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· Registered
E320 Coupe
209 Posts
A long read but a good read

Ok, this is my review of R&H Motor Cars in Reisterstown.

I've taken my W220 there twice, once for an EIS issue and second for a what I thought was a failing instrument cluster.

For the EIS issue, I showed them that when the car is warm, it starts right up. I also showed them that when you heat the EIS with a hair dryer, it works. The only issue is that the EIS did not throw any fault codes. R&H kept trying and finally they came up with the Gear Select Module was bad. I strongly disagreed and said no, it is definitely the EIS, please change that. They didn't want to proceed with the repair until they changed the Gear Select Module since that was the component showing error codes.

Of course, I scoured the W220 Forums and the Gear Select Module isn't something that fails often. I asked them if it was the Transmission Control Module (TCM), a part that fails often enough, and they said ,"No, it is definitely the not the TCM or EIS. It's the Gear Select Module. It's the only component throwing codes."

Finally, I gave in and had the part replaced. This was a dealer only part, so I had to pay dealer prices and would have been happy, but that didn't fix the problem. Finally, after much insistence, they changed the EIS and all is well.

That whole ordeal took a month.

Early this month, I was driving and suddenly my car lights up like an ambulance. The center console was blinking display error, my radio lost sound, my seats didn't work, the car wouldn't respond to lock and unlock key commands, turn signals were shot, my A/C stopped working and my headlights blinked at random as well as my tail lights and turn signal lights. Needless to say, this was a shock.

I drive the car to R&H and show them my suddenly very blinky car and we have a good chuckle. They diagnose the car and tell me the A/C control module is faulty and needs to be replaced. I said that doesn't make any sense. What does the A/C module have to do with anything with the Center Console, the lights or the radio? I mean it explained the A/C not working, but that's it. I told them that they reinspect and please give me a better explanation.

They reinspected and removed the A/C control module and while it didn't bring everything to normal, the car stopped blinking and I can lock it again. The radio/satellite/phone still didn't work and neither did the A/C. The center dash worked sort of, but the date and time were off and all the error lights were lit SRS, etc. I still wasn't convinced that a faulty A/C control module was the culprit and asked the tech to explain himself. Long story short, he basically said if we replaced the A/C module, everything would be hunky dory. I told them that it just doesn't make sense, what other explanations could it be. The tech told me that he was absolutely sure that it was the A/C module and that if it got replaced, my problems would go away.

I got incensed and left the dealership. I had a huge gut feeling that it was the wrong diagnosis. I again scoured the Forums and it really showed nothing that would lead me to believe that the A/C control module is capable of doing anything like this to my car.

Regardless, I bought a new A/C control module (thankfully this wasn't a dealer only part) and installed it in the car. Once again, my car lights up crazy and anything electronic doesn't work. I plug in the old and the new A/C control modules and they do the same thing. The 2 conclusions would be that either both are defective or none were defective. I was willing to bet that none were defective.

Just for my sanity, I opened up the A/C control module down to circuit boards, screws and plastic. I smelled it for any signs of electric damage and it was perfectly fine. I put it back together and put it on the car again; the same effect.

I now take the car back to R&H for them to just clear the codes and install my new A/C Control Module. They clear the codes and the car is still malfunctioning. They now call me and ask if I "really installed" a new A/C control module. I told them if they want, they can check the old one in the trunk, but they'll both do the same thing. Figure out something else that's wrong. Clear the codes from the center console or give me another one, I don't care, but don't tell me its the A/C module.

They finally listened and looked for something other than the A/C that might be wrong and 4 days later they said that there was some after market stuff attached to the cigarette lighter and that was causing problems. I told them that I attached those things myself months ago and there had been no issues, so please try again. A day later, they tell me that the car was wired wrong but they resolved it and now everything was working except for the radio.

I told them to do me a favor and just unplug the battery for a few minutes and then tell me if the radio resets itself. They told me that they would need to diagnose the radio to see if it was shorted due to the incorrect wiring. I asked them to humor me and just unplug the battery to see if that resolves the issue. The radio still turns on, but no sound comes out of it, please just unplug the battery to reset it. The radio didn't short due to any incorrect wiring. Again they insisted that it should be diagnosed first and then see if it needs other service - for an extra charge.

I told them to don't touch anything else and please pick me up; I'll be taking my car back. They picked me up, I paid them for the diagnostic fee and then even more for clearing the codes. I told them all goodbye and checked if they unplugged the battery. My windows and sunroof were still synced, so no. I unplugged the battery and suddenly everything works as it should. I cleared the ESP codes by turning my steering wheel, re-synced my sunroof and windows and went on my way.

For my sanity, I plugged in the old A/C control module and it works perfectly fine. My only conclusion is that the Center Console went crazy and threw a whole mess of codes, that got cleared and the system works as it should again after everything got reset.

Here's my rub with R&H. They have excellent service, but they have a poor understanding of the W220. Couple that with completely ignoring a customer's request and you have a recipe for very expensive frustration.

Had they changed the EIS first, I MAY have not needed to replace the Gear Select Module. That was thousands of dollars worth of not listening, but I can't prove if the old Gear Select Module was not defective, so that point is moot. What it did raise was a red flag on the diagnostic expertise of R&H. When they diagnosed my car for a faulty A/C, I immediately called their bluff and bought one myself. They both worked and now they were scrambling for explanations. The lamest one they could come up with was incorrect wiring. They simply would not replace the center console, even if the part is known to fail and is covered under warranty.

While the loaner car is great, the free bottle of water, coffee and car wash are all dandy and gives a good customer front end experience; the actual "Mercedes Expertise" is lacking.

I can imagine going there, not knowing anything about my car, get my loaner and just go along with whatever repairs, pay them whatever money they want and have a "great experience."

However, the internet exists, I have their own service manuals and this forum has over a decade's worth of knowledge of what can go wrong with this car. There isn't much of any new issues that haven't really been covered. That the techs completely ignore a customer is not only arrogant, but ignorant if the information that can be pulled up at will through any mobile device at any time. While that doesn't make everyone an expert on their cars; it does make the wrong diagnosis glaringly obvious.

This is a long read, but the final thought is that if you're going to R&H, check to see if the diagnosis makes sense. If it doesn't, check elsewhere as I will from now on.
THIS is what we need to see here. What people did with their cars and where these experiences happened. "They are great!" doesn't cut it. Thanks for detailing what happened with R & H. I know that they are definitely focused on a great "experience" however that doesn't mean that the car is going to be fixed properly-- or even more importantly-- correct the FIRST time.

Have gone there for AC work on my W124 and it hasn't been that great of an experience. May detail later, however to be succinct, tons of extra repairs found that weren't necessary/needed. Also a coupon dispute, they ended up giving me a $150 credit that can only be used at the parts dept. Not going back any time ever.

· Registered
E320 Coupe
209 Posts
German Auto Service = nono / Benchmark Motors = yesyes

I have also found that German Auto Service on Dorsey Run Road in Jessup does very good work, but they are considerably more expensive than Chris and charge by the book instead of by the hour.
German Auto Service is a BIG nono. I originally went there because of the quick and cheap ($25 I think it was) oil changes. Then they started diagnosing work. It was all "needed" and having just bought my first E320 coupe I was like, alright, if you say so.

I liked the owners. A man and his wife. German.

There was one day-- shortly after they had just completed some work, $500 or so. I took it in because of one thing and the wife calls me frantically on the phone. And I am *not* kidding about the frantic part. "Your water pump is leaking BADLY!!!! We have to change it NOW!!!" I was actually physically tired while on the phone, and financially tired from the money *just* spent. Sounding exhausted and calm I just sighed "I can't do that right now, close it up and I'll come get it."

Got the car and everything seemed/felt a-ok. And remember at this point I knew absolutely NOTHING about this forum or specific W124 issues. On a whim, I thought up a way to get an un-biased second opinion.

Took it to Benchmark Motors in Columbia. Asked them to do an oil change. "Oh, by the way, can you look at the water pump to see how it is? Just look, nothing big."

Pick up the car and the folks say that the water pump is a-ok. To quote "bone dry". I told them why I asked and told them German Auto Service told me it was "leaking badly". Again, the tech says "bone dry". That was the day I stuck with Benchmark, 7 years ago.

They haven't always been perfect (I think Stuart broke my light once and tried to fix it with some weird putty, he never confessed to it, but when you're in the car 6,7,8 hours a day you get to know it like the back of your hand) but they have always been honest with me. They even helped me above and beyond on several occasions, one time with Maryland's crazy emissions requirements.

I appreciate them and can highly recommend them.
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