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Old 05-26-2001, 01:20 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: SF
Posts: 202
Hey folks, I am to P.O'd to tell ya just how bad it was, maybe when I cool down this evening I can lay it out but...I have a question concerning my 86 190E 2.3 Air Con and the actuators. The main problem was that I was getting hot air from the vents and cool/fresh(from the middle) and AC had no effect. The write up said "AC doesn't work right" They replaced the defrost actutor (4.0 hrs.) and gave back the car. Car comes back, I turn on the AC and.....same problem. The second time, they replaced another mixing actuator and charged me another 3.5 hrs! Question 1) Are both these actuators under the dash and require its removal to access them? 2) Wouldn't any tech CHECK to the damn AC to see if the first try fixed it? 3)The service writer said the defrost actuator is accessed from under the hood and the mixing actuator is under the dash, thus the seperate charges for both. (about 8.0 hrs for both) I am under the impression that I kinda got screwed? Any thoughts?
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Old 05-26-2001, 01:59 PM
Posts: n/a
'Sounds like trial-and-error type analysis & repair - mostly error. Good luck.
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Old 05-26-2001, 02:04 PM
Johnson Chan
Posts: n/a
Sounds like you got screwed.

This happened to me before so dont be too upset. I know how you feel, trust me I do. I spent about $1500.00 in car repairs and my car didnt start still. I told the service advisor I will not pay you $1500.00 and tow my car back home.

Anyway, you would think a state of the art MB dealership would have testing equipment, code readers and a lot of knowledge. You and I can do a plug and pray repair job, why take it to them?
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Old 05-26-2001, 02:55 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 1,193
I have had my car to 3 different MB dealers to fix my rough idle. None fixed it, one told me there was no rough idle after advising me to have it checked out two weeks earlier, another told me to junk the car without having done any tests on it and the third told me to live with it. Needless to say the only MB dealer I will eb returning to is the express service centre for fluid changes and brake work. Anything that requires a real mechanic will be handled by an independent.

Jason Priest
1999 E430
1995 E420 - retired
1986 420SEL - retired
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Old 05-26-2001, 04:49 PM
Johnson Chan
Posts: n/a
Jason Priest,

Did you try a compression test yet? I had a rough idle problem that I couldnt get rid of, replace motor mounts, tranny mounts, cleaned injector, air filter, etc. etc. etc.

The compression test told of low compression on one of the cylinders so it made some sence afterwards.
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Old 05-27-2001, 02:43 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: SF
Posts: 202

I opened the hood to see what else may have been screwed up, it didn't take long to find that they didn't put ONE SINGLE SCREW back in the plastic pieces under the windshield/around the windshield wiper area. Also destroyed was the plastic shield for the OVP/Fuel Pump Relay.....lots of grease in the carpet and in the carpet trim pieces around the hood release.......this is bull$hit..
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Old 05-27-2001, 08:22 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 356
In one of the threads I read lately someone suggested building a database of good independent techs xcross the country. I thought that was a good Idea - Reading your experience makes me think of the opposite too-Post the Dealers name , so others can avoid them at any cost....
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Old 05-27-2001, 09:29 AM
Posts: n/a
China Clipper,

I'm sorry for your problems. Clearly you need to find another service provider. Since the car is obviously out of warranty, look for a quality independent service center. Ask for recommendations through this site for one in your city or area.

Good luck in resolving this issue and finding a shop that SERVES YOU WELL.

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Old 05-27-2001, 10:00 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: New Location: VA Palo Alto HEALTH CARE SERVICES
Posts: 109
welcome to the club....I guess each and every one had experienced these kind of nightmare one way or another. Let get together and form a database of good independent MB techs in order that we can only patronized those that really performs within our own expectations. This will be a very big step forward in showing to our brethrens that we do really care...
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Old 05-27-2001, 10:20 AM
Posts: n/a
Repair shops

Sorry you're having such a tough time, China. gidpor has a good idea about a database of good repair shops and mechanics. However, I think the best thing for any MB owner is to get his/her hands on a good shop manual of some sort for their particular car(s). I have an excellent mechanic, but a year ago, I had a problem with him. My 380SE would die when I came to a stop. I did a little reading and deduced that the problem was in the idle control switch. Went to mechanic, told him what I thought. He wasn't persuaded, and he wanted to do some elaborate (and expensive) tests. I gave it some thought, and then, coincidentally, the car's RPM at idle jumped. I took the car back to the mechanic, and he slipped in a new idle control switch. Problem solved. If owners will do a little of their own investigating, and pay attention to the advice here, they can do a lot to help themselves. Having said all of that, I'd be in favor of data base (nationwide) listing all of the shops that seem good. Have a good holiday, everybody.
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Old 05-27-2001, 10:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I really feel for the American automotive consumer. There are absolutely no industry standards in what must be one of the largest service industries.

I have told the story many times that if I were the Fugitive the safest place to work would be as a farm laborer or an automotive technician. There is a great segment of the industry that doesn't even need (or have) a social security number.

It takes so little to say you can repair cars that many people stay with the dealers for a semblance of legitimacy.

I have been involved with shops nationwide for years through a number groups: ASA, ASE, iATN, STS, IAIBMWSP, and as a BSC (Bosch Service Center). I would like to give my jaded opinion of clues to use in finding a good shop.

For 95% of your repairs and service, the best value will be with an independent. The reasons have to do with why they exist at all. They are usually the business result of a very good tech/manager. This means that technology will be a significant part of the highest manager. They are often family oriented and they usually draw most of their income from service NOT sales. At least in small cities, they can not stand to do poor work. I said 95% because, unfortunately the tools necessary to do the last 5% are beyond most small shops capabilities.

Now for some standards. I would start my search by looking for a BSC in the area. There are only 500 across the country. They were hand picked by Bosch from the cream of the industry. Many great shops didn't go with Bosch but all that did are special. I would verify that MB is a specialty (many BSCs only do MB but many only do BMW or Porsche, so check it out).

Look for AAA approved shops. That may seem silly, but the standards of AAA shops are REAL. To be a AAA shop one must pass a FBI background test, pass a visual inspection of all required equipment, and have certified techs in any area being worked on, and submit 100 consecutive work orders for a CSI (consumer satisfaction index) study which only 90 and above will pass.

Probably the best clues will be found from your friends and neighbors. Check out the various shops, interview them about anything but price, first. Ask their level of equipment specifically. This may require the type of knowledge easily attainable here. In other words if you have a 98 E320 they better have at least a CS2000 scanner or better if you have a light on. If they are doing front end work, do they have an alignment machine?

View the certifications. I wouldn't think too highly of any shop without an ASE Master Tech. This is a minimum lately, I would only take a driveability problem to a shop with a L1 certificate. This is a real certificate based on a hard test (only 25% of Masters passed the first time).

I will get off the soap box after one more comment. Please don't condemn a business through the results of a single event. In our business we write almost 10,000 invoices a year. I guarantee we will not do the best thing in every one of them AND I guarantee that if we were perfect we would still have people who thought we were wrong.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 05-27-2001, 10:57 AM
BENZ-LGB's Avatar
Strong, silent type
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,663
See my post under ROUGH COLD IDLE FIXED

China Clipper, 420SEL (Jason) and GIDPOR: I share your disappointment and anger with crappy M-B dealership repairs. In my post I wrote about a rough cold ilde issue with my 1991 420SEL. The dealer told me to (in short order): (1)replace all 8 injectors, (2)replace an allegedly leaky EHA, (3)fix an alleged vacuum leak from intake manifold and (4)replace the fuel distributor. I decided to do (1) & (2). The car still had a rough cold idle (they didn't even bother to check it or test it). The dealer then said I had to do numbers (3) and (4). I asked if that would FIX the rough idle. The dealer said there were no guarantees. I then took it to an independent mechanic who laughed at the folly of the dealer's parts-jockey and at their inability to diagnose a simple problem straight out of MECHANIC 101. With all their fancy equipment, multiple service bays, carpeted waiting rooms, Starbuck type coffee service and smiling receptionists these dealership so-called mechanics STILL CAN'T fix cars.

Anyhow, my independent mecahnic checked the car, did a leak down test and discovered a sticky/tight exhaust valve in cylinder #6. He said that the diagnosis for rough cold idle is a MECHANICS 101 no-brainer. He adjusted the valve, replaced a rocker arm shim ($7.50 for parts) and the engine now idles so smoothly it is unbeliveable! Total cost was a tiny fraction of what replacing the fuel distributor (parts only) alone would have cost me.

I am seriously considering reporting the dealer to the state's BAR (Bureau of Auto Repairs) for doing/recommending unnecesary repairs. My mechanic says the fuel distributor is in 100% good shape and that there are no leaks, whatsoever, in the intake manifold. The M-B dealer in my area caters to rich, film industry types. They probably just write a check for whatever the dealer tells them to write and do not ask many questions. I guess the dealer would rather deal with people like them rather than with people like us, who ask "too many" questions.

Guys, sorry about this long post, but I guess that China clipper's problem with the dealer and 420SEL (Jason) own problem and my own experience just exposed a raw nerve. I really HATE to see people getting ripped off and lied to.

OK, OK, I'll get off my high horse now.

Have a great weekend!
Current Benzes

1989 300TE "Alice"
1990 300CE "Sam Spade"
1991 300CE "Beowulf" RIP (06.1991 - 10.10.2007)
1998 E320 "Orson"
2002 C320 Wagon "Molly Fox"

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Old 05-27-2001, 11:02 AM
Posts: n/a
Steve Brotherton,

Thank you for sharing your experience, wisdom and insight. This forum is truly a better place because of voices like yours. Keep writing!

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Old 05-27-2001, 11:16 AM
benzfan's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto
Posts: 277
A list of recommended independants would be a great idea, but how about a list of dealers people trust too? I have had particularly good service from dealers in Ottawa and Toronto. My dealer in Durham Region, east of Toronto, in particular has been terrific. They frequently squeeze me in after I finish work in the afternoon, sometimes with no more than a phone call that morning to ask if they can. Their mechanics are approachable and will happily discuss things in detail. I find though, that the single most important you can do is arm yourself with knowledge before taking the car in. Describe in detail the steps you have already taken to isolate a problem. The service people sometimes have to make a diagnosis with the flimsiest descriptions of problems.
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Old 05-27-2001, 11:52 AM
Kuan's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: At the Birkebeiner
Posts: 3,810

You could try Stu Ritter's. They're in Denver.

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