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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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Rip Off??

I have a 2004 SL500 with 20,000 miles. I took it to the dealer because I needed a new catalytic converter on the right side. They did a "vehicle fitness inspection and treatment plan" and came up with about $7000 worth of repairs. One was the need for new spark plugs costing $635 and a new power steering box for $2972 because of a leak at the pump. The other items were new filters, flushing the power steering, transmission fluid and filter and on and on. I thought my car was in excellent condition. I purchased it new. I would like to hear some comments. Thank you.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 07:55 AM
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The Rip

For Gosh Sakes! Get a second opinion at least. Why do you need a cat convertor at only 20k miles? Unless you tore it off, they should last at least 100k. It should be covered under your emission warranty.

The other stuff sounds like business is slow at the service department. Is this car out of it's warranty period? If it is out of warranty, I would look for a reliable independent Benz shop.

Keep us posted.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 08:03 AM
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The only thing the dealer's free inspections are good for is the car wash.
Per my experience they inspected my older car without removing the shields so take their findings with big grain of salt. About 10lb sack of salt .
Now if you are willing to pay over $600 for spark plugs -it is your money.
I know attorneys charging $300/hr doing the plugs themselves and still making profit.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 08:04 AM
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I think they held you up.The spark plugs should be done around 100,000, did they replace the pump and steering box? The transmission is sealed and MB feels 40/50K miles is a suggested drain interval. Did the dealership call you before doing all this work? If you gave them the go ahead they sure did.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your replies. The only thing I had done was the catalytic converter which was under warranty. I would not let them do anything else. From what I have read, faulty spark plugs can cause the catalytic converter to fail. The question is, why would the spark plugs go bad at 20,000 miles. I do short trips, stop and go. Could that do it? I was told they ran a vehicle inspection test and came up with these crazy results. Any more opinions on my comments?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 08:52 AM
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Aren't the plugs 100,000 miles or 5 years? I'd hate to have one get stuck and snap off. I'm thinking about doing the plugs in my SLK this winter - only 17,000 miles but it's been six and a half years. I try to take advantage of the "free" dealer service clinics. I like to get a second opinion and then do what needs to be done that I might have missed myself.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 09:02 AM
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Len is correct (plugs are 5/100,000) and that's when MB says to change them. Mine went 8/80,000 with absolutely no problem.

To the best of my knowledge your spark plugs were not bad enough to cause any of the cats to fail. One of mine failed at 7/72,000 with the original plugs but nothing was said to me about a cause, and they should have had full access the the service history. Whether they looked at it is a big question mark.

People have stated that bad O2 sensors will cause a cat to fail but your car is hardly old enough for those to be bad either (plus you would see a check engine light). Bosch says 100,000 miles and I've never heard how many years.

You were smart to decline all that other stuff, but I'd get a 2nd opinion to see if your power steering pump is leaking. In the mean time, keep an eye on the fluid level. You might consider a transmission service.

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Last edited by Musikmann; 12-15-2009 at 09:07 AM.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 09:08 AM
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Many mechanics are paid by the job including Mercedes, any thing they can find is an opportunity to make them money. They use the flat rate manual any decent mechanic should be able to do the job in the time allotted. I was discussing that with the shop foreman at my local dealership, he felt that most of his mechanics can earn 40 hrs in less than 40 true working hours. I also found out that warranty labor is usually 60% of what they charge to the customerfor a similar job.
I my car in my favorite dealership, and rookie service advisor called telling me I needed this and that flush, air filters, plugs etc. I declined and inquired of the service advisor how they knew, the reason "we went into your service records and it did not show" I did my own filters had some of work done out of state, so they did not bother to examine anything.
My friend the shop foreman brought up the subject at the mechanics meeting, and the question was not well recieved, things like "we are looking out for the customer so nothing goes wrong" seemed to be the line...
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Great advise. Thanks so much.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 09:32 AM
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I would tell them to do any of the repairs that are covered by your warranty, other than that I would take the car to a Mercedes-Benz specific independent shop for a second opinion on the larger issues like plugs and power steering pump. The filters and flushes are all part of regular service at different intervals so as long as you have had your oil changed on time over the years you should be fine for now. Your cabin filters should have been changed with each dealer service already, but are simply to do yourself with little or no tools or experience. The transmission shouldn't need fluid changed until at least 50,000 miles (even tho it may state it's a lifetime fluid which has been proven wrong) but I don't know that I would do a transmission flush even then as that can sometimes cause problems that weren't present before. You won't need your power steering flushed because it would be emptied when the work is done if it's leaking anyway. Yes, what others have said is very true, dealers will tell you a long list of things to change simply because they know many people will just pay the money and have it done. The reality is that you don't need to do most of these repairs.


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