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  #1  
Old 08-08-2006, 12:02 AM
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Incompetant Mechanics

I just recieved all the service records for my car dating back to 1997, and noticed something really disturbing. When I bought the car, it had no low end power and hard shifting between low gears, which turned out to be caused by a dried out seal on the ALDA, which I imagine is a common problem because of how hot it gets where the ALDA is mounted on the 6 cylindar. Anyway, all the way back to 1997 the previous owners had taken the car in for the same exact problem on several occasions, and spent over $12k trying to get it fixed. All the mechanics had Mercedes as part of their name. Not one time did any of the reciepts state anything about the ALDA. They had the turbo and transmission rebuilt because of this problem, new transmission modulator, and a list of other parts and adjustments. The car has had less than 60k miles put on since 1997, and been trough 4 owners, probably each one got frustrated after spending all this money only to keep having the same problem. I bet they would all be pissed to know I fixed it with a 10 cent O ring!

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Old 08-08-2006, 08:59 AM
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The other side of the coin...

I'm sure the mechanic's bosses thought they were quite competent, as they brought in $12k worth of unnecessary repairs!
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  #3  
Old 08-08-2006, 09:52 AM
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Don't go making an ass of anyone, now--

Mechanics are only people, independents even moreso than factory-trained folks. These people do not live with these members of our family and the cars themselves can't talk, but rather just sort of hint at what is wrong-- making a mechanic even less apt to get the diagnosis correct on the first attempt.

Imagine you're a flustered parent of a mute child that can't use sign language. Now imagine your mechanic is a doctor going only on parental diagnosis and the pointing finger of the hurt child. Easy fix, right..

I had problems with the leon when he was new, whenever it was cold the car would sputter and stall *only* on the first cold start of the day-- the dealership never fixed it and it hasn't gotten better or worse over the course of 9 years-- I like to pretend he is just a hard sleeper

Kudos for getting it right-- that is one of those things that would drive me mad and I would never find on my own-- I'm from the "throw parts at it until it stops doing whatever it is that isn't right" school of mechanic'n
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Old 08-08-2006, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmana View Post
I just recieved all the service records for my car dating back to 1997, and noticed something really disturbing. When I bought the car, it had no low end power and hard shifting between low gears, which turned out to be caused by a dried out seal on the ALDA, which I imagine is a common problem because of how hot it gets where the ALDA is mounted on the 6 cylindar. Anyway, all the way back to 1997 the previous owners had taken the car in for the same exact problem on several occasions, and spent over $12k trying to get it fixed. All the mechanics had Mercedes as part of their name. Not one time did any of the reciepts state anything about the ALDA. They had the turbo and transmission rebuilt because of this problem, new transmission modulator, and a list of other parts and adjustments. The car has had less than 60k miles put on since 1997, and been trough 4 owners, probably each one got frustrated after spending all this money only to keep having the same problem. I bet they would all be pissed to know I fixed it with a 10 cent O ring!
I've bought and sold a bunch of W123s in the past few years and your story is not unique. Power steering pump filters that are the "old' style, still in use, oil filter stem O rings that have never been changed after being serviced by "reputable" import car shops.
things "mickey moused" together just too "get it out the door", Not too mention exorbitant prices charged. Yah, when you read the service records then start digging into the car, the lesson learned is too DO YOUR OWN WORK ;-)
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  #5  
Old 08-08-2006, 12:36 PM
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Reminds me of a Dilbert comic I saw recently.
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  #6  
Old 08-08-2006, 12:37 PM
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DIYers Unite!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevo View Post
I've bought and sold a bunch of W123s in the past few years and your story is not unique. Power steering pump filters that are the "old' style, still in use, oil filter stem O rings that have never been changed after being serviced by "reputable" import car shops.
things "mickey moused" together just too "get it out the door", Not too mention exorbitant prices charged. Yah, when you read the service records then start digging into the car, the lesson learned is too DO YOUR OWN WORK ;-)
Stevo, We had a Volvo with the wonderful "check engine" light on. I took it to my local mechanic with all the latest Snap On diagnostic computers and he would charge me $150 to $250 on three occasions, but the light never went off, and he told me to take it to the Volvo dealer.

I had always done my own work in the past, and events like this have pushed me to NEVER let anyone touch my cars again. I am sick of hamfisted morons claiming to be a mechanic charging me for their on the job training. They all hate me anyway, because I know enough to be a pain in the ass to them. I still have to go for inspections, but with our old cars we are exempt from emissions in NY State, so I just have to pay for the $10 safety inspection

I just fixed the aux fan on my wife's car by pulling it apart, cleaning it, lubing the bearing, changing the fuse and reinstalling. It cost me nothing but an hour of my time, but if I had gone to someone, I would have been waiting for a part and I am sure I would have been out at least $200.

I agree with you DO YOUR OWN WORK. Then at least you know what you have, be it good or bad. Working on my own cars is also great therapy for me. Believe it or not, it is relaxing to me, and I get a real sense of satisfaction.
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  #7  
Old 08-08-2006, 01:10 PM
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What I don't get is these mechanics make very good money for what they do, and they aren't ever in a hurry to get something done. That being said, if you call yourself a Mercedes garage and charge top dollar, then you'd think they would learn all there is to know about Benz's. If I were to post on here that my car was slow and shifted hard, even the least experienced person on this board would know enough to check 2 things, the alda and the vacuum. Now granted, most people here are quick to recommend an alda adjustment, rather than finding out first if the thing is sealed properly, but nevertheless the alda would be one of the first things anybody here would check. So why would 4 different MB garages not once check the alda? It even had the cap on it when I bought the car, so they didn't even know enough to adjust it. But they sure were quick to recommend a tranny and turbo rebuild, both of which I am sure were not needed. Is it a simple case of incompetance, or do they truly try to bilk people out of money for expensive repairs?
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  #8  
Old 08-08-2006, 01:37 PM
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I wonder whether it is simply that the mechanics working on these cars are too young. 1985 W123 is now 21 years old.

Now this might ruffle some feathers, but I will say it anyway. In general, there of course are exceptions, people who become auto mechanics were probably not exceptional students in high school. My experiences have been that often times close to right is OK with them. Examples are peripheral parts not re-connected, oil overfilled, transmission fluid overfilled, tire pressure not to spec at tire shop, dings in alloy wheel at tire shop, etc etc. It is also true, in my opinion, that during long days of twirling wrenches under pressure to get the work out employees dripping sweat and covered in dirt just may not have the same caring attitude and attention to detail that we mechanic hobbiests possess.

I just had about $1600 worth of work done to one of my vehicles, 2001 Voyager mini-van. I have no interest in working on it. So after transmission service it doesn't shift like it did before. There is a loud squeak in the rear.
They did something to adjust the shifting problem. The squeak was a defective new rear shock. Point is that they never test drove the thing.
This shop is owned by a very knowledgable honest guy. However, he can't watch over everything that the mechanics do. the other repairs were done satisfactorily.

This is why I go behind and check what I can to try and catch the screw ups before harm is done.

Steve
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2006, 01:44 PM
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And people wonder why I watch the techs. I gather up what info I can here, bring it to them and discuss the repairs then I watch them do it. If it doesn't fix it, they have some real explaining to do. This is for when I lack the tools to make it happen.
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2006, 01:55 PM
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A lot of places won't let you even near the garage due to "insurance reasons". I was at one place and they even had black plastic over the window on the door between the lobby and the garage. I know when I replaced the lower ball joint in my old SD, I took the steering knuckle and ball joint into a Mercedes shop because they had the tool to properly press it into place, and I watched him like a hawk becase the were charging me $30 for about 10 minutes of work. And I am glad I did because he only pressed it in halfway (with great effort!) and started to back it off. I told him it's not the whole way in, and he argued a bit, but then really gave it some muscle and got it the whole way in. If I wasn't standing there, he'd have given to me partially in place. Not that it would have ever popped out, but when you're paying that much to have something done, you want it done right.
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  #11  
Old 08-08-2006, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmana View Post
A lot of places won't let you even near the garage due to "insurance reasons". I was at one place and they even had black plastic over the window on the door between the lobby and the garage.
Then I find myself another shop. Firstly, I try get to know the techs and advisor and then I go there till I do, bring them pizzas and what not.
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2006, 05:16 PM
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qute story

I find the end result (O ring fix) rather comforting. Since buying my project, a 1982 300sd I've had many a problem. Asked alot of questions to aspireing mechanics and experienced alike and now it all makes sence. They, Like us are just really only educatiatly guessing. So what are we spending 50 bux an hour for when we have our own intellect and "Mercedes Shop " to go on. Besides.. working on the d@m things is fun to a degree.
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2006, 05:19 PM
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Well, if it is a trans R&R, can you do it in your driveway? I cannot. Rear end? See above. However, if I know the procedure and watch them, I can make sure it is done the way it should be. Also, when they tell me "that was how it came to me." I can call BS on it.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2006, 05:26 PM
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I'll make a wager that we (as a collective group) can fix 90% of the issues that occur with these vehicles if we are given a careful and accurate explanation of the symptoms. As a collective group, we've got far more experience and knowledge on these engines and vehicles than just about anyone else out there.

Even the dealerships have no edge on us simply because there is no experience left, in most cases, to troubleshoot a 23 year old diesel.

My brother works in the dealership and his comment is that once it's five years old, there's only about four techs that can work on it.

"But what about my 22 year old SD"?

He laughed and pretty much said that only one old timer might recall some things about it........but the odds are not very good.

So, if you still cling to the theory that you are paying good money and you expect knowledgeable and precise diagnosis and repair on your M/B, you're simply deluding yourself.
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  #15  
Old 08-11-2006, 06:49 PM
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At their mercy

Once you decide to have a shop work on your car, you are at their mercy. I too am a proponent for doing as much of the work as I can. I've had too many "bad" experiences from shops and dealers. There are times that when I am not comfortable about doing something, I either bring it to a local shop who I purposely developed a good relationship with or the dealer who also I develop a good relationship with. But rarely do I do it as all the basic maintenance I do myself.

This Forum has also been a blessing with the willingness of everyone to share information.

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