Twelve years ago, a man named Andreas Shulz went to work in Affalterbach, Germany, and hand assembled the 6.2-liter V8 engine that’s resting in my 2007 E63 wagon. Originally, Andreas meticulously packed 507 horses inside, but after more than a decade, and 204,000 miles, how many of those horses had escaped? After spending thousands sorting my E63, I decided to find out.
Perhaps it wasn’t worth spending $4,000 to sort out this high-mileage Mercedes high-performance wagon — but since it didn’t happen all at once, I wasn’t given much choice. After electrical issues left me stranded on the drive home, I had to spend $1,300 on a gateway computer to get it running again, and then another $2,500 with my local mechanic to take care of all the other pre-existing problems. Perhaps "all" isn’t the best choice of words, because the check engine light popped on again shortly after the second round of repairs, requiring another $400 towards new intake gaskets. I also decided to skip spending another $1,500 to replace the leaky upper engine oil pan.
It would be easy to blame the previous owner for all these issues, but it’s really not his fault. He did his best to keep this AMG sorted, spending more than $10,000 on the E63 during his 2 years of ownership — and while I don’t have the prices of the repairs from the owner before him, I would guess he spent at least twice that based on the maintenance history logged with the Mercedes dealer. Since the warranty expired in 2009, according to the data log, diagnostics were performed for a check engine light more than 10 times and air suspension issues at least six times. Then there were a few big ticket items noted, too, including a transmission replacement at 112,000 miles. It’s also worth noting the power steering pump had failed twice before, so my donut induced failure last month would mean my E63 is on its third power steering pump.
Obviously, this is a very scary history — and since this car has tortured all of its prior owners with expensive repairs, I was very nervous to test limits of this E63 on the dyno. When new, owners were reporting around 400 horsepower at the wheels, which seems normal when accounting for power lost through the drivetrain to the wheels — so that was my benchmark. Unlike my previous dyno experiences, the operator preferred to not be in the driver’s seat for the test, since he didn’t want to be responsible for the potential destruction of my 204,000-mile engine. After strapping the car down, attaching fans and the instrumentation, I set the E63 into dyno mode, which disables the ABS and traction control, and I began my first run.
It took a bit of finesse with the throttle to keep the E63 from downshifting at first, but once enough speed was reached on the rolling road, I was able to guide the engine up to 6000 rpm. Right before I lifted off the pedal, though, I was greeted with the familiar amber glow of the check engine light. Amazingly, my E63 had failed me, again. The car seemed to be running fine, but the check engine light was an obvious disappointment, along with the results of the test, which was only 353 horsepower. This was well below what owners were reporting when new — but after some Googling, I discovered peak horsepower is achieved at 6800 rpm. Since I had quit at 6000, I figured I needed to push it a little more to see the best result.
Doing another pull on the dyno probably wasn’t the best idea, but I did it anyway — and the result was exactly the same. According to the tachometer, I couldn’t get the engine to rev much past 6000 RPM, almost like I had reached a speed limiter, or it was protecting itself in some way. I wasn’t going to push my luck any more, so I decided to accept my less than stellar performance figures and return home to lick my wounds.
Obviously, this rare AMG wagon isn’t worth owning given all the trouble it causes. Back when the E63 wagon was new, and financially out of reach for me, I always dreamed of the day when depreciation would make them affordable — but now that it’s here, the prospect of long term ownership seems worse than new car depreciation. With dozens of separate computers, modules and control units, and over a mile of wiring controlling this sleek luxury wagon, the possibility of failure is endless.
So it’s safe to say no person is his right mind should ever buy one of these — but as I’ve well established here, there’s a few dead control modules and warning lights illuminated in my brain as well. There are also a few redeeming qualities with this E63 that the newest offerings don’t have, such as better styling, ride quality and seat comfort — in my opinion. I won’t even try to argue whether these benefits outweigh the negatives, but clearly, there’s plenty of other tortured souls out there that think these cars are worth owning too! Find a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon for sale