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Old 07-15-2003, 02:45 PM
Tom McMenamin's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Orange Park Florida
Posts: 365
Judgement Day!

As the time draws near to pick up my 560 SL I have recanted the story and the events surrounding my Head and Valve job.

I am anxious to get the bill, what do you guys think I have in store for me this PM when I go to Pick Up the car?

July 1, 2003 through July 15, 2003
Mercedes Benz 560 SL VIN # WDBBA48DOJA080494

The following information Re-Caps the problems experienced with my Mercedes Benz 560 SL at the Mileage of 124,000 miles.

The car was purchased from the previous owner in August of 2001. (74,000 miles) At the time of purchase, the car ran amazingly well, and the only issue was that it consumed a Quart of Oil every 400 miles. When I say it ran well, I mean that it had excellent power, idled at 500 RPM exactly, response to acceleration was terrific. The car appeared mechanically sound with the exception of the oil consumption.

After purchase the car was taken to three different shops to determine the best mechanical service for this type of automobile and the quality of the shops and mechanics that I met and discussed items of mechanical relevance. Based on these interviews and checking/verifying the responses with the Mercedes Shop .Com Web Site I ultimately chose Hunt Valley Imports. His reputation was good and he seemed honest.

Prior to this determination of repair shop, I replaced the Engine Oil and filter, Drained and Flushed the Cooling System, Drained and Flushed the Transmission, Drained and Flushed the Rear End. All Filters including the Gas Filter were replaced. The muffler exhaust system was replaced and the car was tuned up with new plugs, valve cover gaskets etc. All hoses for the Cooling System were replaced, the Heater Assembly that allows heat over air conditioning and vice versa was replaced. The State of Maryland required pollution tests and the car passed with nothing abnormal.

In the Fall of 2001, the Valve Seals were replaced by Hunt Valley Imports. The Seals were done to eliminate oil consumption. The seals were replaced without disassembling the Head . Following that Service, the car ran exceptionally well, NO oil consumption and other than Brakes, Calipers and Tune Up no major service was performed. Follow On oil changes have been done at 3000 miles or less.

In July of 2003 the mileage had reached 124,000 miles and as the Timing Chain was checked at each service it was determined that to avoid any problems with the car the Timing Chain should be replaced. As one can tell I drive this car about 25,000 miles per year. The Chain was done on the basis of Preventative Maintenance to avoid highway break-downs.

The car was delivered to Hunt Valley Imports on the morning of July 1st for the Chain Replacement.
At 3PM on the following day I received a phone call from the owner/mechanic who informed me that following the chain replacement, when the car was started, a terrible Top End racket occurred and they immediately shut the car down and pulled the Head on the Passenger side. This was done to determine the basis of the noise, which was assumed to be a Bent Valve. (In most cases the left bank passenger side valves bend if a chain is installed improperly) On checking the Valves the valves were determined not to be bent, but two of the valves were higher into the Hydraulic Lifter than specification. The Head was examined and it was determined that the Valves in question were not bent but that the 2 Valves in question (I believe them to be exhaust valves) showed signs of being burnt. One of the Valves at the base had hairline cracks around the circumference. As well, it was pointed out that the “Lashes” for the 2 Valves in question were thinner than all of the others and that this indicated that someone at some time must have replaced the “Lashes” to accommodate a faulty Valve/engine problem. This problem is unknown and cannot be defined as to Why it would have been done in this manner. Some discussion has taken place that the Valves in question had worked their way into the Head doing damage to the passenger side Head. This is unconfirmed.

The summary of this event is that the Head was sent to Morris Machinist in Manchester, Md. Who redid the Head replacing the 2 Valves in question and (SUPPOSEDLY) cleaning and evaluating both Heads for wear and issues. All of the Valve Guides were said to be within specification with the exception of the two at issue. These guides were replaced on those two valves only. I asked about replacement of all Guides and was told that it was not necessary. The Machine Shop indicated that Seals would be installed by Hunt Valley on all Valves. The Machine Shop comments on Head evaluation was that the car appeared to be running lean for a minimum of 15,000 miles to cause Valve damage to the extent that was obvious.

The conclusion here is not obvious. How can a V-8 Mercedes Engine run as well as it did prior to the chain replacement if these problems have been uncovered at chain replacement?
Why would the car be running “Lean”? How is that set up and how do you tell that? Again the car ran exceptionally well.

What do the different size Valve “Lashes” indicate? Are they indeed the basis of the problem? Is this solution that might be generally performed as a stop gap measure by a knowing Benz mechaic?

What does chain replacement do to affect all of these things described? Is there any fault here with Hunt Valley Imports or was this a problem waiting to happen?

These are the undefined issues that keep this writer awake at night.

I polled the Internet site at every step of this process listed above and received back comments that implicate the Shop for not setting the timing or hand rotating the chain prior to completion of the chain replacement. However, this opinion is daunted due to both Hunt Valley and the Machine Shop indicating No bent valves? Most stated that in years of dealing with the 560 SL V-8 they have never done a valve job at 124,000 miles.

This is a mysterious issue. When these things occur it shakes confidence in the repair shop that is performing the work. It also shakes my wallet as I was not prepared for this expense at this time.
I am Not looking for fault at this time. I am looking for an answer to Why the issue occurred?

1988 560SL
Black Pearl/Palamino
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:11 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: S. Texas
Posts: 1,237

As I said on the SL site, this is an obvious case of an inexperienced mechanic screwing up and the shop owner not having the cajonies to stand up, admit that the mechanic blew it, and bite the bullet.

The machine shop is in cahoots with the shop because they have more to loose by siding with you then by admitting that the shop lied. You were a one time customer where as the shop will be continuing.

I think that you would be doing yourself and those that follow you a great dis-service by not getting a lawyer involved. A couple of hundred bucks for a consultation might be well spent if it would save you thousands in the long run and prevent this shop from doing this to someone else. I am no big supporter of lawyers but in some instances they do have their uses.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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Old 07-15-2003, 10:05 PM
Tom McMenamin's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Orange Park Florida
Posts: 365
You will not believe this! I'm in deep Yogurt now!

Well, went to pick up the car today and was told all is great.

I didn't get any further than 1 inch away from the shop when I noticed a miss as I went to pull away at low speed! Within a second or two the miss went away and the car ran fine. I took it back as I wasn't satisfied with the miss and the guy took a ride with me and the farther we went the better it got.

He told me to drive it awhile and see what happened. I drove to the Gas station filled up the car and the car wouldn't start.

We jumped it and he worked on it for about 3 hours and called me a while ago and told me he had no clue what was wrong with the car. Told me to come get it and pick up my check. He just couldn't fix it!

The battery was said to have died because the Alternator wasn't hooked up properly.

This does me no good as I still have no car after two weeks and have no idea who to take the car to and no clue as to what has been done and what parts have been thrown at the car!

Still missing on take off as far as I know and he can't figure out whats wrong. So I guess I go get it and go from there! What a nightmare!

Any help appreciated!
1988 560SL
Black Pearl/Palamino

Last edited by Tom McMenamin; 07-15-2003 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 07-15-2003, 10:14 PM
Gilly's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Evansville WI
Posts: 9,616
Told me to come get it and pick up my check. He just couldn't fix it!
What does he mean by "pick up my check'? He didn't charge you for any of the work?
Sounds like a poor choice from the start, in hindsight.
So you jumped it and it ran fine? Makes it sound like just the battery is bad. A car will usually run OK after being jumpstarted, and continue running fine, assuming the alternator is working, so I'd discount the "alternator not connected properly thery. I'd get the battery charged and tested and go from there.

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Old 07-15-2003, 11:26 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
The noise upon start up could have been only one in-experienced tech, or a tech having the worst of days. In any event, the work should have been done under shop warranty.

I have seen this before having been a shop foreman for over 10 years.

The heads should have been sent out for a proper valve job.
Donnie Drummonds
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Old 07-16-2003, 11:23 AM
Posts: n/a
If you jumped the 560sl - make sure you check the fuse on top of the OVP relay - if it popped when the car was jumped - can cause problems - just something to check
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Old 07-16-2003, 09:29 PM
Tom McMenamin's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Orange Park Florida
Posts: 365
UpDate! to Judgement Day

When I picked the car up yesterday some problems still existed. The guy worked on it till 7:30 last night and called me to tell me that he couldn't fix it and to come get the car and the check I had given him for $3200.

So this AM I went and got the car and the check!

Happy ending. Afraid not! I gotta get it straightened out.

When I do get to the bottom of this mystery as to WHAT HAPPENED, I think I should pay him for what he did right.

What do you think?
1988 560SL
Black Pearl/Palamino
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:07 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 766
Tom, glad to hear that at least he's not keeping the money.
As I put it together: You had a car that ran perfectly with no oil consumption. You intelligently wanted a chain service. After his well-intentioned ministrations, for reasons unproven, something crumped significantly and now it's not running as well as it did when you brought it in.

Is it his fault? Was this perfectly running engine harboring a disaster, or was there a mechanic's error? Weigh the odds. We don't know exactly what went wrong, but as someone once said, "Circumstantial evidence is a trout in the milk." There's definitely a trout in the milk here.

Bottom line: It's very difficult to avoid the conclusion that he's violated that most basic of rules, First Do No Harm. It's most frequently quoted in my profession (physician), but applicable much more widely.

One appreciates his ultimate integrity but a timing chain replacement shouldn't be a tough job. DIYers on this board do it. You shouldn't have needed anything more than a new timing chain, guides and tensioner (I say from my vantage point of 148K with no valve train attention other than a timing chain, guides and tensioner). What value has he contributed to your vehicle? None. Payment therefore deserved? None. You're going to have to pay somebody else to fix what wasn't previously wrong.

At least you're leaving on civil terms, but he doesn't touch the car again; the shop doesn't have the expertise to deal with MB. You'll have to go through the process of finding someone who does.

As a side note, one of the things that impressed me most about the shop I use is the selection of other vehicles being serviced. Anyone who's got a Ferrari, Maserati, or 1961 300SL Roadster (all of which I've seen there) as well as moms with Volvos in his clientele is keeping happy a variety of people, including some definitely demanding folks. Look at what a shop works on, ask for some references, and talk to the most manic car nuts you can find; work your local MB club for suggestions perhaps. Good luck a dozen times over!
Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)

SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)
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Old 07-16-2003, 10:58 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: S. Texas
Posts: 1,237
I would agree with most of what cbdo says except for one point: In the end you did get a new timing chain and slides. For this you owe the shop due recompense.

On the other hand the shop did cost you a great deal of time, effort, and stress. But for this you got a valve job. I would say that the right thing to do is to pay for the chain and let the shop give you the valve job for your trouble. This would prove to the shop that you are a 'stand up guy' (which is important to some people) and keep the shop's door open to you should you ever need their services again.

Paying for the chain would, to me atleast, calm the waters and clear the air between you and the shop. If not cleared up the animosity that has been generated will remain a stone in your craw, or a burr under your blanket, depending on what part of the country you are from. Besides, you were already prepared to spend the money for the chain.
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Old 07-16-2003, 11:32 PM
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Location: Camp Hill, PA
Posts: 112
Re: UpDate! to Judgement Day

Originally posted by Tom McMenamin

Happy ending. Afraid not! I gotta get it straightened out.

When I do get to the bottom of this mystery as to WHAT HAPPENED, I think I should pay him for what he did right.

What do you think?
I don't think you should pay the guy a dime. You're worse off now than when you brought the car to him. You still have to pay someone to make your vehicle right. What a nightmare!
2002 500SL(Black/Black)
1992 300SE(Black/Black)
1992 190E 2.3(White/Navy)
1999 VW Jetta TDI(Pearl Green)
1986 SAAB 900 Base 3 door(White)
1983 Porsche 911SC(Chiffon)
1977 VW Scirocco(DiamondSilver)
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Old 07-17-2003, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: San Diego county
Posts: 64
Re: Re: UpDate! to Judgement Day

IF (and that's a big IF), I was going to pay that mechanic for anything.. I surely would not do it until I found a new mechanic, and had the car repaired to know what was wrong, and what (of anything) was done right.
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Old 07-17-2003, 11:23 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Deerfield, Illinois
Posts: 349
Along with what kip Foss and New2MBZ have stated, you might want to set up an account (just on paper) -- put down owe "1st shop" $x for chain and rail --- and then subtract from that the costs of any repairs that are needed (to bring your car back to nominal) as a result of damage done by the 1st shop -- if they still have a positive balance give them that with an explanation of how it was calculated -- write on the back of the check, above where the endorsement will be made: "payment in full" and "this check is an accord and satisfaction of all debts owed" (make a copy of the front and back of the check for your records).

This way you will feel better about getting any value from the 1st shop, you will cover the damage done and you will have a defense against a mechanic's lien should the 1st shop have second thoughts about returning your check.

best of luck

1986 560SL (52.5k miles) sold 11/24/04

1987 560sl (55.6k miles)
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Old 07-17-2003, 06:52 PM
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Location: S. Texas
Posts: 1,237
DanielG has a good idea. You should pay for what you got, but if getting this cost you extra that amount should be subtracted from the total, plus the cost of a reasonable dinner.
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Old 07-25-2003, 01:43 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NW Indiana LaPorte
Posts: 571
just wanted to insert my .02$

i am a business owner that has had similar situations a few times but not for autos. custom machined products.

now from a customers position... the owner said himself to take the money(check). he has recognized that they were the problem. now not only is he giving back the monies but he's paid for all the parts and labor. so his total loss is greater than what is on the surface. however...everybody's time is valuable and he probably recognizes that fact. so he is fixing the problem completely. customer is happy that he has lost only time so he probably won't be so quick to shout about an bad or unfair shop.

now him getting a bad rep like that could cost a whole lot more than the 3200$ in the long run.

what i would do is to have asked "are you sure about that" and when he replied yes case closed. both parties saved face. now each can turn and go with clear conscious that the exchange was fair for both.

now the moral is 2 lessons learned. the customer knows now what else to look for in choosing a wrench and the wrench has learned not to take a job that he is not qualified for.
Thanks Much!

1972 350sl Red/Blk 117k
1988 420sel charcoal/Blk 140k
1987 420sel gold/tan 128k
See My Cars at:

Pound it to fit then Paint it to match!

There is only First Place and Varying degrees of last!

Old age and deceit will overcome Youth and Enthusiasm every time!

Putting the square peg in the round hole is not hard... IF you do it fast enough!

Old enough to know better but stupid enough to do it anyway!
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Old 07-25-2003, 04:35 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
I think that given what this guy has put you through you are justified in not paying anything. It would be different if he had been straight with you, but when he made up the story about the valve job being needed he left the realm of good faith. AND THEN he tells you "it's your problem, come get it." I personally would not allow the car ANYWHERE near the shop in the future so I would not be concerned about the future relationship.

AND you don't know if you're out of the woods yet.

Earlier, I gave you the names of three good shops in the area. I would recommend taking the car to any of them to get the starting problem and the miss straightened out along with an evaluation of the work done.

And finally, how can you not hook up the alternator correctly? It's a freakin' plug-in. Sounds like more of his BS to me.

Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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