How to Repair/Modify Glow Plug Controller Module - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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How to Repair/Modify Glow Plug Controller Module

I now have a 2008 W164 ML320CDI in the family fleet.

My daughter has just bought it and good old Dad looks after it for her. She bought it from a dealer so it had a three month warranty thank goodness. The GP controller failed and it was replaced under warranty. The cost down under for the part is an exorbitant $800 or thereabouts.

I did some research and found 99% of the time these things fail due to the control module not getting the 12V power supply. I asked the repairer for the old module as it was going in the bin. The controller is a common part A6421532079 and used in many different diesel Mercedes and Chrysler models from about 2005.

I dismantled the thing and discovered it's very simple to fix permanently and more robustly than it's original condition. It's the same part number as my W204 C320CDI so I took mine off and plugged in the repaired and modified W164 item and it works perfectly. About an hours work to save $800 of your hard earned and to give you a more reliable controller.

I find this sort of thing extremely annoying. The dealers are doing a roaring trade selling replacements at $800 and perfectly good controllers are ending up in landfill. I'm not sure if it's planned obsolescence or what.

The flimsy cheap aluminum wires used to connect the 12V terminal to the PCB are a joke.

I'm in the process of making a "How to" video to show anyone interested how to make the repair/modification. Even if yours is still working it's probably worth doing this modification before it fails and lets you down at an inconvenient time. If you live in a very cold climate I'd be doing this modification now.

Once the video is done I'll post a link here.
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I'm riding for you #52, my dear son Cameron 1985-2009

2009 W204 C320CDI C Class sedan with Quaife LSD
2006 W639 115CDI Vito LWB Van for hauling motorcycles
2008 W164 ML320CDI Edition 10 (daughter's but I look after it)
2011 VW Polo 6R Hatch
2008 Honda CBR600RR race/track motorcycle
2010 Suzuki GSXR750 race/track motorcycle
2011 KTM 530 EXC Enduro motorcycle
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 07:22 PM
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You Rock Scott!!
You can ride a sport bike faster than 99% of the other riders and then take the time to find a way to find the problem with the GP controller.
I had no idea that any supplier of a part that crucial would have used aluminium. It looks like MB decided to go with the low bid on that part. God forbid it cost $1 dollar more to get a part made with copper on a $70,000 car.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Noodles View Post
You Rock Scott!!
You can ride a sport bike faster than 99% of the other riders and then take the time to find a way to find the problem with the GP controller.
I had no idea that any supplier of a part that crucial would have used aluminium. It looks like MB decided to go with the low bid on that part. God forbid it cost $1 dollar more to get a part made with copper on a $70,000 car.
Ha ... Ha thanks Noodles. There's nothing like a Retired Civil Engineer on a crusade!

When you see the internal wiring from the 12V terminal to the circuit board you'll be as amazed and annoyed as I was. Honestly how such low quality aluminium wire has been used is astounding on an expensive supposedly high quality vehicle. The wire is like cheese. As you say to save 50c or $1 is a terrible decision for an important component on a diesel engine.

To my Engineers eye it's a potential safety issue. I could imagine some poor soul in the northern Canadian wilderness being stranded in winter ... -20C with a failed controller and not being able to start their vehicle. I wonder how good the risk management processes are during the design phase.

In the video I'll explain what my theory is as to why the wires break. It's only on the 12v supply side. The cheesy aluminium wires on the low volt side going to the GP's don't seem to break as easily. However if I lived in northern Canada I'd probably replace them all with copper.

I'm riding for you #52, my dear son Cameron 1985-2009

2009 W204 C320CDI C Class sedan with Quaife LSD
2006 W639 115CDI Vito LWB Van for hauling motorcycles
2008 W164 ML320CDI Edition 10 (daughter's but I look after it)
2011 VW Polo 6R Hatch
2008 Honda CBR600RR race/track motorcycle
2010 Suzuki GSXR750 race/track motorcycle
2011 KTM 530 EXC Enduro motorcycle
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2015, 07:56 PM
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Well from my layman's point of view ( I just do firmware and run a publishing company) I knew when I was about 10 years old that aluminium and copper are great conductors. However aluminium is much less forgiving compared to copper. They even outlawed aluminium wiring for houses here in the US a few decades ago. So to think it works any better in a car is insane by MB and their "low bid" supplier.

My dear old 87 year dad would take his time home to do all kinds of science and kit building of all sorts of things with me. We even built our first color TV from Heathkit. I know there was no aluminium in that kit. The TV lasted almost 23 years.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2015, 05:48 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Noodles View Post
Well from my layman's point of view ( I just do firmware and run a publishing company) I knew when I was about 10 years old that aluminium and copper are great conductors. However aluminium is much less forgiving compared to copper. They even outlawed aluminium wiring for houses here in the US a few decades ago. So to think it works any better in a car is insane by MB and their "low bid" supplier.

My dear old 87 year dad would take his time home to do all kinds of science and kit building of all sorts of things with me. We even built our first color TV from Heathkit. I know there was no aluminium in that kit. The TV lasted almost 23 years.
It makes me wonder because low grade aluminium can't handle any vibration. It's structure changes when subject to vibrations and it breaks. That's why aircraft have structural grade aluminium like 6061.

Here we have an electronic module containing non structural aluminium wire bolted to the RH cylinder head on the OM642 engine!

I'm riding for you #52, my dear son Cameron 1985-2009

2009 W204 C320CDI C Class sedan with Quaife LSD
2006 W639 115CDI Vito LWB Van for hauling motorcycles
2008 W164 ML320CDI Edition 10 (daughter's but I look after it)
2011 VW Polo 6R Hatch
2008 Honda CBR600RR race/track motorcycle
2010 Suzuki GSXR750 race/track motorcycle
2011 KTM 530 EXC Enduro motorcycle

Last edited by Scott52; 07-28-2015 at 06:25 PM.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2015, 01:25 PM
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It is counter intuitive from a basic engineering foundation.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 04:59 AM Thread Starter
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Well I've completed a video and here it is.

Nothing Spielberg style with explosions and near misses but I hope I've got the detail across to make it easy for everyone. The dam dog started barking when I was introducing the video. I left it in for that homely touch.

I repaired my daughters W164 GP controller and put it in my W204 C320CDI and it's working perfectly.

I took my original out and gave it the same treatment even though it was still working. I checked it and it works fine. So we've got a spare between us.

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I'm riding for you #52, my dear son Cameron 1985-2009

2009 W204 C320CDI C Class sedan with Quaife LSD
2006 W639 115CDI Vito LWB Van for hauling motorcycles
2008 W164 ML320CDI Edition 10 (daughter's but I look after it)
2011 VW Polo 6R Hatch
2008 Honda CBR600RR race/track motorcycle
2010 Suzuki GSXR750 race/track motorcycle
2011 KTM 530 EXC Enduro motorcycle

Last edited by Scott52; 07-29-2015 at 07:41 AM.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 07:04 AM
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Great video! Amazes me the talent we have on this forum.

Mercs for life!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by michaele250 View Post
Great video! Amazes me the talent we have on this forum.
Thanks Michaele ... maybe a new TV reality program ... "Benzworld's Got Talent"

So would you be able to repair one of those controllers having seen the video. Was it spelt out well enough?

I'm riding for you #52, my dear son Cameron 1985-2009

2009 W204 C320CDI C Class sedan with Quaife LSD
2006 W639 115CDI Vito LWB Van for hauling motorcycles
2008 W164 ML320CDI Edition 10 (daughter's but I look after it)
2011 VW Polo 6R Hatch
2008 Honda CBR600RR race/track motorcycle
2010 Suzuki GSXR750 race/track motorcycle
2011 KTM 530 EXC Enduro motorcycle

Last edited by Scott52; 07-28-2015 at 06:07 PM.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 12:23 PM
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Very impressive work Scott!
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