Mercedes From Hell – Last I’ll Ever Buy

I’ve been a happy Mercedes Benz driver for about 40 years now. A couple of the old mechanical diesels (built like a tank and many going 1/2 million to 1 million miles); a couple of gas wagons, a “baby benz”. The latest is the newest, a 2008 ML320 Diesel (CDI) bought to be a Tow Vehicle (there was a long mulling over in prior postings).

Well, it DID tow a load to Florida… but the last 60 miles or so started to have an “odd problem”. The first indication this was going to be problematic was when the Trailer Rental folks could not get the trailer lights to work. Turns out it needs a “special” “Euro” adapter. See the lights are not just wired with copper wires to turn on the one who’s switch is closed. Nope. They are on a network of some sort. There’s a computer in there talking over a network and deciding what’s working, what’s not, and what ought to be turned on. So you need a special RV pin round connector to 4 pin flat connector or you get no lights as the computer isn’t happy.

It also had gone to “limp mode” a couple of times and that had the turbo gasket changed and a valve of some kind in the turbo replaced. Call it about $1000 with the change of fuel filter (that has sensors and wires to it…) and air filter and such.

Then lately it started getting worse. Sporadic misfires, that then caused some differential pressure sensor in the turbo boost circuits to administratively decide the amount of pressure was not what was expected (since a misfire changes the pressure) and again go to limp mode. This was taking days to manifest, so the mechanic I went to agreed I’d drive it a lot more until the failure became more pronounced.

So I went to Tennessee and then down to near Miami and back. It now fails rapidly after start in the morning. More on that in a minute…

Between the turbo fix and the sporadic misfiring, there was the day the car just did NOT want to unlock or open up at all. The Battery was DEAD. How, after driving 3000 miles, did it die when parked for a couple of days? Well… At the Mercedes (st|d)ealer I was informed that if left for a single month, most new Mercedes will kill the battery (partly it depends on how many Mercedes key fobs walk by and need interrogation / partly on if ANY of a few dozen things get stuck on sucking juice). I got a nice new battery installed and that was “only” about $400. See, it is under the passenger seat. It has piping to bring it cooling air. You get to cut the carpet under the passenger seat to get to it. Oh, and you get to re-train things like windows and such after a battery swap. To jump start it, I had to discover there’s a “Special” set of connectors under the hood. But I digress.

It is POSSIBLE that the battery drained from the rear hatch closing motor / relay thing sporadically trying to latch the rear hatch. Sometime after the dealer visit (and perhaps during it…) this latch failed. The Benz Forum says they fail all the time. Getting a couple of years on one is about what to expect. Dealer wants $1000 for the part… I found one on-line for “only” $280. It’s about an hour of DIY labor or about $300 at the dealer shop to have it installed. So that might be it. Or not.

By this point I’m about $2500 of “repairs”. Call it about $1 / mile. BUT, there’s a lot more to come..

Remember that drive down to near Miami and back? Well, once there, the key fob would not lock the doors. Nor unlock them. This vehicle has ONE key lock, the drivers door, where a mechanical key can be used. IF your fob fails and that lock isn’t working Just Fine, you are hard core locked out. In my case, the mechanical key would not LOCK the door. I’m hoping this is just an administrative lock out by some “I’m not feeling well” computer code… But for now, I can get in and out and start the motor and such. Just can’t lock the car… and I’m sure nobody would want to steal the stereo or backpacks or anything from a Mercedes… /sark;

See that mis-fire has not been fixed yet. The “code” thrown last check was EGR Valve, but that may or may not be it. $400 or so to find out. This morning, I was going to drive it preparatory to delivery to a mechanic [NOT the (st|d)ealer] to have the thing fixed.

Got in. Started up. Pulled out… it took about 1/4 mile for the AC to start working, then worked very well… but longer than usual to get going. Then I noticed the Fuel Gauge was saying “out of gas”, which was odd as I had 600 mile range on an almost full tank when parked. Turning onto the highway, noticed the turn signals were not doing their blinking thing. Decided to pull over and check some things. Found out the car has 3 or maybe 4 fuse boxes (engine bay, battery pre-fuse box under the passenger seat, rear quarter panel in the luggage area, in the end of the dash on the passenger side (blunt tool needed to access) and likely one other pre-fuse box I’ve forgotten under the hood somewhere. The fuse guide is in the tool kit under the carpet / rear deck of the wayback, not in the manual…

So I drove it home and backed into the parking space… which is when I found out the reverse camera wasn’t working.

Looking into all this, it seems the car has 3 (or maybe more?) SAM Modules. Signal Acquisition Module. Near as I can tell, these are the tiny little brains that decide to allow things to work when you make requests via the nobs, switches, levers, etc. When they fail, all hell breaks loose. It seems they fail often. But don’t worry, usually it’s under $1000 for one of them. They have been using them since “the mid 90’s” so be warned.

Symptoms of a defective Mercedes SAM unit

center dashboard buttons don’t work bad sam This is a list of a few possible SAM related problems. All systems on a Mercedes-Benz are controlled via CAN Bus and SAM units, and any issue that you may experience could very well be due to a defective SAM unit. SAM units don’t frequently fail unless there is water intrusion or other problems.

Here are a few problems caused by a bad SAM unit:

Fuel Level / Gauge not working – The sending unit installed in the gas tank records the fuel level. In cars without CAN / SAM, the signal is sent directly to the instrument cluster via two wires. On Mercedes-Benz, the signal has to be sent to the rear SAM since it is the closest unit in the Controller Are Network. From here the fuel level data can be sent to the instrument cluster or the engine control unit for computing remaining distance based on fuel level.
Lights not working – We have seen many Mercedes-Benz where one or a few lights don’t work. It can be that the left or right low beams, fog lights or turn signals may not work. You should always avoid splicing wires to get power for aftermarket HID lights, alarm or connecting a trailer hitch.
Fuse Keeps Blowing – If you have a fuse that keeps on blowing, it is possible that the SAM module is defective and needs to be replaced.
Poor key fob / keyless entry range – The key lock and unlock signal for the doors is transmitted via the rear antenna. The antenna is connected to the rear SAM module and a short in the wiring can cause damage to the SAM unit. If this is your dilemma, you may notice a blown antenna fuse. Especially if you replace the fuse and it keeps on blowing. Don’t use a higher ampere rating fuse to try to fix this problem.
Battery Drain – A defective SAM module can cause battery drain when a Mercedes-Benz is parked overnight or for several days. Other possibilities should be eliminated such as a defective audio gateway unit or a bad power seat motor.
Taillights staying on – If one or both of your tail lights stay on all the time it is possible that your rear SAM unit is defective. Other symptoms of a bad rear SAM include doors showing open all time, even when the doors are closed.
Center Dashboard Buttons don’t work – Currently, we are working on an S-Class in which all the center buttons ( hazard light, head restraint, AIRMatic switch etc.) don’t work. In this case, we are not getting any communication with the module which most likely is an issue with the SAM unit.
Mercedes Blowing Only Cold Air – This problem could be caused by a defective front SAM module. Before you replace the front SAM module, also check (changeover/duo valve) water valve first.
SAM Module Explained
Think of SAM as the router in your home. All your devices network printers, phones, computers (switches, window motors, sensors, etc) communicate with each other via your router. If you hit print on your PC, the data (signal) gets sends to your network printer via the wireless router (SAM unit). You may also hear the term CAN Bus which stands for Controller Area Network. Think of CAN Bus as that ethernet cables and wi-fi that make up your home network communication possible.

Not all cars have SAM & Controller Area Network. That would be the same as connecting your printer directly to your computer via a USB cable.

Mercedes SAM Module Location, Purpose

location of sam module Where is SAM module located on a Mercedes-Benz? The location of the SAM module depends on the Mercedes-Benz chassis. Most SAM modules are usually installed by the fuse box. Mercedes-Benz cars may have a rear and front SAM module.

Left SAM in located in engine compartment. It handles left front lights, side light, a rear air outlet, illumination, glove compartment lock illumination, light switch, steering column adjustment motor group, ESP, SPS and BAS control, AIRMATIC with ADS control unit, ABC control unit. Left SAM also receives signal data from the left front brake pad contact sensor, A/C pressure sensor, refrigerant temperature sensor, brake fluid indicator, outside temperature sensor and parking brake indicator switch. Low beam is handled left SAM.
Right SAM is in the engine bay. Handels right, front lights and the side light, center console storage, lights in the glove box and eyeglass compartment, ashtray and footwell. It also handles pumping for the windshield washer nozzle and pumping water for the Headlamp Cleaning System, radiator fan for coolant, the fan for transmission oil cooler, and the circulation pump for the heating system delivery unit. Monitors right front brake pad wear sensor, coolant level indicator with windshield washer fluid level indicator and Anti-Theft Alarm, hood switch. Low beam communication is handled by the right SAM,
Rear SAM is typically under the right rear seat. Handels communication with trailer recognition control unit, ESP, SPS and BAS. It communicates with the overhead control panel. It controls rear lights, closing the trunk and fasten seat belts indications; fuel tank level sending unit, a tilt sensor Anti-Theft Alarm inclination sensor, door contact switches, and the rear brakes wear sensor. (Source:
Top 4 Problems that cause SAM failure
Go to top
Corrosion – It is possible that the SAM control module may have gotten wet, corroded and eventually failed. Typically this is caused because repair is performed in near the SAM control unit. If the SAM modules are not closed and sealed, properly they will eventually corrode. If a SAM module fails due to corrosion, at first you may notice that electrical problems are intermittent.
Excessive current draw – SAM control units don’t fail often. Other than physical damage or corrosion the next most likely cause to make your SAM unit fail is an excessive current draw. If you’ve done modifications to your Mercedes-Benz or have a module that is drawing too much current that can damage your SAM unit.
Broken wires – Broken wires or shorts can cause your SAM module to fail due to excessive current draw.
Incorrect SAM coding – If you just had your MB serviced and now you have a different problem it is possible that there is a programming issue. During a repair a technician may have reprogramed a new sensor but they didn’t complete all the needed programming. If this is your situation, t is important to read all fault codes before you start doing any troubleshooting on your Mercedes-Benz.
The #1 problem that causes SAM units to fail is water intrusion (corrosion).

Don’t be surpprised if you replace your SAM module and a few months later it fails again. Try to find the cause of the problem if you don’t want for the problem to reapear.

Troubleshooting SAM Control Unit
mercedes sam unit locationFinding the root of the problem that caused a SAM to fail can be difficult. Finding Mercedes SAM related problems is not as simple as using a multimeter to check voltage and continuity.

Step 1:

If you are having electrical problems, you should always check all the fuses and relays first.

Step 2:

Write down your symptoms and research the problem that you have. Do you notice several problems such as windows not working, turn signals, fog lights, fuel gauge. In cases when the SAM unit is defective you may see several problems that at first don’t seem related. Just replacing your Mercedes SAM unit is more cost effective than opening it up to narrow it down and fix your existing unit.

Step 3:
Next to confirm that the SAM unit is defective you should read the fault codes. For this you will need to see a mechanic that has Mercedes Star Diagnostic or use a scanner such as iCarsoft MB II. The fault codes will have enough information to tell you if this is a SAM module problem or not. Note that a generic OBDII code reader is not able to pull fault codes from the 40+ control unit and SAM related fault codes on your Mercedes-Benz.

The following video shows you how to read and clear codes from the Air Bag control unit. You can follow the same procedure to read and clear codes from any module including Front and Rear SAM. If you are having Mercedes-Benz problems, make sure to pull the codes from all the control units not just from the SAM module.

Note that not all control units available for Mercedes-Benz cars will be installed on your Mercedes-Benz. For example, you may not have DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control on your MB even though that option was available for your model. If you try to connect to the Distronic Plus control unit to read codes you should get a message that says this module is not available.

Replacing a Mercedes SAM unit can be expensive. You should eliminate any other possible issues and even get a second opinion before you replace the SAM unit.

No Communication with SAM module

If you get an error message that no communication with the SAM module exists, it means that the SAM is defective or it is not getting power.

In the early model years, you could replace the SAM unit with a used SAM from another Mercedes-Benz and not worry about any programming. Newer Mercedes-Benz models require SAM module programming and the new SAM unit will need to be coded with the Sofware Calibration Number (SCN). You will need to contact the dealer if you need a new SAM. An alternative is to buy a “virgin” SAM module and have a mechanic that has Star Diagnostic perform SCN coding and installation for you.
Cost to replace Mercedes SAM module

The cost to replace a SAM module can vary greatly. Not only does it depend on if it is a front, left, right or rear SAM. It also depends on the model and most importantly if the SAM unit requires reprogramming. Therefore a defective SAM may cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars to be replaced.

Is the dealer the only option to get install a new SAM?
If your SAM unit needs to be coded, you will need to have it programmed. The dealer is not your only option. If you have a mechanic in your area that has an authorized MB Star DAS scanner, they will be able to perform SAM module programming and SCN coding.
MarceloFebruary 19, 2018 at 2:06 pm
Hi! I have a s320cdi 2001 and the battery drains over night, I checked battery it’s good. Do you think it’s SAM unit??

Mercedes MedicMay 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm
It could be. One system is not going to sleep. Check for a parasitic draw at the fuse box to find out which system.

Dustin FJanuary 30, 2018 at 2:05 pm
My headlights, fog lights and taillights will not turn off even when in the 0 position and when the key is out of the ignition. The green fog light indicator will not turn off. I quickly locked and unlocked the doors via the button inside the car and the lighting issues seemed to be connected… I have to disconnect the battery to avoid a deal car.

Malik GordonJanuary 3, 2018 at 5:06 pm
Spilled water from 5 gallon jug in back, I believe SAM module damaged. Turn signals don’t work, rear view camera doesn’t work, satellite radio comes on and goes off when I turn engine off, fans seem very loud when I start car!! Battery seems to barely push correct voltage to starter. ML550 Merc.Benz 2008.

isaiahDecember 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm
i have a 2002 clk430 w208 and my windows, top, and alarm are not working i was told it is my rear sam? but I cant find it,any help would be nice. i just got the car. The battery was dead. I got the car from a donation action.

They can make your turn signals fail, your lights generally do strange things, can cause engine grief and key fobs to not work right. In general, all those excessive electrical and computerized gizmos to go nuts. And then you have a devil of time figuring out what is really wrong. Oh, and some of them can only be replaced and reprogrammed by the Dealer…

So I’m now thinking that’s the most likely cause for this cluster eff of failures.

We’ll find out in about a week when it goes to the NON_Dealer shop for diagnosis / repair and or junking. Until then, it just sporadically goes into limp mode, has no turn signals and some other gear like backup cameras, and anything might go nuts at any time… What Quality! (Or perhaps “What quality?” and certainly “What? Reliability? Nah…”)

I think there’s a Ford or Dodge / Ram Diesel in my future. Likely from before 1990…

I’ll certainly never ever buy any Mercedes newer than about 1990 IFF I ever buy another one at all. I just can’t abide bad failure prone design and unreliable cars.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Human Interest. Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to Mercedes From Hell – Last I’ll Ever Buy

  1. tregonsee says:

    It doesn’t take high tech to make a lemon. My 1966 MB 200D blew 2 engines over the space of 5 years. In neither case would MB help or admit a problem. The second time, it went to a local hobbiest who rebuilt German cars. Got a call a few months later. He had pulled the engine, and discovered that the motor mount bolts had been drilled out of line, placing a huge stress on the main bearings. MB response: “Can’t have happened. Sue us.”

  2. Ossqss says:

    Try and clear the codes with an OBD scanner. Low voltage from a bad battery can have a cascade effect on some things. A reset can sometimes help.

  3. cdquarles says:

    I second the notion of having an on-board diagnostic device handy if you have a newer model vehicle (meaning mid-70s or newer, particularly 1980s or newer). My nephew has one. Sure, there are businesses that will let you use theirs, but they’re expecting you to buy parts or otherwise do business with them, at some point. The machines are about $100 locally.

  4. jim2 says:

    Old fashioned levers, cables, and hydraulics are just fine. A small, limited computer in a car seems to be OK, but once you hook just about everything up to it, you get a mess.

  5. philjourdan says:

    Yea Caddy’s are just as funky. To change the battery you have to hook it up to a charger because if the car looses all power, everything resets! That is why it costs so much. Like changing a front light bulb – that requires removing the front grill!!!!

    It is the wife’s car, but I will never own one.

  6. Foyle says:

    Modern BMW and Mercedes are not long-term reliable. They are designed to satisfy initial purchasers, hang together for 5-10 years, but beyond that it’s in the lap of the gods, and the Canbus based electronics and controllers are horribly unreliable and expensive to diagnose and fix.

    If you want long term reliability and serviceability you are probably best off with biggest manufacturers like Toyota or GM

  7. jim2 says:

    Wikipedia says the CAN bus is robust. It must be so!

  8. another ian says:

    There was a very sarcastic Clarkson comment that woks me up to “Mercedes reliability”

  9. yarpos says:

    The CAN bus itself is very robust. However once you build a complex tree of interconnected modules controlling all the modern must have functions, you create a diagnostic nightmare.

    A friend had his AMG merc in the dealers for 3 weeks after a failed software update. They didnt even offer him a loaner.

  10. Ossqss says:

    @EM, you are welcome to use my Innova scanner if you like. Of course, you could probably buy one for the gas money needed to pick it up. I may be in Lakeland next week too.

    Any reputable Autoparts place will have a quality scanner they use to help folks figure out what parts they may need. Most all of them have the ability to reset codes.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    It’s had the codes reset a couple of times. Once or twice in California (before the turbo reseal / valve thing) and at least once at the Mercedes Dealer here (doing battery swap and some other bits like filter changes). It will be reset again at The Mechanic I’m now using instead of the Dealer…

    I’ve thought of getting a scanner, but really just thought I had a lot more time. (Like time to get a house with garage…). For now, I’m just going to pay the mechanic.

    Given the “rate of accumulating failures” I’m seriously considering just calling it a write off (as it was bought for one thing only, moving goods to Florida, and I’m not confident in using it for that at this time…) and doing the Rental Big Ass Truck instead. At this point it would likely cost less than getting this thing all fixed up…

    So I see this going one of 3 ways:

    1) Mechanic says “It’s this SAM and that lock motor and your good. Call it $900” and I pay it.

    2) Mechanic says “Danged if I know for sure, but throw $4000 at it and I’m sure we can fix it”. It becomes a Hangar Queen until such time I I do the work myself or part it out.

    3) Mechanic says “Oh Gawd, this is a horrible mess and it’s going to get worse” and I say “Know anyone who wants one to work on or part out?”

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @PhilJourdan & Foyle:

    My experiences with GM and what I’ve read in reviews means I’ll never buy one of them, either.

    Looking up Pickup Diesels, the reliability reviews showed a general trend. For Ford & Dodge Cummins: Old mechanical injection was most reliable / least cost to repair. As they moved to Common Rail and then more computer control and piezoelectric injectors, reliability went down. So it was Recommended to get the older versions. For GM Products, no era was classed as reliable and all were ranked as “Avoid”.

    Yes, I know, there’s a lot of GM Diesels in pickups out there running today. But it’s an odds thing…

    In one case I was looking to buy an old used Suburban Diesel. It didn’t run (due to the sellers Ex undoing some connectors and things). I re-attached the starter cables and re-did a couple of things. Along the way, my elbow LIGHTLY hit the Transmission Cooling Pipe where it joined the radiator. It popped off and began leaking. I quickly covered it with a finger then reattached it. There was NO Fitting welded / soldered to the aluminum transmission oil cooler. Just a bent flange of the metal for the pipe nut to screw into. Flimsy as shit and THAT was all that stood between you and a new transmission bill… I also noticed that all the electrical connectors were open to the elements. Even my old $400 Honda Trail Bike had plastic sleeves over them to prevent corrosion and water damage. It was designed to rust up and fail.

    So I gave the lady her keys back, told her the car now ran, and that I didn’t want it…

    That’s generally been my experience with GM products. Built as cheaply as possible.

    So I’m looking at Ford & Dodge Ram for future tow vehicles, as needed. Probably as old as I can get and still be in decent shape. (Fewest electronics possible). I’d be more interested in Toyota if they had a higher towing capacity and came in a Diesel… but may settle for gas.

  13. John Robertson says:

    I run a Ford 7.3l diesel everyday,have another one for road trips..
    They just won’t quit.
    So far every breakdown/annoyance has been fixed at home and while the OB2 type code readers do not work on them,it turns out every “Chip” upgrade package doubles as a code reader.
    As a friend gave me one his son had uploaded the “Performance” package from and then sold the truck..Reads and clears codes just fine.
    Not that they throw codes very often.
    Keep the oil clean and they just keep slobbering through the diesel.

  14. another ian says:

    I got this comment from a friend

    “I met that with a second hand Audi”

    So looks like another brand you don’t want to know

  15. another ian says:

    This site has periodic comments on what is what with pickups. No doubt others

  16. bob sykes says:

    Buy a Subaru, or any Japanese or South Korean car.

    You sound like a friend of mine (now RIP) who had an MG. It was always in the shop. I drove a Miata, which was the perfect roadster.

  17. pauligon59 says:

    CANbus is pretty robust. It is used on many aerospace products. The difficulty canbe in troubleshooting a CANbus that is anything but point to point. One noisy transmitter can make like some other node on the bus is malfunctioning. When we used it on our aircraft we learned a LOT about failure modes.

    That said, the biggest problem with troubleshooting was the data concentrators – also known as signal aquisition modules. These puppies usually talk to multiple data busses, discretes, analog sensors, relays, etc. and pass back along to a primary controller where most of the logic exists. So a failure of a signal used by the primary controller (which is where your error codes are generated for your code readers) could be anywhere on the connection between the controller, the SAM, and the particular device the SAM is talking to. You can solve this problem by adding redundancy and independent fault detection paths, but those add cost, components, and software complexity. Not to mention that more components means more things that can fail.

    Keeping costs down is one of the major criteria for designs so they likely also have a dumb SAM incapable of deciding whether it is working or not.

    The aerospace systems I worked on used a pretty complex SAM design with cross checking processors and lots of built in test hardware and software intended to make it very unlikely that the module could fail op without also annunciating a fault to the maintenance system that indicated exactly what problem it saw. That helped alot with troubleshooting the aircraft.

    We selected the CANbus because of its popularity in the automotive world as well as availability of components. lots of SOC parts that come with at least one CANbus built in.

    If cars are like aircraft, the drive to reduce manufacturing cost push the designers to doing control by wire, rather than cables and such. You spend the effort on robust cable plants that just plug into the modules at the appropriate spots in the vehicle.

    Look for more of the same sort of issues showing up in all modern cars.

  18. jim2 says:

    One thing about aircraft vs cars, aircraft can afford the extra parts for a better fail safe system. You probably won’t see that from the auto makers. Go back to older car designs with few computers.

  19. YMMV says:

    Cars have had problems with electricity since before electronics existed. Modern electronics, no matter whether in cars or anything else — it’s so easy and programmable for the manufacturer. But for the consumer, there is no “fix” anymore; it’s all “replace”. No matter how trivial the problem or the fault, the solution is to replace the whole unit to see if that helps. Maybe. Troubleshooting is hard. Troubleshooting intermittent problems is harder.

  20. Lynn Clark says:

    Oh yeah, the good ol’ SAM module. I had a 2002 C32 AMG — the best car I’ve ever owned and sorely miss it — which needed a SAM module replacement when the door locks stopped working. IIRC the door-lock controlling SAM module in that car is located underneath the head liner just in front of the rear window. One Mercedes dealer wanted over $1,000 to replace it and needed to order one from Germany. Another dealer across town had one in stock and did the replacement for $400 while I waited. Lucked out on that one, the only time I ever got the car out of a (st|d)ealer shop for less than $1,000. Guess which dealer’s service I used after than (until I found an even cheaper independent, former MB mechanic to service the car).

  21. H.R. says:

    Good to see the lurkers chime in. Thanks, y’all.

    We had some of this conversation on diesel-powered vehicles when I was shopping for something to tow a big, but yet-to-be-chosen 5th wheel. A lot of people here gave me their best advice based on experience. (Thanks!)

    Terry Jackson and Gail Combs, who had direct experience with Cummins diesels, recommended Cummins, which meant going with a RAM truck. I had owned a Ford Ranger, F-150, and F-250 and liked them a lot. I had good experiences with repairs at dealer and indie shops. But they were all gas jobbies.

    The chatter here was that Cummins was the way to go, because diesel was what Cummins did, and that’s all they did. I bought a Cummins, which happened to come attached to a RAM truck. I have zero regrets as of today.

    I do “lust in my heart” (cf Jimmah Cahtah) for a VW Golf TDI (hatchback) that was dumped because of the “pass-the-test” fiasco, VW should have never caved on that. “Yuz wanna’d us ta pass da test? We passed da test. Eat my shorts.”

    Anyhow, good luck, E.M.

    Know when to hold up. Know when to fold up. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.

  22. Sandy McClintock says:

    We had trouble with a VW SUV towing a camper trailer in Australia. I had replaced the globes at the rear of the trailer with LEDs. It caused crazy things to happen e.g. cruise-control stopped working. When I replaced the LEDs with incandescent globes all went back to normal. I was told something about the sensors reporting unusual resistance or current when LED-brake-lights were activated.
    @EM do you have LEDs? Would it be worth trying old globes?

  23. H.R. says:

    @Sandy Mc: Interesting point. I know a lot of controllers look for voltage in a certain range to give an ‘OK’ and pass the ladder logic on to the next step.

    If the voltage is too low or too high, they call a halt until the voltage comes in at the defined range.

    I have experience with this on certain machinery (not autos, though), and it was the cause of a few ‘drive-you-crazy’ intermittent failures. Intermittent failures are the worst kind, as just about everyone knows.

  24. Graeme No.3 says:

    50 years ago (1971) I remember a (very) German migant lady in the laboratory sold her 1947 Mercedes diesel with 810,000 miles on the clock. Got over $400 for it. (figure the inflation!).
    It had been used by 2 sales reps. who did country runs from Adelaide e.g. 200 miles to Port Pirie then occasionally a bit more (by road) to Port Lincoln.(or much the same to Renmark or Mt. Gambier). She had used it for 4 years and it was still in excellent running condition.
    The other thing I recall was one of the (higher ranked, but cheekier and smaller than her) factory workers falling fowl of Mrs. Damm and retreating to hiding when she came looking for him to tell him off. He complained to the Production Manager that “she should be barred from the factory in case she raped someone”.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bob Sykes:

    I already have a Subaru Forester (2001 – last year of limited slip differential in the rear) and LOVE it. We, spouse & me, have already decided any future CARS we get will be Subaru (though not newer than about 2008. That giant tablet in the dash that you must navigate to run the car in newer years is just not for us… and the CVT Constantly Variable Transmission in new ones doesn’t do nearly as well off road). Cost to repair is low, reliability is high. Currently still in California having some body and paint repair / touch up prior to moving it to Florida and humid rust land where dings and such rust if not “touched up”. It will be my Daily Driver once I get it here. (fly in, drive back ;-) hopefully camping along the way with the camping stuff from storage)

    Son has a Hyundai and loves it, so will consider them.

    But the big issue (and why I bought the ML 320 CDI) is we wanted over 7000 lbs towing capacity. Can’t get that in small Asian brands. Even the Toyota pickups I looked at (though did not look at their biggest / newest due to prices and availability then…)

    Since, as of right now, one BIG towing “use case” is off the table (mostly…) and I can replace the other use case at a “wash” on costs (more or less), I can likely just drop the whole “Need Towing” category. The Background:

    When initially planning to Escape California, there were various Curfews, Mandates & Other Crap per travel with Chinese Wuhan Covid running about. There was a real possibility that being Purebloods, we would not be “allowed” on airplanes or such. One trip driving from Florida back to Kalifornia I found myself on the road “after covid curfew of 10 PM” and still 3 hours from home… Plus, spouse doesn’t do well with drives longer than about 50 miles and limits out at about 120 (various health issues). So one thing I wanted was the ability to “Go to the Airstream dealer, buy one, load it up and make for the border”. The one we liked was 7300 GVWR but there was also one just under that. The ML has a 7200 lb tow capacity. Leave out some water in the tanks and even the big one was “good to go” on weight.

    Now that we are in Florida, we no longer need to plan how to “Escape California” via back roads with a travel trailer… Now that mandates & such are dying like a quad vaxxed 80 year old, driving or flying between States is not nearly as legally risky.

    Secondly, it was to do duty as a tow vehicle for a (roughly) 17 foot cargo trailer (to get our “stuff” moved here from storage). Trailer to be bought “later” out here where they are cheaper and towed back when I went to pick up the first load. But that schedule has slipped a couple of months as “picking a house” has been much slower than expected. At this point, making 2 or 3 trips bringing out boxes and stuff in a trailer is less attractive. Gas is about double (triple in California), so multiple trip costs have gone up a LOT. Don’t have dirt to park the trailer on between uses yet either. Add in need to buy the trailer and the potential for several thousand dollars to repair the ML tow vehicle: It’s now cheaper, faster, and easier to just rent a big truck, load it, and likely get all (and at least most…) stuff moved in one run one way after flying in.

    Basically the “$17,000 for escape tow vehicle & cargo trailer plus I get to keep them when the move is done” has become “Maybe up to $24,000 with repairs included and I don’t want to keep this damn car when the move is done”.

    Along with gas per trip going from about 275 gallons (round trip) at about $2.50 / gallon average ( I was doing the original planning before BidenFlation…) for about $680 / load x 3 loads = ~$2k or maybe $3k with added stuff like some meals & hotel some times; to $5 / gallon and maybe you can’t get Diesel… so $4k to $6k.

    The Rental Truck killer was the $1.35 / mile charge. At 2800 miles that was about $3780 plus gas at a horrible 8 mpg or so would be 350 gallons for about $875. Call it about $4700. And I didn’t know if I’d need double that for 2 loads. Now, with gas about double that, you get about $5500 and with the stuff boxed and in storage I know how much cargo space it takes and can get it done in one run if I rent a big enough truck. That’s smack in the middle of the $4-$6k variable cost of using the ML and Trailer and avoids all the marginal repair cost of the ML to get it road worthy again.

    So $2k sleeping in the car / trailer vs $4400 to $8800 rental (1 or 2 trips) has turned into $4k-$6k vs $4700 and I have to drive more and pay for ML repairs before I can even get started.

    Basically, I can now just “rent a truck and be done” for about the cost of doing several runs with a smaller trailer and the ML. So why do I need the ML fixed and a trailer? Just by “letting go” of the desire to own the trailer and ML at the end of it all, the rent a truck wins.

    Or, short form: I don’t really need a cargo trailer when done and now I don’t want the ML when done. So “Let it go”…

    The original cost advantage has left with higher fuel costs, and the long term reduced costs from having ownership of both tow vehicle and trailer have gone up in smoke with Mercedes Repair Costs being ridiculous in the newer ones and with the ML failing something ever time I turn around.

    So just consider the original purchase of the ML a mistake and kiss off that money, move on, and rent a truck.

    At least that’s where I am now.

    I had thought it could be fun to convert the cargo trailer (post move) to a stealth camper conversion, but I’m just as happy camping with a car load of tent / cot / etc. so again “let it go” (or buy a real RV ;-) and be happy.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    The German car makers have a lot of Group Think. They have all gone to the “car as networked computers” thing with oodles of electronic controllers. Thus the trailer folks having one “adapter” for all the “Euro” tow vehicles to let them run the lights.

    At this point, for me, ANY and ALL European cars with the “multiplex” wiring (that I think is all of them after about 2005? 2008?) are in the “do not go there” group.

    I’m also going to do a search on “multiplex wiring” for any car I think of buying in the future…


    Thanks for the background. FWIW, I’m pretty much settled on only buying “Classic” vehicles from here on out, just to avoid all the electronic complexity.


    Yeah. Likely looking at a “Fold em” on the ML. IFF I ever need a tow vehicle going for the Big Ol’ Pickemup Truck. The Ford Powerstroke 7.3 (especially pre-electronics) is nearly as reliable and legendary as the Cummins. I’d be happy with either (depending on cost and availability). The newer Fords (6.something?) are more fussy, but still easy to get fixed.

    Frankly, I may just buy an old Class A RV with a Detroit Diesel or Big Cummins in it and call it both home and tow vehicle ;-)

    @Sandy McKlintock:

    Yeah, the “multiplex wiring” (aka SAM Module driven) gets grumpy if you change ANYTHING from what it expects. This car is all original lights so no issue with out of spec replacements. It all worked FINE towing a car carrier (with one of my wagons loaded with stuff on it) out here a couple of months ago. All the failures have shown up after that, a little at a time, and without any trailer attached. It is something progressively failing.

    Oh, and found out last night that the windshield wipers don’t work now either… They did a week or so ago…

    @Graeme No.3:

    I have a Mercedes 240D with about 180,000 miles on it (also still in California having a paint job) built in about 1979 or 80. Runs perfectly all the time. Never has failed me. ALL Mechanical. Even the fuel shut off valve (to STOP the engine as it will not stop as long as fuel is in the tank otherwise) is vacuum driven and there’s a “vacuum switch” in the ignition that stops the engine. Don’t need no steenking electricity to work that system ;-)

    A 240D Diesel was my favored Daily Driver from about 1986 until I bought the Subaru Forester. Now it’s my backup car. It’s a “keep it until I die” car.

    I first came to like the Mercedes Diesels via my High School Chemistry & Physics Teacher. He drove a 190 D (black). Praised the reliability and economy. (Retired Col. US Air Force W.W.II so also cursed “Those Damn Nazis” but would follow with “But they make a damn fine car though”…)

    Something about Surly Curmudgeons and Old Diesel Mercedes seems a match … not that I’m that surly… ;-)

  27. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – my father-in-law’s ML320 has also been a bit of a lemon so far. The door locks have not worked correctly since he got it, so to lock it he needs to open the passenger-side door, use the internal “lock all doors” push button, and then shut that door. There was also a problem on seating of one of the injectors that put it into limp mode, loss of power-steering fluid where a return-pipe that was supposed to be under no pressure blew off (yep, I fixed that one by making a connector with a lip which stopped that happening), and the last one was a clutch failure that turned out to be a pressure-plate breakage. Our shade-tree mechanic turned up to tow it away to fix it driving a later version ML, and had problems starting it to drive away again, so could be a lot of lemons. Bit of odd noise from the gearbox in 3rd, 4th and 6th gears that makes me think there’s some future expense there, too. However, he really loves driving it, and so far the failures have happened close-enough to home to limp back.

    The CANbus can work OK, but given the moisture and occasional high voltages in a car it’s really going to need a lot more protection than car designers have the money to apply. Should be using coax and shielding, with hermetically-sealed boxes and connectors. Maybe even optical isolation. There was one design iteration at Xerox that used CANbus to connect all the bits, and reliability was fine, but Ethernet was used in others and was also reliable. Designs seem to run in waves, where what the engineering students are taught gets into the next project whether or not it is the optimum solution – one year it was bevel-gears and so the design had lots of shafts and bevel-gears to transfer power around. With Mercedes, looks a bit like they lost the plot a bit with the ML series and they’re going to fail a lot once over about 10 years old. Sounds good in theory, and fly-by-wire works for aircraft, but they cut corners on ensuring that the electronics was sufficiently protected. AFAICT, much the same applies to Citroën cars over here. Lots of electronic bells and whistles that get iffy after 8-10 years and cost a lot to repair. Good mechanical engineering, but fragile because the electronic bits lose reliability.

    The anti-pollution regulations mean that manufacturers can’t really run an ICE without microprocessor control, as well as a load of sensors. Then you get the extra things added, such as measuring the density of the fuel to see if it’s within specifications, and if the test fails you either get limp-mode or it doesn’t run at all. Add in a few other things that seem useful, such as an alcohol sensor that refuses to start the engine if it thinks the driver might have been drinking, and we get the situation where a bus full of a football team couldn’t get there because they’d been using alcohol hand-sanitiser.

    I hope you find a cheap way to get the stuff moved.

  28. beng135 says:

    Getting so complex the mechanics can’t figure out how to fix them.

  29. Ossqss says:

    @EM, you’re in the let somebody else move it pricing level now.

  30. stewartpid says:

    Sorry to hear of your frustrating Mercedes experience …. my neighbour has been waiting since April for a part for his girlfriends benz and it was to arrive this week.
    The new Mercedes are definitely a little too complex & low quality for their own good. A real shame.
    I have had great reliability with several Toyotas …. Acura – fair and Honda – good to great … mechanically the Honda is solid but the body is rusting early on a 2008 but we do use a lot of salt on the roads up here in Calgary Canada.
    The wife’s Audi TT is bullet proof so far but it is stupid expensive to service … the stealership likes to do 1,000 bucks of fluid changes each oil change … just nucking futs in my opinion.
    I did my daughters oil service at the Toyota dealer for $67 (2008 Camry Hybrid) and then two days later the wifes at the Audi across the street and they asked for approval for over 1100 bucks (2017 TT) … oil alone at the Audi shop was about 280 if I remember correctly.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    My fear. I’m hoping these guys can figure it out. I know Mercedes Dealership can, but it will cost me about $9000 as they just replace ALL the SAM units and everything else it might be… /snark;


    Thanks for the data points. The Benz Forum says “corrosion” is a common cause of failure and there’s that one guy who spilled 5 gallons of water – proving they are no where near sealed enough. One of them looks like it is in the battery bay, so likely a hostile environment. Then with 4 or more of them, lots of opportunities for “intereaction failures” from marginal {anything in between them}.

    IMHO, just a bad choice of SAM design (not sealed nor robust enough and too many) by someone learning the Tech having drooled over aircraft use.

    The FACT that several critical safety features can and did all fail at once from one point of failure is enough all by itself to say “Horrible Design Choices”. (Windshield wipers, gas gauge, door locks, turn signals, reverse camera, and likely a couple of more are all now not working.) Which of those, if it failed in a bad area on a busy freeway a ways away from home in the rain would be Just Fine? Eh?


    First plan and first priced was PODs. $8,000 each from California to Florida and I’d need 3 of them, IIRC… Stupid Expensive. Likely going to be lower as the house market in California freezes up (how many folks can make a payment on a $Million minimum mortgage AND the ~$1k to $2k / MONTH property tax at that range of price?

    The big flood happened when mortgages were near 1%-2%. Now they are about 6%, so a double to triple on “payment” for those not going all cash.

    As that locks up, the cash flowing from California into Texas and Florida will slow and those markets will return closer to sanity…

    Basically, I’ve got about 30 x 10 x (7 or 8 feet tall) of “storage” to pick up and ship. That’s about 2 or 3 pods (bigger ones) or 1 x 26′ or more truck with a ‘maybe’ on a trailer and / or packing some stuff in the cars yet to be driven out. (Some of it will be trashed at the California end. I ran out of time for compete triage so some stuff just got “pick it up and shove it in the storage unit”… I’m hoping about 4 feet worth ;-)


    Yup. German Labor Union Wage Rates, EU Socialism Tax Overhead, + overdesign = crazy expensive.

    The one that gets me is the move to “special” lubricants that only the dealer has. That’s a deliberate “soak the customer” action. ANY 5 w 30 synthetic ought to be just dandy for lubricating an engine. And the “special” antifreeze? OK, an anti-corrosion package. How about designing an engine that isn’t so prone to rusting out and just using the dozen and one regular glycol / anti-corrosion mixes sold everywhere?

    Florida Friend had a slight boil over / coolant loss. We had to find some coolant to nurse it home. Found out then that his MB DEMANDS exactly a 50:50 mix or it decides to be cranky. Can’t just top up with a bit of water or straight glycol antifreeze….

    That’s why I’ve decided I’m done with all the German makers cars. We’d decided Subaru going forward for cars (as I was just loving my Forester!)

    I’d tentatively settled on that when the need for a tow vehicle came up. Had chosen a Lincoln Navigator then found that they guy selling it had removed the air bags / suspension and put in regular springs. Effectively converting it to a Ford Explorer… so didn’t buy it. Looked at a Dodge Durango / Chrysler Aspen – but it “had issues” with key fob failure leaving your car a brick until you got a new fob ordered. Saw this ML and the good tow capacity and thought “Well, one more won’t hurt”…. I was wrong.

    So for now it will just be “Rent big truck and drive it”. Price range acceptable. I can offload at “wherever” the destination ends up being, and anything breaks on the trip, it isn’t my problem (other than maybe needing to move stuff to a replacement truck… about 8 hours of work).

    IFF I ever end up in the market for a Tow Vehicle again, it will be a 2000-ish or older Diesel from Ford (7.3) or Cummins (or maybe a Diesel Pusher RV…)

    I’ll also be working down the Mercedes fleet over the next few years, in reverse order by age. Keeping the oldest 2 or 3 only. ( 240D that’s reliable as they come and being restored as a “show car” of sorts, the 1989 Wagon 300 inline 6 gas that’s also been reliable but needs paint / dent removal, and maybe the 1994? 190 E Baby Benz that’s also an inline 6 and very reliable). The ML goes first, then likely the 2001 Wagon 4 Matic replaced with a Subaru Wagon.

    Eventually the Baby Benz will go, too. Then the ’89 Wagon when the spouse no longer needs an “alternate wagon” when hers is in the shop (which will be soon… she does OK in Forester so when it’s done and out here…)

    When we were “Bi-Coastal” it was useful to have 2 on “the other coast”, and now I’ve still got 2 “on the other coast” but that is a vanishing need. As soon as my stuff is out of there, I no longer need “fly in and have car”… Eventual target 3 vehicles: 2 x Subaru and 1 old 240 D that just runs forever… and can eat just about anything flammable (loves Kerosene / Jet A / Heating oil / Lamp Oil, and can digest vegetable oil if hot weather or diluted with kerosene. Up to 25% Regular Gasoline per the users manual ;-)

    Just need to get to that solution point…

  32. u.k.(us) says:

    The A/C on my BMW suddenly went out (after a few short trips).

    Battery was dead next day.
    The service light came on first (nothing unusual)….
    Charged up the battery and the A/C came back on.
    Was it an attempt by the computer to give me one last start ??

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    @U.K. (us):

    I’d be more inclined to think that sagging voltage dropped below the level where the SAM would allow the AC to turn on. i.e. SAM failed on low volts. Then charging the battery fixed that low volts problem.

  34. u.k.(us) says:

    Brand new battery goes dead after 2 weeks…
    Is there an easy way to find the drain ?? :)

  35. The True Nolan says:

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    Put an amp meter on the power line. Remove fuses one by one. When amps drop, that’s the drain.

    Alternative: Take a fuse apart and bridge the gap (where the fusible link had been) with an amp meter. Plug it in, in place of each fuse, one by one. When you read amps, that’s the one.

    In the mean time, buy a charger and put it on your battery. That will prevent discharge while you search / fix it. Once the battery is again full, the meter on the charger will tell you the size of the drain and you can get some clue from that, what’s doing it. (I.E. 5 amps is unlikely to be the clock…) Also means you can use your car without buying yet another new battery…

  37. u.k.(us) says:

    Thanks for the reply E.M.
    I’ve got the charger and the multi-meter, just need some on- the- job experience :)

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm… Given what you have, perhaps an easier way:

    Put charger on battery to get it charged. (Preventing a huge amp current through the meter in a later step by getting it charged up first…)

    When charged: Unclip one charger lead. Put your multimeter (on big amps setting) between battery and that lead. Meter now shows “residual trickle charge current” + “drain current”.

    IF your meter is sensitive enough at that point to find a 1 to 5 amp change in current, it ought to show up when a fuse is pulled. So… Pull fuses (one at a time and replace them before the next one). When you pull the one with the drain on it, your amp meter ought to show a drop in amps roughly equal to the drain current.

    This way requires no jig, no ‘amp reading fuse substitute’, no big expensive snap around current probe Amp Meter.

  39. jim2 says:

    You can get a FLIR on Amazon for about $300. It is very sensitive to temp differentials.

    It would show a hot fuse or wire. A regular IR thermometer might work if it’s focused enough.

  40. philjourdan says:

    Due to Toyota’s woke attitude, I am looking at Ford for my next Vee-Hickle as well. I sent them a letter, I have owned Toyotas since 1976. I have bought my last one. They sneered at me. Their choice for losing a 46 year veteran.

    My neighbor has a 150. I like it,

  41. u.k.(us) says:

    Could also spend $12.00 on two gallons of gas, drench the car and collect the fire insurance.
    It would be a shame to lose the drivetrain and suspension though.

  42. philjourdan says:

    @Lynn Clark – re: “. I had a 2002 C32 AMG — the best car I’ve ever owned and sorely miss it “

    Best car I ever had was a 66 Beetle! MY BIL rebuilt one (the one his son died in when a drunk hit him 30 years ago). I told him (he is retired now) that if he wanted to take up the hobby, I would buy his next rebuilt beetle! We got a sudden snow storm when I had mine. Roads covered in half an hour! I was taking it easy, but then some lady pulled out in front of the car in front of me. She skidded into the ditch, he skidded into the ditch to avoid her And I did as well. I set my Beetle into first gear, and drove out of it! The lady walked home, I drove the other guy to the gas station so he could get a tow (this was in the 70s – no Cell phones), and then drove to work!

    It leaked, and when it rained, the drive side filled with water. The radio was shot, and the Sun Roof handle was broken.

    But I loved it!

  43. H.R. says:

    @philj – I had a Ford Ranger with one flaw. I liked it and put up with the cranky, oft-failed part. Then I needed a tow vehicle and bought an F-150 6-banger that had a mountain of torque. It towed more than some of Ford’s V8s. I regret selling that one. It was a 2003 flare-side, regular cab, shortbed and the lines were absolutely classic. Regrets, regrets, regrets.

    Last Ford truck I had was an F-250 6′-8″ bed (mid-size bed) with the V-10 gas engine. The only nay-say against that engine was the mpg, and I agree; it sucks. But beyond that, the engine was bullet-proof and had a mountain of “hawl-it-all”.

    I’m with E, M. on the Ford diesels. The pre 2000s 7.3 was one extremely fine diesel motor. It would be hard to do better than that, except for some of the picks out of the Cummins series.

    That all said, the new F-150s are amazing! Gas mileage out the ying-yang. The towing capacity is as much or more than my old F-250. Toy’s, toys, toys, and comfort and ‘gee-whiz’ everywhere, even on the lower trims.

    But as has been brought up here and there in this discussion, they are w-a-a-a-y too dependent on chips, programming, and electronics in general.

    I’m not gonna go back and look who wrote it above, but they nailed it. A lot of all this ‘delicate’ electronics in newer vehicles is driven by gubbmint regulations, and then there is some of it that is provided just for the ‘gee-whiz’ factor, and they do it just because they can.

    Note: I have noticed in my neck of the woods that RAM seems to be the dominant pick-em-up truck. That used not to be true. It was all GM or Ford with the odd Dodge (now RAM). I’d say it’s only been in the last 4-5 years that RAM has become THE truck around hereabouts. Ford and GM are distant 2nds. I don’t know why, other than RAM is selling unashamedly high-horsepower V-8s when Ford and GM are going Eco-wienie. Is that all there is to it? I dunno.

  44. Terry Jackson says:

    Ford is for Work, Chevy is for Fun, Dodge is for the Forest Service.
    Wisdom from the ’70’s maybe earlier.

  45. Ossqss says:

    @Jim2, I would strongly recommend looking at some of the FLIR One phone connected products if in the market. Self-powered and unique, as it uses 2 cameras. Thermal and optical. Gives you framing around the blurry IR imagery items you may be looking at. .

    I still use the gen one unit and it still performs very well. Found a leak in a neighbor’s new roof yesterday with it. You can see through walls, kinda. I won’t talk about bee’s nests or termites in walls, or insulation in ceilings you can see :-)

    Plug it in your phone charging port, and boom. You become a superhero!

    I would tell, they are not cheap, but you will find the attachment to you phone very useful.

    Being able to see an IR Delta in a thermal image is really like magic. AC ducts, car engines and fuse boxes, electrical panels, PC’s, you name it (deer at 50 yards and gators in the water).

    Just sayin, worth the investment and you will use it a lot…. This as is the OBD item and other items is considered essential.

  46. Ossqss says:

    Here ya go. This is the unit I actually own from several years back. They have improved them since. Ironically, this dude has the same old drone I have too. :-)

  47. H.R. says:

    @Terry Jackson – 🤣🤣

    Made me laugh, but great humor always has some truth as the basis. Old Power Wagons are still highly sought after and quite pricey.

    @All – We’ve been dissing the MB electronics for a bit, now.

    Here’s the latest from the 3-Point Sheriff’s Badge company. What could possibly go wrong? 😉

  48. Terry Jackson says:

    a site for Cummins in the Dodge/Ram chassis
    You can read without registering. I like the power and torque in the 5.9, earlier models got better MPG. Anything about pre 2006 did not have the gremlins that come with the EPA mandates.
    H.R. Old Wisdom had a basis in truth.

  49. another ian says:

    Re “bob sykes says:
    8 July 2022 at 12:26 am
    Buy a Subaru, or any Japanese or South Korean car.”

    Re Subaru – IIRC E.M. has expressed views on why not, as have various other blogs I read

  50. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    Like all the other vehicle issues discussed above, my only complaints about Subaru or Hyundai are with the newer ones. (not had a Honda in years or a Kia or a Toyota so can’t speak to them).

    Subaru: CVT is great in urban / suburban weather, can’t climb hills or do dirty trails like a regular transmission. Only transmission available now. Common to a LOT of newer cars, it has a giant tablet mounted on the dash for controlling the car. Last thing I want on a winding dark road is a big glowing tablet ruining my night vision… oh and requiring that I “navigate menus” instead of looking out the window when trying to do things like dim interior lights or change wiper speeds.

    Hyundai: Add “drive by wire” steering. Many makers are getting rid of hydraulic power steering and going with electrical. OK… but what happens when your SAM craps out? Do you head into the ditch at 70 mph? So far, very few horror stories, but …. Not interested in cars where “hackers” can take over steering and throttle.

    I LOVE my older Subaru. Great car. Looks like about pre-2005 as the best point for no big glowing thing on the dash.

    Before Mercedes, I owned a few Honda cars. Loved them too. New ones? Donno…

    Also owned a Ford F350 V8 Gas Guzzler 4×4 Crew Cab special. Only thing I didn’t like was the ride was harsh to the extreme. (It had a 5 th wheel kit factory option but someone had removed the hitch). Oh, and the 8 mpg on a good day… But it was durable and reliable. 86? I think.

    IF I could find an old Dodge Power Wagon in decent condition for less than a fortune, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

    Driving around the country, I’ve noticed that the preference brand changes from place to place. Some of them have almost all Chevy. Some are Ford Heaven. Then places where all you see on the highway are RAM. A few have lots of Toyota. In very large urban areas, you get a greater variation of mix. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it is a mix of the particular dealer in some small towns and local lore. My old home town had a big good FORD dealer, but no Dodge dealer. Lots of Ford trucks around there… Jewish areas often are FORD deficient as old man Ford supported the Nazis. Chevy seems to sell well in hispanic urban areas. More glitz and such hung on them and guys willing to DIY on all the fussy little repairs they take.

  51. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and for Phil:

    In college, I had a ’67 VW Fastback. Air cooled 1600 cc engine. In snow, it just went where I pointed it. Drove to a cabin down a dirt road (under the snow) with about 8 inch to 1 foot tire ruts in it. Car didn’t care. I overhauled it twice. Once after coming off the line at a light floored… in August… in 110 F weather… and sucking #3 exhaust valve. Got the CLANK right at the shift from 2nd to 3rd (don’t know if I did an overspeed by getting on the clutch too much before getting off the throttle enough.) Thanks to that timing (clutch down, wheels not turning engine with valve head bouncing around), I had only one little dent in #3 piston as the valve head stopped the engine turning pronto.

    Pulled it out and apart in the garage at home. Couple of days later had the head back from the machine shop, put it back together in a day and was back on the road.

    Later, on that “around the perimeter of the USA” trip, First stop was a friends home in Medford Oregon (he being a VW enthusiast). Over a 3 day weekend we did a full overhaul (valves, bigger piston set, heads, all bearings). $56 for the jug kit IIRC. About $100 all up. Then proceeded to do the whole USA 48 perimeter… including crossing the Sonoran & Mojave deserts in August without A/C… but also without any “High Speed Shifts” ;-)

    The car would go through stuff that just stuck other cars in place. Mud, sand, snow, whatever. Combination of light front end floating on top (not sinking in) and rear having weight over it so lots of traction. Why they made dune buggies out of them ;-) IF I lived down a long lousy road of dirt (mud in the process of becoming…), sand or lots of snow: I’d be hard pressed to choose between an air cooled VW and an older Subaru… (Probably take the Subaru for the AC in summer….)

    I liked very much how you could fix anything in a day if necessary. Hated how often you had to fix something that day ;-) Saw a copy of the John Muir VW Prayer Book at Books A Million just a few days ago. Almost bought it just for the nostalgia …

    Cheap tinny car lacking all manner for comfort and amenity features; but it would start up and run, get me where I wanted to go, and I could fix whatever went wrong. IF new ones were sold, I’d likely buy one as the “emergency car” for when the fancy one failed.

  52. another ian says:

    I hope it is not indicative –

    Toyota has just lost a court case on their diesel particulate filters here with potentially huge costs.

    Ans a friend tells me of an almost new Prado that “stopped in the middle of nowhere” when it digested the turbo

  53. u.k.(us) says:

    Was driving my Tahoe around the U.P. of Michigan about a decade ago, had a sort of map of the logging roads.
    I was just playing in the sandy puddles (skid plates were not needed).
    I came upon another vehicle, talked to the driver, he basically said “how the hell do we get out of here, my wife is getting pissed”.
    I said you can follow me, I think know where the exit is.
    Luckily I was right :)

  54. jim2 says:

    On FLIR, I don’t have a smart phone, so that’s out for me. The Klein Tools one I mentioned showed an image of my butt on a fabric chair seat several minutes after I had gotten out of it. I was pretty impressed.

    So selected Fords, Toyotas, and Subarus have gotten a thumbs up. Any year/model of Jeeps OK with anyone?

  55. cdquarles says:

    I’ve had lots of cars over the years, but no trucks. I’ve rented a few trucks. Last one I bought is my youngest son’s 2003 Chevy Cavalier. Not the best GM I ever bought, nor the worst, either. I bought a custom built 1986 Olds Cutlass that arrived dead. Dealer fixed it before letting me take delivery. Nephew’s a car nut, particularly classic muscle cars. Restoring those is his business; which fell on hard times. I’ve had good experiences with nearly all of them. Newer ones do die on you when you don’t want them to. Ford/Mercury, Chrysler, GM, Nissan, etc don’t matter much. My sister bought a 2017 Kia. It has about 88K miles on it now, put on it since Dec 2018. So far, so good; but we do like having the older ones around, since getting them road worthy isn’t as difficult to do yourself.

  56. H.R. says:

    @jim2 re Jeeps – I’ve only observed, but never owned a Jeep. The Jeep Wranglers are very popular tow vehicles down at the RV park. They seem pretty reliable, due probably to the fact that they have fewer bells and whistles.

    The Jeep Liberty is a bit of a doggie, from my observations. Not tough at all and I’m not sure where they sourced the motor.

    The old boxy Cherokees were pretty good. I almost bought one but decided on a small pickup truck instead. They had a 6-banger that was pretty reliable and again, not many tacked on toys. The older ones held to the Jeep ‘tough and simple’ tradition. IIRC, a Cherokee was what that off road rescue guy had, though he beefed his up a bit (videos that E.M. posted).

    The newer Cherokees and Grand Cherokees? It’s hard to say, but I know you can get them used much cheaper than most other comparable vehicles. That’s telling me that people are eager to get rid of them.

    If you’re just looking for something to toodle around in those wonderful mountains and forests in Tennessee, you might want to look at an old jeep and put a few grand in getting it in great shape.

  57. E.M.Smith says:


    I did a deep dive on the Jeeps when looking for a tow vehicle but didn’t write it up. I can recover some of that. The Short Form is that older is more reliable and you can do any kind of modification to them you like. During the years they were part of Mercedes / Chrysler they shared a “platform” with the ML / Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango. Major difference was the “security system” and the Jeep had a real transfer case and real 4 x 4 drive.

    There are dozens of articles on how to bypass / eliminate the “security system” as it tends to fail bricking your car ( can do that just due to you only having ONE Fob in your possession and it dying).


    Jeep Cherokee (SJ) (Model years 1974–1983)
    Jeep Cherokee (XJ) (Model years 1984–2001)
    Jeep Cherokee (KJ) (Model years 2002–07), also known as the Jeep Liberty in North America
    Jeep Cherokee (KK) (Model years 2008–13), also known as the Jeep Liberty in North America
    Jeep Cherokee (KL) (Model years 2014–present)
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ), (WJ), (WK), and (WK2) (Model years 1993–present)
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ) (Model years 1993–1998)
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ) (Model years 1999–2004)
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK) (Model years 2005–2010)
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2) (Model years 2011–present)

    I believe it is the old XJ (up to 2001) that are now fetching a premium used, and the “Liberty” that’s selling cheap and “has questions”…

    The KL (2014 on) was post purchase by Fiat I think, or at least in the collaboration prior to that:

    For the fifth generation, the Cherokee nameplate returned to North America as the vehicle was converted to a crossover and grew to midsize in order to make room for the Jeep Renegade below the Cherokee and Compass. It was introduced for the 2014 model year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show and the sales started in November 2013. The Cherokee is the first Jeep vehicle to be built on the Fiat Compact/Compact U.S. Wide platform, co-developed by Chrysler and Fiat.

    Personally, I’d not buy one newer than an XJ unless some KL owners were raving…

    The Strait 6 engine is legendary. The V8 “has some modest issues”… The Diesel was largely unavailable especially in Kalifornia. That makes it 1998 or earlier as preferred for the ZJ.

    IIRC, the WJ / WG (Europe) was a good one too. 1999- 2004.

    Launched in September 1998, the redesigned WJ 1999 Grand Cherokee shared just 127 parts with its predecessor (mostly fasteners). The European model was coded WG. The spare tire was relocated from the side of the cargo compartment to under the floor. (Like the 1998MY ZJ, the rear tailgate glass opened separately.) The two heavy pushrod V8 engines were replaced by Chrysler’s then-new PowerTech. The new V8 engine produced less torque than the old pushrods, but was lighter, offered better fuel economy, and provided similar on-road performance figures (the 23-gallon fuel tank was replaced with one of a 20.5-gallon capacity). The straight-six engine was also updated. A redesign of the intake manifold added 10 horsepower (7.5 kW). While other Jeep vehicles used the Mopar 5 × 4.5 bolt circle, this was the first Jeep following the 1987 Chrysler buyout to receive a wider bolt pattern—5 × 5.

    The WK 2005-2010 continued to be improved by Chrysler (and made more Chrysler and less Just Jeep…) until the next model merged it with the Mercedes / Durango / Aspen set in 2011. This, IMHO, is also the onset of increasing complexity and arrival of more unexpected “issues”. IIRC it was about 2005 that Europe passed a law requiring a theft defeat system and the “Your Jeep Just Bricked” started to be an issue (and folks figured out how to remove it…). SKIM is the culprit.

    Today I unplugged hood open sensor #2 on right side (driver’s side) of engine bay. According to the wiring and software schematics its only job is auto stop/start disable with hood open. It gave me the the auto start/stop warning dash symbol, but that start/stop feature was driving me crazy. I drove the JL 68 miles today with zero issues (remote start works as well as backup camera).

    Yes I am too forgetful to press the ESS button to off at every startup. This will hold me over until I can figure out a better defeat technique for this very undesired feature.

    Please see my full post in regards to my No Crank condition and how I came to this drastic step:

    What’s wrong:

    1. The live data from the WCM reveals: “ NGC / SKREEM Status: Engine Kill Command ” *

    2. The stored code in the WCM is: “ B2254 Column Lock Module Internal “ **

    *The Next Generation Controller ( NGC ) is another name for the PCM. **The Column Lock Module ( EVL / ELV / ESCL / ESL ) is present in the RHD export version of the 05 WK known as the 05 WH, it locks the steering wheel in place when the key is out of the ignition. Mine is now unlocked at all times, alongside my No Crank issue. Please do not confuse this module with ignition cylinder.

    Because of this “ ENGINE KILL COMMAND “ the dealer will want to replace (at a minimum) both the Column Lock Module and the WCM and program both with associated costs of $1700 (plus $400 worth of tows).

    It seems my only option going forward is to send my PCM off to be programmed to forget the SKIM (and hopefully the Column lock module? ) entirely, which is a shame because it’s a useful security system.. in theory. Has anyone else with the WH (Column Lock Module) had this done?

    Back at the Wiki:

    The WK Grand Cherokee debuted in 2004 for the 2005 model year at the 2004 New York International Auto Show with available Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive, rear-seat DVD player and optional 5.7 L Hemi V8. The 3.7 L V6 engine replaced the 4.0 L Straight-6. A Mercedes Benz sourced 3.0 V6 Common Rail Diesel (CRD) was available outside of North America from launch.

    Jeep replaced the XJ-era leading-arms live-axle front suspension (found in the ZJ and WJ) with an independent double-wishbone setup like that which debuted in the 2002 Liberty. Classed as a truck-based SUV, the WH/WK Grand Cherokee offers “crossover” refinement, capability and NVH.

    The 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee made its European debut at the Euro Camp Jeep in Ardèche, France. This Jeep has gained 4 stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests conducted in 2005.

    The Grand Cherokee received a minor facelift for 2008 with revised headlights and available High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps with auto-leveling. The lower portion of the front bumper was still removable as it was from launch to increase the approach angle for off-road use. The 4.7 L was refined, now producing 305 hp (227 kW; 309 PS), and 334 lb⋅ft (453 N⋅m).

    The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with an improved 5.7 L Hemi engine rated at 357 hp (266 kW; 362 PS) and 389 lb⋅ft (527 N⋅m) of torque. The engine uses variable valve timing to increase fuel economy.

    You can see the complexity build here. Not real keen on “features” who’s purpose is to brick my car. Not keen on lots of electronics especially if they control variable valve timing (and is the engine an interference engine as almost all of them are now?)

    The WK2 was designed while Chrysler was struggling with bankruptcy and eventually becomes the common platform for the ML and others too:

    The fourth-generation WK2 Grand Cherokee went on sale in summer 2010 as a 2011 model.[18] It was unveiled at the 2009 New York Auto Show. In 2009, during its development, Chrysler management used it as an example of future products to convince United States federal regulators of Chrysler’s future viability for the purpose of requesting a federal loan. This culminated in the Chrysler Chapter 11 reorganization that same year.

    Like previous generations, the WK2 Grand Cherokee chassis is a steel unibody. Unlike previous generations, it features four-wheel independent suspension for better on-road handling. The WK2 and 2011 Durango use a Chrysler designed and engineered platform/chassis that Mercedes-Benz later used for the Mercedes-Benz W166 series. The Chrysler designed platform was part of the DaimlerChrysler engineering projects that were to launch the WK2 Grand Cherokee with the Mercedes-Benz ML to follow.

    Note the move to emphasis on on-road and not off-road.

    Not too that this is basically the same as my ML in many basic parts, but with real 4×4 available (the ML is “all wheel” and no limited slip diff, just brakes on wheels that spin) and with different engines. (One wonders about the electronics packages…) and with a more rude “your engine is now administratively unavailable” SKIM and Fobs. The Dodge Durango is basically the Jeep with big engine only and slightly different body. The Chrysler Aspen (only made for 2? years) was the Durango with a Luxury Package). I ought to have bought the Aspen ;-)

    Note that it goes to a V6 and drops the bullet proof inline-6. No idea how that worked out for them.

    Engine choices include the all new 3.6 L Pentastar V6 and 5.7 L Hemi V8. The Hemi V8 retains the Multiple Displacement System (MDS) that shuts down four cylinders in low-power driving situations.
    The V8 comes with the multi-speed automatic transmission that includes Electronic Range Selection (ERS) to manually limit the high gear operating range. Trailer towing is rated 7,400 lb (3,357 kg) for Hemi models and 6,800 lb (3,084 kg) for Pentastar models. A 3.0 L turbocharged diesel V6 developed and built by Fiat Powertrain Technologies and VM Motori (with Multijet II injection[21]) rated at 177 kW (241 PS; 237 hp) and 550 N⋅m (406 lbf⋅ft) of torque offered in export markets from mid-2011. The new 3.0 L CRD turbodiesel engine is available in European markets as 140 kW (190 PS; 188 hp) low-power version.

    The new Grand Cherokee SRT8, which started production on July 16, 2011,] is equipped with a 470 hp (350 kW; 477 PS) 6.4 L Hemi V8 engine. Jeep claims the new SRT8 gets 13 percent better fuel economy than its predecessor.

    For the 2022 model year, Jeep marketed the outgoing Grand Cherokee WK2 alongside the all-new Grand Cherokee WL model as the “Grand Cherokee WK” (not to be confused with the Grand Cherokee (WK), which was produced from 2005 until 2010).
    The lineup is condensed to base Laredo “E”, mid-level Laredo “X”, and range-topping Limited trims, with the only engine option being the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gasoline engine.

    Since the Diesels were not available in North America I went for the Mercedes version of the same basic platform, but with Mercedes luxury appointments and with “all wheel” as I wasn’t planning to rock crawl or do sand at the beach… where the heavy Mercedes will sink right in.

    I didn’t look at all at the 2021 or newer (WL) as I’m just not interested in the new stuff with so much wrong in the electronics based design and “used” prices are eye watering.

    I also didn’t explore the Wrangler (aka “real jeeps”) as I wanted bigger, but they look more robust (which is probably why they dominate the off road segment):

    The Jeep Wrangler is a series of compact and mid-size four-wheel drive off-road SUVs manufactured by Jeep since 1986, and currently in its fourth generation. The Wrangler JL, the most recent generation, was unveiled in late 2017 and is produced at Jeep’s Toledo Complex.

    The Wrangler is a direct progression from the World War II Jeep, through the CJ (Civilian Jeeps) produced by Willys, Kaiser-Jeep and American Motors Corporation (AMC) from the mid-1940s through 1980s. Although neither AMC nor Chrysler (after its purchase of AMC in 1987) have claimed that the Wrangler was a direct descendant of the original military model —
    both the CJ Jeeps and the conceptually consistent Wrangler, with their solid axles and open top, have been called the Jeep model as central to Jeep’s brand identity as the rear-engined 911 is to Porsche.

    Similar to the Willys MB and the CJ Jeeps before it, all Wrangler models continue to use a separate body and frame, rigid live axles both front and rear, a tapering nose design with flared fenders, a fold-flat windshield, and can be driven without doors. Also, with few exceptions, they have part-time four-wheel drive systems, with the choice of high and low gearing, and standard are open bodies with removable hard- or soft-tops. However, the Wrangler series was specifically redesigned to be safer and more comfortable on-road, to attract more daily drivers, by upgrading its suspension, drivetrain, and interior, compared to the CJ line. The suspension on all Wranglers included trackbars and anti-roll bars, and, from the 1997 TJ onwards, front and rear coil springs instead of the previous leaf-springs.

    Note that “Matt’s Offroad Recovery” XJ is basically a custom re-build. He’s swapped axles, braced the frame, upgraded brakes and wheels and hubs and U-joints. The interior is all redone with roll bars and such. You can find videos of his various rebuilds.

    This is a hard working truck and he regularly breaks things and fixes or replaces them. It isn’t really a Jeep anymore, other than the body… the rest is “Matt’s Builds” ;-) (IIRC he puts a Toyota steering box in one rebuild when he was changing the steering and maybe the engine too ;-)

    Were I buying one, I’d buy a pre-2005 non SKIM version and likely a Wrangler if I could not find an XJ. I like the unibody of the newer ones as a cool design, but watching Matt, it is very clear that a Frame Version is something you can customize and repair forever. (I.E. you can weld on what is needed wherever you need it without needing to get the manufacturers part…)

    More if you need it… (but somehow I think I’ve already gone over the top ;-)

  58. philjourdan says:

    @H.R. – In the movie “Big”, Tom hanks is a kid who wishes he was an adult and then becomes one. A kid finds it hard to get a job, but he gets one at a toy company. They are pushing “Transformer buildings” and Tom Hanks says “I don’t get it”.

    Your Mercedes car? I don’t get it. I do not see the value it brings. It just klitzes up current capabilities. I do not drive a Neon light show for show. I use a car for transportation and that one does not seem to offer anything practical.

  59. The True Nolan says:

    @jim2: “The Klein Tools one I mentioned showed an image of my butt on a fabric chair seat several minutes after I had gotten out of it.”

    I am reminded of a neat little episode when my son was a young teen. I had visited the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco and came home with one of the heat sensitive postcards they sold there. Basically a postcard with color changing liquid crystals printed on it. I was showing my son how it worked and we were both oooohing and aaaahing it, then I told him that I had learned how to “focus the heat from my hand into a beam”. Of course he did not believe me, so I placed the cad on the counter, held my hand about a foot above it, concentrated, and YES! an image of my hand began to form on the card, clear enough to count the fingers! Needless to say, he was impressed.

    The trick? While we were talking, I was casually leaning on the counter, one hand flat on the cool formica. When I claimed to be able to focus the heat, I just made sure that the card was placed right on top of the warm hand print I had left. Being a Dad is fun!

  60. H.R. says:

    @phil – I think you missed why I posted that. The discussion was about murky MB electronics. When I saw that MB, it appeared to be the future Mother Of All Electronic Headaches. It will spend more time in the shop than it does on the streets.

    You think the current Benzes have electrical problems? Just wait ’til all the gadgets on that Benz go into production. 😲

    As I said, “What could go wrong?” Well, just about everything.

  61. jim2 says:

    Thanks for the Jeep rundown, EMS.

  62. YMMV says:

    Electronics has taken over just about everything. From cameras to watches to thermometers. About the only thing I could think of which it has not taken over is guns. There must be some other things.
    We are so dependent on those chip fabs.

  63. YMMV says:

    Some guns have laser sights, but mostly they are a precision mechanical device.

    Electronics can be good; it just has to be done right. And if you can’t trust the Germans to do it right, …

    Aircraft are not exempt; recall the Boeing 737 MAX’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). And they still do not allow cell phone use when flying because something might happen.

  64. Jim R says:

    Eric O’s YouTube channel South Main Auto is an excellent resource, and has a number of videos on dealing with parasitic battery drains, and he explains the process well. The last video in the list links to the first two as examples, so I’m listing them in order.

    How To Fix A Car Battery That Dies Overnight

    This was an “older” car – 2000 Jeep Cherokee with a less complex electrical system.

    Battery Dies Everyday: Testing For Parasitic Draw

    This is for a newer Honda with more modules.

    Battery Dies Overnight – Used Car Guy Special!

    Here he had to get creative – standard method wasn’t working.

    Eric mentions and links to a fuse resistance chart for figuring current based on the voltage across the fuse. That link is dead, but I found a datasheet for ATOF fuses from Littelfuse. Note that this is specifically for the ATOF fuses, but can get you in the ballpark.

    Click to access littelfuse_atof_datasheet.pdf

  65. philjourdan says:

    @TTN – Re: focusing heat

    That is so awesome! I may try that with my grandkids! (my “kids” are now all in their 30s – or will be in 5 months)


  66. philjourdan says:

    @HR – AH! I get it. Basically you were posting what I was “objecting” to. THen we are in agreement.

    I do not want glitz. I want functionality!

  67. H.R. says:

    @philj – Oh, that car will have functionality… for about 6 months. Then let the diagnostic games begin! 🤣🤣

    P.S. And whatever you do, don’t ever, ever drop a paperclip behind the dash. 😉

  68. Taz says:

    VW diesel was same.. When you plugged your laptop into the port something like 14 cpus wanted to speak. IMO, there’s simply no reason for such complexity. Complexity only works when wired directly into the chip ….not in the field, or even a factory floor.

    Yes those diesel engines last forever – but the cars don’t.

  69. Taz says:

    BTW, they do make an automatic battery cutoff for car collectors. It works.. But I can’t imagine the hijinks one would face by depriving a modern vehicle of CPU power. Whut could go wrong :)

  70. jim2 says:

    Jim R. @

    That is such a great illustration of what a cluster-f late model cars are these daze. Thanks for that.

  71. H.R. says:

    I followed a Benz home from the grocery store for a couple of miles before our paths diverged.

    It was – I had trouble reading the badge – an AMG GTR CLS63, very late model either this year or last year. Gorgeous! [search] Oh, it looks to be a 2017 or 2018 model

    But… it was the weirdest matte green I have ever seen.

    Here’s a link to what I saw.

    There is just too much stinkin’ money moving into our neighborhood. When you shop at Kroger and there are always 2 – 3 Teslas in the lot as well as the odd Lamborghini, not to mention all the Porsche sedans and SUVs… it’s time to sell the ol’ homestead to one of these people with more money than sense for some exorbitant asking price.

  72. H.R. says:

    Oh, click on the picture and it will take you to a page with more on that car.

    I wasn’t expecting the image. I was expecting a link to a page with more pictures and info.

  73. philjourdan says:

    @HR – OK I mispoke. What added value did it give me? Nothing that I can see. Yes, it will last for 6 months or so, but not give me what I do not already have, It is a POC. And the C is not concept.

  74. H.R. says:

    @philj – 🤣🤣🤣 ayup! 🤣🤣🤣

    You didn’t comment on the weird green of the other Benz. It was so ugly, it was kind of cool. OTOH, it’s probably the only one in our State in that color so when it gets stolen, the cops won’t have any problem spotting it.

    “License plate number? We doan need no steenkin’ license plate number. Just look for the d@mn weird green car.”

  75. Ossqss says:

    @HR, remember many companies lease money provides options for personal upgrades. Including Green color discounts. LOL

    I did it and spent a hundred bucks a month on my own for such, and then bought the post lease car years back. It made sense and I was the one who took care of it.

    I would be a betting man in that the car you saw, was not really owned by the operator.

  76. Ossqss says:

    I should add mine were Buick Regal’s with Superchargers :-)

  77. another ian says:

    Taz – re” diesel engines last forever”

    A neighbour has what you could call a collection of Series 2 Landrovers – 3 in fact. First 2 worn out and the same Landrover diesel engine working on doing that to the third as well.

    On a different scale we have a locally produced 7 hp (at a dizzy 900 rpm) watercooled diesel on a water bore. Installed in 1940 and as far as the local fixer knows its only mechanical work has been an overhaul of pump and injector that I did.

    Different scale as it weighs something like 6 – 700 lbs so definitely not portable.

  78. H.R. says:

    @Ossqss re Pea Soup Green leases: You are probably right, except there is room for doubt due to all the stupid money that flows into my neck of the woods.

    Did I say stupid? As these interlopers are Blue, highly paid gubbmint employees (household income of 1/2 million or so), and turning this formerly 95% red county purple, I’d say they are stupid enough (and have too much cash) to lease.

    But… I dunno. At that price point, you’re probably right.

    I do know that one of the biggest Lambo dealers in the whole USA is in our county, and their customers from all over the country are buyers. So hard to say.

    (Sez the proud owner of a 2013 Honda Fit and a 7-speed fishing bicycle.)

  79. philjourdan says:

    @H.R. – Re: “License plate number? We doan need no steenkin’ license plate number. Just look for the d@mn weird green car

    ROFL! We doan need to quote that movie for a steenkin quote! But it sure works!

  80. H.R. says:

    Hey, phil… that line, suitably altered, comes in handy in so, so many situations, and is always good for a laugh, all while making a point.

    Yes! Weird green, indeed! No other car on the road with that color. Ugly/Awesome!

    I’d never buy one, but if someone tossed me the keys, I’d take them in a heartbeat. VROOOOM! That is one bad@$$ car.

    *sigh* You can outrun the PoPo, but you can’t outrun the radio. Learned that in H.S.

  81. philjourdan says:

    Back in 66, some will remember “Earl Scheib”! For just 29.95, he will paint your car! Which anyone driving through the desert southwest during a sandstorm, will understand how that was a deal!

    Except it was not. Like Henry Ford, you can have a Model T in any color as long as it was black.

    Earl Scheib changed that to read “You can have can any color as long as it is Puke Green!”

    yea, my parents did get their car repainted after going through a Sand storm in AZ. Funny how that is better at removing paint than Midas! So my mother asked for some color (I do not recall what), and got Puke Green! For “Twenty Nine ninety five!”

  82. E.M.Smith says:


    Your comment of “Mercedes SUCKS!” is in moderation as you have not posted here before.

    While I appreciate the sentiment (at least on the new ones), and also appreciate that your email address of anonymous000000000000000@{known free email provider}.com does in fact validate, so you have taken the time to build it:

    The Problem is that I use “approval” of postings to approve future postings by that same PERSON, and there is very little here to hang my “approval” upon. Now I could do the approval and then add your email to the “moderation” screen so all future posts go to moderation anyway, but all that is just making a lot more work for myself (when I don’t have any excess time).

    Do I really want to take on that much Administrator Workload for a 2 word comment?

    So I’m not going to approve it, let it out of moderation, and do all that “send to moderation in the future” configuration.

    But take comfort in this comment quoting your comment ;-)

  83. Ossqss says:

    @HR, (7-speed fishing bicycle.)

    We demand pictures of that in motion :-)

  84. another ian says:


    Particularly if he caught it on a fishing line

  85. another ian says:

    Not Mercedes but fits here

    I guess this is what happens when you let artificial intelligence design things for you.

    A friend of our boys has a new JD tractor that is immobile – seems it has thrown a code of which JD doesn’t know the meaning.

    More when I know more

  86. Lynn Clark says:

    @philjourdan My first car was a ’60 Beetle, which I bought from my Dad. Great car. Put a set of snow chains on the rear wheels and you could go almost anywhere. But it couldn’t hold a candle to the 2002 C32 AMG: Factory supercharged 3.2 liter V6 with all the other AMG designed and built drivetrain and suspension parts, plus the MB fit, finish and comfort makes it a hard car to beat. I really wish I still had it (couldn’t bring it with me when I moved to Thailand five years ago). Its only major problem was driving on snow and ice because of its rear-wheel drive. One time it took me over nine hours to drive about 15 miles home when a major snowstorm started up about nine hours sooner than forecasted and dumped about two feet of heavy, wet snow in a short time. (Ironically, before I went out that evening I briefly considered driving my 4WD Toyota truck “just in case” but decided not to because the weather forecast said the snow would start the next morning.) Luckily most of the ordeal took place after midnight, so there was very little traffic on the roads to get in the way of my slip-sliding around. I spent several hours holed up on an empty parking lot about half-way home waiting for traffic to clear (weirdly, the car drove just fine in the deep, unpacked snow on the parking lot but could barely move on the packed, slushy stuff on the roads). Luckily, when I started my big, final push for home around 4am, I was able to keep my speed up on the snow and slush-covered freeway — because very little traffic — and hit all the traffic lights green on the last mile. Right at the end I only made it about half-way up my short driveway. It took another half-hour of shoveling snow off the driveway and under the car to get it into the garage with a running start.

  87. philjourdan says:

    @Lynn Clark – I can see your pain! You are not going to get ANY snow in Thailand! So that beast 2002 would be perfect!

    My parents took a Dodge Van to Europe in 72 (Step father was there on the military plan).That was a beast (not in California where we had lived the previous 6 years since the engine was inside the van, and there was no AC). But The Europeans respected that beast and gave us a wide berth. Even graciously backing up on the one lane roads in the small towns :-)

  88. Lynn Clark says:

    @philjourdan One last thing. In Thailand, they drive on the wrong side of the road. If they drove on the right side of the road, I would have paid the fortune it would have cost to bring the AMG with me — shipping fees would have been the least of it. Although I do it several times a week, driving in Thailand is probably the most hazardous activity you can engage in and driving a left-hand drive car on right-hand drive roads would be very dicey.

  89. E.M.Smith says:

    I actually rented a car and drove from the airport into London. It was a bit of a religious experience… There seems to be some kind of protocol where two drivers head at each other at full posted speed and try to time their arrival so one of them can swerve into the only single open parking space as they fly past each other. This isn’t always successful…


    a) Noting that almost every car I saw had dents in it.

    b) Spending a few hours trying to find the hotel and everyone asked would say “Take the tube to Foo Station and it’s just across the street” and had no idea where FOO station was from where they were if you were not in the tube…

    c) Spending something like $20 to park it for one night at the hotel

    I returned it to the airport and took the Tube back to my hotel…

    I found driving in England “exciting” enough (and I’ve had a lot of people “white knuckle” it riding with me… I’m not a bashful driver.)

    The next stop was Rome (teaching a Unix intro to our Sales guys) where one of the Sales Guys drove me around town. That was way worse than London. Folks would head at blind corners (building set-back of about 4 feet maybe, as needed for Roman Horse Carts 1000 years ago…) at about 30 or 40 MPH. You “honk” when about to fly into the intersection. IFF you hear a bigger louder deeper throated horn, you slam on the brakes and let it fly by; if yours is bigger, louder and / or deeper you demand the right of way and fly into the intersection…

    I decided to never try driving in Rome (or London again either…)

  90. philjourdan says:

    @Lynn – I have never driven in a “wrong side” country. And given my advanced age, I doubt I ever will! But I tip my hat to EMS for attempting it! And refuse to bow down to the damn crown! Curse you King George! I will not follow your stupid rules!

    (i actually greatly respect QE2 – she could almost (but then the brain damaged Charles opens his mouth) look to her as a sovereign. That is the problem with royalty. You get a once in a lifet9ime ruler, QEII, and then you get a Dumbo eared idiot!

    We do as well, but we can vote hem out of office

  91. r says:

    Driving on the ‘wrong’ side is more troublesome in anticipation than in reality. The wrong side being also the right side, for me. I have done it a lot, and it is no problem except driving in the EU when rental cars were stick not auto. Because your muscle memory is one -sided and you keep trying to change gear with the window-winder. Or at least, when there were window-winders and stick shifts. US roads are easy for a UK driver because so many roads are divided and wider than here.

  92. rhoda klapp says:

    That was me.

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