Took the vehicle to Mercedes Benz today and they replaced ALL the bulbs on the instrument cluster under the 5 year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. However, they returned the vehicle with the windshield A pillar and sun visor covered with grease(ughh!). After some frank words with the service advisor, they had their detail man clean it up to my satisfaction. They indicated they would replace the parts if they could not.
I still do not see why these bulbs should fail as soon as this one did. After a daytime collision in 1995 in which the vehicle pulling out into traffic hit our vehicle because they did not see us, both my wife and I are in the practice of operating our headlamps at all times, day and night. This means that all dash and control bulbs are always illuminated. My wife's 1995 C 280 had the first dash bulb go out this year after 7 years of operation. The tech who replaced the bulb only replaced the bulb on the left and right side of the speedometer indicating that he examined the rest of the bulbs and they did not need replacing. Did he know something about the quality of the old bulbs versus the new ones?
As technology advances why don't they use LED's instead of traditional light bubs? They are much more reliable, probably cheaper since they do not have a lampholder and probably last for the vehicle life. In the case of the odometer you could use an LED display that would not even require illumination. I believe the 2003 Honda Accord is going to this system since they are advertising a LED instrument panel. I always thought Mercedes was the leader in innovations but they now need to play catch-up.
Sorry for the long post but I am still a little irritated with my Mercedes experience and am starting to believe these are high maintenance vehicles that I cannot afford to spend the time or money on.