Body shop W245 edition

– A tale about rusty body panels and Mona Lisa

I cringe when I see rust on on cars. It clearly shows neglect and non interest on the owner’s part. It could be as simple as lack of washing the car, ignoring stone chips or heavy use resulting in deep scratches. However car use in winter conditions where the use of road salt is common, small openings in the paint can cause large rust areas to appear quite fast and the owner can’t always be to blame. Therefore it’s more important to regularly wash the car in the winter than in the summer time. Due to the impossibility to avoid any rust appearing in these conditions, is the reason I keep the vintage classics parked in the winter time. It is very hard to maintain older cars during winter time and the rust is very pervasive into every area. So why not use a disposable B-Class during winter?

So when I took over the B-class of course it had rust after many years winter use in Norway. Luckily all of it is just surface rust, but if not attended to it can develop into holes already in the next winter. Along with the other issues on the car I needed to get this fixed before using it.

Attraction points for rust due to stone chips from the narrow wheel arches.

The B-Class has a design issue in my opinion since the wheels slightly go too far outside the narrow wheel arches and stone chips really eat away the paint on the edges as well as along the sides of the skirts. This is most apparent on the rear wheels, but also an issue in the front. This happen even with the standard tire widths. So expect the paint to be chipped away by default. The car should have really have installed some mud flaps.

I had to address all four wheel arches of varying degree of rust, as well as the area beneath the side skirts and the underside of the drivers door. There was also beginning to form rust in the drain area for the window wiper mechanism on the passenger side. I think the main cause here is winter use,, but it could have been prevented more by washing it more often to get the salt off.

With paint it’s better to do all areas you want to paint in one go since the process of masking and drying of multiple coatings take forever to prepare and do. The painting in itself is the fast part of it. Then you have the surface preparation such as rust removal and making sure it’s completely clean. There could be additional steps of applying filler and sanding to make it even nicer. With this car I totally neglected filler and sanding since achieving the Mona Lisa with this cheap car is not worth it. Remember the longer time you use on a paint job the better the result. I tried to get a balance between visual satisfaction and function. Protect the car from rust while looking nice from 1-2 meters away.

Starting out. There is a small area of rust on the edge of the door as well. And multiple bubbles on the wheel arch needs to be attended. Rust continues on under the side skirt. Need to remove side skirt to get access.
Rust is sanded away with a narrow belt grinder. Super useful tool. The black is a rust converter paint which is clear in colour but turns black in contact with rust and forms a hard coating. This can be used as a primer, but I use a thick primer anyway over it.
Masking and priming paint. After priming the masking have to be removed. To avoid edges in the paint the edge from priming should be sanded down. If not Mona Lisa, you can skip it.
Before applying the metallic paint. Move the masking out and bend the masking paper without sharp edges to feather the new paint against the old. The result will be 100 times better than sharp edges, since the new paint will never have the exact colour of the old paint.
Painted with metallic and clear coat. I used 3 layers of metallic and 3-4 layers of clear. Not perfect but much better than rust. I’m very happy with the results!

Now let’s hope this lasts through the winter. I’m pretty certain that I will have to tend to new stone chip spots in the spring, but that’s the life when they put sand and gravel on the icy covered roads to grind away my paint. Then pour salt in the wounds so the chipped paint can start top rust. Thank you so much, sincerely! Looking forward to the summer already.

So about that Mona Lisa. Close enough huh?!?!?

Funny mona lisa

Robs Out!

Engine oil and filter change on the B-Class 180CDI W245

This is the most modern car which I have written an oil change procedure about. What is the difference here compared to the older cars? To be honest not much! The only difference is the car computer needs to be told that an oil change has happened and the service interval be reset through an OBD2 diagnostics unit. The OBD2 diagnostics unit can be found quite cheap online, but make sure you get one that works for this model with the capability to reset service intervals and fault codes. Since the more basic ones can only read fault codes.

Preparation

Get the necessary parts and oil. Here you need a filter kit, which contains the oil filter element, two rubber gaskets for the filter housing and a new drain plug with a new copper washer. Make sure to not get the cheapest filter you can find, since in my experience the filter element can start to deteriorate if you have long service intervals. This car is rated at 15.000km between oil changes, but I suggest doing them at 10.000km.

Parts:

  • Oil filter kit
  • Oil: Keep at least 6L on hand- The car needs around 5,4-5,8L

Tools:

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Sockets
  • Oil drain pan

I tend to use Castrol’s oil picker to find which oil I need for any car, but if you prefer other brands then I have no objection. Anyway Castrol recommends Edge 0W-30, but this could change if you plan to use the car in more extreme weather conditions. Refer to the owners manual if in doubt.

New engine oil for 180CDI
0W-30 Oil for 180CDI

Procedure

The engine should be at operating temperature to make the draining more effective. So prepare the oil change after a trip, either back from work or after the store.

I’m always a bit shocked when checking the oil on diesels since it’s usually pure black in color after a relatively short time. This car had some time since the last oil change and the level was quite low. This did worry me a bit since the car is at 250.000km already. It is always a good idea to check the bottom of the oil drip pan for sludge and metal shavings to assess the condition of the engine every time when changing the oil. So with that in mind, hoist up the front of the car on jack stands. This car has a very low ground clearance and it’s impossible to access anything under there.

Start with locating the oil filter element in the engine bay. It is on the right side of the car just behind the turbo. It is a bit cumbersome to reach with a socket, but you don’t need any special filter tool to remove it. The access will be much easier if you have a socket with a joint as shown in the picture below. Take out the old oil filter and then move to beneath the car.

Oil filter 180cdi
Oil filter location. Use a socket with a joint to get better access behind the turbo

If you haven’t seen under this car, everything is hidden beneath plastic panels. You have to take at least 2 of the panels off to get access to the oil drain plug. The oil drain plug is also a joker to find, since it’s not where you expect it to be traditionally. It’s at the very rear of the engine far behind the front wheels. It is the most left plug on the engine block (see image).

Oil drain plug location B180CDI
Oil drain plug location on the 180CDI. You need to remove some plastic panels to find it.

I’m not sure what the plastic panels are for except aesthetics and hiding the under body. Also it can trap moisture and rust. They have some very subtle sound dampening effects and can keep some of the dirt away. Maybe it decreases air drag at high speeds? But I didn’t bother to put them back on. They were quite cracked and had a large hole due to the low ground clearance. I prefer seeing whats going underneath the car and the ability to wash off the salt underneath there especially in the winter.

Now that the drain plug is located. Start drain the oil and try not to loose the plug into the pan when opening it. The oil should drain a while until the dripping stops. Then take the new drain plug with the new copper washer and use that to plug the drain. Do not overtighten! Maximum 30Nm.

Draining oil from 180CDI
Draining oil from the 180CDI

After the drain plug is secured. Then it’s time to change the oil filter. The oil filter cap contains two rubber seals, remember to change both of them! Use a rag to clean up inside the oil filter housing for old oil. Mount the new filter onto the oil filter cap and then reinsert the filter cap into the filter housing. Tighten the filter housing to max 25NM. Over tightening will ruin the plastic so be careful.

Oil filter kit parts B180CDI
Oil filter kit parts. Note the two rubber seals, along with new drain plug and washer. See the old filter how deteriorated it is, it’s almost falling apart. Indicating cheap filter and overdue service interval. The new filter is a honeycomb structure and not a cheap paper filter like the old one.

Recheck that you actually secured the oil drain plug under the engine before you start pouring in the new oil. The car needs 5,4L to 5,8L, but there is probably some residue and the actual amount might be a little less. Start by pouring 4,5L. Level the car in order to make a proper reading of the dip stick. Then pour little by little until max level on the dip stick is achieved.

Oil pan with old oil from diesel engine
Inspect oil from the oil pan. Since this is a diesel it’s completely black. This is normal for a diesel. Also use your smell, does it smell really burnt? This could indicate overdue interval. Also check for sludge at the bottom of the pan which can indicate old oil. Check for metal shavings which can indicate bearing wear and poorly maintained engine.

Check the oil drain pan for assessing the health of the engine and if the service interval have been overdue. Luckily there were no sludge or metal shavings from my oil, but it smelt strongly burnt. Which with the low oil level may indicate an overdue oil service interval. Thankfully I switched this oil in this before doing any driving at all after getting it. The engine is quite strong and starts easy without any smoking indicating a healthy engine still. Phew!

Now the last part is to tell the engine computer that an oil change have been done and reset the service interval. The annoying wrench and reminder every time you start the car will then go away. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of this process, but it’s really a straight forwards procedure.

  1. Connect the OBD2 to the connector underneath the steering wheel.
  2. Select the car and engine type with manufacturing year
  3. Go on the menu which you can reset oil service interval. These can be different depending on the type of reader, but should be pretty obvious
  4. Set that oil service have been done, this will remove warnings on the dashboard
  5. While you’re at it, do a scan of error codes if any

Now you can do an oil measurement while the key is inserted and the engine is off. You can access this through the interactive computer in the dashboard through the buttons on the steering wheel. The car will then tell you if the level is OK or not.

If everything is OK and no service interval warnings. It’s time to start the engine. While the engine is running. Inspect underneath and see that there are no oil leaks form the drain plug and also check the oil filter housing for leaks. If no leaks, go for a small 5min drive. When back, recheck the dip stick level when engine is off. Refill more oil if necessary. Also recheck for leaks underneath and at the oil filter housing.

Robs out!

Changing Filters on the W245 B-Class 180CDI

There are quite a lot of filters on this car. Diesel fuel filter, air filter, oil filter and pollen filter. I will cover all of them but the oil filter in this article (the oil filter will be addressed in a separate oil change guide). You can buy complete filter kits which include all filters. I recommend doing that to save some hard earned rupies and then changing all of them in one go, they probably are all overdue anyway.

Pollen Filter

Having that dampness and weird smell in the cabin gain? It’s not always a fart. Changing the pollen filter might address the issue. It’s also the most overlooked filter on the car. Many people does not even know it exists. Especially if you have been around older cars which do not have them! There you have the good old fashioned unfiltered atmosphere straight into the cabin.

So where do you find the pollen filter? Start by opening the hood. At the plastic cover above the engine is a narrow plastic lid. Open it and there you will find the filter.

Pollen filter location W245
Say hello to pollen filter

The pollen filter is a flimsy piece of paper which you can easily swap without any tools. Mess this up and you are a clown.

Old vs new pollen filter
Can you spot the old filter?

Well done you completed 1/3.

Air Filter

Time to step it up a notch. Now you will require some actual tools. Some torx bits to be specific. The air filter is located at the top of the engine and you can’t miss it. You have to loosen the plastic cover which is held in place by torx screws all around it. Be careful not to loose the screws into the engine bay and you will never find them again.

Air filter løocation w245
Location of air filter box

You don’t have to loosen the air intake tube going to the turbo. And if you do, it’s important to get the seal completely tight again. Not so easy.

Can you spot the new filter?

Now you have done 2/3, well done. Maybe you’re not a clown after all? Lets step over to the diesel filter.

Diesel Filter

The final and hardest part. Here you will utilize at least a screwdriver. You should also consider getting new hose clamps if the old ones are rotten. In older mechanical diesels injection systems it was a pain to change the filter, since you had to manually pump and bleed the injection system for air after changing filters. Now the car will do this for you with the electronic injection system. To be honest I did zero pre-studying before doing this job and wasn’t 100% sure if this would happen, but it was no issue starting the car afterwards. So no worries!

Locate the diesel filter on the right side of the engine. It should be easy to spot. It’s a canister with two hoses going into it. Note the location of each hose, take a picture so you don’t cross them when installing the new filter.

Diesel filter Mercedes W245
Location of diesel filter.

Unscrew the hoses and beware of diesel pouring out, prepare some paper to catch the spilling diesel. You should be extra careful of spilled diesel here since the exhaust is just beneath. This can catch fire if a lot of diesel is spilled, and I don’t want you to blame me for you burning up your own car.

The filter canister is clamped tight by a couple of spring clamps which you can loosen by hand.

Filter canister secured by two clips.

After installing the new diesel filter. Start the car and inspect closely for diesel leaks. Tighten the clamps if you see seepage. Alternatively the hoses might need replacing if they have started to seep from cracks. Diesel leaks here might cause engine fire and you have now been warned!

If you managed to complete this 3/3 step, you are already at novice DIY level and congratulations! Who said fixing your car was difficult? Hardly need any tools at all.

Robs out!

Unmodding the W245 B-Class

The B-Class has some extra headlights mounted. Not only are they ugly, they are also completely useless when not working! I’m unsure whey they are put there in the first place since the B-Class has quite good original headlights. Also there is some weird power drain on the battery when the car is parked, and it could be part of the culprit. This must be removed promptly!

B-Class with extra headlights
Those headlights must be removed!

Following the spaghetti wire into the car and under the passenger side floor is the location of the battery. There a surprise was waiting, turns out the positive power for the extra lights relay is connected to the negative battery pole. Great.. We’ll remove that crap and throw out the spaghetti.

Headlights relay
Spaghetti wiring of extra lights relay. Red power wire connected wrong to the battery.

To remove the extra headlights I had to remove the grill. There were quite a lot of bolts attached into the plastic of the grill and bumper. The whole assembly job smelled of cheap. The headlights themselves are Hella and of ok quality, but the the water and coronation attracting wiring job without solder and drilling straight into the plastic of the car is not ok! It really felt good ripping the whole assembly off.

w245 without grille
No grille

So finally after removing the crappy extra lights I could put everything back together. I’m quite displeased with the holes in my grille. Might need to replace it now. The holes in the bumper can at least be hidden behind the front number plate.

Looking better already!

Job well done, at least it doesn’t look like a turd.

Robs out!