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Problems with the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL) in the W204 model.


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I have been experiencing persistent problems with the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL) in my vehicle. At the time, I was unaware of the specific issue with the ESL. The problem manifests as occasional failure of the car to detect the key in the ignition. This results in just a few dashboard lights illuminating and the engine failing to start. This phenomenon has been ongoing for a few years, but it has lately exacerbated.
Initially, I suspected that the issue was due to the battery. However, even after replacing the battery and doing tests on voltages and other components, which yielded satisfactory results, the problem persisted.

Thus far, the issue has just resulted in the car's failure to start for a brief period, followed by successful ignition. However, this occurrence is now becoming more frequent.

After doing more online research, I am quite certain, with a 99% certainty, that the issue lies with the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL). Additionally, I want to clarify that my vehicle is not immobilised or experiencing any locking malfunctions.
There are other alternatives available:1) Visit an authorised dealer who can repair the issue for around £1,000.
2) Visit an independent service provider who may provide a more affordable price.
3) Alternatively, I may resolve the issue by either: i) Substituting the minuscule motor, which has an approximate cost of £15 (although it may still malfunction in the future), ii) Substituting it with an emulator, which would need an investment of a few hundred pounds. (I am uncertain about the process of doing this task - it requires coding or some kind of encryption.)

Among the possibilities mentioned above (2, 3i), and 3ii)), which option has been seen the most favourable by individuals?
Alternatively, have anyone attempted any other alternatives?

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I contacted my usual independent garage, but they declined to assist me. I was taken aback as they often excel in handling all other tasks I've assigned to them, but I also felt somewhat apprehensive since this was supposed to be my fallback choice.

I contacted a nearby establishment in Norwich that had the capability to reconfigure keys in order to synchronise with an ESL emulator. An inconvenience arises when the repair service requires my car's components for a duration of around four days, rendering my vehicle inoperable. This situation is far from ideal as I rely on my automobile for business purposes.

Ultimately, I just purchased a substitute motor from Amazon for a little £7. While not ideal, this is now the most convenient choice available to me. I will endeavour to carry out the replacement on Monday, since I have a scheduled 3-day break starting on that day. According to the individual from Norwich, removing the ESL takes around 1 hour. Therefore, it can be inferred that completing the whole task should be readily achievable within half a day.

I have encountered individuals who have replaced their ESL motor and reported a higher frequency of subsequent replacements. However, I hypothesise that a statement I came across in an Amazon review regarding the ESL motor may shed light on this specific issue. According to the review, if the motor is not installed in precisely the same position during replacement, it is prone to accelerated wear and tear.

The car just has to endure for a further 2 days!

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I have not yet had the trouble codes scanned, but I am almost certain, with a 99% confidence, that the issue is in the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL). The automobile is 9 years old and the ESL (Electronic Steering Lock) is the original one, therefore necessitating maintenance.
On Monday, I will be able to substitute the motor and see whether it resolves the issue, since I am now encountering the difficulties on a daily basis. Furthermore, I will have incurred an expense of £7.
If the issue continues to persist, then I intend to bring the vehicle to Mercedes in order to have the fault codes examined.
The primary deterrent for me to prioritise the task is the financial expenditure, the inconvenience of scheduling and waiting for an appointment, the round trip of 25 miles to the dealership, and the likely need to organise transportation to and from the dealership while the work is being done. In contrast, I can do the task by investing just £7 and dedicating half a day to tinkering in my own driveway.

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As said before, remove the unlocked unit first. The cost for installing an emulator on an unlocked automobile is around £490. However, if the column has to be removed, the rod drilled, and reinstalled, the price will be somewhat higher, amounting to a few hundred pounds extra.

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Prior to reattaching it, ensure the new motor is functioning dependably if you want to disassemble it and install a replacement. You may secure it in a raised position and it will smoothly retract and extend much as if it were fastened to the column. The benefit is that, in the event of a malfunction, you can easily disconnect it, instead of spending four hours dealing with the hassle of unlocking the steering.

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I have completed the task successfully and everything is functioning properly.

Utterly chaotic and distressing experience.
It took me around 36 hours to complete the ESL module, mostly due to the abundance of internet resources available for the pre facelift model W204, which significantly simplifies the process. Furthermore, when instructed to remove items, the extent to which they should be removed is sometimes unclear. In many cases, it may not be necessary to completely detach a component; just loosening it would suffice.
In addition, I had to repeatedly return to the home every 10 minutes to consult the internet, which was not very effective. However, after I replaced the motor and reinstalled the module, the remaining tasks were completed in little over an hour.

Mistakes I made - I neglected to apply locktight to the steering wheel nut and just reused the original nut. I intend to get a new nut and do the task correctly at a later time.

No items had any malfunctions.

Issues encountered - a small piece of black plastic responsible for securing the electric connector to the steering wheel appeared to be inadequately fastened upon installation (after the steering wheel had to be removed and reinstalled due to initial oversight). Furthermore, during the process of organising, I discovered the aforementioned piece on the carpet beneath the steering wheel. Currently, I have decided to keep it turned off and will just replace it when I am ready to work on the wheel nut.

Overall, it was a laborious task. While not excessively challenging, this task requires a significant amount of time, particularly when one is uncertain about the ability to successfully accomplish it. I was always hesitant to delete any portions, fearing that I would not be able to find suitable replacements.

Remaining tasks include completing the installation of the last piece of trim, namely the central vent component located over the radio. The reinsertion process is not smooth, and I am being cautious to avoid any damage. It was somewhat hard to remove as well.

Based on the current situation, it seems that the new motor will likely need replacement within a span of 12-18 months. However, I am considering the option of sending it for emulator coding in the future. I will promptly address the symptoms now that I am aware of their nature, and I believe I have acquired the knowledge to remove the module, which I might do within a span of a few hours.

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Has somebody left the ESL unit in an unsecured state?
Although my steering has not malfunctioned so far, I am contemplating if it is advantageous to only unlock the steering using the key, detach the battery, unhook the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL), and substitute it with a programmed emulation.
The option to reconnect the Electronic Steering Lock (ESL) is available to prevent a small penalty for a malfunctioning steering lock during the MOT test.
I am capable of fabricating a patch lead to facilitate the process of reconnecting.
Due to its bistable nature, the ESL remains securely unlocked even in the absence of electricity.

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