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2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test Posts: 10,112
edited April 2015 in Mercedes-Benz
image2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

Another Active Body Control (ABC) system failure has sidelined our long-term 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65. Here are the details of its repair.

Read the full story here


  • "I ain't gonna fall for no banana in the tailpipe!!!" (Eddie murphy Jamaican accent, Beverly Hills Cop). The pricing discussion was definitely suspect!!!

    Well, I can see that the depreciation on this car is 100% warranted. As is a comprehensive extended warranty through the dealer
  • miata52miata52 Posts: 114
    That right-rear accumulator looks like it's right above the exhaust -- that should get nice and toasty and ruin the membrane in no time.
  • kirkhilles_kirkhilles_ Posts: 151
    Ha, I guess I underestimated it with my "grand or two" comment before. Nothing like an unexpected $3,000 repair with luck to drop it down to $2,600.

    Depreciation often tells you how much you're going to pay long term with repairs...
  • You beat me to it miata52. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the placement of the orb. I bet one of those near the exhaust failed. I would think Mercedes and Techs would have that intel given that this system is probably used across several models over several years. I got to think with all Mercedes posturing about their technology would also mean that they paid close attention to root failure analysis of the technology.
  • metalmaniametalmania Posts: 167
    Thanks for buying this car and posting all these updates. It's pretty well convinced me never to buy a used exotic car, even for a "good deal". What a pain in the @#%.
  • evodadevodad Posts: 135
    So actual cost ended up coming in $450 below the original $2,600 estimate, that's something you never hear happening
  • Yeah Evodad, maybe i missed it but he dropped it from $3000 to $2600 out the door, and then you paid $2,141? what happened there?
  • bryan__tbryan__t Posts: 23
    Given that the dealer knew your worked for Edmunds, I take the price break with many, many grains of salt.
  • The MB's pinnacle of engineerings needs a $2,600 overhaul of the ABC system every 60,000 mile. Awesome!
  • cjasiscjasis Posts: 274
    Anyone wondering how the actual cost of repair declined by nearly $500 - $900 (depending on what "estimate" you use) need only read this part of the update:
    "Admittedly, he had just learned we were with Edmunds... "
  • When you own one of these out of "iron clad" bumper to bumper warranty, you'd best seek out a independent shop that truly understands the car, it's flaws and fixes.
    You think this 65AMG is bad, try out a GT3. .. Bently .. Ferrari or any other high dollar exotic. Buddy of mine just had his front rotors replaced plus pads on a 2012 GT3 ... $8250.00.
    Price of admission is high, price to play higher still. It's all relative for some, income allowing.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Posts: 365
    I too think the big price break was likely influenced by the Edmunds connection. However, my experience with MB dealers is that they always quote a much higher price than the repair actually costs. In fact, I can't remember the last time I didn't pay less than the quoted amount. I'm not sure I have ever seen a 30% drop, though.
  • noburgersnoburgers Posts: 500
    If that one above the exhaust ruptures, there would be a fire I suppose.
  • Is this the dealership that needed two attempts to fix the SLS's top?
  • Forgot to mention... thanks for a proper and well documented discussion of the fix.
    It would be interesting if you could call that Newport Beach shop and ask for a quote for the same work. Then again, maybe they are reading this blog.
  • cjasiscjasis Posts: 274
    CL65amgdriver - at the risk of being offensive, your buddy is either full of crap or a moron. Porsche's are very expensive to own, maintain and repair... ask me how I know... but a full set of ceramic brakes on the current GT3 are about $9,300. Even if your buddy has ceramics on his 997.2 GT3 (and he probably does as an awfully high % of new GT3s are spec'd that way) then he paid WAY, WAY, WAY too much for front rotors and pads.

    Porsche's old ceramic rotors were sometimes problematic but by many, if not most, accounts the current generation are all but indestructable. I'd be very curious to learn how your buddy went through rotors if they are ceramics. Pads, on the other hand, are absolutely wear and tear items.
  • joefrompajoefrompa Posts: 64
    First off, if the problem is exhaust, it would be a $15 fix to simply intstall a heat shield around that orb.

    Second, $2100 is not a big deal on this vehicle. People buying this vehicle should have a $4k/year budget on average for maintenance/repairs.

    Second, I understand the guy went from $2600 to $3000 to $2700 then agreed to $2600 since it was quoted before. a 10% variance is not exactly unheard of considering mark-up on parts, labor rate and mark-up, "shop expenses", etc.

    But I am curious how the agreed upon quote of $2600 dropped to $2100. I'd like more details on that.

    Honestly, the fact you can get this repair at a dealer for a cost that isn't beat out by indy's seems pretty good.
  • Wow. How can a system be this expensive and critical fail so early? Overly complex German car. GM's magnetic shock absorbers are more advanced and durable yet far less complex.
  • Allthingshonda,

    To be fair, Active Body Control is a far more complex solution to ride and body control than Delphi's MagneRide. MagneRide is a semi active or adaptive system which can only change the viscous damping coefficient of the suspension system, it cannot add energy to any part if the system. Thus MagneRide, an elegant solution actually, can only change the stiffness or softness of compression and rebound. ABC on the other hand, is a fully active system, which means it can exert independent force on individual wheels to control ride characteristics such as body lean, squat and dive. For example, ABC can effectively push down on the outer wheels of the car when cornering to basically eliminate body roll. ABC can handle consistent ride levels, vehicle lowering at speed for efficiency and increased ride height for adverse road conditions. I commend Mercedes for developing what is still considered cutting edge technology for their flagships but it does seem the ridiculous cost cutting during this CLs development took its toll on longer term durability. At said, it does seem the newer versions of ABC are more durable.
  • I won't claim the suspensions on the AMG and my first car, a 1967 Citroën, are more than superficially similar, but they both use functionally equivalent hydropneumatic spheres. If I still had that car (wish I did), the parts cost to replace a front sphere is about $108, and $89 for a rear after core charge. That's translated from £'s on a British website. Yes, they are rebuildable, later units aren't but are even cheaper. I know there are shops that rebuild them in the U.S. but couldn't find a price before I got bored. I wonder what MB charges for a $phere? Let's get an invoice breakdown, Edmunds. It's surprising they can't test individual spheres, but probably a good idea to replace them all anyway. | | | Nice photos, and nice that they accommodated your request. Edmunds, eh? Access granted!
  • nuievenuieve Posts: 43
    Ok, gentlemen, let's place our bets as to what will break next? Obviously has to be a $2000+ part, no doubt.
  • benson2175benson2175 Vancouver, BCPosts: 68
    Okay I'm going to wade in and try to explain why someone who buys a used Benz for $35K would pay $2500 for any repair on it. Let's start by asking what else can you get for $35K? A new Honda Accord coupe? A fully loaded Corolla sport? I don't know I'm actually asking I'm too lazy to look it up but it's safe to say that $35K will not buy you too many 600hp full size coupes with this level of refinement and options. Now maybe you don't care about 600hp, or having your butt heated, or the sun shade that goes up the back window at the touch of a button, or the rear head rests that can be put down or brought back up from the dash, or being pushed into your seat at 2G or something as that 12 cylinder does it's thing; that's fine, you are lucky, you will be happy in that Accord Coupe; look how nice it is. But some of us love those things, we get a giddy childish rush every time those head rests go up and down, every time we close the door lightly and it shuts itself (no need to slam), every time we're driving on the highway isolated from any road imperfections but still connected to the car ready to pass at the lightest touch of the accelerator in cosseted silence and comfort. We unfortunately appreciate all this ridiculous stuff (the wood, the leather, the paint, the fit and finish, the safety, the technology involved just to display the correct outside temp on the dash) and when we're riding in someone elses "nice" car the thoughts that pass through our mind are "So windy; is the window open?", "Something is wrong with the suspension, it's crashing over bumps" "Why can I hear the tires and engine buzzing? This isn't a sports car" "The plastic door handle almost cut my hand" and we're faced with the realization that we can never go back, we could never drive a "nice" car, that spending $2500 for any repair is worth it [non-permissible content removed] and it always will be.
  • Linard76, Magneride has the same capability as ABC and is faster reacting since they're no hydraulics that need to be moved or valves to be open or closed. The computer can adjust the electrical current to the magnetic coils over a thousand times a second. Just like ABC it can control body roll, nose dive, and squat and can be equipped with a leveling system. Since the shocks contain less parts than some conventional shocks they are extremely durable. Magnetic shocks are used not only on premium GM vehicles but also Ferrari, Audi, Acura, and Range Rover. Porsche also uses this technology for their active engine mounts. Using hydraulics, with all the required parts to make it work, has been replaced with a more advanced and far less complex system.
  • miedenmieden Posts: 75
    allthingshonda, Linard76 was correct. Magneride is a reactive system. It generates no new forces. ABC has been upgraded recently to run over FlexRay (I think it was with the introduction of the current SL), so cycle times are even faster than the original 10ms. But the most advanced suspension in production, Mercedes new "Road Scanning" Magic Body Control, can only function with an "active" system that can generate counter-forces. ABC is the necessary foundation for much so, that MB is licensing ABC to other companies so MB makes a profit when they inevitably introduce road scanning systems in their cars too.
  • Allthingshonda, appreciate the debate but it just takes a few minutes of research to understand the differences between an active suspension system (ABC) versus a semi-active or adaptive system (MagneRide). While semi-active suspensions only vary shock absorber firmness to match changing road or dynamic conditions, active suspensions can vary both spring AND damping with actuators to literally raise and lower the chassis independently at each wheel to control ride, include fore-aft movement. An active suspension negates the need for stabilizer bars to handle low frequency movements while they are still an important and key component of semi-active systems. Again, just requires a bit of understanding and research...
  • lid1lid1 Posts: 2
    Confirms what others have already mentioned. The lesson here; trade in your top of the line German car ( with all the high tech features) once it is out of warranty. I suspect in 6-7 years a 2014 S- class will have even more maintenance issues as the luxury brands roll out a head spinning cornucopia of high tech electronic features.

    Of course my friends and family who can afford the 60 to 100 K cars couldn't care less as few are genuine gear head/ enthusiasts and they tend to upgrade after 2-3 years.
  • ttopjohnttopjohn Posts: 25
    I'll echo the magnetic ride v. ABC comments - magnetic ride is fantastic, and I've driven all 3 generations of it at various times, and in some respects it is better than ABC (for example, cost of upkeep - the shocks themselves are the only pricey part, v. abc where you've got pricey shocks plus teh whole rest of the hydraulic system - lines, pump, accumulators). But ABC can push a wheel down or pull a wheel up to accommodate road conditions. Magnetic ride can be paired with rear self leveling, but that's the extent of it's ability to apply force to a wheel.

    Back to this CL65 - I hoope this replacement of the accumulators works, but I'm not seeing a whole lot about filter replacement, checking the hydraulic lines for deterioration, checking the shocks for leaks, etc. I wouldn't describe replacing the accumulators as an "overhaul" of this system. Rather, i suspect that's a pretty easy backyard job if you've got the MB computer program to activate the mode of the ABC system that purges/lets you bleed the ABC system afterwards. After all, differences in how you bleeding the system aside, just replacing the accumulators sounds like the same kind of not that big of a deal work folks do on their 80s-90s BMW rear self leveling systems all the time - accumulator failure leads to higher pressure causing leaks and a rough ride, replace them and all is well for a while if you haven't blown the seals. But there's still any number of other things that could go wrong. Some of those hydraulic lines look wet - abc leaks or some other leak dripping on top of them?
  • 21ravens21ravens Posts: 1
    I'll buy that 60-100K Mercedes for 8-10K and fis it all day long for 2-3K a pop and be really happy to do it. Used engines and transmissions are really cheap for these cars, as long as it's not a V12. Mechanics are expensive, but that's OK. A good one will keep you out of trouble and you'll save more listening to him than you'd ever spend on those 7-800 a month car payments!
  • yangsteinyangstein Posts: 1
    OK. I purchased 05 CL65 AMG and SL500. As the original warranty ran out, AMG's repair was obscene... Once MB dealer opens the hood, the basic fare like a taxi starts at $2,000. It had nothing to do with ABC but just basics. I dealt with it for few more years as I loved the car but had to sell it as it was creeping up on me.

    On the other hand, I kept the SL500. As it reached the approx. 60K miles, ABC failed. Reservoir, Valve were changed with new Hydraulic oil and the bill was $3,024.59. Few months later, ABC failed again. At this time, Pump was replaced and the bill was $3,371.40.

    Few days ago, ABC failed again. This time, it is strut according to the MB dealer. Estimation $2,200+.

    MB dealer said ABC is VERY expensive (No Kidding) and eventually I will have to replace the whole thing which is around $12,000. I am up to about $8,500 so will have to be prepared for additional $3,500 sometime in near future. '05 SL 500 is worth somewhere in $10K's when you try to sell it now. It is not fully depreciated as I believe it will be $2,000 in few years. However, in order to keep the car running, you will have to bear obscene amount of money. I think the car was not made like MB used to make in the 80's where it was very reliable and not too expensive to fix. My Ferrari's maintenance is far less than SL500. Thank GOD I got rid of the sibling, CL65 AMG 4 years ago. It was a fun car to drive but you will get killed by maintenance and resale value is beyond poor.

    My point is the fancy systems and other things are great under the warranty but I see that MB's quality is not what you have to put out of your pocket. Once the warranty runs out, then you are in the danger zone. For CL65 AMG, I tried 20+ 3rd party warranty companies but no company would insure V12 or AMG's. I also had CLS 63 AMG, had fun and sold it when it was about to run out of warranty. You could purchase extended warranty when you purchase the vehicle but I trusted MB's quality and now I have second thoughts about MB now. I only have one MB now in my garage. MB is getting close to Aston Martin, Maserati when you drive it more than 30K miles.
  • People who buy used luxury cars for ten cents on the dollar compared to new may have to get burned a few times before it dawns on them that there is a reason it was so cheap, and these are bargains only if you can do most of the repairs yourself, and are willing to buy expensive parts because you love the car for what it is. Otherwise, just buy any cheap new car, and trade it in before the warranty runs out like most sensible folks do. It may be boring, well, will be boring, but you will save money. Not as much as you think however, you'll still be paying depreciation, sales tax, DMV fees, insurance and interest on the loan to name a few things.
    I bought a sl55 with 493 hp and 19 inch AMG wheels for $17,500 with 80k miles. I'm sure I'll spend that much keeping it on the road over the next few years in first class condition. I can afford it. I think it's worth it every time I drive it. The tax and DMV on a new one would be that much, not counting the purchase price or interest.

    If the feel and sound of the car with the top down on a nice day doesn't move you to smile, then that's a real shame. Life's short, try to enjoy it while you can.
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