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Old 06-08-2001, 11:15 AM
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Hello! My name is Donna and I am having a problem with my 1991 Mercedes 300E with a 3.0. litre engine. I will be as detailed as possible in describing the problem and history. My car has about 79,000 miles on it now. It is a fuel injected system (you probably know this). Now, I drive this car locally only 1 - 3 times a week, and this is how it has been driven for the past 3 years -- very little. I have regular oil changes and the last heavy duty maintenance was supposed to have been done by the Mercedes dealer right before I bought the used car from them in 1995 when the car had about 59,000 miles on it. I had asked them to do the 60,000 mile work on it before I would buy it, to save me money since the car was close to needing that work as far as the mileage goes. So, the dealer said they did the big maintenance work on it (I relied on and trusted them to do what they agreed to), and only oil changes have been done since then because, as you can see, I havenít driven it very much in the last 3 years.

The intermittent problem began last summer when it would start up find upon first starting it for the day. But then, after driving it less than 3 miles and turning it off, I would come back to my car to restart it and get on my way, and it would turn over but be very hard starting. After multiple attempts and flooring the accelerator, it would again start and it would be find all day. There was never any fuel smell as this happened. Once or twice last year, the car stalled momentarily while I was driving. I brought the car to a repair shop, but they said it might be vapor lock and that I should always keep the car fuel tank full. Other than that, they said I should drive the car until I can't drive it anymore and it breaks down and then they could find the problem better. I resigned myself to this, as I cannot afford to have parts replaced without knowing for certain that such parts will solve the problem. I did have the spark plugs changed and, of course, an oil change (even though the car is driven little). But the problem -- although intermittent -- continued.

That brings me to this year. The intermittent problem continued, but now it has changed a bit. The car is hard starting the first time I start it up for the day, rather than being hard starting the first time I restart it after having driven it less than 3 miles. It also runs a very rough idle for a few minutes (the front shakes and vibrates) before it returns to normal. It also sometimes stalls once or twice or three times in a row after first starting. But, in the end, I do get it to start. So now, I have a problem starting it in the driveway at first. It always starts, but usually takes a while. A few weeks ago, another problem appeared, but perhaps it is not related. The ASR light came on and I noticed a definite reduction in power as my car booklet says will happen. But the next day, even though the light stayed on, the car was running fine with no reduction in power! I was surprised to say the least! Being low on money, I did not take the car to get it checked, hoping that the light would go off. What happened after 2 weeks or so, was that one day I went out to start my car and it was totally dead. My battery (having already been once replaced with a 60 month battery in 1996), would not take a jump, so I bought a new 60 month battery at the end of May. My spark plugs were also changed for a second time within a year Ė but they were okay Ė no problems on them, it was just a precaution. At the time, my alternator was checked and it was fine. But I noticed now that not only was the ASR light on Ė but the ABS (antilock brakes) light was on as well! The shop that replaced my battery said that the 2 lights were on because of the battery going completely dead (even thought the ASR light had come on a few weeks before). But the shop said the codes could be reset but they did not have that machine to do it.

Yesterday, I brought the car to a shop that said thought they had the equipment to reset the codes and they also said they would look at the car to see if they could find out why it acts as it does, but then they realized that they didnít have the exact software for this Mercedes! Also -- because the car was running fine by the time I had arrived at the shop (I had trouble starting it and then a rough idle, but both symptoms were fine when I got to the shop -- they said there was no sense in hooking the car up to whatever other testing equipment they were going to use because the car sounded fine and nothing would come up on the equipment. They also said I should drive it until it breaks down unless I wanted to play and pay for a guessing game of replacing certain parts! While I was there, they did replace the fuel filter, but it seems to be running the same. But this repair shop said that from the symptoms I described, it sounded like a possible problem in the fuel system, a fuel pump or whatever. They said this because they said if the car is hard starting and rough idling, but clears up Ė then it sounds like the fuel system. I told them I had put in a bottle of stuff that is supposed to clean the fuel injectors last year and I put in another bottle just a few days before. They added that a problem with the fuel injectors in the Mercedes is basically unheard of, so they didnít think it was the injectors. But again, they said to drive the car until it breaks unless I can afford otherwise, which I canít. So now I am worried because I cannot afford to bring it to the dealer who may know what this problem is. But I am equally scared at getting stranded on the road in case it breaks down!

I am told the ASR and ABS lights have nothing to do with the hard starting, stalling and very rough idling problem. One shop said both lights are on because of the battery dying. Again, the ASR light is on but the engine output reduction problem went away the next day after it first came on! The only other problem I had was in 1997 when the car starting stalling first thing in the morning as I stopped at the first few stop signs. It was under warranty, so I brought it to the dealer who ended up replacing the throttle actuator (they also mention a throttle slide and a switch, I donít know if these are all just different terms for the same part?). Later on, I found out that the part was actually recalled by Mercedes Benz and somehow I was never notified. Even though the problem I am having now is a bit different, I am adding this information in case anyone may think that perhaps it is related, maybe the replacement part is also bad. Or perhaps they did not replace all they should have. I just donít know. In addition to this web site, I keep checking the National Highway Transportation Safety web site for problem notifications since that is also where I discovered that the throttle linkage problem was one that should have been fixed on my car before I bought it, as it had been recalled in years previous to my buying the car.

Thanks for any guidance anyone can provide. Double thanks for reading through all this to this point! I am desperate money wise. I want to have the car fixed before it breaks down if I can, but I have very little money to spare. I am told that I should sell the car after I get this fixed, because fixing it in the future for anything will be too expensive. Why did I buy it then? Well, I bought it at a time when my financial situation was very good.

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