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  #1  
Old 01-15-2003, 06:32 AM
Jon Hrut's Avatar
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Angry Starting Problem

Purchased a 96 E320W with 80,000 miles on it back in August. I had been on the lookout for this particular model/year and was extremely lucky to have found one in magnificant condition. Had a mechanic friend take a look see and he told me to go for it.

Car has been running great. However.....I had my first problem tonite.

I need to state that I use the car everyday to go to work but the roundtrip is only around 12 miles. The car has integrated phone which is operational and the standard features on the Climate Control. However, I don't have heated seats or multicontour seats.

Had to work late and when I came out of office it was snowing with accumulation on car windows. After starting car up, I turned on the rear window defroster and I had the temp in car set to 74 deg. Had the rear window defroster on for about 5 mins then turned it off. Aside from the headlights, only other device I was using was the radio.....listening to the WB update (occupational hazard of being a pilot....drives my friends nuts).

All systems were fine; typical pleasant drive home. Had to make a stop at the market to get some soda. After shutting off engine, I decided to use the REST feature to keep car warm.

I came back out of the store about 15 mins later, opened car up with remote control key. Lights came on when I opened door up and got in.

Put key in ignition and car would not start. The lights on the instrument panel came on as they would with a normal start, although they appeared dimmer. All electrics in car were functional--headlights, dome lights, even the radio would turn on.

I believe that the battery was weak and below the level required to start the car. I tried a few more times to start the car but got nowhere. Called AAA for a jump. AAA arrives and while the guy was not familiar with MBs, I showed him the connector for jump starting. We hooked it up, I tried to start it again and nothing. At this point, I was getting nervous, thinking I might have a bigger problem than the battery

I'm the type who buys all shop manuals for any car I purchase. When I got home tonite, I discovered that according to the MB service manual, we should have left the jumper cable on the connector for 5 minutes before trying to start the car.

Since I was fairly sure the problem was a weak battery, I took out the back seat and we put the jumper cables on the battery. The car turned right over for me. We looked at the battery but unfortunately, whoever installed the battery did not remove the month/yr codes so we could not tell how old battery was. And the weather was not the type where you want to be measuring the battery.

Put the back seat on, did a once over of the car to make sure all was OK and I then took the car for a 30 minute drive on the interstate to try and recharge battery.

It is important to note that I never got any failure messages on the multifunction indicator before the problem and no alerts after we jumped it. In particular, I did not get a "Charge Indicator" alert.

I got home about 30 mins later, got all my stuff out of car, left car for 10 mins and then went back out to see if it would start. To be honest, I did not believe it was going to start thinking battery would not hold charge.

Well, it started right up. The digital lights on the instrument display were nice and bright (when it would not start, I did notice that the digital display was very dim).

OK.....

I'm wondering if the reason the car did not start was due to my use of the rear window defroster AND the Residual Heater during a very short time and with a weak battery? That seems like the most likely explanation in my mind. But I wanted to ask here to get expert opinions.

Since I have all the service manuals, I will check all connections tomorrow when I have light. But since I did not get any alerts before this happened combined with the fact that I was using two systems that draw alot of power....and the REST is using battery power, I'm thinking that I just got unlucky enough to bring the battery to a level where it could not start the car.

It appears that a battery can run your headlights, use the overhead lamps, but not have quite enough "umph" to start the car. Is this a correct assumption?

My apologies for the length of this. Whole situation was made more irritating because quite a few folks around there found it amusing to see a MB driver having car problems. At least I can laugh at myself and situations like this.

So...any expert opinions on my problem? Obviously I should check battery. Might need new one. How much would a MB approved battery run for my model (210.055)? Based on what I saw tonite, I am thinking that it would be wise to get a higher rated battery (as long as it was still within MB specs for this model).

On the "nastier" side ......... any serious problems that might have caused this? Things that I should ask the dealer about? I will be taking the car in next week for some unrelated detailing work.

Thanks in advance for any/all information!!!
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  #2  
Old 01-15-2003, 07:41 AM
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The only thing that really comes to mind is the 12 mile (each way) commute. I suspect this is pretty hard on the battery because it never gets a really good charge. This will be especially true when you consider running alot of the electrical accessories. You may want to have your charging circuit checked out too.
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  #3  
Old 01-16-2003, 09:54 AM
Jon Hrut's Avatar
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Eng:

Thanks for the input. You are probably right. Yesterday, I had NO problrems with the battery starting the car. It started right up all three times I had to use the car. I've been deliberately leaving off any optional battery draw features so I can max the recharge.

I might have to pick a different route into work in order to increase the trip.

Thanks!
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  #4  
Old 01-16-2003, 01:21 PM
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Jon

My bet is the battery. You can get it load tested. Yes, the headlights will glow but not have enough juice to start it.

Is this the original battery? If so, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the investment of a new battery.

Be advised that a lot of companies list batteries for your car. It is not only the electrical specs, but also very specific physical specs. There are some VERY nasty automotive stories about batteries being installed, especially in under-seat locations where they had the right cranking amp hours, fit length and width, and shorted out because they were too tall contacting the seat springs.

Winters are hard on batteries: cold thick oil, short trips, rear window defoggers etc.

Just be sure, thats all.
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  #5  
Old 01-16-2003, 04:22 PM
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battery

hey Jon, for what it's worth I have had some battery issues with my 85' 190e. My commute is 9 miles through Beantown that takes about 40 minutes. the car never gets up past 30 mph. pretty rough on the battery I have been told. So I got stuck in REALLY bad traffic the other night and after getting out of it, parking the car, waiting fifteen minutes, and going back to it I couldn't get it started, got AAA on the scene, a jump, and was on my way. Since then it's been freezing up here, also not good for the battery. And the car has given me problems if I let it sit in the cold for the entire weekend without riding it. I never take it anywhere but the commute, your riding the interstate was probably the best thing you could do for the battery. My answer to the issue was to go out and get a trickle charger (needed one for the bike anyway). you might consider it for 30 bucks or so. That way if you don't have time for the super slab you can just pop the hood and hook one of these up in the garage, let it go over night (get an automatic one so you don't have to watch it or time it) and fagedaboutit. Mine has new battery and alt. I have been told that the combination of the commute/need for defroster (a/c might be on)/ lights/ winshield wiper for the snow.../ rear defroster/radio and cold energy sapping weather are just a little too much sometimes. trickle charger.... that's my 2 cents.

best of luck,
cdt
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2003, 04:50 PM
Thomaspin's Avatar
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Try using a trickle charger

Your combination of short trips and cold weather suggests the use of a trickle charger when you park - plug in overnight to keep the battery 'topped up'.

I used one for many years on my 911 (notorious for draining its small battery) with great success, and always use them on my less frequently ridden bikes.
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  #7  
Old 01-16-2003, 06:04 PM
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Jon

I would endorse the diagnosis and advice given above.
It may be that your battery is on its last legs - cold weather is hard on batteries and exposes the weak.

A convenient battery conditioner is what you need (no need to open bonnet etc) - here is a link to the UK site that markets such a product http://www.racecar.co.uk/airflow/ , I feel sure there must be a supplier in your neck of the woods. It will still be useful even when you have a new battery and do 12 mile trips in ccccold weather!!!

Good luck
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2003, 06:58 PM
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We have something similar. Performanceproducts sells 3 types



Performanceproducts LINK
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2003, 10:31 PM
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I would consider one of these...

http://www.************************/ProductPage.aspx?ProductName=Priority+Start&productid=105113&producttype=10

Will not let the battery drain, it wil leave you with enough power to start the car, so if you leave things on, and the battery gets low, this will cut off the drain and still allow the car to start. I suspect it holds voltage.

Alon
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  #10  
Old 01-17-2003, 12:56 AM
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Past experience: About the only times I've had a battery behave that way have been when I've been dumb enough not to keep track of the fluid level. The results have always been the same: A battery that's been run down with way-low fluid can be refilled and recharged, but the plates will be damaged enough that it will fail fairly soon afterwards. Moral--Keep the fluid topped up! And of course y'all know it has to be distilled or (at the very least) reverse-osmosis filtered water; pure H2O please, nothing with electrolytes already dissolved in it.

I suspect the problem's worse with constant short runs partly because the battery's always being exposed to a high charge rate, which increases water loss.

Re battery chargers/maintainers: I'm a bit touchy about what units I use, since overcharging is another good way to trash a battery. My personal experience is with the Guest 3-amp Battery Pal unit and their similar 10-amp 3-stage unit, both of which have worked well for occasional overnight boosts as well as for all-winter storage; their circuitry includes a proper float phase for maintenance without risk of overcharging. Both are marine units widely available at ship's stores (West Marine, BoatUS, etc.) I've got the permanent-mount version of the 10-amp installed on our boat (twin gas V8's), where it's managed the dual battery installation without a glitch.
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  #11  
Old 01-23-2003, 11:55 PM
Jon Hrut's Avatar
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UPDATE

I have been waiting for some parts to come in to do some minor detailing. After that jump and the driving I did the battery seemed to work fine. However, as it got colder this week, I could feel that the battery was barely making it on the first start. Cold IS hard on a battery.

ALSO, when I checked the battery visually, I noticed it was a non- MBenz battery. The battery is a GOOD ONE, brand wise, but what concerned me was that the vent hose was laying next to the battery because it cannot be connected to the battery I had in there.

Got a call from the dealer's service shop this afternoon. Load test showed the battery needed replacement. I asked about the vent hose and whether it should be connected. Also asked the price of a Benz battery--$110. So I went ahead and authorized the replacement with a new MB battery.

Is it the case that the vent hose is important to have connected to the battery? Just wondering. If it IS, then you would have to get a battery that supports this special feature.

Good news is the car got clean bill of health and the battery was the culprit. Will pick it up first thing tomorrow AM.

Thanks for all help/input on this.
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  #12  
Old 01-24-2003, 03:02 AM
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Jon

Glad to hear you've the problem. It would be one thing to know immediately that: You need a battery, and then go and buy one. It is amazing how much we can go through just to confirm what the car needs!

Definitely figure out the battery vent. I am not familiar with your car. Is the battery under the rear seat? If so, you WANT the vent connected. The by-product of a battery is hydrogen (yes that explosive gas, hydrogen)

Story? Years ago a friend who worked with me at a Porsche shop was charging the battery in the front trunk of an old 356. The hood wouldn't stay open so he used a short stick to prop it open. He let the battery charge for four or five hours.

Later when he checked the battery and it was warm, he pulled the battery connectors. There was a spark that caused an explosion that blew the hood of the car and my friend across the workshop. He was OK. Car was not.

Haasman
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  #13  
Old 01-24-2003, 06:11 AM
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did ur car CRANK wen u tried to start it?

the same thing happend to my car and my uncles car, he has e320 i have c220. Both was running smooth and all of a sudden didnt start, but the battery were fine. for mine everytime i jump start it it would be fine so i thouhgt it was a dead battery. so i go to the dealership to pick up a new one.. it was fine for 3 days, then it wouldnt start again!! so i think sh!@.. its not battery and something big. so i return the battery and make an appointment for checkup 2 weeks later. for the 2 weeks i was afraid to turn my car off too much, i kept on having to jumpstart it.. and its not good to jump start german cars apparentyl because it mite fry the computer? so the night b4 comes for my checkup ... then guess wat the car turned on by itself.. so i skipped checkup.. and ever since then the car starts fine... both my car and my uncles had the same problem.. and both fixed themselves...??? its alive?

one person suggested it was the alternator.. $$$$$ good thing it fixed itself or i woulda be that much poorer.

so my suggestion is try the car out for 3 weeks.. mine was lieke this for 2.5 weeks.. just have a jumper cable ready just in case
and if it fix itself then u're in luck!
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