By February 6, 20070 Comments Read More →

1996 Mercedes 230SL

Reader Question: I have a 1996 Mercedes 230SL with 98K that I brought in for service. They changed the oil and flushed the transmission along with a few other things. Upon picking it up, I drove home which is less than 5 miles.

The next day, I drove it to do some errands and within the first mile, a terrible noise came from the rear. Fearing the worst, I had it towed back to the mechanic and he said he would look at it.

After four days of trying to reach him, I finally talked with his (wife) and she said that they found metal pieces in the pan-DAAAH! They said it was my fault for not bringing the car in earlier for a flush, and feeling maybe a little guilty they would try in keep the costs down ($2,000).

I have no proof that they did or didn’t put the oil back in and of coarse they said they did. One question is that during a flush would this entirely remove all shavings, pieces, etc.

The pieces they found after dropping the pan I feel are from not putting oil back in. Also, how far could you drive the car without oil, I would have to say I drove it less than 5 miles?

It now comes down to my word against his and he is the mechanic and claims just coincidence and not to blame. I am trying to find several mechanics just to talk with to understand there viewpoint. I do not know what my rights are, I need the car, and this whole thing could take awhile.

Should I just bite my lip and pay?



Hey David,

That is going to be a tough situation to get out of and I am not very sure what to tell you to do. Your vehicle is 11 years old, but doesn’t have very high mileage and I would not really expect there to be a problem with the transmission service unless there was a transmission problem like slipping or noise before the flush.

This article is a little too late, but still might shed some light on the problem.

Article on Transmission Slipping

They might not have installed the transmission fluid. Nevertheless, you should have experienced a lot of slipping if that was really the case. Since you had the failure in only 5 miles, it sure sounds like a problem happened because of their transmission flush.

I have had engines blow up on tests drives when the customer just brought the car in for a state inspection sticker so weird things DO happen.

I have insurance for this, and my insurance company paid for a new engine for this customer I am referring to. I would ask the shop owner to contact their insurance company and submit a claim. Unless they do not have any formal insurance at all, I would bet they are covered. You might offer to pay the deductible…or not.

My shop replaces an engine about twice a year because a local fast lube place forgets to add the engine oil after an oil change. If you have a prior relationship with this shop, you might want to try to work with them on this issue and pay some of the expense.

However, if they are your regular shop for maintenance they should have recommended a transmission flush earlier to help prevent this and not put the blame on you to get the flush done earlier.

They are the experts you are the driver. If you get your oil changed there regularly, they should have it documented on the work order that they recommended a flush to you. I personally think it is a cop out.

I also do not like the fact that they did not return your calls and the wife had to step in. This shop might not be experienced enough to overhaul this transmission my shop would not be, and I would sub the work out to a local transmission shop.

I think the $2,000 is probably the going rate and not really much of a deal, you should make a few calls to local transmission shops in your area before you agree to let them work on it more.

Austin Davis

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