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  #1  
Old 02-07-2003, 10:18 PM
DuckMuck's Avatar
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Question Are these repairs normal or excessive?

I have a 1995 W124 E420, with 45,400km to date. The car was bought new from the dealership, and since then, the warranty has already run out, and I've been experiencing a lot of technical problems with the car. I am not very knowledgeable about cars, but I try to do my best to understand by reading this forum and some repair manuals. However, I don't think I am at a point where I am confident enough to actually get under the hood and do anything major. However, since the warranty has expired, the car has been acting up, and a lot of repairs have been necessary, to a point that it is gettin' quite ridiculous...I am a big fan of Mercedes-Benz, and some of you older posters might still recognize me, so it is difficult for me to admit that I am beginning to question the quality of my car, and the service it is receiving. Anyhow, to summarize some of the headaches, at 36,000km, I brought my car in for an oil change at the Richmond dealership. I believe I paid around $100CAD for this service, which included an oil change, and an inspection of all major components of the car, and I believe topping of fluids. During this service, I was told that a crack, about a foot long, had developed on the tube that runs black to the muffler. I was told that they could not weld/patch the tube, nor could they just replace that section of tube, which I thought was pretty ridiculous since that section of tubing was obviously a small section and you could see the weld points at both ends. They said that the entire assembly had to be replaced since it was considered one part...so I basically needed to get a new exhaust. At the same time, I was informed that the lighter in my car was not the stock lighter, which was really odd, since I do not smoke, so I do not look in the ashtray much, but I am pretty sure it was the same lighter that has always been in my car. Nobody in my family smokes. I was a little upset about this, but I shrugged it off, and I bought a new lighter for around $30CAD to keep the car whole...

At 38,000km, my alternator failed. Every single light on my dash came on, and I drove the car into the dealership the next morning. They had the car for two day since the part needed to be ordered. Reading the forums, I was under the assumption that the alternator was pretty much a bulletproof item?

Recently, I noticed that the steering would creak in my car at low speeds. On Monday, my car refused to start, and I kept on cranking the key, and repeated the process 20 times or so until the car started. The car would idle very rough for 10 minutes, and then finally level out...I was quite worried, so I called the dealership...I was up for my 48,000km service soon anyway, so I thought I would bring the car into service...when I brought the car into service, I mentioned these major problems (which were not the ONLY problems, but the major ones)...

1) the steering would creek
2) rough idle/did not start - I have actually complained about rough idle at red lights before since '97 or '98...and the car actually sometimes even died while idling at red lights...but M-B always told me to use higher octane gas or to drive the car more...but this time, I was quite upset since the car refused to start...

Anyway, I left the car there yesterday morning at 10:30AM and took the bus home. What is ridiculous is apparently, if the car is out of warranty, I don't get a courtesy car...well, this is great...so anyway, somebody called me the next morning, and tells me that the rough idle/did not start was due to the fact that I needed new distributor caps/rotors...the creaking I was hearing when I turned the wheel was due to the fact that my power steering hose was leaking, and I would need a new power steering hose...he also informed me that I needed new front brake discs, and new front brake pads. I changed my pads during my 25,000km service, I was quite shocked I needed new pads again. He quoted some astronomical price for these items, and labour time for replacing/fixing these items...all this is ABOVE the 48,000km scheduled maintenance, which is suppose to cost around $1000CAD itself (the advisor had already written this # down when I actually went in with the car)...from what I can gather, this maintenance basically consisted of flushing all the fluids and replacing with new fluid, and checking the car mechanically...why would it cost $1000? I am a little puzzled...can anybody elaborate on this? If certain parts were replaced, and was included in the $1000, I would understand, but I really don't get it...

I am a little upset, since although I know that I will be paying higher prices for service for a Mercedes-Benz, I wasn't prepared for the fact all these things keep breaking, especially right after the warranty period passed...I have a Honda Accord EX-R V6 bought around the same time, and the car drives along happily other than an oil change ever so often...the price for the service was also MUCH cheaper...what happened to the reliability and longevity that Mercedes is famous for?
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2003, 10:39 PM
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Duckmuck,

If you do a search you will find a few things that may do in the future to keep your car running for a LONG time.
STAY AWAY from the stealership. After you warranty is over, find a GOOD independent mechanic and stay with him. For example, stealerships will not repair your exhaust (as you already know) because of liability. An independent will, if appropiate.
The alternartor are bullet proof but, the voltage regulator is not. Cheap and easy part to replace.
MB's brake pads are great but, they are soft and make a lot of dust. You DO have alternatives from different brands. The stealership will NOT give you alternatives.
Bottom line: Find a GOOD independent and stay with him AND you don't have to be Joe Mechanic to open the hood and look for a leak.
Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2003, 11:03 PM
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Sorry to hear of your trouble. Let's start with the exhaust system. J.HIDALGO is correct about the liability aspect of a repair of this type, however , if you find someone to replace/fabricate a section of the system, it's doubtful the repair would meet MB standards. Concerning the lighter, if you don't use it why spend money on it! MB alternators ARE quite durable but ARE NOT bulletproof. True, the voltage regulator is the most common cause of charging system malfunction on your car but you didn't say exactly why it was replaced. In regard to the rest of your post, it sounds like your dealer needs to work on it's customer service/satisfaction philosophy. In my neck of the woods, we wouldn't think of calling a client to sell additional/needed work until ALL of the original complaints had been addressed and/or corrected. For what it's worth, I take exception to J.HIDALGO's "stealership" comment. It's not fair to the dedicated dealership tech's who put customer satiafaction above all else.
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Old 02-08-2003, 12:00 AM
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I agree with ILUVMILS,

I do not want to start a debate here but, I feel the need to clarify my comments. The term "stealership" is NOT directed to the actual techs working for a MB dealership but, to the dealership as a whole with a few exceptions, of course. I know there are a lot of present and former trained MB techs giving their good advice to this forum with no interest whatsoever! And I thank them for that!
However, as far as dealerships, don't just listen to me. Do a search in the archives and come with your own conclusions.
I DO respect MB techs and enjoy talking to them directly about my car instead of the "middle man (men)".
I still say, I would take an independent over the "stealership" any day.

My apologies if I offended anybody. That was NOT my intention!
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Old 02-08-2003, 12:16 AM
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Thank you both for your prompt replies...first, in terms of replacing the lighter, I don't really know how to justify it...hmmm...it is more like the deal that was goin' on here at MercedesShopa long time ago...where a bunch of people REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted that "a Daimler-Benz Product" sticker on their windshield...it just made my car "feel" complete...I really don't know how to explain it...it makes me feel good that everything is there, clean, and all working together nicely...odd reason I guess

In terms of the alternator, what happened was early one morning, I go to start the car as usual, and when the car was up and running, every single light on the dash cluster was on...I noticed this was odd...and a little hesitant to make matters worse, I left the car at home and took the other car instead. I called to make an appointment the next morning to bring the car in in the afternoon. That night, when I got home, I started the car again and noticed that all the cluster lights were still on...I also noticed (since it was night time), the headlights were out, and the interior lights were also out...I made a post on benzsport.com, and received suggestions that the alternator was dead...one person suggested I try giving the car gas and see what will happen at higher RPM's, and when I tried this, I noticed the lights would come on at higher RPM's, but die out when I took my foot off the gas...I brought the car into the dealership, and like what I was told the night before on benzsport, the advisor said the alternator was bad, and I needed a new one...I think it was 2 or 3 days before I got the car back because they had to order in the parts. This repair was $632CAD...

In terms of service...I really don't know what to say...I mean, they are merely people doin' their jobs...but really, I sorta expected more from Mercedes...I talked to one service advisor when I brought the car in and explained the problems with the car, and the next day, SOMEBODY ELSE called and told me the the problems associated with my complaints and the parts cost + labor cost...one thing odd is EVERYTHING they quote to replace, always has a labour time of 1 and a half hour...and the parts prices were astronomical...I checked the parts prices on www.gapa.com and the fastlane, and I think they were 1/3 of the prices I got from the man who called...well, after the exhaust then the alternator, and complaints BEFORE about rough idling that they ignored, I was sorta fed up, so I basically asked him WHY these problems were occuring with my vehicle and WHY these parts were so high and WHY all of these items required 1 and half hour of labour? His basically replied that he was only telling me the problems as he sees it...and was basically doin' his job...I think he thought I was getting a bit agitated, so I transferred me to ANOTHER PERSON, who is a service advisor...he tried to work with me, and said he would give me the parts at cost, and charge me minimal for the labour, but I was still a little upset...I mean, for a car that was $80,000 new, BEFORE 14% tax, which Mercedes-Benz of Canada would not even BUDGE in giving a little discount of any sort, I just did not see how I could justify replacing the exhaust, then muffler, then all these other problems...I just didn't feel like the advisor was speaking for the company...like he was proud of the products that his company produces...and stood by them...it felt like they were merely "doin' there job"...like a Safeway cashier or something like that...I just didn't feel like they cared...I had to argue and argue and argue until he finally transferred me to the service foreman, who quite kindly offered to fix the distributor caps/rotors for free...since I had complained about this problem earlier, but they did not document, which was a VERY VERY VERY nice gesture...but I just feel...hmmm...that I shouldn't be walkin' into the service department, and feel like I am always on the lookout for people trying to rip me off...I always thought Mercedes-Benz and its employees were people who were willing to stand behind their products...why did I have to argue SOOOO much to get any sorta feeling of "humanity" from these people? the service advisor pointed out that my car was a '95, and that it is quite "old"...I dunno what age we live in now, but a 7 year old car is now considered "old"??? I'm sorry, but I was never into this high-tech trend of swapping cars every 3/4 years after the lease ends or buying a new cellphone every half year or upgrading my computer constantly...I want things that LAST...that was why I dug into my pockets for this car in the first place...if Mercedes wants to focus on their little game of "who has the most horsepower" or "who can put the most buttons in their car"...fine, they can play their game...if they don't believe service, reliability, and longevity of their automobiles are a priority anymore, I can easily take my business elsewhere...also, what is up with the new policy of "no courtesy car if your car is out of warranty"??? I have no problem taking the bus home, but to have an $80,000 car sit in the dealership while I take the bus is kind of a joke, isn't it? Oh well, I guess that is just life now...
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Old 02-08-2003, 01:10 AM
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I think they got your number! I could change all four wheels brake pads in a freeway rest stop with nothing more than a nail,a screwdriver, and a small hammer in either of my 126's (81 SD 86 SE)in less time than John Prine can sing 5 songs...........new rotors are the price of a bad dinner in a Dallas truck stop I sure would be looking for an independet shop and call Phil at FastLane for parts........
William Rogers.......
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2003, 01:33 PM
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As a 400E owner I completely sympathize with Duckmuck's feelings (although in total honesty I did not read all of your posts word-for-word).

When mine was just about to go out of extended warranty at 70,000 miles, a bunch of stuff went out -- starter, blower motor, fuel pump. I really started to wonder if I could possibly afford to own this beast out of warranty.

I now have 125,000 miles (not KM) on it and I have to say I am absolutely delighted I kept it! It has been very reliable since then.

I agree with Hidalgo that your key to retaining your money and sanity is to find a good independent mechanic. The reality of the situation is that SOME MB dealerships do NOT do a good job with customer satisfaction, in my (and MANY others') experience. The techs are wonderful, by and large, but the service managers and general managers sometimes are not.

Labenz is also right on target. Get a Topsider and change your own oil. I do, and it's one of the very few DIY things I do do. My dealership charges at least $85 US (and that was 3 years ago) and I would NEVER go back to a fast-lube kind of place.

Do an "Italian tune up" on it every month and it'll dramatically help your rough idle condition (unless you have a bad wiring harness). Find a SAFE stretch of road and just floor it until it hits redline on the tach. The first few times you do this it'll probably buck and snort like a bronco about 5500 RPM but if you don't lose your nerve it'll clear out that carbon.

The hard part is finding a long, straight, SAFE place to do this since when a 119 engine is near redline your speed will be pretty fast ...
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Old 02-08-2003, 02:12 PM
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Sorry to hear about all your problems. To make it worse, those problems appear to be occuring on a car with low mileage (48K km is not what I would call high on the mileage scale).

As to cost of the recommended mileage checkups, I had my 320 in for a 90,000 mile checkup about 2 months ago. The total cost for that was around $750 USD. I was very satistified with the work they did.

Can you ask the shop manager to tell you what the thickness of your brake disks are? I have the complete set of Service Manuals for the Series 124. (I have always worked on my own cars, but with the MB I pretty much let the dealer do the work because the car is simply too complicated and I can't afford to buy a second set of tools--plus the special tools that are sometimes required. However, I find the manuals useful to both doublecheck what the service folks tell me AND to understand the car's systems. I am an engineer so I enjoy this type of reading).
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Old 02-08-2003, 03:03 PM
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when the wonderful company that was once directed by enginers and race car builders was taken over by polyester sales people that cater to fashion trends and expensive gimmicks such as voices that emerge from under you seat that tell you that you forgot to put on your after shave lotion.Then I think it's time to look at the grand 123's 115's and 126"s for timeless friends...........
William Rogers......
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Old 02-08-2003, 04:16 PM
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Smile

I picked up my car this morning. The total came to $1372.84CAD...the distributor caps/rotors were replaced for free, or the cost would have been higher. Also, the front brake discs/pads were not replaced, since the advisor said "it is okay if we don't replace them this time...just come in when the light comes on..." oh well, I guess I will search for some quality aftermarket discs/pads for the front and find a shop to replace them sometime soon...for Jon, here is what is written on my invoice regarding the discs/pads:

frt brake pads 15% (recommend)
frt rotor at 23.0mm (recommend)
rear brake pads 60%
rear rotor at 24.0mm

It is a little early to tell if all the problems I had when I brought the car in have been addressed. However, I did have a check under the hood and did a quick match to see if the work/parts written on the invoice were actually performed...they seem to have done a good job, which I hope they would...since they charge $99CAD/hour for labour...

One thing I just want to say is that for the past two days while the car was in the dealership, I have been grumpy and angry with Mercedes and the E420...I pretty much walked into the dealership with a storm cloud over my head...when I got in the car, fired up the engine, and pulled out of the dealership, I was thinkin' to myself...why did I ever buy this car? Heavy and slow steering, car feels big and awkward driving through the stop-and-go streets of the city...ugh...the oil warmed up, and I hit the highway, and I let her free...GOD...what a wonderful feeling...I gave the gas a little gentle pressure, and she gave a huff as to say, "don't ever doubt me" and climbed to 120kph effortlessly, without even taking a breath, and just wanted to fly...the stability, the feeling of power, the feeling of confidence at the wheel...was unmatched...what a beautiful machine...it handled the gentle curves and dips of the highway with unparalleled grace and elegance...by the time I pulled into the garage...all was forgiven a million times over...what a crime it is to keep these cars caged in the city...

I thank you all for your suggestions! Some of the DIY stuff I definitely want to try...the problem is more with having the confidence to do this kinda stuff under the hood...but changing the motor oil/filter is a good first step at least...

In terms of opening her up on the highway ever so often, well, I have no problem with that I guess I have been so caught up with other things lately...also, with the high gas prices, especially for this thirsty car who'll only feast on Techron 94, I'm feelin' a bit like Scrooge lately...

Thank you for all your help and sympathy!
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Old 02-08-2003, 07:23 PM
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Our 400E blew a motor at 77,000 miles and M-B replaced it at N/C. Was about 3 years out of warranty. Other than that this car has been fantastic. The dealership in our area gives you a loaner whether your car is in warranty or not. I would almost trust them with my wife. Good folks. The 320TE is kinda new to the family, but so far has found a special place in my heart. Love the looks and is a GREAT all around vehicle. The 420 doesn't get a LOT of use with 36K on it, but so far has been trouble free. All cars have the original exhaust on them and brakes last around 40 K on the 400E. I do most of the oil changes and brakes, and usually replace rotors also since they are not that expensive. Take them to the dealer for the regular service since I think I still owe them for the 400E. I truly love these cars and will drive one till I can't drive any more.
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2003, 09:05 PM
Jason M.
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Hey DuckMuck! I haven't seen you post in like a year or longer
Then again... I havent posted in a year or longer

Sorry to hear your trouble... I've been going through and getting my 124 ready for my march trip to spring break... havent decided on panama beach or daytona...

But anyway to the point: I've had to replace this month 2 ball joints, struts, evaporator (what kind of sadist designed the evap housing), 2 tie rods, and 4 tires, and 2 vacuum elements...

Sometimes its just time to do maintenance, luckily I was able to do it all myself.. Otherwise I would really recommend avoiding the dealer.. Most of the stuff you talk about can be done easily yourself, and even some of it has pictoral walk throughs in the DIY section.

Good luck, and BTW if I remember properly, that was a pretty nice looking ride (didnt you also used to post on bekkers?)
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Old 02-08-2003, 09:06 PM
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DM - you need a W123.
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  #14  
Old 02-09-2003, 01:25 AM
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Cars with low mileage/age ratios will have WAY more exhaust problems than cars that are driven regularly and for decent distances. You need to make sure the exhaust system is completely hot and dry before stopping the car.

Also, 400E/E420 cars driven primarily in city traffic will use front pads at an alarming rate. That said, using a set from 25K to 38K is pretty shocking. Did they check both sides? Does the car brake normally? You should get a second opinion for sure. I took my car to one dealer, and they started going on about all four rotors and pad sets being shot. I took my car home and had a look. Well, the fronts were down, and the light would be on soon, and the rotors were at spec, so should have been replaced. The rear pads were good, and there was TONS left on the rotors. I took it to another dealer (didn't tell them I have a micrometer) and had them check them. Confirmed my findings. Now, I don't know if was dishonesty or a simple error, but I haven't had too much trust for the first dealer...

The M119 V-8's use up caps and rotors more than some other MB designs, but I'm surprised at the low mileage repair for that item.

You're not going to get very far talking about the age/mileage of your car at the dealership. Talk to the sales dept about trading it in. They'll cry about it being practically prehistoric, and offer you next to nothing unless you're trading on something significant. Back in the early 1980's when I visited MB dealerships, they talked about "20 years" and "high mileage." Today, anything older than a short term lease-return is old and not "fashionable."
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Old 02-09-2003, 02:12 AM
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Blackmercedes, if a set of front pad is gone for 25K miles is shocking to you, my wife '00 E430 ate two set of front pads at 22K miles, the car is about 34K miles now, and it will need both front and rear pads in about 1 month along with front dics and third set of tires. The car braking is oustanding, but brake dust on front wheel is horrible. I am trying PBR Deluxe this time to see if it will have less dust or not and also if it will last longer than 20K miles. The car eats brake and tires like Gremlin, but it drives so beautifull and I enjoy every minute of it when I sit in the driver seat. To me, it is the cost of hapiness.
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