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Discussion Starter #1
Ok Im back again with new issues that I hope do not blow up into a major repair. I was all set to install my replacement headlight ballast to fix the active headlights when I tried to start my car after work today and it would not crank at all.

All of the dash lights came on and the key unlocked the doors and the car recognizes the key and allows me to turn it in the ignition. But it doesnt evrn try to crank at all. I checked the usual: fuses, relay and even removed the brake light switch. Then i tried to jump it just to rule out a weak battery. Nothing.

At this point i have no choice but to get the car scanned and see what codes pop up. Either the brake light switch is defective so the computer thinks im trying to start the car without pressing the brake or the starter or starter relay could be blown.

I hope it is not the EIS simce that repair can snowball and get expensive really quickly. The strange thing is that i drive the car over a 100 miles this weekend with no issues and i drovr it to the train station this morning.

I see plenty of no start and no crank posts here and online. Nothing seems to address my symptoms and a diagnosis. If anyone has experienced this issue on a 2010 thru 2013 S550 please post your info so we can try to diagnose this issue and hopefully discover an alternative to the dealership.

I hope to have my car scanned tomorrow and i will post what i find out. BTW how much are one of thos STAR scanners? I have no idea how much my local dealer charges to come out to my car and run a scan. If anyone can point me to a reputable source to purchase my own scanner that would be great. I heard you have to buy a factory unit because you have to be able to synch with MB every time you code a part.

Thanks.

Ted
 

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Ted I think you are correct about the scan. Honestly with all the unique components on these cars I would be sunk without the SDS setup I have.

The other possibility which I did not see in your post is that the starter is kaput, but scanning for codes is the wise choice in my book.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's on it's way to the dealership service department

** UPDATE **

I just contacted MB Roadside Assistance and they are towing the vehicle to the nearest dealer free of charge (unless they send me a bill). I spoke with the tow truck driver who was well trained in how to transport the 4Matic models and he explained how he was able to shift the car out of park and into neutral.

So if anyone on here gets in a similar situation where they are unable to start the car and shift out of park, he tells me (assuming the battery is not completely dead) to insert the key and turn it to the farthest "ON" click which should illuminate the dash lights. Then press down on the brake pedal and hold it, then take the shifter stalk and carefully move it up towards the reverse shift setting and hold it 5 to 7 seconds. The transmission should shift to Reverse. Don't stop pressing the brake pedal, but lightly so a 1/2 click down on the shifter stalk to move the transmission into Neutral. He said he was able to do that so it appears my brake switch is in fact functioning.

So that points to either an issue with the EIS, the starter or some other sensor that is preventing power to the starter. The key is recognized by the car, so I don't think it is the EIS. They are going to scan the car and it should tell them quickly what the culprit is.

I will post more as I find out WTF happened and how much $$ this is going to cost to fix it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
** UPDATE **

The dealer just contacted me to let me know the starter is the culprit. $1300 quote to fix it. Now, I'm faced with the typical dilemma between biting the bullet and just having them repair it or having the vehicle towed to my home (3 miles away) and fixing it myself. I've priced out replacement starters online and they range from $630 for an OEM MB starter to $200 for a Bosch replacement. I've also seen some information that the 4Matic starter is pricier and specifically designed for my car. Does that mean an S550 RWD starter will not work? Please post any information in this so I can use it to make my final decision.

Then, there is concern that the free MB roadside tow and the initial diagnostic is going to cost me since I'm sure the dealer factors in the two with the anticipated repair work to be performed. How much of the $1300 quote is the starter cost, the labor and the initial diagnostic test I have no idea. If I tell the service manager that I just want to settle up with them and tow the car to my home to fix it myself, am I going to be hit with an unexpected service bill for just the costs to get the car to the dealer and do the preliminary testing?

I'm going to confirm the tow cost to bring it to my home and price of a decent (correct) replacement starter. I anyone on here knows whether there are any differences between the S550 models and the starters required, please post your info here since I'm sure I am not the only member dealing with this repair.

I will update what I find out as well.

Thanks!!

Ted
 

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I've not replaced a starter on a 4MATIC before, but my 2WD S550 was pretty easy (except for the help I got from my neighbor closing my trunk while the Consumer battery was disconnected!).

Odd story here, appreciate your indulgence ... when I went looking for a starter I found the Bosch Rebuilt unit for my car on Amazon for $113 with a $75 rebate for a net $38. Even at $113 it was a great deal, so that's what I got. Installed the starter and returned the core for the rebate/core fee. I was thinking last week that it had been a while and realized that I had no way to check and the price was back up to $232 on Amazon. Yesterday, the $75 check shows up, now I can buy gas.

Good luck with your starter, $1,200 is a lot unless the 4MATIC adds a lot in complexity.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
First Major DIY Repair on this Car

Ok all, here is the latest.

The dealer is only going to charge me $185 for the computer scan and initial diagnosis. They haven't tried to hit me up for the "free" MB Roadside tow, so I'm not going to bring that up at all. He confirmed I do not need to rescan the computer after I install the starter since there are no computer sensors, etc involved. According to their tech, the car is sending power to the starter which rules out a defective fuse, relay or security issue. This should arguably be a plug and play repair.

I've done the research on this removal and install in the 4Matic and with the exception of removing one bolt from the steering column shaft and swinging the steering rod out of the way, it appears to be pretty straight forward. This repair has got me thinking about why my starter took a crap with such low miles. I've read that the copper insides cause the starter to wear prematurely and cause it to fail without any warning like in my case.

Besides cleaning up the area around the starter and checking for any exposed connections, has anyone discovered any evidence of engine heat causing the starter to become "heat soaked" and cooking the solenoid or wiring connections? I wonder if there should be some sort of heat shield around the starter or if one could be fabricated to protect the starter and wiring. Let me know your thoughts on this. I am going to remove the serpentine belt and make sure all of the pulleys arr turning smoothly without any resistance. If even one of the pullies is starting to bind, that alone could cause the starter to work harder to start the car and cause premature failure.

So, if all goes smoothly during this repair, I will be out of pocket the following:

MB Roadside Towing - Free
MB Dealer diagnostic - $185.00
New Bosch Starter - $250.00
2nd Flatbed tow to my house - $95.00

Total so far: - $530.00


Savings over letting dealership do this repair: $770.00

I'll post my results after I complete this repair and the car is running again including any issues, evidence of undiscovered damage, wear, etc. total time involved from jacking the car up to let it back down. I'd like to also install the replacement headlight ballast to fix my active headlights, but first things first.

Ted
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Completed this DIY install with no issues

Recap:

So I had the car towed to my house and was able to purchase the replacement Bosch starter in town. Jacked up the car and got to work. I was all prepared with my air tools and trusty air ratchet which would have had made short work of all the undercarriage splash cover bolts. Unhooked the battery and went to remove the first screw when psssft, psssft. My air ratchet was jammed and would not move in either direction. Spent 30 mins trying to fix it then said forget about it and did the job manually. I would recommend watching the only Youtube video I could find on the removal and install of the starter. That guy goes into a fairly detailed explanation of what you need to remove to access the starter. I would say follow that video to a T and you should have no issues.

To complete the removal and install, you will need the following tools:

8mm socket
10mm socket
13mm ratcheting wrench
13mm socket
E14 torx socket
various 3/8" drive extensions
3/8" swivel (u-joint extension)
long flat screwdriver or long thin prybar
1/4" and 3/8" drive ratchets. (I found it easier to use my 3/8" drive flex head ratchet to access the large nut on the starter.)
Heavy duty jack stands
3 ton floor jack


Let's begin

Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery, but if you need to get anything out of the trunk like your tools, do it now or you'll have to reconnect the battery to open the trunk. Use the center jacking block under the front engine cradle to evenly jack the car up to the highest position you can get. Trust me, when you are trying to squeeze around under the car and have to try and slide in and out to grab various tools you will appreciate having an extra few inches to move around. Make darn sure your jack stands are centered on the rubber jacking blocks that snap into the four jacking points under the vehicle. Whether you have a 4Matic like mine or RWD, use whatever you can, parking block, block of wood, etc. to place behind the rear wheels. It may take you a few tries to get the jack stands centered, but I would highly recommend you take extra time on this because with this heavy car perched right above your head, that is not the time to find out the jack stand is in the wrong position. Remember, safety first.

Next, remove the second and third (from the front of the vehicle) undercarriage splash covers and slide them towards the rear of the car out of the way. Once you get the covers off, you will be able to see and access the starter location. Use your E14 socket and remove the four (4) bolts holding the front sway bar brackets. The sway bar will just swing down about 3 inches, but that extra space will come in handy shortly. Next, use an 8mm socket with the swivel extension along with a few long extensions to loosen (don't remove these!!) the two (2) mounting bolts that hold the steering column shaft heat shield. Reach up and carefully slide that cover aside, but don't twist and bend it or you will be fighting to get it reinstalled.

Now you have access to the 13mm bolt that holds the solid steering shaft to the safety collapsible steering shaft near the firewall. I used a 13mm ratcheting wrench to remove this bolt, but you can use a regular 3/8" ratchet with the flex head or a short ratchet. Remove that bolt and then carefully slide the collapsible section of the steering shaft up towards the firewall until the two pieces are separated. Don't push that portion of the steering column do far up or you will have a hard time pulling it back into place for the reinstallation. Swing the loose steering shaft aside. Now you can access the two (2) starter wire nuts.

It doesn't matter which wire you remove first. The smaller nut is a 10mm. I used a 1/4" drive socket and short ratchet to remove it. For the larger nut, use a 13mm 3/8" socket with a flex head due to the space constraints. If your starter is original like mine, that nut has never been removed and it will be tight as hell. That is where the long flat screw driver or long thin prybar comes in handy for leverage to loosen that starter nut. Remove teh wires and lay them aside.

Now you can remove the two (2) starter bolts. Use the E14 3/8" drive socket with a swivel joint and whatever long extensions you need to get the correct angle. Loosen both and only remove one bolt completely. Then, while holding the starter with one hand, finish removing the last starter bolt and be careful since there is nothing holding the starter in place. Here is where gravity is your nemesis. Pull the starter out of the mounting hole and then turn the starter so the solenoid is facing towards the center of the engine. Although it doesn't appear the starter will fit thru, carefully slide the starter thru the opening where the metal shield on the lower engine cradle is located. That is going to be the same opening to slide the new starter in reverse order.

Set the starters side by side and confirm you have the exact starter casing and solenoid location. Luckily the starter is not too heavy which makes it easier during the reinstall. Slide the new starter back thru the opening and into place. You will need one had to hold the starter somewhat in place while you use the other to start the mounting bolt. Try to keep the starter lined up the best you can. I started the lower bolt since it was easier to see and get my hand in there. start 2-3 threads on that bolt and stop after you are sure you have not crossthreaded anything. Use that bolt to swing the starter into place to install the second mounting bolt. Once you have confirmed the starter housing is lined up and going in straight, snug (don't over torque the bolts) the bolts down and reinstall the starter wires. The large nut on the starter had a cap on it so I reinstalled that as well.

Slide the collapsible steering shaft in place and reinstall the 13mm bolt. Then reinstall the steering column shaft firewall shield. Next, reinstall the sway bar mounting plates, but don't forget to place some whit lithium grease or other grease on the rubber bushings. Finish installing the undercarriage splash covers and lower the car. Reconnect the negative terminal and say a quick prayer to the car Gods before hitting the key. If you did everything listed above right, your car will reward you with the sweet sound of your 5.5ltr engine roaring to life. If something is not connected right or not tight, you may have to open the patient up again and do a second surgery.


Conclusion/Wrap up

All in all and very doable DIY repair that absent the time I spent trying to repair my air ratchet with no success, took me about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Definitely worth the effort to save almost a grand ($955) over what the dealer wanted. I'm not counting the $185 diagnostic since I would have needed that scan regardless. I still want to do some more preventive maintenance to the transmission and differentials, but so far I am still in love with my new car.

Post any questions and I will be happy to provide any details I can.

:thumbsup: Ted
 
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