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Old 10-01-2002, 05:16 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Posts: 9
Yet Another 400E Wiring Harness?

I have a '93 400E and randomly, when trying to start the car after a short stop, nothing happens. More precisely, the starter doesn't engage and the seat belt warning lights flash; the radio won't work and usually displays an error message: "CODE" is the typical message, but once it read "EC."

When this happens, I get lights on the dash but turning the key further does nothing -- like it might behave were the gear selector accidently left in DRIVE or REVERSE.

My "fixes" to date border on voodoo: Rubbing my head four times while walking in a semi-circle and then putting the keys in my LEFT hand. What typically works is waiting patiently for 10-15 minutes (a lot of fun at a busy gas pump, so I wash the windows and check the oil at a glacier's pace :-) ).

Within 15 minutes, I'll try again and the car not only starts without a problem, but the radio will magically "re-code" itself. One time the radio didn't re-code itself but pulling over, turning the car off and starting it again "fixed" everything. Spooky: "I see dead Mercedes..."

I should mention that I know when the problem is happening as I SHUT OFF THE CAR: the antenna mast will not auto-collapse and locking the front door with my key doesn't lock (or subsequently unlock) the other three doors. In fact, the last time this happened I used the key in the trunk and in both front doors, always with the same non-results.

This is no pattern nor predictability to the behavior; it has happened five (5) times since I bought the car in June 2002 (4K miles and almost four months).

Given the transient nature of this electrical anomaly, I suspect that the wiring harness might be the culprit. If that is the problem and I install a new harness, my question is this: Did Mercedes actually *fix* the problem with the harnesses themselves, so I won't be buying one that's going to suffer the same fate in another 10 (or less) years?

Any advice, warnings or recommendations would be greatly appreciated; indeed, anyone have a favorite mechanic or garage (I'm in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)?

Thank you in advance -- this site and its users are a tremendous resource, especially for those of us on our very first M-B. :-)

Thanks again,

--Jim Kimble

"ALPO is 99 cents a can . .. that's almost SEVEN dog dollars!!"

Last edited by jkimble; 10-01-2002 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 10-01-2002, 08:52 AM
it leaks, its german
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: raleigh nc
Posts: 1,111
Check the ignition switch electrical portion and disconnect the alarm control unit. While your there make sure the floors aren't full of water. (you'd be amazed how much water evap drains can put under the carpet. )

Project Smoker, '87 603 powered wagon
Hauler, 96 CTD can you say torque?
Toy 73 Cougar xr7 convertible
Acme Automotive Inc.
Raleigh NC
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Old 10-01-2002, 09:41 AM
John F
Posts: n/a
My .02 worth is to check your OVP, over voltage protection relay.
On my'85 SEC, I had unusual electrical symptoms, ie stumbling at cruise; faulty radio & stuck windows and roof.
In total frustration, I checked the fuse in the OVP and found it was so loose, that it literally fell out in my hand!!
On mine, the red cap will slide off, after the fuse is removed. Then I took a fine pair of needle nose pliers and crimped the contacts "gently". The fuse was held much more securely and the electrical gremlins were/are held at bay.
Good luck, John F.
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Old 10-01-2002, 09:52 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
Joe P nailed it. I'd bet it's in your ignition switch. Everything you describe could be explained on the basis of the switch not turning off. That's why the antenna doesn't retract. It's why your doors don't lock since the car "thinks" the key is still in the ignition and it's designed so you DON'T accidentally lock your keys in the ignition...

Wiring harness problems usually engine-related problems, I believe.

Incidentally, the 400E doesn't have an OVP. The functions of the OVP are incorporated into a fairly expensive "module" in a box under the hood.
'93 400E
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Old 10-02-2002, 04:26 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Posts: 9
Thumbs up

You guys are great -- thanks! It makes so much sense that the ignition switch be involved, but *I* would have never deduced that.

[hand slaps forehead...while still holding wrench...leaves mark]

I've begun to crack the books for ignition switch removal procedures and I'll order new fuses all the way around. I read (somewhere?) that replacing the fuses every three years isn't a bad idea for various and sundry reasons. Does that seem reasonable or am I being silly?

Thanks again. I owe you guys a bottle of Maguires...or a beer.
--Jim Kimble

"ALPO is 99 cents a can -- That's almost SEVEN dog dollars!!"
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Old 10-02-2002, 06:14 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: boston
Posts: 119
This sounds an awfully lot like my problem. I have a 1994 E320, with 148k on it. The problem started a week ago when I was driving. The interior lights came on, seatbelt sign flashing, and my radio stopped putting out sound but stayed on. I got out of the car and my power locks did not work. The problem happened about once a day for a couple days until I took a short trip to the grocery store. Came out and car wouldn't start, just like you were describing. I waited for a couple minutes. Got out, wiggled some wires under the hood, tapped on some things, and then it started up just fine.

I took it to my mechanic the next day, but only because I slammed my hood while my toolkit was still in the engine bay...broke my antifreeze resevoir. My mechanic didn't have a solution, but he checked to see if my ignition switch was loose (it wasn't). Apparently (I say apparently because I haven't talked to him since Friday, they still have my car) they poked around, replaced some fuses, and looked behind the radio at the connections. They didn't find anything odd and were unable to duplicate the problem. They are replacing the starter and the ring gear to fix another problem I was having. I hope that it fixes my electrical problem as well.

But, it's sounding like my ignition switch is going to need replacing soon. I'm glad, in a way, that someone else is having the same problem as me... let me know if you get it fixed.

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Old 10-02-2002, 08:23 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
Good luck to you both!

RE: replacing fuses -- a well-respected charter member of the RItter/Easley list recommends replacing all fuses at 10-year intervals; this apparently can prevent a host of intermittant, weird electrical glitches. Fuses can LOOK good but have hairline fractures which open and close depending on temperature, current flow, moon phase, whatever. Opinions differ but most folks seem to think it's best to get ceramic fuses at an MB dealership.

RE: ignition switches, another separate issue is that it is a good idea to replace the ignition switch TUMBLER (i.e., where the key goes in) periodically, say every 100-150k miles, to prevent the very unfortunate situation where you cannot turn the key in the lock. At times this entails manually drilling out the old cylinder, which is armored and may take 8+ hours of sitting there with a drill ... These are ordered through a dealership and they'll send you a new tumbler and key which is identical to your existing ones, and usually ship overnight.
'93 400E
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Old 05-30-2003, 12:45 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Beech Island, S.C.
Posts: 468
400E no start

I just got one in the shop today with the same problems you talked about. Checked the ignition switch and that was'nt the problem. Turned out to be fuse C in the fuse panel. Looking at it it looked fine but when I checked it with a test light oops here's the problem. Fixed everything. The radio started working again and the doorlocks worked and I can't find any other problem. Hope this helps someone one day.
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Old 05-30-2003, 02:50 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 403
If you are looking for a shop try -


Carl & Steve - Really nice guys. Both enthusiats with modded cars (560 SEC & 500e). As well as being really good mechanics they know there modifications as well.

6318 Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91411

Tel: 818-781-2770

- or -

Mr MB Motors
Tarzana, on Reseda just south of the 405

Enrique - Mercedes mechanic for over 40 years - likes to keep it "stock"

Both are trustworthy and do good work. Though a bit of a dirve from PV they are well worth it. Too many crooks out there! Both will let you know what REALLY needs fixing and what can wait. Both price there work fairly. Both Carl and Enrique have M119/W124s and are very familiar with the car.
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Old 06-02-2003, 03:31 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Posts: 9
Originally posted by tkd_M119
If you are looking for a shop try -
I very much appreciate the referrals. I bought the 400E from a gentleman who had recently bought a 500E, and he referred me to his favorite shop (Silver Star, on Pacific Coast Highway near Western Ave, in Torrance/Lomita).

That worked out well because all the previous service records in the shop's computer were able to migrate to me (following the car rather than its owner). That may not be critically important, but it seemed a great way to be introduced.

Gerhard, the shop owner, is terriffic. Highly recommended to anyone south of Tarzana.

--Jim Kimble
1993 400E (with squeaky front brakes)

--Jim Kimble

"ALPO is 99 cents a can -- That's almost SEVEN dog dollars!!"
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