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mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
7/13/19 5:26 p.m.

A lot of times when working on cars I find it helpful to pause and ponder and try to get into the head of the engineer that designed what I'm working on. If I can figure out what they were thinking then the peoblem becomes a little easier. I did not find that to be a very good use of time with the R63. 

We have at least one forum member here that's in Germany, he's brough American goodies over to my sister in Belgium.  Sleepyhead also spent a few years there and did a whole bunch of Ring laps.

AAZCD
AAZCD HalfDork
7/13/19 6:25 p.m.
NoahWeb said: ...  , I’ve gotten word that I’m heading to Germany for a 9 month rotation shortly.  Heidi will get parked and started by my wife 2x monthly.  Didn’t see this coming but such is the chosen profession.  Wonder if I’ll have time to secure some OEM German parts while there........

Hope y’all’s projects and vehicles are running/performing well!  Keep turning zee wrenches!  

There may be different advice for the AMG/MB cars, but I have often read that for people who store their Porsches during the winter months: starting and running the car is BAD for it unless you actually take it out for a drive that keeps it at full operating temperature for about 20 minutes or so.

The reason you do not want to start the car periodically is that will cause fuel dilution and moisture build up in your oil and on critical parts. Bad idea. Change the oil and filter just before putting it into hibernation, fill it up with stabilized fuel, run it for 10 min. to circulate the fuel, put it to bed and leave it alone until spring.

I just realized that it's almost been 20 years since I lived in Germany, a tour in Bad Kreuznach in the late 80s and Ansbach in '98 - 2001. A lot has changed for the military and Germany since then. After I moved my family there, it was a place I deployed from. Take care and be sure to enjoy what you can there in your off time.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
7/13/19 8:12 p.m.

@AAZCD good points all round. I’ve stored Audi’s before while I’m overseas but have not yet checked what AMG recommends for storage. Guess this needs to be added to the list of questions to address in the next few weeks. 

Noah 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/18/19 10:06 p.m.

So there's an ML 63 for sale in town here. Every time I start to think it's a good idea, I tell someone to pick a number between 1 and 121, then I look at the carnage on the matching page of this thread. It's working really well.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
7/20/19 12:44 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

So there's an ML 63 for sale in town here. Every time I start to think it's a good idea, I tell someone to pick a number between 1 and 121, then I look at the carnage on the matching page of this thread. It's working really well.

Not sure that’s entirely fair to the R63, or ML63, as a whole. Yes there are some areas which can lead to financial ruin, but the last ~10k miles have been largely problem free nor have I been stranded. I would say that provided the owner is prepared for a disaster, than you’ll be ok. The only proviso is that you’ve done due diligence to find the right one to purchase.  The M156 is a beast of an engine and the R63 is immensely entertaining to drive.

As as an update, Mercedes reviewed both the ECU and TCU, seeing the code which resulted in Limp Home mode. The guidance they received was to clear the code and see if it comes back. Ok. 

I had Mercedes do the front lower rear control arm bushings (both sides), rebuild a blown CV Bootie and complete an alignment. All in all, she’s much tighter and more natural feeling now. Would have done the bushings at home had it not required an alignment. Such is life. 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/4/19 8:51 a.m.

The transmission quandary continues.  

Yesterday while coming back from the Waco Mammoth National Monument, the R63 went into Limp Home mode again.  Thankfully we were ~2 blocks from the house and got home without being stranded.  I scanned the ECU and found two codes; one for the Turbine Speed sensor and the other for the Right Rear Wheel Speed Sensor. 

The Turbine Speed Sensor is indicative of the Conductor Plate failing and is a Mercedes controlled part.  No DIY that I’ve found yet.  So off to Mercedes she went and completed the ~30 mile drive without issue or fuss.  Arrived and the techs also hooked up to the ECU and confirmed the codes.  They asked for a few days to dig into it, citing that it’s possible that the wheel sensor is the issue and causing the ECU to see two varying speeds, thus being unable to correlate between them for which is accurate leading to the Limp Home mode being triggered.  

Household 6 (aka spouse) is more than upset with this latest development.  She wants to cut sling load and part ways while I’m still willing to continue the odyssey.  The conductor plate being a “theft relevant” item really hampers the DIY’ers ability to solve this problem at a substantially lower cost.  More in a few days....

 

If there are any 722.9 Transmission folks here, I would welcome the input!  

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/6/19 5:55 a.m.

Got a call for the dealer last night. They have recommended all four wheel speed sensors be replaced and believe this is the root cause for the transmission entering limp home mode. Seems the sensors are the OEM units and there have been several part revisions over the years. 

I asked for the price breakdown and compared their prices to other vendors. Sadly FCPEuro doesn’t list these as available, but MBOEMparts does and for ~21% lower cost.  Household 6 and I talked this last night and the question of warranty vs my completing repairs and saving about $150. Another way of saying her peace of mind vs a day in the shop fixing Heidi. 

I’m relieved it isn’t the transmission! But did find a business that can do conductor plate repairs!! Good knowledge to have tucked away. 

 

Hope y’all’s projects are are progressing well!! 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/6/19 6:40 a.m.

If you have a good dealer, one that knows the cars, then they're worth it. 

Here's to hoping you continue with the "It's broken, but not as bad as is could be" that this wonderful car keeps doing. 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/10/19 7:08 a.m.

Seems the Wheel Speed Sensors do play a vital role in communication with the ECU and TCU.  With all four sensors replaced, there is a noticeable improvement in what gear is being selected.   More confidant I suppose is how best to phrase it.  

Sadly one of the front bumper parking sensors has fallen out of its hole.  The R63 loves to keep on giving unique problems, just one at a time.  Suspect this will be a “simple” removal of the belly pan, re-clip the retainer and good to go.  

As a cost update, the R63 is running at .19/mile (~$4.02/day) in fuel and averaging a smidge over 14.3 MPG.  Since purchase she has consumed 333 gallons of 93, covering 20 miles per day and 300 miles per tank.  I’ll break out the repair stuffs later (Tires, bushings, etc).  

 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/17/19 3:04 p.m.

Good news update - the parking sensor is fixed and back in its hole with minimal removal of body panels required!

Bad News update - the limp home mode “mystery” continues. Mercedes is now recommending replacement of both the valve body and conductor plate. They are creating a pricing estimate now, which I suspect will be just shy of the moon. 

Thus far we’ve put just over $6,100 into the R63. Tires, bushings, speed sensors, alignment, etc. The thought of ~$3,000 (dealer guesstimate on my part) or ~$1000 for parts and a DIY event is putting some stress into marriage, more so as I’m fixing to head out the door again in a few months for work. 

One step forward, two backwards I suppose. Much like mazdeuce, we are facing a similar choice of cost vs interest. 

 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/20/19 6:00 a.m.

I've been thinking of this last post. 

This van. 

It's special and amazing and..... it asks something of you. It's emotionally taxing. Here's to hoping that the transmission is the last issue for a while and that you get some good high quality driving in. That the van pays you back. 

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
8/20/19 7:04 a.m.

This van has had some loving owners. And this thread is reinforcing my desire to stay away from modern German luxury/performance vehicles. 

1955W196S
1955W196S New Reader
8/20/19 1:24 p.m.

For my part, this thread, including the latest additions, has confirmed my desire to buy an R63.  My search is accompanied with fear and trepidation, but I think it is worth the risk to own something special.  The fact that I have actually driven an R63 (as well as an R500 and an R350 - and there is NO comparison between these and driving an R63) is also a major influence in my willingness to wait patiently (well, to wait) to find the right R63.

My thanks to mazdeuce - Seth for sharing his journey and to NoahWeb for continuing the journey, and I hope that the journey will smooth out for you.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/22/19 1:53 p.m.

We've had a few days to make calls, send e-mails and so forth.  What a unique problem Mercedes has created with the labeling of "Theft Relevant!!"  At a strategic level, this reeks of Anti-Trust/Anti-Competitive behavior in their favor, forcing customers to use the dealership.  That's a fight for later though.

I've spoken with TransGo, Sonnax, FCPEuro, a transmission specialist shop in New Zealand and countless on-line Mercedes Parts Vendors on-line.  The problem is two fold - 1) theft relevant status means no dealer can sell directly to a customer, period.  The Conductor Plate is NOT sold individually, rather with the Valve Body.  2) private businesses can't get the valve bodies unless they are already broken thus lack sufficient knowledge base and bench stock to supply reconditioned valve bodies upon customer requests.  While Sonnax offers valve body parts, finding a source for those 722.9 AWD AMG parts has been unproductive. 

THEN...even if your found a complete package....you'd still have to go to Mercedes for the re-coding of the Conductor Plate to the vehicle. 

For those familiar with Alex's YouTube Channel, Legit Street Cars, he and I spoke at length looking for a solution.  For reference he is/was an AMG Master Tech and an independent source of knowledge in this.  He recommended Circuit Board Medics to repair only the Conductor Plate and suggested that the valve body is likely fine.  The latter contingent upon routine transmission services; which this R63 has had done. 

As a DIY'er, I'm confident with the routine services (oil changes, air filters, repairing/replacing window switches, etc).  One area I tend to look at external knowledge and expertise is the transmission.  Easy to mess up, and the R63 has very specific temperature windows to re-fill fluid at, etc. 

 

So where does this leave us?  As a whole, we are going to repair.  The dealer and I will have a discussion on their parts/fluid pricing (27% markup this time!), and come to agreement on how to ship the conductor plate to Circuit Board Medics.  I'm going to continue to check for Sonnax 722.9 valve body items; ideally a subject-matter-expert to assist. 

The R63 is in excellent condition overall.  The AMG Techs locally here have expressed their surprise at this issue and praised the condition and mechanical soundness of the R63 as a whole.  I agree with mazdeuce in the hopes that this is the "hump" of issues. 

spacecadet
spacecadet Dork
8/22/19 6:17 p.m.

In reply to NoahWeb :

Seth said he wanted the car to go to the right kind of owner. 

Holy crap are you that owner. 

 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/22/19 6:37 p.m.

I'm glad Noah is the owner. He might not be (today anyway) but I I sure am. 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/23/19 8:17 a.m.
spacecadet said:

In reply to NoahWeb :

Seth said he wanted the car to go to the right kind of owner. 

Holy crap are you that owner.

The goal has been to keep the R63 in an OEMPlus condition.  Of late, that stated purpose has been challenged.  The goal today is to make some calls to an independent shop I know of, and have used 10+ years ago, in Austin (Colvin Automotive) asking if they can do this. 

 

Also, does anyone have recommendations for wet, non-spray, high temp black paint??  Looking to repaint the AMG logos on the brake calipers.

 

More to follow for the Unicorn....

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
8/23/19 9:38 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

This van. 

It's special and amazing and..... it asks something of you.

slightly off-topic and definitely man-crushy, but:  Seth, my friend, you have a way with words.  I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.  

 

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
8/23/19 9:41 a.m.

i may have missed it earlier, but who is the transmission supplier?  ZF?

t44tq
t44tq New Reader
8/23/19 1:15 p.m.

@AngryCorvair Mercedes makes their own transmissions.

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/23/19 4:33 p.m.
Lof8 said:

This van has had some loving owners. And this thread is reinforcing my desire to stay away from modern German luxury/performance vehicles. 

 

Got to thinking about this post while driving home today.  I daily drive the R63.  25 miles to work/post, 25 miles home again.  Don’t let the reputation, or single point experiences, deter you from driving a vehicle you are interested in.  The catch is, as mazdeuce pointed out earlier, is going into it eyes open.  

 

I knew, and likely failed to clearly articulate to my wife, the possible issues going into the R63.  I set aside savings specifically for servicing for daily driver use.  Those funds took an unexpected hit with this transmission issue, and like herpes, is the gift that has kept giving.  Now though, we believe there to be a cure!!  

These challenges are something that can be overcome, and with 6 years overseas service speaking here, having the right (positive?) attitude makes a huge difference in the outcome!!  If asked to sum up the R63 into a single word, it would be “unexpected.”  No one expects the R63 to do what it is capable of.  I parked by a plebeian Z06 today and quietly laughed inside knowing I had 1) more seats, 2) AWD, and 3) 5 more HP.  I came down the off ramp in 3rd today, entering 2nd gear and “tossed” all 5200 pounds into a left turn, zinging past two trucks.  Heidi responded with a swiftness and capability that was unexpectedly fun!  

 

I would recommend the M156 power plant and drivetrain to anyone....provided that it has had the required servicing done.  It’s a beast to drive!  And the sound...not a sonorous as an RS4 but damn it sounds brilliant!  Just get the right one, entering the experience eyes open and prepared for the “small niggles.”  

 

 

 

 

 

Like a “theft relevant” part being a PITA!  

 

Happy motoring all! 

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
8/24/19 10:18 a.m.

 

And then this....closed the rear passenger door and the front passenger door reflector fell out. 

 

Can’t catch a break sometimes....

NoahWeb
NoahWeb New Reader
9/8/19 1:32 p.m.

So after a few weeks, I figured it was time for an update here.  We found, shockingly local, an independent mechanic that claims to be able to order the enter Valve Body assembly, conductor place and all.  And by local I mean a 10 min drive from the house.  Their estimate is $1908 for everything (new valve body w/ conductor place from AMG, fluid, filter, bolts gasket and labor).  That’s ~$1500 less than the dealer.  

That said, the part is still listed as “back order.”  The Indy shop says they won’t know if they can get it until they place the order.  We are leaning towards this option now.  More to follow...

Other than the first limp home mode in three weeks, the R63 continues to perform as expected.  Ludicrously fast, brilliant sound track and returning 14.4 MPG at-pump avg.  Will be doing another oil change next week (smidge over 5k miles on Motul 8100 0W40) and checking on how the undercarriage is looking.  

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