I’ve been adjusting to “semi sort of exotic” V12 ownership. Early May I bought a Mercedes S600 with under 48K miles on the odometer. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s an exceptionally opulent luxury sedan with a 510 HP, twin-turbocharged 5.5 liter V12 and an active hydraulic suspension system, among other things. It hasn’t been trouble-free, but I don’t think anything new has broken since I bought it — it just had problems that weren’t obvious when I looked at it. If I’d have had a proper dealer PPI done, I would have screwed the price down a few more thousand — but the logistics of doing that in a distant city are difficult to say the least. Next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll do it differently.
The real adjustment is in how these things are serviced. Got a problem? Unless it’s something mechanical that’s obviously broken, you’re going to absolutely need the Mercedes dealer level software (at the very least), on a dedicated laptop, and the hardware to get it to talk to the car. Period. Or, you take it to a dealer that charges a $160 “diagnostic fee” per symptom. Or, you find an independent shop and hope they’re as good as they claim. The mechanical systems are very complex. The electronics are far, far more complex. Just an example: You turn the thumbwheel on the dash air vent to control airflow. It’s not a mechanical control. It’s a potentiometer, which is read by a control unit that sits on the CAN bus, and talks to numerous other control units, and a decision is made how much to move the electrically actuated damper behind that vent. Oh, the potentiometer went bad and can’t be read? No A/C for you, pal.
I’ll be about $3K deep in repairs, parts, and vehicle-specific tools by the time I’m done, maybe a little less. The good news is, half of that is the one thing that the dealer HAS to do — the rest I can do myself with parts sourced from Fleabay or a couple of dealers that sell factory original parts at a deep discount. By the weekend I’ll be equipped to do anything the dealer can do diagnostic-wise, which will pay for itself quickly.
On the plus side… the thing is over-built, and the level of engineering and the build quality is fantastic. Even at 13 years old, this car has features most new cars don’t. You can cruise all day long in ridiculous comfort (the massaging seats help), and if the mood ever strikes you to see, for example, how long it takes to go from 40 to 130 MPH… it will happily and very quickly do it, without drama, and you’re nowhere near the top end. This model is limited to 157 MPH, and it will easily do it. It’s not going to be as cheap to own and operate as my F150, for example, but once it’s fully sorted out I don’t think it will be punitively bad, either. You don’t own a car like this (or a Ferrari, or a McLaren, or a Bentley, or whatever) because it’s cheap.