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Eric
Eric, Automotive Repair Shop Manager
Category: Mercedes
Satisfied Customers: 31884
Experience:  20+ yrs. experience as repair shop manager and technician.
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If you install a used (but works) radio (Alpine) in a

Customer Question

Customer: If you install a used (but works) radio (Alpine) in a Mercedes ML350, do you need the radio code associated with the VIN number from the original car that the used radio came from?
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: Well, I have a 2009 Mercedes ML350. The COMAND unit (sat radio, navigation, etc.) died. They wanted $2700 to replace the unit with a 2009 radio. Crazy. So, I went to PKQ and found a replacement unit and installed it. Then the message came up that it was an "anti-theft" warning and to take the vehicle to the dealer. So I did. They said they tried the code that came with the car (would not work) and they tried generic codes which did not work. So, they ended up telling me that you can't replace the unit with another car's unit. Just doesn't make sense to me. I do have the VIN# ***** the car that the other unit came from. But I don't know how to get either the code that works or how to do it myself.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $18) to post your type of question to Mercedes Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mercedes
Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

HI,

I am sorry that you have not been helped yet. I just came online and saw your question

I believe that this unit is vin specific in that its software is programmed to the vin number of the vehicle it is originally installed in and the software cannot be overwritten to enable it to work in another vehicle, but if you can post the last 8 digits of the vin number of the vehicle that the new radio came out of, I will check and verify this

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Eric, The last 8 of the new VIN is AA586069. Thanks!
Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

HI,

Ok, COMAND units up until 2004 can be recoded using a MB STAR scan tool and software. The newer units such as this one cannot be recoded. However, you cannot use the older COMAND unit in yours due to not only major connector differences, but software compatibility issues as well.

So unfortunately you either have to purchase a new unit or go with a completely different aftermarket audio unit but lose all the COMAND features

Sorry for the bad news here.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Eric, Is it really a matter of re-coding? I'm wondering how the dealer can install a totally new radio and the car accepts it vs. installing a recycled radio. It seems to me that if you had the VIN number from the original car that the radio came in, you should be able to use that code for the car. Otherwise, how are these wrecking companies selling the radios? What would be the point?
Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

HI,

When the dealer installs a new radio, they use a MB STAR scan tool to code it with the vin number of your vehicle once they have completed the physical install.

The audio unit is more than just an audio unit. It is a control module that part of the antitheft(immobilize) system goes thru for the vehicle. Part of this is matching vin numbers coded into each of the various control modules when they are interrogated by the immobilizer control module. If one doesnt match, the immobilizer will prevent the vehicle from starting. The IP Cluster, ECM, SAM, Audio unit, and immobilizer control modules all have to match in vin number.

As to salvage yards, they are not governed by any laws on selling used parts except airbags. Other than airbags, they have no laws to adhere to and it is up to their personal ethics on selling parts that cannot be reused. I run into this all the time with not just audio units, but also ecms, bcms, pcms and other control modules. 99% of all control modules cannot be reprogrammed to another vehicle, but that has never stopped salvage yards from selling them to people. I usually have to tell 6-10 people a week that I cannot install their used control module in their vehicle because it cannot be reprogrammed to work with their vehicle.

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Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

I noticed we have not yet resolved your concern you asked about. I would sure appreciate it if you would reply so I can offer my skills and knowledge and repair guide access to help as best I can.

~Do you still need more help?
~Confused by my info request or answer?
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~Need more detail or a different explanation?

If the answer is YES to any of these just press reply and lets work on this concern some more.

If you have new questions now or in the future please do not hesitate to ask them. If you would like me to assist you. Just bookmark this page so you can access my profile easy and post a new question from the question box on my profile page. Please remember to rate service using the rating page so that I may receive credit. Thanks

Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

I noticed we have not yet resolved your concern you asked about. I would sure appreciate it if you would reply so I can offer my skills and knowledge and repair guide access to help as best I can.

~Do you still need more help?
~Confused by my info request or answer?
~Need more time?
~Confused on how the site works?
~Need more detail or a different explanation?

If the answer is YES to any of these just press reply and lets work on this concern some more.

If you have new questions now or in the future please do not hesitate to ask them. If you would like me to assist you. Just bookmark this page so you can access my profile easy and post a new question from the question box on my profile page. Please remember to rate service using the rating page so that I may receive credit. Thanks

Expert:  Eric replied 1 year ago.

I noticed we have not yet resolved your concern you asked about. I would sure appreciate it if you would reply so I can offer my skills and knowledge and repair guide access to help as best I can.

~Do you still need more help?
~Confused by my info request or answer?
~Need more time?
~Confused on how the site works?
~Need more detail or a different explanation?

If the answer is YES to any of these just press reply and lets work on this concern some more.

If you have new questions now or in the future please do not hesitate to ask them. If you would like me to assist you. Just bookmark this page so you can access my profile easy and post a new question from the question box on my profile page. Please remember to rate service using the rating page so that I may receive credit. Thanks