Problem with Dealer. Need your advise urgently!!!

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I have a 1995 C280 with about 243000KM on it.
I dropped the car off this morning at a Mercedes dealership for the 240,000KM maintenance. The service person who took my car said the
brakes, all fluids,oil etc were going to be changed. He then proceeded to inspect the car and at the end of the inspection, said the car was in good condition. We even chatted awhile whereby he told me he was going to use his own mercedes till it hits the 500,000km mark before he sells it.
I was on my way to pick of the car this evening when i got a call from the service person. I immediately noticed the instability of the tone of his voice. You know, the kind you hear from a guilty person.
Ok, this is what he says " Mr .... we had your car all finished and washed for your pickup but when we were driving it to the front, noticed a loud noise from the engine. After we looked at it, discovered your engine's water pump has failed. Anyways, i know its the weekend and i am going to arrange for a rental car for you to use till monday and then we can carry out the repairs "
I asked if i was going to pay for the repair of the pump which wasn't bad when i dropped it off this morning and he said yes it was going to cost over a thousand dollars.
To cut the long story short i got into a heated arguement with the guy and my points were;
1.) The car had no problems with the engine when i dropped it off this morning. If the pump is bad now, then the mechanic most likely did something wrong.
2.) Its very unlikely the engine pump would just go bad without any kind of some progression of symptoms like the temperature gauge going higher and also the "check engine\ service engine" light coming on.
What the service person kept stressing on was that i ought to be grateful the pump failed at the dealership and not while i was on the road. He also said the coolant wasn't serviced contrary to what he stated before that all fluid in the engine will be replaced.
He was also stressing that the car had 240,000km on it and kept mute when i asked if he was saying that water pumps fail on mercedes with 240km and above mileage.
I dont really know much about cars and would be grateful for any advice i receive in regards to how to handle this issue. I am not looking for an opportunity to get some undeserved service from mercedes. I really believe they messed up the car causing the problem. I even told the guy i did not need the car rental instead they should use the money to fix the car. He was very rude saying "well your car is going to be here till you decided to come pick it up "
Any advise would be appreciated.
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240000 km range... lower or even higher is really end of life it for a waterpump. I am wondering if they changed the serpentine belt at this service... if so, the stress of the new belt would hasten the demise if the water pump bearing was shot.
Now, $1000 for waterpump repair is unreal and rediculous... Waterpump at dealer sticker price is probably around $263 and maybe 4 hours labor at let's say $75/hr... would be another $300... so under $600 and maybe you can talk them down a bit more...
As for the matter... I don't think they deliberately did it on purpose... I would go over to your car and inspect the situation and talk to manager about giving you a break on servicing the waterpump.
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"240000 km range... lower or even higher is really end of life it for a
waterpump. I am wondering if they changed the serpentine belt at this service... if so, the stress of the new belt would hasten the demise if the water pump bearing was shot.
Now, $1000 for waterpump repair is unreal and rediculous... Waterpump at dealer sticker price is probably around $263 and maybe 4 hours labor at
let's say $75/hr... would be another $300... so under $600 and maybe you can talk them down a bit more...
As for the matter... I don't think they deliberately did it on purpose... I would go over to your car and inspect the situation and talk to manager
about giving you a break on servicing the waterpump. "
I agree with Tiger's analysis. Water pumps don't give warnings with a temp rise or the computer noticing something wrong. They can go from being fine to suddenly spewing water from a bad bearing/seal. You'd only get a temp indication if it leaked enough coolant that the engine started overheating. And that many miles is pretty good for a water pump life. It would be hard for the dealer to accidentally destroy a water pump by doing something wrong.
I'm not familiar with that model, but unless the water pump is in a really bad spot, I also agree that $1000+ sounds like about 2X too much, even at dealer prices.
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waterpumps typically give warning of trouble by starting to leak. Ask yourself honestly, did you ever see any water pooling under the car up front recently? A change in the belt could have hastend the demise of the belot because of possible extra tension (but whose to say the tension was any different before and after?) but for the bearing to go with a 'bang' .... hmm I don't know, bearing typically don't break apart with a bang..... they start leaking in my humble experience
cheers, guenter

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Old belt stretches... so it is looser. New belt is smaller so it is tighter.
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I thank everyone who responded. I seriously listened to everything that was said.
I would go see the service manager and see if any concession would be forth coming from them. I now realise that the water pump could fail without any warning but the coincedence of mine failing after work had been done to devices connected to it was too glaring. How often does this kind of failure occur at a service center ?
Guenter asked if i had seen any leaks. There were absolutely none. The car is parked in the garage so i would have noticed. The day before i took the car in, i had just come back from a 5 hour journey so if the coolant was leaking i think i would have noticed somehow by way of the engine going above the normal temperature and besides the " check Coolant" light would have come on.
I know 240,000KM is high but the car is well maintained and has to be because my profession involves a lot of traveling and this is the vehicle i use so attempting to go on a 5hr journey knowing that there was a leak would be insane. The only main porblem i have had with the vehicle in the last 4 years was with the tires.
The invoice for the original scheduled maintenance is $897 and now the service rep is asking for another 1000 and something more dollars, to fix the water pump. So am looking at about $2000 ! This is why i need to be sure that i am not been asked to pay for something the service center caused.
Thanks again.
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    one in a million, especially with no prior problem indications. For comparison, I replace the water pump on my 300e this summer at 250k km and it had been warning me (leaks, noisy, etc) for about 6 months if not longer. I have never replaced one, have no manual, etc. and it took me one afternoon ( about 4 hr) and the pump in US $ cost less than 200 from the dealer. If I had to do it again it would take me less than 2 hr.
- good luck in dealer discussions, guenter
ps the replacement pump will be rebuild and you should get core charges for the old pump of 75 to 100 dollar.
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Things that break while at dealer... well, it does happen. My friend was driving his diesel... and it died right in front of the MB dealer... how's that?
I would go and listen to your engine running to see the situation.
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Huhh? don't most of us periodically readjust the tension ...? I certainly do. If the old belt stretches squeals are almost inevitable as well the battery is likely not to charge properly. cheers, guenter

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On serpentine belt... which is one belt for everything... there is no adjustment... one standard tension position.
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one of us is not thinking too clearly.... :-) one standard tension ... of course. so why no adjustment of the tension? I did just that this summer via the tensioner....
cheers, guenter

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I would have the engine vacuum, and compression checked, with leak down to insure there was no engine damage or overheating (you can do better on that repair price) was the belt changed?
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Tiger wrote:

I just adjusted the belt tension on my '86 190E. The tensioning pulley is held by a large nut that needs to be loosened before any adjustment is made. There is a smaller drive belt tensioning nut that should be turned clockwise until the belt itself is tight enough under moderate finger pressure (0.5 in deflection along its longest run). After this is done, tighten the large tensioner pulley's nut. That's it.
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Ahh... I forget... I know the 190E 4 cylinder is adjustable... My diesel... doesn't have any adjustment... the spring tensioner does the work. I remember straight 6 doesn't have any adjustment... most new serpentine system has no adjustment... just crank it all the way to end and lock it up... auto adjustment until tensioner breaks.
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Water pumps fail - on all cars. The pump's seal wears out and leaks and / or its internal bearings wear out and noisily grind themselves to pieces. Was it leaking? Was it noisy?
That said, I suspect in this instance that someone "forgot" to refill the coolant when they changed it. The downside is not only that the water pump runs without any coolant to pump but that the engine is run with insufficient coolant!
If that's, in fact what happened, then the problem may be much larger than the water pump. The engine's piston rings are tempered steel and lose their temper if badly overheated - like when the motor is run without coolant! The result is that the engine will lose some compression and probably burn oil ever afterward. An overhaul is the ONLY cure if that's the case.
If this were my car, I'd deal only with the service manager and, if necessary, the owner. The service writer is just a messenger and has NO AUTHORITY to agree to anything.
All of that said, don't forget the car has done a lot of kms and isn't a month old so some cost sharing is probably in order.
IMHO, you need to establish what, in fact occurred; this won't be done with the service writer but with the shop foreman or service manager. I'd agree to cost sharing on the new water pump but want a written warranty not only on the pump but also the motor's head gasket and oil consumption not to exceed 1 l. per 1000 km for say the next 25,000 km. If the motor wasn't overheated - and they'll never admit it was - they shouldn't object too much to such a warranty in lieu of having to defend a small claims law suit.
It's only a car, it can be repaired and the dealer can and should do some things to make it right.
People make mistakes - cars have "operation risk" as people do - this was NOT due to ill will, so don't take it personally.
It, like most things, comes down to a matter of money.
Be patient but be firm.
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My 1987 300E water pump froze driving down the road at 191,163 miles and burned the serpentine belt off with burning rubber smoke pouring out of the sides of the hood and loud squealing sounds. No prior warning, no prior overheating, no prior leaking.
So Mercedes Benz water pumps do suddely fail with no warning except sudden loud squealing sounds.
It happened a few blocks from the independent shop that works on the car luckily, so I drove over there quickly . . . did not need the horn to get all the mechanics out front.
Happened in July 2000. The independent shop replaced the water pump, thermostat, updated thermostat cover, replaced bypass hose, 1.5 gallons coolant, replaced serpentine belt and new idler all for $656.30. The pump was only $108.90 back then.
Pete Cowper (1987 300E) Visalia, California
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Thanks to everyone who responded. Here is the update:
I went and spoke with the service manager who said the pump failing at the service center was just bad luck. Said the serpentine or terpentine belt (hope i am spelling it right ) also had to be changed. He offered a 15% discount. Seeing that i need my car for work and it was already impacting my ability to work, i agreed.
So i picked up the car and paid a total of $2087.00 instead of just the $900 for the maintenance that i had brought the car in for.
2 days later, i start the car in the mroning and the engine starts to vibrate. The vibration is so strong my bag in the back seat almost falls to the floor. The vibration is such that the engine power appears its going to turn off but never does. Issue only occurs in the morning. Perhaps the cold has something to do with it.
The car takes a long time to accelerate. I called the service manager and we agree that i drop the car off on friday so they can try starting it on the next working day, in the morning, which is on Monday as they dont open on weekends. I dropped the car off and rented a car which am paying out of my pocket.
Now i just spoke with the service manager and he tells me they discovered the wiring harness for the engine is bad. It has some loose wires. Also, i had an oil leak. And he goes to ask me if i didn't know i had an oil leak. And am like, you guys did the maintenance( which included an oil change) and the car was parked in your shop for about a week till the water pump was replaced. Did you notice any oil leaks yourself ? I never had any problems with this car prior to taking it in for this scheduled maintenance service that i regret ever doing..Absolutely nothing wrong with the car.. To fix the issue, he says its about $1400.00 but he is going to speak with the manufacturer to see if its covered under warranty and then call me back. I just cannot believe this is happening.
Can anyone try and piece together this issues and hypothesize what wrong the machanic could have done to cause this ? How is the water pump/terpentine issue related to the wiring harness or the vibration of the engine ? I mean i was willing to accept the pump and terpentine or serpentine belt coincidentally failed at the service center but now this issue with the wiring harness (if i believe the guy ) ? This is ridiculous.
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Any ideas ?
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Glad you bot a Mercedes Benz? The stealerships are probably the worst in the world. They are theives and liars. Gee ... wonder why I am not so interested in buying another MB ...
mcbrue tellingthetruthly under the bridge in the trailer down by the river
96 S420
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They may well be bad compared to the rest of the world because in the USA there are laws preventing the manufacturer from owning dealerships so you have a situation where the person fixing your car is considering his own financial interest and much less that of the manufacturer.
Politics do not always work for the citizen.
So maybe the car was bad , maybe not. .
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