Is Mercedes W124 Reliable? (Important Facts)

Mercedes has always been the flag bearer of premium, top-quality vehicles that are known for reliability. W124 is the prime example of durability, and when it was launched back in 1984, it pioneered many revolutionary features in the automotive industry.

The Mercedes W124 was offered with different engine options and equipment, especially the all-wheel-drive system and an upscale suspension. W124 had an all-new chassis with extensive use of high-strength steel on a mass scale.

It took much of the inspiration from the Mercedes 190 and went on to become a popular product. Let’s go through the timeline of the Mercedes W124, understand how reliable it is, which engines are durable, and its overall maintenance.

Is Mercedes W124 Reliable?

W124 is one of the most reliable cars ever produced by Mercedes. It was offered with different engine options along with both types of transmissions. Mercedes also went a step ahead by launching various new safety and comfort features in the W124. If properly maintained, the Mercedes W124 can easily serve you for hundreds of thousands of miles and decades to come.

W124 was based on an all-new frame, made with high-strength steel. It also boasted a refined suspension at both the front and rear, with a very durable interior and other body panels.

The Mercedes W124 is known to be very durable over the years, and there are some examples with over a million miles on the odometer, still running strong after 30 years of launch.

If you’re looking for a classic car with modern curves and accents, dependability, and superb comfort, the Mercedes W124 should be your top pick.

Also read: Should You Buy a Mercedes with High Mileage?

What are the Most Common Problems with the Mercedes W124?

Despite being one of the most solid cars, the age and rough use still catch up to the Mercedes W124 and it is prone to certain mechanical and electrical faults. Some common problems include distributor issues, head gasket failure, faulty fuel pump, problematic ignition barrel, and fan coupling issues.

These problems are known to occur if maintenance schedules are not followed properly, and usually after 150,000 miles or more.

1- Distributor Issues

If the car is left to sit for a few days or longer, the moisture can get inside and accumulate, creating problems with the electronic components. Mainly, the car struggles to start and splutter, and replacement of the distributor is the only choice This problem occurs after the car has aged over the years, usually after 200,000 miles.

2- Head Gasket Failure

This is one of the common issues with W124, occurring mostly due to rough usage and excessive wear of the mechanical components. The common symptoms are oil leakage, foamy coolant, and a burning smell. This problem is solved by replacing the head gasket and occurs usually after 150,000 miles.

3- Faulty Fuel Pump

The fuel pump in the Mercedes W124 is known to have problems and after 150,000 miles, it fails to provide enough fuel to the engine, starving it and hampering its performance. It usually occurs due to negligence of the owner and requires replacement as a proper fix

4- Problematic Ignition Barrel

The ignition barrels are known to get stuck in the W124 series and the key doesn’t turn to position 1. It occurs over years and due to aggressive usage. It is not such a major issue, but is common and occurs usually after 200,000 miles.

5- Fan Coupling Issues

The viscous fan coupling in W124 is known to have issues and these problems usually appear after 150,000 miles. If this happens, the car overheats and fails to function optimally. The engine can even be at risk of seizure if the problem is not rectified on time.

Cost of Fixing the Common Problems with the Mercedes W124

1Distributor issues$400-500
2Head gasket failure$600-800
3Faulty fuel pump$800
4Problematic Ignition barrel$250-300
5Fan coupling issues$300-500

Which Mercedes W124 Years are the Best and Worst?

W124 is a rock-solid car that still stands tall against all the odds, but some years still suffered from a few problems and should be thoroughly inspected once buying a used W124.

Best Mercedes W124 Model Years

  1. 1993
  2. 1994
  3. 1995

Worst Mercedes W124 Model Years

  1. 1988
  2. 1986
  3. 1989

Also read: 10 Best Mercedes Cars Under $10k (Good Condition)

Which Mercedes W124 Engines are the Most and Least Reliable?

Mercedes W124 had a range of engines in both gasoline and diesel powertrain options with different cylinder configurations. W124 is known to have bulletproof engines that could easily last 500k miles, while others are not so reliable. The best ones are 2.6 R6 M103 and 3.0d OM603, while the least reliable engines are 2.0L M111 and 2.0L M102.

Most Reliable Mercedes W124 Engines

  1. 2.6 R6 M103

If there’s one engine that can be regarded as one of the best and most reliable powerhouses ever produced by Mercedes-Benz, it is this 2.6 R6. It can last a lifetime or a generation and easily serve you up to 500,000 miles without needing a major overhaul.

  1. 3,0d OM603

No discussion of reliable engines is complete without this 3.0d 6-cylinder diesel engine by Mercedes. There are some cars with 1,000,000 miles on the odometer with this very engine.

Least Reliable Mercedes W124 Engines

  1. 2.0L M111

This downsized engine suffered from a few problems like oil leaks, water pumps issues, and Pressure Monitoring System Failure.

  1. 2.0L M102

This engine is also not well-reputed in terms of reliability and is known to have problems with engine mounts, electronics, and timing assembly issues.

Is Mercedes W124 Safe?

Being a 4 decades-old car, the Mercedes W124 still holds its head high in the safety department. When launched, it has an all-new chassis that was very stiff and provided extra safety for the occupants. It also had other safety features, not offered in passenger vehicles very often. W124 also pioneered the test standards for Euro-NCAP safety testing and rating.

The safety features & equipment in the Mercedes W124 include;

  1. ABS with electronic braking
  2. A rigid chassis design with multiple crumple zones
  3. 3-point pre-tensioner seat belts with electronic adjustment.
  4. The first mass-production car to have curtain airbags, with a total of 6 airbags in the car.

Also read: 6 Mercedes-Benz Models to Avoid (with Years)

How Much Does Mercedes W124 Cost to Maintain?

These are some of the maintenance costs of a Mercedes W124;

  1. Oil change: $180
  2. Filters (air, oil, and fuel): $250
  3. Brake oil: $200
  4. Cost of a tire: $250
  5. Gear oil: $250
  6. Labor charges: $300-400

Total: $1,430

Yearly maintenance cost: average $1,430

Yearly Fuel Cost: average $2,000

Insurance Cost: $750

What is a Good Mileage for the Mercedes W124?

Mercedes W124 is one of the most well-built and highly dependable cars, a well-maintained car with less than 250,000 miles is the ideal choice for you. W124 is known to have rock-solid powertrains and is a very robust car with matchless reliability. So, if the maintenance history is clean and the car hadn’t been in any major accidents, a Mercedes W124 with 250,000-mileage is an ideal car to have.

What Parts Should You Replace and After How Many Miles?

To ensure an extended life span, and reliable performance in a pristine condition, some parts, and lubricants in a W124 need replacement at various intervals. These include engine oil and filter, spark plugs, timing belt, brake pads, and a few others.

1Lubricants5,000 miles
2Air, oil, and fuel filter5,000 miles (20,000 for fuel filter)
3Brake pads15,000 miles
4Tires25,000 miles
5Spark plugs and battery65,000 miles
6Timing belt75,000 miles

Are Mercedes W124 Parts Widely Available?

Mercedes is one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world, with a rich network of dealerships across the world. Additionally, the W124 line was produced in huge numbers, with over 2 million units sold, and quality aftermarket parts are also available globally.

W124 was produced in huge numbers, and Mercedes also launched a department to look after classic and vintage cars. With a strong dealership network, the parts’ availability is not a problem.

If you ever face trouble sourcing spare parts for W124, the company can help you get the required components from the factory.

How to Buy a Reliable Mercedes W124?

If you’re looking to buy a reliable BMW F30 in the used market, keep these points in mind;

  1. Get an inspection team to check the car’s condition inside out and give you a detailed report. You should also check everything personally.
  2. Thoroughly check the maintenance and ownership history, along with the CARFAX report.
  3. It is better to get a well-kept W124 from someone you know or an enthusiast who had looked after it well.
  4. Choose a car with fewer miles on the odometer and no rust on the body or undercarriage area.
  5. Make sure all the faulty parts have been replaced/repaired, and if any, the car has gone through the official recall process at the company.
  6. Take a test drive with an automotive expert before signing the Cheque, so you can take an informed decision.

Mercedes W124 – Pros & Cons


  1. A well-built, highly robust vehicle with matchless durability.
  2. Well-equipped with comfort and safety features
  3. Highly reliable engines and transmissions.
  4. No major recalls or frequent breakdowns reported over the decades.
  5. Not so expensive to purchase and get insured.


  1. Maintenance and repairs of W124 could be expensive and time taking.
  2. Spare parts are expensive, and so are the labor cost and services charges.
  3. These are not so cheap to run and are known gas-guzzlers.
  4. Most cars are driven above 300,000 miles and clean examples are hard to find.