Engine stalled; starter will not turn over engine; waited 10 minutes and started turned over engine, engine started but stopped after drive engaged
2004 Mercedes Benz A Class 190 petrol automatic

No problem with car for several years; today engine stalled at 8:00 pm, lights on; rolled to edge of road; turned key fully anticlockwise and then clockwise to restart engine, heard click of relay but no action; checked fuses and relays, no evidence of problem; after 10 minutes tried to restart engine and starter engaged and engine restarted; put auto into drive and angine stalled; retried starting engine, starter motor not working; retried after 10 minutes, engine restarted but died when drive engaged; started again after 10 minutes, engine turning, engaged drive and car moving, but continually stalling, but the turning of the wheels kept the engine continually restarting ( like continually bump-starting); eventually encountered an upward slope in the road and engine appeared to weak to continue and stalled.
Possible battery problem (4 years old) or charging problem? - although no warning lights on dashboard.

Problem added: Feb 27, 2022 (3 months ago)
Avatar
Peter
1 points

Mercedes Benz A Class
Year: 2004
Variant: 190 petrol automatic
Problem Category
Electrics, ECU, Warnings & Lights

Replies and fixes

It could be your battery is very low , but needs checked for voltage to verify . If so , and battery showed no weak cells , a charge may suffice . If not , new battery and alternator charging rate tested also .
Hi

Many thanks for your response.

A battery or alternator charging problem seems most likely, however I’m amazed that the battery warning light never came on to indicate a problem.

I recently noticed on a couple of occasions, the starter motor didn’t seem to turn the engine over fast enough to get it to start. The starter motor continued to turn the motor over with the engine almost starting but not quite. However pressing the accelerator pedal cured the problem and the engine roared into life.

Unfortunately no such luck this time!
The battery really needs to be cranking fast enough. Flooring the accelerator when cranking the engine often got me starting on many breakdowns on different cars over the years .Another possible cause if not battery could be a " lazy " starter motor taking to much of a draw from battery . Outwith what seems to be a battery related fault , could check condition of spark plugs and replace if needed . Could also try a jump start as a temp measure .
Replying to post by whittingehame:
The battery really needs to be cranking fast enough. Flooring the accelerator when cranking the engine often got me starting on many breakdowns on different cars over the years .Another possible cause if not battery could be a " lazy " starter motor taking to much of a draw from battery . Outwith what seems to be a battery related fault , could check condition of spark plugs and replace if needed . Could also try a jump start as a temp measure .
Hi again,

Many thanks for the additional information.

Essentially, the car just stalled in the late evening, all headlights on and heater fan, radio, etc.

Switched off all lights etc.

I tried to restart but whilst I could hear the relay, the starter was silent – indicating a flat battery.

After about 10 minutes, a retry starting was successful, again indicating a possible battery fault.

However, after a few minutes the engine stalled. The whole procedure again of the 10 minute wait etc.

Normally, if the engine starts, the alternator will provide sufficient power to keep the car going – suggesting an alternator fault not powering the engine and not charging the battery.

However, I did manage to start the car on a level bit of road and whilst it kept stalling, the fact that the wheels were turning kept bump-starting the engine.

However, there was no real power from the engine and as soon as I reach an incline in the road, the car stalled. No amount of temporary restarts would get the car to move, just no power.

This would also suggest blocked fuel filter or faulty fuel pump or faulty spark plugs or faulty spark coils – but why would this stop the engine from at least being turned over by the starter motor without having to wait for about 10 minutes?

I’ve tried searching the internet and many Class-A (W168) drivers report a similar problem being caused by a faulty battery – even though in a couple of cases MB reported the battery as good and changed the alternator at some ridiculous price!

I’m assuming that if I install a new, fully charged battery tomorrow, the car will start and drive a good few miles even if the alternator is faulty.

Otherwise, a seemingly endless list of possibilities exist, everything from a faulty earth to a failed ECM.

Again, many thanks for your help – and listening to me ranting (it does help)
Your alternator will struggle to charge a very low battery and if it has a weak , dud cell it never will . Often if you leave for a short time , you get a last gasp kick which will start car .But there is that much battery power needed to keep the engine running and other components , a very low battery wont cope . With it being an automatic and you applying the footbrake / brake lights , prior to putting in to gear drops the revs also it's enough to cause it to stall . Best I can do to explain why I think it's at least the battery . Feel free to ignore and seek another solution
Replying to post by whittingehame:
Your alternator will struggle to charge a very low battery and if it has a weak , dud cell it never will . Often if you leave for a short time , you get a last gasp kick which will start car .But there is that much battery power needed to keep the engine running and other components , a very low battery wont cope . With it being an automatic and you applying the footbrake / brake lights , prior to putting in to gear drops the revs also it's enough to cause it to stall . Best I can do to explain why I think it's at least the battery . Feel free to ignore and seek another solution
Hi again,

You make some very good points that would support the idea of a failing battery.

Obviously I want it to be a failing battery which I can replace simply and easily.

Again, many thanks for all your help, I very much appreciate it.

I will sleep more easily this evening having resolved that an amicable solution is at hand.

Very best wishes.
Replying to post by Peter:
Hi again,

You make some very good points that would support the idea of a failing battery.

Obviously I want it to be a failing battery which I can replace simply and easily.

Again, many thanks for all your help, I very much appreciate it.

I will sleep more easily this evening having resolved that an amicable solution is at hand.

Very best wishes.
Update on Tuesday evening – the situation is not improving!

New, fully charged battery installed.

All lights working

Turning the key illuminates all the symbols, however the starter motor will not engage.

The electric radiator fan at the front of the engine starts as soon as the instrument panel illuminates, to be honest, I don’t know if this is normal or not – probably not.

I connected the starter motor directly to the battery, using the purple cable on the three-lead plug in the battery box and the starter motor started immediately, however the engine did not start even with the ignition switched on.

I tried this technique, of getting the starter motor turning with the ignition switched on, several times and had expected at least a small smell of petrol, however I noticed nothing at all.

I did get a new symbol appear briefly on the small screen below the instrument symbols that appeared to be a clock, showing about 10 minutes to 2 and an oil can. I have no idea what this means.

The engine oil level on the dipstick is just above centre so quite normal.

I know that if too much oil is added, the system can show the ‘Hi’ symbol indicating a problem.

I’ve been trying to work out what exists between the starter motor and the battery, which also could block fuel or spark coil, and which could activate the electric radiator fan.

I noticed there’s a starter lockout relay (shown as K3), next to the Cooling fan relay (shown as K4) in the Control Module Box, somewhere in the engine compartment which I’ve yet to locate.

Any thoughts or experience of a similar situation would be very much appreciated!
If this applies to your car you have this also
8 Starter relay 30

Mercedes-Benz A-Class (w168; 1997 – 2004) – fuse box diagram
Year of production: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Fuse box
Mercedes-Benz A-Class w168 - fuse box diagram
Mercedes-Benz A-Class w168 – fuse box diagram
No. Fused function A
1 Gasoline engine:Control module, ISC (Idle speed control), AGR-Ventil, Lambda heater 1, Lambda heater 2, Diagnostic socket, Cruise control, Secondary air injection relay, Secondary air injection valve, Shut-off valve 20
Diesel engine:Diesel control module, Wastegate actuator, Throttle valve switchover valve, Exhaust gas recirculation pressure valve, Three-way catalytic converter temperature sensor 10
2 Gasoline/diesel engine control module, Ignition coils, Injection valves, FP relay module (coil), Electronic accelerator, Starter lockout relay 25
3 Electric fan (engine cooling), Electric fan (engine cooling) with air conditioning 30 40
4 Engine control module 7.5
5 Automatic clutch 40
6 FP relay module (gasoline) 30
7 Light module 40
8 Starter relay 30
9 Wiper motor 40
10 Rear wiper 20
Laminated roof 40
11 Combination switch (Wiper control, Headlamp flasher, Windshield washer pump (actuation)), RNS (Radio Navigations System) 15
12 Cigarette lighter, Glovebox illumination, Radio, CD changer, 12V socket in trunk 30
13 Front left power window or power window with excess force limiter
Front right power window 30 7.5 30
14* Instrument cluster (time functions), Wipe/wash pump relay, Mobile phone 15
10
15 Airbag control module, ACSR sensor (automatic child seat recognition), Side airbag sensor, Side airbag sensor 10
16 Exterior rearview mirror adjustment, Exterior rearview mirror heater, Parktronic 15
17 Fanfare horn 15
18 Instrument cluster, Transponder and RFL (radio frequency locking), Motor electronics relay, Fan relay 10
19 Trailer coupling 25
20 Trailer coupling 15
21 Trailer coupling 15
22 Sound system 25
23 Make UP mirror illumination 7.5
24 Not assigned
25 Not assigned
26 Not assigned
27 Not assigned
28 Instrument cluster, last Instrument cluster, last Excess force limiter control module (excess force limiter) 10
29 Central locking, Seat installation recognition unit 15
30 DAS transponder (drive authorization system) and RFL (radio frequency locking), Electric instrument cluster 7.5
31 Rear window defroster 25
32 Portable phone, Radio or RNS (Radio Navigations System), CD changer, Front dome lamp, Rear dome lamp 15
33 Front left power window, Front right power window 30
34 Heater booster/freeze protection (diesel) 30
35 ATA control module 2x light relay, Siren 10
36 Front heated seats 25
37 VGS program selector lever (fully integrated transmission control), Heater booster coolant circulation pump (diesel) 10
38 Air conditioning control module (A/C compressor), Blend air recirculation flap stepper motor, Interior sensor blower, Heated windshield washer nozzle 10
39 Light module, Backup lamp, manual transmission/ automatic clutch, VGS backup lamp (fully integrated transmission control) 7.5
40 Stop lamp, left, right and center (ABS brake signal), Steering angle sensor 10
41 Air conditioning control module, Diagnostic socket 10
42 Rear left power window, Rear right power window 30
43 ESP (Electronic stability program), Brake switch, NC contact 15
44 VGS control module (fully integrated transmission control) or automatic clutch 10
45 Interior blower or air conditioning interior blower 30
46 Central protection by fuses 80
47 Power steering pump 60
48 Preglow control module (diesel) 60
Secondary air injection (AIR) (gasoline) 30
* The fuse f14 has been increased from 10 to 15 ampere as Fuse 14 for wipe/wash pump relay of chassis end number 033 655.
Only a 10 ampere fuse should be used up to chassis end number 033 654.
Light module fuse box
Mercedes-Benz A-Class w168 - fuse box diagram- light nodule fuse box
Mercedes-Benz A-Class w168 – fuse box diagram- light nodule fuse box
No. Fused function A
1 Left low beam 7.5
2 Right low beam 7.5
3 Left main beam
Right main beam
Main beam indicator lamp (instrument cluster) 15
4 Left side lamp
Left tail lamp 7.5
5 Right side lamp
Right tail lamp
58K instrument cluster
License plate lamps 15
6 Left/right fog lamp
Left rear fog lamp 15
WARNING: Terminal and harness assignments for individual connectors will vary depending on vehicle equipment level, model, and market.
Update after two weeks.

After further investigation it seemed very likely that the Starter Lockout Relay was the culprit.

Not a terribly expensive item so I ordered one without delay whilst running further checks.

Unfortunately, and despite the relay and fuses diagram contained in the compartment under the floor containing the battery and most of the relays and fuses, I have one of the A-Class that has the Starter Lockout Relay integrated with the starter motor.

I double-checked the relay box attached to the bulkhead, behind the washer container, and definitely no Starter Lockout Relay.

A possible problem with the key fob was suggested and I ordered two new fobs, (I was warned that fobs are easy to break) however changing the key and transponder into either fob produced no results.

To change a starter motor, with integrated Starter Lockout Relay, is a complicated affair and the garage quoted a price that exceeded the value of the car for the parts and work – with no guarantee this would cure the problem.

However, this evening, to my greatest surprise, the car started first time and I was able to engage both drive and reverse to move the car a couple of feet forward and backwards.

The instrument panel gives the warnings “BAS ESP” and “ABS”.

It is possible that a sensor for the ABS/ESP has become detached, the front springs and shock absorbers were replaced a couple of weeks before the problem started.

Does anyone know if the warnings “BAS ESP” and “ABS” could result in a starter lockout or immobilise the car?

Any help or suggestions would be most gratefully received.

Many thanks.

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