The vendor of this week's Shed is not only aware of, but also honest about, his car's shortcomings too. He can afford to be. The car he's selling is an example of one of the best cars ever made: the W220 Mercedes S-Class. Which means that, even with the odd problem, this 15-year-old S320 will almost certainly still be a better way to get around the place than 99 per cent of other cars on the road in 2018. Especially when the cost of getting your name on the V5 is a mere fiver short of £1,500.
This 'one of the best cars ever' thing isn't just Shed's opinion. It's a commonly-held view among a goodly percentage of motoring journalism's longest-serving and most respected scribblers.
In the lofty manner of Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, Mercedes has never commented on the matter. If they had, it would have cost them even more money to sort out than whatever it did end up costing them. Whatever the truth might be, that - along with quite a few reliability issues - turned long-time Mercedes owners against the brand forever and put a steaming cow pat on chief designer Bruno Sacco's legacy.
The good news about this particular car (apart from its highly desirable full service history) is that, although some corrosion is present in the usual place, ie the wheel arch, it's a 2003 car. While that may not quite put it into the era of proper galvanisation and nano paints, it does distance it from the most unreliable and most rusty W220s, which were the early pre-2002-facelift cars.
If you decide to go along and look at it, it's still a good idea to check the suspension turrets for rust, and while you're there look for any signs of the Airmatic air suspension leaking. One of the pics with the ad indicates that the system is functional, which is a reason to be cheerful. As is the garage guy's comment about this car's quality. Most powerfully-built PH types should be able to live with the broken boot lid springs, another very common W220 problem.
The electrical drain issue is a bit more worrying, as the root cause of it doesn't seem to have been uncovered yet. The vendor tried disconnecting the satnav, with no luck, but Shed's own research points to plenty of other possibilities on this complex motor, including the alarm system, the voltage regulator, faulty electric seats, or summat amiss with the Comand system. Or it could be something as simple as loose battery wires, dodgy earth straps, or just an old battery that needs replacing. The comment about fritzing parking sensors is interesting too, maybe that's the culprit. Or wet carpets could be shorting out something important. Or there could be a problem with the keyless ignition, if the car has it, as issues in that department are not unknown.
Torque converter issues rarely affect S-Classes with under 200,000 miles on the clock. Lumpy gearshifts can often be fixed by changing the transmission fluid.
There are those who will tell you that a cheap Mercedes will be the worst Mercedes you ever buy, but surely it's worth a £1500 gamble to experience what it feels like to drive one of the world's best cars?
With huge regret I'm selling the comfiest car I have ever owned. The air suspension and quietness means journeys fly by.
The spec includes full leather, electric seats passenger+driver, COMAND APS DVD satnav, MP3 playback, 10speaker audio, parking sensors front & rear, electric sunroof, auto climate control, speedtronic cruise control, 18" alloy wheels, electric steering column, airmatic 3 mode suspension etc.
New MOT with no advisories
New tyres, brand new on the front
Recent brake discs and pads
No warning lights or messages
Drop links have been recently replaced, no squeaky suspension
Dashboard cluster was rebuilt, a common fault on these
It drives really well, the garage says it's a particularly good one
Some rust on the near side wheel arch
Boot lid springs are broken
Parking sensors are tempermental, they work fine in the rain!
There was a discharge on the car. It's often the sat nav, so I disconnected it. Turns out it wasn't that so it needs plugging back in.
The stereo isn't working, it apparently needs a new gateway