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2004 Mercedes-Benz c320 4Matic
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I have a 2004 Mercedes-Benz c320 4Matic. Not the flex-fuel version just the regular engine.

Okay, so I'm having random issues where my car won't start. I turn the key and get nothing. When it starts randomly while going down the road I lose my speedometer, transmission stops shifting, etc. Transmission will stay in the top gear when it goes out until slowing down when it downshifts it won't shift up again. Then when turning it off it won't start again and also won't go into gear stuck in park. Then a day or two after I get in and it starts up with no problem again. wtf????

I had an issue before where the battery would be dead if I didn't drive the car in 3-4 days and somehow that fixed itself. Recently I took a trip for the weekend and the car wasn't started for 3 days and the battery started the car with no issues.

I researched and researched for weeks now trying to find out what could be causing this and someone said ECM because at some point when it wouldn't start I tried to scan it and it had no signal to the ECM. So I liked to never found the ECM since there is literally no information for my exact car online. Every guide I found online said the ECM was in a different location than mine was. Mine was in the fusebox panel near the master cylinder. I pulled it out and opened it up to make sure it didn't show any signs of damage and no water damage. It was bone dry and looked pretty much brand new inside. Nothing burn the whole board looked new.

I also checked all the fuses in the entire car. The underhood fusebox, the one on the side of the dash, and the trunk panel. All the fuses are good.

So I researched again for a couple more days.

I thought I had it two days ago. I researched the brake switch and every symptom that I had said the failure of a brake switch so I cheered and ordered a new one from amazon that said it matched my car. Then I get it in today and find out that my car doesn't even have a brake switch! I looked for 30 minutes straight under the dash and nothing. Apparently, it has a brake booster diaphragm under the master cylinder so I researched and researched what all issues if it goes out and I can't find much of anything about the diaphragm. I'm stuck and don't know where to go from here.

I could use some expert help. I'm a do it yourself type of guy. I don't like taking my vehicles to anyone. I've read on a couple of forums to take it and have it STAR scanned and if that's the last resort I'll give that some thought but I'm hoping someone can point me in a direction with some DIY info.

I also want to mention I have no information on anything that has ever been done to this car. I got lucky as hell and traded an old small pickup for it. The guy wanted to create a sleeper with an LS engine in it so he was willing to trade me this car square up for the truck since it was his only vehicle. It was NOT taken care of at all. It had malfunctions out the ass on the dash. Mostly things that don't matter at the moment. Brakes need to be changed, blinker light on the passenger side is busted, needed oil change which I've already done.

It also has a p0400 code which leads to the EGR from what I've researched but I haven't gotten around to trying to fix that yet because the car keeps breaking down on me! I love this car is the most fun car I've ever owned I'll do whatever it takes to fix it so I can keep it and remain driving it. I love the car so much I doubt I'll get rid of it and even with all these problems normally I'd try to sell it as junk by now because I can't stand troublesome cars but this car is something special so I need to keep it.
 

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Update: So this morning once again I get into the car try to start and I get nothing. So I kept trying by pulling the key back out of the ignition and then pushing the brake pedal and putting the key back in and trying it. After about 6-7 tries it actually started up. I don't know what that actually means but it seems like important info to share.
 

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2003 C320 coupe, 2000 ML320
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You need to get yourself a MB scanner.. There are some low priced ones that can get the job done and don't cost a arm and a leg like a STAR... icarsoft and Foxwell are two that come to mine.. There are other units out there that members seems to like.. I just can't recall what they are... Myself.. icarsoft MB V1,... $125
 

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First of all, check the voltage. You should have 12.5v or more at rest, no less than 11v when cranking, and 14v at idle. If not, then you have a battery or alternator problem. If the battery drains overnight (or over a few days of non-use), it could be the memory seat controller (if you have that option) or the overhead control panel. Regardless, you need to find and fix the culprit that is either draining or not charging the battery.

If the power supply is good, look at the instrument cluster when the key is in position 2- make sure your see "P" as the selected gear. If not, it could be the gearshift. It could also be the EIS (ignition switch). Like Bobby says, get a scanner. And SDS does not cost much - you can get a turnkey system installed on a (used) laptop for around $400, or build your own for around $250.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First of all, check the voltage. You should have 12.5v or more at rest, no less than 11v when cranking, and 14v at idle. If not, then you have a battery or alternator problem. If the battery drains overnight (or over a few days of non-use), it could be the memory seat controller (if you have that option) or the overhead control panel. Regardless, you need to find and fix the culprit that is either draining or not charging the battery.

If the power supply is good, look at the instrument cluster when the key is in position 2- make sure your see "P" as the selected gear. If not, it could be the gearshift. It could also be the EIS (ignition switch). Like Bobby says, get a scanner. And SDS does not cost much - you can get a turnkey system installed on a (used) laptop for around $400, or build your own for around $250.
Well the dead battery thing some how fixed itself weeks ago. I only mentioned that part in case it was important info. I took a 3 1/2 hour trip today and it was a mistake. I made it only 30 minutes away and I lost the speedometer and the transmission locked into top gear so when I stopped I had to take off in drive. When I turned the car off it won’t start now.

I looked at the dash when turning on the key and no gear is selected at all. All 5 options are not highlighted only see the letter. I’ve tried to use the manual shifter unlock to pull it to drive and back to park to make sure it’s getting into park and still no start at all. I think the next move is to get it scanned or save up for a scanner. I’m thinking it’s the gear shifter that is the problem. The last time I lost the speedometer I slowed down to a spot and the transmission shifted down to 1st and then locked itself in first and wouldn’t shift at all past first. This last time it locked into top gear the exact opposite.
 

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Which gear "letter" is shown on the instrument cluster MFD? If it does show "P" for Park. then it might not be the shifter.
 

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Which gear "letter" is shown on the instrument cluster MFD? If it does show "P" for Park. then it might not be the shifter.
It doesn’t show anything selected all it shows is the letters p r n d none of them are highlighted or selected
 

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Which gear "letter" is shown on the instrument cluster MFD? If it does show "P" for Park. then it might not be the shifter.
So over the last couple days I started pulling the shifter out of the car and realized where I had it parked on the curb that I couldn't get under the car to remove the linkage so after pulling everything apart other than the linkage to the transmission, I put it all back together and it showed P as the selected gear when turning the key on where before it didn't show anything. So I started the car and went to leave and it was stuck in park while running. Something that has never happened before. It normally shifts into whatever gear no problem just doesn't start when turned off. I do believe I have narrowed it down to the shifter.

The second time I unplugged all the wires and the cable and then plugged them all back in it started up and shifted into gears this time. I feel like its the sensor in the shifter. I mean that's what all the issues seem to be. I've read that even the speedometer will turn off if this sensor goes bad which is what happens it goes into limp mode I think its called being stuck in gear and the speedometer doesn't work. Anytime this has happened when I shut the car off it won't start again. Till I mess with the harnesses on the shifter by removing them all, manually shifting the shifter up and down a few times, plugging it all back in and trying it again. It's started twice by doing this.

There was a p0705 code at some point before I was stupid and cleared the codes. There was a bunch of other p codes but they all had ??? on them since my reader is super cheap and not a star or whatever.

I found a used one on eBay for around $100 so I think I'll order it. I can't afford a new one $500+ is just not something I can throw around right now. I'm out of work and without this car, I can't even find work so I have to get it running as soon as possible.
 

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Be careful! Shifter modules are one of the "Theft Relevant Parts" on a 722.6 transmission. That is, they're programmatically "married" to the car, and if you swap a shifter module in from another car, the immobilizer will prevent the car from starting. Yeah, brain-dead, but M-B's way of forcing you to the dealer (it's even worse with the 722.9 successor, BTW).

I don't know the process for getting shifter modules "re-virginized", but on ECM's and certain other modules, it requires de-soldering a certain chip, wiping it clean, and reprogramming it with SDS. The other way, I understand, is to swap the EEPROM that holds all that security information (VIN and such), from your existing module to the replacement module. Either way, it's going to be a couple hundred dollars at least for this service. So, you're looking at $300+ for the used one. For that, I'd just go to the dealer and get a new one if it's $500.

Yet another alternative is to find a matched set of ECU, EIS (ignition key receptacle), car keys, and shifter module. That's the "magic 4" for Theft-Relevant Parts for cars like yours that (fortunately!) have a 5-speed transmission. Swapping out all four will keep the "matched set" and thus keep the immobilizer happy.
 

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Be careful! Shifter modules are one of the "Theft Relevant Parts" on a 722.6 transmission. That is, they're programmatically "married" to the car, and if you swap a shifter module in from another car, the immobilizer will prevent the car from starting. Yeah, brain-dead, but M-B's way of forcing you to the dealer (it's even worse with the 722.9 successor, BTW).
speed transmission. Swapping out all four will keep the "matched set" and thus keep the immobilizer happy.
That is not the case for the W203. You can drop in a used shifter with no coding needed.
 

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It does sound like the shifter, but one other thing to consider is that you might have a linkage adjustment issue. If the transmission pawl is physically in one selection but the shifter is not, you can have issues. To adjust the linkage rod, you have to lift the car:

 

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Discussion Starter #13
It does sound like the shifter, but one other thing to consider is that you might have a linkage adjustment issue. If the transmission pawl is physically in one selection but the shifter is not, you can have issues. To adjust the linkage rod, you have to lift the car:

Well when it starts and run it’s shifts perfect and goes into park no issues. I can hear it click into each gear if u go really slow. It started this morning and I drove it to go fishing down the road it ran perfect then when I went to leave it started but no speedometer and stuck in first gear so I stopped it at the first parking lot disconnected the harnesses and the cable from the shifter waited a minute put it all back then it started right up again and I drove it a mile or so down the road no issues stopped at a circle k to get a drink figuring that everything was good went to start it and nothing. Three hours later I to try and still nothing it’s broke down in their parking lot right now. I’m hoping it will start in the morning so I can get it home and leave it till it’s fixed. It’s aggravating how it can go from running great to not starting in a matter of minutes.
 

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I think you really need to get this car scanned with SDS or at least a tool that can read all of the proprietary MBZ systems. There should be some codes stored. If the transmission is stuck in 1st gear (actually it's probably 2nd gear) then it's in limp mode and there should be codes stored.

Another thought here is that this might not be the shifter at all. It could be a bad EIS. The EIS is the "hub" for the two CAN buses in the car - engine and interior. A bad EIS can stop letting these two CANs communicate and when that happens, you get strange results. This would be a job for SDS to diagnose.
 

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I think you really need to get this car scanned with SDS or at least a tool that can read all of the proprietary MBZ systems. There should be some codes stored. If the transmission is stuck in 1st gear (actually it's probably 2nd gear) then it's in limp mode and there should be codes stored.

Another thought here is that this might not be the shifter at all. It could be a bad EIS. The EIS is the "hub" for the two CAN buses in the car - engine and interior. A bad EIS can stop letting these two CANs communicate and when that happens, you get strange results. This would be a job for SDS to diagnose.
Okay so this is what happened yesterday. Day before yesterday I pulled the shifter out of the car to get the part number then installed it back because even if I order another shifter it’s going to take many days to get it in. So after installing the car started fine when before it wouldn’t start at all. So I went fishing yesterday. After starting to leave it was stuck in first definitely first and not second rpm at like 3500 doing 10 mph max and no speedometer. I stopped the car turned it off tried to start nothing. So I pulled all the plugs off the shifter and the cable then waited about a minute plugged it back in and it started and shifted perfect and speedometer worked. I thought everything was fine so i stopped at a local store to get a drink and it wouldn’t start. Tried all day yesterday to start it nothing. Let it sit over night tried this morning again nothing. So I remembered you saying that the shifter could not be adjusted correctly so I unbolted the shifter and slid it back 1/4” and it started right up. Right now that’s where I’m at I still feel it’s the shifter. I do need to have it scanned but stupid me thought the regular codes and the Mercedes codes were different and I deleted the p0400 code that had been in it since I got the car I never changed the egr out yet. When I did that I think it deleted the Mercedes ones also because my friends BlueDriver scanner says its for Mercedes but it doesn’t pull anything. I feel like the scanner is not for Mercedes only the basic codes.
 

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You can't scan the transmission or gearshift modules with a generic OBDII code reader. You need SDS (MBZ's Star Diagnosis) or a tool that specifically reads MBZ codes, such as iCarsoft i980 or MB-II or an Autel MD802 Elite. But if you can get it to start by moving the shift linkage rod, maybe that's the problem. If you detach it from the shifter and then move it, you will feel some very specific clicks as it goes through P-R-N-D.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
You can't scan the transmission or gearshift modules with a generic OBDII code reader. You need SDS (MBZ's Star Diagnosis) or a tool that specifically reads MBZ codes, such as iCarsoft i980 or MB-II or an Autel MD802 Elite. But if you can get it to start by moving the shift linkage rod, maybe that's the problem. If you detach it from the shifter and then move it, you will feel some very specific clicks as it goes through P-R-N-D.
Do you think this scanner would read all the codes necessary. I'm looking at scanners but honestly, I don't want to buy a scanner that is only specific to Mercedes when I own a chevy truck and my mom owns a Toyota, and a Saturn. I'd like to have a scanner that will do most all cars if needed and not just basic obd scan or be limited to mostly only one car. This one seems pretty good they say it does transmission, abs, and all that.


EDIT: Actually after looking more into it and learning a bit more about scanners that scanner won't work. I need a full system scanner so after some time I've had someone recommend this one so I will probably order it soon and get a full scan so I can find the exact problem before I go ordering parts.

https://www.amazon.com/Autel-MD802-Maxidiag-Diagnoses-Transmission/dp/B0090B7M2O
 

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The guys on the W163 forum swear by the Autel MD802. I use SDS myself, so I have no experience with it, but I've not heard any complaints. Also, the MD802 is supposed to be able to have software downloads for working with other makes.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
The guys on the W163 forum swear by the Autel MD802. I use SDS myself, so I have no experience with it, but I've not heard any complaints. Also, the MD802 is supposed to be able to have software downloads for working with other makes.
Okay, so some updates. I got my MaxiDiag Elite in today did a scan on the transmission and all it gave me was engine codes. I'm not sure what that was all about I guess that means there is nothing wrong with the transmission side?

p2300
p2310
p2311
p2312
p2313
p2315
p2500
p2221

scanned engine and got these three codes
p2001
p2003
p2017-1 (p0171)

Okay, so what has happened with the car over the last few days. Since I moved the shifter a little (not adjusting to specs or anything just moving it around) I was able to get the car to start. I've been driving it for three days now and it has only not started once and how I fixed it was turned the key twice to the right unbolted the shifter moved it forward all the way and back all the way twice or until I saw the P highlighted on the LCD cluster display and I moved the shifter back around halfway between forward and back and bolted it back down. It started up without any issues.

One time I stopped at Walmart to get some things and started the car and went to take off and it was stuck in first gear so I stopped the car put it into park, let it sit about 30 seconds took off and it shifted just fine.

Second time it did the same thing stuck in first gear wouldn't shift and I had already pulled out on to the main road before I noticed it so I put it quickly into neutral let it coast for a few seconds put it back in drive and when I felt it kick into gear I took off and it shifted just fine.

According to all the codes after looking them all up I see nothing to do with the transmission or the shifter module. Does this mean that I just need to set the shifter to specs and that was causing the issue the whole time? Maybe the rod had some slack in it and it just wasn't set properly causing all these issues? I'm dumbfounded that the ECU didn't contain any info about the issue with the transmission not shifting sometimes correctly and the car not starting.

The codes above I think all pertain to the EGR value which I know needs to be cleaned or replaced I've known about the P0400 code for a while but I wanted to fix this not starting and transmission not shifting correctly issue before I bothered with that since the car runs pretty good even with the EGR not working correctly. I think also one of the codes said something about the catalytic converter I'm not looking forward to having that replaced.

Also, want to mention that the car has 205k miles on it and it was not taken care of at all. Someone abused the hell out of this car. I got it for damn near nothing so eventually when I get it all fixed it's going to be a pretty badass car.
 

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I am not familiar with the Autel unit, but there should be a way to tell it to scan the TCU. Some of those codes you posted do appear to be TCU related:


This may be a bad shifter unit based on some of those codes. You should definitely align the shifter linkage rod. And while you're under there, check the 13-pin electrical connector on the transmission for any signs of oil leakage. Disconnect it and check for oil inside the connections as well as for oil in the wiring harness itself. Finally, check the TCU for oil intrusion. It's located in the passenger footwell, Fold the carpet down from under the dash, remove the sound insulation panel, and there is a metal "cage" that contains the TCU. It has three plastic nuts holding the cage to the body.
 
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