Just over a year ago we requested Mercedes Benz appoint their own engineers to rectify the rear wheel steering issues on all London Vito taxis. This they agreed to do and we were assured that all these taxis would be rectified in due course.
Typically, Mercedes move things forward very precisely, very methodically and very slowly. They will not be rushed however much pressure we put on them, but they do get there eventually. There are now 9 specialist engineers from USA, Sweden and UK working on resolving these problems.
We recently had a long meeting with the chief engineer who is dealing with the redesign and updates and he gave us an in depth presentation on their progress relating to the rear steering problems and were shown in detail what they have done thus far.
The actuators have been completely redesigned internally and externally. The water ingress that had been the prime cause of the problem has now been eradicated. A more robust stone chip resistance wiring will be installed that should cut out a lot of the electrical problems. The ECU’s have undergone considerable improvements and designed specifically for our vehicles. This should rectify the problem of lights coming on and buzzers sounding off. What has been happening, is when even a small jolt is detected by the ECU on the steering, it sends out a message to lock the steering in place to prevent any damage. Once locked, the steering can only then be reset manually by an engineer. This should not happen with the new unit as the more intelligent sensor will assess if there is a real problem or just a transient reading and reset itself if no fault is found. If however there is a real problem, the light will come on and stay on.
Most of the Euro5’s have now had the upgraded dogtooth system fitted and they are about to start on the Euro4. If you wish to add your name to this list please call us ASAP as it will be first come first served. This work will be carried out free of charge even if you are out of warranty.
The low cost rear steer only maintenance guaranty should be in place by the time of our next update. We believe that for all cabs out of warranty, this will prove to be the best option as you will know exactly what your outlay each year will be and not be faced with a huge bill if something serious goes wrong on what is one of the most expensive parts of the cab.
While we are waiting for the new upgrades to be fully tested and approved by TFL, we urge you to be cautious regarding companies that claim to be able to fix the rear wheel steering. Feedback we are getting, is that the repair being performed at certain garages is very expensive, invariably only temporary that carries no guaranty. If however you are in desperate need for a fix to get it through the MOT test, see Nigel at A&N in 3 Colts Lane who can usually get you out of trouble. We have found him very fair and reasonable.
Trade-In by KPM
KPM are still offering a good trade in price. Hopefully there will be no price rise in the new year. So if you are looking to buy a new cab, get your skates on, the deals are much better now.
Road Safety in Winter
Winter is with us again and although most of us agree that even with the problems we have had with our Vito’s, it’s still the best cab on the road.
However, if you have already experienced a winter in the Vito, you will know how poor it performs in the ice and snow. This is typical with most rear drive vehicles and Mercedes cars and vans are no exception, but if you fit winter tyres you will be amazed how differently your vehicle handles.
Germany and most of the Scandinavia countries have laws that require all cars to be fitted with winter tyres by the 1st of November every year. Fortunately our winters are not as severe as those countries but did you know that the tyres we have on our cabs are only efficient above 7°C. Winter tyres are of a different construction and material that are designed to operate to -10°C. They grip the road or ice which considerably improves handling and reduces skidding. The tread pattern is designed to not clog up with snow and stopping distance is better by about 10%. But why do we need them in London I hear you ask?
If you live in the centre of town and never go out of it then you probably could manage without them, but most drivers today do not live in town. The majority live in the suburbs and many live some distance away where weather and road conditions are generally far worse. Even so, we get on average 60 days a year when temperatures are below 7°C and 38 days a year below freezing. That’s two months of misery with potentially lost earnings when we can’t get to work.
Winter tyres can be purchase at about £130.00 each. They would then have to be fitted and rebalanced at a rough cost of £15.00 per tyre and the same again when you revert back in the spring. I have however found a company that will supply us wheels with winter tyres already fitted and balanced. They will deliver them directly to your house so all you have to do is to change them on your vehicle and store them at home until you change them back. Their usual price is £560.00 for 4 wheels including tyres but I have agreed a price for our members only of £520.00. Delivery will be within 7 days of order.
If you wish to take up this offer call The Wheel Shop on 01732 252092 an ask for Carl and quote the Vito Taxi Club to qualify for the discount.
Cheaper Mercedes Parts
We are in the final stages of negotiating with a company that can supply us genuine Mercedes parts at a huge discount that will be available only to our members. They will be on immediate delivery and will be available from various pick up points around London. Watch this space.
Good news for west London owners. Rygor have recently acquired a new site in Southall that will repair and service our taxis. The site was originally the service centre for the Bendy Bus that thankfully are no longer with us. It’s a very large site that has plenty of capacity with easy parking. They intend to eventually operate a 24 hour operation and the good news is that they will give you a vehicle (not a taxi) to go home in if you have to leave your cab.
Rygor, Southall (Formally OMNI BUS)
020 8867 1000
020 8867 7561
Ian Roberts, Service Manager
Victoria Berzanskyte, Workshop Controller
Drive Shaft Issues
We are getting reports from some Euro 5 owners that they are having problems with the drive shaft on their cabs. The cure for this we are told is that the dealership spray it in silicon and leave it overnight. Please let us know if you detect a similar problem and we will investigate it further.
As with most things, charges and expenses always go up and never down. We are unfortunately no exception to this and if we are to continue assisting you we have to raise our membership fees just a little to cope with the increasing demands on the club. The charge will be £4.00 per month which we collect quarterly. That’s less than £1.00 per week. This will be more than offset by the huge savings on parts that we have negotiated. This will come into effect from your renewal date next year.
Parts from Mercedes Milton Keynes
We have told you a number of times that all parts relevant to our cabs including actuators, ball joints and ECU’s will be available at the Mercedes Benz warehouse in Milton Keynes. At last we have had conformation that this has finally happened and all Mercedes dealerships in this country will have access to them on a 24 hour delivery basis.
Thanks to Everyone
Have a great Christmas break and we wish all of you a very happy and problem free new year.