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Old 11-01-2001, 09:33 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 93
Body work

My wife's "perfect" 1988 300TE has sustained the first significant body damage of it's 13 year existence. My wife cut a corner too sharp leaving a local bank's drive thru and hit a steel/concrete pole with the right rear passenger door. The damage is localized to the door and a small part of the rear wheelwell. The trim strip is ruined and there is a smooth dent (no creases) the length of the door centered on the trim strip continuing into the wheelwell where the small piece of trim is. Along with the dent there is a good amount of white paint from the pole on the door (car is dark red).

Fortunately, neither of us has been in an accident before, so I have very limited experience dealing with body shops and body work estimates. I have talked with my independent tech. and the local dealer for bodyshop recommendations, but I thought the members on this list could give me some advice on what to look for/questions to ask when getting estimates and dealing with bodyshops. Specifically in reference to work on older Mercedes. Are there any specific techiques a bodyshop should know when working on these vehicles(vs. working on a Jap/Domestic vehicle) ?

I am hoping to return this car to its former glory (as close as possible), preferably without having to re-spray the door. To my untrained eye it looks as if the dent can be popped out (w/a PDR process) and I can not find any spots where the paint has been cut (the trim took the brunt of the force). Will also need to safely remove the white paint from the door.

Any advice from experienced listers or recommendations for shops in the Charleston, SC area would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Ed C.
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Old 11-01-2001, 12:15 PM
Posts: n/a
I was side swiped a few months ago in my '97 C230. The right front quarter panel as well as the door needed replacement. Nevertheless, my gut instinct was to take the car to a Benz dealership with a body shop to have the work done and I'm glad I did.
A bit of history: When I bought the car, the right passenger door was painted at a non-benz shop (I was told that there was sufficient paint scratches to warrent a re-paint by the dealership where I bought it). I noticed that when closing the right door a sort of rattling noise. Being new to this type of car, I didn't pay much attention to it. When the benz shop worked on the car, the mechannic told me that the door had not been properly reassembled and that non-benz parts were used (hence the noise). The door now closes like a vault - this is because it was properly attended to by an authorized benz body shop.

To make a long story short, if you want the car back to how it was previously, go to a MB body shop and get it done right.
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Old 11-01-2001, 12:52 PM
Posts: n/a
Body Shop Info

I would recommend the following (I'm an Independent Collision Repair Shop Owner):

I agree with the latter, if you have a MB shop (dealer owned) that would be a good bet provided they are certified by MB. Also check to see if they are certified as preferred shops by the major insurance companies (State Farm, Farmers, etc.). An independent shop would work just as well provided they have the same insurance certification.

Questions to ask:

1. Warranty - Labor, Parts, as well as paint.
2. Parts - Used, Aftermarket, or MB (be aware that most collision parts for MB (fenders, etc.) are made in the USA, so if your car was made in Germany, there may be fitting problems). Aftermarket parts are a way to save money, sometimes you get a good fit and other times you don't - I have had good and bad experiences with aftermarket. Used parts are a great savings and will provide good solid fits - make sure there is no rust.

I would definitely ask to see the shop itself - this will give an indication of how they will take care of your baby - dirty shop, dirty work.
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Old 11-01-2001, 02:51 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: California
Posts: 324
Check your insurance policy. It may say that they will only pay for "quality aftermarket parts when available". If you can't win the argument that this should not apply to MB cars, then you might be able to work out something with the shop where you pay the difference to get authentic MB parts.

Make sure you go to a shop that guarantees EVERYTHING to your satisfaction. Fit, finish, color match, everything. If they don't, keep looking. It takes a really solid shop to provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee. They can't all do it and still make money.

Paintless dent removal is pretty limited.

04 ML500
02 E430

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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