Mercedes Isn't Alone; Other Automakers Have Told Owners To Park Their Vehicles
Automakers don't like recalls, but they have to do them. Take Ford, for example. Lately, Ford SUVs have been recalled for problems with their drivelines. The driveshaft in the SUVs has had a problem. A washer can disintegrate, leaving vehicles unable to use the Park setting.
How The Park Setting Works
When a vehicle goes into Park, the driveshaft is supposed to stop to allow a pawl to grab the shaft and keep the vehicle from moving. The disintegrating washer prevents this, letting the vehicle roll, possibly causing a crash. Ford has announced a fix for this problem. There's a similar problem with pickups, although the cause is different. In this one, a short cable and a bushing combine to keep the trucks from going into Park. Again, Ford has recalled the vehicles and is in the process of repairing them.
Though the automakers don't like recalls, they also know that problems, if left unfixed, are horrible public relations, so they try to fix things as quickly as possible. Various publications like Torque News continue to bring them to you so that you know when or if your vehicle is involved.
Most of the time, it is a matter of waiting for the dealer to have the parts needed to fix it. Indeed, you can usually drive your vehicle while you wait for your service appointment, or your dealer waits for the parts to set up your service appointment.
However, there are times when you may be told to park your vehicle and walk. It has happened many times in the last several years. For example, Hyundai and Kia, the corporate twins – though Hyundai is the primary sibling – ordered drivers of their SUVs a few years ago to stop driving them and walk due to a potential problem with contaminated brake fluid and the potential for a fire. NHTSA, the safety agency, suggested the vehicles be parked outside to keep homes safe. It has also done this with other vehicles. GM's Chevy Bolt, which has had a problem with overcharging and overheating, has also told customers to park them and walk. Just about every automaker has had the problem.
New Name Joins' Park, Walk Club'
A new name to join the "park and walk club" is Mercedes-Benz. According to an Associated Press report. The German automaker is set to recall nearly 300,000 2006 to 2012 ML, G, and R-Class vehicles for problems that could leave them without brakes. In its filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the automaker noted that this is an urgent matter.
In its paperwork, Mercedes indicates that owners of the affected vehicles should stop driving them because the brakes can fail, leading to a crash. The problem is corrosion caused by moisture entering and damaging the brake booster. The issue could leave the vehicle without brakes due to a vacuum leak caused by the corrosion. The leak will degrade brake performance.
If a driver slams on the brakes, the booster might be damaged, making the vehicle impossible to halt with the standard brakes. The saving grace, according to the automaker, is that the foot-activated parking brake, which is mechanical, can stop the vehicle
Mercedes will begin notifying owners on May 27. Dealer service techs will check the affected vehicles when an appointment is set. According to the AP, they will take off the rubber sleeve covering the device and inspect the brake booster.
M-B’s Request Is Urgent
As this is an urgent, current problem, Mercedes dealers will provide loaners to owners whose vehicles cannot be serviced quickly. Indeed, the automaker will tow the impacted vehicles to dealerships for service.
For more information, you can contact Mercedes at 888-548-8514. Or you can contact NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. Or owners can go to the agency's website at www.nhtsa.gov.
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.