30,000 miles: This service typically involves replacing the engine air filter, cabin air filter, and checking various systems and components for wear or damage.
  • 60,000 miles: In addition to the 30,000-mile service items, this milestone may involve replacing the transmission fluid and filter, as well as inspecting and potentially replacing other fluids and components, such as the spark plugs and brake pads.
  • 90,000 miles: This major service interval includes more comprehensive inspections and replacements, such as the fuel filter, coolant, and potentially other wear items like belts and hoses.

 

It’s important to note that these milestones are approximate and can vary based on your specific driving conditions and the recommendations in your vehicle’s maintenance booklet. For example, as discussed on MBWorld forums, the transmission fluid and filter may need to be replaced based on time rather than mileage for some models.

 

E-Class Reliability vs BMW 5 Series and Audi A6

When it comes to luxury mid-size sedans, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class faces stiff competition from the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. All three models are renowned for their premium quality, performance, and technology, but how do they compare in terms of reliability?

According to expert reviews and owner surveys, the E-Class tends to rank slightly behind its German rivals for dependability. What Car? notes that while the E-Class is generally well-built, it has been known to experience more electrical and mechanical issues than the 5 Series or A6.

However, the differences in reliability are relatively minor, and all three models require diligent maintenance and careful ownership to ensure longevity. The E-Class’s reputation for solid build quality and robust engineering means that well-cared-for examples can provide years of reliable service, on par with its competitors.

Ultimately, the choice between these luxury sedans may come down to personal preferences in terms of styling, driving dynamics, and brand loyalty. But from a reliability standpoint, the E-Class holds its own against the 5 Series and A6, provided owners stay on top of recommended service intervals and address any issues promptly.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a storied history as a luxury midsize sedan, offering a compelling blend of comfort, performance, and prestige. However, as with any vehicle, reliability can vary significantly depending on the specific model year and configuration. For Canadian consumers considering a used E-Class, it’s essential to be well-informed about the potential pitfalls and problem areas.

Based on expert reviews, owner reports, and reliability data, some of the best model years to consider for a used E-Class include the W124 generation (1984-1995), particularly the later years, as well as the W212 (2009-2016). These models tend to have fewer reported issues and generally offer a more dependable ownership experience.

On the other hand, certain model years should be approached with caution or avoided altogether. The W210 (1995-2002) and early W211 (2002-2006) models have been plagued by a range of problems, from electrical gremlins to transmission issues and costly repairs. Extensive research and a thorough pre-purchase inspection are crucial if considering these generations.

When it comes to engines, the diesel options, while more expensive to maintain, often prove to be more reliable in the long run compared to their gasoline counterparts. The naturally aspirated gasoline engines, particularly the inline-six configurations, also tend to be more dependable than the higher-strung turbocharged variants.

Ultimately, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class can be a reliable and rewarding luxury sedan for Canadian drivers, but careful consideration of the specific model year, options, and maintenance history is paramount. By prioritizing well-maintained examples from reputable sellers and addressing preventative maintenance needs, an E-Class can provide years of enjoyable and relatively trouble-free motoring.

Get Approved Today

See if you qualify in under 60 seconds

Questions About Mercedes E-Class Reliability

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has garnered a generally positive reputation for reliability, although its ratings have shown some variability across different model years and generations. Recognized as a well-constructed and dependable luxury sedan, the E-Class has, however, encountered a greater number of issues compared to some of its rivals, such as the BMW 5 Series or Lexus ES, particularly when considering long-term, problem-free ownership.

Canadian owners of the E-Class have reported several recurring problem areas, including electrical and electronic system glitches, air suspension failures, transmission problems, and issues related to rust and corrosion. Additionally, engine cooling system problems have been noted. The frequency and severity of these issues can vary widely, influenced by factors such as the specific model year, the vehicle’s maintenance history, and the driving conditions it has been subjected to.

The W124 generation of the E-Class, which was produced from 1984 to 1995, is often celebrated as one of the most reliable and durable models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. These vehicles were engineered with a strong emphasis on over-engineering and longevity, which has culminated in a well-deserved reputation for exceptional reliability. Many owners of W124s have reported their vehicles running smoothly for well over 300,000 kilometers, provided that they adhere to proper maintenance schedules.

The W210 generation of the E-Class, spanning from 1995 to 2002, has earned a somewhat mixed reputation in terms of reliability. While these cars were generally well-constructed and capable of durability when properly maintained, they are known for a few common issues that prospective buyers should be aware of. These include problems with the engine wiring harness, the climate control system, power window regulators, and suspension components.

The W211 generation, which includes models from 2002 to 2009, has a mixed reputation for reliability. One of the major concerns for this generation was the prevalence of electrical and electronic issues, which led to malfunctions in various components such as power windows, sunroofs, and instrument clusters. Additionally, the air suspension system, known as Airmatic, along with certain engines like the M272 V6 and M273 V8, were also prone to problems.

The W212 generation, which covers the years 2009 to 2016, is generally regarded as one of the more reliable and well-constructed iterations of the E-Class. Common issues reported by owners include potential problems with the air suspension system, electrical gremlins affecting various electronic systems, and premature wear of certain engine gaskets and seals. As with any vehicle, proper maintenance is key to maximizing the reliability of the W212.

The 2003-2009 W211 generation is often cited as one of the most reliable and recommended model years, with fewer reported issues compared to previous models. Conversely, the 1995-2002 W210 generation is often considered one of the least reliable E-Class models, plagued by numerous electrical and mechanical issues.

In general, the straight-six and V8 gasoline engines have shown greater longevity and fewer issues compared to the four-cylinder and V6 options. Among the most reliable and recommended engines are the M104 straight-six, the M112 V6, and the M273 V8. However, some engines, like the M271 four-cylinder and M272 V6, have been known to experience balance shaft failures and timing chain issues.

Historically, Mercedes-Benz has been renowned for producing robust and durable diesel engines, with many owners reporting exceptional reliability from these powerplants. However, diesel engines can be more expensive to maintain and repair. Gasoline engines, while generally simpler in design, may not have the same reputation for longevity as their diesel counterparts.

When purchasing a used E-Class, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection, checking areas such as paint consistency for signs of previous repairs, upholstery and trim condition, maintenance records, functionality of all electrical components, and signs of good maintenance like a clean engine bay. Asking the previous owner about any known issues or accident history is also recommended.

Following the recommended maintenance schedule is crucial for maximizing the reliability and longevity of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Adhering to the recommended service intervals, which typically involve inspections, fluid changes, and replacements of wear items, helps prevent potential issues from escalating into more significant and costly repairs.

According to expert reviews and owner surveys, the E-Class tends to rank slightly behind its German rivals, the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, in terms of dependability. However, the differences in reliability are relatively minor, and all three models require diligent maintenance and careful ownership to ensure longevity.

Some of the best model years to consider for a used E-Class include the W124 generation (1984-1995), particularly the later years, as well as the W212 (2009-2016). These models tend to have fewer reported issues and generally offer a more dependable ownership experience.



Certain model years should be approached with caution or avoided altogether when considering a used E-Class. The W210 (1995-2002) and early W211 (2002-2006) models have been plagued by a range of problems, from electrical gremlins to transmission issues and costly repairs. Extensive research and a thorough pre-purchase inspection are crucial if considering these generations.

The maintenance history of a used E-Class is crucial when evaluating its potential reliability. Requesting and reviewing the vehicle’s maintenance records can provide insights into whether it has been serviced regularly at a Mercedes-Benz dealership or reputable independent shop, and whether any major services or repairs have been missed, which could indicate potential issues.



Signs that a used E-Class has been well-maintained include detailed service records, a clean and well-kept engine bay, and an overall well-cared-for condition. Additionally, a seller who is transparent about the vehicle’s history and any known issues can be a positive indicator of good maintenance practices.



While the E-Class is generally regarded as a well-built and reliable luxury sedan, it has been known to experience more electrical and mechanical issues than some of its competitors, such as the BMW 5 Series or Lexus ES, when it comes to overall dependability and problem-free ownership over the long term.

Some of the most costly repairs that E-Class owners may face include air suspension system failures, transmission replacements, engine repairs (particularly for issues like balance shaft failures or scored cylinder liners), and electrical system overhauls to address widespread gremlins or wiring harness issues.



The harsh Canadian climate, particularly in regions with severe winters and heavy road salt usage, can exacerbate certain issues in the E-Class. For example, the cold temperatures and road salt can accelerate the degradation of air suspension components, wiring harnesses, and contribute to rust and corrosion problems if not properly maintained.



For someone considering a used E-Class in Canada, it’s essential to thoroughly research the specific model year and configuration, paying close attention to known issues and problem areas. Prioritizing well-maintained examples from reputable sellers and addressing preventative maintenance needs promptly can help ensure a reliable and enjoyable ownership experience. Additionally, being prepared for potentially higher maintenance and repair costs compared to some mainstream vehicles is advisable. It is also beneficial to consider the availability of parts and the expertise of local mechanics familiar with the E-Class. This can significantly impact the ease and cost of ongoing maintenance and repairs. Furthermore, it is wise to budget for unexpected repairs, as even well-maintained luxury vehicles can encounter unforeseen issues. It is also prudent to consider the resale value of the E-Class model you are interested in, as some years and configurations may hold their value better than others, which can be an important factor in the overall cost of ownership.

Get Approved Today

See if you qualify in under 60 seconds