Stuck in 1st gear - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Stuck in 1st gear

Hi, my 99 E320 w210 is stuck in 1st gear. Before anyone asks yes, Trans fluid level is ok. 😁 Not sure if related but was having trouble going into reverse every so often prior to this.Took her to an indie and he said need a new ESM (they think) 🙄 we can replace it but it could still be something else. Naturally I want to replace the correct part not everything else-due to 'maybes'. From what I've heard and read, issues with ESM (stuck in gear) are stuck in 3rd gear not 1st and go into limp mode. No warning lights (incl limp mode) light up -except when they're meant to before start up. Thanks for reading and hope someone can help.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, I am in Australia too
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 06:01 AM
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Hi, my 99 E320 w210 is stuck in 1st gear. Before anyone asks yes, Trans fluid level is ok. 😁 Not sure if related but was having trouble going into reverse every so often prior to this.Took her to an indie and he said need a new ESM (they think) 🙄 we can replace it but it could still be something else. Naturally I want to replace the correct part not everything else-due to 'maybes'. From what I've heard and read, issues with ESM (stuck in gear) are stuck in 3rd gear not 1st and go into limp mode. No warning lights (incl limp mode) light up -except when they're meant to before start up. Thanks for reading and hope someone can help.
You need to get codes read from ETC and ESM. Then look in ETC live data for target gear/actual gear.

Here in US '99 E320 still had shifter with range recognition switch which is replaceable as separate part. #104.
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1972 280SEL 4.5
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2000 E320
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 08:36 AM
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Sounds like SL500 I bought for $1300.
The young seller had similar feedback from transmission shops, so he sold it for pennies.
I drove 20 miles on 2nd gear home, where $10 pilot bushing, some ATF and code reset fixed it.
Good luck with the repair.


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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 09:36 AM
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The replies are trying to be helpful...

Kaj brings up a very good point - for W210's the "tranny adapter plug" at the transmission tends to internally leak over time - which mucks up communication from the tranny - and that "electrical plug" here in the US (genuine MB or MOPAR only) is like $14
This also can cause tranny fluid to "wick up" the connecting electrical cable to the Transmission Control Module" in the engine compartment - which requires pulling that circuit board and "flood" cleaning with a can of MAF cleaner (here in US like $9).
Both these items are well covered in the "stickies" at the top of the W210 forum.

Witek brings up another great point - in the shifter mechanism there is a "gear recognition switch" component that with high mileage can much up. In your '99 (and not later W210 models) that part is replaceable separately for part cost here in the Us like $120-$140 genuine MB part.

My point - with high mileage the "tranny conductor plate" can get worn - and that part genuine MB is like $180 and China made conductor plate is like $80

The point - the MercedesStar system can give you better diagnosis - BUT you need to replace adapter plug and clean TCM board FIRST to give you clean communication with your tranny THEN use Star to do diagnosis

I am NOT a fan of Australian MB owners in two areas :

(1) Australian owners tend to muck up their own cooling system/radiators by using cheap coolant and using alkaline tap water for their cooolant mix. We never need to replace radiators here in the US - in Australia radiator replacement is common for this reason

(2) Australian owners tend to not do proper ongoing tranny service - and when they do do tranny service tend to use the cheapest and incorrect transmission fluid they can find as compared to using correct MB or alternate recommended tranny fluid

Keep the beat !
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 09:44 AM
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Please clarify, whether your shifter is of PRND/321, or PRN /-D+ (touch-shift).
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 11:55 AM
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Mine does that occasionally, it seems to be whatever it is reads the position of the shifter. I can jiggle it, or put it in neutral then back into D and it is fine
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 03:32 AM Thread Starter
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It is a triptonic. PRND321
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 04:10 AM
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It is a triptonic. PRND321
Then you don't have ESM.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 09:00 AM
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If you have PRND-4321 arrangement, do the following.

Start the car

Turn the headlights on.

Check the gear indication lamps (LED) as you shift the selector from gear to gear. Do the light indicators reflect the correct status of the gear selected ? What does it show when the gear is in Drive ?

Occasional trouble getting the gear in Reverse may point to a loose / bad gear shifter assembly, or bad shifter bushing. If something spilled into the shifter assembly, that can cause electrical issues inside the Transmission Range Recognition Switch (TRRS).

Have a look at the video attached.

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