Our Mercedes A-Class Woes

This page is about the Mercedes A-Class woes I have experienced with our Mercedes A-Classes, A140, A160 and A210.

The A-Class we have at the moment is our second A-Class (April 2003), we bought our second one after we decided that we would rather have the Air Conditioning option than the sun roof we had in the first car, after we had only used the sun roof 3 times in 1 year.

Please don’t think I am knocking the A-Class here, I actually like driving the car, its nice to drive, what I am knocking here is the support (or rather lack of it) from Mercedes Benz and the problems with the Service Assist which MB seem reluctant to sort out.

Our problems with the A-Class have only been with this latest car, an A140 Avantgarde, and not with the original car, an A160 Avantgarde.

Problem 1
ourold a140Our first problem with the car was with the instrument panel and the service assist. (The Service Assist is a MB function of its cars which monitor the car and tell you when the car needs a service. In my opinion it’s a pain in the backside in the A-Class as you’ll read below)

The problem was that the car told us it needed a service at just 3000 miles, or 9 months in to owning the car.

I took the car to the local dealer, MB Macclesfield, who informed me that although the service interval is 10,000 miles or 12 months it also depends on your driving style or how the car has been driven. Not convinced, I asked them to take a look at the car and to reset the service interval, as I’d checked the oil and it was still like new!

They checked the car and found that the instrument panel was to blame and replaced it under warranty.

I also asked for the instrument panel to be reset to 18 months for the service interval, whether they did this or whether they said they had just to humour me remains to be seen or could this be the reason for this problem re-occurring!

The service light did come on again at 3,563 miles or 12 months, 3 months after the above but 12 months from new, and I did have the car serviced as I was informed that the car did need a service as doing few miles is as bad for the car as doing many miles. I know this is bollocks but we needed the car right as we where going on holiday the following week. This was in September 2002.

The problem seemed to go away for a while after we’d had the car serviced but recently (04/2003) then problem has resurfaced again.

The car has now done 4600 miles, which is 1100+ ish miles since its last service and the car is now telling us that it needs another service. What! Ridiculous, the car wasn’t used for 1 month of the past 8 months how can it possibly need a service.

Back to the Mercedes dealers, where the service assistant agrees almost immediately that the car shouldn’t need a service after just 8 months and 1100 miles. So the car is booked in to be looked at again the following week.

After dropping the car off the service department phone me at the end of the day to tell me that there is a problem with the instrument panel and this will need changing, they also inform me that there is a problem with the oil sensor gauge and this is also changed, both are done under warranty.

I return the next day to pick up the car but when I get in and start the engine half of the digital display on the dashboard is missing. The gear selector indicator (its an Auto) and the temperature display are missing.

Now you would have thought that after all the times this car had been into the garage, 6 in total, they would have at least checked to make sure everything was right before giving it back to me, after all they did have the car for a day and a half. But No! It seems to be the only standard that MB strive to perfect is poor customer service.

Problem 2
This is what happens when you let a Mercedes Benz Battery go flat.

We bought our A-Class in 2001 and were well happy with it until we returned from a recent holiday in Japan, which we where away for just over 3 weeks for.

On our return our A-Class would only just start, but it started! However the engine management light came on. After a quick look in the manual I see that the light should go out in a few days but if it doesn’t then you should take it to the dealer as there is a problem with the fuel management or the emission control system. I just put it down to the car not having been used for a few weeks.
So I drive round for a few days but the light remains on, so I ring the dealer and book the car in for a looking at.

I take the car down a few days later and explain the situation and am told that the engine management system has logged a fault and it needs to be reset. I get the car back later that day along with a bill for £44.06.

Isn’t this covered under the warranty? Asks I.

Apparently not and below is both my dealer and Mercedes Benz head office view of why.

“Because the battery was left to go flat, through no fault of Mercedes Benz, a fault appeared within the cars engine management system. This fault is due to the battery voltage dropping below a set amount (Which nobody will tell me!, so I can’t monitor it). And as a fault has been logged in the cars computer memory, the engine management light comes on and stays on. Even when the voltage returns to normal the light is not switched off.”

Now this is where MB have got you by the balls. If you don’t take the car to the dealership to get the light turned off and something is wrong, MB will want to know why you didn’t bring it in when the fault first appeared and it’s possible they won’t do any repairs under warranty because of this. However if you do take the car to be checked it will cost you £44.06 each time.

So can you take the battery off the car and charge it? NO, because the computer may already have registered a fault and you’ll have to take the car to be reset.

Jump starting the car, same thing.

Can I take the battery off if it’s going to be stored, possibility of the same as above! Plus the Alarm/immobiliser won’t work and your insurance company probably won’t cover the loss if it’s stolen.

The only thing to do is buy a trickle charger which MB will sell you!!!!

MB tells me that this fault process is “For your safety!” I’d be interested to know if other models in the MB range do this.

£44.06 tells me all I need to know. Basically I see this as P*ss poor engine management software that´s all! How about detecting what the message is, then analysing when the problem disappears. How hard can it be to monitor a voltage drop?

All I can say is that this to me seems like another way that MB is stealth charging their owners.

Since originally writing this I have found out that you can turn the light off, by turning the steering wheel from lock to lock with the engine running. However the fault is still logged in the engine management and you have the same problem if MB find out.


The car seems fine at the moment and despite the problems I do like the car. Its got shed loads of space inside for such a small car, its great on the motorway, 70mph and 2200 rpm on the rev counter and its fun to drive, compared to my Toyota Crown anyway!

Would I get rid of it. Maybe, but maybe not. And would I buy another, well, we’ve already been looking at another and maybe next year when this one is 3 years old we might get a A-Class Evolution, hmm nice!

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