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S550: A SplitView Saga

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The short version: my S550 came equipped with SplitView, but by the time the car came to me, the accompanying wireless headphones and remote control were missing. I've concluded it's not worth replacing them, because (a) an iPad is way better for video these days; (b) a previous owner already "unlocked" the screen so that it displays video to both the driver and passenger; and (c) sourcing and programming the headphones and remote would probably run ~$360, which ain't worth it.  Now, the long version.  What is SplitView, you ask? It's an option (sticker price = $710) that allows the front-seat passenger to watch video (like from a DVD) on the COMAND display, while the driver sees a different image (like navigation) on that same display. Mercedes explains :  Two sets of pixels can be displayed, and a mask on the screen filters out one set or the other, based on viewing angle. The COMAND controller determines the driver's content, while the passenger uses a

S550: B0 Service (Oil Change, Cabin Air Filter, Brake Flush)

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Right on time, the maintenance minder informed me that it's time for the B0 service, which is (a) the annual oil and filter change; (b) biennial brake fluid flush; and (c) annual cabin air filter replacement. My local Mercedes Benz dealer wants $1067 for this routine service. Inconceivable!  The good news is that I'd already done a brake fluid flush as part of the brake service that I did in September . As for the cabin air filter, the OEM filter (part # 222-830-04-18 ) is ~$100 (that part is actually two separate filters, as show in the photo). I replaced those myself, aided by a helpful YouTube video . It's an easy, 15 minute job underneath the glovebox, requiring only a torx bit.   That left the oil and filter change, which I had the dealer do for me for $200, mostly because they throw in a complimentary car wash and Uber rides to and from the dealership.  That should do it for another year! 

S550: New Rear Tires (Again)

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  As the rains returned to California, I noticed some loss of rear traction when hitting standing puddles at speed. A look at the tires showed that, although the front tires were fine, the rear tires had nearly no tread left. How this could be is a mystery, since I had these tires replaced six months ago and have driven less than 4,000 miles on them since then! Theories include that I forgot to get an alignment, which contributed to rapid wear, or that these were defective tires (but, of course, no manufacturer warranty on these pricey Pirelli run-flats ).  Whatever the reason, $1,100 later, I've got new rear tires again. Oh, and this time I made sure to immediately get an alignment done (for another $130). 

Road Trip: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-e

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  Thanks to a friend's generosity and indulgence, I got to drive a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-e EV to Bend, Oregon and back. Two days, 1000 miles. It turned out to be a great drive, with perfect (if cold) weather and a great chance to listen to a bunch of new music unearthed for me by "best of 2022" lists.  The trip taught me a lot about the current reality of EV road trips. In short, the charging infrastructure today is janky AF. I had to juggle a gaggle of apps (A Better Route Planner, Electrify America, ChargePoint, as well as the Ford Pass app for the car) in order to figure out where I could charge *and* whether those chargers actually worked as advertised. It's hard to imagine having to vet my gas stations the way I'd vet an expensive restaurant, but that's what's needed for EV charging stations. I stopped at 5 different ones, and at none were all the chargers working. Some would charge, but only slowly. Others would charge for a few minutes, then quit m

S550: It's the Little Things - HUD

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  Heads-up display (aka HUD) was originally created for fighter pilots. Now, this display projected onto the windscreen is a standard luxury auto feature.  The HUD display in the S550 is easily turned on and off using a button on the panel to the left of the steering wheel. I generally leave it off for in-city driving (where I find it distracting) and turn it on for highway driving (where I find it useful). I'm particularly impressed by how much information Mercedes has crammed into a very small space, thanks to clever display design. Your current speed is always the biggest number, but it also shows your cruise control (Disctronic+) speed setting, using both a number and an orange marker on a virtual speedometer gauge.  The HUD is particularly impressive when you are using the built-in turn-by-turn navigation system (which, while not as good as Google Maps, is still surprisingly good for a 7-year-old system). Mercedes manages to show you your next turn, how far it is (including a

S550: Fifth Thing Fixed

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  This week I fixed a purely cosmetic defect that is common on these cars. The fixed black roof panel at the top of the windshield, ahead of the sunroof, is made of plastic. The paint on this surface inevitably wears out over time. (There is apparently  a recall out for a bunch of 2014-20 Mercedes-Benz cars (not mine) for this piece, and Mercedes-Benz apparently has designed a glass replacement panel for those cars.)  The solutions for this paint wear are either vinyl wrap or repaint. I opted for the second path (a bit more money, but likely to look better?), using West Wind Auto , who have done great paint work for me in the past. Now it looks good as new. 

S550: It's the Little Things - Accent Lighting

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Let's talk about accent lighting. Not the functional stuff: headlights, marker lights, taillights, turn signals. Don't get me wrong, those are all nice, too. But Mercedes really knocked it out of the park on the accent lighting. So much so, that I'd say this car really looks its best at night.  When the W222 generation of S Class cars came out in 2014, Mercedes bragged that it was the first production car to have zero incandescent bulbs. Every light is a LED. Not such a big deal in 2022, but unprecedented in 2014, apparently. They not only went LED everywhere, they took the opportunity to really up their entire accent lighting game at the same time:  Puddle lights! Yes, you get the star log and "Mercedes-Benz" projected onto the pavement whenever you open the doors. You'll either love it or hate it.   Mirrors and door handles. Look, you probably could have found the door handles and mirrors without them, but they look so good at night, tastefully lit.  Interio