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Discussion Starter #1
2001 C320 - 35K miles

Took car to dealer for brake and tire work (rotate, balance, etc.). Day before taking it in noticed the car wasn't turning over well at the start. Mentioned it to the service tech while dropping it off and they said they would look at it.

Get a call later in the day and they tell me the battery was bad and that while installing a new battery the Rear SAM failed (trunk won't lock / unlock and neither will doors). Car is four months out of warranty and the dealer said they would pay for labor, but want me to foot the bill for the part. After pushing back they knocked 20% off of the part (originally $350).

My impression is, it worked when I dropped it off. Any thoughts here? Have you heard of this before? Any suggestions on stance to take with the dealer?
 

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gandym - 4/12/2005 9:06 PM

2001 C320 - 35K miles

Took car to dealer for brake and tire work (rotate, balance, etc.). Day before taking it in noticed the car wasn't turning over well at the start. Mentioned it to the service tech while dropping it off and they said they would look at it.

Get a call later in the day and they tell me the battery was bad and that while installing a new battery the Rear SAM failed (trunk won't lock / unlock and neither will doors). Car is four months out of warranty and the dealer said they would pay for labor, but want me to foot the bill for the part. After pushing back they knocked 20% off of the part (originally $350).

My impression is, it worked when I dropped it off. Any thoughts here? Have you heard of this before? Any suggestions on stance to take with the dealer?
Recently a workshop did a routine service on an SLK and while taking it for test drive afterwards the timing chain snapped. Now do you seriously expect the client to pay for an engine rebuild plus towing. I dont think so and neither did the workshop. The customer didnt have that fault when they drove in and they didnt have that fault when they drove out. Simply put that is all you are obliged to pay.

you only pay for the fault that you wanted fixed. If the key was in the ignition ( as known cause) then it will blow the rear sam in 100% of cases when the new battery is installed.

Just go to national head office. Dont waste another call to the dealer and start billing them for the rental car.
 

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Thanks. I had read that the key in the ignition could be the culprit. Will have to see if the Service Department "fesses up" to this.

Spoke to some independent service guys who told me about a 67c account that apparently the Service Department can "damage the part against". Went on to tell me that this is much more common than the dealer will let on. Only surfaces though when you are out of warranty (as I am). Apparently, while under warranty the dealer simply replaces the rear (or any other) SAM after it fails as though it were part of the routine service instead of as a result of their ineptitude.

With a partial discount and free labor in hand, I will likely opt to discuss with the Head of Service Department and ultimately (if necessary) the General Manager. Already have capped my cost and would rather not incur additional rental fees since the car is actually working. Let's just hope the car does not continue to act up due to other related "gremlins".

Thanks for the response. I will post a final result.
 

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Some of the better service managers dont even drag the customer into it. Replacing the battery has a RISK not CAUSE of SAM damage. So by asking the company to do the battery work doesnt mean you agreed to an additional unknown risk.

The same would apply if the mechanic sneezed and dropped the battery on the body panel while putting it in. In my mind any additional damage is outside the scope of what was needed.

Where does it say that if you need a new battery then you also need a new SAM.

Print out the document below and ask the service manager to underline where it says "REPLACE SAM"

http://home.swiftdsl.com.au/~tobex/W203-replace-battery.pdf
 

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Well, we got the car back and the Service Manager is calling MB North America to ask whether the key may be an issue. More directly, they said the key was not in the ignition and therefore was not a cause of the failure. When asking what it may have been they gave the following:

This is an unfortunate item that failed while under our care, but not as a result of our actions. In a perfect world, the failure would have occurred in your posession. Then I got this...The SAMs (all of them) are hot wired and therefore go into sleep mode when the key is out of the ignition. Allegedly, the key only sends infrared signals while in the ignition unless the key has been turned to an ON position. Doing this will complete the C30 circuit. Regardless, they claim to be unaware of the "key in ignition = Rear SAM failure" issue. Thus, the call to MB North America. Further, they say that installing a new battery will always cause a brief surge which can always cause a possible failure. They compared it to a lightbulb in the sense that they rarely flicker out, but instead blow when the switch is flipped and electricity flows across the filament. So, I counter with "Are you suggesting that I am lucky nothing else went out too?" Which then had us mired in the numerous electric issues that all MB and other cars have lately. We eventually ditched the "key" issue and moved on to the more basic issue which was that the Rear SAM worked when I dropped the car off. So...

I had them put the part in their 67c account while investigating. They will call with an answer. In the meantime, I have my car, it works (today), and only paid for the items that I took it in for (so far). If / when they call back and tell me it is not their fault we will have another go round.

Thanks for the input.
 

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gandym - 4/13/2005 12:19 PM

Well, we got the car back and the Service Manager is calling MB North America to ask whether the key may be an issue. More directly, they said the key was not in the ignition and therefore was not a cause of the failure. When asking what it may have been they gave the following:

This is an unfortunate item that failed while under our care, but not as a result of our actions. In a perfect world, the failure would have occurred in your posession. Then I got this...The SAMs (all of them) are hot wired and therefore go into sleep mode when the key is out of the ignition. Allegedly, the key only sends infrared signals while in the ignition unless the key has been turned to an ON position. Doing this will complete the C30 circuit. Regardless, they claim to be unaware of the "key in ignition = Rear SAM failure" issue. Thus, the call to MB North America. Further, they say that installing a new battery will always cause a brief surge which can always cause a possible failure. They compared it to a lightbulb in the sense that they rarely flicker out, but instead blow when the switch is flipped and electricity flows across the filament. So, I counter with "Are you suggesting that I am lucky nothing else went out too?" Which then had us mired in the numerous electric issues that all MB and other cars have lately. We eventually ditched the "key" issue and moved on to the more basic issue which was that the Rear SAM worked when I dropped the car off. So...

I had them put the part in their 67c account while investigating. They will call with an answer. In the meantime, I have my car, it works (today), and only paid for the items that I took it in for (so far). If / when they call back and tell me it is not their fault we will have another go round.

Thanks for the input.
All the service manager has to do is sign a declaration and have it notarised that

" I ___________ followed the correct procedure according WIS (Werkstattinformationssystem) Article number ________ and it is my professional opinion that the failure of the SAM module whilst under the care of myself and _________ did not result from our actions. "

If he is stupid enough to sign that then he deserves to have MB give him a free gender altering operation.

It is of course a well known fact in workshops about 5% of W203 SAM modules once fully de-energised never start up again - it happens. However the majority of mechanics do not follow the procedure for the backup battery attachment which gives power to the SAM (front and rear) for the duration of the procedure.

Rather than let the cat out of the bag you can realise now that a surge is caused by a car that is stone cold dead with NO batteries attached.

If you are forced to pay for a new one then legally the old one is yours - since you own it. I would send the letter and the SAM to head office asking for an explanation. If they threw out the old one then you have yet another round of question asking.

All items under 67C must be held for 90 days.
 
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