K6JRF at the mic K6JRF's Page
formerly W6FZC

My Mercedes Benz
S500 Coupe

K6JRF's MB S500 Cpe
(Updated: Jul 26, 2005)

Analyze and Troubleshoot "Check Engine" MIL and Electronic Control Units (ECU)!

Berg Werks: First Gear Switch Module (FGS) and Security Switch (SS)

Update: 7/26/05
Berg Werks has closed it doors at the store and also their Internet presence. It's truly sad since their company featured innovative Mercedes add-on products. Their First Gear Start (featured here) was a great addition to any '92 thru '95 Mercedes S class cars.

In a statement, they said; "BergWerks has closed for business. The Company would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to its many customers over the years that permitted BergWerks to share their passion for Mercedes-Benz performance with them.
Should you be interested in acquiring the company's web commerce business including product applications and proprietary product designs, please send an email to  cgenberg@yahoo.com"

Berg Werks is new company started in April 2002 in Van Nuys, CA. The team is headed by Carl Genberg and Steve Lemberg, two of the brightest guys around. After meeting them today and watching them work to install their FGS module and the SS unit, the job was completed professionally in good time in, unfortunately, 94 deg f heat! This page is devoted to show the installation on my C140 and how it was accomplished.

BergWerks specializes in unique, high impact and reasonably priced performance and accessory upgrades for the Mercedes car. Most of their products are internally developed - they're not just reselling a bunch of products you can buy anywhere! That's what sets them apart from the rest of the field.

The FGS Module has a dramatic impact on the performance feeling of your Mercedes off the line. If you have ever felt that sluggish sensation of a 2nd gear start while trying to cross an intersection, you'll like the immediate response of 1st gear starts. No need to press the accelerator to get it move with the FGS installed!

FGS Module
The Berg Werks's First Gear Start (FGS) Control Module is a proprietary electronic module that “fixes” Mercedes-Benz’s decision to force many models to start in 2nd gear instead of 1st gear. Their unique solution is the most cost effective solution for enhancing the performance character of '92-'95 S500s and many other Mercedes cars.

In addition, there is two options that can be added at installation time. They are:
- Winter Mode which allows you to return the car to 2nd gear start in slick conditions
- Security Mode which activates the central locking system at a preset speed that you can set
- Sport Mode to allow you to enjoy two different up shift points both of which are determined by you.

I had the Winter and Security Modes installed. Since I don't (normally) race the car, those two options are sufficient for my car.

FGS Operation
For my '94 S500, the car currently starts in 2nd gear. Your only current options to engage first gear are to press the accelerator to the floor to activate a kick down switch or manually shift the gear selector to the "B" position. The FGS Module allows the transmission on your Mercedes to behave like most car transmissions by starting in 1st gear from all standing starts and by automatically down shifting to 1st gear below certain speeds set by you.

The FGS Module is fully automatic and allows you to hold first gear as long as you choose depending upon engine load. The transmission will up shift quickly under light load and or hold until red line under full throttle. In short, the car behaves just as if you manually moved the gearshift into the "B" position while at a stop and returned it to the "D" position.

The Module comes preset with recommended settings for both the 1-2 up shift and 2-1 down shift speeds. During the installation process, you can adjust both up shift and down shift speeds to your personal preference. The default settings are: 1-2 apx 1800rpm and 2-1, apx 2mph. Both are good starting points for a 'casual' driver. For the sport driver, these settings can be easily changed.

Mechanically speaking, starting in 1st gear reduces the load on the engine's crankshaft compared to the higher load 2nd gear starts, so there's less wear and tear on the car.

Winter Mode
Winter Mode is included with the Basic version of the FGS Module and includes an on/off switch for the 1st gear starting functionality. By turning "off" this functionality, the transmission will start in 2nd gear as originally designed. This is particularly useful for slick road conditions in more powerful cars. 1st gear start is reactivated by turning the 1st gear start functionality "on" again. It's that simple!

Security Mode
Security Mode is an upgrade option that activates the central locking system at a predetermined speed that you choose during installation. This feature is similar to many new cars that have automatic locking doors. Set the activation speed at low speed such as 1- 2 mph to lock the car whenever it moves, 10 mph to lock the doors whenever you drive but perhaps not when moving the car in the driveway, or 40 mph if you only want to lock the doors when getting on a highway. Security Mode continues to operate in Winter Mode.

Update: 11/27/04: Berg Werks is no longer offering this option for the W140 autos. The detailed description is at the bottom of this page.

Installation for my S500 Cpe
On Saturday, I met Carl and Steve at Berg Werks and they installed the FGS Module with the Winter and Security option. Living in San Diego, CA, it was a relatively long ride (140miles) to their shop in Van Nuys, CA but the trip up was very pleasant. After all, we 140 owners have the pleasure to drive one of the worlds best cars!

If you are an avid DIYer, the FGS Module come with detailed instructions for installation. Installation is completed entirely within the center console inside the car and does not require lifts, hoists or modifications to the transmission. Necessary hand tools include:
- Wire cutters, strippers and crimpers
- Screwdrivers needed to access the center console
- Radio tool: Needed to release the car's radio. The needed signals are all present at the radio's connector.

Berg Werks FGS Module w/ programmer

The picture shows the FGS module as it comes from Berg Werks. The main 'electronics' is housed is a secure plastic case with a modular connector. The length of the wire is apx 5', so there is adequate length to accommodate all installations.

The black coiled wire with the small switch is the 'programmer' for use with the FGS Module after installation. With this switch and the dip-switch contained in the FGS module, one can change the factory default values to more that suits your driving habits. For me, the factory defaults are just fine.
S500 Cpe Shift Plate Layout The picture shows the my S500 (C140) Cpe shift plate. Since the 'Euro' switch is not included in this car, we converted the Child-Window switch to perform the Winter function switching. IE, this switch now controls which mode that the FGS Module is in.

Toward the left, it's in the 'S' mode, standing for 1st gear start. Toward the right, the car is returned to its original position of 2nd gear start. The original child-Window function has be permanently enabled so that the back windows can operate. This is ok for someone of my age but may be a drawback for families of small children.
Removal of Center Console
Ashtray Burlwood Cover This is the beginning of the actual 'work' of getting to the needed points in my car. First you must remove the ashtray so that the center console containing the shift gate can be accessed.

For my car, a small Phillips head screwdriver or a hex driver head will work. Open the ashtray and using the appropriate tool, loosen the screw. Then lift and slide the burlwood plate out.

Place the burlwood cover in a safe place since it won't be needed until the installation is complete.
Tool for removing Center Console Screws Once removed, the lower portion of the center console can be removed. To do this, using a small hex tool, loosen the two screws that are on either side of underneath the console lip (near the middle finger as shown).

If you look close, you can see that my center console is split in the middle. Later on, this was changed to a one piece design. In those cases it makes it more difficult to get the console out but the theory is the same.
Lower Portion of Center Console removed After removing the screws, the lower portion can be lifted up as shown. All needed connections are now able to be accessed.
Removal of the Shift Plate Cover
The shift plate in my car was replaced with a burlwood version that was purchased from Performance Products. This is the same as that found in the S600 car but is not an option for the S500.

The 'trick' to remove this plate is to release the clips that hold the TOP, SIDE and BOTTOM. Use a small flat blade screwdriver to gently lift the SIDE clips while pulling up on the plate. The TOP and BOTTOM clips are released by using the same small flat blade screwdriver to gently pry the clip outward while pulling up on the plate.
Transmission 'B' Switch
'B'Switch showm with splice made to FGS Module Why the letter 'B'? Look on the bottom of the shift plate and that's what Mercedes calls 1st gear - a 'B'!

The 'B' switch is shown in the picture outlined in the white box. It's located as shown on the right side of the shift plate assy. The inset picture shows a splice (orange) wired into the lead from the switch and taken to the FGS Module. This is an output from the FGS module that tells the transmission to shift into 1st gear when the Winter Mode (my child-window switch) is in the 'S' position.
Vehicle Speed Signal (Vss)
Steve probing for Vss while Carl spins the wheel The Alpine GPS system and the FGS Module both need the Vss that comes from the front wheel. This signals tells the ABS system in the car how the wheels are spinning. The FGS module uses this to basically 'count' pulses which translates in vehicle speed. Thus limits can be set for when the FGS tells the transmission to switch out and/in in.

As Carl spins the wheel to generate the Vss, Steve probes the wire(s) to make sure that it's correct. The Vss signal is located on PIN 1 of the radio connector: Green/Black wire. So after sliding the radio out, it very easy to access that wire. We took a little longer to find until we remembered that the ignition must be on! Once found, the remaining wiring to the FGS module could be completed. By the way, remember is was at least 94 deg F in the shop!
Underside wiring to lower Center Console The wiring was completed to the child-window switch that you see in the inset. The Mercedes connector was reused to make these connections. The wiring to complete the child-window switch was soldered together and then protected in shrink sleeving in order to protect these connections. They, of course, are not needed any longer since that function is permanently enabled.
Testing/Programming FGS Module
FGS undergoing testing prior to road testing The picture shows yours truly holding the FGS Module doing some static testing with the on-board LEDs. These basically tell that power and the correct signals are there but require road testing to set (or change) the final values.

The unit can be programmed by using the on-board DIP switch module shown as red with white switch levers. By selecting the particular dip switch combination, one of the FGS functions can be changed. To set the speed for any particular function, set the dip switches as shown below in the table. A tooth pick may be helpful to ensure that the correct switch is set to correspond to the function desired.

DIP Switch Settings Switch 1 Switch 2 Switch 3 Switch 4
2nd to 1st Downshift Speed Open Open Open On
Basic Mode 1st - 2nd Upshift Speed Open Open On Open
Security Mode Open On Open Open
Sport Mode On Open Open Open

Drive the car at the desired speed and press/hold the remote programming button for at least 1 full second. A flash of the LED indicates that the speed setting was captured. Then return the particular switch to the OPEN position.

But I believe you will find that only those interested in more speed/sport driving will have to change the factory default settings. But whatever your driving habit, you will enjoy this electronic marvel!

Comments and Recommendations
The FGS plus Winter and Security modes has been installed about a month and I can say that the FGS is absolutely a great feature. For example, yesterday, I need some extra 'zip' to make a turn (from a standstill) to merge into traffic. I, of course, forgot that it's installed because it operates so smoothly. So, I gave the pedal a little extra, assuming that it was about to start in 2nd gear. Much to my surprise the car stepped out briskly and merged without a hitch!

Closeup of the Security Mode BYPASS wiring However, their Security Mode is a disappointment. It does not work as advertised. Once the SS mode 'fires', it locks out the normal Mercedes system from unlocking the doors. Thus the system is hung up. The only way that the doors, trunk, and locking gas cap can be opened is by use the remote key door feature. By locking and then, unlocking the system all doors, trunk, etc. can be reset.

The frustrating part is that you always forget to take you key when you shut off the car. So you step out, try to open the trunk, and then say "@#%^&*"! Then you go back into the car to get the key so you can open the trunk!

Carl sent some specific instructions today so I removed the floor molding strip to expose the door wiring contained on the passenger sidewall. The pic shows how to bypass the Security Mode and return the car to 'stock' operation without removing the Security Mode relay.

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