A digit on my Mercedes digital clock has disappeared - can it be fixed without renewing the whole system?

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Car clinic: digital clock

Q. One of the digits of the digital clock on the dashboard of my Mercedes-Benz has disappeared. Is there any way that this problem can be fixed without my having to renew the whole thing?
MW, Norwich

A. The clock display communicates with the car’s electronics via a ribbon connector — a flat, wide cable of the sort usually found in computers, which contains numerous parallel wires. Over time it can generate sufficient heat to cause clock problems — such as the disappearance of display numbers.

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A specialist might be able to fix the problem simply by replacing the ribbon. An expert at Cartronix (cartronix.co.uk), a specialist in digital dashboard repairs, told us that the possibility of obtaining a replacement ribbon depends on the precise model and build date of the car, and that ribbons are particularly difficult to obtain for pre-1998 models. If the right ribbon can be found, you can take your car to Cartronix, which is based in Hampshire, and have the job done for £100-£150 (it should take about 1½ hours).

Alternatively, if your DIY skills are up to the job, you can remove the cluster and post it to the company for repair, but you’ll have to pay for the postage in both directions — about £13.

Of course you may be able to find a similar specialist in your own area.

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Dave Pollard, car accessory advice

Dave Pollard has written several Haynes manuals and has tested just about every car-related accessory – read more from Dave here.

Email your question to carclinic@sunday-times.co.uk or write to Car Clinic, Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF, with a daytime phone number,
your address and as much detail about your car as possible. We can’t reply in person, so don’t send original documents or SAEs. Advice is given without legal responsibility.