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  #1  
Old 06-22-2002, 07:57 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 263
Sunroof Repair Cost on W126 (Reasonable?)

Due to a real lack of good independent shops in my area, I took my 87 300SDL to a nearby MB dealer to get my sunroof looked at. It would open fine, but had issues closing and venting in the back.

They thought a simple adjustment and lubrication may do the trick, but it didn't. With my permission, the tech took down the headliner and found the right side track was starting to "crumble" and recommended a complete sunroof assembly replacement. He also advised to go ahead and replace the cable since it was already torn down.

The original estimate was between $1800 and $1900, parts and labor. I declined the repair and asked them to reinstall the headliner and verify the sunroof was completely closed. I was planning on just not using the sunroof and maybe looking for recycled parts later on when I had time to tackle the repair myself.

A few hours later, the service advisor called me back. He wanted to let me know the inspection/removal/reinstall they had already done would be around $700 (and no repairs would be made). In good faith, he talked with his service manager and was able to get a break on the price. If I were to go ahead with the repair, the total would be around $1500, parts and labor.

Since this dealer was recommended and the advisor seemed straightforward and honest, I gave permission to go ahead with the repair at their price quote. If I remember correctly, it was about a 50/50 parts/labor. Like $750 parts and $750 labor.

Does this sound in line, and do their tactics seem reasonable?

Thanks.
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Lance Allison
Lance@LanceAllison.com

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:33 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
I am not a sunroof expert by any means, but I have read a number of times on the Ritter-Easley list that MB sunroofs which have the "tilt" feature, like the ones in your car and mine, are devilishly challenging to fix when they eventually go lame, and are really not in the DIY category by most accounts. Sounds to me that you probably came out of the situation about as well as could be expected ...
Steve
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'93 400E
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  #3  
Old 06-22-2002, 05:06 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 352
this situation brings up an appropriate example of mistreating of dealers. (Note I am not a dealer). A person goes to an accoutant, the accountant does all the bookeeping and makes a figure for the person to pay for taxes. Is it right for the person to tell the accountant to sort all the receipts together and charge nothing? A headliner removal is most likely a PITA. What did you expect, for them to put it all back together and charge you nada. If you take your car to the dealer don't expect them to charge you midas prices. And those of you complaining of technician charges haven't experienced paying a dental technician. As a dentist, once one of my equipments break, the technicians charge $130 for every half hour. Once you take your car to the dealer be prepared to bleed; no one is forcing you to take it in.
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2002, 05:38 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 263
So just how is it the dealer is being mistreated? They are charging about $90 an hour for their services and at that price, I expect them to return nothing but top-notch results. There should be NO QUESTION as to whether or not they are overcharging or doing shoddy work.

I went into this knowing it would cost a couple hundred dollars and had no issues with that. I actually have no problem paying what they are quoting, but was simply questioning if I was being offered a fair price. What is wrong with that?

Based on a service invoice dated 09/15/1999 for the same job I am having done, the job total was about $1090. It broke down this way...

Total parts 616.25
Total Labor 428.40 (5.6 hrs @ $76.50/hr)
Taxes 41.60
Shop Charge 4.00

Understandably the labor rate and parts costs have increased nominally since Sept 1999, but going from $1100 to $1500 seems a bit much.

I'm a bit reluctant to take any MB dealership service center at their word anymore. I don't know if you remember reading a post from me around April or May last year, but what should have been a simple replacement aux water pump ended up costing almost $5300. I took it in for a problem they diagnosed as a bad aux water pump and monovalve. About 15 min out of town from picking up the car, it started overheating (which it had never done before). Once it reached about 110-115, I called the service writer. After being assured it was okay to drive with the temp gauge pegged, I hauled it right back to the dealer doing the original work. 10 weeks and $5300 later, the car was fixed. Kinda funny considering my car had a complete top end rebuild/update about 50k miles before. Also, on the service invoice, the overheating was not mentioned. My theory is someone didn't refill the coolant. No way to prove it, I just know the car never had overheating issues prior to their work.

So again, how is it the dealer is being abused?????
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Lance Allison
Lance@LanceAllison.com

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2002, 09:20 PM
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Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
Lance,
What's the name of the dealer? There's someone on the other list who has had a run of bad luck with a certain Chicago dealer -- I don't remember the name ...
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'93 400E
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2002, 02:53 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 263
The dealer that did the top end work was Sud's MB/VW/Volvo in Bloomington/Normal. I've heard nothing but negatives from people around that area.

The sunroof is being fixed by JP Nissan/MB. They are of a different breed. The service advisor was very detailed in explaining what needed to be done. A while back, I bought a new Nissan Maxima from JP. I received excellent service from them while I had the car. I also still receive Christmas cards from the salesperson I bought it from. Another forum member recommends them as well.

It's not that I'm dissing the dealership at all, I was just wanting to get a second opinion.
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Lance Allison
Lance@LanceAllison.com

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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  #7  
Old 06-23-2002, 02:56 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 352
I dont know about your dealer but Calabasas Motorcars is one of the best dealers I have ever been to for service. Other service advisors wont even talk to you if you havent bought a new car in the past month but I have seen advisors in shirt and tie getting dirty trying to fix a 190E. I dont know about your dealership but I suspect if they are tying to falsely compound your problems you should contact MBUSA.

$80 an hour is cheap if they fix the problem with the right tools, right equipment and procedure the first time. I wasnt aware of your H20 pump problem but I suspect some other components were in need of repair for the bill to become $5300

Just imagine my world in which I pay $130 per half hour to temporarily fix a problem and then have it give me problems in a week. I think MB technicians do have the habit to replace any component that shows slightest wear because they are accustomed to having MBUSA picking up the bill.
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  #8  
Old 06-23-2002, 03:08 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 263
I agree, given the amount of training, equipment, manuals, and general overhead most services have, $80/hr is acceptable. It is when incidentals are compared...When "Job A" completed 3 years ago costs $x and the same job "Job B" completed today costs $x+50%, one should question the validity of the charges.

The dealer that did the top end work ended up replacing the heads, valves, springs, etc. I believe whatever was done, whether it be lack of coolant or otherwise, caused the head damage. Maybe it is coincidental, but they did work on part of the cooling system. Prior to taking it in for the aux pump, the car never had any such problems and 15 min after leaving their shop, it overheated. That coupled with incorrectly stating I brought the car back due to a coolant leak, overshooting their original estimate by ~$1000 with no explanation, taking 10 weeks to fix the car, charging >36 hrs labor, and their general apathetic demeanor, made for a real memorable experience. Not a good one.

I work at a very large insurance company. There are several high-end vehicles in our parking garages. Of the marques sold by the above dealer, maybe 10-20% of them are from there. The other cars were purchased elsewhere at least 30 miles away. That must say something. Maybe that should have been my first clue.
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Lance Allison
Lance@LanceAllison.com

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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  #9  
Old 06-23-2002, 03:25 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NY
Posts: 530
Thumbs down Price too high

I know that I will probably get some disagreement on this post but I think that they grossly overcharged. Ive replaced my sunroof before in my old 420SEL (same parts as the 300SDL). Breakage is fairly common when they age. I have yet to see one fail in a W124 (fingers crossed). When you replace the mechanism, there is two sides. Each side consists of a rail, which includes the mechanism. Each rail costs about $110 dollars, and is a dealer only part. That was what the price was 2 years ago. Perhaps they could of raised it.

A sunroof cable is about $50 dollars. These parts are tricky to put in, I wouldnt attempt it if you have never had experience with it before. You can easily snap the new rails if your not careful. A good independant mercedes mechanic can do the job in about 2 hours. Mercedes only gives you 1 year parts warranty on them. So after 1 year, if it breaks, your screwed. Ive seen new ones break after only a year.

Total parts should be around $300 give or take
Labor shouldnt me more than 4 hours. All depends if the tech ran into any problems. 4 hours is pretty generous.

As far as the inspection goes...the headliner takes about 30 seconds to pull off. Although if the sunroof isnt broken, you dont need to pull the headliner off to inspect the rails. Its fixing an already broken sunroof that is the hard part. You have to slide it back somehow to remove the headliner then unbolt the metal sun roof. The rails will then come out in pieces. The headliner has to be out to make final adjustments to the roof, in the way it seals and closes. Some sunroofs may be out of time, meaning that when you close it from being slid back, it will go right thru the closed position and right to the pop up, or vice versa. I had a mechanic once that said I need a new sunroof motor to fix this. Pretty ridiculous. There is white wheel in the trunk on the sunroof motor assembly that you can pull out, then turn to fine tune the adjustment. Once you see how it works its quite easy to time. I did it myself, and saved 400 dollars on a new motor (that would have to be timed anyways).

The best advice I could give 126 owners is to make sure the sunroof mechanism is properly lubricated. Lack of lubrication is the primary reason for failure. The mechanism will begin to bind, and shim to one side, and snap parts. The rails are very brittle.

Hope this helps some of you...
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2002, 10:15 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 263
Well, I finally picked up the car today. Here is a summary of the invoice.

Sunroof Frame Assy 798.26
Sunroof Cable 64.08
Sliding Seal 13.30
Rubber Pad 12.60
Clamp 2.80

Total Parts 891.04
Labor 826.00
Discount -171.70
Tax 57.92

Total 1603.26

This was a long, drawn out process. However, I couldn't have asked for a better service writer. I was kept in the loop and informed of the costs honestly up front. He also made certain the car was detailed inside and out before it left. It looked like it should be in their used car showroom. Seriously.

Doesn't matter...the main objective was met. My car is fixed and I have it back. That's what matters most to me.
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Lance Allison
Lance@LanceAllison.com

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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  #11  
Old 07-24-2002, 11:36 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 86
I'd like to know what MB would pay for the same job if it was done under warranty?

I'd bet it would be at least half as much if not less....

The only problem I have is with the original cost of $700.00 dollars in which they did nothing. They work on the cars all day long, they know the cars pretty much in and out, at $100.00 dollars an hour, to spend 7 hours to let you know the whole thing needs to be replaced they should be shot.

At the most one hour to decide which direction to head in, christ, I could tell you in two mins if we replace pretty much everything the damn thing will work.

I'm a service manager at a Chevrolet dealership and I see this stuff all the time, no wonder most people are scared to death of "dealers"
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