Case Studies

BMW, Mercedes and Porsche – Ceramic and Aluminum Fuse Problems – How and Why

About The Problem
One of the more common electrical issues we see with the vintage Mercedes vehicles are problems related to the fuses and fuse box. Like many of the older European models, these cars were designed and engineered with identical or similar parts, in this case, the ceramic and aluminum exposed fuses. At the time, this was an excellent solution, but now, some 20 years later, we frequently see a series of pattern failures on vintage Mercedes, and almost always the same issue over time: fuse failure. While the ceramic and aluminum fuse failure is particular to older European vehicles; however, it’s a simple problem to fix in the grand scheme of things. Here are some service tips about the aluminum fuse failure in older Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes autos.

Symptoms of Fuse Failure
First, it helps to have an idea of what could be going wrong if you experience the symptoms of fuse failure in your Mercedes. When fuses blow, they’re simply executing their protective plan B—they force the electrical circuit to shut down, to avoid component or wiring damage.

It is most noticeable to lose power to certain components that rely on electrical current from the fuse box, usually including windshield wipers, power door locks, and power windows, or any other accessory parts like the heater fan or the radio. As you might imagine, this can be highly inconvenient, and in the case of wipers or defrosters, unsafe. We’ve even seen the fuse failure develop high resistance at the electrical spring contacts, which leads to heat, which then damages the fusebox itself, resulting in a very costly repair.

Why Does Aluminum Fuse Failures Occur?

As we mentioned before, this problem occurs due to no error on the part of the driver’s ability to maintain the vehicle. In these Mercedes, BMW, and other cars, corrosion is entirely due to the combination of aluminum and copper parts in close proximity to one another which causes the fuse to fail. This process is accelerated by certain outdoor conditions, such as fluctuating warm temperatures, which cause condensation buildup. The tips of the fuse that transmit the power to the various connectors eventually corrode and degrade, rendering it useless. Since over time the car has been exposed to the outdoor elements for extended periods, it’s most common to see this issue in older cars.

Why Else Do Older Mercedes Models Typically Encounter Fuse Failure?
When Mercedes vehicles, or all vehicles for that matter, are brand new and all the parts under the hood are also new, it’s unlikely for problems to occur right away. Usually, issues arise as the driver gets more use out of the car. Mostly seen in older sedan models, aluminum fuse failure takes time to develop. It’s an engineering issue; however, with the help of a trained Mercedes professional, there are things you can do to prevent other fuses from failing and to fix the problem at an affordable rate. One thing we like to do is to replace all the fuses at the first sign of failure, and then carefully coat the fusebox contacts with electrical contact enhancer. This simple service, taking less than an hour, can save your fusebox, and even your car, in the event of an electrical meltdown.

What to Do Next
Since all of the fuses are made of essentially the “wrong” materials, the best course of action to take is to replace the old fuses with new ones that are made of a more durable, appropriate material, like brass or copper. The ceramic base is a popular choice for this particular issue, as it interacts well with copper components. The good news is that this issue is easily corrected, but takes time, expertise, and proper tools and materials. The next step is to find a trustworthy Mercedes service center nearby which can help you address this problem before more fuse failure occurs.

How We Can Help
At Atlantic Motorcar, we are European auto service specialists, focusing our expertise on German-engineered vehicles like Mercedes-Benz. Serving clients for the last 35 years, from all over Maine we have seen countless numbers of older Mercedes vehicles that have experienced aluminum fuse failure.

One of the advantages of taking your Mercedes to professionals who specialize in them is that you don’t have to waste your money and time with lengthy, and expensive, diagnostic procedures to figure out where the source of a problem lies. While we perform thorough differential diagnoses with each case we encounter, it is most important that we commit to being timely and accurate in the interest of being efficient and cost-effective for our clients. If you are experiencing power loss or the beginnings of fuse failure, please contact our helpful team today.

Give Our Team A Call!
As Maine’s leading independent service specialists, we provide expert-quality services at a fair rate than nearby dealerships and specialty shops. If you’re experiencing any vehicle concerns, please call us right away, we can usually see your car the same day!

Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Volvo, VW or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists is here to help, for even the newest autos! Just Call (207) 882-9969.

Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.

The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team

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