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Old 05-14-2005, 12:25 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 18
Rotors "Destroyed"?

I have a 98 ML320 I bought in Dec. 04. Prior to purchase, I brought it to my personal mechanic who told me that I was going to need front pads after a few thousand miles, but otherwise ok. The person I bought it from had it serviced at Mercedes in Sept. 04, when she had 4 new tires installed as well as an alignment. Since that time, about 5000 miles were put on the car. The brakes feel fine and there is no wobble or anything. I had it in for an A service today and the writer told me the brakes and rotors were "destroyed" and needed replacement. I found this odd because I was experiencing no problems and I knew they couldn't even have taken the wheels off because they didn't have the key for the wheel locks. Is it possible they're correct? I thought you had to check the run-out and all that stuff before you could even tell. I can't believe that if there were something wrong, they would have noticed something in Sept, when they pulled the wheels. Since I bought the car in Dec., I put at most 2000 miles on it. What do I need to know? PS - my receipt reads that no fault codes showed up on the computers and the car road tested without occurences. Thanks for your help.

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Old 05-14-2005, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
How bad do they have to be? I can probably see bad rotors from twenty feet out.... through the wheel. Depends on the problem. Knowing that MLs use up a set of discs atleast every second set of pads helps in the remote analysis. Stick your hand through the wheel and feel the lip at the edge of the disc (that an experienced tech can see). The disc is flat when new. There is a limit to how thin the rotor can get and when you know where they start and can see more lip than the wear tolerance, it gets real easy.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:08 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Exeter, NH
Posts: 139
Service writers are worse then used car salesmen.

I took my wifes BMW to the dealer to have the heater core replaced(could not find anyone else that would touch it) and after she picked it up she was all in a panic because the service writer told her the front and rear rotors were junk and her brakes could fail at any time. Needles to say i had to jack up the car and check it out and yes the pads and rotors were worn but they went for another 10k before i replaced them(front only). I can not imagine having to take my car to be worked on by a dealer on a regular basis.

I would take it to an indy if you are realy woried about it. But it sounds to me like you should be fine.
82 Rabbit diesel (first d), 84 Jetta turbo d (300k when sold), 83 240d (305k when sold), 84 F250 6.9d w/Banks turbo(parts truck), 86 F250 6 cyl.gasser(waiting for 6.9d), 84 300d ( 347k Sold 8/04), Y2k New Bettle TDI (185k miles), 95 740IL (wifes), 87 300TD (206k Sold 7/05), 05 Passat TDI Wagon
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:12 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,947
The rotors probably do need to be replaced. But I would leery about a service dept that throws around such stong terms as "destroyed" when they should really say "worn and should be replaced". I would want a different service rep at least.

1998 C230 330,000 miles (currently dead of second failed EIS, yours will fail too, turning you into the dealer's personal human cash machine)
1988 F150 144,000 miles (leaks all the colors of the rainbow)
Previous stars: 1981 Brava 210,000 miles, 1978 128 150,000 miles, 1977 B200 Van 175,000 miles, 1972 Vega (great, if rusty, car), 1972 Celica, 1986.5 Supra
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:47 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: OREGON
Posts: 137
I agree with mpolli's comment about their terminology and how much that reflects on their professionalism. get a second opinion.
And to answer one other question. Mercedes Benz produced thier own brake disc micrometer that can measure rotor thickness through the spokes of the wheel. So Tech's do not need to remove wheels to get an accurate measurement of your brake discs (rotors).
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:54 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 219
"I knew they couldn't even have taken the wheels off because they didn't have the key for the wheel locks."

Not to dispute Steve's advice that experienced techs actually don't need to take the wheels off to read the rotors...

I think dealers may have some sort of master wheel lock keys.

There's no wheel lock on our W124. But our family van does have such and we never need to hand the wheel lock key to the dealer -- they're still able to take wheels off to rotate tires, etc.
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Old 05-14-2005, 04:59 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Holland, MI
Posts: 1,316
Originally Posted by Chayro
...I had it in for an A service today and the writer told me the brakes and rotors were "destroyed" and needed replacement. I found this odd because I was experiencing no problems and I knew they couldn't even have taken the wheels off because they didn't have the key for the wheel locks. Is it possible they're correct?
You might ask them how they made that determination and see if it makes sense to you.

They can't tell you if they have 10 miles or 10,000 miles left, since they don't know your driving style and probably didn't take an exact measurement.

If they are worn significantly and didn't tell you to replace them, they are then opening themselves up for grief/lawsuits later... not necessarily from you as an individual, but the public in general.

Best Regards,
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Old 05-14-2005, 10:41 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: NY
Posts: 88
as already mentioned, never trust the dealers when it comes to brakes. it's sad how dealers do this to make money but they're actually falsely perpetuating bad reputation for MB vehicles eating brakes. many mb owners are duped into getting new pads every 10k miles, but they need to learn about their cars better. rotors should be changed on 2nd set of pads i believe.
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:21 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 18
This info has been extremely helpful. If indeed, MB recommends rotor replacement after 2 sets of pads, I have no doubt my 320 is due. As I only drive 3K a year, I highly doubt i'll see another rotor replacement. I'd like to give my private mechanic the work. Is it an unusually complicated job, or is it just like rotors on any car?
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:09 AM
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Location: Northern Va.
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Personally speaking, I would call rotors and pads destroyed if the rotors were overheating and were blue and/or the pad material was gone and the backing plates were scraping the rotors.

But, that's just me.


Currently 1965 220Sb, 2002 FORD Crown Vic Police Interceptor

Had 1965 220SEb, 1967 230S, 280SE 4.5, 300SE (W126), 420SEL


Not part of the in-crowd since 1952.
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Old 05-16-2005, 04:02 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Hamilton Square NJ, near Trenton
Posts: 391
I had a Toyota dealer's service writer tell me that the shoes (drum brakes) on my wife's Camry only had 5% of the lining left. That seemed like a pretty specific measurement, so I believed him.

I bought a new set of shoes & pulled the drums. The first one didn't look even half worn. Maybe they only looked at the other one. So I checked the dirt buildup around the plugs and wheel studs. They never even pulled the drums to look.

I put the shoes on anyway as the job was half done just to take a look. The old shoes had LOTS more than 5% left. More like 75%.

The guy flat out lied to me so he could get more money out of my pocket. What's new?
Norm in NJ
Next oil change at 230,000miles
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Old 05-16-2005, 04:12 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
You can certainly tell without pulling the wheels, and it may indeed be time for new rotors. Nothing particularly suspicious about this.

OTOH, brake jobs are a very high margin item, and there is incentive to throw one in while they have the car in hand.
1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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Old 05-16-2005, 04:15 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Baton Rouge La
Posts: 2,631
i stopped doing my own brake jobs years ago...thinking my families safety was the most important thing....

then a few years ago.... a service rep at Goodyear said my wife's expedition needed brakes.... i looked at the previous bill..and it was only 20k earlier... i thought this was crazy...

anyway, I bought the pads and decided to start doing them again myself.... I would say they pads had 50-60% left on each one....

I stopped going to others for almost any kind of work following that..... even oil changes...which i really hate to do...
1989 300ce 129k
( facelifted front,updated tail lights, lowered suspension,bilstein sports, lorinser front spoiler, MOMO steering wheel, remus exhaust,stainless steel brake lines). (Gone)

1997 s320 154k (what a ride). Sold with 179k miles. Replaced with Hyundai Equus

1994 e320 Cabriolet 108k

1972 280se 4.5 153k Owned for 12 yrs, sorry I sold it

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Old 05-16-2005, 05:43 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: NY
Posts: 88
not only are dealers dishonest about needing new pads but they also charge twice as much as indy shops

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