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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Maintenance and Repair



  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    According to the poster, even the dealer he purchased from did not want to work on the car or provide a loaner because some work had already been done at a different dealer.

    Anyway, he can blast the dealer with unflattering survey responses now if he wishes.

    Mercedes really seems to be spiralling downhill with the reduced quality and reliability ratings, dropping free maintenance on 2005 models and the company not supporting the loaner car program. What next?

    Which manufacturers still support loaner cars at the corporate level as a perk that all owners get for at least the factory warranty period? BMW, Lexus, others?
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...that requires its dealers to offer loaners. It is VIRTUALLY universal with Lexus, but certainly not BMW [there are plenty of horror stories there, too], and in every case, the dealer has the ability to opt out if they want.

    Lexus has a huge advantage: their policies at the corporate [Toyota] level make it fantastically profitable and lucrative to own a Lexus franchise. They keep the number of dealers low, assuring that no territorial disputes arise and keeping sales-per-dealer numbers near the top of the industry year after year. They just TAKE CARE OF THE FRANCHISE, and the dealers respond by toeing the for everybody.

    By contrast, MBUSA over the past 10-15 years has done just about everything possible to alienate its dealer body [this all started during the Mike Jackson era - he's now taken his act to the other side of the table, running Autonation's group of dealerships]: cutting margins, allowing multiple competitive dealerships within tight geographic boundaries, and most importantly, imposing the impossible task of fixing a bunch of cars that are often virtually unfixable [the last S-Class launch was an unmitigated disaster; the early W203 C-Class cars were troublesome; the MLs were stinkers at the beginning, etc. etc.].

    I've been buying MBs since 1968, and our '02 C240 is number 14. I like the car very much, and knock on wood, it has been very easy to live with so far [two small problems remedied at the dealer with no great difficulty] - HOWEVER, I always qualify my recommendations these days when asked: if you want a trouble-free ownership experience, buy Japanese. The Germans still produce a superior touring car, but owning one requires a degree of patience and understanding that may or may not be worth it to you. And yes, in my opinion the best cars they ever made were the W126 S-Class cars, and the W124 Es...I'm out looking for a good used W126 right now.

    Real MB enthusiasts, including virtually all of the MBCA club members I know, do indeed focus heavily on the "good old days" that seemed to have ended sometime in the mid-to-late '90s. To be completely fair, this applies IN SPADES to hardcore BMWCCA people, as well - most of them think most of what BMW is offering up these days is of no interest to them [I belong to both organizations], and think BMW has lost its way.
  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    If the manufacturer puts up money directly or indirectly to pay for or subsidize the loaner program, they should be able to "require" it.
    I looked through the Lexus website and the only reference I found was for the Certified Pre-owned cars. Looks like complimentary loaner cars are part of the deal with CPO cars.
    If loaner cars are at the dealers whim on a Mercedes or other luxury brand, then you might as well just buy a non-luxury brand car and take part of the savings to pay for your own rentals if needed.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...but your beef is with US franchise laws. Thanks to a great lobby, a lot of lawyers, and generous political contributions, the dealers call the tune, not the manufacturers.

    What SHOULD happen, of course, is that no car maker ought to advertise a program that the dealers are not 100% committed to delivering. The wording in the literature is legally unambiguous, but practically misleading.

    We've probably beaten this to death...the fact remains, MB and this particular dealer have managed to alienate a first-time customer - the worst no-no in the business. Sigh...
  • spantspant Posts: 2
    Can someone please clue me in on the use of the phone buttons on the steering wheel?

    As background, I am considering a 2002 C230 as a used purchase, but want to make sure I have some form of hands-free phone unit to use. I saw the phone buttons on the column, but have no idea what they are linked to?

    I'm guessing it is some proprietary car phone service that you pay a subscription fee towards, but on the off chance that it somehow works with your existing cell phone, please let me know.

    Any clue would help...-Clueless
  • fellyfelly Posts: 16
    I've been noticing a very slight pull to the right on my new C230K from just a few months old car. Has anyone experienced this problem? Any advise? Thanks
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    Sure. This isn't unusual. When I tested our '02 C240 prior to the sale, it had a noticeable pull. I stipulated that it had to be fixed before closing the deal. It took two tries. On the first, the alignment tech said that he had set it within specs, and though it was improved, it wasn't cured completely. I asked the service mgr to assign the most experienced suspension guy to the case; he decided to vary the caster settings [made the left and right front caster settings slightly different]. Caster affects the willingness of the car to change direction, so he in effect made it just slightly more stubborn on the side that was pulling. Voila, problem fixed. The cars tracks like the proverbial train now, which is the way all MBs should.

    Keep in mind the problem could also be one or more tires with belt problems; one of the standard tricks is to swap tires from side to side, or back and forth [not possible of course with staggered tire sizes or unidirectional tires, which is one reason I avoid both] to see if it goes away.

    Bottom line: for a competent dealer, this should not be a huge challenge. If it proves to be, find a better dealer.
  • fellyfelly Posts: 16
    Thanks for the advise jrct9454. I'll contact my dealer today and have them take a look at it. Will update once its completed. Thanks again.
  • I'm thinking about getting a 04/05 C230 Sport Sedan. I've never purchased a MB or any European car, only Toyotas & Mazdas in the past. I have a mixed impression of MB's mechanical quality/reliability. Basically, I've heard, "they used to be great, but they've gone downhill." I've also seen some graphs on the internet that shows a pretty rapid decline in reliability over the last 8-10 yrs or so.

    Can anyone comment on this?
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    I hardly know where to begin...I guess the short answer is that if reliability vs the Japanese is a primary consideration, you should stick with the Japanese competition.

    Over the years, I've owned 50+ cars since 1962, fourteen MBs among them, and nearly as many Toyotas. At the moment, our one and only car is an '02 C240. Apart from a couple of minor problems early on [wheel alignment and a differential leak] that were competently handled by the dealer, we have been very happy with this car. But I would never compare its long-term costs and reliability outlook with anything from Toyota [I am much less impressed with Mazda in this regard].

    Nothing from the Japanese in this price category combines the ride, handling, refinement, safety, and overall touring competence of a C or a BMW 3er. But you have to be prepared for the fact that it will be a higher maintenance companion than its Japanese counterparts.

    Frankly, if this issue is really important to you, and you can afford a C230SS, you should be looking at the Lexus IS and the Infiniti G as well. Both ride too firmly for my taste, but then so does the C230 vs our C240, so they are more direct competitors for you than they were for me. The IS is tighter inside than the C, but the G has more room, if that is a tie-breaker.

    As for "going downhill", in my VERY extensive experience, the difference in reliability between the Germans and Japanese has always been there, and probably always will be, mostly because of the extreme differences in philosophy at the corporate level. The Japanese are fanatical about managing supplier relationships and fixing problems before they get out of hand, and the Germans leave too much of that responsibility to their subcontractors [Bosch, Siemens, etc.], who don't have to deal with the end customer.

    You buy German because the cars are different and you want the difference enough to accept this fact of life...if not, stick with Toyota or Nissan or Honda.
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I had a similar impression. It does seem like Toyotas, Hondas, Nissan's are the more reliable cars based on some literature I've read, but frankly their designs don't really appeal to me.

    I love the designs from MB, BMW, and Audi and I loved the reliability of my old Toyota Supra. I'm willing to accept that these German cars aren't quite as reliable as Toyotas, but I just don't want to buy some POS car that needs an engine rebuild at 50,000. My supra didn't really need any non-maintenance work until it was near 120K.

    The MB C230SS is going to be for my fiance. Actually, I might wait out for the 06 or 07. Rumor has it, they'll have a completely redesigned model. My Supra blew a head gasket at about 155K then I bought an 03 Mazda 6s. I also knew that Mazda's didn't have the reliability of Toyota/Honda/Nissan, but I liked it for other reasons.

    What type of problems have you faced with your older MBs, BMWs or Audis? Minor stuff like starter, alternator, radiator, cooling, or bigger things like engine/transmissions?
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...the news is better. Drivetrains, bodies, suspensions are all nearly bulletproof. There will be the occasional engine that develops a particular problem [example - the now-discontinued straight 6 had a weakness for head gaskets at high mileages], but PLENTY of Japanese cars are known for drivetrain weaknesses as the miles pile up [Toyota's oil sludge scandal, head gaskets on the T100] as well. In this regard, I would actually give a bit of the edge to MB over nearly everybody except Honda and maybe Nissan.

    No, the problems that have built this air of "crisis" that you read about are nearly all electronics. The Germans went through a period where their engineers decided that because something was "possible", it ought to be put into production. The result was a series of in-the-field failures that have been a lesson for all concerned. I deliberately avoided any car from a German firm that smacked of reaching too far, too fast - our C240 does not have memory seats [the seat/key interface was a big bugaboo], a cell phone, a nav system, or any of the doo-dads that people seem to think must be in a car these days. BMW has come to grief over their infamous integrated control system, that nearly everybody in the world hates trying to use, and which fails at a high rate.

    If you keep the car simple, after the usual debugging period of the first couple of thousand miles, its long-term prospects for being solid and strong are still good. In this respect, as the miles pile on, MBs still feel more rock-like and quiet than anything from the Japanese except maybe a Lexus LS [that car has been an extraordinary piece of work from Day One].

    My 1982 Supra was a very satisfying car - but it got traded for an '84 MB the end, I've always wound up migrating back to MB.

    I put BMW [depending on the model, though] on a roughly equal footing with Mercedes....but not VW/Audi. Their cars have been even more trouble-prone, and there it can get serious real fast, because the dealers [especially VW dealers] have too often shown they are not up to the task.

    If you keep a Mercedes properly maintained [which is actually no more demanding than doing the same for a Japanese car, but more expensive by a factor of 2x], the reward is a car that will feel good many miles down the road. They don't make rattletraps, as a rule. But you pay a big price for neglect if you try to take shortcuts with maintenance.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I need help. Battery died, since power source was interrupted, the radio needs the code entered. But it says the code from the card is incorrect! I can go to the dealer I guess, but is there something I'm missing that the book isn't telling me?
  • fellyfelly Posts: 16
    jrct9454 thanks for your help. I had the dealer work on my car and it seems OK now at high speeds (Hwy), but at low speeds it still feels the same slightly pull to the right (if taken the hands off the wheel just for testing purposes). I'm I being too sensitive or picky about this or it's normal?
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    High speed, low speed, any speed - assuming the road is not graded to the right [many are for drainage purposes], the car should track straight and true. Ours does, but only because the tech was willing to go outside the box and vary the caster a bit from one side vs the other. Caster has become an issue on the new Chrysler 300, as well, with a lot of early cars drifting to the right, and the solution being a caster adjustment kit that allows the tech to "tune" the alignment to solve the problem.
  • Hello All!

    This is my first posting so please be kind!

    I recently purchased a '99 c230 Kompressor and have been experiencing a tremendous amount of problems with the gas tank. When I go to certain gas stations to fill up, the gas hose will automatically shut off while I'm filling up. I am assuming that the auto shut off senses that the gas level is where it needs to be and turns itself off. The gas is no where NEAR full, not even 1/8 tank! I have to run it extremely slow and takes upwards of 15 minutes to fill a tank completely. Has anyone else had this problem? Is there anything I can do? PLEASE HELP, MY SANITY DEPENDS ON IT!
  • ma5246ma5246 Posts: 2
    Hi All-
    I just bought a '99 c230 Kompressor' and the driver side window stopped rolling up or down, Is there any setting that got turned on , etc.

    Also, I am looking into putting in a CD changer but heard about FP limitations, Can any one elaborate on it.

  • I purchased a 2002 C320 and it came with the phone cradle for a Motorola V60. It is right underneath the armrest. I think it is an extra option to have the cradle, so it may not have it even though the controls are on the steering wheel. You also have to purchase a Mercedes Motorola V60, which is pricey (I think around $700!). I bought mine on ebay for under $250. I already had had a v60, but it was not Mercedes, so I had to purchase the Mercedes phone. I use verizon, so I just had to activate the phone. Then you can dial or pick up calls with the buttons on the steering wheel or the radio.
  • I bought a used 2002 C320 sedan in December, and now have 20k miles on it. I just had the flexible service done it last month (forgot if it was A or B, but they said it was the minor one). They did the usual things, oil changes, top off fluids, check belts, etc. I know that the dashboard light will come on when I need service, but do I need to have oil changes done more often, in between these services?

    Also, I have the java (light tan) leather interior. I use the Meguiar's gold class cleaner/conditioner for regular cleaning. But does anyone have suggestions on what to use and & how to clean the nitty gritty crevices in the leather, like on the armrest and steering wheel? I am talking about those natural grains in the leather...can't seem to penetrate into those spots and it's starting to look kind of dirty.

    I also had the brakes changed during my last visit, they told me there was 20% left until it hit the sensor. Did I get it changed too early, I mean it's only at 20k miles. They also had to change the power steering pump because it was making a whining noise when I turned. Luckily it was under warranty. Anyone else had this problem? I also have heard a click coming from the passenger dash. I thought it might have been the passenger side mirror or seats, but the dealership said it was probably the "step motor" and replaced it. It still makes the noise. It's really just a low-sounding click and I will hear it maybe once during my hour commute. I remember when they gave me a loaner 2004 C230 hatchback, I also heard the click, so I'm wondering what this could be, and whether or not I should take it back for the same problem.

    Any input would be appreciated...thanks!
  • rowlandjrowlandj Posts: 254
    It may be the purge valve for the evaporator canister as this was a pretty well-know issue. It sounds like a valve tick in some ways but it comes more from the 'outside' rather than inisde of the car.

    Re: the leather a lot of folks use Lexol with good results it may be worht a shot.

    On the brakes, it does seem a bit early but you never know what the car was driven like before you got it. I left mine til the sensors kicked in because it is not at all uncommon for MB to need rotors at the same time. They are 'soft' and often need to be changed so I figure why do it early as the reason to change pads early was to save the rotors in my experience.

  • Thanks for the info JR. You mention the purge valve for the evaporator canister, is this is normal, and nothing for me to worry about? I am not familiar with this.

    I will try the Lexol and will wait till the sensor comes on next time for the brakes. Dealers are always recommending something to be done earlier than necessary, but I figure the car will let you know.
  • pouletpoulet Posts: 1
    My 99' C230 kompressor hesitate when I take off...I have to step on it and then it takes off o.k.I went to a see someone to have it check He told me that it has something to do with the air intake or air sensor...after I spent a few hundred $$ on spark plugs and ignition coils.I work all my life on my cars but this one is more than I can handle....I believe the part he referred too cost over $ I am reluctant to go and change it...any idea/
  • rowlandjrowlandj Posts: 254
    It is an annoyance item but most people had them change it because of that. If it does not bother you then just have it done at the next service.

    Glad to be of help.

  • tntfoxtntfox Posts: 2
    I feel the same way. I bought a 2001 C240 and have had nothing but trouble with it. I have actually had it in for service 16 times in three years. Mostly for electrical crap that keeps failing and they cant seem to fix. I've talked to several people who have purchased MB's in the last three years (C / M / S classes) and all tell the same story. Constant problems. I thought I was getting a good car, but sadly this seems to be untrue. I'm selling it and going BMW!
  • tntfoxtntfox Posts: 2
    I've had things go wrong like the windows quit working randomly, lights burn out about every two months, the key remotes failed, the AC controls had no effect on where the cold air was coming from, etc. Over a three year period, I have had 13 unscheduled repairs. Not too good.

    Several of these repairs have been repeated 3 or 4 times because they continue to fail. The thing that worries me is that when the warranty expires, this thing is going to get really expensive.
  • fellyfelly Posts: 16
    Is it normal for the engine of a C230 kompressor to be so loud when the A/C is on? I used drive Accords in the past and never heard such weird noise when the air was on. This is my first Benz so any advise will be welcome. Thanks!
  • noellenoelle Posts: 1
    In the last 3 months, I've had to put coolant in several times. The first time the coolant light came on, I checked it and it was indeed low. I filled it up and went another 2 months till the next coolant light indicator came on. In the last month it's been happening more often. The engine temp is not elevating however. Anyone have similar problems and if so, how were they fixed?
  • gobigobi Posts: 2
    My check engine light came on recently and when driving my Transmission doesn't shift to the next gear - my speedometer just stays below 40MPH. I know the problem is not with my transmission ( i only have 108 miles on the car). I took my car to a local mechanic shop- they checked it on their computer and i was told my transmission sensor is back and need to be replaced. I was referred to Transmission mechanic specialist for a second opinion- the so call specialist said the problem is with my Transmission computer. Can any one enlighten me what the transmission sensor or computer is all about. I want to get as much info i can before sending the car to a mercedes dealership. Thanks guys
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    There is a drivetrain computer that allows the transmission and engine to communicate with each other - such things as throttle position, rate of change in throttle demand, outside temp, recent history of driver behavior, all contribute to how the transmission shifts and responds to driver inputs. It also controls the most basic function of all - shifting from one gear to the next. When this chip fails, the transmission defaults to so-called "limp-home" mode [and yes, the CEL will be lit], and the trans will not shift out of second gear. The diagnosis is a good one - the chip needs to be replaced, and will not be cheap out of warranty. Sorry about that...
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