View Single Post
Old 01-15-2003, 05:32 AM
Jon Hrut's Avatar
Jon Hrut Jon Hrut is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 43
Angry Starting Problem

Purchased a 96 E320W with 80,000 miles on it back in August. I had been on the lookout for this particular model/year and was extremely lucky to have found one in magnificant condition. Had a mechanic friend take a look see and he told me to go for it.

Car has been running great. However.....I had my first problem tonite.

I need to state that I use the car everyday to go to work but the roundtrip is only around 12 miles. The car has integrated phone which is operational and the standard features on the Climate Control. However, I don't have heated seats or multicontour seats.

Had to work late and when I came out of office it was snowing with accumulation on car windows. After starting car up, I turned on the rear window defroster and I had the temp in car set to 74 deg. Had the rear window defroster on for about 5 mins then turned it off. Aside from the headlights, only other device I was using was the radio.....listening to the WB update (occupational hazard of being a pilot....drives my friends nuts).

All systems were fine; typical pleasant drive home. Had to make a stop at the market to get some soda. After shutting off engine, I decided to use the REST feature to keep car warm.

I came back out of the store about 15 mins later, opened car up with remote control key. Lights came on when I opened door up and got in.

Put key in ignition and car would not start. The lights on the instrument panel came on as they would with a normal start, although they appeared dimmer. All electrics in car were functional--headlights, dome lights, even the radio would turn on.

I believe that the battery was weak and below the level required to start the car. I tried a few more times to start the car but got nowhere. Called AAA for a jump. AAA arrives and while the guy was not familiar with MBs, I showed him the connector for jump starting. We hooked it up, I tried to start it again and nothing. At this point, I was getting nervous, thinking I might have a bigger problem than the battery

I'm the type who buys all shop manuals for any car I purchase. When I got home tonite, I discovered that according to the MB service manual, we should have left the jumper cable on the connector for 5 minutes before trying to start the car.

Since I was fairly sure the problem was a weak battery, I took out the back seat and we put the jumper cables on the battery. The car turned right over for me. We looked at the battery but unfortunately, whoever installed the battery did not remove the month/yr codes so we could not tell how old battery was. And the weather was not the type where you want to be measuring the battery.

Put the back seat on, did a once over of the car to make sure all was OK and I then took the car for a 30 minute drive on the interstate to try and recharge battery.

It is important to note that I never got any failure messages on the multifunction indicator before the problem and no alerts after we jumped it. In particular, I did not get a "Charge Indicator" alert.

I got home about 30 mins later, got all my stuff out of car, left car for 10 mins and then went back out to see if it would start. To be honest, I did not believe it was going to start thinking battery would not hold charge.

Well, it started right up. The digital lights on the instrument display were nice and bright (when it would not start, I did notice that the digital display was very dim).


I'm wondering if the reason the car did not start was due to my use of the rear window defroster AND the Residual Heater during a very short time and with a weak battery? That seems like the most likely explanation in my mind. But I wanted to ask here to get expert opinions.

Since I have all the service manuals, I will check all connections tomorrow when I have light. But since I did not get any alerts before this happened combined with the fact that I was using two systems that draw alot of power....and the REST is using battery power, I'm thinking that I just got unlucky enough to bring the battery to a level where it could not start the car.

It appears that a battery can run your headlights, use the overhead lamps, but not have quite enough "umph" to start the car. Is this a correct assumption?

My apologies for the length of this. Whole situation was made more irritating because quite a few folks around there found it amusing to see a MB driver having car problems. At least I can laugh at myself and situations like this.

So...any expert opinions on my problem? Obviously I should check battery. Might need new one. How much would a MB approved battery run for my model (210.055)? Based on what I saw tonite, I am thinking that it would be wise to get a higher rated battery (as long as it was still within MB specs for this model).

On the "nastier" side ......... any serious problems that might have caused this? Things that I should ask the dealer about? I will be taking the car in next week for some unrelated detailing work.

Thanks in advance for any/all information!!!
- Jon E320 210.055

90 Wrangler
77 Mustang 307,000 mi
63 T-Bird [fully restored]
Reply With Quote