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Another ABC Fault - 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited January 2015 in Mercedes-Benz
imageAnother ABC Fault - 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

Our 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 hitched a ride to the Mercedes dealer on the back of a flatbed trailer, again. Here is what happened.

Read the full story here


  • iamthestigiamthestig Member Posts: 85
    Think of how well your ad will read. "Recently serviced... New brake pads... Just replaced xyz component of ABC system..."
  • schen72schen72 Member Posts: 433
    What a POS... I could never own such an unreliable car. It would drive me bonkers.
  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    LOL. LOL. LOL. Geez. You guys have had this for like 20k and how much money have you put in? No, seriously, someone please summarize the costs and give a total per mile. This isn't a 200k+ mile Mercedes. This guy is barely broken in at 72k!
  • dvanosdvanos Member Posts: 52
    That ABC system is a disaster!!
  • grijongrijon Member Posts: 147
    Good stuff.
  • christophermcgchristophermcg Member Posts: 10
    I personally know someone that owns one of these. It can either be in 4x4 mode or low rider mode depending on how the ABC system feels that day.

    These things need to be scrapped and all sent to the junkyard. I begged him not to buy it and now he's asking for rides because there are so many things wrong with it that he A) can't afford it B) something else will be breaking shortly after those repairs are done.
  • cjasiscjasis Member Posts: 274
    I can not wait for the wrap up of this car when you sell it. What a piece of crap.
  • ttopjohnttopjohn Member Posts: 25
    Anyone else think this is the natural consequence of failing to check out the whole ABC system the last two times Edmunds had dealers replace parts on it? As I and others noted then, when you 1) replaced the high pressure line from the pump and 2) replaced the accumulators, there was no mention of checking all lines, valve blocks, and shocks for seepage or of changing to the updated ABC fluid filter that filters to a finer degree. I even saw wet lines visible in the pictures from the accumulator replacement. On the other hand, you did minimize the possibility of further damage by immediately turning the car off and calling for the tow truck when you got the ABC light, so good job there. And regardless of whether potential "65" owners plan to defer maintenance more than Edmunds, maintain the same as Edmunds, or maintain to a higher level than Edmunds, this remains a useful window into the world of twin turbo 604 horsepower V12s.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365
    You really should have had the whole system inspected and/or replaced the last time you had a problem. These early ABC systems really don't perform well with a piecemeal approach. Now, this could end up being something relatively minor (leaking fluid could just be a pinched hydraulic line), but it would still be good to have the service dept perform a thorough examination of all hydraulic components. Then again, I probably wouldn't waste my time if you are selling the car anyway.
  • reminderreminder Member Posts: 383
    Complexity for the sake of complexity equals this rig.
    The epitome of unreliable. A true money pit!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    edited January 2015
    Why am I not surprised? Gee, a complex German luxury car out of warranty...what could possibly go wrong?
  • benson2175benson2175 Member Posts: 68
    This car has been a great warning for those of us that buy older Mercedes Benzes. Avoid ABC unless you have a hefty repair budget. I hope you guys get off easy on this repair and it's an easy fix. I'm curious how hard it will be to sell this thing. I'm sad to see that it's going I've enjoyed reading about its misadventures. Definitely more exciting than the Sonata posts, and I guess that's the whole point behind anyone buying one of these used; it's going to be more exciting than owning a Sonata.

  • chol92594chol92594 Member Posts: 208
    I know it's a completely different kind of car, but it's crazy to think that my 09 Civic has nearly the same amount of miles and hasn't needed much else outside of routine maintenance (2 wheel bearings went, 1 was covered under warranty; recently had the passenger side engine mount replaced under warranty). Even used, a lot of European cars can be expensive to own because of their complexity. Even if you can afford to buy one used, you may not be able to afford to maintain one.
  • emajoremajor Member Posts: 332
    But it had been "Camry reliable" right up to this point, right Edmunds? With "none of the boring"? Well, how exciting is it watching going down the road on a flatbed?
  • vizcarmbvizcarmb Member Posts: 13
    Should have bought it at carmax and got the warranty SUCKERS!!!
  • zimtheinvaderzimtheinvader Member Posts: 580
    edited January 2015
    chol92594 said:

    I know it's a completely different kind of car, but it's crazy to think that my 09 Civic has nearly the same amount of miles and hasn't needed much else outside of routine maintenance (2 wheel bearings went, 1 was covered under warranty; recently had the passenger side engine mount replaced under warranty). Even used, a lot of European cars can be expensive to own because of their complexity. Even if you can afford to buy one used, you may not be able to afford to maintain one.

    I've gotten so spoiled that even the 2 wheel bearings and engine mount seem extreme in 75,000 miles. Toyota Tacoma and 200,000 miles with nothing but maintenance items and shocks can change ones outlook on reliability.
    But I think a big part of the reason these cars can be had for such a 'reasonable' price is because they come with the fear of massively expensive problems; and are unloaded by the prior owners for the same reason. To have any hope they have to pay more and get one with a solid service history. But even then if most people that buy them new have no plans to own them for years and years then their emphasis wouldn't be on long term maintenance and just the same way Edmunds planned to skip replacing the brakes because they were going to sell it the prior owners probably skipped plenty of things too.

  • redskinsdmvredskinsdmv Member Posts: 52
    Anecdotally speaking, the car brand I see the most on flatbed trailers is Mercedes. Audi a close second.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365

    That could be because MB is one of the few automakers who mandates the use of a flatbed if a vehicle needs a tow. Furthermore, MB has a whole plethora of conditions where they say a tow is necessary and other automakers generally aren't as strict.

    Regardless, according to AAA the most towed brand in the US is Ford. In fact, all of the most towed brands are American. MB doesn't even feature on the list because its rate of breakdowns is too low. I'll admit to being surprised by that. Pretty much everything MB made between 2000 and 2007 was crap so I expected them to perform worse.
  • ajac03ajac03 Member Posts: 37
    @mercedesfan, Have you ever considered the ratio of how many american cars there are in the U.S. compared to german cars? I'm sure there's a MASSIVE gap there. For every 1 Mercedes you probably see a hundred american cars.. so that would explain why
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Several people complained that Edmunds is at fault because they didn't inspect and replace the entire system. First, it was repaired by a Mercedes dealer who should have been responsible for inspecting the system before declaring it repaired. Secondly it should have been more reliable and durable from the factory. Fanboys always fall back on the complexity of the system and how no other car has such an advanced complex suspension.

    Wrong. Nissan introduced the world's first fully active hydraulic suspension system in the 1991 Infinity Q45A http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-01-10/news/1991010082_1_q45-active-suspension-new-suspension-system . You would think that after reverse engineering and copying Nissan's work Mercedes could have done better.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365
    edited January 2015

    That is incorrect. Firstly, Citroen was the first to ever offer an "active" air suspension. The 1955 DS was able to control body motions of the rear axle through hydropneumatics and then in 1989 they rolled out the world's first 4-wheel active suspension. Secondly, Benz began developing ABC during development of the W126 which launched in 1979. The first ABC prototype was shown to the public on the C112 of 1991. MB's systems was in development before Nissan even started developing the Q45. Furthermore, Nissan's system was very similar to Citroen's system and was significantly less complex than ABC. What sets ABC apart from all others is how quickly it can respond. Nissan and Citroen's systems were fully reactionary. In other words, they could only firm up the suspension in response to the vehicle physically rolling. ABC has a predictive element because it monitors the inputs not only from the 4 sensors attached to the wheels, but also sensors attached to the body and the stability control systems. As such, it can respond within hundredths of a second. This kind of speed requires huge pressure within the hydraulic system and therefore extremely complex hydrodynamic engineering. ABC truly is more complex than anything else that has come before. That isn't hyperbole, it is fact. Plus, Nissan's system was even less reliable than MB's so give Daimler some credit.

    Nevertheless, MB has made significant strides over the last 16 years in improving ABC. The most problematic feature of the W220 was ABC, by the time the W221 finished up production ABC didn't even feature on the list of top 5 biggest problem areas.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365

    I totally agree with that, but it doesn't change my point. @redskinsmv's anecdotal evidence doesn't hold up. It is actually quite rare to see an MB on the back of a flatbed.
  • benson2175benson2175 Member Posts: 68
    I don't understand why this car garners so much hate. Why do MBs in general? It's just a car; a very nice car that's probably better than most other cars. Why all the hate? I don't get it?
  • danfrommdanfromm Member Posts: 21
    Why all the hate? Because MB fanboys deny that the cars are fragile and expensive to fix. There's no excuse for either.
  • miedenmieden Member Posts: 75
    @danfromm, they're not fragile and expensive to fix. They WERE fragile and expensive to fix. W220, W215, W203 and early W211 make the entire brand look bad. Thankfully, the faults in these models are starting to price them right off the road. But lets be real here, every 10yo car has its shortcomings. The issue here is component cost. An informed owner would have chosen a different service route to protect their investment. Like everything else in life, the uninformed get what they deserve.
  • benson2175benson2175 Member Posts: 68
    I'll admit I'm a MB fan boy. But I didn't get there because I'm stupid, crazy, or just randomly chose a brand. I've owned Hondas, Acuras, Nissans, an Infiniti, a Ford, a Chevy, a Pontiac, a Toyota, and a Mazda and none, not a single one have left an impression on me like the $1000 E class I bought as a joke. I was absolutely hooked and have been ever since. I'm not saying Mercedes Benzes are perfect cars but they are pretty close to being perfect, 2000 - 2006 not withstanding. Currently my W140 S-Class has 250K km and runs great, needs nothing except liquid/filter changes and is amazing to drive and be in. In fact I'm kind of sad because I have no clue what to get next. A 7 series? Another S-class? If 996s don't start to appreciate too quickly and price me out I'll probably get one of those but I feel like I own my perfect car now and will be stuck with it forever.
  • ttopjohnttopjohn Member Posts: 25
    Questioning the repair choices is not about defending the car or MB. Those that want this car want it because for them, the pros (V12, two turbos, 738 tq, pillarless hardtop styling, the satisfaction of having the biggest number MB) outweigh the cons (cost and complexity of upkeep). Questioning the repair choices is about engaging like minded enthusiasts in a discussion about how to best approach keeping this car or one like it on the road.
  • fordescortgtfordescortgt Member Posts: 32
    Still no update?
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