The German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz is issuing a small-scale recall for some of its SL-Class roadsters from the 2013 model year. A vulnerable air-conditioner refrigerant line is the culprit in the action. It could cause a fire under extreme conditions.
Affects fewer than 500 Mercedes SL-Class
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 432 of the vehicles are included in the U.S. recall. The affected SL-Class cars were assembled between Dec. 19, 2011 and May 31, 2011, and use the R1234yf refrigerant in their air conditioning systems. The manufacture date of the vehicles can be found on a sticker inside the driver’s door jamb.
There’s your problem
The federal regulator says that the air-conditioner refrigerant line could rupture in the targeted cars, should they suffer an extreme front-impact collision. If that should happen, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “a gaseous mixture of refrigerant” might escape and get onto the hot engine surfaces, causing combustion. “The resulting fire could spread to additional combustible materials,” continued the federal safety regulator.
The automaker also told the National Highway Traffic safety Administration that the problem will have no affect on the normal operation of the vehicles. It is only an issue when subjected to certain kinds of severe collisions.
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Problem detected during testing
Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, reported that it discovered the problem during its own in-house product testing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, in its summary of the recall:
“Daimler AG … conducted product testing of a vehicle not sold in the U.S., but equipped with the same refrigerant. According to Mercedes-Benz, the testing was designed to replicate worst-case conditions expected in a severe frontal crash that would cause a rupture of the air conditioner refrigerant line.”
The fix and the recall details
The fix for the problem is to replace the refrigerant lines, and to replace the R1234yf refrigerant with R134a refrigerant — presumably, a type that is less volatile. That fix will be accomplished at Mercedes-Benz dealerships, and, of course, will be done at no cost to the owner.
Mercedes-Benz says it will start contacting the affected owners — most of whom have barely started paying on their auto bank loans — later this month.
If you want to know more, you can call Mercedes at 800-367-6372. Alternately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle safety hotline is 888-327-4236. It can also be contacted through its website at http://www.safercar.gov. Its number for the recall campaign is 12V478000.
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