What Really Grinds My Gears: Mercedes Engineering

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
what really grinds my gears mercedes engineering

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.

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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.

  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.
  • ToolGuy Rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock, and drywall dents sheet metal.