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 Post subject: Life after Bonneville
PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:03 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
So I've just completed my first week of life without a Pontiac in my life since 1982, and my first week of life as a Mercedes Benz owner.

My new car is a 10-year-old 2005 Mercedes Benz S500 4Matic.
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There are some things you get used to when you drive the same Bonneville for 16 years. Some of the habits are hard to break. There are things I miss about my Bonneville, and there are things I enjoy with the Benz.

Things I miss about the Bonneville:
-The HVAC controls. I had the simple ones in my SE, just the knob for selector and the knob for temperature, and the knob for fan speed. That's all I really need or want. In the Benz I have to select a temperature, and it automatically tries to figure out where to send air at what temperature. I can manually override it, but it winds up being too warm or too cold. I miss the simple controls of my Bonneville.

-The turning ratio of the steering wheel. It was just a hair tighter with the Bonneville. That is, a smaller deflection of the steering wheel gave a tighter turn. In the Mercedes I wind up heading into turns wide, and find myself scrambling to turn the wheel a little more to take a turn. It's *just* different enough to screw me up.

-The parking brake that you step-on to release. The Mercedes has a pull-lever to release the brake, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I step on the brake, which just applies it even harder. It's embarrassing and I haven't broken myself of that habit yet.

-I miss the cup holders in the Bonneville. Even with my SE that had no center console and had the shifter on the column, I had an aftermarket cupholder & bin held to the center floor with thin bungee cords and pins in the carpet. Germans apparently don't carry a Big-Gulp with them when they whiz along the Autobahn, but I'm an American, and I want my large coffee on the way to work. It has cup holders, but they're small. No cupholders in the door trim, either.

-I miss my aftermarket stereo in my Bonneville. It was a Pioneer system with Alpine amps, and Polk Audio speakers and a JL sub. It had USB inputs, and could control an iPod. My 2005 Mercedes can read an MP3 CD, and right now that's the only way I can get an audiobook into it. My Pioneer stereo had great Bluetooth integration with my cell phone. My Mercedes won't connect to my cell phone at all. The $200 Garmin GPS navigation in my Bonneville was better than the 2005 Mercedes DVD-based navigation. I'll eventually get a navtv Opti-1 adapter and put a double-din GPS DVD & backup camera system in it, but that's around $1200 in gear and I don't have time for it right now. I did manage to remove all of the aftermarket stereo and nav gear from my car, with the exception of the door speakers. I still can't figure out how to set the clock in the Mercedes for the time change.

-I miss inexpensive parts for my Bonneville. One of the conditions for purchasing the Mercedes was that the sales place would reimburse my cost for wheel balancing and an alignment. (They did). But my alignment shop found that one of the lug bolts was stripped, no doubt from being spun with an air tool by some idiot in its past history. German cars apparently have lug bolts instead of studs and lug nuts. Faced with possibly needing to replace a wheel hub assembly at around $700, I researched the problem and learned that the hub usually survives stripping a lug bolt, and a run-through with a tap is all that is usually needed to get a new lug bolt to torque to spec. I ordered an M14x1.5 tap and a new bolt and fixed it this weekend. In the process I found ANOTHER spun lug bolt. I ordered several more lug bolts and will check the entire car.

-I miss the "chirp" of my aftermarket Clifford car alarm. The Benz flashes its marker lights when the alarm is activated or deactivated, but it's SILENT. Sadly, the alarm was one of the few add-ons that I wasn't able to get off the Bonneville.

-Easy access to the battery. The Mercedes battery is somewhere in the trunk under trunk lining somewhere. There's a funky panel under the passenger front floor to access battery contacts in the event that your battery dies and your key doesn't work, so you can temporarily jump the connection and open the trunk. It's a special (expensive) battery as well, so no more cheap DieHard Gold batteries from Sears. (On the plus side, no more dead DieHard Gold batteries from Sears.)

-Cheap 87-octane regular unleaded gasoline. The Mercedes requires premium unleaded.

Things I like about the Mercedes better than the Bonneville:
-Tighter turning radius! No more HUGE wide U-turns!

-Automatic stuff, like seat position memory and steering wheel position memory and side mirrors that automatically fold in and out. That's stuff that's totally useful.

-Power outlets in the rear doors. My kids like these for powering their handheld game systems.

-Powered sunshade for the back window, and pull-up shades for the back seat door windows.

-All wheel drive. It's very stable on wet roads. Not that I plan to take the Benz on skiing trips in the Sierras, but if I did, I don't need tire chains.

-The factory stereo and Bose system sound very, very good. The stereo volume automatically goes up as road noise increases, and goes down as road noise decreases.

-It's super comfortable. If you want a car with seats as comfortable or more comfortable as a Bonneville, the W220 series Mercedes is great.

-Gobs of power from the 309 HP 5-Liter V8, and the ride is insanely comfortable. The car is growly and powerful when you want it to be, and smooth and comfortable when you want that. You can switch from comfort to sport suspension tuning on the fly, and the computer adapts to your driving style for selecting shift points, so you can be as aggressive or relaxed as you want.

That's my assessment for now.

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R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:23 pm 
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Got to drive a W220 on a couple hour trip for work one time and it was probably one of the most comfortable highway cars I've ever driven, not to mention how gorgeous I think these cars are, felt like I was some big wig or some sort of gangster lol.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:17 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
I think there's a lot of resemblance similarities to the 92-99 Bonnevilles, actually!

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:09 am 
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Nice "upgrade"!!!!! I like

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:41 pm 
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Awesome ride. They're so quiet on the freeway.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:38 am 
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Nice Merc. Looks like it's in great shape for a 10 year old car.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:42 am 
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Glad you're enjoying your Mercedes-Benz! Some observations...

Bugsi wrote:
Things I miss about the Bonneville:
-The HVAC controls. I had the simple ones in my SE, just the knob for selector and the knob for temperature, and the knob for fan speed. That's all I really need or want. In the Benz I have to select a temperature, and it automatically tries to figure out where to send air at what temperature. I can manually override it, but it winds up being too warm or too cold. I miss the simple controls of my Bonneville.


My 1992 SSEI has automatic climate control and I find it a little frustrating at times too.

Quote:
-The parking brake that you step-on to release. The Mercedes has a pull-lever to release the brake, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I step on the brake, which just applies it even harder. It's embarrassing and I haven't broken myself of that habit yet.


That's interesting to me as my '92 Bonneville has a hand release. I didn't realise some Bonnevilles were different.

Quote:
German cars apparently have lug bolts instead of studs and lug nuts. Faced with possibly needing to replace a wheel hub assembly at around $700, I researched the problem and learned that the hub usually survives stripping a lug bolt, and a run-through with a tap is all that is usually needed to get a new lug bolt to torque to spec. I ordered an M14x1.5 tap and a new bolt and fixed it this weekend. In the process I found ANOTHER spun lug bolt. I ordered several more lug bolts and will check the entire car.


In my experience most cars have lug bolts and it's American cars that are different in having studs and lug nuts, which throws some tire fitters here!

Quote:
It's a special (expensive) battery as well, so no more cheap DieHard Gold batteries from Sears. (On the plus side, no more dead DieHard Gold batteries from Sears.)


Try getting a battery for a Bonneville here. The Federal battery in my Bonneville is considered unusual here, not only because the terminals are on the side, rather than on top, of the battery, but in the way the terminals are attached to the cables.

Quote:
-All wheel drive. It's very stable on wet roads. Not that I plan to take the Benz on skiing trips in the Sierras, but if I did, I don't need tire chains.


All wheel drive is useful for stability but you might still want those chains in extreme conditions, or at least winter tires.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:27 pm 
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Great choice, your S500 4matic is an awesome car. I like it much more than the S550, which is bigger and heavier than your S500- which is already very large. Enjoy your S500- you are a very lucky man...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:24 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
So driving a car that isn't a Bonneville for two and a half weeks makes me really miss one more feature of the Bonneville: Those double sun visors on the Bonneville are awesome. The S500 has single visors. In the morning when I take my kids to school, the sun is on my left as I head west. Then it's directly in my face after I turn south. In the Bonneville I'd just set the two visors with the main visor to the left and the secondary visor in front of my face and forget about them. In the S500 I'm constantly flipping the thing left, then back in front, then left again, then in front again. It's *SO* annoying and *EVERY TIME* it makes me go "I miss the Bonneville!"

Another thing I discovered on the Mercedes that I really like is the adjustable AirMatic suspension. It has three settings, which I refer to as: comfort, intermediate, and sport. It's controlled by a button on the dash which is why I didn't know about it for around two weeks. I had no idea what any of the buttons did until I stuck my nose in the manual and looked them up. I'd been driving in "comfort" mode, which is cushier than my Bonneville's suspension, which was a combination of FE1 springs and FE2 swaybars and Energy Suspension bushings. The chushy ride was nice going over bumpy roads, railroad tracks, and speed bumps, and reminded me very much of a giant Lincoln Town Car my Dad used to own. While very comfortable, it leaned a bit when taking turns and maneuvers at speed.

When I discovered that I could adjust the suspension I gave it a try. Wow. It works *really well*. My favorite setting is the intermediate setting, as my driving is a combination of relaxed with a touch of aggression. At the sport setting, it stiffens up like a rock, riding on rails, very much like an old Corvette I used to drive. There's a bit more road noise transmitted to the cabin with the sport and intermediate settings. At the comfort setting it's super quiet, and glides over bumps and railroad tracks. It's very useful being able to call up whatever suspension stiffness I want on demand, and I *really* like it.

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:32 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
Okay, one more point in favor of the Mercedes: THE TRUNK LID DOES NOT RAIN A WATERFALL OF WATER INTO THE TRUNK when you open the trunk after a rain. The water is all cleverly channeled away from the trunk opening so all your stuff doesn't become soaking wet. That ALWAYS bothered me about the Bonneville.

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:37 pm 
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Bugsi wrote:
Okay, one more point in favor of the Mercedes: THE TRUNK LID DOES NOT RAIN A WATERFALL OF WATER INTO THE TRUNK when you open the trunk after a rain. The water is all cleverly channeled away from the trunk opening so all your stuff doesn't become soaking wet. That ALWAYS bothered me about the Bonneville.


Yes, that annoys me too! I often give my trunklid a little 'shake' when its wet before opening it up the whole way.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:16 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
I noticed even before I bought the S500 that the trunk lid didn't line up perfectly with the fenders, which was strange since I knew the car had not been in a prior accident. I had it at a Mercedes specialist for its first oil change/ brake fluid change / coolant change, and I had them diagnose why it didn't line up. The answer was not something I expected.

Apparently my car has a soft-close assist trunk closing feature. It's run off an air pump that also performs soft-close on the car doors and makes the rear headrests pop up and down. A plastic manifold at the trunk latch soft-close assist module develops cracks in it, which lets air leak out. The leaks cause the air pump to run past a timeout, and when it does that two times, the car flips an e-fuse (like a virtual circuit-breaker) that takes the trunk assist unit offline. That was the problem; the final pull-down of my trunk lid was simply disabled (easily reset by pulling a fuse for a few moments and replacing it). But it will trip again after two more closings, unless of course your replace the module (around $350), or. . . FIX IT.

The plastic air manifold module has six ports that are not used. Mercedes blocks those ports off by *JAMMING A STEEL BALL-BEARING INTO THE PORT*. It's crude, but apparently effective: FOR A WHILE. When the plastic ages it becomes brittle, and eventually it develops stress-cracks around the ports where the ball-bearings are jammed in to close them off. When the cracks let air leak out, your soft-close shuts off. You can fix this with some high-strength epoxy. I used JB Weld Plastic Epoxy. You goop up the six ports (because you don't want to pull it all apart and fix it again in another month), and put it back together, for a fix that cost a whopping $3. Now my trunk lid soft-closes and lines up perfectly!

The offending soft-close module:
Image

The crack in the manifold:
Image

The manifold pulled out and epoxied at the yellow arrows. Blue arrows indicate clips that allow the manifold to be removed from the rest of the module:
Image

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:56 pm 
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I'm very glad your love your MB. You should love your car. Me, I love my Bonneville. Even my wife loves my Bonneville - LOL. BC

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:40 am 
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05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
I still miss my Bonneville. It was in really great condition before my wife totalled it. I get worse gas mileage now, and I had a better custom aftermarket stereo in the Bonneville.

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:24 pm 
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Bugsi wrote:
I still miss my Bonneville. It was in really great condition before my wife totalled it. I get worse gas mileage now, and I had a better custom aftermarket stereo in the Bonneville.

It makes it worse when you think about it. Forget it and enjoy your MB. - BC

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In Memory of Brad - 1/21/1977 .. 10/23/2013 ...... Aaron - 1977 .. 2017 .....
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport ..... 1992 Bonneville SSE 1SB 170 HP L27 4T60E retired/sold to MattStrike ..... 2005 Bonneville SE 1SC 205 HP L36 4T65E - retired/salvage yard ..... 2013 Cadillac CTS 1SD 270 HP LF1 6L50 - SOLD ..... PBCF user 2321


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:39 am 
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Year and Trim: (RIP 10/31/15) 1997 SE
05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
1oldman wrote:
It makes it worse when you think about it. Forget it and enjoy your MB. - BC
I still have Bonneville parts in my garage. At some point I'm going to need to have a fire-sale. It's hard not to think about it when I keep running into parts. I do *really* enjoy the Benz. It's an amazingly comfortable and quiet ride. Holy cow, though, does that thing use gasoline. It's given me a whole new layer of respect for the 3800 L36!

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:29 pm 
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What is really neat about your S500 is it is in California and is AWD. The vast majority of S500s were RWD, and seems almost all of the AWD S500s spent much of their lives between Boston and Philadelphia, in the snow, salt and tough city streets. Great to see such a clean AWD S500!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:40 pm 
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05 Mercedes S500 4Matic
MikeKerr wrote:
What is really neat about your S500 is it is in California and is AWD. The vast majority of S500s were RWD, and seems almost all of the AWD S500s spent much of their lives between Boston and Philadelphia, in the snow, salt and tough city streets. Great to see such a clean AWD S500!
Out here the main use for AWD is going to the Sierras and Tahoe area ski resorts during the winter for skiing. However, I think I'd be reluctant to risk having some other moron slide into my Benz. I'm only a rudimentary skier, and rent skis, so I don't need to bring any of my own, but if I did, my Benz doesn't have any roof racks or even a trunk pass-through that my Bonneville had. (I've read about other S500 owners having a pass-through, so I think maybe some of the older years had them.)

I also had a tow-hitch installed on my Bonneville, that I used with a Thule bike rack to go biking around the bay area. There is a tow-hitch available for the S500, but people on the mbworld.org site balk at people suggesting they might install one on their car. I don't get it. IT'S A CAR. If you want to use it to take your bike to a trailhead, get a hitch. What's the big deal? They say it's a driving engineering masterpiece and should not be used for dragging bikes around. WTH? Am I crazy to think about putting a hitch on my S500?

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PontiacDad at WCBF `08: "By any chance, was his name. . .Radomir?"

R.I.P. 10/31/15: 1997 SE: "Silver Shadow"
`05 Mercedes S500


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