by: Jim Strickland Updated:
ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned federal regulators are investigating why there are so many fires reported by Mercedes-Benz owners.
The issue is long standing, according to veteran Mercedes mechanic Alex Chester, who works for Carma Motorspots in DeKalb County.
Chester disassembled a tail light to show where fires and shorts begin.
"Full voltage creates too much heat in these areas, and the plastic tabs begin to melt or break off," he said.
Mercedes Benz USA said in a statement that there have been no injuries or deaths related to the problem, and they are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Mercedes owner Sheryl McCoy told Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland her tail light dashboard warning indicator came on about a month ago and she's worried about the brake lights.
"So if someone cuts you off and someone else is following too closely and you apply your brakes and your lights aren't coming on, it spells rear-end collision," said McCoy, who is a former deputy sheriff.
Chester said tail light parts are lightweight and can't handle the heat caused by brake-lights changing from low voltage to high.
"They're plastic welded into place," he said.
"Over a time they become hot. The plastic weld comes off and starts to short causing smoke or a fire."
Safety regulators are investigating the 2008 and 2009 models of the 218,000 C-Class.
"The reason you get a Mercedes is because it's reliable and safe," McCoy said.
Concerned drivers can call 800-367-6372 or contact an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer to arrange an inspection.