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SierraMikeHotel's chod: SMH goes above plodding pace SHOCK


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I didn't think it was bad for what is essentially integrated sat nav and hands free phone kit tbh, never mind the added music functionality and DAB radio.


Fitting was a good chunk (going by Amazon prices for the HU) but a job like that with all the trim removal necessary to do it "properly" could well leave you wanting to take your own life.

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I sometimes feel smug when I see people on here talking about hiding things from their wives: Mrs H and I have a trusting and honest relationship.


Well, until now.


She's known about all the money I've spent on the Merc, and approved, but I definitely got The Look last time I mentioned there were still jobs to do.


So, ah, I took it into the garage for a new thermostat while she's away for work.


The fuel consumption has always been a bit disappointing and I finally figured out why: it never gets up to temperature unless you're sitting in traffic, which is most of the time so it took me a while to realise what the problem was.


All sorted now: I took a short detour on the way home from the garage to see how it would behave, and all seems well: the needle goes straight to 80 and stays there, and the computer reckons I got 43mpg, which probably would have been 30 or so before. So, it was worth doing.


Diagnostic computer at the garage reckons the old 'stat was fully opening at 30°C.


The bill came to £265 including a £40 fault code read. I really must get me a cheap obd machine.


Another W203 owner is having the same issue and I think his garage quoted nearly twice that - I can't remember who it was but I hope he sees this and gets some other quotes!




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Back when I bought the car and took it for a "visual health check" at the Benz main dealer, one of the items they noted was that the indicators were showing a white light to the rear, which might be an MoT fail. I could be mis-remembering, but I thought they were talking about pricing up new tail lamp units, which are about eighty quid each. A bit of investigation shows that the lamp unit doesn't have any amber at all though - the amber is on the bulbs, not the lamp unit..


It feels a bit weird replacing a bulb that still works, but I took the point - the right one especially was more white than amber. Changing out the bulbs was the work of moments, it's a nicely laid-out design with plenty of space to move. I chose these, purely because Osram have a decent rep.




I didn't think the old ones were too bad, but it was worth a couple of quid to make sure there won't be an advisory on the MoT rather than chancing it.


If you search Amazon for this bulb type (PY21W), the first several pages that come up are LED replacements so I did consider going down that route. I thought I'd do some Googling to see if it would be a good idea, and came up with the whole range of experience. Now, I know that it's not a good idea to use LED replacement H7 bulbs in your headlamps, because the beam pattern's never right, but I thought they'd be good for indicators etc purely for longevity. However... there are people who've had no problems at all, people who've had a nightmare with Canbus errors, people who were fine after they'd fitted a resistor inline... I was curious, but decided to save my money and just get conventional bulbs in the end.


I am curious to know if anyone's got experience with LED's though, has anyone done it for indicators, tail lamp bulbs, sidelights etc?

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That's something I was meaning to do when I had the XR2. Never got round to it, though a friend did and he had to fartarse around with resistors and whatnot. Having said that I think you can get LED bulbs now that mimic the electrical characteristics of a traditional tungsten bulb?

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I think you can get LED bulbs now that mimic the electrical characteristics of a traditional tungsten bulb?

That's what the adverts claim! Forum posts that I found during my googling suggest that some work better than others though. Decided I couldn't be bothered this time but I might have a go next time a bulb fails.


From a styling point of view I think the W203 is young enough that they'd look good, but I was behind a classic Mustang recently that had LED tail lamps and I thought they looked a bit odd on a '60s car.

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I think they do work but you need something to trick the car into believing they are normal bulbs.


So in older cars it is the relay that needs changing otherwise it won't work correctly. I think it is because they draw lower current so the flasher doesn't work well and will show up bulb out warnings.


Not sure about canbus. I would have thought that if they were ok Halfords would be selling them

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  • 8 months later...

It's official; I'm middle aged.

I turned 40 in September.  I'm actually OK about it, no moans and groans from here, but a lovely side-effect was that friends and family came together - I had a lovely party - and as a genuinely unexpected bonus I was given some amazing presents.  At 40 you can generally afford to buy a "thing" if you want it, so those presents were experiences of the sort that you wouldn't buy for yourself.

My rather wonderful sister- and brothers-in-law got together and bought me a classic car track experience at U-Drive, based at the old  RAF base at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.

I had to choose three cars out of five - Jag E-Type, Ford Mustang, Austin Healey 3000, Mini Cooper and Aston Martin Vantage - and I went for the first three.  Minis are BRILLIANT but I have driven them before, and a '70s Aston just didn't quite excite me as much as the others did.




The Mustang came first.




I wasn't expecting great things, as a drivers car, but I was really keen to grab the opportunity to have a go in one as I doubt I ever will again; they're not exactly common over here.  In the context of an airfield it didn't look as big as I expected it too; American cars are big but European cars have caught up fast so I guess even a big '60s muscle car is smaller than a current Mondeo.  Nevertheless the view along that big stripy bonnet is quite exciting, and it makes quite a good noise.





I'm quite pleased that my first go at track driving was in an auto; I haven't driven manuals very often in recent years and there's already quite enough to think about at track speeds.  Honestly?  Really not a very good car.  The motoring journalism cliché would be to say that it's fast in a straight line but terrible in corners; this is all true but it also wandered about everywhere when I was trying to drive it in a straight line.  A stunningly gorgeous car, beautiful from every angle, that makes an amazing noise and accelerates very hard indeed but is only ever under suggestions, not really control, from its driver.  The steering is stupidly heavy. The brakes are over-servoed. It wanders about of its own accord on a straight track.  I should have hated it, and I think I would if I ever owned one, but the noise made it all better.  A beautiful, ridiculous, stupid, wonderful machine.




When I got out of the Mustang I was directed straight into the Austin Healey 3000.  Now this was a revelation.  I drove '70s cars a lot when I was younger and I've had the occasional go in older stuff so I thought I knew what to expect; something really physical and tough to drive, probably with pretty sketchy steering and brakes.  It wasn't like that at all; the driving position is apparently intended for a T-Rex (In most cars I have to adjust for long legs and short arms but even my arms are too long for a big Healey).  Once we got under way though it was just brilliant; now that I think about it this was my first time driving a real sports car and it delivered.  The steering was perfectly weighted, the brakes inspired confidence and it handled just like it should; just perfectly precise.








My last drive of the day was in a Jag E-Type; an early '70s 4.3 litre that was restored as a track-day car in 2011.





Let's take a little pause here.  Surely every classic car enthusiast wants to drive or own an E-Type; it's one of those very few cars where there just aren't enough to go around.




So what did I think of this one?  Well, as a car, it was more spacious than I was expecting.  Sitting in the driver's seat... well, what the hell do you think?  Looking past three wipers down a bonnet with an aeroplane engine under it; that has to be exciting.




I spent an amazing five minutes with this beast and I felt like a hero, but I probably didn't even begin to discover its abilities.  It was always pulling on the leash, wanting to go faster.

At the end of the day we got a passenger ride around the track in a '51 plate Impreza.  An amazing experience but I may have felt a little inadequate as a driver afterwards....


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Good job it didn't rain, it might have spoiled your day.

When I had my workshop I got to drive these type of cars everyday. It is the huge difference between individual cars that kept it interesting and why modern cars cannot do it for me - they all drive the same (relatively) where that cannot be said about pre 1980s stuff.

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When I had my workshop I got to drive these type of cars everyday. It is the huge difference between individual cars that kept it interesting and why modern cars cannot do it for me - they all drive the same (relatively) where that cannot be said about pre 1980s stuff.

I was thinking exactly that on my way home. The difference between the way the controls felt and the power delivery between the three cars was enormous - you just don't get that with moderns.
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