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What do you think of this repair scenario, and what to do with the car now?

Ok, so our Mercedes had “check engine” light on so we took it to the dealer. $$$ later, with new vacuum tubes, air filters, transmission job, they tell me it is ready and to pick up the car. As I am driving home, the car is engulfed in white smoke coming from the exhaust, with acrid smell. I take it back, and after a few weeks trying to figure out what is wrong with it, the Mercedes dealer tells me oil is leaking into one cylinder, which would cost at least $3-6k to fix, He is willing to refund me the original $$ but says since they did not cause the problem, won’t fix it. But now the car is pouring white smoke and essentially not driveable. Is it possible that this is just “coincidence” that white smoke starts pouring out of the car after all this work on the engine and the repairs guys have nothing to do with it?? Does an oil leak into a cylinder just “start” like that, all of a sudden?

And what does one do with a car in this condition? Can we donate it to an autobody school who will fix it and learn from it?

Well, white billowing smoke sounds more to me like antifreeze leaking into the combustion chamber rather than oil. Regardless, it doesn’t seem likely they caused this problem during their service based on what you say they touched although it can’t be ruled out entirely. Not many shops would be willing to refund the entire repair amount in this situation so I think you’re somewhat lucky in that regard. So, how much was the original repair bill? Why not apply that amount to the current problem and have them fix it? Otherwise, take them up on their offer and sell the car to someone with the skills to fix it. Donation is another good solution that could be a win-win.

Don’t know anything about vacume tubes in a car? Used to replace them in the TV 50 years ago but not in a car. The one thing to think about is that if the trans uses a vacume modulator and it is leaking, it can suck trans fluid into the combustion chamber and give you smoke. Particularly since they worked on the trans. You may not need an engine so get your refund and take it to a different reliable shop and have the modulator checked. If its the engine, junk the car. You always go back and check the work you just did though, coincidences are rare.

Model year, mileage on car??

Your S-500 needs head gaskets. Surely there is an independent shop that can do that for less than $3000. Shoot a whole used engine shouldn’t cost that much. Check for one near you

I agree with Bing on this. If that vacuum modulator is leaking the engine will draw tranny fluid into the engine and that stuff makes big thick white acrid clouds. It’ll also send lesser techs searching for an elusive vacuum leak, which is probably why they replaced all your vacuum lines.

Take the refund and go elsewhere. Check your tranny fluid before driving there. Or, better yet, have it towed.