Mercedes Benz extends warranty coverage on 280,000 cars

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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ATLANTA - Mercedes Benz will extend warranty coverage on 280,000 cars to fix fuel leaks. 

Consumer investigator Jim Strickland exposed the problem nearly a year ago.

The gas tank in the E class and C class is right under the back seat.  Federal regulators have more than 1,000 complaints from drivers who say they smell gas in the car.  Some have found gasoline pooling beneath the seat.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed a near two-year investigation into the problem earlier this month.

"I was concerned there was a gas leak and I kept checking the tank, looking for leaks and so forth.  And then I took it in because I realized it occurred only after I filled the tank," said Linda Evans of Sandy Springs. 

She and her dealer RBM split the cost of a $2,000 repair.  The warranty plan allows Evans and the dealer to apply for reimbersement.

Strickland found documents that indicate more than 8,000 vehicles in Georgia may be covered.

"Where you have the smell of fuel, you have fuel vapors.  And fuel vapors are always a risk for fire, period," said auto safety attorney Matt Wetherington.  Wetherington spoke to Strickland earlier this year after initially filing a lawsuit over the issue.

In its final report filed with federal regulators, Mercedes concludes, "There is no risk of fire."

Ronan McCabe of DeKalb county filed a class action lawsuit over his fume-filled E class.  The lawsuit remains active.

Mercedes spokesman Rob Moran issued a short statement: “The NHTSA decision effectively speaks for itself.  The warranty extension for certain fuel tank components (in certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles) is the latest example of the Mercedes-Benz commitment to go the extra mile for our customers.”