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Old 04-05-2001, 12:22 PM
Posts: n/a
I sent this letter to my dealer.
Tell me what you think about the problem I have.
April 5, 2001
Inyanga Motors
To Whom It May Concern:

C Class manual transmission definitely C class

“The C-class gives you an accurate, comfortable gear change each time, with a 6-speed manual transmission standard on 4-cylinder models (C180, C200K, and C220 CDI).” –
Mercedes Benz UK
“We created the New C for people who expect more out of life. People inspired by expert craftsmanship and true beauty. People with the wisdom to recognize a superior automobile, from the striking big picture to the elegant details. People whose craving for inspiration and achievement is reflected in all what they do...and in the vehicles they drive.
In the 2001 C-Class, we've created something that's completely new. And completely Mercedes-Benz. Put yourself behind the wheel of the New C.
And Live. A lot. “ -
Mercedes Benz USA
Why then am I having problems with the manual transmission of my month old new C Class 200 Kompressor?
During the whole gear change process the transmission makes a very audible ‘clunking’ noise. I can even feel a shudder at times. Passengers who sit at the back say that they can feel it whenever I change gear. The sound is also audible outside the car and it is embarrassing to drive around town.
One of the mechanics and a salesman at my dealership agreed that there was a noise and told me to demonstrate this to the district service manager, Tom Doig, when he arrived for an inspection. Mr. Doig said that this sound is normal! He said that it happened on the old C Class manuals and it seems that the new C Class has the same problem. He suggested that I change my driving style so that the sound is less audible! Maybe Mercedes should offer a course on how to drive the new C Class because everyone else who has driven the car has heard the same noise. Mr. Doig said that he has noted the problem and he will have to wait for a response if any from Mercedes Benz Germany if anything will be done about the "normal" sound. I met Mr. Doig on the 9th of March 2001. I have not heard anything from him and no one from the Mercedes dealership is able to help me.
When I purchased this vehicle there were no demo manual models to test drive and I was not made aware that the manual version made unusual noises when changing gear.
This is not an isolated incident. A colleague of mine has the exact same problem with his 200 Kompressor and Mercedes has given him the same answer.

I am expecting my next C Class in June. This is a replacement for my initial Avantgarde spec order which was damaged whilst on transit. The vehicle I currently have is a loan car until then. For this I do not want the same problem occurring with my next car.
I feel that Mercedes Benz should not be selling an inferior product if they know full well that there is something wrong. I would like them to either fix the noisy transmission or add an automatic transmission to my next vehicle.
I am frustrated after spending over R190 000 on a "luxury" car that it sounds worse than an old bakkie when changing gear and I get a response that it is “normal”.
This is not what I expected from Mercedes Benz. It’s now my turn to make a noise.
Gregory D. Naidu

A Once Proud Pre-Owner
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Old 04-05-2001, 12:46 PM
JimF's Avatar
'94 S500: only 793 sold!
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,929

You have my backing! Don't know what to say other than I hope it gets resolved quickly.

Maybe you can refuse acceptance of the new car AND still get your money back!

Or maybe you can decline acceptance and buy a different car, possibly a used MB w/ automatic transmission.
Regards . . . . JimF
'94 S500 Cpe

Visit my Mercedes Web Page
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Old 04-05-2001, 01:31 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Northumberland, UK
Posts: 1,294
How's your clutch control?

If your passengers can feel your gearchanges, that is probably because you're not changing gear very smoothly.

I have been a passenger in a W202 C180 manual and in many manual W124 taxis. The gear lever does seem to "click" or "thunk" from selection to selection. Is this what you mean?

I always found it a satisfying reminder of how well built a Mercedes is: one of the taxis showed 457,000 miles and the driver told me that was all on the same engine and gearbox (2 clutches, though).

Why do you want a manual anyway? My advice is: spec your car with an automatic transmission. I don't see why you shouldn't pay for it, although you have some leverage in the fact that your car is being delivered late because it was damaged in transit. It will depreciate less. The foot operated parking brake will not be a nuisance. It will be smoother. It will be better. Unless you are a racing driver, you will not be able to drive the manual car faster.
JJ Rodger
1999 SL 500
1993 320 TE
1986 500 SEC
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Old 04-05-2001, 01:50 PM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862

I have had to interact with regional managers at MB before, and in my experience, their job is to dismiss problems rather than to resolve them. Regional managers are handlers.

It is possible that all MB C class manual transmissions behave as yours. Only way to tell is to drive a some and find out for yourself. If car manufacturer’s cars all behave the same way, they do tend to say that the behavior is normal. It does not make it right. The bad news is that, if this is the case, there is nothing that anyone can or will do about it.

If after trying a few cars, you find the transmission is still not satisfactory, absolutely do not accept the other car. Either get one with an automatic transmission or get yer money back. I don’t know have first hand experience, but seriously doubt that MB will retro fit an automatic transmission into a car built with a manual transmission.

Best of luck!!! Keep up posted!

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Old 04-05-2001, 02:23 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
You are paying a premium for a brand new MB

If they are unable to fully satisfy you, refuse delivery of the car and walk out. You shouldn't have to put up with them. In my opinion, you should stick with the stick, they are infinitely better than autos (even better than that).

Don't let them slip one past you and good luck

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Old 04-05-2001, 02:45 PM
Posts: n/a
First of all I would like to thank everyone for their submissions.

jjrodger: When I say that my passenger feel the gear change I don't mean I'm "jerking" them around. The actually feel something under the car! (Sounds like a horror movie...huh?)

I enjoy driving a manual car, the feeling of control although I must say that I could live with the tip shipt if forced to.

I've taken the car back to the dealership today and invited the sales manager and service manager to take the vehicle for a test drive. The sales manager sounded surprised to hear the noise while the service manager played it down by saying that the sound was caused because of a backlash. And I believe him. What I can't understand is why Mercedes cannot fix the problem. I've never heard a noise like this in any other car and I've driven quite a few.

Lebenz: Yes Merc does tend to dismiss problems than resolve them. That's exactly what I'm experiencing. It's really frustrating.

I wouldn't mind if they changed the box in my next car to an auto if this problem is a "feature". I just don't see why I should pay the small fortune for an auto when it's the Merc product that has the problem.

Again thanks for the support.

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Old 04-05-2001, 03:11 PM
Brian K
Posts: n/a
Sorry to hear your problem.
I don't know if its the same trans as in the US C240 6 speed (I would imagine its the same, though), the clunking noise is definately NOT normal!
My 6 speed shifts with no "clunking" sound.
Hope you can get it resolved!
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Old 04-05-2001, 05:56 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Saugus, CA USA
Posts: 2,022
I have a 91 190e 5 speed that took the longest of any stick to figure out how to shift smoothly. My feeling is almost all of shifting smoothly is throttle control, engine response including weight of the flywheel and the type of fuel system. My motorcycle has the carbs right on the head and almost no flywheel. I have to run through the whole shift sequence real fast to get a smooth shift. My Peugeot diesel has real good response but a heavy flywheel. My wife's got good response with multiport fuel injection, (injectors pointed at the intake valves). But the Mercedes has doggy response for shifting with its fuel distributor at the end of mile long fuel lines. With my variety of experience on different throttle-engine-clutch response machines I've made the Mercedes shift like silk, but if I'm off just a little bit there is lots of clunking. Another factor in engine response is the loading of the air conditioning compressor (its a real surprise when it switches mid-shift). Of course being an engineer helps figuring all this out.

But my real feeling is that you all should wait for the great Larry Bible to show his head on-line.
5 speed '91 190E 2.6 320,000 mi. (new car, fast, smooth as silk six, couldn't find any more Peugeots)
5 speed '85 Peugeot 505 2.5l Turbo Diesel 266,000 mi. (old car, fast for a diesel, had 2 others)
5 speed '01 Jetta V6 (new wifes car, pretty quick)
5 speed '85 Peugeot 505 2.2l Turbo Gas 197,000 mi. (wifes car, faster, sadly gone just short of 200k )
5 speed '83 Yamaha 750 Maxim 14,000 mi. (fastest)
0 speed 4' x 8' 1800 lb Harbor Freight utility trailer (only as fast as what's pulling it)
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Old 04-05-2001, 09:56 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: ajax, ontario, canada
Posts: 773
i second the motion, Jim Anderson.

i still cannot figure out how to consistently shift my 89 190e2.6 5spd smoothly, after close to 3yrs of owning it. It needs a lot of attention and proper seat adjustment to do it well. In fact, i can figure out that my reflexes are bad for the day (i.e., bad hair days) when i consistently shift poorly. And when you do let out the clutch prematurely, you feel the shudder in the driveline.

when i do shift smoothly, it becomes quite satisfying, especially if i heel-and-toe the thing. If only my passengers knew how much skill that takes ...

but ask me if i would trade it in for something else ...

as for the noise heard from the outside, i believe it is not normal. That is, my car does not make those noises.
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