Beware the main dealer droids (and their STAR systems)

drmw

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My last car was an R230 SL500. Driving home one day, the ABC warning came up on the dash, coinciding with an apparent loss of damping. Took it to the local MB dealer. They messed about for a day, then called to say a strut had failed. OK, told them to proceed - Kerching, £1200 for a strut. Went to collect that night, embarrassed faces all round, it had failed the rodeo test. Next day, they call to say it has to be the valve block. Kerching, another £1200. Called the next day - still failing. Er, yes, it could mean the strut was ok, but we broke it removing. MB said they needed a new transponder, but they knew they had screwed up, so that wasn't going to be charged for. Swapped that over (now off the road for a week) - called to say it was still faulting.

I reminded them of what I said when I took it in - the ABC fault coincided with a high pitched buzz on the radio that varied going over bumps - in my humble view, this was electrical. They took another day, then called to say it was fixed. In answer to the inevitable from me - the fault was a broken wire (although not obvious) from the original strut.

Real cost to fix should have been about £20.00. We "did a deal" re the accumulated £2,500 odd & the dealer owes me some points (to not name & shame!!) - at least they now listen when I offer details of a problem. (they might not pay any attention, but they listen!!).

Advances in technology do call for ever more sophisticated diagnostic systems, but more often than not the diagnostics diagnose the symptom, not necessarily the cause which is where intellegence should come into play - particularly at £100/hour.

I have to wonder how many unsuspecting, trusting but mechanically uninformed customers end up paying HUGE amounts to main dealers when the dealer has simply started at the obvious end of a system, happily replacing modules one by one (few of which ever get taken off again) until the fault goes away.
 

amwebby

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I had a similar experience at my main dealer. There was an intermittent drain on the battery that needed to be tracked down. I told them that this drain coincided with the easy exit feature failing to work, something that is controlled from the driver's seat controller, so suggested they look there first and call me if this wasn't the case.

They didn't look there first. Instead they spent 12 hours trying to track down the fault only to find it was a faulty seat controller on the driver's side. When presented with the £1,200 bill for tracking down this fault I refused to pay it, pointing out that was where I had told them to look in the first place.

We settled on me paying for £100 pounds of "investigation" and the bill for replacing the faulty unit. Schadenfreude. :cool:
 

jberks

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I have to wonder how many unsuspecting, trusting but mechanically uninformed customers end up paying HUGE amounts to main dealers when the dealer has simply started at the obvious end of a system, happily replacing modules one by one (few of which ever get taken off again) until the fault goes away.

Sadly, lots.
My Land Rover fuel gauge played up from the day I got it. Once down to 1/4 it would suddenly drop to 0, flashing up warnings and putting the engine into a fuel saving - get you home mode. Their first fix was to update some software ..ok. Second, more software. I suggested that, as it only happened at 1/4 and below, and got worse the lower the fuel level, and that whilst a random one-off / once every 6 months fault could be a software glitch, a fault that occurs every 5 minutes and is almost unique to my car is a tad less likely, so, maybe the sender was at fault??.
On the 6th visit - (by the 3rd, we'd stopped trecking up to the dealer - insisting they collect it and drop off a shiny new V8 loan Range Rover each time as compensation, they changed the sender. Its been fine since.
Sometimes the owner does know best!

What I can't understand is why the dealer has to fit new parts. Surely MB can supply each dealership with a set of modules that can be swapped in and out for diagnostic purposes. If necessary, loaned out to customers for extended 1/2 week road tests to ensure a correct diagnosis before thousands are spent. Ok - no good for struts but the number of people who've been stung for ECUs and SAMS is crazy. Pop in a module (takes 2 mins) and see what happens. I know some modules have to be coded to the car but, speaking as a software engineer, I'm pretty sure they could find a way around that with flash memory etc.
 

television

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Oh dear, one would think the the guys working at these places would try and understand how they work, If I was not able to work most of it out the car would have gone long ago.

There is only one sensor, not replaceable in the strut, and a separate fault code for that. So they turned to the next most expensive thing,,the valve block.

I am waiting now to see if they bled the system correctly, time will tell
 
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drmw

drmw

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In the end

Good question - I did have to take it back the next day to ask if there was any remote possibility of having the same body/wheelarch clearances on both front wheels. Fortunately, the tongue lashing they got for all the messing about ensured they didn't try the "that's the way it's meant to be sir", got it into the workshop & resolved! No further problems for the three months I had it thereafter
 

5pares

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The biggest problem i find is the information from the customer doesnt get passed onto the person trying to fix the car (the technicians)instead the stm's (booking clerk,service advisor) jots down a few notes.My advice is talk to people who know what their on about.Most dealers will have a team leader/workshop controller on hand to talk to.
 

television

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The biggest problem i find is the information from the customer doesnt get passed onto the person trying to fix the car (the technicians)instead the stm's (booking clerk,service advisor) jots down a few notes.My advice is talk to people who know what their on about.Most dealers will have a team leader/workshop controller on hand to talk to.

Spot on:D:D:D The guys at the desk have not got a clue,,its a crazy situation. when the dealers axed some of the techies,they should have outed those dumb beings and given a techie a white coat,, this would give some confidence in who they were dealing with
 

television

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Althouth STAR is a necessity to diagnose many problems, many faults can be diagnosed without it.

It is a revenue tool for gauranteed income at the dealers.

STAR gives you an indication,,but you must be able to work out what it is saying
 

LYNALL

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The biggest problem i find is the information from the customer doesnt get passed onto the person trying to fix the car (the technicians)instead the stm's (booking clerk,service advisor) jots down a few notes.My advice is talk to people who know what their on about.Most dealers will have a team leader/workshop controller on hand to talk to.

We get this a lot at work on the trucks, drivers has told our office a defect and all we get is a scribble on the job card and can spend hours trying to find out whats going on, when a 5 minute chat with the driver would point us in the right direction and save hours.

So defect not fixed, one peed off driver he bitchs to boss who bitchs at my boss who bitchs at us great eh?



Lynall
 

Birdman

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My other car is a Phaeton (if you hadn't noticed) and this machine is complexity squared in the electrical department. We are regularly advised by senior members that you absolutely have to talk face-to-face with the mechanic working on your machine before repair work is incurred.

Most technical problems prove straightforward in my experience, provided communication with the mechanic is good and I have consulted with the forum.

So a big thank you to all our forum experts on MercedesClub, without whom I would have long strayed from my path of motoring happiness :)
 

television

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My other car is a Phaeton (if you hadn't noticed) and this machine is complexity squared in the electrical department. We are regularly advised by senior members that you absolutely have to talk face-to-face with the mechanic working on your machine before repair work is incurred.

Most technical problems prove straightforward in my experience, provided communication with the mechanic is good and I have consulted with the forum.

So a big thank you to all our forum experts on MercedesClub, without whom I would have long strayed from my path of motoring happiness :)

If only during the hard times when they got rid of ½ of the engineers, they had got rid of the stupid ones who know nothing that sit behind the desk. These guys have not got a clue,, the engineer could have had a white coat and gone out to the car and known what, if any fault was there.

This is where the indie's win. Talking to one yesterday, he said that most of the time, what was written down had little to do with the actual fault
 

Birdman

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More recently I was impressed by the same M-B dealership when a mechanic walked into the waiting area and said let's take a look at the problem. We walked out to the car. He listened to my concerns about the climate control not blowing cool soon enough, then produced a test probe which showed it was blowing within the normal chill range. Then he explained how automatic CC differed in its operation from aircon.
There was no charge and it was excellent public relations.
 
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Seraj

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For a banging noise from the front of my car, it took a reputable garage on and off for two months and after replacing the strutt top bearings, 4 arms, roll bar links, track rod ends, springs and various bushes and so on, only to find out that it only needed a couple of shock absorbers.
 

television

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For a banging noise from the front of my car, it took a reputable garage on and off for two months and after replacing the strutt top bearings, 4 arms, roll bar links, track rod ends, springs and various bushes and so on, only to find out that it only needed a couple of shock absorbers.

Thats rotten when they do that,,all of those parts can be checked with an iron bar before they replace them
 

xavierx

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This story reminds me of when I took a MK5 VW golf to the dealer with a reported knocking noise from the front when braking or accellerating.

I dropped the car off and suggested to them that it sounded like a loose front suspension item to me.

Dealer calls me to inform me that they are fitting a new gearbox as this is a known problem. Dealer fits new gearbox ... and knocking noise is still there (of course - what does it have to do with the gearbox?) next they decide that it is the differential that is at fault and so they fit a new one of those. Guess what? still knocking!

So the dealer decides to try something really far fetched ...and fit some new front suspension bushings...... and the knocking is gone!!!

Dearler presents me (well me acting on behalf of the company i was fleet manager of) with a bill for nearly £4000.

After some arguing, I inform them that instead I would be paying exactly £0 due to their gross incompetence. Replacing the most expensive item first, ignoring the fact that I told them it was likely to be the front suspension.


Nearly as bad as the time that the same dealer removed the dashboard in another VW to fix a leak in the boot. But thats another story of insanity for another day lol
 


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