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'01 E320 will not start after a soda spill into shifter

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Old 06-29-2011, 10:55 AM   #1
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Unhappy '01 E320 will not start after a soda spill into shifter

Hey guys,

At this moment my car will not start.
Here is the breakdown of events that led to this point.

Yesterday while removing a soda cup from the cupholder, some of the drink spilled out into the gearbox/shifter. This morning the car would not start. After about 3 tries, the car started, but the shifter would not move from the P position. I used a pen to unlock it and shifted into D. While driving the car wouldn't shift past the 1st gear. I drove back home, turned the car off & a few minutes later the car would not start. Tried 20x times, but no good.

-The key turns in the ignition
-The battery is in good condition
-Shifter will not shift unless pushed the unlock button through the hole
-Check engine light is on (its been going on/off for the past 2 weeks)
-This may be trivial but the car is on a 15% incline hood side up & The fuel is a little low about 5L as per gauge

I took apart the shifter console and saw some of the dried soda on the circuit board, a few drops worth (Who builds them like this). I used some alcohol with a Q-tip to clean it up, let it dry a few mins, to no avail. The car is dead.

I have read some of the similar posts and have come to the conclusion that I will have to change the TCM? It seems to be an easy DYI but I do not have any electronics to reset the windows/sunroof etc. Is that a vital step in repairing this because I really do not want to dish out over $1k to the dealer for something this simple.

A few months back the key wouldn't turn for about 10 tries about 2 times, but never happened again. I scratched that off due to the incline in the drive way and the wheels not being straight.

Am I on the right track or completely off ?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by zTaikun; 06-29-2011 at 11:06 AM. Reason: (Car on tilt, low fuel)
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Old 06-29-2011, 12:06 PM   #2
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A little update.

I have managed to turn the car on, but ...

- Once in D the shifter will not go back passed N, so D & N only. I have to Turn the car OFF, use a pen to press the unlock, then put in P & remove the key. Turned on off 4 times in a row, it takes about 4 seconds between Key Turned to Engine Turning.

- The car drives in 1st gear only, will not shift up.

- Once in D, the car gives a strong jolt.
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Old 06-29-2011, 01:36 PM   #3
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If you had searched this

forum you would have seen the warning to not start the car,run the car,mess with trying to start the car,drive the car,put it into gear or run it in limp mode.
Stop messing with it NOW
if you are going to save or try to save the shift module you really need to refrain from doing your best at frying it.............
I'm gone till this evening but pm me for my phone and I can talk you through possible saves.
Or maybe someone here that has done it per my instructions will post it for you.
STOP STARTING IT AND TRYING TO START IT
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Old 06-29-2011, 01:39 PM   #4
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Thank you olord.
I've read some of your posts, but I didnt see you mentioning about not trying to start etc.
Crap...
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Old 06-29-2011, 01:41 PM   #5
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Chances are you have damaged your TCU. Often it's not the initial spill but the constant attempts to operate the car after the spill.

There are several threads here and on benzworld on how to proceed after a spill in order to minimize the damage. Sorry I can't offer more encouraging advice.
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:41 PM   #6
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be prepared

to spend around $1000+ to replace that TCU. I've never liked having ANY open drinks in my W210 due to this very reason. I got enough other things to worry about on this car. Oil Sensor needing changing soon and a tranny flush as well @ 171K.
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:15 PM   #7
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15% incline def did not affect car in any way ?? as i park on the same and selector has since given up the ghost.. no can or bottle ever been opened by women in ny car though :-D
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:50 PM   #8
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I had the issue = it was a $750 job (parts and labor) at an indie shop.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:09 PM   #9
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You definitely need a new shifter. As for the tcm, you can clean with electronic cleaner and cross your fingers, if it was damaged.
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:37 AM   #10
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This is an easy DIY guys and should not cost anywhere near 1000$.

1-Call Potomac German Auto Parts for a used shifter module.
You will be replacing the whole unit.
2-Disconnect the battery first before messing with ANY electronics in these cars.
3-Remove the key from the ignition as a precaution. DO NOT REINSERT KEY UNTIL ENTIRE PROCEDURE IS DONE>
4-Lift off the wood surround around the shifter and gently lay aside the console.
4a-Take off the shifter knob if you don't have enough room to lift it over the shifter.
5-There are either three or four corner bolts holding the shifter assembly to the body. Remove them.
6-There is also a rigid cable connected to the front of the shifter assembly. Remove it as well.
7-Next disconnect the electronics plug. Be carefull with the German electrical connections as they are made to connect and stay connected. A gentle prod and paying attention to the clasps and they should come apart without brute force.
8-Last is the control rod connection underneath the car. I have been able to disconnect that by gently lifting the shifter assembly and reaching into the hole to remove the pin. Do not lose the bushing. It is green in color I believe.
If you cannot reach it then get under the car and disconnect it. It is a simple procedure and yes you too can do it.
9-Remove the entire shifter assembly and replace with the new one following the reverse sequence above.

Total time for a newbie to do this is about 30 minutes give or take. Total cost is around 300$ or less. I have replaced several for people and GPAP is a good reliable source for used OK'd parts with a good return policy if defective. They have a location in Florida and in Maryland.
AFTER ALL IS RECONNECTED then AND ONLY THEN reconnect your battery and start.
10-Lastly, just resynch your windows and sunroof if equipped and you are done.

Last edited by ejsheltra; 07-01-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:56 PM   #11
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Thanks for the instructions.

How do I go about re-syncing the windows etc.? I do not have any electronic equipment to do that.
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:27 PM   #12
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You don't need anything

except your fingers to re-sync all the systems.
Call me when you get back into town.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:13 PM   #13
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Oh Lord can help you with the resync. It is very simple and easy to do in about 5 minutes. Do as he says and give him a call. I learned how to replace the shifter assembly from him and he was excellent with the help he gave and the job saved me alot of money. It really is very straight forward and simple to do. Just follow the steps Oh lord gave to me and make sure you pay close attention to the issues with the key and the battery.

No tools required for the resync of your windows and roof. Post your progress and results here and feel free to pm me if I can be of further help.

PS; I am not far from you in Cambridge, ON.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:42 AM   #14
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejsheltra View Post
Oh Lord can help you with the resync. It is very simple and easy to do in about 5 minutes. Do as he says and give him a call. I learned how to replace the shifter assembly from him and he was excellent with the help he gave and the job saved me alot of money. It really is very straight forward and simple to do. Just follow the steps Oh lord gave to me and make sure you pay close attention to the issues with the key and the battery.

No tools required for the resync of your windows and roof. Post your progress and results here and feel free to pm me if I can be of further help.

PS; I am not far from you in Cambridge, ON.
Ejsheltra hope all is well

To the OP if you search my handle you will a diy on how to remove and replace the shifter. I had to this job 3x as the first 2 shifters didn't shift correctly while using triptronic. The 3rd one worked lake a charm. The 1st was tough but after 2nd time your a pro and yes dealer will charge upward of 1k for this job. Find a used one like I did. I spent around 300. Most expensive red bull to date

Johnny
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Old 10-19-2012, 02:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohlord View Post
forum you would have seen the warning to not start the car,run the car,mess with trying to start the car,drive the car,put it into gear or run it in limp mode.
Stop messing with it NOW
if you are going to save or try to save the shift module you really need to refrain from doing your best at frying it.............
I'm gone till this evening but pm me for my phone and I can talk you through possible saves.
Or maybe someone here that has done it per my instructions will post it for you.
STOP STARTING IT AND TRYING TO START IT
My car is in the exact same predictament as the person who you have helped on here. The post sounds like it was written for my car. Is there any way you can help me to get any information you might have on fixes for this or to possibly tell me which parts need to be replaced and if it is a DIY project or should I take it to an expert.
Thank you so much!!!!
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Old 10-19-2012, 05:57 PM   #16
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ohlord is on sabbatical but you might reach him by sending a PM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:55 AM   #17
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Same issue

My wife did the same. I called the place on this post for a replacement and they didn't have one. Can anyone suggest another used parts company?

Tim F.
SSG US Army Retired
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:15 AM   #18
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I went online and found a replacement at a salvage yard. Paid $145 including having it shipped to my home. Part works great and did the replacement myself
Saved a ton...quote from shop was over $900!!!
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:11 AM   #19
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Try www.car-part.com

These guys catalog salvage yards all over the country. I have found several parts I needed for other cars. I have never gotten anything for the MB but otherwise I can vouch for them.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:01 PM   #20
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Help please help..i dont have a mercedes I saw this site through google . Last week my dumb friend spilled cold wster directlly into the gear shifter. not that much went in , that same secind the check engine light went on and my car wouldnt drive past 3rd gear. I brought it to a cheap quick fix guy and he fixed it with tge diagnostic machine. 3 days later same problem I brought it to the dealer they said the transmission is done. EVERYWHERE I BrING it now they are not taking that gear shifter out and just sticking that stupid diagnostic machine in and sayin the transmission is finished . I know its not the transmission so ordered the basic parts just to re do the shifter myself am I wasting money please soneone help
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:52 AM   #21
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HELP! I spilled coffee in my new GLA and it shorted the AC system out! I wipede it up right away, but the damned coffee holder is right there by the buttons. SO CLOSE TO THEM. even the tiniest spill will get down in there. I have three cup holders why are they even allowed in such a delicate system!!!!! I have spilled tons of cars and NEVER had this happen.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:14 AM   #22
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Who uses the cup holders for liquids!!
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:45 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejsheltra View Post
This is an easy DIY guys and should not cost anywhere near 1000$.

1-Call Potomac German Auto Parts for a used shifter module.
You will be replacing the whole unit.
2-Disconnect the battery first before messing with ANY electronics in these cars.
3-Remove the key from the ignition as a precaution. DO NOT REINSERT KEY UNTIL ENTIRE PROCEDURE IS DONE>
4-Lift off the wood surround around the shifter and gently lay aside the console.
4a-Take off the shifter knob if you don't have enough room to lift it over the shifter.
5-There are either three or four corner bolts holding the shifter assembly to the body. Remove them.
6-There is also a rigid cable connected to the front of the shifter assembly. Remove it as well.
7-Next disconnect the electronics plug. Be carefull with the German electrical connections as they are made to connect and stay connected. A gentle prod and paying attention to the clasps and they should come apart without brute force.
8-Last is the control rod connection underneath the car. I have been able to disconnect that by gently lifting the shifter assembly and reaching into the hole to remove the pin. Do not lose the bushing. It is green in color I believe.
If you cannot reach it then get under the car and disconnect it. It is a simple procedure and yes you too can do it.
9-Remove the entire shifter assembly and replace with the new one following the reverse sequence above.

Total time for a newbie to do this is about 30 minutes give or take. Total cost is around 300$ or less. I have replaced several for people and GPAP is a good reliable source for used OK'd parts with a good return policy if defective. They have a location in Florida and in Maryland.
AFTER ALL IS RECONNECTED then AND ONLY THEN reconnect your battery and start.
10-Lastly, just resynch your windows and sunroof if equipped and you are done.
Hey, can you tell me if it is necessary to disconnect aux battery under front hood, as well. Forgive my ignorance, if this is a newbie questions. Thanks!
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