My car history part 21: Finally content?

I’d finally made the decision to buy my next car and had travelled by train to London, over a 2 hour trip with a bus journey added on, to buy the ‘perfect’ car for me – at that time – Mellie, a 2008 Mercedes SLK 200K.

True, it didn’t have back seats.

It didn’t have a spacious hatchback.

But I didn’t really need those; if I ever needed more than 2 seats, I had the use of the fiance’s RAV4.

What ‘Mellie’ did have was looks, fun factor, lack of cabin noise, decent commuter engine power, good fuel economy, and more importantly, for my bad back, exceptionally comfortable seats.

And I’d bought this one as she had heated seats!

Except… on the way home I’d found out that mine didn’t work.

It’d been a private sale, and sold as seen.

I’d figured I’d got a bargain anyway. The car was at least a thousand pounds cheaper than anything remotely similarly, with the specs I wanted – the closest example was £1500 more from a dealer.

So I looked at getting the heated seats repaired.

How much do you think Mercedes wanted for this simply electronic fix?


Well – that was for a new seat base – as they don’t do a ‘fix’.

Plus labour, to remove the old one, and fit this one.

As Bart Simpson would say: Aye Caramaba!

And that wasn’t even Mercedes themselves, but an independant specialist – i.e. cheaper!!

I did some research.

It seemed heated seat failure is a common problem. Something to do with people kneeling on their seats backward to clean the interior /wipe the rear screen; the wires in the base snap under the pressure. Or simply burn out.

I looked at getting a replacement second hand seat base – but finding the right model, drivers side, with a heated seat element, known to be working… I couldn’t find any.

I considered swapping the passengers side over to mine; after all, it was only me using the car on a regular basis. I queried on a SLK forum as to whether the sides were interchangeable; it seems that the seat backs weren’t, but the bases potentially were – yet when I investigated further I found that there was a difference in the wiring – the passenger seat has a pressure sensor connected to the airbag/SRS system.

The purpose of the sensor is to determine whether or not to employ the passenger side airbag in the event of a crash, depending on whether someone is in the seat or not.

I didn’t want to be messing around with pressure sensors and airbag wiring – I’d read enough warnings about accidental deployment and ‘confusing’ the computer so that it though an airbag had been deployed or was faulty, and having to visit Mercedes to have it (at expense) put right again.

Fortunately there were some articles on how to fix your heated car seat, and others on how to safely disconnect the airbag.

There wasn’t one clear article for my model on the whole procedure, but I managed to piece them together and very carefully attempted to remove my car seat.

I was missing the right star shaped socket for the seat belt attachment, so had to fork out £7 at my local B&Q for one.

Eventually though I was able to remove the seat, it’s cover, and with the help of a multimeter I already have, trace the fault and find the bad wire!

SLK seats removed
‘Mellie’ the SLK – with seats removed

I’d bought a cheap soldering iron from Maplin for £15, and enlisted the help of my fiancee, who has much steadier hands than me – her being a makeup artist and doing eyelash extensions probably helped! Plus, bizarrely, she already had some experience with a soldering iron… and I hadn’t!

She proceeded to fix the damaged wires and the next day I refitted the seat… and lo and behold, the heated seats worked!!

£22 repair.

A bit better than Mercedes’s price 🙂

(I posted the details on the SLK forum for anyone else that was suffering from the same issue)

So, I now have the ideal car, with heated seats… am I still happy with it??

10 months later…


Sort of.

I’m missing having something with more ‘oomph’; it certainly feels a little underpowered sometimes. I don’t think it’s been maintained particularly well though, and I realised that the air filter hasn’t been replaced for a long time – an upgrade to a ‘green cotton’ air filter is supposed to help, so I’ve order one and I’m waiting for it to arrive – let’s hope it helps.

But I am starting to get an ‘itch’ for a change…!

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