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Old 30th May 2022, 10:48   #271
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

It's great to see this beauty back on the road !
Few doubts in my mind..
1) Did you consider changing just the bellows instead of the whole strut ?
2) I noticed you have not changed your compressor if true why not ?
Thanks
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Old 30th May 2022, 11:17   #272
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

The attention to detail that you give, next level. Also, your posts are good but can't really relate to them, just awesome in true sense of the word.
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-x12eqteen3pnzs55y8wtklqqvatumwzmmnhfgw2owiq.jpg
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Old 30th May 2022, 17:18   #273
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

You have no idea how long I waited for this update. It felt like my own car needed a suspension repair. The way you write on this forum is so engrossing! Almost got myself tensed about how the S would get repaired.

Glad that it is running well now! Happy Motoring!
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Old 30th May 2022, 19:22   #274
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
I felt the right thing to do would be decline that token discount to remind MB that it's not about money.
Haha! What a comeback.

I am so very glad you went ahead with an after-market player because - the fact is - you will keep needing more repairs as your car ages. Keep your car in top shape, invest money in it (after all, parts do wear with age) and enjoy the S-Class. A new S-Class costs 2-crores, so even if you average out to 2 - 3 lakhs a year going forward, it's money well spent on one of the best luxury sedans in the world.

You are a very meticulous personality. Am sure your car runs like a dream, thanks to your attention-to-detail.

I had no idea Nirmal also has expertise in this area. If he was able to keep you happy, that says a lot! Which workshop did he use for all the work?
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Old 31st May 2022, 11:10   #275
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Good to know that it is back on its wheels now and your attention to detail is inspiring

And those are some crazy FE numbers, I had to double check whether there actually was a 1 before the 8
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Old 31st May 2022, 19:42   #276
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
Those fuel economy numbers make me . You need to go all electric my friend.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaiSW View Post
And those are some crazy FE numbers, I had to double check whether there actually was a 1 before the 8
I agree. Thankfully I don't use the car in the city that much. I get 9-10 kmpl on most of my journeys which are typically intercity trips.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrShah View Post
It's great to see this beauty back on the road !
Few doubts in my mind..
1) Did you consider changing just the bellows instead of the whole strut ?
2) I noticed you have not changed your compressor if true why not ?
Thanks
I don't know if anyone in India repairs the struts to change the bellows. It is possible to buy refurbished struts with new bellows from abroad but you can't be sure of the condition of the shocks and repair work.

Change of compressor: MB service advisor said there is no recommended preventive maintenance for Airmatic. Compressor can run for many years without any problem. A compressor failure would be gradual and the vehicle will still be operable, so decided to wait and watch. Struts can fail/collapse suddenly which is very risky, hence the decision to change all four.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Excommunicado View Post
The attention to detail that you give, next level. Also, your posts are good but can't really relate to them, just awesome in true sense of the word.
Attachment 2313873
Ha ha. This comment needs an elaborate response :-)

Rich would not be repairing and flogging ten year old cars. In fact, I am almost on a self-inflicted mission to make fancy car ownerships relatable to aspirational youth of our forum. Those with a little bit of cash to spare and a thriving career backed by good education, etc. or similar 'financially secure' circumstances (pretty common species these days) would be doing themselves a favour by buying a good car at the right age of their lives - when children are young and parents are healthy. I don't necessarily mean a 1Cr car but something that seems like a cautious indulgence rather than a total borefest. Our choices are half chance, no need to overthink and walk away from what's calling for you. It's a big bet that has paid off beautifully and there won't be another decision like this no matter how spectacular the final-third of my life pans out.

Thankfully we live in a free country and MB could not refuse to sell the car to peasants :-)
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The kids obliged to strike a pose this morning just before going to school (it's not easy to make teenagers do stuff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rshrey22 View Post
You have no idea how long I waited for this update. It felt like my own car needed a suspension repair. The way you write on this forum is so engrossing! Almost got myself tensed about how the S would get repaired.
Thank you. I will admit it was a bit stressful for me but I want to be realistic and be happy about the good times that lasted for 10 years and keep my expectations in check for the future. This episode certainly gave me a glimpse of what lies ahead. Cautious optimism :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
A new S-Class costs 2-crores, so even if you average out to 2 - 3 lakhs a year going forward, it's money well spent on one of the best luxury sedans in the world.
Yes, this is exactly how I see the financial sense in this. Plus it has huge sentimental value to me, this car is a family-photo-album on wheels. W221 comes with 17" wheels, better ground clearance, front+rear ventilated seats, amazing ergonomics with high quality physical buttons - while definitely feels dated in comparison to later generations, it excels on the Indian roads like no other.

Quote:
I had no idea Nirmal also has expertise in this area. If he was able to keep you happy, that says a lot! Which workshop did he use for all the work?
I have known him since 2011 and I think he does a lot of detailing work on his own and partners with few workshops for service/repair/bodywork. He used a workshop called DB Motorsports in Yelahanka area for this work.

Last edited by androdev : 31st May 2022 at 20:09.
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Old 23rd June 2022, 09:28   #277
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

The rear suspension struts replacement is still pending - one of the struts that I imported came in a damaged condition so I have applied for refund and reordered the part. Cross border stuff is always fraught with such risks. I guess the rear struts replacement will take some time. It's only for preventive maintenance, so the delay is not causing any problem as such but I still hope to wrap it up soon.

The car has been pressed to duty as usual and things are back to normal. Certainly very happy to be driving this car again after some gap during which I was driving other cars - and it made me appreciate why this car is special, especially the air suspension. I confess the car makes you forget the $$$ damage.

During the early years of owning this car, I was using the "rear seat entertainment" feature a lot to keep my boys entertained. It was a big hit with kids. The cutting-edge feature of cars of this generation was a 6-DVD changer with some tiny screens with so-so screen resolution. However the short viewing distance, comfortable seats, a capable music system in a quiet cabin and a fridge, etc. makes the whole experience pretty cozy. It was simply fantastic to travel with kids in a home theatre on wheels.

The front screen has a cool feature called "split screen" which allows the passenger to view the video content while it is blocked for the driver for safety reasons (video in motion). Basically it is like a 2-in-1 screen where the passenger and driver see different content on the same screen. The consequence of this is that as a driver I could only hear the movie audio and never see the visuals - a bit like All India Radio movies/plays for those who are old enough to remember.

As you can imagine, I bought a lot of DVDs back then. I mean really lots. (Side note to young parents: a hidden gem was a DVD set based on https://www.youtube.com/c/BlueWorldTV - an underwater NatGeo like stuff but targeting kids - at least thatís how I remember it.) Our house has finally recognised the extinction of DVDs and we disposed of whatever was left of them. Sadly most of them are damaged with scratches and stuff.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-00dvds.jpg

My kids are teenagers now and our entertainment tastes have.. hmm.. diverged (OMG, LOL!) but old habits die hard and we still enjoy watching movies together but not in the car anymore as I am not even sure if DVDs are sold these days.

I decided to see if I can upgrade this dinosaur to support streaming content so we can watch movies together like the good old times. It turned out to be a pretty straightforward procedure. The car has RCA input provision inside the glovebox and I had to buy two adapters to achieve "lightning to HDMI to RCA" for use with iPad/iPhone. All the cables and adapters stay inside the glovebox, so it's a pretty neat setup.

Screen mirrored along with audio:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-01front.jpeg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-02front.jpg

Rear screens:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-03rear.jpg

Two adapters required to go from lightning to HDMI to RCA (USB-C to HDMI also works):

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Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-05hdmitorca.jpg
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Old 3rd July 2022, 00:01   #278
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
The white elephant is back on its feet (that's Bangalore CBD peak traffic for you!).

I paid 2.5L for all parts (top tier German OEM brands) plus labour excluding the front air-struts which I imported directly. Approx 1200 USD per strut + shipping of 200 USD + 50% approx in duties and other charges. 42% is the duty amount but I think I paid a few other miscellaneous charges. I went with Bilstein which is OE but there are many alternatives if one is interested in cheaper alternatives. It worked out to 1.5L approx per strut whereas MB India was charging 2.2L per strut.

Attachment 2313482
Bilstein Struts are the best ones in the aftermarket, Lemforder, Frey, Meyle are other brands that are recommened for other suspension spares.

But 1.5L per strut is too costly in the aftermarket despite saving over 70k per strut compared to MB's price. Bilstein struts are available in aftermarket for 1.1L approx. (10k give or take), depending on retailer.

Will recommend that you get estimates from at least 2 other competitors before going ahead with any mechanic.

All is well that ends well,
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Old 14th July 2022, 09:58   #279
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Hey Androdev, I was just casually browsing ownership reviews and came across your review. What a well detailed review with proper timeline and including all events from your experience. I spent almost 2 hrs reading from the very start (Laura replacement posts) till here and it was worth it! Will read your Porsche 911 review next.
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Old 24th August 2022, 17:40   #280
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

The replacement of rear struts as a preventive maintenance took far longer than expected. I ordered left and right struts separately to keep the shipment weight and consignment value low. I am not sure if it makes any difference but I get anxiety attacks anytime I see the phrase "pending customs clearance" on the shipment tracking portals. The so-called "courier mode" of customs clearance introduced with the goal of automated express clearance (vs Cargo mode) has the following clearance process flow (it can and mostly will get stuck at few of the steps):

Bill of Entry Filing – Examination – Assessment – Pre Audit Approval – Deputy Commissioner Approval – Duty Payment – X-Ray Screening – Out of Charge.

Things took their sweet time with the usual mediocre customer service from the courier companies. I found DHL to be better than FedEx when it comes to escalation/interventions even though FedEx is more expensive.

Unfortunately, I received one of the struts in a damaged condition. The seller FCP Euro was OK to send a replacement and even reimburse the duty payment (excellent customer service - was not expecting a refund of duty which was substantial) but required me to ship the damaged item back to them. They even gave me a prepaid FedEx shipping label to use - talk about customer service! However the procedure to ship an item out of our country is so complicated and after a couple of failed attempts, I requested FCP Euro guys to waive the return to which they agreed.

Damaged strut:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-010damaged.jpg

The replacement shipment took ages to clear the customs. FedEx call centre was clueless and they wouldn't arrange a call from the ground staff in spite of promising the same. Finally a friend in the logistics business gave me a "hidden" URL link called "Write to the top" to which I wrote one of those emotional rant mails explaining how disappointed I was. That pushed the right buttons and a gentleman from FedEx started following up and sent me daily updates. Apparently FCP Euro entered $100 as value for customs while the invoice value was some $1200. It took more than ten days for me to get to know this information. Basically, Indian customs blocked the clearance indefinitely because I was paying higher customs duty on invoice value instead of lower declared customs value. They wouldn't put it that way obviously. Explain the mismatch was the official position - it took me some 10 days to receive the message and some 5 days for them to look at my reply.

Finally the shipment arrived and everything was in order:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-04znewstruts.jpg

Sorry, I wasn't expecting to post such a long rant on the import experience and in general as a hapless tax paying citizen with several decades of mind-numbing experiences dealing with various departments of our government I should have got used to this by now. Just want to let you guys know that one should tread with caution when it comes to importing stuff - better to buy locally even if there is a slight premium to be paid.

I was using the car pretty regularly while waiting for the rear struts. As if to compensate for all the uneventful years of ownership that the car has given me and to set the record straight, it threw a CEL at the start of a long journey.

CEL, the dreaded emoji :-)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-01cel.jpeg

I must appreciate one thing though - all issues came up within the city even though the majority of my usage is highway travel. I told my gang not to panic and drove the car to Sundaram Whitefield (20 minutes away) and waited for the diagnosis. Turned out to be some intake manifold actuator failure and the car is not fit for driving.


Interestingly the service tech Mr Murthy recognised me as he used to work at Sundaram Kasturba Road before he shifted here. He promised to take care of the repair and offered to arrange a vehicle for us to go home, etc. As we were heading out of town, I arranged for another car (my new found love - Camry Hybrid, hope to write about it soon) to be brought to the service centre for us to continue our journey. Meanwhile my son decided to make lemonade out of a lemon, requested the front desk lady for permission to go into the service bay to check out all the cars and he was having a good time. Our Camry came and it was surely a funny feeling to unload all our bags from the car in the service bay and walk out of the building with our bags.

I was told the repair would be a simple remove & replace job for the intake manifold - would set me back by Rs 1.7L for parts and labour. The part was available in Pune so it should be a quick job. I have been impressed by MB parts availability - not sure how they do it but they always seem to have stuff readily available. I decided to take the opportunity to check if the service centre would agree to replace the rear struts and they graciously agreed to do the same with the parts supplied by me. The car was also due for annual oil service in the next three weeks or so. Got all things done and the service/repair experience was pretty good. Thanks to WhatsApp, you get regular updates from the shop floor.

Intake manifold replacement:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-02part.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-03remove.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-04replace.jpg

Rear struts replacement:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-05oldstrut.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-06removal.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-07removal.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-08removed.jpg
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-09old-new.png
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-10replaced.jpg

Open road on a beautiful day, time to forget about your worries and your strife. Camry saved the day!

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-11camryroad.jpeg

Last edited by androdev : 24th August 2022 at 17:42.
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Old 29th August 2022, 14:09   #281
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

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Originally Posted by androdev View Post
Open road on a beautiful day, time to forget about your worries and your strife. Camry saved the day!
Luxury German car owners should always have a Toyota in their garage for situations like these . Hope you had a nice trip and am sure your folks didn't miss the S that much, the (Indian edition) Camry is a quite a luxury bruiser by itself.
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Old 30th August 2022, 09:38   #282
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

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Originally Posted by JediKnight View Post
Luxury German car owners should always have a Toyota in their garage for situations like these .
Lol, yes! A time-honoured tradition.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-bmwtoyota.jpeg

Quote:
Hope you had a nice trip and am sure your folks didn't miss the S that much,...
Yes, we did. Thank you! The secret ingredient for a nice trip is the company. We are a flexible bunch when it comes to the logistics :-)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-train.jpg

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-ferry.jpg

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-lounge.jpg

Quote:
... the (Indian edition) Camry is a quite a luxury cruiser by itself.
Yes, Camry is a wonderful family car and can hold its own against the very best. I am waiting to find some free time to write more about the Camry ownership.

Last edited by androdev : 30th August 2022 at 10:05.
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Old 30th August 2022, 12:09   #283
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Came here to comment on those lovely photos and the juxtapositions!


And yeah, thanks for the regular updates on the Big Merc.
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Old 30th August 2022, 13:18   #284
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
waited for the diagnosis. Turned out to be some intake manifold actuator failure and the car is not fit for driving.
The part was available in Pune so it should be a quick job. I have been impressed by MB parts availability - not sure how they do it but they always seem to have stuff readily available.
Not a coincidence for sure, they know exactly what all is going to fail

Quote:
I arranged for another car (my new found love - Camry Hybrid, hope to write about it soon) to be brought to the service centre for us to continue our journey.
Open road on a beautiful day, time to forget about your worries and your strife. Camry saved the day
Toyota always rescues, I tell everyone to have at least one from them in your garage. It reminds me of my own experiences

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/india...ml#post4345800 (BMW India won't fulfil warranty on dead battery of a 4-month old 730d. EDIT: Now resolved)

OT- That train looks nice. Can you share some more details?
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Old 30th August 2022, 15:21   #285
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Re: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review

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Originally Posted by sai_ace View Post
... the juxtapositions!
Perfect word to describe!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
Not a coincidence for sure, they know exactly what all is going to fail
Agree with you but I don't think other brands do such a good job of forecasting and stocking. I have good reasons to believe MB India is a very well run organisation. Downside is that they are able to charge a premium over other brands.

Quote:
Toyota always rescues, I tell everyone to have at least one from them in your garage.
The really nice thing about Toyota is that your confidence doesn't come down as the ODO reading goes up. I only wish they keep some products with premium feel without localisation. Except for Camry, I am not too fond of their other cars. Look at the condition of Altis seat cushion:

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-altisseat.png

Cosmetically, the German cars age very well. I value this aspect as it allows me to enjoy the car for many years as my usage tends to be on the lower side.

Quote:
OT- That train looks nice. Can you share some more details?
Executive class of Italian high speed train, Frecciarossa 1000. I don't know how it compares to other trains given all the fancy trains in Europe but it was nice to have an entire coach for ourselves

https://www.trenitalia.com/en/frecce...ossa_1000.html

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-frecciarossa-1000.png

Personally, I am a big fan of Indian railways AC 1st Class cabin for a family of four like us provided it's an overnight train with an early morning arrival.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz - W221 S350 initial ownership review-indain-railways-1st-ac.jpeg
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