Posts

S550: Second Thing Fixed - New Wheels

Image
  A slow leak in the front left tire revealed a cracked wheel. Actually, two cracks -- one in the barrel, and one on the inner rim. While the latter can sometimes be repaired with a weld, the former is fatal.  Further inspection revealed that all four wheels had cracks, although the other three were not yet bad enough to leak air. Sigh. It seems almost certain that this damage was there when I bought the car (there's no way I cracked all four wheels in less than 1,000 miles). And since the front left tire was showing low on air when I first test drove the car, it also seems almost certain that the dealer knew about at least that one and didn't tell me. Caveat emptor, anyone buying from Mercedes Benz of El Dorado Hills. I should have had all the wheels pulled and inspected before purchase.  So this brings us to the question of replacements. Since my S550 came with the "Sport Package" option (mostly appearance changes to the bumpers and side skirts), it came from the fa

S550: First Impressions

Image
S550 rear extending way beyond a Kia Sorrento. It's been about two months now with the luxo-barge, aka "White Whale", aka 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550. As good a time as any to gather some initial impressions.  It's so quiet! Perhaps more than anything else, it's the quiet in the cabin that makes this car different from anything else I've ever driven. It has the deeply quiet feeling that I associate with acoustically treated conference rooms. Clearly, Mercedes engineers put real effort into the interior acoustics (for example, the car is much quieter when the cloth screen is rolled into place to cover the sunroof). You have to pay attention to determine whether the engine is on or not (quite a departure from all the piped-in fake engine noise that is all the rage in sports cars).  It's so relaxing! The quiet, combined with all the leather and wood everywhere, defines the entire character of the car, delivering a relaxing vibe on every drive. This is not just

S550: RTFM

Image
  My car didn't come with the official paper Operator's Manual. A quick search on eBay, however, turned up a set (including case) that I picked up for $35.  This was a bit of an extravagance, since PDFs of the Operator's Manual and COMAND Manual are available online, and the car also has an extensive " digital operator's manual " built-into the infotainment system. In fact, the "digital operator's manual" contains a lot more information than the printed paper manual (which is stuffed with unnecessary safety warnings that the lawyer's probably put in there). Nevertheless, when you've got a new car packed with as many features as the S550, reading the printed manual is an easier way to get an overview than perusing any electronic version. (The electronic versions, however, are fantastic as word-searchable references.) 

S550: First Thing Fixed

Image
  That's the fancy metal handle that lifts the floor of the trunk to reveal... just more storage space (since there is no spare tire in this car). On the right, you can see a piece has broken off, which means that the fancy metal handle just pulls right out of the plastic housing, doing nothing to lift the floor of the trunk. I found this broken bit when I picked up the car. I asked my selling dealer (Mercedes Benz of El Dorado Hills) if they could comp me the replacement part. They declined. So I bought the part myself ($63), loosened the two screws holding the bracket in place, and it's fixed! 

Car #4: 2015 Mercedes Benz S550

Image
  I thought my experiment in short-term ownership of interesting, highly depreciated cars ended when I bought my 2018 Miata . But my curiosity got the better of me, and now I own a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 sedan.    Why? Well, we are living in the twilight of the internal-combustion-powered automobile. My next new car will almost certainly be a plug-in electric vehicle . Also, the sedan is a dying breed in automobiles. So before they all go the way of the dodo, I figured I should experience the modern V8-powered luxo-barge (aka land yacht), a category that we will not see again.  The Mercedes S Class is the car that, for 50 years, has defined the luxury sedan (again, say it with me, "luxo-barge"). The BMW 7 series, Audi A8,  Lexus LS, Bentley Flying Spur -- they are all discussed relative to the S Class. Despite the twin-turbo V8 engine, the 430hp, and the sub-5 second 0-60 times, these are not "performance" cars. Instead, they focus on isolation from the road, luxe

My Porsche 911 Turbo Gets Sold Yet Again

Image
  Here we go again! My 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo just sold on Bring A Trailer for...wait for it... $64,000! I'm stupefied.  Just to remind everyone, I bought this car on eBay in 2014 for $38,000. I then sold it on Bring A Trailer  in 2016 with 55,000 miles for $45,000 (which sounds like I made money, but not after you include the maintenance ). That buyer then sold the car in 2020 for $42,500 (he also put in quite a bit of maintenance ). That second buyer just sold the car at 62,000 miles for $64,000. Wow. That fellow got a real windfall, since most of the big maintenance items were paid for by myself and the guy I sold it to.  I'm sure the price is partly due to the general insane run-up in car prices (plus, Porsche has currently halted all new car production as a result of the war in Ukraine). Also, part of the run-up is because this era of 911 Turbo has been criminally undervalued for many years, mostly due to the weaknesses of the non-turbo versions from the same era, which

Four Hour Drive: 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

Image
  Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I was able to take this 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range for a 240 mile drive, almost entirely on the highways to and from Roseville. This is my second car borrowed for this four-hour drive (the first being a 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS ). Overall verdict? The Tesla 3 is a great car, and I enjoyed my time with it. It feels like the future; it makes everything else feel dated by comparison.  But I'm going to start with the two reasons it's not for me.  First, the driver's footwell is just a tiny bit too narrow on the left side. Yes, I know, that's a weird complaint, but after two hours, my left knee was complaining because my foot couldn't turn out as much as it likes. These are the idiosyncratic things you only figure out when you've had some time in a vehicle.  Second, the rear blind spots are surprisingly big, such that I never got fully comfortable changing lanes (especially after dark). Like many modern cars, the C pillars in