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Should I put a re-built transmission in my Mercedes?

I’m looking for your advice on what to do with my car. I have had the radiator replaced and the transmission flushed twice on my 2003 Mercedes CLK320 and it looks as if I need a new (rebuilt) transmission. Also, do you know if Mercedes has replaced transmissions free of charge relative to the problem I have had? A Mercedes shop diagnosed my problem, but I had the car towed to an independent mechanic when Mercedes told me that to remedy the situation would be $9,500 (replace radiator and install re-built transmission). I have spent $1,500 with the independent to have a new radiator installed and the transmission flushed twice.

I drive 8 miles to work on the freeway. When I return home I drive these 8 miles on a canyon road instead of the freeway. On a Tuesday I noticed the car “clunking” when I came to a stop on the way home. There are 10 stops signs on my route. Wednesday - no problem in the morning on the way to work, but the same problem on the way home. This repeated on Thursday. Friday on the way home I had the same problem PLUS shifting between first and second gear was rough. That evening I made arrangements to drop the car Saturday morning to the Mercedes dealer (6 miles from my home). On the way to the dealer I had the same shifting problem. On Monday the dealer told me that the radiator had cracked and coolant flowed into the transmission.

I called an independent mechanic for a second opinion and had the work I mentioned above performed on the car.

Now - what should I do? The car has 65,000 miles on it and I feel Mercedes has let me down. I have no warranty remaining on the vehicle.

If I understand the post correctly, you had the problems, had the raditaor replaced and the tranny flushed twice, and now have the car back?

Are there now any signs of a problem? If not, just monitor the tranny and cooling fluid (normal good maintenance anyway) and enjoy the car unless it exhibits signs again. If it does, you may want to consider dumping it. If not, then you’re fine.

If you’re now feeling that the car is unreliable, simply trade it.

I still have the problem. Since the car’s book value is $13,000 with a GOOD transmission I may just dump it, BUT the rest of the car is in good shape. I’m not sure how much a re-built will be with an independent mechanic yet. There are only 65,000 miles on this transmission and I expected it to last much longer.

Thanks very much for your reply.

I guess you wouldn’t have posted if the trans flush had fixed the shifting. Was the transmission pan dropped and the filter checked/replaced?

If coolant had been flowing around in the trans for a significant amount of time the damage is done, can’t flush away erosion. This is the downside of luxury cars: luxury upkeep costs.

Engine coolant WILL destroy an automatic transmission. You can flush it until you are blue in the face but the simple fact is, engine coolant destroys the friction elements inside automatics. What happens is the friction material will start coming off of its backing plates, stop up the filter and burn up the transmission. Its also not good for sealing rings. In short, yes the transmission is doomed. As far as MB covering the trans, I seriously doubt it unless the radiator had some sort of warranty and the trans failure was due to the failing of the covered part. Check around with rebuilders $8,000 for a rebuilt trans??? ABSOLUTELY NOT. You are looking at around $1200 just in parts (Master overhaul kit, pump, and torque converter) If thats all it needs of course. If you wait too long and burn it up then you are looking at lots more.


$1500 to replace the radiator and have the transmission flushed twice?


And that was an INDEPENDENT?

We have the same problem with our 03 CLKs. I had a new radiator and xmission flush for 1250 at the local MB dealer. THey said its a common problem with many 03s. Only temporary solution is to run the xmission in W mode. It starts in second gear and gets rid of the jerky shifting from 1 to 2. I plan on trading it in on a Lexus.