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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Maintenance and Repair



  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    Well, I want to emphasize first that Mobil One is not the only synthetic oil out there - they just have the biggest marketing budget...


    Now, to answer the question: I changed the oil in our FSS-equipped '02 C240 at 5k miles, without resetting the system. Here's the timeline on our first 2+ years of ownership:


    -Jan 02 - Car rolls off the assembly line in Bremen [FSS computer active and starts counting the months and miles]


    -Sep 02 - We buy the car new in Sacramento [35 miles on it]


    -Jun 03 - 5k miles - Oil change without resetting the FSS


    -Jan 04 - FSS calls for the A service. Miles just short of 9.5k, but timeline is 24 months since the crankcase was first filled [the FSS is unaware of the interim change]


    -Oct 04 - Oil changed again without resetting the FSS, at 14.5k miles


    -???- Expect the FSS to call for the next service at 20k or Jan of '06, whichever comes first [48 months since production].


    -After that, no oil changes except as called for by the computer.


    In Europe, it is COMMON for all manner of ordinary cars [Renault, Ford, Peugeot, Opel, Fiat], never mind the MBs and BMWs, to go AT LEAST 10k between oil changes - usually longer. Only in this country is the common wisdom that more frequent oil changes are necessary in modern engines. There are cases where failure to use synthetic oils [VW is the prime example, but Toyota is another] have resulted in premature engine failures when oil change intervals are extended past 5k miles.


    I think MB's current recommendations for the '05s are quite adequate as guidelines to use for oil change frequency. The FSS-equipped cars are going to go a maximum of 24 months for low mileage situations, and I happen to believe that's reasonable for an engine with synthetic oil and over 8 quarts in the crankcase [virtually all MBs hold at least 6 quarts, and some have as much as 10 quarts of capacity] to go that long, or 10-15k miles, depending on use.


    This is a minority view - most owners believe that the engineers in Stuttgart are insane, and that this is all a conspiracy to make service requirements appear lower than they actually are. This debate rages in the MB Club even as we speak. My view is that in these days of super-low-emissions engines [it is in fact combustion by-products that are the chief source of crud in the oil], it is just a waste of time, money, and resources to dump the oil at the intervals we think are common in this country. I expect much counter-argument on this, and in fact, on every board I subscribe to here at Edmunds, this topic comes up at least every two weeks.


    You should do whatever makes you feel right - I feel just fine in following the manufacturer's recommendations for my car; I wasn't sure at the beginning how the FSS would calculate intervals in a situation like ours, where the car only accumulates 6k-8k miles a year - but now that I know, I intend to just do what the computer calls for.
  • 78k miles on my 98 C230 and have been following the FSS recommendations and Mobil 1 synthetic all the way. No issues, no problems, and the motor does not use a drop of oil over the 10-11k change interval.

    I can pull the dipstick out today and the oil looks, feels, and smells like it just came out of the can.

    The new low emission motors are so efficient that there is little internal contamination that gets into the oil. You will see little time-dependent breakdown either in a synthetic over a 1-2 year window. So rest assured the new FSS schedules combined with a good synthetic oil will work just fine.

    My car still pulls to redline just fine.
  • After replacing the battery in my 2001 C320 the wipers, turn signals, flashers, door locks and gas gauge don't work. The only error message is "Display Faulty". Everything else works and the car starts and runs fine. The nearest dealer is 100 miles away and the warrantee expired 2 months ago. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • A little late to find out now but for anyone else nearing a battery replacement you can consider this scenario. Let the battery DIE. I mean completely dead. Then dial the 1-800-FOR-MERCEDES (1-800-367-6372) number on the driver visor, you should program this in your cell phone as once the battery dies you can not unlock the doors. Anyway, call them and they will send a technician out to replace your battery FREE OF CHARGE under the Sign-n-Drive program.


    Trust me, I know about this from first hand experience. It took a little while for them to get to me but wow, what service, and everything was programed back to the original settings.


    No - I don't recommend avoiding regular service and inspections at your dealer but if you do have a battery failure MB USA will come to the rescue!
  • madsenmadsen Posts: 3
    I have a '03 C320. Recently my rainsensing wipers have become hyper-active! Once switched on, they will take a few swipes with pauses in between, but after 2 or 3 swipes they will just continue to go continuously at full speed, even if there is just the slightest of mists, a single rain drop from time to time. They will continue to go long time after I drive into a covered parking structure. I took the car to service, and they replaced the whole rain sensing module, but the problem persists. From time to time the rain sensor works as intended, but it's rare.


    Anybody has a similar problem? Any idea what I can do about it? Could it have something to do with the windshield or wipers rather than the rainsensor itself? Could it just be a problem of adjustment of sensitivity of the rain sensor?


    I will take it back to service, but it's a problem that's difficult to document unless it rains. Meanwhile, it's very anoying. The only way I can get intermittend wiper function is by manually pressing the button from time to time.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    I also let the computer tell me when to change the oil - but if the computer does not indicate I need an oil change after 1 year I normally change it anyway.


    I think the main point of more frequent oil changes is - with a dealer coupon it costs about $20.00 - an engine overhaul will be $3,000 +.


    IMO if you pay more than $30K for a vehicle paying $20.00 a year for an oil change is no big deal - I normally have the car in the dealership for something else anyway.


    As far as environmental impact - it gets recycled - and then re sold as new oil.
  • I just purchased a 1998 Mercedes C230 and I love it. However, today I noticed that the display, which shows the heating temp., is not always working properly. For instance, you know how it is when a calculator is about to die, and only half the numbers show up? Well, that is what it looks like..... When I adjust the heat up and down, it barely shows what the temp is, then after a few min., it is clear and I'm able to read the numbers again. Any ideas? Is this an expensive electrical problem? The heat works great, but the number display looks funky at time!

    Thank you! :)
  • If the LCD unit sits in direct sunlight too long it goes over-temp and will be eratic. Once it cools down it should be fine.

    Do not push hard on the display as this can break the internal crystal connections and then you are SOL.

    Cost, probably 400+ if you dealer is like any other MB outfit. They wont try to repair by only replacing the LCD, they will swap out the entire assembly.

    You may find an independent mechanic that has access to used parts who can do a real repair, fix the LCD only, for under $100.
  • Thank you, I will keep an eye on it and see what happens. I hope it's not necessary to repair. I appreciate your repsonse! :)
  • tlantlan Posts: 3
    My dash indicator light, "check engine" is on and when tested comes up with the Fuel Trim Bank 1 error. My mechanic replaced the oxygen sensor last summer and this light went off but it's back. And, it won't pass the Illinois emissions test until it is fixed. Does anyone know what is a Fuel Trim Bank 1 error and what is the cause? My mechanic is a German Master Mechanic and he said it was nothing to worry about but that was when I lived in Virginia. Now, I need to get it fixed. Any ideas?
  • Well, it's been about 8 days now, and the LCD is still freaking out, even during the night when the sun isn't beating on the display. It seems, that when I tap the unit (not the screen itself), or around it, it goes back to the normal display. Could something be loose??? Has anyone experienced this before? I hear it's about 1k to replace! AAAAAHHHHH!
  • Bummer! Speak nicely to you MB service advisor and see if they'll cut you a beak as the swap out shouldn't be a big deal.

    While you are at it, check out your blower motor. They tend to wear out early, 50-70k miles, and start to make an audible background sound in the lower speed settings. You can really hear it if the radio is off and the blower is around 2 or 3 setting then shut the car off. If you hear a whining sound as it spins down it is time to yank it out as well.

    The two items are in the same area so you may get a deal.

    Good luck.
  • lipplipp Posts: 58
    Bought a 2005 C240 4matic in December. At 3,000 miles car developed a vibration at 50 mph. Dealer checked brakes, front end, tires. Re-balanced all tires and problem persisted. Dealer then checked the balance of the drive shaft and replaced drive shaft. Yes, replaced drive shaft. Problem disappeared for a month then came back at 40 mph. Problem persists when car is cold. Dealer replaced Michelin tires with Michelin tires - same OEM tire. Problem remains. Replaced flex connection. Problem still exists. Dealer now replacing tires again with Continental. Will pick up today. Wish me luck. Anyone have similar problems or do you know of a solution. Dealer is cooperative but guessing. Is the problem with the tires or is the Lemon Law in my future??? Car has been in shop for 20 days since December 1, 2004.
  • postoakpostoak Posts: 537
    I would recommend you go over to the C240 Sedan board (which was around before this board was created) and do a search on "vibrations". I remember much discussion of flat-spotting with Michelin tires and the sensitivity of the C to that flatspotting. The symptoms were a vibration around 40MPH until about 20 minutes into the drive. I suspect the Continentals may fix the problem.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    Michelins are generally more RESISTANT to flat-spotting than the Contis.

    Because it's a 4-matic, I suspect something in the driveline. Since they've already done the driveshaft and the flexdisc [yes, those are rational suspects with known past problems], my next suspect would be one of the front half-shafts or front u-joints.

    Let us know what happens with the latest tire swap. Balancing is rarely the problem, but one or more tires that are out of round WILL cause this symptom. One way to be absolutely sure that the tires are not the culprits is to have the balancing done on a road-force machine. Any reading over 10 lbs is highly suspect - a good tire/wheel combination [OEM MB alloy wheel] should be in the area of 5-7 lbs of road force. [A road force balancer interprets how much variation there is on the contact patch of the tire as it rotates - a bigger variance indicates a lack of roundness].
  • Shim the rear axle front mount. I can't remember the exact number, but it is 1mm to 4mm approx. Adding/removing shims to this mounting point usually cures it. I have found it to be most noticeable when driving about 30,31,32 mph. The whole car just shakes, most noticeable in the floorboard or in the seat of your pants.
  • Don't do it unless you are one lucky individual. It can eat you alive, or leave you standed and alone.
  • lipplipp Posts: 58
    Latest tire swap was a failure. MB factory tech will now get involved sometime next week. Thanks for your insight on the front half shafts and the u-joints. I will pass info along to MB dealer along with the tire balancing info. It's sad that after spending $38,000 on a new car that one has to do their own research when a problem exists.
  • postoakpostoak Posts: 537
    Are you saying the vibration disappears after the car warms up -- or are you saying this only happens when it is cold outside? If the former, you might make *this* test. Let the car idle until completely warmed up and then see if the vibration still takes as long into your drive to disappear.
  • Anyone ever hear of strawberry shake in MB transmission? I was told the radiator had leaked into the transmission fluid. Very odd to me. The car ['03 C240]has been running very rough and a vague noise happening from under the car. Radiator and Tranny being replaced.
    I am concerned about other damage as the rough running and hestitation in shifting has been going on for quite a while. Didn't realize it was anything other than the small engine.
  • postoakpostoak Posts: 537
    Any more news on your vibration problem?
  • lipplipp Posts: 58
    The vibration problem remains a mystery. The car was road tested with another set of new tires and the problem still existed. Following that, a set of tires and rims was removed from a brand new C240 that was road tested and had no vibrations. When put on my car the vibration still existed. The drive shaft from the new car was installed on my car and the vibrations remained. Front drive shafts or front short shafts, motor mounts and transmission mounts were replaced. No success. Replaced differential fluids and rear half shafts. Still vibrating. Now they think the rear axle may be defective. Ready for this........ they have a special tool to measure the balance of the axle but only one exists in the country. They will fly this tool in and hopefully on Monday they can check the axle. If it's found to be defective they will replace it. If it's not defective then they don't know what they will try next.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    At some point, you have to ask the dealer and MBUSA about a replacement car. They've essentially rebuilt the driveline in the field - somewhere along the line, it has to be less expensive to take the car back and start over, though you are appaarently not there yet. I think the rear axle theory may have some merit...keep us informed as things develop.
  • lipplipp Posts: 58
    I am following the procedure outlined in the warranty and I have notified MBUSA (in writing by registered letter) that I am giving them every opportunity to repair the vehicle prior to filing for arbitration under Connecticut's Lemon Law. Any advice?
  • postoakpostoak Posts: 537
    with the thorough effort your dealer service department is putting into figuring this out. If they DO figure it out, we'll have some really valuable knowledge for others with this problem.
  • lipplipp Posts: 58
    My dealer has been nothing short of fantastic through this episode but my faith in the C-Class and MBUSA is fading fast. I put 25,000 miles a year on my car and dependability is extremely important. For the price of the C-Class, I really have to consider reliability, or lack there of, an issue.
  • postoakpostoak Posts: 537
    when you get this fixed, there will be no further drivetrain problems.
  • suniljmsuniljm Posts: 10
    Has anyone seen the latest Consumer Reports Best of 2005 CARS Edition? Looks like Mercedes-Benz is near the bottom. Their whole line including the C-class are listed as cars to avoid, simply because of reliability. On the other hand, the Acura TL and BMW 3-Series were in fact highly recommended. It looks like they really like the C-class in terms features, drive, and comfort. But again, because of its below average reliability, they don't recommend it. I am interested in picking up a C230k (or a Acura TSX/TL or a 2006 BMW), but I am now hesitant on going with MB, even if I get a near or below invoice deal. Anyway, I would like hear thoughts or experiences on what others have to say about the latest Consumer Reports April 2005 issue.
  • jpouchetjpouchet Posts: 38
    Ratings are a bit subjective when you consider that over the past five years the bar for defining acceptable quality has risen significantly. Problems aside, such as poor window regulators which have been resolved or weak seat frames (cracks in welds/bends) most issues are quickly dealt with during the production run.

    That aside, one must live with the car, like the aesthetics, and enjoy the feeling they get while driving the vehicle. I for one really love my 1998 C 230 and would be hard pressed to live with a BMW or Acura for the same 7 1/2 years I've had the C. Quality issues or not.

    We recently added a 2004 E 320 to our family and it too is not perfect but my wife can not picture herself in any other car.

    A good servicing dealer helps and we have found MB USA to be excellent.
  • gleunggleung Posts: 7
    The overhead fan of 96 C280 is making a buzzing noise. I got the white light covers down but can't get to the fan? Tried to pry with a screw driver every where but didn't seem to work. Any ideas?
This discussion has been closed.