What Car? Helpdesk - June 1: Power loss for Mercedes

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Name John Bentley
Age 60
Lives Bristol
Job Sales manager
Car Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI
Problem Loss of power

Is it safe for a car to lose power suddenly? We don’t think so, although Mercedes-Benz appears to disagree. Helpdesk has heard from a number of Mercedes drivers who have had this problem with their C220 CDIs. John Bentley is one of them.

‘While driving on the M4, the engine management warning light appeared and the car lost power – very dangerous, as I was in the outside lane travelling at 70mph,’ John said. ‘The car lost speed and wouldn’t respond to the throttle. Luckily I was able to get off the motorway and limp home.’

The AA was called out, but soon realised John’s car was beyond roadside repair, so it was taken to Mercedes-Benz of Bristol.

‘I was told that the problem was due to the fuel injection system, and was such a common fault that there was a considerable wait for the parts.’

• Contact Mercedes. All owners of affected vehicles should have received letters by now.
• Don’t panic if you’re driving. Make your way to the hard shoulder or side of the road as soon as possible.
John applied some pressure through the leasing company that had supplied his car, and his C-Class was back on the road within a week. However, he felt that if this was a common problem, then the car should be subject to a recall.

After hearing from other C-Class owners who had similar experiences, we contacted Mercedes to ask if owners should be contacted about the fault and whether it was going to be dealt with via a recall.

‘We have just written to the owners of 900 cars made in the summer and autumn of 2009, informing them of a technical issue with the injection system on some C- and E-Class models with the 220 CDI and 250 CDI engines. There’s a four-to-five week wait for the replacement parts, which are fitted free of charge.’

Isn’t a sudden loss of power a safety fault? ‘Not all cars with this technical issue lose power,’ said Mercedes. ‘In some cases the engine warning light illuminates and the engine sounds rough. This is a refinement and comfort issue, not a safety fault.’

We’re pleased that Mercedes is taking action. However, we can’t see how a sudden loss of power, which could take place in the outside lane of a motorway, or during an overtaking manoeuvre, can be considered safe.

Got a question?
E-mail wchelpdesk@whatcar.com

Personalised number plate
David Hunter wants to buy a personalised numberplate, but doesn’t plan to buy the car he will put it on for a few months. Will this be a problem?


No. David will have until the expiry date shown on the V750 Certificate of Entitlement to put the plate on a vehicle. He can extend the entitlement period for up to three years for a fee of £25 per year.

What Car? Helpdesk - June 2: Missing service history

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