Why You Should Never Buy a 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class concept has been around since 1953. Considered an executive car, it’s in the middle of the Mercedes-Benz lineup, and it’s been produced with many different body styles and engine configurations. The Mercedes-Benz E350 has been offered as a sedan, a coupe, a convertible, and a wagon, but there is one year you want to avoid no matter what.

The 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350 is a year to avoid

Mercedes-Benz E350 de is displayed at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2020
The Mercedes-Benz E350 | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

According to CarComplaints.com, 2006 was not a good year for the Mercedes-Benz E350. This is mainly due to engine problems, specifically the balance shaft. It’s a problem that is so severe, it has owners saying that Mercedes-Benz should be ashamed of themselves. They were extremely disappointed that such an expensive car would have such serious and expensive engine problems, which often were not covered by warranty. 

When taken in for service by certified Mercedes-Benz lab technicians, they found severe problems. The repairs took days to complete and cost close to $5,000 on average to repair. Since many times, that repair meant replacing the entire engine, you’re probably going to want to skip this model when shopping for a pre-owned luxury vehicle. 

Mercedes-Benz balance shaft failure

The biggest problem owners reported with the 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350 was with the 24-valve DOHC 3.5-liter V6 engine in the 2006 E350. 2006 was the very first year they used this engine in the E-Series vehicles, and the engines have been re-engineered since then. The issue usually began at about 85,800 miles when owners noticed the check engine light coming on.  When taken into a dealership, it was found that the check engine light was due to crankshaft solenoid failure, caused by balance shaft failure. The balance shaft gear helps balance all the engine components and eliminate high-speed vibrations. 

Car Complaints gave balance shaft failure a severity rating of 8.7, or “pretty bad.” It’s a very expensive problem to repair, costing owners an average of $4,850. One solution is to replace the balance shaft, which required a huge amount of labor because the engine had to be removed, disassembled, repaired, and reinstalled. This meant the repair took several days to accomplish. The other solution was to replace the entire engine with a used engine, however, that engine could wind up having the same problem, and it is also a time-consuming process.

Drivers frustrated by Mercedes-Benz’s response

Owners of the 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350 with this problem were not happy with the way the German carmaker dealt with the problem. One owner said it was an known issue to Mercedes-Benz, and that inferior steel had been used in the production of the part. 

Other owners were simply told their warranty had run out and they had to deal with the problem themselves. Other owners found themselves without warranty coverage for the problem, even though the car had less than 100,000 miles. 

Sometimes drivers felt there should have been a recall and they should have had protection from the MBUS Settlement Act. In this case, the NHTSA settled with Mercedes-Benz U.S. for $20 million over investigations into the company’s recall execution and reporting practices.

The engine problems with the 2006 E350 did not get a recall, even though it affected a large number of vehicles. 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350 owners also felt deeply disappointed that a problem like this could happen with a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz. Overall, they expected many more years of use out of their vehicles as well as a better response from Mercedes. 

Although buyers might be tempted by its good looks and the E-Series’ reputation, it’s best to avoid the 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350.