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Old 09-04-2002, 06:05 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Is it possible that I have dodged a $600 bullet? (fuel sender problem C230)

Well, during our lengthy trip to B.C., my fuel gauge seemed to be on the blink. Not wanting to drop below the one third remaining mark. I assumed the "second" sending unit was sticking, and found that replacing both units on a W202 is a $600 proposition.

At one point, I had driven 550 km's, and the gauge was reading 1/3 gone. Than I put 39L in. 39L is WAY more than 1/3 gone. More like 1/3 left.

Anyway, due to that, I have not been trusting the gauge, and topping it frequently.

On Monday, we went to Calgary and back. I stopped at Red Deer on the way home (at about 500 km's showing on the trip odo) and put 12 litres in, just to make sure I would make it home.

Well, I got home, and sure enough, the gauge was reading 1/3 remaining. So, now I'm curious as heck. What will happen? With 700 km's showing on the odo, I fill a small jerry-can with gas, and drop it in the trunk.

After two days of errands and 150 km's more driving, the gauge has been reading MOSTLY (see below) normal. At 850 km's showing, it's at 1/8 of a tank and looks like the light will come on soon.

One funny thing it does is go up a little bit after driving the car a few minutes. Not much, but a little. Can't say it hasn't always done this, as I've never paid such close attention to that little needle before. Sloshing? Expansion?

So, maybe the gauge is working properly, but somehow my car's fuel economy is better? (850km's on the 55L +12L top-up is 7.9L/100km's or 30.5 MPG US) That mileage is not unusual for the highway, I might get even higher, but not for the 140+ km/h pace that Highway 2 from Edmonton to Calgary sets. Usually, I get much worse at those speeds.

So, now I'm in a quandry. The gauge SEEMS to be working properly, but I'm still a little unsure of trusting it. Okay, I'm a paranoid nut, but I KNOW the majority of you are, otherwise what the heck are you doing reading this?

I don't want to drop $600 for new sending units 'fer nothing. The dealer has indicated no way of testing them without doing all the labour of changing them out.

My thinking is that I'll run a few more tanks through and see how it does, but I HATE it when I think something might be wrong with my car. You leave one thing, and then another comes up later, and then you leave it too. Before you know it, the car is rolling junk like 90% of the cars on the road.

Venting done...
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 09-04-2002, 06:25 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
Are the gauges that expensive in Canada? Mine works most of the time, so I am not bothering with it for now. I think the 2 senders are a little less than $200 US currency last time I researched it, and they seem to be a dealer only item.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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Old 09-04-2002, 06:32 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Originally posted by Ali Al-Chalabi
Are the gauges that expensive in Canada?...
Unfortunately, YES.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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Old 09-04-2002, 07:29 PM
JCE's Avatar
JCE JCE is offline
Down to the Wear Bars
Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
Posts: 2,189
MB gas sending units seem to be a weak area. The sending units were replaced twice under warranty (with less than 32,000 miles) on our 1998 C230 - once in the first 9k miles, and again at about 22k. And I would guess that the sending unit topic has probably come up here at least as often as the wiring harness and evaporator core discussions. I have taken to just filling the tank anytime the trip meter show close to 300 miles on either of my MBs, regardless of what the gauge indicates.

2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
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Old 09-04-2002, 10:49 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 512

Having owned and operated a C230 for five years, here's my thinking...

... driving the same machine 15,000 miles per year over the past five years (without fuel gage issues), here's what I can tell you....

For typical surburban duty, tank after tank, my C230 returns approximately 27 miles per gallon.

(Sorry, I too lazy to do metric).

Throw in a 500 or 1000 mile highway trip, and I get an approximate average of 37 miles per gallon for the trip at approximately 70 miles per hour average (higher at slower speeds).

The freaky party is that upon returning to surburban driving (after the highway trip), I get way over my average surburban 27 miles per gallon (closer to the highway mgp figures). It usually lasts for about a tank or two.

The efficiency of this machine never fails to amaze me.

1988 300 SL (5 Speed)
1994 E320 Wagon
1997 C230
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Old 09-04-2002, 11:05 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Accokeek, MD
Posts: 683
Love your definition of a criminal !


1993 190E 2.3
2000 Toyota 4x4 Tundra
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