1997 mercedes steering locked up !! I had to be towed.. what can i do?

Asked by Sep 21, 2013 at 08:56 PM about the 1997 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4 Dr C280 Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The steering locked up ... can't move wheels or start it...

48 Answers

Put a NEW battery in...clearly the "anti-theft" mode is crazy~...needs more than a dodgy 11.5 volts with limited amperage...take a wirebrush and clean the connection to the frame...this involves taking the bolt off...wirebrushing the lug and the territory where it bolts to accepting a full 300 cold cranking amps to the starter and all auxiliary devices...such as the ignition, fuel and anti-theft devices~

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

I don't think my battery is bad... I can't move the ignition to crank it over to start.. It happen the other day my son rocked the car and it unlocked, then I could start it... Could it be the key or the tumblers worn out?

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

If it's a '97...it's bad...the new tin/antimony batteries will stop accepting a charge 10 percent per year...meaning yours stopped taking a charge some time ago...if you do not believe me check the knock-off tabs on the top of the battery indicating the date/year of it's first charge...they will "pro-rate" this battery if you buy an interstate battery~...and give you money back~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

the temporary induction of 12.5 volts made it free up...can you not see that?~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
101,415

Try turning steering wheel to the left then try turning the key.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
101,415

I ment to say turn and hold steering wheel to the left.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

The steering wheel will not turn... it is totally locked up!! I 'm just a women with questions.. because I don't know what to do.. I will take your great advise!!! and try cleaning the battery... or getting a new one.........

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.
101,415

When I say turn it I mean it will only move just a little bit. Not even so much that you will really even know that it did move. Hold in that position and then turn key. This normally unlocks steering wheels and ignitions.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
101,415

You will feel the key and steering (click) and then steering wheel and key will operate properly.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

was it not you bas3636 that I was explaining the chemistry involved here (pop is the VP of Engineering at Interstate) that the batteries ability to accept a charge will diminish ten percent per year....a ten year old battery is kaput...will take no more charge...in fact will fry the alternator...so GET A NEW battery...doesn't have to be interstate (but they are the best) and have someone wirebrush the big black cable at the ground where it attaches to be able to pull that amperage through...thru to U?~

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

dammit woman, the black cable...down where it attaches is corroded...can't you see that it is? have someone break out the toolset you got 'em for christmas and undo the bolt....wirebrush or coarse sandpaper the connections clean so the juice can get through~...it does not take a chemistry major to see the mechanical/electrical connection is disrupted with stuff~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

,,,and your battery is a WEAK sister...jumping is like a morphine injection...does not last...Get a new battery~....please....and it's not because I'm a dirty hound and frustrated because I cannot see your picture...an avatar would be a nice treet for this perv~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Your answer is quite different......... then all the others!!! I will check that out tomorrow!! Thanks a lot Judge Roy...............

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

a smart woman asks the questions...a fool stares in admiration~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
101,415

Ok just went out and purposely locked my steering wheel and ignition cyl. Neither would move normally. Steer wheel would not turn and key would not turn. Slightly turned steering wheel to the left and it unlocked both. If this is your issue it will come unlocked even if your battery is setting on the ground out side your car.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

You are smart...girlfriend~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

dandyoun...can you not see that this is an electrical issue...back in the old days none was so damned fussy....semiconductors....blaaaah~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I'm feeling awesome!!! I just want the truth.......... So now I have the power in my own tool box!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow my baby will be on the road tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank-you again!!!!!!!!!!

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
101,415

I disagree. But that's ok. Eighties and nineties models vehicles had the lock mech like I am talking about. So I agree to disagree with you on this one. Hope you are right tho so then I will have learned something new. Drive safe.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

dan-dee....in addition to holding the trip while switching to the on position five times, the functions should be RESET by the mere puttin' a NEW battery in...BAS...don't get any acid on your paws...get some surgical gloves from the clinic~...and wear some kind of glasses~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

the local station will take the old one off your hands and "pro-rate" whatever valued alloys can be extracted and recycle the acid...and give you some money if it's all there...and will install the battery for you (if it's an interstate dealership...much more money) walmart batteries are a disgrace...please use NAPA instead~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

the NAPA guys will be happy to put it in for you...and perhaps sell you a new battery-hold down if yours is getting corroded...and you could ask them to tend to the ground connection at the other end of the cable for you....puttin' on the charm is some power that women have and I fall for it EVERYTIME much to the dismay of my wife~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

wow she sure is sparing with the "mark helpful" just keep pushin' the guru's nose into the grindstone until he squeals~~are you waiting until the thing is Golden and Perfect before the rewards are forthcoming?...I feel terrible, now~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

You don't have to feel bad........ you are the Judge Roy.... and us women have different connections at the other end of the cable!!! Yes we have the power to charm as well as you have the power to be the man of your word!!! Sometimes it takes a while to feel the sparks..... I'm getting the connection now so thanks for the reward........ and please don't squeal... your ratings are the best .. so smile !!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

My brains fall out...then I step on them whenever a beautiful woman is around...the MO of the hairy beast~....forgive and forget....or not~

Best Answer
2,155

I'm pretty sure that in 1997 the c class was still using a mechanical steering lock which actually requires absolutely no electricity at all.

Mick...an enabler...has nothin' to do with function...what would explain that with 11.5 volts nothing would enable the steering wheel...but with jumpstart voltage worked normally?....my diagnosis stands as a NEW fresh battery is only going to help...would never hurt~~!

correct me if I am wrong, but the ignition switch is all up in there, needs the 12 volts and is fussy~ is an interface between man and machine...it doesn't take time at a wrecker to know this is going to be the failure point...where man meets machine...go ahead and join the list of judge_roy haters...does not mean nothin' to me...I got a box of pencils~

This is some good stuff!! My son is working on looking at the battery now... Will let you know Judge Roy... whats going down!! Everybody will know the if the car guru is the expert once again!!! I believe he is right~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
101,415

I sure hope he is right also. But if not lightly turn steering wheel to the left (it will only move just a little) and turn key at same time. Drive safe and good luck.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Dan-dee...I also hope that I'm wrong...but think of the failure points...the TPS wears out, steering and brakes get a lot of use...the ignition switch (the days before 'keyless' transponders)...annoying~ how in the hell is the steering interface gonna be set-up like a Japanese puzzle-box...it just don't add~

I admit it to the world, I AM NOT an expert on the C-class..owned a 1968 230S (the one with the cold-war fins) it was expensive....gave it to a friend...he put it in his garage...is a museum piece~ after a while you can guess at where the auto makers are taking us~....yes, guess-----but often correct~ sometimes we are met with a surprise...like if the fresh battery and renewed grounding does not help and make everyone concerned smiling and driving off into the sunset~

The battery was corroded....... It was Cleaned~tested for volts~ 12.2 my son charged it to 13 volts~ still would not unlock to my dismay... what !! a new battery.... I'm starting to think there is another problem here~ Do i need to take it to the garage!! where the Mechanics are~ Or do you have some more advise ???

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Yes....we've been through this already...a battery will degrade ten percent per year...exchange your limited potential battery with one that does not have the reduced potential...it is this way you will get the full 12.5 volts with 300 available amps...wirebrush the lug at the chassis connection to assure good ground...here and the cable to the motor block (near the alternator) get a good three hundred amp connection at the motor and at the frame off of the black 1/0 negative battery cable~ fully and properly grounded your vehicle will realize the electrical potential and should behave itself....but go on then take it to a shop...it's nothing to me...ignore the judge...same as at home~

the somewhat destructive "load test" where a dead short for three seconds is applied and then expected to still start the car...would fail that if older than five~

I'm not ignoring your advise.. at all... I'm still asking Question~ now I Know more about the short in an old battery ... makes sense~ everything wears out .........Sooner or Later!! I'll have my son pick one up~~ and cars are just as different as women...

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
45

Try your second key.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

My poppalooloo is the VP of Engineering, in Corona...he's got over fifty years in the automotive battery business...within the last fifteen years he pioneered the business of NO LEAD anymore but tin/antimony alloy...he will talk your arm off but tells me that ten percent per year is how they will stop accepting a charge-up~ by five years old it is down to half-ability~ YOU have cast a doubt on my logic here...the entirely mechanical device is jammin'? well we can get you a replacement~ bulldog the source for you at least~

alright for your entirely mechanical solution I offer a new housing for $163.86 and a new ignition lock for $22.98...replace these and all will be skittles and beer~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
2,155

Bas3636 your key is the type with the little round button in the top corner, when you press the button the key flips out from the side and you have to press the button again to fold the key away right? Do you have the original spare key for the car? it'll be just a standard boring ass key probably. If you do have it, try it. Make sure the parking brake is applied and if it has an auto transmission make sure it's in park (P), pull the steering wheel to the left while turning the key in the ignition. If this still doesn't work then spray a little bit of WD40 into the lock, put the key in the ignition and take it out again, repeat this a few times then try turning the key again. Still no joy? then it's time to get the car to a garage and have a new ignition barrel fitted (look on ebay and see if you can get a complete lock set from someone breaking a similar age c class). All this is of course assuming that your car is an earlier 1997 model as I believe the later 97 cars got a slight face lift, part of which was the introduction of the "smart key". In which case your key will just be square at the end that goes into the ignition. If this is the case then i'm afraid I can't help as I haven't had experience with that type.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I' m waiting on my battery!! It's all up in the air... till tomorrow..

2,155

J-Roy, i'm not so much a hater of you, just the flimsy way you answer questions such as "Put a NEW battery in...clearly the "anti-theft" mode is crazy~...needs more than a dodgy 11.5 volts with limited amperage...take a wirebrush and clean the connection to the frame...this involves taking the bolt off...wirebrushing the lug and the territory where it bolts to accepting a full 300 cold cranking amps to the starter and all auxiliary devices...such as the ignition, fuel and anti-theft devices~"..... The question was "The steering locked up ..." so your talk of anti-theft devices and auxiliary devices was on a bit of a tangent. I'm sure a lot of your answers are helpful, you are after all "at the top", but the ones I've read make you sound constantly stoned....

2,155

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/attachments/w126-s-se-sec-sel-sd/415406d1323917054-need-help-drilling-steering-lock-100_2552.jpg This is essentially what all of the older mechanical type steering locks look like. in this picture you can clearly see where the key goes in, the electrical plug goes at the opposite end of the main body. The long thin bit you see poking out at 90 degrees is the bit that fastens to the steering column and the shiny bit at the very end that looks like a kind of wedge is the steering lock pin. I.e, when you take your key out of the ignition and turn the steering wheel, it is this pin which you hear "click" as it springs into it's little hole in turn, locking the steering wheel.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Hey! GUYS Thanks for all the Goodies...I'v realized that when you first have a SIGN.. of car acting up ~~ go find out wsup!! My car's ignition was hard to turn~ over the last several weeks ... if I would of taken out the old ignition right of way~~ replaced a new one .. I would not be locked up at this moment !! So now I'm looking for a New HOUSING... WHAT A JOB THAT MAY BE WITH THE CABLE LOCKING UP MY GEARS !!! Need a MECHANIC ~~ Hopefully mine will be available tomorrow~~ I need my Ride back~~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Wow...not quite sure what happened just then, but "cable lockin' gears"....really? you really should elaborate...or we won't be able to make snyde remarks~

Okay...it's all dwezzled down in that and impossible to see, yet alone replace that cable that is part of the steering lock or linkage to the selector~

Okay.. I'm not in that boat... I was throwing you a bone~~ to chew on ... to.. see if you had knowledge~~ of older mercedes.. Watch U Tube ~~~Mercedes Source.. some older ones... have the cable going to ignitions and gear shift.... My mechanic is replacing the ignition switch. with a key set .. soon as the part comes in~~ I'll be driving my baby soon!! Watch the u tube before you give me an answer.. ok

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I am having a different problem. My steering wheel won't lock. Its spinning around, and won't start. But, when I can get it to lock, it will start.

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