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I just picked up a '79 MB 300D less than 2 months ago and the steering column seems to have seized completely on me, 2 days ago. Needless to say, I am not happy about this because I can't drive my car and because I'm told this is a $450.00 fix.

I have had this to happen a few times where the steering wheel would lock and take a few minutes to unlock it (after hard turns to the left or right). Two days ago, I forgot to cut my wheels when parking and my steering wheel locked, only to lock worse than it has ever before. I've been trying to unlock it every few hours over the last day with no luck.

I'm told that I need a new steering column assembly which will cost $450 to repair. I'm told this is the only repair for this issue, no other options.

However, one MB mechanic said that if I can get the steering wheel to unlock, start the car and drive it to him, he would replace my ignition tumbler, which is $100. I assume that this is the alternative option IF I can get the car's steering wheel to unlock.

Ironically, while trying to unlock the steering wheel yesterday, my vacuum locks stopped working. I was told this was a non-related issue (and is not serious like the steering column issue).

Can anyone advise on any way to have this steering column assembly replaced for about HALF of the amount quoted??? Should I call any other shops, find my own parts, etc.?

Two shops have quoted this same price already and I simply cannot afford $450.

All help is appreciated.

Thanks,

d2e
 

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Steering Locked

There is no easy or cheap way to do this. I had the same thing happen and they had to drill the lock out. You are faced with a tough choice here. It happened to me out at a city park with two dogs in my 1983 300 TD wagon! It was late so I had to walk three miles back to get another set of keys. Finally had it towed and went the $450 route. The tumbler simply "wears" out after so many starts and stops. Your tow bill would be cheaper to take it to the guy who can drill it for $100. You can find another ignition set used and install it cheaper than $450. Tow bill shouldn't be over $65.
 

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Re: Steering Locked

Your tow bill would be cheaper to take it to the guy who can drill it for $100. You can find another ignition set used and install it cheaper than $450. Tow bill shouldn't be over $65.
Ed,

I thank you for your input on this. The mechanic who mentioned $100 said that amount is to replace the ignition tumbler ONLY if I'm able to unlock the steering wheel, start the car, drive it to him at his shop and not cut it off.

Since I'm still having problems unlocking the steering wheel to start it, then this $100 tumbler replacement is not an issue. At least this is how I understood it. I would then need to have the $450 work done and the car towed in.

Where would I look for a used ignition set and how would I know whether or not it's in good condition?

My understanding is that this full replacement requires an ignition lock and ignition switch. I've priced these parts new and the parts alone are $300.

Thanks again...
 

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Put it in neutral while one person rocks the car forward or backward while the other gentl...

Put it in neutral while one person rocks the car forward or backward while the other gently turns the key. A very good chance the key will turn. If you are lucky take it to the shop, and try not to lock it and remove the key again. I always get a new key when I get a new benz, from the dealer $25. Tumbler and key around $75.

Often it is a combination of worn key and worn tumbler. A new key often works but the safest bet is both key and tumbler.

The tumbler replacement procedure calls for the key being "on"

Good luck learned this trick the hard way, while knowing better then to put off new keys and tumblers.
John Gregg
 

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John,I'm definitely going to give that a shot. I just talked with a friend earlier who...

John,

I'm definitely going to give that a shot. I just talked with a friend earlier who said he would come by and try helping out on Friday or Saturday. I'm worn out after two days of this and my right hand is sore from turning.

With his help, we might get this thing turned. Good tip you've shared and I appreciate it!

Whenever I cut my wheels upon parking and cutting off the car, the steering wheel does not lock. It locks only when my car wheels are straight. Right now, they are as straight as ever. Is it supposed to work this way?

If we get the key turned tomorrow and I'm unable to get it to my mechanic, I will cut the wheels and turn off the car. It has worked fine this way before, I just forgot to do that the other night.

Let me ask though, is it okay to leave the key in the car in the Accessory position or will that drain the battery? I would do this in case I get scared again about taking that key out. [:(]

Out of curiosity, I called a couple of locksmiths earlier this eve and one said he'd charge $150 to cut the lock out.

However, I was confused about what happens after that, meaning, do I then get a new $100 tumbler w/key coded to my VIN # installed by the mechanic? I'm asking this in case my friend and I still cannot get the key to turn. Going this route would put me at $250 vs. $450 at least.

Thanks again...

John - forgot to ask, while rocking back and forth, should one of us be turning the steering wheel while turning the key?

d2e
 

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Drilling Out

I should have said "drilling out" as they will drill into the old ignition and then pull it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Rocking back and forth...

Rocking the car back and forth is no easy task! This car is heavy.

I think I'll need a stronger person to help or perhaps two people. One friend came by earlier and did more nose "bouncing" of the car than "rocking," if that makes sense. The bouncing didn't help though.

dfw, when you mentioned this trick, you did mean to put the car in neutral and try moving it back and forth, as though going straight or backing up, correct? Or, did you mean a side-to-side rock?

Also, does anyone have any answer on my question about letting a locksmith drill the lock out and then just replacing the tumbler? When a locksmith drills out a lock, does it damage the dash or instrument cluster in ANY way?

Furthermore, is the tumbler something that I can replace once the old one is out or must this be done by a mechanic?

Thanks again for the help everyone and hopefully the holiday weekend will bring something more positive. I'm totally frustrated at this point.
 

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You want to have it in neutral and push/pull forward and backward. It does not always work...

You want to have it in neutral and push/pull forward and backward. It does not always work. I found the trick when I had failed to order a new key for an 85 190D project car. Ignition would not turn in store parking lot 20 miles away at almost 10PM, with rent a security present. Got large son to push and pull as an after thought. All of the sudden we were driving it home again.

A tow rope under $20 from Autozone could help to.

Many pro lock smiths won't even drill out a Mercedes
lock, it is so tough.

Removing the cylinder is a DIY job when the key is turned to on.

Good luck,
John Gregg
 

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Ok, thanks for the clarification John.You're right about locksmiths not wanting to dri...

Ok, thanks for the clarification John. We'll see what happens.

You're right about locksmiths not wanting to drill a MB lock. So far, I've only found 1 in town willing to do it at $150. The other places that will do it are European mechanics.

If I have this locksmith to drill it out, will it damage my dashboard or instrument cluster?
 

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Try this too.

While rocking the car back and forth, try turning the steering wheel back and forth, while in the locked position, and while you are doing this, try turning the key. My steering lock is also getting very crappy. Generally I just leave the key in the ignition, so I dont chance it not going back in. Although I do live in Iowa, where car thefts arent really a problem
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Positive Update!

For anyone following this thread, I wanted to offer an update on the situation:

Yesterday evening, I had a new key cut to the manufacturer's specifications at the locksmith (Andersen-Whitehurst) that I mentioned in previous posts. The key cost $17 vs. about $28 from MB directly. They suggested I do this before taking drastic measures of drilling out the lock, etc.

With that new key in hand, I tried turning the ignition and one of my friends jerked on the steering wheel...

Wouldn't you know, after a few tries, the ignition turned and I was finally able to start the car! I can tell that the tumbler is worn, as it took a few turns to get the key all the way to the starting position. I was smiling from ear to ear, to say the least, and my friend was in the parking lot dancing. [8D]

I drove the car around a bit since she hadn't been driven in over a week. I was able to sharply cut the wheels and turn the car off without the steering wheel locking. I then called my mechanic, told him of the great news and he'll be seeing me first thing this morning.

He will toss in a loaner ignition tumbler and order me a new one with a new key, coded for my car ($100, 5 min fix). The key I had made yesterday can also be used on my new tumbler, so I look at that as having a spare and what helped to finally unlocked the steering wheel.

If anyone here ever experience this issue like myself and others have, please take all advice shared here because it's GREAT advice. The one piece of advice that sticks out in my head is about having a new tumbler and key made immediately after taking ownership of one of these old, sweet diesels!

Thanks again to everyone for your help and suggestions.
 
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