Tales From The Cooler: Owner's Manual Shootout: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 Vs. 1968 Ford Mustang

Virgil Hilts
by Virgil Hilts
tales from the cooler owner s manual shootout 2013 mercedes benz glk350 vs 1968

There are two cars parked in my garage that are just begging for a comparison test. A new Mercedes-Benz GLK350 has taken up temporary residence here. My wife Sally Jo is the proud owner of a pristine 1968 Mustang 302 Coupe which was purchased new by her grandfather. How could we resist not doing a comparo to find out which of these vehicles offers the better…owner’s manual?

It is to be expected that a modern owner’s manual will be larger than one from an older car due to the myriad of new conveniences on today’s vehicles, but hold on to your hat: the GLK350’s guidebook is actually 5 separate manuals totaling a whopping 854 pages vs. the Mustang’s manual total of 53 pages.

At least 200 of those pages are devoted to “Warning Notes,” some repeated several times. Mercedes-Benz is prepared for every Lawyered-Up Nimrod who they fear will drink the wiper fluid, unlatch the hood while driving, let their kids ride unbelted, close the sunroof on their head and so on.

Thanks to Benz’s manuals being available on-line, you can download them to your phone or tablet and find a topic very quickly. The Mustang handbook is also easy to use because of its light weight and straight forward “pull this knob and push that lever and if something breaks go see your Ford Dealer” type of instructions.

Let’s go straight to the highlights:

Lost in Translation Award

GLK: Regarding the exhaust system: “Take particular care not to park on dry grassland or harvested grain fields.”

Dire Warning Duel

GLK: “If you switch off the ignition while driving, safety-relevant functions are only available with limitations, or not at all…do not switch off the ignition while driving.”

Mustang: Regarding use of the emergency flasher switch: “It is important to push switch ALL THE WAY IN or ALL THE WAY OUT. Positions part way may cause inadvertent operation of other accessories.”

Stuck In The Mud?

GLK: “If the drive wheels get trapped on loose or muddy ground, recover the vehicle with the utmost care…pull out the vehicle backwards, if possible, using the tracks it made when it became stuck.”

Mustang: “”Rocking” the car works like a pendulum, to swing the car off a particular slippery spot. Shift rhythmically between reverse and low (“R” and “1” {low} with Cruise-O-Matic) while keeping a gentle pressure on the accelerator.”

Happens To Our Engineers All The Time

GLK: “The vehicle is locked automatically when the ignition is switched on and the vehicle’s wheels are turning at a speed in excess of 9 mph (15 km/h). You could therefore be locked out if:

  • the vehicle is being pushed.
  • the vehicle is being towed.
  • the vehicle is on a roller dynamometer.”

Tire Talk

Mustang: “If the car is to be driven at sustained (one hour or more) speeds over 90 MPH, special high speed capability tires MUST be installed.”

GLK: From the 34-page tire tutorial: “The size description for all tires with maximum speeds of over 186 mph (300 km/h) must include “ZR” and the service specifications must be given in parentheses. Example:….”

The Good Old Days (Get Off My Lawn!)

Mustang: “If your engine cannot be started normally, a push from another car will usually get you going, provided the battery is not “dead.”

Secret Features Revealed

Mustang: The booklet features a list of available dealer-installed accessories including “Television” and “Throttle Holder” with no details provided. I assume the former would be produced by Philco and the latter would be a crude cruise control device?

GLK: You can program a “Speed Alert” with MB Customer Assistance which will notify you by voicemail or text when your car exceeds a certain MPH and the time and exact location of same. Designed to monitor teen drivers, I see it as my personal drag strip timing slip. I am setting my “Speed Alert” at 120 mph and heading for the desert this weekend!

Even After 45 Years, Some Things Do Not Change

GLK: “The more you look after the engine when it is new, the more satisfied you will be with its performance in the future. You should therefore drive at varying vehicle and engine speeds for the first 1,000 miles.”

Mustang: “…as a matter of prudence most owners avoid extended high speed operations for the first 1,000 miles. Constant speed operation should also be avoided…”

So which owner’s manual prevails? Each one answers any and all possible questions. I was stumped as to which book was better. As the FNG for this Big Time Auto Blog, I cannot leave the Best and the Brightest hanging. What would other auto writers do, I thought? I decided to go with what Motor Trend’s Angus McKenzie Phillips might say:

“Ford spends more advertising bucks with Motor Trend than does Mercedes, thus the Mustang’s manual wins!”

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • Niky Niky on Oct 02, 2012

    Funny that the Mustang manual teaches you proper off-roading, where the GLK manual, being a manual for an "SUV", tells you to simply retreat. That's progress, folks.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Oct 02, 2012

    You can get the Mustang manual on digits as well. I had the entire service manual for my 68 Cougar in digital format. I currently have the service manual for the wife's 07 Tucson, my 93 Land Cruiser, the 90 Miata, and the Clymer manual for my KLR650 on my iPad. Much easier to clean the grease off the screen than deal with paper. As to the hazzard switch, I never had the radio come on in my Cougar, but I did pull it out once and was treated to a camp fire under the dash.

  • VX1NG I think it should but I am open and curious to hear the arguments from those who oppose income based fines.
  • EBFlex No
  • VX1NG My understanding is that by removing analog AM capabilities it will force the AM industry to transition to either analog FM or digital radio broadcasts. Both of which use radio bandwidth much more efficiently than analog AM. The downside with switching to digital radio broadcasts is, just like we saw with the analog to digital OTA TV transition; you either receive the signal or you don’t. Whereas analog FM does not have that same downside. The downside with switching to analog FM or digital FM is the coverage area is significantly smaller than AM.Phasing out analog AM would free up a large chunk of radio bandwidth and could allow for newer technologies to utilize the bandwidth.
  • Bill 80% of people do not know how to or check the condition/ status of air pressure in thier tires let alone the condition of thier tires. Periodic safety inspections ensures vehicle are safe to be on the roads. I sure would like to be confident the vehicles around me are safe because they passed a objective inspection. The cause for suspicion in the US is most safety inspection programs are subjective and do not use technology to make the determination if the vehicle is safe or not. Countries that that use technology for annual vehicle inspections have a fairly high failure rate. I live in California a state without safety inspections and the freeways are litter ed with tire fragments and parts of cars. Every time it rains the roads are congested from accidents. Instagram is full of videos of vehicles with the wheels coming of while driving on the freeway. Just hope you won't be on of the casualties that could have been prevented if the vehicle owner had spend $7-$20 for a periodic safety inspection.
  • Kcflyer The Prado is the GX. So they already did, a long time ago