Sometimes you don’t need to buy the latest and greatest to enjoy what a specific company has to offer and the W212 Mercedes E-Class is just that. The W212 was in production between 2009 and 2016 and it was a complete redesign over the then outgoing W211 E-Class (2002-2009).
The W212 sports a more contemporary-looking exterior packed with a technology-oriented interior that still looks and feels luxurious. Some mechanics and Benz enthusiasts reckon that the W212 is also one of the most reliable modern-day Mercedes sedans while some dare to say that the W212 is as well built as the legendary W124.
Either way, no car is perfect and the W212 generation of the E-Class was known to suffer from issues such as power-assisted steering leaks, rear suspension issues, fuel leaks, water pump issues, and some upholstery and seat damage. The W212 is now almost 20 years old, so you are likely going to experience an issue here and there.
The W212 may not rock your boat as far as design is concerned because it looks a bit too senior-friendly, especially when compared to the Audi C7 and the BMW F10. All in all, the W212 is the most comfortable of the lot and potentially even the most reliable one.
Power-assisted steering leaks
The location where the steering pump meets the fluid line is prone to cracking after a while which means that you might experience power-assisted steering leaks from this very spot. The easiest way to spot this issue is to listen for a strange sound coming from near the steering pump.
Fixing this issue is not all that expensive, but sometimes a brand new steering pump is necessary and that could easily cost you a few hundred dollars. All in all, this issue starts slowly, so be sure to listen out for any whining sounds coming from the front of the car.
Rear suspension issues
The W212 is available either with traditional coils or the Mercedes Benz-branded AIRMATIC air suspension system. The non-AIRMATIC versions are known to sometimes have issues with rear suspension level sensors which can result in contact pressure rise.
The ones with the AIRMATIC system enjoy a more comfortable ride, but the AIRMATIC system needs constant maintenance in order to work optimally. AIRMATIC is sometimes known to sag to one side or the other if there is a leak due to worn-out air lines.
If you sense a strong gas odor when approaching your W212, you might be suffering from a fuel leak. These can be more easily sensed right after fueling the car up. Most fuel leaks associated with the W212 are located near the fuel filter which means that the fuel can potentially leak out in larger quantities.
Numerous owners are complaining about fuel leaks online, and for a good reason because a fuel leak can lead to more catastrophic issues down the line. If you sense a strong gas smell, be sure to take your car to an experienced mechanic in order not to create any more issues.
Water pump issues
Many mechanics out there believe that a water pump issue is the most common issue associated with the W212 which tends to lead towards overheating, a loose water pulley, or even steam coming out the radiator. This is not a small issue so be sure to take your car in for a service if you sense that your car overheating.
You may be able to continue driving your car even if you are experiencing water pump issues by simply refilling the tank whenever necessary. However, this only makes sense as a short-term solution if the issues are not too serious.
Upholstery and seat damage
All Mercedes models are built with the finest materials including high-grade leather, full-grain wood trim, aluminum, and high-quality piano-black plastic. However, the seats found in the W212 are known to crack after a while, especially the lower part.
The rest of the upholstery is known to fade if the car has been left to sit in the sun for a while. Even though the leather Mercedes uses is soft and looks great, it is prone to discoloration after a while, especially if you opt for a brighter color.
Is the Mercedes W212 a good car to buy?
The Mercedes W212 is indeed a good car to buy if you are in the market for a fairly affordable, but refined and dependable mid-size executive sedan. The Audi C7 may look a bit nicer thanks to a newer design while the F10 BMW might be a bit sportier to drive, but neither of these two offer the same levels of comfort as the W212 does.
As such, be sure to find one with not all that many miles on the clock if you want to reap the most benefits. The W212 is a chilled down, complete package type of car that offers superior comfort and noise isolation, and thus should be considered if you are in the market for such a car.
Is the Mercedes W212 reliable?
The W212 Mercedes Benz E-Class does seem to offer decent reliability results in general, but the redesigned W212 models (2014-2016) seem to be the best pick of the bunch. All in all, the W212 is a fairly reliable car and one of the most reliable modern-day E-Class generations.
Some say that the W212 is as reliable as the W124, but that is hardly ever going to be the case because the W124 is not nearly as complex as the W212.
Is the Mercedes W212 safe?
The NHTSA rewarded the W212 with a 4 out of 5-star rating which means that the W212 is indeed a safe car. The W212 was designed and built in the modern era which means that it benefits from many active software safety features, especially the redesigned models.
All in all, the W212 is a great car that should keep you, your family, and your dog safe in most situations. However, be sure to always keep a sentient eye on everything that is going on around you because even the safest cars out there are only as safe as your driving manners.