As some of you know, I bought myself a Mercedes SLK230 a year and a half ago, a completely impractical obnoxious two-seater hardtop convertible. But I figured, what the heck, I was young and single and male, and when would it be more appropriate for me to have such a car than now. And, damn, it was fun to drive.
Apparently the universe feels that I shouldn’t have this car. Last week, it tried to kill me on the Bay Bridge, which was no less than the third time it died on me while on a highway in a potentially life-threatening situation. I brought it into the dealer for the fifth time (there were two other times when it didn’t quite die on me, but exhibited enough symptoms that I was nervous and brought it in). They held onto it most of the week.
On Friday afternoon, they call me up and say “Okay, we fixed the problem – we replaced the mass airflow sensor.” I immediately reply “No, you didn’t fix the problem. That was the part you tried replacing a year ago when I first brought this car in with this problem.” They say “No, really, this is the problem. We tested it, and it’s way out of spec!” I say “Look, you aren’t hearing me. You’ve tried replacing this part before, and the problem kept on occuring. Even if it’s out of spec, there’s something else wrong that is forcing that sensor out of spec. Unless all of your sensors die twice in the first eighteen months.” They say “Well, we replace a lot of these sensors, so that’s the problem.”
I hang up, disgusted. I go pick up the car, and try to explain again to the service rep that he’s wrong and that I’m going to be back in with the car in a month or so. He blows me off. But I take the car, because the previous four times I’ve brought it in, they did something to the car while it was there that cleared the problem up for a month or two (I suspect that it was resetting the instrument control computer to defaults, but I don’t have any proof). I figured I’d enjoy the one month grace period, and then say goodbye to the car.
Today, four days after picking it up (and on one of those days I didn’t drive), the car lost power momentarily several times on my way to rehearsal. So much so that I immediately moved to the right lane so that I could pull off on the shoulder if the car completely died. It didn’t quite, but I had to rev the engine to keep it from dying completely. I made it to rehearsal, but was pretty worried.
Then on the way home from rehearsal, I had the same momentary loss of power glitches happening while I was on the highway. When I pulled off the highway, and to the stop sign near my place, it almost died completely, I revved it again, it stayed on, but a warning light lit up on the dashboard (the light that’s lit up several other times when I’ve had problems). Then, as I’m pulling into the driveway of my building, the car completely dies, no power whatsoever, the power steering dies so I have to wrench the wheel to avoid hitting the post by the driveway. Fortunately, I can just restart it and baby it into the garage. But if that had happened on the highway…
That’s it. This car is completely unsafe to drive. I am not driving it any more. I’m going to go in tomorrow and kick and scream and either get a new car or a refund. Anybody know a good lemon law attorney?
Oh, and here begins my campaign to publicly smear Mercedes as much as possible. They sold me a lemon car, and then treated me patronizingly when I tried to help them fix it (this last time, I wrote up a detailed incident report, as well as an executive summary with the symptoms and correlating factors. I don’t think they even looked at it). I feel like I’ve been totally taken advantage of, and I’m angry about it. And I’ve got a small platform, so I’m going to use it. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell anybody.
Buy a Japanese car, where they know how to do electronics. I’m thinking Infiniti at the moment, but I might change my mind, depending on how test drives go.
This sucks. Dammit. I treat myself to something that should have been quite nice, and it just ends up being a miserable experience. I had my Saturn for 8 years and 100,000 miles, and I never once had to worry whether my car was going to die on me. Heck, the Saturn is still going strong. Meanwhile, my expensive Mercedes has problems six times in the first 18 months of ownership. Unbelievable. ARGH!!