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Mercedes-Benz owners may get an error message on the dashboard stating, "Drive to Workshop without changing gear." due to failure of the Intelligent Servo Module(ISM).

Table of Contents

The most common problem that causes Drive to Workshop Without Changing Gear on a Mercedes-Benz is a faulty Intelligent Servo Module (ISM), also known as component A80. 

Mercedes dirve to workshop without changing gear

On the older models, all Mercedes-Benz vehicles used to have a mechanical link between the shifter and transmission; that's no longer the case for models equipped with the 7-speed and 9-speed automatic transmissions.

Mercedes-Benz shifter not responding

Mercedes-Benz vehicles that have the gear selector mounted on the steering column (behind the steering wheel) no longer have a mechanical link to the transmission.


Around 2005, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 722.9 New Automatic Gearbox 2 (NAG2) automatic transmission, which no longer has a mechanical link between the shifter and transmission. This is known as drive-by-wire technology.

Mercedes Benz ISM Intelligent Servo MOdule A80

Instead of a mechanical link from the shifter lever to the transmission, now you select gears electronically. The Intelligent Servo Module (A80) or ISM does the physical work of changing the transmission gear position. 

If the ISM is defective and you turn off the engine and try to restart the car, you may get stuck on the side of the road (or in a parking lot) because the engine will not start if it can no longer detect the transmission in Park position. 
When the ISM module fails, your Mercedes-Benz will not shift gear between P, R, N, D. In addition the current gear no longer gets highlighted on the instrument cluster. 

Replacing the ISM unit at the dealership can be very expensive. The cheaper solution is to remove and fix your existing ISM module. 


Don't expect a Mercedes-Benz dealer to repair your existing ISM or install a used ISM. Dealerships will only replace faulty ISM with a new unit. You may even get told that a used ISM module is "married" to the car and can not be resued, but that is no longer true as many specialized auto repair shops can make a used ISM "virgin" and pair it to another vehicle. 

Repair Mercedes ISM Module Location

If you decide to fix your faulty ISM module, you will need to raise the vehicle to remove the module mounted on the side of the transmission housing. ISM module is mounted on the outside of the transmission, so the transmission itself does not need to come off.

ISM can then be sent to a Mercedes-Benz specialist who will repair or flash your VIN. You can find several Mercedes-Benz specialists on eBay that offer Mercedes-Benz ISM Flash / Repair Service

Even though this error means a faulty ISM module in most cases, we recommend reading the fault codes with a Mercedes-Benz scanner or having an auto mechanic diagnose the vehicle to confirm the ISM is defective. 


First, let's take a look at common symptoms of a defective ISM module, include

  • The car won't shift gears. No P, R, N, D.
  • Vehicle may not start, no crank-. The ISM (intelligent servo module) is responsible for the transmission gear position. It will prevent the car from turning over if it does not recognize that it is in Park on Neutral.
  • Drive to the workshop without selecting gear on the dashboard
  • The car would not change gears.
  • Error message: The actuator motor in the component A80 ISM (Intelligent Servo Module) for Direct Select cannot reach its specified target position.
  • Shifter becomes unresponsive.
  • The engine runs at high rpm.
  • Error communicating with Actuator Motor A80 of Intelligent Servo Module
  • Service Required: Do Not Shift Gears, Visit Dealer

These problems can be caused due to either ISM software issues or hardware failures. 

Fault Codes

Common fault codes are triggered by a faulty Intelligent Servo Module (ISM A80).

  • 1994 - Component A80 Direct Select Defective / Can not reach the specific gear target position
  • 1984 Unkown fault code, Unknown fault code Unknown fault type: -1
  • 5399 ESP CAN Signal Gear Selected from N15/3 implausible
  • C103-ETC No CAN Message Received from A80 (Intelligent Servo Module) for direct selection. 
  • Error code: 1994 Description: Component A80 ( Intelligent Servo Module for Direct Select) is defective

The best way to find what is wrong is to have your mechanic or yourself scan the ISM with an advanced Mercedes-Benz scanner.

How to Diagnose ISM unit

Diagnose mercedes ISM mdoule problem car won't shift go in P R N Drive

To diagnose Mercedes-Benz ISM, you will need a Mercedes All System Scanner

  1. Connect your scanner to the diagnostic port under the dashboard.
  2. Allow your scanner to turn on.
  3. Select Mercedes-Benz, then your Model.
  4. Select Control Units
  5. Select option 1. It will be labeled Powertrain or Drivetrain
  6. Select the ISM - Intelligent servo module for Direct Select.
  7. Once you enter the ISM module, you will be able to:

View software/hardware version

Read Fault Codes

Clear Fault Codes

Data Stream

Activation - Move transmission into Neutral Position.

When you scan the ISM module, you will get fault codes such as 1994 - Component A80 (intelligent servo module for Direct Select) is defective.

Once you scan the codes, you will better understand why your Mercedes-Benz won't drive or is stuck in the park. Make sure to scan all the control units to ensure no other issues are present.

If your Mercedes-Benz has a defective ISM module, it will either need to be repaired or replaced.

Where to Repair Mercedes-Benz ISM Module? 

It is possible to repair your existing ISM module. Repairing or flashing a used ISM module is much cheaper than replacing it.

You will need to remove the ISM module from the vehicle and ship it to a vendor that offers ISM module repair on eBay.

A technician repairs your ISM module and ships it back. The total turnaround time ranges between 5 to 12 days, depending on your location and the service provider you choose.

In addition to the low cost, another advantage of repairing your ISM module is that it will not need SCN coding. SCN coding is required when you install a new ISM module. During SCN coding, the VIN is permanently coded to the ISM module.

You will still need a professional scanner to carry the initial adaptation known as the Selection Sensor Adaptation procedure. This can be carried out with MB Star Diagnostic Tool or with professional-level scanners.

Keep in mind that some modules can not be repaired. There is no way for you to know if your damaged ISM module can be fixed or not until the technician tests it.

Generally speaking, ISM modules that show these fault codes can be repaired:

  • Error: 1984; Description: Uknown fault code Unknown Fault Type : -1
  • Error1994; Description: Component A80 ( Intelligent Servo Module for Direct Select) is defective
  • Error 1904 - cannot be cleared.

How much does it cost to replace an ISM module at a Mercedes-Benz dealership? 

Any Mercedes-Benz dealership or an independent mechanic that specializes in Mercedes-Benz cars can replace your ISM.

Getting the ISM replaced can be an expensive repair. You will spend anywhere from $1200-$1900 to replace and program the ISM at the dealership or repair shop.

If you use an independent mechanic, they will have to order the ISM module from Mercedes-Benz. You will need to provide proof of vehicle ownership and identification. Mercedes-Benz requires this information.

Once the order is approved, the mechanic receives the ISM Module. The module will need to be replaced. Also, the ISM will have to be programmed with a professional scanner.

Where is the ISM module located?

Location of Mercedes-Benz ISM Module

The intelligent servo module for DIRECT SELECT is mounted on the transmission housing's left side (driver side for LHD). The vehicle needs to be raised to access the ISM module, but the transmission does not need to be removed. 

Mercedes ISM Module Location drive to workshop without changing gears

Another look at the ISM module with the engine and transmission remvoed. 

ISM Communication 

ISM module receives input from the gear selector. ISM also communicates via C.A.N. with the following modules.

  • The instrument cluster (A1)
  • ESP control unit (N47-5) - Vehicle speed input. Needed to P release or D engage.
  • EIS [EZS] control unit (N73) - Input from EIS automatically switches the vehicle into P when the car is turned off.
  • Steering column module (N80)
  • The central gateway control unit (N93)
  • Fully integrated transmission control (VGS) control unit (Y3/8n4)

For example, vehicle speed input is needed to engage D or release Park and is received from the ESP module.

When the vehicle is turned off, information is required to automatically switch transmission to Park and provided by the EIS.

Which Mercedes-Benz vehicles have the Intelligent Servo Module (ISM)? 

Mercedes Intelligent Servo Module (ISM) was installed in 2005, and newer vehicles are equipped with the 7G Tronic Transmission (Code: 722.9) and gear selector mounted on the steering column. Except for a few 2005 to 2007 models that still use the 5-speed 722.6 transmissions. 

All 2006  and newer vehicles that are equipped with 7-speed transmission 722.9 have an ISM module. For example:

MERCEDES A CLASS 00-11 CHN EGY DEU MYS ZAF VNM 7 SP R/AWD L4 2.2L V6 2.5L 3.0L 3.5L V8 6.3L W7A700
MERCEDES A CLASS 11-Jul EGY 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L V8 6.3L W7B700
MERCEDES CL 11-Mar DEU 7 SP R/AWD V8 5.0L 5.5L 6.3L W7A700
MERCEDES CLC 11-Aug BRA 7 SP RWD V6 2.5L 3.5L W7A700
MERCEDES CLK 9-Apr DEU 7 SP RWD V6 2.5L 3.0L 3.5L V8 5.0L 5.5L 6.3L W7A700
MERCEDES CLS 11-Apr DEU 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.6L 5.0L 5.4L 5.5L 6.3L W7A700
MERCEDES E CLASS 11-Feb CHN EGY DEU IND IRN MYS THA VNM 7 SP R/AWD L4 2.2L V6 2.5L 2.6L 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.0L 5.0L W7A700
MERCEDES E CLASS 11-Sep DEU 7 SP RWD V8 5.5L 6.3L W7B700
MERCEDES E CLASS 11-Sep DEU 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 5.5L W7X550
MERCEDES G WAGON 11-Jun AUT 7 SP AWD V6 3.0L V8 4.0L 4.6L 5.5L W7A700
MERCEDES GL CLASS 11-Jun USA 7 SP AWD V6 3.0L V8 4.0L 4.6L 5.5L W7A700
MERCEDES GLK 11-Aug DEU 7 SP R/AWD L4 2.2L V6 3.0L 3.5L W7X550
MERCEDES ML CLASS 11-May USA 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.0L 4.6L 5.0L 5.5L 6.3L W7A700
MERCEDES R CLASS 11-May USA 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.6L 5.0L 5.5L W7A700
MERCEDES S CLASS 11-May EGY DEU IND IDN MYS THA 7 SP R/AWD L4 2.2L V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.0L 4.3L 4.6L 5.5L W7A700
MERCEDES S CLASS 11-Jun DEU 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 4.6L 5.5L W7X550
MERCEDES SL 11-May DEU 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 5.0L 5.5L W7A700
MERCEDES SL 11-Jul DEU 7 SP R/AWD V8 6.3L W7B700
MERCEDES SLK 11-May DEU 7 SP R/AWD L4 1.8L 2.2L V6 3.0L 3.5L V8 5.4L 5.5L W7A700
SSANGYONG CHAIRMAN 11-Aug PRK 7 SP R/AWD V6 3.2L 3.6L V8 5.0L W7A700


Can I install a used ISM? 

An ISM module is locked to a vehicle. You cannot remove a used ISM, install it in your car, and expect it to work without coding it. 

The only way to get a used ISM to work on your Mercedes-Benz is to find a third party to program the ISM Module. This procedure may be referred to as flashing ISM or as ISM RENEW.

During ISM flashing, the old VIN is erased from the ISM. The ISM is thus made virgin, then your vehicle VIN is coded to the used ISM. Several vendors offer Mercedes ISM Renew service on eBay. Mercedes-Benz dealerships do not install used Mercedes-Benz ISM modules.