Critical Mercedes-Benz Failure - Rear Subframe Rotting
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Read on if you own or want a Mercedes-Benz! It just may be hiding a dangerous secret underneath.
When you drive a Mercedes-Benz, you expect the best. This means the best ride quality, the best features, the best looks - and the best reliability.
So what if I were to tell you that older Mercedes models such as the W204 C300 have a critical failure point that is prone to happen to all of them at some point including yours? We’re talking failure of your cars structural integrity - a rotting rear subframe. Read on to learn more!
What causes this issue to happen?
If you live in an area like New England and own a car, you know all too well why the area is referred to as the “Rust Belt”. During the winter months it is crucial for road crews to spread salt on roadways. The salt is used to lower the freezing point of water which as a result melts existing ice and prevents any more from forming. It goes without saying that a roadway free of ice is much safer for motorists and keeps traffic flowing accident-free.
Unfortunately, this process isn’t perfect and has its negatives. Without diving too deep into our favorite high-school chemistry lessons, rust is the result of an electrochemical reaction between iron and oxygen which forms iron oxide. In this chemical process, the metal atoms are losing electrons and forming ions. A salt water solution contains a plethora of ions and so it acts as an electrolyte. This causes the metal to lose its electrons more easily, accelerating the rusting process. So when you’re driving on a salt-covered road in a snow storm, the water mixed with salt is kicked up and coats the underneath of your car. This feeds the chemical process and causes an accelerated rusting process. This is why it is essential to wash the undercarriage of your car in New England so you can remove as much of the salt as possible to slow down the rusting process.
What does the rust do to my Mercedes-Benz?
Mercedes-Benz, and German cars in general are very good about using metals such as aluminum to prevent any rust related issues. This is why Mercedes-Benz cars tend to be so reliable as they don’t deteriorate over time as opposed to American and Japanese cars which utilize mainly steel that rusts away quickly.
Not everything on a Mercedes-Benz is aluminum, however, and this includes crucial parts of your car such as brake lines (Look out for a future blog post on this topic) and your rear subframe. While we don’t know the thought process behind Mercedes-Benz engineers and their use of steel for these components, my best guess is that steel being a stiffer metal than aluminum is better utilized for structural components like the subframe. Steel being an alloy of iron is susceptible to the iron oxide process we discussed earlier which causes it to rust.
What is a subframe and why is this bad?
In this case, the rear subframe is a structural component which connects all of the rear suspension components such as the struts and control arms to the car itself. When the integrity of this is affected, your car isn’t being held together as strong as it should be. Not only does this cause a plethora of handling and comfort issues, it’s dangerous.
What happens on a Mercedes-Benz rear subframe?
The most common failure point we see on the Mercedes-Benz rear subframe is the welds for the control arm mount. This welds rot out and eventually the control arm mount snaps off from the subframe, leaving crucial suspension components disconnected from your car.
Typically, driver’s will notice something is wrong when they brake and the car pulls to the side. This happens because the suspension is not properly connected anymore, so under braking force your suspension is shifting from its position and causing your car to pull to the affected side.
How is this issue fixed?
Unfortunately, the only solution is to replace your entire rear subframe with a new one from Mercedes-Benz. By the time the subframe has rotted and snapped, there’s no way to salvage the metal and make any form of welding repair. Beyond that, there is no guarantee that the subframe would be in proper alignment specifications if you could manage to weld it back together, let alone still be as structurally strong as a new one.
Fortunately, you do not have to go to a Mercedes-Benz dealership for this repair! It can seem daunting to have such a large repair done on your car, especially when it’s as unexpected as a subframe failure and you won’t be allowed to pass a state inspection in its damaged state.
At 603 MTech Autowerks, we replace your rear subframe with a brand new one straight from Mercedes-Benz with all new hardware. Not only will your car be safe again and drive like new, you won’t have to worry about having to pay an arm and a leg at the dealership for this typically very pricey repair.
We are New England's most innovative European auto repair shop specializing in Mercedes-Benz service and repair.
See how we can help you with a FREE repair estimate!