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My instrument cluster recently went bonkers (see my post "Strange problem after battery failure."). 1997 C 280.

The dealer is quoting me $900 parts & labor to replace it with a remanufactured one. Apparently it's a process that takes several days and involves sending the cluster to Mercedes and getting one back that has been coded to the car and shows the correct odometer reading. The thought of spending that kind of money to get this fixed is taking my breath away.

I can pick up a used cluster from a local guy who is parting out a C280 for possibly $100. But, my local repair shop (not the dealer) says you can't just put in another cluster, because it has to be coded to the car. I trust them, but is this right? I don't mind if the odometer is incorrect after the swap, because I intend to keep the car until the resale value is minimal anyway.

Is my only option to have the dealer replace this with a factory replacement for $900? Or, can I just get a used cluster from somewhere and replace it?
 

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It does need to be coded to the car, but a well financed indy would be able to get the job done for you (wow, am I really suggesting not going to the dealer?!). They'll need a STAR tester to version code the cluster, but it can be done manually. Depending on the state you're in, there could be legality issues. For $100, I would grab the used one, throw it in and see what works. You may have similar options and you could just go from there. Worst case scenario is you wait for the thing to sell on Ebay. The '97 cars weren't all that complicated. Were it my car, I'd try that route first.
 

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I'm loving it. It's is such a fun little car. Ordered Hotchkis sway bars for it today, should get it just about perfect. I went out went a friend of mine that races Ducatis for a small team and let him beat it up for a bit. Damn this guy can drive. Loads of fun even from the passenger's seat. Can't wait until spring to explore the limits a little more. Blizzaks are decent for what they are, but I want to see how she runs with some Pilot Sports on.
 
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