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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here is the problem, that is intermittent, I am dealing with on this Benz, just not sure if it is the shifter console or the transmission (was like that when I got the car and I don't know if there was any liquid spilled):
I start the car and put it in “R” and it engages with a clunk, backup lights don’t work and the indicator on the dash still shows “P”. I continue to shift to “D” and it engages again with a clunk while the dash still indicated “P” (even when in “N”). Car drives but doesn’t shift past 1st gear. I cannot shift the car back into “P” without overriding the gear shift console (screwdriver in override hole). I can hear clicking in the gear shift console when pressing the brake pedal and the brake light switch is new. When I shift into “R” and I see that the indicator on the dash doesn’t change, I am able to push the lever back to the “P” position without the need to override.
What I have been doing so far when I see that the indicated gear shift position doesn’t change when I shift into “R”, I put the lever back into “P”, turn off the engine and remove the key re-start the car, shift to “R” and continue the cycle 5-6 times until everything works as it should (backup lights work correctly at that point also). Sometimes I get lucky and everything works as it should on the first try, the position indicates correctly on the dash and there is no clunk when selecting either “R” or “D” and the car drives fine.
The 38-pin diagnostic port scan showed P1856 “Shift lever position detection failed”.
 

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1995 C280 (165K mi)
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1,540 Posts
What the hell?!?!? You bought it like this and you are driving the car with this serious trans problem?

Have you checked the transmission fluid/filter? How many miles?
 

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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
What the hell?!?!? You bought it like this and you are driving the car with this serious trans problem?

Have you checked the transmission fluid/filter? How many miles?
No, the car is not on the road. I am working on making it road worthy to relieve my 1994 E320 Coupe. The car is just shy of 115k miles. I saw that the previous owner must have had a transmission service done (red locking tab from transmission filler tube is missing). I need to let it warm up one day to check the fluid level (I have the dipstick tool from my previous 2001 E320).
 

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1999 C280, 2000 C280, 2000 C230K,2011 C300
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644 Posts
First thing to do is take a look underneath the car.

Do a quick check to make sure all the bushings in the shift linkage are intact. This is cheap $10 repair to make sure all the alignment is correct.

Check out the transmission wiring plug. If it's caked with oil, do the new plug, filter, oil change and hope that's all it is. The oil is the expensive part here.

Next would be the tranny valve body/electrical plate. Not too bad maybe $150 for the part. Recycle the new oil you just put in.

Final try would be a new shifter. This is a $600 item and a last resort.
 

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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
First thing to do is take a look underneath the car.

Do a quick check to make sure all the bushings in the shift linkage are intact. This is cheap $10 repair to make sure all the alignment is correct.

Check out the transmission wiring plug. If it's caked with oil, do the new plug, filter, oil change and hope that's all it is. The oil is the expensive part here.

Next would be the tranny valve body/electrical plate. Not too bad maybe $150 for the part. Recycle the new oil you just put in.

Final try would be a new shifter. This is a $600 item and a last resort.
Thank you.
Linkage is checked and bushings are there. I didn't see any oil around the tranny, but haven't taken the plate off that covers the plug. I already bought the new plug housing and was planning on changing it out when I do the service (I still need to check if the car has a torque converter plug in order to purchase the right amount of fluid).
I did a little more searching on the code and that one points to gear selector console. I might get a used one (they're redound $200) after checking the fluid level and plug.
 

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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Update: I checked a local junkyard and found they had a 2000 C280 sitting in the yard since about 3 weeks. I figured it wouldn't hurt to pay the $1 entry fee and check out the car. Well, the shifter was still installed, but the housing around it that is held by the security force screws was pretty messed up by someone who tried to remove it. I removed the shifter and swapped the plastic case with my original one (swapped the little circuit board also). Installed the shifter from the junkyard and indicated the gears correctly and there was no clunk putting the car in gear and the shifter did not lock. Took the car for a test drive in the neighborhood and it shifted fine. The junkyard gave me 50% discount on the busted up shifter which set me back a whopping $12.
 

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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Now I an focus on getting some maintenance done (transmission fluid and plug & oil change) and then on to some cosmetic repairs (headliner and some door trim).
 

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1999 C280, 2000 C280, 2000 C230K,2011 C300
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That headliner is an unfortunate needed repair. You'd think that should never be a problem but it is all too common. The shop that I took our 1999 C280 to said that Mini-Coopers are notorious for this. Our 2000 C280 now needs this repair but it is not dire yet. Shop was about $500 and used generic polyester.

This is a BIG job. Includes all the A,B and C pillars and sunroof. There are videos of guys managing to do it but it's a big job.

Here is my temp solution, a thin wooden slats from some window blinds.
 

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2000 C280 / 1994 E320 Coupe
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Not bad. The guy I bought the car from used large black spring paper clips to hold it up.
I think I'll try to remove the liner and take it to be recovered. That'll safe a lot of money.
 
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