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  #1  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:23 PM
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Broken Key Dispute: Please Weigh In w/Opinion

So my daugther tries and tries, but can't get the key to turn in the ignition (1992 300D). Calls AAA, they send a locksmith. Locksmith tries various things, but eventually breaks the key off in the ignition. So the car gets towed.

The Mercedes tech (very reputable and experienced guy) tells us that, because the locksmith broke the key, the repair will involve significant additional expense; and that, at least with a Mercedes, if the key won't turn you simply need to get it towed. So, just for my amusement, I called the locksmith. His claim is that, in a situation like that (where the key absolutely will not turn), the repair that's needed will be the same parts and labor whether or not the key is broken off. Therefore there's no financial risk in trying to force the key.

I'm inclined to believe the MB tech. What are your thoughts?

We'll certainly be pursuing the matter with AAA, so I'm trying to get my ducks in a row before we file a claim.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:36 PM
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Get quotes and signed statements from the MB tech, then you can call up the locksmith and pursue it. What an unfortunate event though, hope you can get this all sorted out easily!
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  #3  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:45 PM
Craig
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At this point you will have to have it drilled out anyway. Who knows of they could have gotten it to turn without the broken key.
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  #4  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:48 PM
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Whether towing is necessary or not, the locksmith was negligent in breaking the key. He is supposedly an expert and should know how far he can go before ruining the lock. IMHO, the steering wheel just needed to be turned slightly to release the pressure on the lock, thus allowing it to be turned by the key. I have to agree with your mechanic.
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  #5  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 280EZRider View Post
IMHO, the steering wheel just needed to be turned slightly to release the pressure on the lock, thus allowing it to be turned by the key.
Of course, if that had been the case, I'm sure the locksmith could have figured that out (even if my daughter couldn't have). So I guess at this point I have no reason to doubt that the tumbler was far enough gone that the key couldn't be turned even with jiggling the steering wheel.
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91 300D "Otis", Smoke Silver, 125k mi, other DD
98 E300 "Murray", Silver, 124k mi, Stage 2 Rocketchip chip tuned, son's DD

Twelve other MB's owned and sold
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1961 Very Tolerant Wife
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  #6  
Old 10-10-2009, 02:14 PM
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Most people here know about the vibrating sander on the key trick with an MB. Did the locksmith? If he didn't try it, its arguably negligence since amateurs like us have the knowledge.
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2009, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shertex View Post
His claim is that, in a situation like that (where the key absolutely will not turn), the repair that's needed will be the same parts and labor whether or not the key is broken off. Therefore there's no financial risk in trying to force the key.
The locksmith is correct. However, forcing the key to the point of fracture is the least desirable options because it doesn't allow further efforts with devices such as orbital sanders which can vibrate the lock to the point where it will turn.

Such and approach requires patience and time.........something a locksmith doesn't have.
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2009, 02:21 PM
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The whole reason

The whole reason you hired a locksmith, was to fix a problem with a lock and/or key. You hired someone who could theoretically do the job, afterall, that's what they do, and that's why you hired them.

If he came out and made it worse, then he should fix it or pay for it. Even if he has to pay for it, he's keeping the customer happy, and he's taken a learning "seminar", paid for by him. Afterall, if he's not paying for a problem he created, then he was put in a no lose situation; fix it you get paid, break it you walk away scot free. That's a pretty good deal, and not how business typically goes.

Seems to me the locksmith should take it on the chin. He can now use this experience and learning about a vibrating sander now to fix other cars.
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2009, 02:28 PM
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Fact: The tumbler was inoperable before the key broke.

Fact: There is no assurance that it could be made operable using any or all the tricks fore mentioned.

Fact: Removing the tumbler without a broken key inside costs exactly the same as removing one with no broken key.

These are great cars but they do have flaws. The ignition tumbler is one of the more common flaws.
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  #10  
Old 10-10-2009, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toblin View Post
These are great cars but they do have flaws. The ignition tumbler is one of the more common flaws.
X2. I should have never messed with my ignition tumbler, I ended up having to grind out the steering wheel lock mechanism and then literally slice through the tumbler housing (about 3/8" hardened steel...) to get the thing out. That is why I sincerely feel awful for the OP here, especially since it wasn't really his (or his daughter's) fault.
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  #11  
Old 10-10-2009, 06:49 PM
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Is there a spare key?

My lock set includes a tiny hardened sabre-saw-like blade that is designed to be inserted next to a key stub, hook into it, and drag it out leaving the lock un-harmed.

Then you start over with the spare key, which in many cases works better than the one you used (less wear).

And, if you order new keys with a new lock, keyed to your car (about $100 from the dealer with keys) you have a new key to try in the old ignition, which might work, and then you can have the lock changed.

Cutting the lock apart at this point is the last thing I'd suggest. Move forward, not back.

Oh, and the "locksmith" is an idiot.
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  #12  
Old 10-11-2009, 12:59 PM
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I'd suggest that the locksmith is only partly correct. If you've tried all other options, then forcing the key to the point of failure might be okay. The "all other options" might be the sticking or negotiating point.

Was there another key available? How urgent was the situation? Did the locksmith actually try to use any experience or expertise or did he just turn the key harder and harder until it broke?

Both the mechanic and the locksmith are now correct - you have to replace the cylinder and the locking mechanism and that's a fair amount of work. ***edit - unless babymog's key-saw thingie can remove the stub so you can try the sander trick***

But the locksmith is NOT correct that the steering column mechanism needed replacing before he used his "skills" to break the key. In doing so he removed your opportunity/possibility for a less expensive repair of replacing the cylinder only - about $100 and a straightforward DIY. That possibility would have required a key to work one more time, though, so it's not clear cut.

An important fact might be what your daughter told the locksmith and her response. Did he say "I can try harder, but it might break the key?" Or did he say "I tried, but the key broke, so you're stuck anyway."

Two recommendations: review the FSM, if you've got one, so you're more knowledgeable about the parts involved - there's a link to the procedure here W124 Lock Cylinder Replacement: How-to

And call other locksmiths and the dealer and ask if they have any techniques used to loosen a stuck key, short of breaking the key. If any of them mention "vibration" or freon or any other technique, then the locksmith (or AAA) should foot the bill for everything above the replacement of the cylinder, since he made a small problem bigger.
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  #13  
Old 10-12-2009, 01:22 AM
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I'm with the 'Mog on this one !

If you do business as a "LockSmith"...
1.You are "An Expert"
2.No matter what kind of CYA statements are made to the Daughter...
(Or Anyone Else)
If you F**K It Up ..."You've Bought It"...
Whether Voluntarily or by Court Mandate!
3."Drilling Out" a Mercedes Ignition lock Tumbler/Leaveset Is Never Necessary!
3a.It "Might" be necessary to remove the entire Wheel/Lockset mechanism
IF there is NOT a REAL MASTER LOCKSMITH available!
4.The Mercedes Tech is correct ...It's gonna cost "The LockSmith" a lot more
to have his Idiocy Corrected by Professionals!
5.The Mercedes Tech is NOT a Master Locksmith...all he can do ,At Best,
is follow the very expensive FSM proceedures.

I've no Idea who this is , BUT if they're 4th generation Master Locksmiths...
this is who you want!

East Providence,RI 02914 (401) 265-1667 4th generation master locksmith,
specializing in all aspects of security, mechanical and electronic lock hardware, ...
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Last edited by compress ignite; 10-12-2009 at 01:37 AM.
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  #14  
Old 10-12-2009, 08:54 AM
Craig
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Of course you are correct, but it doesn't matter at this point. The dealer will drill it out and charge a few $100 in addition to towing. No one is going to bother trying to sue for that amount.
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  #15  
Old 10-12-2009, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig View Post
Of course you are correct, but it doesn't matter at this point. The dealer will drill it out and charge a few $100 in addition to towing. No one is going to bother trying to sue for that amount.
That's what small claims court is all about. If he sues AAA and the locksmith, both as defendants I would bet he'll get a settlement offer.

At first when I read this I was sympathetic to the locksmith but frankly if he broke the key off he did make it necessary to drill the lock out, whereas if he had not broken it off then it theoretically was possible to avoid this extra expense. The question is can you prove to a judge that his negligence caused you to have to expend extra $$$? I mean it is possible you would have had to drill the lock out even if the key was not broken off...then is it really fair that the locksmith would have to pay for the extra cost?
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