Date registered: Mar 2012
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automatic transmission mystery
I've got a 1999 Vito with automatic transmission and 216k km.
9 months ago I had complete transmission failure after an undetected leak (the car sat undriven for 18 months prior to driving for about a month before the failure). The transmission fluid leak combined with driving it w/out sufficient fluid eventuated a transmission rebuild/repair of the "changer". I don't know what we might call this in english, this is what they call it in Czech, where we live. $3000 later we're up and running and then about 2 months ago major trouble again. This time, after sitting to warm up in the morning the van would not go into gear. If I let it sit for a few hours, sometimes it would go again, sometimes the gears were wacky and would for example go forward in Park etc. Took it to my reliable mechanic who took it apart and inspected it with a transmission specialist friend. He said everything inside the transmission looked good. Refilled the fluid and took it to Mercedes dealership. They said they were sure it was a (solenoid controller)? Again, don't know the exact translation in english, but the part that the wiring lead directly to, fixed to the outside of the transmission. Maybe the speed control. Replaced it. The mechanic was convinced this fixed the problem as he drove it around for a few days.
Immediately upon returning to me, it began acting up again. Not going into gear after idling. Going fine for an hour or two and then suddenly switching out of gear and leaving me stranded. Sometimes the problem could be fixed if I unplugged the wires and then plugged them in again, for a short fix of maybe 10-15 mins just to get home. My mechanic replaced wires, inspected gear shift mechanism, and everything he could think of. He gave up and took it to Mercedes. They ran a diagnostic and everything came back clean. Mercedes said that the entire transmission just needed to be replaced.
Unfortunately the cost of a new transmission far exceeds the value of the car. I've actually purchased another van now, and the old Vito is just parked. I'd like to unload it to get it off my hands, but first, if anyone has some experience here and has an idea what my bizarre problem might be caused by it would be great to be able to fix it cheap if possible, before selling it for a song. Thanks.