SLK320 Headaches. Advice ?? [Detailed]

SLK320

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Hi guys.

Wondering if you have any advice. I am a bit stuck. Apologies for this being a long-winded post.

Bought a 2001 SLK320 from Signature MB (Dartford) last month. 1-owner. 5k miles (!!). And a good price ... !!

The dealer was very clear that it was a one-lady owner car (as evidenced by the V5), who had a few other cars and didn't use it very much. She had upgraded to the new SL350 recently.

Figured that this saved me lead time in ordering a new one and about 7000 pounds too ... as the car is loaded with the options that I wanted.

I figured it was a good buy (!!) with the edge of the depreciation curve taken out by someone else. Dealer was very pushy about selling me this one on the merits of its low low mileage ... despite my intention to go with a new car.

Anyway.

The point is that they insisted there was no crash damage or problems ... as I was suspect initially about the incongruity between the age of the vehicle and the low low mileage.

HPI completely clean. MB database checks completely clean too.

Gorgeous car for the current weather (!!). :cool: :cool:

Anyway. Since I bought it. I have noted a few problems.

1) Rattle from the underside of the car. Particularly evident over potholes. Like metal on metal. Not a rub, or a squeak. A rattle. Something sounds loose. Persistent. Very very irritating. The car has the optional sump shield so its hard to see any problems under the car directly.

2) Boot handle/lock is very stiff and sometimes can only be opened after cycling the lock/unlock a few times.

3) Internal light and locks cycle when the body flexes. Have isolated this to a dicky lock "sensor" in the boot. The door sensors work fine. I believe the boot one is unclipping when the body flexes (e.g., through 90 degree turns onto downhill side-streets).

4) Rusted (extensive) edges of the sump shield under the engine bay.

5) Dent in LT door (dentmaster repair a week after purchase!). Present at time of purchase !!

6) Paint chips on rear bumper.

7) Crack in front lower skirt / air dam ... unfortunately not noted by myself at time of purchase. Not obvious. But damaged nonetheless (and NOT BY ME!!).

Took the car to local MB workshops (Hampstead) and they put it up on a ramp to investigate (twice). They thought they cured it the first time I went it last week.

They then refused to undertake further work on the second attempt ... citing that there was evidence of overspray front and rear, and that any work would not be covered by warranty as the car had been crash damaged.

Okay. Basically no solutions and they didn't want to know.

Really pissed off at this stage.

Quick call to Dartford. No further info from them but they got Hampstead MB to forward an 'engineering report' to them about the issue. Basically says the same. That there is evidence of overspray and that the faults with the car may be related to repaired crash damage.

So. They asked me to bring the car in for their attention ... THEY HAVE ACCEPTED LIABILITY pending their own review of the car.

However. Before doing that. I have commissioned an RAC vehicle report (at my own cost of 250 pounds) to ensure that the car is safe to drive (worried about 'cut and shut' cars being sold on by MB !!) ... AND to get an independent opinion about the extent of the damage before I let them "fix everything".

They (RAC) think it is basically a sound car with a catalogue of small faults. They commented though that the combination of faults would be expensive to repair togehter.

But they too believe that the car has been resprayed front and rear.

The RAC guy thought that repairs were done to a very high standard as it was difficult to tell at first. He used an ultrasound machine to measure the thickness of the paint to figure the differences (!!!!!). Nil evidence of filler in any of the panels.

I basically am happy with the car as it is mechanically sound and drives beautifully otherwise ... as would be commensurate with mechanicals that had done 5000 miles.

There is no other evidence of replaced components or "newer" body parts on the car.

However. Here are my issues.

1) I still need advice about where to go within the great MB network to get this sorted out definitively. I basically want ALL the problems fixed now. And I don't really trust the department at Dartford ... they had their chance to check out the car properly before I bought it ... and messed up ... or failed to ensure the quality of the vehicle. They also failed to flag up crash repair damage ... despite my specific issue about this with them at time of purchase. SO WHERE TO GO NOW ?? I can get MB Dartford to authorise warranty work at any MB centre in the UK I guess ... is that right ??

2) I am concerned how "good quality repairs" be done to the car without the knowledge of MB on their database. Surely something should have been recorded or they should have detected it on their "Signature" checks ... ??

3) I am concerned about how all of this affects the value of the car. How much compensation should I be seeking in terms of devaluation of the vehicle if I keep it? RAC suggested 10% verbally but refused to include that in his report for fear of liability.

4) Should I pursue a swap under their "lemon" policy as the car is not as advertised (i.e., crash damaged). I would insist on same spec and same low mileage.

5) What if there are future problems with the car that are related to this damage. How do I ensure that MB will be responsible and will cover any further repairs necessary? Although the standard of repair work appears to be good ... how good can it really be if the car rattles and the boot lock fails intermittently ... ?? Especially with issues like evident rusting ... I am worried that the car will rust prematurely even after this is sorted out. It seems the rust-protection coating has been damaged.

Who do I take my grievances to within MB to get it sorted quickly ... in one go ??

Any advice/similar related experiences and help would be gratefully received.
 
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SLK320

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PS.

Forgot to mention ... I am now aware through friends that the SLK boot-locking mechanism problem is well recognised when the vehicle flexes. It apparently requires a replacement locking mechanism and someone to line the lock with the latch properly.

It happens even in the absence of crash damage?

Again. The boot and roof panels all fit perfectly with even panel-gaps and no un-evenness etc.

RAC guy thinks that perhaps the differing paint thinknesses in the roof and boot may be due to the roof/boot being sprayed separately from the rest of the car at time of manufacture ??

Anyone know ... ??
 

Maz

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I'd hand it back mate.

Get a replacement vehicle or your money back if you can.

Threaten to take them to court over this matter.

P.s I work for a Car Main Dealer :)
 

jimmy

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I'd insist on a replacement or money back. You could never be 100% happy with the car after all you have found out and going through all this hassle.

I do hope you get it sorted, keep us informed.
 

Andy W

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Dump it, insist on a replacement, just think of the hassle you will go through when you eventually come to sell it on.
 
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SLK320

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Thanks guys.

Bought the car end of June. Took it back as soon as I could for checks.

Anyway. Looks like I am going to have to have a chat with them tomorrow.
 

mbzslk230k

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Yes - SLK roof unit and Body are manufactured separately [not in same factory]
 

MainMan

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I guess the car could have been repaired by a non-Mercedes garage and then this wouldn't show up on the database. A lot of insurers demand that the car is taken to their own repairers and would not pay the premium for a Mercedes garage.

I've got a 2001 SLK320 myself and a couple of things that you said are worrying. The car shouldn't "flex" at all. In my experience the body is rock solid (top up or down). A lot of the road reports refer to the car being "hewn out of solid steel" and that's the way it feels even on the bumpy roads of Barnet and with a maniac at the wheel.

The other thing is the price. You say that you got about £7000 off. Is that off the new price? A few months ago I thought about selling my car (which had 12k on the clock and actually is undamaged and uncrashed). The best offer I got from the dealers was £17k which is actually about £17k below list - i.e. half price after 2 years. They said that this was the going rate. There's a new model coming out etc. So I didn't bother, but I would guess that the absolute maximum they allowed on your car was £20k - less if they knew it was repainted which they probably did.

If I were you I'd make their lives a misery till you get your money back.
 

manpolsabre

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Is there anyway you can contact the previous owner to see what happened to the car?

I would most definately go back to the garage and either get your money back, or, if there IS another car there you REALLY like, and if YOU WANT TO, swap it.

If everything fails threaten to tell the local papers, they would not want that publicity for sure.

A number of years ago a woman took a XR3i into my mates body shop, she had just bought it second hand from a local reputable Ford main dealer. He found it to be 2 cars welded into one! By all accounts the garage were unaware of this. and because they did not want the bad publicity, they gave her a brand new XR3i with her choice of colour.

Reputations go far in the garage business!!

76 Citroen 2CV
92 MB 300D
 

Shude

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Originally posted by manpolsabre
Is there anyway you can contact the previous owner to see what happened to the car?
Her name and address will be written on the V5 document :)
 
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SLK320

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Thanks for all your comments guys.

Am taking it up with them as I write.

MainMan : Thanks for your helpful comments. It would be good to compare notes at some stage. Regarding the 'flex'. I cannot hear anything and you are right. The car drives like it is hewn from a single block of steel (save for the rattle coming from somewhere under the car ??) ... I assumed there was some flex as the boot-switch problem only happens when turning a sharp 90 degree turn on an incline ... perhaps it is just the boot-lid that shifts a little ... ?? Looking at hte hinges on the boot mechanism, they don't take much lateral force ?!

Regards.
 

MainMan

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Could the rattle from underneath be the cat? I know that there was a problem with cats on the early 320s and a lot have had to be replaced. I had mine done a few weeks ago. It does cause a fairly persistent metallic rattle from underneath.
 
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jaymanek

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You have a lot of problems, and id agree witht the above.

But the spraying: Most cars dont make it through 3 years without small scuffs etc. (no discrimination, but it was also a lady owner and the small crack prob means she scuffed it) IF it was just the front and rear bumpers that have been sprayed to get rid of marks then i personally wouldnt worry. It would not show anywhere if it was just small damage that may have been repaired at a non mb garage.
But your major concern is the fact that the warranty is invalidated.

With the rust: The car is v low mileage. If it had been stood for a long time, rust spots do occur in some areas.

I would take it back and demand that they swap it, but remember, often v low mileage cars have more problems than high mileage. Rubber parts especially, perish without use and you end up with rattles etc... Parts start to rust if the car doesnt move etc etc. Look for one with average mileage (i count a 10K per year as average).

Jay
 

jaymanek

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Reading this over again, i really think this is all due to the car being stood, the boot lock for example could just have ceized up i understand the problem correctly....

Is it just the bumpers sprayed? because if so, MB might spray them again and replace the cracked one for you to keep your custom, then you will have a receipt for the work, and your warranty wont be invalidated??
 
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SLK320

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UPDATE :

The woman who sold the car to Mercedes apparently signed a declaration stating that the car has not been crash damaged.

However (!!).

The General Manager for MB Dartford called her up today and she 'fessed up about the damage ... !!! She basically said that the car was indeed crash-repaired.

Still.

Am pursuing a return of the vehicle now.

Fact of the matter is. It has been crash damaged. Repaired by non-Merc workshop and nobody can guarantee what was damaged/repaired. I believe that this situation violates even Mercedes' OWN warranty terms and conditions ... !?

The MB guy's hopeless attempt was ... "well it was probably something small" ... HA !! Not buying that for a second ... !!!
 

andy_k

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as long as you can get that bit about the crash damage in writing then they have no option but to refund/replace - it doesn't matter who didn't own up to what the fact is they have misrepresented something they sold to you and I suspect they'll only be too pleased to arrange a deal for you to avoid any negative publicity.

Start negotiating for a brand new car and see at what point they agree to compromise :)

It will probably work out a lot cheaper for them to part with a new car than to face a legal battle they would inevitably lose.

Andy
 
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SLK320

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Yes. That is a good point.

Luckily I do have all of this in writing.

The crash damage was first noted by MB Hampstead. They provided a copy of their OWN assessment.

Then. I have the independent RAC report which agrees with MB Hampstead's findings.

I am not going to take no for an answer.

Now all I need to do is to find a suitable replacement. I think it might be less hassle to tack on a bit more money and get a brand new car now.

Not worth the hassle to get 'nearly new' or 'used approved' any more. They can't even be trusted to check their own cars out !!
 

andy_k

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tee hee if you are willing to dig your heels in and go for a fight you should be able to convince them that it in their interest to supply you with a brand new car without parting with any money.

refuse any offer that is less than your current vehicle/spec/mileage etc then add the costs and inconvenience of arranging independent inspections and reports, loss of earnings etc. Then start mentioning things like misrepresentation, fraud, trading standards, solicitors plus any TV programme you think may be interested - Watchdog, Top Gear, newspapers and magazines which run big motoring columns. Round it off with threats of settling in court which would cost them an awful lot of money and you should be well on the way :)

At the end of the day the dealer will not lose anything - they will pursue the woman who sold them the car for any losses they incur.

You have nothing to lose asking for a new car in direct replacement - go for it :)

Andy
 
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SLK320

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UPDATE : Thanks for advice !!

Just a quick update.

After a bit of trouble, they agreed to take back the dud SLK320 from me.

They came and collected it over the weekend.

I get all my money back (full refund). Plus a small bonus. Plus ALL costs incurred to me.

A slightly discounted new CLK320 (W209) is on its way to me instead. I ended up taking someone elses cancelled build date. They lost the deposit for cancelling. They gave me the deposit discounted from the total price ... !!

Pending delivery on a September 53 plate !! Hehe !!

I had to top up the difference ... of course !! But still ... the credit note covers most of the cost.

I've had my fill of driving the SLK320. Nice cabrio. But not as super-solid as the big-Mercs ... I guess this is to be expected with a cabrio of any form ... ??

Am getting excited about this one now ... !! At least the newer model should last me a while.

Can always consider the new R171 SLK when it arrives ... ??

Separately.

Anything I should watch out for in the first thousand miles? Any common problems with this model ??

Thanks again for all the advice guys !! Glad I pursued it instead of settling for a "repair" ...

They came good when my friendly lawyer gave them a ring with the fantastic opening line ...

"I am calling from <Magic Circle Law Firm>. I am not a "LegalAid lawyer" ... If I get involved my hourly rate is XXXX.XX ... I think you should listen to what I have to say on behalf of my client ... "

Not bad particularly as I have enjoyed the car despite its faults for the best 2 months of the summer (and 2k miles !!).

Regards.




PS. in the end, a further independent review revealed that the entire front bonnet had been changed !!! Just goes to show that even Mercedes cannot be depended on to check their own products before re-selling. I think they have been WELL AND TRULY HAD this time by the previous "lady owner" ... haha !!!

I guess they will now pursue their losses with her as she signed a form to claim that the car was not crash-repaired when she sold it back to them ... !!
 

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