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sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Mercedes
Satisfied Customers: 22657
Experience:  ASE Master and Advanced level certified. Factory trained with 15 years dealership experience
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2005 E320 CDI - wont crank & shows ESC/ABS error. Happened

Customer Question

2005 E320 CDI - wont crank & shows ESC/ABS error. Happened last year around summer. Replaced battery last year and problem went away until temps got hot this year, replaced battery again and worked for 3 day, now ESC/ABS back and wont crank. I Can buy EBAY ECU with switch and lock but no key for <$400. Thinking of DIY ECU swap but am concerned about security system and how would I get a working key. Car cranks fine when I jump the relay but wont run.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mercedes
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Edit: ESP not ESC.
So my question is... what should I do?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

The problem could definitely be in the electronic ignition switch, which I believe you were referring to, but you wouldn't want to attempt to install used parts programmed to another vehicle; the key is programmed to the EIS and ECM so if it didn't come with a key you'd still be spending a few hundred dollars for a new key and programming.

I question whether the battery is dead since replacing the battery appeared to have fixed the problem for a few days. Do you have a digital voltmeter to test battery voltage?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If I turn on key and only try to start for 1 second, I only get old "low wiper fluid" error, but if I hold key over in "start" position, after ~3-5 seconds the ESP/ABS errors show up, so I don't think it is ignition so much as ECU, that could be acting funny because of low voltage. When this first started, I could leave car until sun went down & cooled off, then it would start.main battery reads 12.65 on battery tester, 12.3 on instrument panel, 11.9 on multi-meter. I have connected battery charger to it and charged until battery charger read 13.1. I have hooked jumper cables to running car. The old battery (less than year old) was 40oz low on water (acid) when I replaced it, so I think there may be a charging issue behind all of this. I replaced the front battery about 2 years ago.. it was showing 12.7 volts (disconnected from car) last time I checked.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

The battery is pretty low if it's at 11.9v at rest.

Set up to monitor battery voltage and see what it shows at rest now.

Turn the headlamps on and leave them on for two minutes, record the voltage after two minutes.

Turn them off and record the voltage after one minute. Let me know what you see for all three readings.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK testing now using a calibrated multimeter
Initial test 12.35
after 2 min lights on 12.14
1 min after lights off 12.28
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.
Do the headlamps not work?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
headlamps came on fine, I left door open and when I turned headlamps on the reminder chime stayed on the entire time. I checked lights, but only at beginning of two minutes... I will repeat with key in and I'll watch the lights.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

I would have expected more of a drop which is why I asked.

Do you have a scan tool capable of communication with all modules?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Only scangage OBDII right now - may be buying xentry and laptop if I can find deal - I don't want to sink $800-1000 just to find out I have to take to dlr and spend $2K for ECU & labor.initial battery 12.35
after 2 min lights (brights) 12.02
after lights off 1 min 12.24
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

I doubt you're going to need an ECM but if it, a key or the EIS need to be replaced then dealer level equipment is going to be necessary.

Does the fuel pump run when the key is turned on?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
not sure - I hear something, but maybe air bladder or vacuum pump. When I manually close circuit between pins 3 - 4 on the bottom relay in the left trunk, I hear swishing sound that I don't hear when key turned off / on. I have tried leaving that on and starting with key, no luck, while also jumping the starter relay in front fuse box with key on - engine spins strong but doesn't fire.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

Do you have access to at least a code reader to see if there is communication?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delays.... I just won a Star Diagnostics XENTRY DAS with C3 MULTIPLEXER on Ebay so hopefully I can pick it up tonight from local seller and get some answers.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Initial codes from ESP (4A30 and 53FU) and Driver Side SAM (9081) and indicated the CDI was not responding with 2 out of 9 sensors(?) not able to talk to it. I followed instructions to do a quick on-off-on of the key and CDI now worked and then I could start car. but even after codes cleared I am still getting following errors:
BCM (Battery Control Module???)
Driver Side SAM 9081 which points to either cable 61 open circuit or alternator problem. I tested Fuse 43,44,57 and was only getting .17v
Also when I finally got it to start big red dial showing battery and said take to shop. Alternater looked like it was putting out 62 amps charging.... little high I think.
So where should I focus? alternator, BCM or the circuit 61 wiring?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Or if you have specific test, I can try that...
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

Is it starting reliably again now?

Did you check voltage at the battery while running?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well, starting reliably at 10pm with sun down and temps in low 80's. While running it showed battery at 13v I think. I will drive tomorrow and see if it leaves me stranded.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.
Let me know how it goes!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Didn't get a chance to drive it..... another no start condition, xentry shows CDI error, with possible low voltage...too dark now, going to chase the wiring tomorrow. Figured out how to lift the N0 fuse block up... but not much room in wire loom to check the connectors on back..... and after seeing all the codes makes me wonder about windshield wiper spray doesn't work and similar that appear to point to wiring fault.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

You aren't able to communicate at all with the engine controller are you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Nope, but when I am trying to communicate with it, if I follow the instruction on screen and do the quick, ignition off/on then i can gets comms and after that the engine will start as well.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

Can you module EIS position?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't understand
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, that was a typo. It should have said monitor EIS position.