April 29

1995 Mercedes C220, Ignition Lock Replacement



Mark: Hi this is Mark from Top Local, we're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Good, very well.

Mark: So we're going to talk about a Mercedes. A 1995 Mercedes C220, that needed an ignition lock replacement. This car is getting pretty old, what was wrong with the ignition?

Bernie: Well our client had to have the vehicle towed into the shop because he could not turn the key. It would slide into the ignition lock, but it was simply jammed up. The key wouldn't turn, so the steering wheel's locked up, and the car wouldn't start. Pretty serious if you wan tot go anywhere.

Mark: So just taking a wild guess, I imagine this was not a simple repair?

Bernie: No it wasn't. It was actually extremely complicated on this car, because the way it's designed, Mercedes being a little bit more advanced than most manufacturers. Tend to think of, you know, how can we make sure people can't just punch a screwdriver though the lock, and break the key. So it's extremely difficult to do anything with this vehicle once the key locks up. Even dismantling it, getting it out of the dash is a horrendous amount of work. It's very precise, things have to be, to take the lock apart, you have to turn the key to a certain position. Well if you can't do that, then it's a matter of like breaking things apart, and that's no simple task because you can't even take the locks off the dash easily, to bust things apart. There's a lot of dismantling involved in the process.

Mark: So if the owner had come in at the first sign of trouble, would this have been an easier repair?

Bernie: Super-easy! They way that this vehicle is designed; if you can turn the lock to position one, there's a little tool, and a ring on the front of the lock. You twist it, it comes out. You know it would have been probably a $100, to $150 job to fix it, put a new lock cylinder in. He left it, it’s probably gonna be $1,000 or so dollars, because you have to replace the whole lock unit behind it. Excessive amount of labor. Not excessive, but just what it takes to do the job. So there's a lot more work. So if you have one of these cars, the key is, you know, the moment you experience any issues with the lock, like it's a little stiff or, get the lock cylinder, the key cylinder replaced right away, while you still can. Cause it's cheap and it's easy.

I'm going to share a couple of photos of the job, so you can get some magnitude of what's going on here.

1995 Mercedes C220, Ignition Lock Replacement
1995 Mercedes C220, Ignition Lock Replacement
1995 Mercedes C220, Ignition Lock Replacement

So here's a view of the dash with the steering wheel off. On the right here, this is the actual lock cylinder after we've broken the ring off the front, drilled out the lock. The steering wheel normally sits here, the instrument cluster's been removed, the lower dash panel. There was a lot to remove to get at this lock. So that's just somewhat of an example of what needs to be done.

Here's a close-up of the lock cylinder somewhat destroyed. Again, had he been able to do it with a key, this would have been an easy job, and it would have popped out. Again, it wouldn't turn. Finally, I'll just share another photo. This is the whole lock assembly. So, on your right, this is the lock and tumblers with new keys. Again, just slides into this unit right here, but all this part needed to be replaced because the lock wouldn't work. And again, they make it so difficult on a Mercedes. If you can't turn the lock, you can't remove this piece from the steering column. It's a smart thing because it makes the car very difficult to steal, but it takes a lot of work to get it fixed back up.

Mark: So all those movies where they're hijacking Mercedes easily, are lying basically.

Bernie: Sorry Mark, could you just repeat that again?

Mark: So all those movies where they're hijacking Mercedes easily, are lying.

Bernie: Yeah, well it's a little more work than they show in the movies.

Mark: So getting your car in at first sign of trouble seems like a theme, when it comes to car repairs and service, is that right?

Bernie: Absolutely. I mean this is kind of the theme and why I wanted to talk about this particular issue. Because it's critical when you start having a problem, to bring the car in right away. You know if you get a little noise in an engine, bring it in, get it fixed right away. Same with a noise while you're driving the car down the road. If it's a bearing say, in a differential. It's cheaper to fix the bearings, than it is to do a complete differential. Once it breaks the gears. So, you generally always save money by fixing things at the first sign of trouble. They don't get better. Very, very rare.

Mark: So how are these 1990 era Mercedes? Are they faring well as they age?

Bernie: You know there are ups and downs. I mean some things, like the engine's themselves are good. The transmissions, you know they're a lot more problematic. So the engines are good, overall they're a well-built car. But there's a lot of electrical problems. In the 90's there was a lot of bad wiring in Mercedes. To me they're not really a worthwhile car to own, but even the nice ones ... They're just not as nice as the next generation. When you get into the 2000's, it seems like Mercedes made this quantum leap in terms of what they offer in a car, and I would just, you know quite honestly I mean, if you have one and it works, great keep it, it is a nice car. But they're getting on in age and not my highest recommendation if you're looking to buy. If you're looking to buy a used Mercedes, buy something that's newer, in the 2000's.

Mark: So there you go. If you need service on your Mercedes in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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