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Audi S4, M-B ML320 CDI 4-Matic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, first post here. I recently got married and my wife has an '03 C240 4-Matic with the automatic transmission that is giving us some trouble. I tried searching, but new to the M-B world, I might not have gotten my search terms quite right. I've been active for many years in the BMW and Audi communities (please don't hold that against me).

Anyhow, she's experiencing a symtom that almost feels like an engine misfire, but it's def. coming from the transmission. It occurs between 2-3k RPM, with slight on-throttle presssure, and sometimes before up-shifts. If you are going about 40, coast for a bit, and then go slightly on-throttle it's pretty guarenteed you get the symptom.

It feels like a drivechain jerk/weakness almost like the engine is misfiring or having massive pre-ignition, but I REALLY think it's the slushbox. The mechanic that rode along on a test drive thought tranny too. Any suggestions? Sorry if this is one of those things that's been beaten to death already. I'm new to the M-B world.

Thanks in advance!
 

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'07 C280 4matic, '06 530i, '98 ML320
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Greg, how many miles on that '03 240?
When was the last time the transmission was serviced (fluid change, filter change)?
 

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Audi S4, M-B ML320 CDI 4-Matic
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. About 55K on the odo.

Word came back from the mechanic that the radiator leaked into the transmission, and that we need a new radiator, transmission and torque converter.

Ok, that seems like a bit much, but I admittedly don't know my way around the 4-Matic transmission and front drivetrain. Does this sound at all reasonable?
 

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'07 C280 4matic, '06 530i, '98 ML320
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The radiators in the earlier W203 cars (specifically, Valeo radiators) are known to leak internally and mix the coolant and the trans fluid; resulting in expensive repair of not only having to replace the radiator, the trans needs to be replaced.

Good luck with the repair.
 

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Audi S4, M-B ML320 CDI 4-Matic
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The radiators in the earlier W203 cars (specifically, Valeo radiators) are known to leak internally and mix the coolant and the trans fluid; resulting in expensive repair of not only having to replace the radiator, the trans needs to be replaced.

Good luck with the repair.
That's what I'm starting to gather. So does the transmission fluid go through the radiator to cool it? I'm not familiar with that type of setup.

Given that this is a known problem, was there any recalls, service bulletins or specific warranty extensions for this issue that you fellas know about?

Thanks for the help, this is going to be a real pisser. Given that the car is in good shape, I almost think it might be better to trade it in and get $8-12k in trade-in (that was the KBB range anyway) and replace the car. She's going to have a real bad attitude about spending half the car's value in keeping it running...especially because she wants an SUV for when we have kids in a few years.

Ugh.
 

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Audi S4, M-B ML320 CDI 4-Matic
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, so we have mucho problemos with this car now. Here is the detailed history, as well as what I've learned in the last two days. Any help in a path to resolution that doesn't include me coming out of pocket huge for the repair, or a new ride would be very much appreciated.

My wife has a 2003 Mercedes C240 4Matic (AWD). Her dad gave it to her in early ’03, and her sister got an identical one. M-B’s warranty is (I believe) 4 yrs., 60,000 mi. on that car from new. She is obviously out of the warranty from a timeframe standpoint, but the car only has 55k on the ODO.

Apparently those cars had a transmission fluid cooling process whereby instead of a separate transmission oil cooler (btw, why its needed on a street car is beyond me), the fluid is routed to the radiator and cooled in the radiator, separate from the coolant. I know, silly design.

Of course, the early Valeo radiators were prone to failure, allowing coolant to contaminate the transmission fluid, essentially doing the same form of damage that would occur in a head gasket failure, but in the transmission, and not the engine. Later cars in the W203 C-class received a different radiator with a different part number, presumably to remedy this as a known failure. To my knowledge, there were no warranty extensions on account of his problem, no TSB’s, and no notice given to owners. The logical progression in my mind would be (in descending order of pro-activeness):

1. Recall the part and replace those prone to failure;
2. Extend the warranty on that specific system of the car;
3. Issue a TSB and advice the techs to keep an eye out when cars come in; or
4. Issue a notice of the problem to owners advising that a $1000 radiator replacement would save a potentially $5000 problem upon unit failure.

To my knowledge none of these steps were taken by Mercedes, however the part was replaced in subsequent model years. That said, her dad has purchased at least 11 M-B’s in the Chicago-area over the years. Unfortunately, as he has moved around, most were not at the same dealership. Also, once the cars were out of warranty, he has taken them to an independent M-B shop. So no dealer is going to step up and take care of this on a “goodwill” basis for a loyal customer.

I see our only recourse with Mercedes of North America or whatever the entity is. Based upon his loyalty to the brand (which is now in serious jeopardy), or some fashion of product liability.

Any advice on how to pursue this given would help. We really don’t want to replace the car for another couple years, but putting almost half the car’s value into a repair is not a good option either.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Appreciated.
 

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2004 C230 Kompressor
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I have 2004 C230 K and I recently just found out what my problem was as well. I have the same exact problem you have. I couldn't figure it out on my own until I came across your post. Then I saw it on the door production 07/2003 and radiator is Valeo. I feel like I have a useless car now with 10k left to pay. I think i'm either gonna trade it in or change the radiator and flush the tranny and hope for the best. What else can I do as the consumer?
 
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