Mercedes S320 Problemsby Andy Joseph
The Mercedes-Benz S320 is one of the trims of the automaker's full-size, flagship sedan, the S-Class series. It made its debut in 1994 and lasted until 1999. The S320--and by extension, trims of the S-Class--are comparatively reliable vehicles, with their problems mostly electrical or cosmetic.
1994 and 1995
In some 1994 and 1995 S320s, the engine may not crank, which would require replacement of the cigarette lighter fuse. Also, if the S320 has Sabersport corner and bumper lamps installed, you will need to contact the manufacturer for a refund and take the car to the dealer to have the lamps replaced, since the Sabersport parts fail to conform to the requirements set by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108.
On some 1996 S320s, the engine's drive belt pulley may develop fatigue cracks in the metal and break. This can cause loss of engine cooling, battery charging and/or power steering. If the car has this problem, a dealer can replace the engine crankshaft damper-pulley under factory recall.
Also, like the 1994 and 1995 model years, some 1996 S320s may have Sabersport lamps, so check for them, and get a refund from the manufacturer and have the lamps replaced with compliant ones if necessary.
Similar to 1994, 1995 and 1996 model years, some 1997 S320s may have the Sabersport lamp problem. Also, on some vehicles, the Parktronic system may malfunction by triggering an alarm, even when the car is not moving. This is due to the sensors picking up vibration signals. This problem can be fixed by installing dampers.
Dashboard lights: The Parktronic system may display and sound an alert despite the vehicle not moving due to vibrations picked up by the sensors. Installing dampers will correct the problem.
1998 and 1999
Some 1998 and 1999 S320s may have the same Sabersport lamp and Parktronic problems as their more immediate predecessors. Apart from that, these comparatively newer model years do not suffer from any common problems.
With competition from the BMW 7-Series and the Lexus LS series, the Mercedes-Benz S320 is not only relatively reliable, but can be purchased at a reasonable price. According to Edmunds.com, the Mercedes-Benz S320 is also renowned for its roomy interior and strong performance. Be sure to check for car history when spotting one by pulling up a CARFAX report.
Based in the D.C. area, Andy Joseph works full-time as a data analyst and technical writer. He has been writing articles about technology, health, politics, music, culture and automobiles since 2007. His work has appeared in The Express, Congressional Report and Road & Track. He has a master's degree in journalism and technology management.