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  #1  
Old 02-25-2011, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Posts: 108
Indy expectations too high?

In the seven or so years I've owned it, I've now taken my '85 Cali-spec 300TD to four different independent garages (plus a dealership) for various service. Each has left me with doubts that I wish to continue taking my business there.

I asked one to give the car a once-over shortly after I acquired it, to ensure it was ready for a trip from VA to OH. The passenger side rear axle seized up at the 300 mile mark and I had to nurse it home...

One failed to install the rubber bumper atop the hydropneumatic strut following replacement. I diagnosed the problem after experiencing the ensuing metal to metal contact when encountering bumps in the road, and replaced it myself.

Another troubleshot my leaking interior vacuum system, proclaiming all door actuators bad (to include the fuel filler door). One self-procured Mity-Vac and two door elements later, everything is as it should be. They also botched something in the throttle linkage on a prior appointment and the car would barely accelerate to 50 mph on the freeway.

Still another ended up with me telling them that yes, the '85 has an OVP relay located above the passenger side kick panel.

Upon opening the hood following a trip to still another shop, I discovered that the line from the vacuum pump to the brake booster had been forced, breaking off one of the plastic nipples, which had been 'repaired' wtih what appears to be JB Weld (or equivalent).

I've got a problem with an intermittent vibration at highway speeds (severity varies, but not as a result of speed), and frankly I am hesitant to ask any of these places to attend to my car (and I've expended most all of my local (<50 mile) options). Are my frustrations justified?

r/
Dave

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  #2  
Old 02-25-2011, 04:31 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Cicero, Hamilton County, Indiana about 30 miles north of downtown Indianapolis
Posts: 2,623
Well you have tried the rest, now do what is best. Get some tools and learn to do it yourself. It is not really difficult and can be very rewarding. I rarely have a comeback on something I do myself.
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Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. C.S. Lewis



1983 Mercedes W123 240D 4 Speed 285,000 on the road with a 617 turbo, beautiful butter yellow, license plate # 83 240D INDIANA

2003 Jaguar Type X, AWD. beautiful, good mileage,
Mom's car, but I won't let her drive it!
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  #3  
Old 02-25-2011, 04:44 PM
engatwork's Avatar
busy
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 12,783
If you can get it down here I can help you with it. That goes for anyone that needs help with either the 123 or 124 cars or any of them up to around 1999. I'll have a shop up by the end of April.
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  #4  
Old 02-25-2011, 04:47 PM
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Location: Wichita, Ks
Posts: 5,188
I don't expect them to be perfect; I expect them to be honest with me. My domestic indy and euro indy I absolutely trust. I've found mistakes and fixed things that they didn't or felt the could not without tearing the car apart many times.

They know that I'm quite knowledgeable with cars and often bring the problem in diagnosed with replacement parts ready so jerking me around would be futile anyway.

As for your specific examples...

1: How is someone supposed to tell if an axle is going to fail if the boot isn't ruptured? Do you expect them in a PPI to pull the rearend apart and inspect?

2: Simple mistake that they would have corrected for free. Its not like they're working on old SLS systems on a daily basis.

3: They likely traced the vacuum leak down to the central locking system and recommended replacing them. Why should they start pulling door panels and testing them individually $$$ and replace only the failed ones with the left over older ones likely to give trouble down the road.

As for the linkage thing, I'm sure they would have fixed that for you for free as well.

4: Wagon variants and '85 models lead people to confusion. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded you correcting him.

5: There's the only shady incompetent thing I've seen so far with your stuff. Safe to say you can avoid that shop.

6: The first thing I'd do is look at those flex discs. You don't want those to catastrophically and are often the culprit of intermittent vibrations.
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1985 500SL Euro w/ AMG bits 130k
1984 300SD Turbodiesel 192k
1980 240D Stick China 188k
2001 CLK55 AMG 101k
2007 S600 Biturbo 149k Overheated Project, IT'S ALIVE!!!
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  #5  
Old 02-25-2011, 05:14 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: VA
Posts: 621
I'm with Jim, learning to do everything yourself is the only way to go. These older Mercedes are very friendly to work on. They were designed for longevity and ease of service. Not plastic throwaway cars like what they're building nowadays.

The sad fact though, is that most Indy shops and all dealers don't have a clue how to work on these older cars. Your car is older than most of the mechanics doing the work! On top of that, most car repair shops have absolutely no clue when it comes to diesels. Old car + Diesel is a double whammy.

Additionally, many mechanics these days are not mechanics at all; they're "parts replacers". When something isn't working right, they start replacing parts until it does. They don't know how to troubleshoot or care to learn, they just want to replace parts and charge you for them. They can get away with it, because the average consumer doesn't know the difference.

The only place I would trust, is a diesel mercedes specialist; i.e. a shop that specializes in older diesel mercedes and has been working on them for decades. Go anywhere else, and yours is likely the first one they've ever touched. They're learning on your car, and charging you for the privilege.
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  #6  
Old 02-25-2011, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
3: They likely traced the vacuum leak down to the central locking system and recommended replacing them. Why should they start pulling door panels and testing them individually $$$ and replace only the failed ones with the left over older ones likely to give trouble down the road.
No need to pull the door panels to do that. Just get to the junctions under the floormats and test each line separately.
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1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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  #7  
Old 02-25-2011, 06:10 PM
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Location: Lexington, NC or Boone, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry View Post
No need to pull the door panels to do that. Just get to the junctions under the floormats and test each line separately.
Does this hold true for a w126? Which floor mats?
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1986 M-B 300SDL, retired due to rust and electrical problems. Donated engine to:
1987 M-B 300SDL, odo dead. New project.
1982 M-B 240D, odo stopped at 308,000
1982 M-B 300SD, 175,000
1989 Dodge Ramcharger, 87,000 - 4wd, 318
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2011, 06:24 PM
mach0415's Avatar
Diesel Weasel
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Lawndale, NC
Posts: 648
Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
I don't expect them to be perfect; I expect them to be honest with me. My domestic indy and euro indy I absolutely trust. I've found mistakes and fixed things that they didn't or felt the could not without tearing the car apart many times.

They know that I'm quite knowledgeable with cars and often bring the problem in diagnosed with replacement parts ready so jerking me around would be futile anyway.

As for your specific examples...

1: How is someone supposed to tell if an axle is going to fail if the boot isn't ruptured? Do you expect them in a PPI to pull the rearend apart and inspect?

2: Simple mistake that they would have corrected for free. Its not like they're working on old SLS systems on a daily basis.

3: They likely traced the vacuum leak down to the central locking system and recommended replacing them. Why should they start pulling door panels and testing them individually $$$ and replace only the failed ones with the left over older ones likely to give trouble down the road.

As for the linkage thing, I'm sure they would have fixed that for you for free as well.

4: Wagon variants and '85 models lead people to confusion. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded you correcting him.

5: There's the only shady incompetent thing I've seen so far with your stuff. Safe to say you can avoid that shop.

6: The first thing I'd do is look at those flex discs. You don't want those to catastrophically and are often the culprit of intermittent vibrations.

This is a very good summation. One thing that I have always hated about working on old cars is that it is impossible to predict what it will be next. Hell, if I could do that, I'd have been able to retire when I was 30! Lets face it, $h!t breaks if its dry rotted, brittle, and old. In fact, I have dreaded it every time one is drug into the shop because I know that somewhere along the way there will be a liability to be had. Seldom can a tech make much money without some aggravation. I have even lost money on some. And for someone to expect near perfection - that of even the best tech, is unfair - at least on a 10+ year old car.

However, credibility and honesty is lost when parts are broken and then covered up, and for that I would never go back again. Most sensible people know what they have and are willing to pay a little extra to have things done correctly, if need be. And, if a shop specializes in these old MB's then they should recognize weak points and their correct fix.

So, I stand with everyone else. The only way to really appreciate what it takes to really keep one of these old things going is to stand in the trenches, roll up your sleeves, and do battle, get greasy, and become an expert on your own car.

--just my 2 denarii
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Mark in NC

"Spark plugs?...We don't need no stinking spark plugs!"
1985 300SD "Der Silberne Schlitten" 420,000 mi


Wish these were diesel:
2003 Ford Club Wagon 130,000 mi
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  #9  
Old 02-25-2011, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bustedbenz View Post
Does this hold true for a w126? Which floor mats?
Not sure about the 126 since it has an electric vacuum pump (in the trunk?) On a 123 you can access the lines under the front floor mats.
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1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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  #10  
Old 02-27-2011, 12:03 PM
Flawless
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Buffalo, New York
Posts: 139
If you are still looking at an independant, you might consider Dias Automotive in Pittsboro, NOrth Carolina. I am not sure how far a drive that is for you, but based upon my experiences with Dias, you will leave knowing that someone else cares about your car as much as you do. Dias has decades of experiences with our indulgences, and conducts his work with YOUR wallet in mind. I am a well pleased customer, and know that if I am ever in a jam, Dias is as close as the phone. He can be reached at 919.542.1114 (I hope this endoursment does not violate the form rules...)
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  #11  
Old 02-27-2011, 12:56 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Abbotsford, BC
Posts: 61
I've completely given up on anyone else servicing any of my vehicles. The experience that nailed the coffin shut personally was getting my valves adjusted. I had no time as we were leaving on holidays and I was busy tying up loose ends at work so I took it in.
Understand this is on the 409 and I knew it would be a little more trouble as you need to have two people... one to check the cam and the other to turn the crank from underneath.
As I can do the entire job on the 126 in 45 minutes I was expecting to be billed 1.5 to 2 hrs. I was billed over $500!!! And I supplied the gasket!
When I asked how that is possible they explained they had to remove the grill (two tabs... do they charge for opening a hood!?), they had trouble removing the engine cover (how is that my problem?), and that they had to remove the oil filler neck... 4 - 6mm bolts (10 minutes off and on tops).
Ultimately they gave me half back in credit but I can't see myself ever being able to use it... I just don't trust them.
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85 W126 SD OM617.951
87 409D 650S OM617.913
93 E34 Touring M50B25TU
02 E46 Sport M54B30TU

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  #12  
Old 02-27-2011, 01:28 PM
general nuisance
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: des moines, ia
Posts: 394
Yeah, I don't think I could take my vehicle to anyone for that kind of stuff either. For the Mercedes I can think of one person who I would trust if it came to that but he's a private indy running his own place in the country and he's the only one, and he would be more than happy to have me voice my thoughts and discuss.

For the VW's, no, there's no one I would take them to, end of story, I can do everything they need and I hear too many bad things about the local VW dealer and other VW dealers so no no no.

Had a 87 VW Quantum Syncro wagon once, spent a fortune at an indy replacing the disc brakes front and rear, they failed to put the rubber boot on the rear caliper back over the ebrake cable end and it froze that way in the winter. I wouldn't have cared had they admitted it but I took it in and they 'fixed' the problem, and when I went back they denied it was that way...ok, done here.

Dodge dealer in Des Moines once called me after I took the van in for replacing an egr valve and trans shifting problem, said they couldn't get the doghouse off because of a (factory) installed console, I had to go down there and do it for them...lol

There have been other situations as well.
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  #13  
Old 02-27-2011, 02:41 PM
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Posts: 18,355
Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerBenz View Post
I've completely given up on anyone else servicing any of my vehicles. The experience that nailed the coffin shut personally was getting my valves adjusted. I had no time as we were leaving on holidays and I was busy tying up loose ends at work so I took it in.
Understand this is on the 409 and I knew it would be a little more trouble as you need to have two people... one to check the cam and the other to turn the crank from underneath.
As I can do the entire job on the 126 in 45 minutes I was expecting to be billed 1.5 to 2 hrs. I was billed over $500!!! And I supplied the gasket!
When I asked how that is possible they explained they had to remove the grill (two tabs... do they charge for opening a hood!?), they had trouble removing the engine cover (how is that my problem?), and that they had to remove the oil filler neck... 4 - 6mm bolts (10 minutes off and on tops).
Ultimately they gave me half back in credit but I can't see myself ever being able to use it... I just don't trust them.
Clearly a rip off. The 409d is actually easier to work on since you can sit right next to the motor.

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1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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