What Really Grinds My Gears: Mercedes Engineering

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Yesterday, I asked TTAC’s Best and Brightest if Ford’s “surprise and delight” features (e.g. capless fuel filler, built-in fridge) were a suitable starting point for its latest ad campaign. You know; as opposed to slightly larger concerns (e.g. reliability, durability). Today, I’d like to expose broken mechanical teeth re: Mercedes “annoy and disappoint” features. Sure, I could unleash a major rant about the humongous clunk that occurs when my GL450’s gearbox gets confused. But let’s sweat the small stuff, shall we? What brilliant engineer/design team decided it was OK to put an MP3 connector in the left side of the glovebox, right next to the owners’ manuals? Where, exactly, did Mercedes think I was going to put those books when playing my iPhone? Did they really think I’d want to shuffle manuals after shuffling songs? Next: how much time, intelligence and money is required to see the need for—then design, craft and install—an indentation that allows the MP3 cord to remain connected and undamaged with the glovebox closed?

Then there’s the $320 Rube Goldbergian folding dog guard I bought and returned (within ten minutes). The Mercedes-branded device uses a parts bin seat belt mechanism to attach to the anchors, and requires tightening and untightening to secure and release each hook. And it still wobbles while I’m driving. And it leaves three feet of excess fabric for the hounds to chew on. Per buckle. What kind of organization would approve such an obvious kludge?

But wait! There’s less!

Don’t get me started about the GL’s second row seats; they make a church pew seem like a La-Z-Boy, with a gap between the top and bottom cushion that could swallow a dozen crayons—and has. Or the rear cargo light that reacts to bump thumpery by dropping out of the roof and dangling in front of the Schnauzers like a sausage on a string. Which wouldn’t be much of a problem if I’d bought the dog guard, as there’s a one foot gap on either side of the netting. Don’t tell me: a bad dog trainer blames his SUV. Yeah, yeah.

Note to Mercedes: engineered like no other car in the world is not supposed to be a diss. You built your rep on OCD engineering. The 300 6.3 SEL’s cooling fan stopped when you opened the hood. Don’t get me wrong, I love my truck. But sometimes I get the distinct feeling my truck doesn’t love me.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Oct 11, 2009

    Is there anyone among the B&B who doesn't own an S-class? I'm starting to think it outsells the Camry and Accord. But back to the MP3-to-CD idea, it's not the best solution if you've downloaded your music from iTunes...there's a limit to how much you can legally copy these. I've actually done this with tracks from CDs, but these have no such restriction. What's unfortunate is that this expensive (if not rare) vehicle lacks the ability to do this as seamlessly as a Ford Focus.

  • ZekeToronto ZekeToronto on Oct 11, 2009

    Flashpoint wrote: Why not just use the MP3 CD player’s 6 disks? Because 6 MP3 CDs would only hold a tiny fraction of my music (not to mention the hassle of burning the discs)? I don't use my iPhone to play music in the car either ... I've got an old 40GB iPod Classic for that (and it just stays in the car). Unlike the iPhone or iPod Touch, it's got a clickwheel ... allowing it to be operated without taking my eyes off the road.

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.
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