First thing first, change that Over Voltage Protection relay. It may not be the cure so keep the old one (you said you are on a budget
) and return the new one if it does not solve the problem (however they may not be return on electrical parts).
The hard starting could also be caused by the engine coolant temperature sensor. At cold start there has to be fuel enrichment since the fuel will condense on the cold cylinder walls. When this happens you will have hard time starting the car without the extra fuel added to the air going into the engine. The signal for enrichment is provided by the temperature sensor on the top of the cylinder head by the firewall. It is a sensor with a two-pole connector on top of it. All the tech has to do is measure its resistance to ground. If it is infinite there is your problem. Not an expensive part, around US $75.00 Parts Shop has it right here. And yes DO the right thing and drive the car at higher speeds couple of times a month. Don't floor it in city traffic, go on the highway and cruise at elevated speeds for a while. I usually do around 100 miles/hour for 5-10 minutes (well I go faster then that but it is up to you
). About the platinum plugs. I have been using them for at least 150,000 miles without any ill effects (not the same ones of course
) so if you are on a budget leave them. If not replace them.
Try to find a competent tech with Benz experience in your area (check out the Good Tech section in this forum) it will save you lots of money and headache on the long run. That car is fabulous and will last you a long time (I know I have one
) if you maintain it well. The way you are driving it qualifies as "severe" so follow maintenance schedule accordingly.
Change transmission (including torque converter) fluid and filter, engine coolant, power-steering fluid and filter, differential fluid according to the manual.
[Edited by dacia on 06-10-2001 at 01:24 AM]