Mercedes sucks

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!!

11 thoughts on “Mercedes sucks

  1. Doh! Sounds like it’s time for a change. It’s enough of a risk to be on Bay Area roads at all–there’s no need to add mechanical failures into the mix.

    If I knew a good lemon law attorney, I’d certainly pass the name on, but I don’t. I can try to find out whether my motorcycle attorneys do lemon law stuff, though. Good luck with getting a satisfactory resolution.

  2. Didn’t Jascha get his motorcycle declared a lemon? It might be worth talking to him about it.

  3. I have been trying to get the new 2006 ML since placing an order and putting a down payment four months ago. I could not be told a final price until three days before the car was due. I had to ala carte all options. Who would’ve know that they sold Merecedes with almost no options. I was up 50% of the cost of the car, ridiculous! Now the car is hot and my car has been sold out from under me, and I–the first one to put money on the car at either dealership, am without a car. They claim its a recall issue on a one month old car– It’s really an elitist Mercedes thing. They think I haven’t any other options. Don’t even get me started on the company as a whole. Hell, we’re German! If we ran our business like this, we couldn’t afford Mercedes! I think I’ll go buy a Lexus. They hold their value, come with options, and can tell me a price. They even give me a loaner snazzy Lexus while it’s in service, which I hear is rarely, which would explain the $80K loaners running around. Or, hell, maybe I’ll buy a Hundai!

  4. I think your prayers have been heard. Because of Mercedes’ low( i mean low) sales, their company is at a great risk to losing it all. (read more: Auto Parts Magazine).

    As for your car, now’s the best time to give some hybrids a try(i like these cars) or maybe anything that won’t stop in the middle of the highway.

  5. I have a 2003 SL500 that cost over $100k and it has had 2 recalls, a partial brake failure, numerous electrical problems, and is now sitting on Nantucket Island locked in Park because of an electrical failure in the security module. So I called roadside assistanec and the told me if I can get it towed to the ferry and taken to Hyannis they will take it from there. Now we know why Mercedes J>D> Power ratings have dropped pricipitously. I now own my last Mercedes.

  6. My wife has an SLK230 where the warning light for coolant level keeps coming on when she drives on the highway. We’ve taken it back 3 times, each time they “fix” it or have another excuse.

    Her $55K SLK230 has more problems and worst service in 20K miles than I ever had with my 1999 Ford Ranger with 145,000 miles. It cost me $13,000 new.

    Mercedes sucks. She’ll never buy another again. At least they could just fix the problem, but they don’t even know what it is.

  7. I own a 1999 ML and have experienced the same problem — sudden loss of power while driving at high speeds, i.e. under load. The dealership first suggested a Mass Air Flow Meter replacement which I consented too… then a few months later, after the same problems occurred, I got the same song and dance (“looks like the mass air flow meter needs replacing”). At first, because they said they would replace it under a parts warranty for free I was thinking that I would just do it, but I persisted and said that I really didn’t think it was an air flow problem. Perhaps the bad meter readings were the effect of a problem somewhere else. Well, they disagreed with me and just wanted to go by what the computer was telling them instead of actually thinking on their feet or something… either out of disinterest or laziness or both. So I took the car to another shop (not a dealership, but a shop that only services Mercedes vehicles) and had them look at the car. After some investigation, they found the actual problem… a faulty fuel filter at the outlet in the gas tank. It was replaced and I’ve never experienced the power loss problem again. I love our ML. But for that one problem, it has been a rock solid car. I recommend the Mercedes product to anyone and everyone; I just won’t recommend our local dealership for service. 😉



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