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2003 S430W
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Discussion Starter #1
Since this is my first post on these forums, let me start by saying hello to all.

My car: 2003 S430W 4Matic

Here is the story:

I noticed what sounded like a creaking noise develop about a month or so ago. It seemed to be in the front end. Sounded kind of like a busted spring or shock that was worn out (for instance). No other signs of anything serious (ie: steering wheel straight on, no pull on driving or under breaking, no shimmy etc...). Just an irritating creaking. I was thinking lube job maybe.

Booked my car into the dealership yesterday 9:00am. They call me at about 3:00pm yesterday to say they haven't had time to even look at the car yet, would I mind keeping the loaner over night. Fine.

Today at about 10:30am I get a call with this: It looks like you've had a serious collision. Your control arms, tie rods and sway bar are all bent. It also looks like there is sub-frame damage.

There is NO WAY in my mind that this could be the case. I am the sole driver of my car. Single no kids and I never lend it to anyone. I've never crashed the car, hit a curb or even really hit a pothole with any degree of force (can't avoid them where I live but sure haven't slammed into one).

Am I crazy here or would hitting a pothole hard enough to do that kind of damage not bend the rim and blow out a tire?

I know what you're all thinking, but I don't drink so this wasn't a late night drive home under the influence and forgetting what happened. I've never replaced a rim or tire either.

I'm totally stunned by what the dealership said and I'm at a total loss to explain it.

Anyone here (mechanics or shade tree guys) have any ideas? I know nada about the business end of cars so I'm helpless. The service rep was talking insurance claim kind of dollars here. I'm really wondering if someone didn't take the car for a joy ride at the dealership last night and they are trying to stick me with the bill. If it wasn't a Benz dealership I would almost guarantee that is what happened but would this happen at a Benz dealership?

I'm at a total loss here. Could that kind of damage have existed and the car not show any obvious signs (pulling, shimmy etc...)?
 

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W221 & Audio Moderator
2013 S550
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I presume you bought the car new? If not, damage could have occurred under prior ownership.

Before you let them fix it, I suggest you drive it to see if it feels as it did before you took it in.
 

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2003 S430W
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5 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I presume you bought the car new? If not, damage could have occurred under prior ownership.

Before you let them fix it, I suggest you drive it to see if it feels as it did before you took it in.

I bought it from them, Star Certified.

Could that kind of damage have been pre-existing and yet show no signs in the driveability (I've put on about 20,000KMS since I bought it from them)?

It has also been in for service a couple of times since I bought it. Surely the technitian would have noted this kind of damage? The only way to explain that kind of missed damage is with a failure to disclose upon my purchase, tech not reporting damage during previous services along with a concerted effort by the dealership to cover it up in conjunction with the tech etc...
 

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2003 S430W
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5 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
More info as they just called back:

RT drive shaft $2632.58
Steering rack assembly $3968.69
Cradle pushed back - will reposition free as needs to be moved to fix steering rack assembly anyhow.
Alignment $129.95

Possibility strong that other "hidden damage" exists and that estimate will be even higher than quoted.

I'm blown away.
 

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More info as they just called back:

RT drive shaft $2632.58
Steering rack assembly $3968.69
Cradle pushed back - will reposition free as needs to be moved to fix steering rack assembly anyhow.
Alignment $129.95

Possibility strong that other "hidden damage" exists and that estimate will be even higher than quoted.

I'm blown away.
The easiest way to determine what the hell is going on - I am hoping you notated your mileage when dropping off the car for your records, if not, by all means and with great alacrity check the mileage the dealer notated, typically when dropping of your car they will run out and check the vin and mileage and input it into the service system, get access to your service ticket now. And as Skylaw indicated get access to your car now, drive it and check the mileage!!!
 

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2003 S430W
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Discussion Starter #6
The easiest way to determine what the hell is going on - I am hoping you notated your mileage when dropping off the car for your records, if not, by all means and with great alacrity check the mileage the dealer notated, typically when dropping of your car they will run out and check the vin and mileage and input it into the service system, get access to your service ticket now. And as Skylaw indicated get access to your car now, drive it and check the mileage!!!
I always note the mileage and take pictures of the body whenever I drop a car off. My old man taught me to do that. They called me too late for me to get the car back today but I'm going to be standing in their window as soon as they turn the key in the lock tomorrow morning. I also know of 2 or 3 minor scratches/rubs on the front bumper that were all but buffed out but still visable if you know where they are. I'm going to check to see if they are still there or if something has been repainted.

How easy/hard would it be for them to roll back/disconnect then reconnect the odometer if in fact someone did something screwy with the car while in their possession and they are trying to hide it? I have such a hard time believing that a MB dealership would do any of this kind of thing but nothing else makes sense at this point...
 

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99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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4,583 Posts
Have you taken it to someone else to get checked out? Is the car really that damaged or are they trying to make you replace things that you don't really need? You may be upset over nothing besides a sky-high quote. It might be something simple to fix.
 

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1987 560SL - 1994 S420 - 2005 S55 AMG
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S430Guy, take your and run! Find a good Indie to take a look and get a second opinion. The dealership will take you for every red cent plus more and the car will still make the creaking noise when you get it back. Do it now!
 

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2003 S430W
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Discussion Starter #9
Oh I'm definately taking it somewhere else. I've got the scoop on an independant Benz shop here in town and it will be showing up there tomorrow or Monday.

I really can't believe what they are telling me with regards to the damage. I mean I drove the car there, no shimmy no pull under power or breaking. I also drove it for a good 2-3 weeks with the "creak" because there were no other symptoms so I figured it wasn't serious. If the suspension was that badly buggered surely it would shimmy or pull or something. I told them to put it back together and I'll be picking it up tomorrow.

My only fear is that if THEY buggered it up and it now drives like it is damaged, how in the hell do I prove that? My word versus theirs and while my credibility is beyond reproach and I'm a business leader in the community how do you prove they damaged it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Oh well, at this point any conversation is just mental masturbation. I'll let you all know what the car looks like when I pick it up tomorrow and will post again once the independant shop has had a boo at the car and given me their opinion.
 

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My Benz: 04 S430
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I bought it from them, Star Certified.

Could that kind of damage have been pre-existing and yet show no signs in the driveability (I've put on about 20,000KMS since I bought it from them)?
Wait a second. You bought it Star Certified? Then Most of this stuff should be covered anyway unless it goes back to my usual rant that "Star Certification" is not worth the paper it written on.

Also with all of those so called bad parts, there is No way you could not feel anything while driving except some squeaking... I'd leave those folks and never come back. I think they are F.O.S.

Also if I were you just for giggles, I'd CarFax my Vin to see what shows up. God Help them if it has an accident history before you purchased it and they sold it as "Certified"... It's worth a look... YOu can;t have that much lower damage and not needed new body parts.. thats unlikely.
 

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Wait a second. You bought it Star Certified? Then Most of this stuff should be covered anyway unless it goes back to my usual rant that "Star Certification" is not worth the paper it written on.

Also with all of those so called bad parts, there is No way you could not feel anything while driving except some squeaking... I'd leave those folks and never come back. I think they are F.O.S.

Also if I were you just for giggles, I'd CarFax my Vin to see what shows up. God Help them if it has an accident history before you purchased it and they sold it as "Certified"... It's worth a look... YOu can;t have that much lower damage and not needed new body parts.. thats unlikely.
I bought a Benz that was Star Certified a few years ago [12.99] and it turned out to have been totaled in Florida. It did NOT show up on Carfax at all as wrecked as the PO took it straight to the Boca Benz dealer who shuffled it to an indy body shop, had it fixed, shipped to a sister dealer in NY and sold to me Starmarked.

FYI MBUSA did NOTHING. I was basically told they had more FU money than I do and they would wear me down with atty costs.

So it is very possible to get a Star Certified Mercedes that has had damage, including damage that Mercedes knows about.

Get an independent inspector ASAP to look at the car.

Good luck.
 

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Outstanding Contributor - Always Remembered, RIP
Zotye Auto 1.5T T600 2016
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I think pictures of the damage would be usefull here;)
 

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2002 honda civic (sold), 2009 Mercedes ML350
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dont assume the dealership is bullshitting you. what you need to do is go up to the dealer and have them show you why they recommended what they did. if they can put your car on the lift and physically show you what is damaged, then you can see it first hand and make a decision. now if they are bullshitting you, then it will make them look like jackasses. but again, the easiest way to deal with this issue is go to the dealer and have them show you what is damaged.
 

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Outstanding Contributor - Always Remembered, RIP
Zotye Auto 1.5T T600 2016
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52,804 Posts
dont assume the dealership is bullshitting you. what you need to do is go up to the dealer and have them show you why they recommended what they did. if they can put your car on the lift and physically show you what is damaged, then you can see it first hand and make a decision. now if they are bullshitting you, then it will make them look like jackasses. but again, the easiest way to deal with this issue is go to the dealer and have them show you what is damaged.
I will second that statment, whilst they have it on the lift take some pics of the damage and post them on here so we can all see and give our opinion. But dont have the car fixed until you get honest opinions, tell them to wait.
 
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