2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

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2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65: ABC Warning Light, Part 1

January 21, 2014

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

Before we get to this picture, let me give some back story.

I was on my way to the grocery store when the Active Body Control (ABC) warning light on our 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 illuminated. I drove the remaining half-mile, bought my milk and quietly hoped the light would be out when I returned. It wasn't. Four miles later I was back home, pulling into my driveway. That's when I first smelled it...

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

There was a distinct scent of burning oil. I shut off the car and noticed a faint stream of smoke coming from the engine compartment vent. I popped the hood and the smoke dissipated, thankfully. Underneath, I discovered a light spray of oil across the front of the engine compartment.

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

Internet forums were my next stop. I soon knew all about the ABC system and its proclivity toward this sort of thing. There were horror stories of fires and repair bills of thousands of dollars. But there was also good information. We developed a hypothesis that one of the high-pressure ABC hydraulic lines near the radiator was compromised. It sprayed fluid onto the engine cooling fan, which then dispersed it everywhere else. Everywhere included my driveway and street, too.

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65

We didn't purchase our CL65 with a maintenance plan. And the likelihood of service on the ABC system falling under warranty was equally grim. A phone call to our local dealership confirmed as much. We were busy inside our own head, debating whether to use a dealer or an independent shop, when the service rep on the phone asked, "Would you like me to connect you to roadside assistance? It is complimentary on all Mercedes vehicles as long as you have the work performed at the dealer."

The independent shop we would otherwise use was over 40 miles away. That was a tow bill in excess of $300. We accepted the free ride to Fletcher Jones Mercedes-Benz in Newport Beach. In 45 minutes there was a flatbed in front of the house. Not 10 minutes later it was loaded. Our service advisor, Dan, called 30 minutes later. "Hi, Mr. Schmidt," he began, "your car just arrived." We discussed the ABC issue. Dan was very polite and seemed familiar with the issue. He ended with, "We'll start on it first thing tomorrow morning."

We'll open the bets at $1. What's yours? How much do you think the repair will cost?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 58,937 miles

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