It Starts: Bad News About My Stranded Car

They ran the car all day. It ran flawlessly! And then tonight it died. That’s the good news! How screwed up is this story?

If you follow this blog with any regularity you know my little sportscar stopped running in the middle of First Avenue in Manhattan Saturday night. It spent the weekend boarding in Midtown. I’m not sure I can afford that for me, but for the car–sure.

This morning my friend/mechanic Steve spoke with a service tech in New York. They turned the key and the car started–no problem.

Oh crap! That’s the worst answer.

There’s no way I’m driving that car the 100 miles home just because it started today. There’s something in the car that brought it to a halt. I need that repaired before I get back in.

That message was delivered by Steve. The voice on the other end of the phone agreed.

They ran the car all day. It ran flawlessly! Then tonight it died.

That’s the good news! How screwed up is this story?

I got a call from another tech tonight. It looks like the theft deterrent system kicked in and killed my engine. He said something about the key, but his accent was thick and you only get so many chances to ask for a ‘repeat’ before conversations end.

Tomorrow morning I have to call AAA and arrange for the car to be towed the few blocks to Mercedes Benz of Manhattan. They will attempt to fix the car. Sometime later this week I’ll drive it home.

Anyone have any extra Adult Depends for that trip?

It looks like this story will have a happy, though costly, ending.

16 thoughts on “It Starts: Bad News About My Stranded Car”

  1. If the car is 12 years old and you’ve never switched the key you use… Seems logical to me that it might wear to the point where the car starts, but it still thinks someone’s messing with the ignition…. I know putting a heavy key ring on the ignition can ruin it. My daughter had hers replaced for that reason. Keys are only soft brass after all.

  2. My car was doing something similar (but not a mercedes, just a chevy lol), and it was my theft deterrent key. Which the car wasn’t recognizing the key and refused to start. I’d have to sit there with the key in ‘on’ for ten minutes watching the theft light blink. When it stopped (ten minutes later), the car would run again! lol! Did it every couple months, almost on a schedule! Had to replace my ignition lock and it’s been fine ever since! So hopefully, it’ll be a quick fix. Can’t say cheap, but hopefully it gets back to ya soon!

  3. Jeff… I hope you are a plus mbr of AAA… you can get a (partial) Reimubursement of up to 100 bucks for the replacement of a key, basic gets only 50… but hey its something! Good luck! With your baby!

  4. If you have AAA Plus, they will tow it back to CT for free… I know because I had them bring our car from NYC to Shelton!

  5. AAA Plus Membership
    AAA Plus membership has been designed to allow existing Club Members to apply for an optional, enhanced benefit package of certain AAA services most requested by Club members who require the ultimate in convenience and protection. For an additional annual fee, Club Members who meet certain requirements can become AAA Plus members.

    The AAA Plus Benefits Package includes:

    >>>>>> Up to 100 miles FREE TOWING

    >>>>>> Emergency Lock and Key Service up to $100

    Non-AAA Road Service Reimbursement…

    (continues @

  6. Same thing happened to our car this past spring going thru N.Y…. after many ‘opinions’ and two AAA tows… it was the ignition switch shorting out the computer… $400 and it has been perfect for the last 5,000 miles! Good Luck!

  7. Get someone to drive you down to pick it up, then follow you home. Do it during the daylight. Try to stay in the right hand lane just in case, so you can get to the shoulder if it does die.

    (I drove a Toyota pick-up older than your MB back and forth from CT to Indianapolis several times – and I don’t even own a cell-phone. Have faith, you’ll be fine.)

  8. Geoff, don’t forget you can always call 1-800-FOR-MERCEDES for roadside assistance.
    I use that instead of AAA, since the service seems to be faster, and they know exactly what they are dealing with. Good luck with the SLK.

  9. Geoff, I had the same problem with my old 1988 MB 300SEL, and it turned out that the brushes in the alternator were worn, and the voltage in the electrical system dropped below the minimum necessary to run the car, even though the lights and most of the accessories worked. Have your mechanics check the operating voltage coming from the alternator while the car runs: if it is less that 14.4V, you have an alternator problem.

    A good auto electrical shop can replace the brushes in the alternator without having to replace the entire unit. Believe it or not, it’s the same basic Bosch unit that they use in the VW Golf!

  10. Last week, I was in New Hampshire vacationing with my family……My 2002 Chevrolet Silverado had a brake line fail. Fortunately, we had more than one car with us and were at my Father-In-Laws. He suggested a local repair shop. We dropped the truck off Tuesday and tolad him we would be otherwise tied up till Friday and that should give him sufficient time to make the needed repairs. Fast forward to Friday am, I called to check on the status of the repairs, oh, he said, I just pulled your truck in……really???? Friday afternoon the news got worse, we need to order a part……not available today and won’t be here till Monday. My truck took an extended vacation in NH and is still there awaiting my return to retreive it……..not convenient….but I guess it could be worse…….I’m guessing the labor rate at a small repair garage in New Hampshire is substantially less than that of MB of Manhattan !

  11. Hello Geoff, I feel for you and your car dilemma. Years ago I detected a little whiff of smoke coming from the steering column in my car. It didn’t happen all the time but just every so often to make me nervous. I joked about it being a dead smoking relative who was making himself known. Anyway, I took it to our mechanic, Mattie, who had the car for a week and could find nothing wrong. He never charged me and said it was because he couldn’t find anything wrong so how could he charge me. I love this mechanic.

    About 5 or so years later I got a phone call from Mattie at work telling me to get my car down to him ASAP because he now knew what was wrong. A customer of his drove his car into the service station just as smoke was coming from the steering column so Mattie was able to detect the cause. It’s unnerving. Too bad we have to rely on our cars so much. They can be a pain at times. I still have my car. It’s a 1989 Chevy Baretta GT with about 129,00 miles on it. They discontinued making them a few years back. The interior material on the ceiling is loosening up and I have multi colored pins keeping it in place. I absolutely won’t give up this car until it goes to car heaven.
    Thanks for your blogs Geoff. They are so interesting and fun to read. You can write about anything and make it interesting.

  12. Geoff, Two years ago while driving my 2006 Ford 500 it just died in the middle of the road in traffic of course. Had lights and radio so no battery problem but couldn’t start it again. Cop came “out of gas Miss?” No Sir full tank. Wise guy! Flatbedded to garage and mechanic started it the next morning with no problem. GRRRRRR. Three months later daughter borrowed the car and yep happened again. Took Ford dealer 13 days to find that the emergency accident fuel line shut off valve malfunctioned. Apperently it reset itself the first time. Haven’t had a problem since replacement.
    Good luck with your baby. As previously suggested have Helaine follow you. Maybe you both can go in your jammies 🙂

  13. Sometimes, there is a ring in the ignition of the car that reads the computer chip in the key. (that’s why most cars have that light around the ignition switch these days… most car keys from 2000 and on have computer chips in them.) If that ring, or the connection to the computer has any kind of glitch in it, it will immediately kill the engine to keep someone who shouldn’t be driving the car from doing so.
    I hope it’s an easier fix than it has been getting the issue diagnosed.

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