2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful. - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

As I approach my 2 year S600 ownership anniversary, I thought I would share my story of driving an S600 daily as told through the looking glass of my maintenance log. Surely, this will be interesting and insightful to some and terminally boring for others. My ownership started at 88,000 miles, and the car now has 117,400 miles.

88,000 miles: I broke all the rules and purchased sight unseen from a Florida used car dealer after a couple of long conversations with the salesman and a conversation with the mechanic that they had do an inspection. They disclosed a short list of known problems and quoted a price to have them fixed. I declined. Reported problems included closing assist not working and oil leak. Car was literally the cheapest advertised 1996 or newer S600 on www.autotrader.com at the time. Advertised for $24,000. Bought for $21,500. The car had its original books and manuals and also the original window sticker (nice selling points to me. Seemed the previous owner was somewhat conscientious about his car). Original MSRP was $130,300. The car spent its first few years in New Hampshire with its maintenance book stamped regularly by a Mercedes dealership in Springfield, MA until 9/29/99 (46,700 miles). The maintenance book was then logged regularly by different technicians that didn’t stamp a shop name or location. The last few years were in Florida. No clear evidence of a second owner. I believe the original owner moved with the car. I don’t know if the break in service providers coincides with move to Florida. New England winters explains the surface corrosion and exhaust corrosion (more on this later) evident underneath. Interior was exceptional except 4 small areas: K40 radar detector installation drilled 4 holes for knobs and LED’s through the center console wood, which subsequently cracked (idiots), and resulted in a slightly bent corner of the headliner just above the driver’s head to the left that doesn’t quite tuck in properly now; some abrasions on the leather where the instrument cluster had been pulled and pushed back in; and some wear on the drivers side bolster on the seat back. Tires look new; brake pads look new. Engine a bit noisy (metallic rattle sounding); we’ll find out why in a bit. Occasionally, the ADS lamp lights and stays on until the car is turned off. Computer diagnostics by independent MB mechanic pointed to right front body acceleration sensor. No action taken. Still an occasional problem.

89,900 miles: Removed airboxes and cleaned. New intake air filters. New climate control recirculated air filter (start of 90,000 mile maintenance).

90,200 miles: New spark plugs. Oil change (Amsoil 10W-40). Removed and cleaned climate control air intake box, especially the drain holes and drain tube.

90,500 miles: Oil change. (Wanted to change over completely to synthetic, so I did two quick oil changes.) New climate control pollen filter (opted for non-charcoal filter for $14 vs. the recommended charcoal coated filter for $100)

90,600 miles: Front of frame clean-up. Removed front bumper, headlamps, washer fluid reservoir and cleaned. New bumper mounting hardware. New headlamp mounting hardware. New screws for turn signal lamp brackets. Passenger wiper stopping in up position. New passenger headlamp wiper motor. New headlamp wiper arms both side. New washer pump motor seal grommets. New headlamp washer fluid lines. Horns rusted out. New hi and lo pitch horns. New hood bump stops. Trunk closer not working. Found all air lines to trunk closer disconnected and plugged. Reconnected lines with a good seal. Trunk closer worked two weeks then stopped, and doors started to cease function, too. Took out closing assist pump; discovered the pressure shut-off switch; and reduced the shut-off pressure. Closing assist has functioned flawlessly since.

91,000 miles: Replaced burned out odometer backlight and also outside temp display backlight, which wasn’t burned out. Replaced 1 burned out gauge backlight bulb.

92,500 miles: New lower front ball joints (One had a torn boot. Did both.). Fixed clicking door check on passenger rear door by bending the frame back to square in a vise.

94,000 miles: Check engine light. OBDII code, P0133 O2 sensor slow response, bank 1 sensor 1. Monitoring the signal via my OBDII scanner shows that the signal was not behaving properly. New O2 sensor installed. O2 sensor signal stayed similar, but check engine light stayed out (for a while). I swapped the bank 1 and bank 2 O2 sensors, and the “bad” signal stayed with bank 1, so the problem is with bank 1, not the O2 sensor. Still an ongoing saga today, but the check engine light is not illuminated (for now), and the engine shows no indications of running problems, and the car just passed smog check with very good numbers. And, no untoward long term or short term fuel trims on either cylinder bank.

97,700 miles: Glove box door didn’t close flush with dash, and the door required pulling open while pushing button. Outside Passenger side dash vent had low air flow, and wheel for passenger side vent didn’t “feel” right. Removed glove box liner and adjusted latch position and adjusted the cable mechanism by turning wheel on latch. Push button release works fine now. When glove box liner was out, found that passenger vent duct behind the liner was disconnected. Reconnected. Removed 4-wheel strip and found the cable for the vent was out of its seat. Replaced the cable properly. Wheel works properly, and air flow fully restored to passenger vent. Replaced the 2 bulbs in the 4-wheel strip, and removed phone from the dash in the process.

100,124 miles: oil change (10,000 mile interval. Decided to do 7,500 mile intervals from now on).

101,200 miles: Check engine light back, P0133 same as before.

101,700 miles: rotate tires. Some inside wear all around.

103,400 miles: Swapped air mass meters between bank 1 and bank 2. No change in the “bad” O2 sensor signal on bank 1.

107,800 miles: oil change

108,200 miles: Power steering fluid reservoir empty. Filled with MB fluid.

110,000 miles: Rotate tires. All show inside wear

113,800 miles: Belt tensioner pulley simply fell off while driving to work on highway. The bearing rusted out and did a disappearing act. This was the source of the metallic rattle for the last 20,000 miles. :) Lost poly rib belt and all accessories. Required flatbed tow home and started much larger project. Replaced front main seal (seemed to be a major oil leak source). Replaced secondary air injection pump with rebuilt unit (pulley bearing on the pump inexplicably locked up as I was beginning to put things back together. Still a mystery. In retrospect I may have been able to just replace a $10 bearing rather than buy a $400 air pump. Live and learn). New cylinder head coolant drain plugs, both sides. Complete, thorough coolant flush and fill with MB coolant. New guide pulley. New tensioner pulley. New viscous fan clutch (old one had rusted pin preventing proper operation). New serpentine belt. Completely removed exhaust and found 3 flanges with bad corrosion and even worse prior attempts at repair. The corrosion completely perforated the exhaust in front of the first O2 sensors, so I thought that maybe the opening was allowing O2 into the exhaust stream causing the “bad” O2 sensor signals; therefore, I wanted this repaired well. New catalytic converter pipes were $1500 each from the dealer. I decided to try something different. Found a local exhaust specialist that would cut off the three bad flanges, fabricate new ones, and weld them on. Cost $75. I had to do the reinstallation myself since it’s illegal for a mechanic to install catalytic converter pipes that have been modified in any way. All new stainless steel hardware throughout the exhaust system. After exhaust repair, the check engine light has stayed off, but the “bad” O2 sensor signal persists. After front main seal replacement, still leaking some oil. Seems to be valve cover seals and front timing chain cover seals. Another project for another day. Also steering gear box is leaking explaining empty power steering fluid reservoir.

114,866 miles: HVAC blower was weak. Replaced blower regulator. Back to normal operation.

114,924 miles: Oil change

115,855 miles: Water pump locked up. Would have stranded me again had I not been less than a mile from home. New water pump. New thermostat. New O-rings (4) in the coolant pipes from cylinder heads to thermostat. New serpentine belt and guide pulley (again). New lower coolant hose (from water pump to right side of radiator). Noticed oil seepage from the electrical connector on the camshaft end caps on right and left cylinder heads (not quite sure what these are, camshaft position sensors?). Anyway, I removed them and filled up the recess where the connectors exit the metal caps with silicone gasket sealant. May work to stop oil leakage.

117,241 miles: New gas cap (old one didn’t pass smog check pressure test, but the technician passed me with the promise to buy a new one immediately).

Some lingering things that I’ve been remiss about: 1. Transmission fluid change. I went as far as to buy the special MB fluid and gasket set, but then decided to be a guinea pig on this one. No record of prior transmission fluid changes. I’ll see just how far an unserviced 722.6 transmission goes. I have bought a dipstick so I can check the fluid level and top off if necessary, but I have yet to check it. Sometimes I’m really lazy. Christ, all I have to do is stick the damn thing down the tube. One of these days I’ll do it. When the transmission gets rebuilt (or replaced), I’ll do regular fluid changes. 2. Differential gear oil change. Will do soon with Mobil 1 75W-90. 3. Rear climate control doesn’t heat. Cooling is fine. Appears to be duo-valve failure. Will tackle rebuild per pcmaher’s brilliantly documented work at some point. 4. Alternator sounds noisy. Probably bearings going south. I intend to install new bearings. It charges fine. 5. Bearing on AC compressor pulley looks shot, too. Pulley wobbles. I think I can probably just replace the pulley bearing. I chalk up all these bad bearings on the engine accessories to driving under harsh (salted roads) winter conditions. 6. Not really remiss about it, but coming up on tire replacement. Looks like I’ll get 30-35,000 miles out of a set of Continental Touring Contacts.

That’s it folks. Total number of orders from www.autohausaz.com: 19. Total cost for parts and fluids: maybe around $2000-2500. Total cost of labor: $0 (well, $0 paid to anyone else.). I have done all my own work, most of which is documented on this site. Who knows what my time is worth. Total number of breakdowns, which would strand one: 2. Not bad for 2 years… or is it??? :)

Congratulations if you slogged through the whole boring saga, you deserve a beer.

Brett
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 02:07 AM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

Not boring at all Brett Its post like this that are keeping this board alive, would you ever consider bringing it to the dealer to get that code resolved atleast get their opinion? Are you do for a brake job? I just did mine what a difference. I havent been stranded yet in my ownership of close to two years, Iam sure It will happen tomorrow now that I said that.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 03:28 AM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

Great post Brett. Very informative. I also have a log on my car but it is not as extensive as yours. Not much has gone wrong in my car since purchase. My biggest problem has been the distributor. Touch wood.

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 05:14 AM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

Great info! Thanks much. Should be a sticky IMO.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 06:45 AM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

For a chump like me it is very gratifying for Brett to admit he's "too lazy" to check the transmission fluid level. Just can't bring yourself to break the little red sealing clip, eh, Brett?
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Can't bring myself to take it to a dealer.

I honestly think they won't be able to do or know any more than I can do or find out myself. It's a strange behavior from the Bank 1 Sensor 1 sensor, which I believe is the pre-cat sensor on Bank 1. The pre-cat sensors should oscillate between 0.1 and 0.8 or so volts every 200-500 or so milliseconds (basically showing the mixture oscillating rapidly between slightly lean to slightly rich). Bank 2 behaves normally. Bank 1 is almost completely flat at around 0.5-0.6 volts as I recall with some slow ramps to lower and higher values under acceleration and deceleration while driving. Fuel trims are not out of wack, so I'm not sure what it is. If the signal is real (not some kind of wiring problem between the sensor connector and the computer), then the indication is that the mixture is constantly slightly rich on this bank. Maybe it's a fuel injector problem (leaky injector?). I don't know. But, the fuel trims don't seem to be compensating for a constantly rich condition, and my hydrocarbons upon smog check a couple weeks ago were at 0 ppm. Doesn't get much lower than that. But, maybe that's just because the cats are doing their job. It might be worth taking it in just to see if they have seen this in their experience and know what to do about it. I may get away with only a $100 1hr diagnosis charge for an opinion. But, I have a feeling they will just say, no problem just buy a new O2 sensor from us. Then it will be, no problem, just buy a new air mass meter from us. Then it will be, no problem, just buy 6 new injectors from us. And on and on.

I've thought about it a bit and did a couple of things like swapping the O2 sensors and air mass meters between cylinder banks, but I'm stumped for now.

As far as brakes, I've been a silly man so far and have been relying on the brake wear warning lamp to indicate brake pad wear. I'm a bit surprised and pleased the pads have gone 30,000 miles on this heavy of a car. It will need new front rotors when the pads need to be changed.

And yeah, you just jinxed yourself.

Brett
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, but you've got to drive it to break it. :-)

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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Dude, it's worse than that.

The clip is already broken (since I've owned it), so someone has been in there before. And, I have removed the dipstick cover and added some fluid twice when I did my major repairs which involved pulling the radiator. To pull the radiator you have to remove the transmission cooler lines to the radiator and this causes loss of a hundred mLs or so of fluid, so I just eyeballed replenishing the fluid. And, then I even bought some new red clips, but I decided to reinstall the already broken one figuring I would soon be going back in to check the level with the dipstick. But, I never got back to it once I received the dipstick tool. So the dipstick cover still sits there with its broken clip.

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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-14-2006, 05:39 PM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

Brett,
Great post. Many of your problems same as mine over 9 years ownership. You and guys like you make these cars feasible for ordinary owner-drivers.
Thanks,
Dave
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 04-16-2006, 02:45 AM
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RE: 2 years of ownership update. Long and potentially boring, but maybe useful.

Hey Brett.....
You want to service my 600?
You got the technical mind and love for the 140.
You should open a shop.........
Cruz
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