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2000 CLK 320
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I have a huge problem on my hands. Lately, since it has been fall and all. I have been noticing that the inside of windshield (screen) has been full of a film. I'm not sure what the film is, and when it rains. I have mositure on the inside of my windshield. The mositure is on both sides (driver and passenger), but it is lower on the windshield. where the ducts are up front. I am scared it is a heater core as i had a similar problem in a 95 nissan altima. But I have not noticed any anti-freeze loss. and i have no malufunction warning either. Please help! Thanks guys.
 

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'11 Santa Fe LTD V6 AWD-Navi, '99 CLK 320 (traded for family mover), '96 200SX (SOLD) :(
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That is usually the tell tale signs of a damaged heater core. On the odd chance, it can sometimes happen with an improperly recharged a/c system which causes the the coil of the system to freeze creating a white mist from the vents. This sounds more like a heater core, mind you. It may be slight pinholes in the copper tubing/solder joints of the coil so you may not be able to distinguish a loss of coolant in the reservoir yet, or for a while still.

HTH,
Marc
 

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2000 CLK430 2010 S550 4matic
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If its a greasy/oily film sorry to say its the heater core. Since its pretty hard to completely turn the AC system off, unless you jack up the heat pretty high you won't know if its the AC system which also does have some oil in the system or the heater core. If dye is added to the ac system and checked with a light for leaks it could determine if the ac or coolant.

A heater core if leaking won't really dump that much fluid unless the hole is large enough for it to cause puddling on the floor. I had a VW GTI with a decent sized hole and the windscreen instantly fogged up and it eventually started leaking on the floor.

For the CLK the standard repair time is listed at something like 14 hours to do the job. The evaporator is probably the same. Pretty excessive but when you think you have to pull the dash and remove all the bits properly thats not far off. You'll also have to flush the coolant system and refill. Did my VW in under 7 but it was a pretty simple job - little electronics to worry about and nothing as complex as the CLK. Even when it was done not everthing electronically was the ever the same. VW wiring under the dash isn't wrapped neatly and it winds up like tangled spagetti. With all the actuators for the vents and the complex wiring I'd be pretty scared to do a CLK myself.
 

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2000 CLK 320
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Discussion Starter #4
This is what I am so scared of. 14 hours just of labor thats........ $1540 just from the dealership (labor). Im so screwed. And you are right, nothing will be the same when they take everything apart. I cant believe this would happen to a Mercedes-Benz. I'm so upset. Theres no way I can tackle this myself. I just wish I knew for sure if it was the heater core. The film isnt greasey or oily. I dont know how to explain it. But the water on the inside concerns me greatly. I just wish this wasnt happening to me. I wanted to put $800 in the front suspension this winter. This just sucks. However, I did have the A/C system worked on over the summer by the dealer. Ending up costing me $700. They replaced the reciever drier and a hose. plus freon+oil. so maybe thats a concern. But who knows. Im just really worried about this issue.
 

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2000 CLK430 2010 S550 4matic
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When the repairs start to add up like this its time to start thinking about getting rid of it. Lets face it - its a nice car but when you are talking about 2000 for a one time repair when the car is realistically worth maybe $6000 its not worth it. Just because its a Mercedes does not mean its going to last forever without repairs. 5 or 6 hundred to do the repair yes but not 2000. You'll never get it back when you sell and lets face it the car is 11 years old. With today's cars that have expensive electronics, complicated mechanical systems owning one a second past the warranty period is extremely risky.


If you have a WIS manual and the tech skills to do your own work they'll last and you only have to pay for parts. When you HAVE to take it to the dealer for everything an 11 year old car isn't worth owning. Its too expensive and it will put you into a hole that you'll never get out. My dad used to have a Jaguar XJ-S V12 - same situation it was about 10 years old and he doesn't know a thing about car repair. Car had super low mileage but after 10 years rubber starts to degrade and things start to wear out just from age not to mention Jags of that vintage used to rust and that never stops no matter if you attempt to fix it. His AC went out and had several bushings fail. Car was worth about what the repairs would have cost and those repairs were just the beginning of things to come - rust was starting to pop up. So I convinced him to sell it before it really took a turn and he wouldn't be able to get anything but salvage out of it.

I'll take my own advice in about 1 1/2 years when my bumper to bumper warranty expires. I'm on a second, the first paid out about 10000 in repairs and my car only has about 55K on the odometer. Paid only 1400 for that policy 6/100K. The second was about 1300 for a three year extension up to 90K So far they've paid out about 1500 for bearings, and motor mounts. So I'm about even on this one. Still have two years left and I like the car but I'm not attached to it if it will wind up costing too much to own.
 

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2000 CLK 320
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Discussion Starter #6
I am a very handy DIY guy, but when it comes to the heater core. I dont even want to mess with it! I am just so disappointed in this car. I truly do love it, but you are right. Its not worth putting over $2,000 into it. Im just so upset over this. I llove the feel of the power the car has, and all the looks i get when driving in it. Everyone says wow is that brand new. And wow nice car. I dont know what im going to do. I dont have an WIS of it, but on the other hand i could get it replaced at an indy for $1,500. What a shame though!
 

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'11 Santa Fe LTD V6 AWD-Navi, '99 CLK 320 (traded for family mover), '96 200SX (SOLD) :(
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This is a long shot, a real long shot...You could always take it back to them and ask them to review the work they did on the A/C and see if that is the problem. Good luck getting a dealership to admit to poor workmanship or a faulty part that they won't still find a way to make a buck off you from though. Happened to a good friend of mine, went in with his Envoy to have the compressor replaced, was convinced to buy the new version (not the reman one) because they can't guarantee the part won't fail. Two days later (literally) it failed, they still charged him a second round of labour to replace it again. Needless to say he now drives a new F-150 after trading it in...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, i just dont know what I am going to do. I'll probably get it pressure tested to see if there is a leak. I might take it back to the dealer. I just wish i knew what this problem was. Let me ask you guys this question. If it was the heater core leaking, wouldnt I get a sweet/bad smell/odor when my heat is on? Wouldn't I be able to smell it?
 

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As I posted earlier. Generally if its the heater core you'd pretty much know it. Oily, sometimes smoky film on windshield and you'd eventually get some fluid on the carpet. With the AC system if it has a leak you will hear a hiss when the system turns on.

Another thing you may want to consider and its a long shot is that your drains may be clogged and water is sitting in somewhere in the airbox(s). That would definately produce some humidity and it would eventually wind up on the windscreen. Do you have any strange smells - musty odor etc. Put the heater on FULL high and run it for several minutes. I'm not sure how to test if the drains are clogged or even where they are. But it may be a starting point. Hopefully the cheaper route. Nevertheless if there is water somewhere in the fanbox, evap or corebox it would be in you best interest to get rid of it ASAP because corrosion (external) is very likely - then you will need some major work.

I know this sounds a little strange but when the condensation is on the windows - taste it. Its not going to kill you or anything - but it will help id what the material is. I'd pretty much rule out the heater core if your description is accurate. When they go its a nasty mess - sometimes black smoke and its definately oily. When the AC system goes its a clear odorless gas and it just difusses and you end up with an empty system. Check for water - seems to me its the most reasonable explaination.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Stim141, you are a genuis when it comes to this problem :). Well, I was on my way to class this morning 8:00am, and it was snowing (barely) but snowing. When class got out at 10am i opened the car to see mositure on the windscreen again. It quickly dried up when the heat was on it. But what are these drain holes you are talking about? I do every now and then get a(n) exhaust kind of smell into the car (or a really weird smell). I always wondered what it was. Next time that I have water on the windshield I will taste it and see what it is. But If i could get a little more information on these drain holes, that would be great! Or if you guys can point me in the thread too. Again, thank you guys so much.
 

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Well thats a start and it may be encouraging news but don't get too excited yet.

There are a few but more than likely the evaporator chamber is suspect. There should be a drain located on the firewall that drains any condensate out of the box which holds the evaporator. Water there is normal but it should exit the car as it drips off the coils. Think this is the only way water should legitamately get into the car. The others are more problematic - like the sunroof drains which run into the car but should exit the car. If they are loose/broken water will drain into the body of the car and you would see it on the floor. Don't know if there is a drain from the airbox (exterior) but that should drain out of the car (from rain). If it was broken or loose you would notice water on the floor somewhere.

If you don't see water on the floor my first guess would be to check the evaporator drain. If you have a cabin air filter dirt shouldn't get in there and clog up the drainhole but who knows what sort of stuff may be in there. Also the drainflap could have been dislodged or is stuck - who knows? Would be be my first check.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Does the evaporator chamber involve taking apart the whole dash? I wonder if there is a DIY out there about this. Now the evaporator drain I saw a few pictures of it from BENSIN's post, but i am still totally confused. I just changed the cabin filter about 8 months ago, so its basically new. What's the drainflap you are talking about?
 

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If the water is coming in (as in Bensin's fault) because of blocked drains in the air intake area, your heater system will soon turn it into condensation on the inside of the windows.

It is very easy to check for blockage in there. Typically leaves at this time of year.
 

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No it drains out of the car I think at the firewall (engine) side. On the CLK I don't know where it exits but you don't have to take anything apart. If you were able to get to your airfilter you should be able to feel around in there and see if its moist. Also take a flashlight and shine it in the box. Try that first, then move on to looking at the engine bay firewall for a roundish plug with a flap. Others here might have a better description or location.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Keyhole, What are the drain holes everyone is talking about? How do I access these to see if anything is clogged. How do I take apart and clean them? Thank you for your help. Im just not sure about the film on my windscreen. Its definatiley a film. But it doesnt taste sweet. It for sure is coming from my ventsthough. I can see how the film looks. It's all streaky, as it it was blowing from the vents. So i know its coming frmo my vents. and plus the way the film is, you can see its coming straight up from the bottom to top. So i just dont know how to deal with this.
 

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Do us a favor if you could - take a photo during the daytime with the film on the windshield (inside and out) it will help determine if its just water or something else. Also put a piece of paper towel over the vent and collect the vapor.

Generally if its just moisture it won't cover the entire windshield because the water vapor is just too heavy to coat the entire thing. Water vapor would just extend partially up and the heat from the defroster (which you should run during the test) would evaporate the water. It will as well evaporate if you run the defroster. The other thing - if it hasn't rained recently and you run your defroster the water in the airbox will eventually dryout and everything should be fine if it hasn't rained or the AC hasn't collected humid air the box is more than likely pretty dry.

If it doesn't evaporate its something else like oil either PAG from the A/C or the ethylene Glycol from the antifreeze which wouldn't evaporate. In this case you have a major problem with system leakage.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thats what i am afarid of! I am noiticing an exhaust smell through my vents, what if exhaust is getting in through my vents? I'm just trying to figure out all possiblities. Another thing, the film is VERY faint, I can only see it when the suns starts to set and it isnt that light out. But when i run my finger through there, i can smear it. But, i 3will attempt to get a good picture tonight and post it for you guys. or tomorrow for sure. I need to get this resolved. I cant have this going the way it is when its -10 out. its 20 right now. this couldnt have come at a worst time. But i should have a photo tonihgt for you guys.
 

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Its not water vapor but a film. The exhaust smell? It could be the smell of the antifreeze burning off the heater core. When my VW went it definately didn't smell sweet and it almost was a grey smoke that came out of all the vents. If you have a super small pinhole that would cause it and because of the leak size it wouldn't drop the coolant level because the amount exiting the core is very small. Again put the paper towels over the defroster vents to contain the vapor.

Looking at the parts list for the heater system there are a few area that could leak. The first is something called the "heater pipe" look at the link below. Seems as though there are hoses going to it and then it goes though the firewall. If it leaks there it would cause the same symptoms of say a leaking core.

http://www.germanautoparts.com/Mercedes/2000/208.365/H2/7570/19399606


I'd make a bet and say it was the heater core at this point with the information you've provided but post the pictures. If you had a second car and didn't care how long the job would take the 30 so for the WIS on eBay and the part would be a good investment if the core was in fact leaking. The 14 or so hours the dealer charges would make me think about getting it fixed. Even if the part above was causing a problem I still think you have to pull the dash to change it out.
 

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Well its only bad news I'm afraid and the photos do help. First I'd rule out water vapor and more than likely you have a small coolant leak and its evaporating residue when its heated on the core. Since its clear and oily it could also be leakage from the AC evaporator - its hard to tell or predict from the photos. Although freon is colorless it is mixed with oil and that could be spraying out of the vent with a large leak. You have to test that with a light test. Generally they would have injected a small amount of yellow dye into the AC system if they were testing for leaks in the past. They also have a sniffer machine that can "smell" freon gas. Test is more sophisticated and AC shops have the equipment. Since someone did some work before I'd take it back if its within a year or close. You may have a leaking o ring somewhere. I believe its the evaporator because you mentioned that when you parked the car you had condensation on the outside of the window as well as the film on the inside.

In both cases a repair isn't going to be cheap. If its the evaporator, the dash I think still has to be pulled in the CLK and the dash has to definately be pulled with the heater core.

You could do a really cheap scientific test by taking a paper towel and seal the defroster vents with the paper towels - kindof block the vent so that the gas/whatever collects on the towel. Wait a day and put the towel in a small container of water - push the towel down in the container and wait a 1/2 hour. See if an oily film floats to the surface. If it does its the PAG oil from the AC system. There shouldn't be any oil in antifreeze that I know of and I don't think any burnt residue would float as oil in water. Since antifreeze is supposed to be solvent in water - meaning it will mix it shouldn't separate from the water the collected material in the paper will not float out of the water. This is pretty much a theory but if you follow my logic it should be a valid test.

Now if it is oil it will take a while for the system to completely leak out and the residue will eventually stop. The system will have to be evaculated and a new evaporated put in. If its the heater core the hole will eventually get worse and eventually grow to the point the coolant will not gas out and will remain liquid - then it will appear on your carpets. Before that happens the dash blow out smoke and cloud the windshield. The AC system probably the least worrysome because you can still drive the car with the ac system empty. You cannot drive the car with a busted coolant line that is flowing into the car.

Once you have the results - call around and find out about replacing the evaporator. I'll check the alldata repair site tomorrow and see the number of hours to do the evaporator. The time will determine if the dash needs to be pulled.

It could be worse - a transmission that needs to be replaced/rebuilt, a blown engine or the car is in an accident and its totalled. Try to buy another one with the money the insurance company coughs up - not even close!
 
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