Well, those of you who have been following the saga of the Mercedes from Hell will be happy to know that the piece of shit is gone. History. Sayonnara.
No, I didn’t drive it into a lake or into the Potomac, although I seriously considered it. The Redhead persuaded me not to do that, lest I get arrested or something. He’s a smart kid, that one. But we did trade that thing in for another… JEEP!
Why a Jeep? Because it’s a Jeep, DUH! An awesome, sturdy workhorse that runs and runs and runs. Plus it’s infinitely cool, and can drive up an icy hill (or in and out of a muddy swamp – something the hunk of junk Mercedes just couldn’t handle.
When we last left that rancid piece of crap, it needed new rotors, it had leaky seals, and worn rear spring link bushings. I decided to get the most pressing things done first, so I had new rotors put on it, as well as a new rear tire. I was going to fix the other stuff with subsequent paychecks.
And then… in April… the Redhead’s “service engine” light came on. You ever get that feeling of dread when you take your car to the mechanic? Like you know you’re about to get heinous news that will force you to decide between buying groceries and fixing your car that week? Yeah, I had that feeling. And sure nuff…
…the Mercedes dealership told the Redhead he needed two new fuel pumps at a cost of $1200. Well… I’d had enough. It wasn’t going to happen. I told him to get that car out of there and never look back. He did, but not before I was forced to pay a $135 fee for them having done nothing at all other than look at the vehicle and keep it overnight, because even though the place closes at 8pm, apparently the service shop people left earlier and didn’t specify if they had finished putting the car back together).
I then called Benz Elite, which is the most awesome automotive shop I think I’ve ever had to deal with. They took a look at the hunk of junk and told us it did need new fuel pumps, because the sensors went bad on the old ones, but it definitely wouldn’t cost $1200! That was welcome news. But at this point, I’d just kind of had it. I told the Redhead that if one more bloody thing goes wrong with this car, it was going away. Far away. And then I made the appointment to get the fuel pumps replaced.
On the morning of our appointment at Benz Elite, the Redhead got into the car, turned the key in the ignition… attempted to turn the key in the ignition… tried and tried again to turn the key in the ignition… But nothing happened. The key wouldn’t turn. I called Benz Elite and explained the situation. They said it was either the key, or the electronic ignition switch, but they couldn’t determine which until they saw the car. Enter the towing company, dispatched by my insurance company.
The Benz from hell was towed to Benz Elite, where they determined that the electronic ignition switch was bad. They called to see how quickly the supplier would get the part. They were told that they will no longer be selling electronic keys or ignition switches to private shops – just Mercedes service centers. Seriously. Not even kidding. Mercedes will get their money one way or another, apparently.
So………. off we went to the nearest Mercedes service center. I think my anger was fairly palpable, because when the service guy told me it would cost $1200 to repair that ignition switch, and another $260 to replace the key, I just about lost it. Needless to say, I did not pay that much.
After that fiasco of a morning, the Redhead and I headed to the gym, where he asked me, “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, isn’t it?”
When we got home, I handed him the keys to my Jeep Wrangler, and told him to practice driving it. He already knew how to drive a stick, but he just needed to get more proficient on hills. Within the hour, he came back and declared that he was confiscating the Jeep for good! Apparently, the kid likes driving it. And he drove it, and drove it, and drove it, and now it is his.
And because the Mercedes from hell has been traded in for another JEEP! And that Jeep is mine!
So what have I learned from this fiasco?
1 – Deal with a reputable dealer. I got the Jeep from an Acura dealership that happened to have the vehicle on its lot. I told them how much I wanted to spend. They worked with me, and I got a very fair deal. They also gave me a repair record of everything they did to this car before they sold it.
2 – If the dealer won’t let you take the car to another mechanic, run away. The Acura place let me have the car overnight, encouraged me to drive it around and allowed me to take it to the mechanic of my choice. I also had another buddy, whom I trust implicitly, and who knows way more about cars than most people, look at it as well.
3 – As the State Police officer, who is in charge of the inspection stations in the area told me: don’t deal with any of these shady dealers who open up used car lots and who have their buddies do any work that’s needed.
4 – Mercedes sucks! It may be a tank. It may be safe. It may be a luxury car that’s very pretty, but anytime anything goes wrong with it, expect at least a $1000 repair! Screw that. Plus, a Mercedes that a dealer tells you is in near “mint” condition can literally fall apart mere weeks after you drive it off the lot. Take it to your mechanic. If he won’t let you and tries to assure you that the car is great, see #2.
I did a lot of stupid things when getting this car. I stupidly assumed that the Mercedes would last and last and last (aided oh-so-helpfully by the dealer who assured me what kind of good deal I was getting). I stupidly assumed that him taking the car to HIS mechanic was sufficient, and that taking the car to MY mechanic would be superfluous. I stupidly bought the damn Mercedes, because I wanted the Redhead to be safe and happy, and because it really did appear to be a good deal. Right up until it wasn’t. I stupidly trusted the dealer, who postured himself to be extremely knowledgeable about cars.
I will not make that mistake again.