A quick background – I love Mercedes cars. As a kid my dad had one for a few years (incidentally, he hated it) and I always liked riding it. When we went to the dealership I would be drawn in by the pro-Mercedes anti-BMW propaganda.
When I bought my first car with my own money, it was a 1985 Mercedes 380SE. It was ten years old at the time, was the first car I’d even test driven, but I really loved the car. Even though it was so old it had good features and was fun to drive. Two months later, it broke.
Several years later I bought my second Mercedes, a 1994 E320 Coupe. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Mercedes Coupes. For one they have really cool four place seating, so instead of three squished seats in the back you have two full ones with a console in the middle. Their lines are beautiful, and they’re fairly rare. I actually still have that car, although my brother, Devon, drives it right now.
When I was in LA browsing craigslist I saw a 1994 S600 Coupe for sale. For reference, 1995 is my favorite year for Mercedes, followed by 1994. Those two years are marked as the last years that Mercedes was known to build the highest quality cars with the most features. After that they must have decided there wasn’t a demand for a car built with no regard for price, and they started skimping. Even today the 1994 S600 has features that you can’t get (although there have been many technological improvements that the 1994 doesn’t have as well).
I had always wanted a 94-95 Coupe. The S500 is the 5 liter V8 and the S600 is the 6 liter V12. I didn’t really have any intention of buying the car, but I’d always wanted to test drive one, and I knew that I could afford it if I really wanted it. Of course I drove it and loved it. The coupes made in those two years use a very rare body style that looks so modern that most people assume that it is much newer. I had to have it. It had a warranty, so I figured that I would buy it and then sell it if the warranty ran out.
For a long time I drove the car happily with no problems. Occasionally something small would go wrong and I would have it serviced at the dealer. I’d heard that the Austin Mercedes Dealership was horrible, but my experience was ok at first. They gave me a free rental car, and I didn’t have to pay for the repairs because of the warranty, so I was happy.
Then my wiring harness broke. The one major pitfall of nearly every 1994-1995 Mercedes is that they replaced the wire sheathings with biodegradable rubber. It’s a noble cause and all, but under the heat of the engine, the sheathing deteriorates and the wires short each other out, causing electrical havoc. I knew that this would happen to my car, and was very glad it happened under warranty.
First of all, for some reason my “service advisor” doesn’t like it when I get a free rental car. I have no idea why. I told her I’d be bringing it in the following day and she said she’d have a car for me. I called at 1:30 to let her know I was coming in.
“Hi, I’m bringing the car in now.”
“Ok, great. We’re ready for you.”
“Do you have the rental ready?”
“Well, I thought you were going to come in early. It’s really late now.”
“It’s only 1:30.”
“Well, I already gave your car to someone else.”
“Don’t you have another one you can rent me?”
“No. We don’t like to rent cars over the weekend.”
WHAT? They don’t like to rent cars over the weekend? What do they like doing with the cars over the weekend? Is there some underground mercedes employee-only rally race that’s going down with these things every weekend?
I continued, but it became clear that there was no way I was going to get a rental car. Fine. The car needed to be repaired anyway, so I brought it in.
A few days later a rental car was available, and I somehow was permitted to go get it. This is extremely fortunate, because the repair took FOREVER.
For literally over two weeks in a row (every business day) I would call in and be assured that I could have my car the next day. It was a huge joke by the end, because I would ask about it but I knew I wouldn’t actually have it the next day.
Anyway… I finally got my car back. I was a little upset at the delay, but didn’t really care because I got a $4,000 repair for free.
The next time I went back was because my windshield was broken. Ironically it broke on the way home from the wiring repair. They fixed it quickly.
Then two weeks later a guy in front of me had a blowout. A huge chunk of tire goes flying in the air and lands directly in front of my face. I really thought that it was going to go through the glass and kill me. Instead it destroyed my windshield.
I called back in to the mercedes dealership and the service lady actually laughed at me. We made an appointment for me to bring it in that Friday. I call Friday and guess what? She forgot to order the winshield. She must have felt bad because when it finally got fixed, she didn’t charge me. This is good because they charge $700 for these suckers.
I won’t even get into the debacle with the new tires I got. Yeah, actually I will. I needed lug bolts for them, and she claimed that they didn’t have the right size. Could they order the right size? No. Did she check with anyone who knew? No.
I literally drove all over the place trying to find the right bolts for this thing. I finally found them in HOUSTON. For those of you who live in a better state than Texas, that’s a good three hour drive. After two months, I was ready to put the new wheels on.
At a hefty price, Mercedes Benz of Austin put them on with the new bolts and said everything was fine. Was everything fine? Nope. They were too long and one destroyed one of my brakes. At this point the warranty was up, so I was paying for repairs.
I was actually in the garage watching the guy fix it when he says, “Yeah, these aren’t the right size bolts. Let me get some.”
What? Get some? From where?
From the parts bin. That’s right… I drove all over the place and made dozens of calls to get some bolts that THEY HAD ALL ALONG.
Even after all this crap, I was still going with them. I liked that they gave me free rental car, and would pick me up or drop me off if necessary. They gave me a free windshield, so that bought them some slack.
A few days ago my car wouldn’t start. I had left the door open by accident for a few hours, so I figured it was a battery issue. I tried jumping it to no avail. I told my friend Nick about the problem over the phone (he lives in Pennsylvania) and he decided that it was a minor problem that would be easily fixed. Mercedes of Austin disagreed. They sent a tech to my house who determined it was a compression problem. Compression problems are expensive, and doubly so with this car.
At this point I wanted to take it to Ben’s Workshop, which is a high quality Mercedes only shop that I’ve dealt with in the past. I’ve never had a major problem with them.
However, the dealership provides free towing if you have your car repaired there, so I decided to just have it towed there.
Another compression test later and they decided it was definitely a compression problem.
Then they do a third test and they realize it’s not compression, but was a simple problem as Nick had diagnosed OVER THE PHONE. How sad is it that my friend over the phone is better at figuring out what’s wrong with a car than Mercedes mechanics who are looking at it.
Oh, did I mention that I didn’t get a rental car for free? They’ve changed their policy and don’t give them out anymore. Of course, their phone system still tells you about the free towing and free rental car as you’re waiting to decide whether or not to have the repair done.
They send a friendly gentleman named John to come pick me up and get my car. I get there and pay my bill, thankful that it’s not the thousands of dollars it would have been if there was a compression problem.
I get in my car and notice that there’s a huge piece of the front bumper on the back seat. Huh? No one told me that they broke that. Also, the car wasn’t washed, as it has been every other time I got it fixed.
On my way home I look at the bill. They charged me for two compression tests. Is that reasonable? I don’t know. On one hand, people deserve to be compensated for their time. On the other hand, when I’m paying a gazillion dollars an hour, I expect someone who knows what the hell they’re doing to be performing tests on my car.
And the cherry on top? I got charged for towing.
From now on, my business goes to Ben’s workshop. I don’t actually think this is a very interesting article, but google loves me these days so now it will show up when people search for Mercedes Benz Austin. Victory is mine!