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  #1  
Old 04-02-2004, 09:53 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Power Steering Box - 420 SEL

Howdy. My '88 420 SEL is bleeding power steering fluid and I have been told that it should be fixed before the ps gear box bursts. Presently, the car steers like a dream although it’s messing up my garage floor. My technician has given me two options. Rebuild it at $760 or replace with a new one at $1,428. This work estimate excludes the $256 cost to replace the ps hose to the cooler. I'm struggling with a conversation that I had with the shop owner. For the rebuild, he claims it could cost more if they encounter unforeseen problems. My opinion is that since his technician is a MB expert, he should know beforehand exactly what the issues are and build them into the fix cost estimate. Am I being unreasonable? The shop owner also mentioned a third option which would be buying a factory rebuilt ps gear box in the $800 range which would reduce the rebuild risk. Although it sounds like he couldn't find one so if anyone out there knows where I could find one it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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  #2  
Old 04-02-2004, 11:08 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 11
I just had the steering gear on my 560sel replaced. Got a remanufactured one from Importec and had a local independent install for about $200 labor. Part from Importec was about $500. It is important to get it fixed ASAP as the leaking fluid will quickly deteriorate you guide rod bushings (don't ask me how I know!).
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  #3  
Old 04-02-2004, 11:37 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: KINGSPORT, TN
Posts: 197
Steering box

I have a 90 420sel that had the exact same problem. I tried power steering fluid with stop leak in it because my problem was very, very, minor. It got worse. So I priced the new boxes too. I ended up puting a box off of a wrecked 420 for $180 plus $85 labor. My leak has stopped. I got my box from www.actionautowreckers.com. They gave me a 90 warranty with mine. I saved over $300 by going this route and I figure that if if it will last me a couple of years or so, it was worth the savings. Maybe next time I will replace with a brand new one. Hope this helps. Also, I do agree with the others that if you are leaking pretty bad now, you need to get it fixed soon to save some of your other parts and possibly save your life in case the old box was to completely give out. Oh, I have seen also on ebay a couple of remanufactured boxes with warranty for about $275.
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  #4  
Old 04-02-2004, 12:01 PM
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Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 750
same problem, different car (300E), the fix is 5 bucks canadian.

first order of repair is to isolate where the leak is coming from. there are actually only three sources - one, from the ps cannister (i changed the rubber gasket - 5 bucks), rubber hoses - upper and lower, and connectors and fittings. tightened all connections and presto no leaks.

i too struggled over replacing the ps pump since it leaks and my steering made a groaning sound while turning at low speeds.

hope this helps, cheers!!
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2004, 12:10 PM
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I actually think Hans is talking about the steering gear, not the pump.
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2004, 01:11 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 259
Meridianauto also sells reman steering boxes. i believe it is $350.
http://www.meridianautoparts.com/

I got a slight leak on my steering box too a 91 560SEL. I tried using Lucas stop leak, and it actually got better. It has not stopped completely, but now just very minor wetness. It does not even drip/wet onto the front bushing anymore. I know I am just buying time.
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  #7  
Old 04-02-2004, 02:38 PM
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Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Thanks to everyone for providing tips and links to parts companies. I am negotiating with the shop for an equitable compromise. As I mentioned in my first post, the rebuild costs $762 but the shop owner won't guarantee that problems could be uncovered which could escalate costs. I then went to one of the parts sites where I found the PS gear box for $534 which would require $300 of labor. So I offered him the latter option or cap option one at a 10% cost overrun. He balked saying that he has never worked with Importec and wouldn't want to be liable if something went wrong after the repair. I offered to sign a release of liability waiver. I believe this is fair.

I love the web, but it also makes life complicated when going through the consumer process. For example, the owner's quote for a "new" PS box is $1,128 which is the exact retail price for a remanufac box at Importec ($534 at wholesale). I then called the MB dealer and a new PS box costs $2,500. Something is fishy.
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  #8  
Old 04-02-2004, 06:01 PM
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Hans:
My experience is that if you had to pay full retail for parts and labor, only millionaires could keep these things on the road. I would recommed using the recommeded shops board on this forum and finding a good independent in your area that will work with your parts, or help you find ones at a discount. I the past few years I have gotten the following parts through Importec, Fast Lane and other internet parts suppliers all without incident and with great results:
Transmission
Water Pump
Steering Gear
Tie Rod Ends
Drag Link
All belts and hoses
thermostat
shocks
bushings
steering damper
brake pads
rotors
abs sensors

Just use the forums, take your time, and do your research and you should be able to get good info
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  #9  
Old 04-02-2004, 10:52 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: your moms basement
Posts: 65
i feel it's bad form to be down on the
shop for preping you for a possible problem
after teardown. while i have resealed many
sectors over the years with no problems,
there is always that one time. informing
you of possible problems shows a fair amount
of forword thinking that is one of a mechanics
greatest survival skills. in other words, he
doesn't have to cover his ass, because he's
already thought about what can go wrong.
if the shop has its crap together, knows,
and can show you how they measure the friction torgue, ect. i'd suggest letting them
reseal it.

heavy unit type stuff like sectors, diffs, engines,ect have traditionally been high
dollar from ma benz.
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  #10  
Old 04-04-2004, 02:30 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Drew, thanks for the advice. I checked the forum for recommended shops in my area. So far, two other shops have offered to make the repairs for considerably less money and the parts cost is substantially lower. Also, both shops have been in business working on MBs exclusively for over 40 years - both family run businesses.

Devil, it's bad form to make assumptions about me. My last experience with the shop in question resulted in a 43% cost overrun. This shop sources its parts from one supplier which is bad business. Everyone should source from mutiple suppliers to keep everyone honest. I believe that everyone should make a fair profit, but ripping someone off is unacceptable. The internet has leveled the playing field. Touche.

P.S. The shop in question is looking into Importec and Meridian as new suppliers.
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  #11  
Old 04-04-2004, 09:04 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: your moms basement
Posts: 65
no problem

as a customer you have the right to form,
hold, and change your opinion of a shop at
your choosing.
iwasn't paying attention to the prices he
quoted, just your statement that he was the expert, and should build in worst case scenarios into his quote. And were you being
unreasonable? I say ,yes. A bad evil person, No.
My comments were aimed at the difficulty
of giving real world quotes in a business that
is filled with unknowns. not at what i thought
was a fair profit.
as you have found, the internet has changed the rules for how the indy shops operate, in relation to parts and suppliers.
it hasn't replaced the need for a local mechanic with the years of shop time behind him to do the job right.
as i tell my customers," just imagine a world where everyone had to meet the same standards that we set on auto shops.
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  #12  
Old 04-04-2004, 11:15 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 482
It's my understanding Maval Mfg., Cleveland Ohio Ph 800-338-9080 remanufactures many OEM steering related parts - pumps, racks & gearboxes. In Sep 03, I paid $451+tx for one for my 94 e320. The allowed me to return the core after the R&R.
Bob
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  #13  
Old 04-05-2004, 02:32 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Bob, you just hit a bullseye. Your info. about Maval reinforces my opinion b/c the shop in question currently sources from Maval only and is charging me $1,128 which is a ridiculous markup on the price that you paid.

Devil, I understand your position. I too am in a profession that invloves unknowns before a procedure is done. Although based on my response about Maval, I think you will understand what I'm dealing with. I'm curious...what do you think is a fair markup on parts?

Thank you.
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  #14  
Old 04-05-2004, 03:59 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 482
“...the internet has changed the rules for how the indy shops operate... “ per devil

“...what do you think is a fair markup on parts?” per Hans47

One of my business interests is in an industry that has gone through a demonstrative change regarding the pricing of their products and services. I always contended they were in the service business yet based their prices on the product. Their rationale being the “consumer could see and touch the product and easily understand what constituted a more expensive package (product and service). I feel they are really providing a service and the product is secondary, therefore the cost of business should be based primarily on the service, not the products.

The “internet” has made it demonstratively easier to buy products at competitive prices. Business’s need to accept this fact and either accomodate customers supplying the parts or simply not servicing those customers. The inde shops I use have a simple policy. “If you buy the installed part through us and the part is defective, we will replace it without charge. However, if you supply the part and the part is defective, you will have to pay our hourly rate to remove and replace the part again.“

Auto repair shops are in the “service” industry and their profitability should be through their hourly rate with a “handling fee” not absurd markup on parts. Find find a shop that’s willing to negotiate.

Bob
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  #15  
Old 04-05-2004, 09:09 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 88
Bob, thanks to your input and others here in the forum, I am negotiating with the shop. As of last Friday, I presented them with a list of other reputable suppliers that stock rebuilts and even offered to sign a waiver to mollify their concerns about product quality after the car leaves their shop. If things don't work out, then I might have to travel twice as far (I should enjoy the ride, right )but I learned of other shops that offer more competitive prices and are as competent.

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