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Mercedes-Benz M-class (ML320, ML350, ML500 and ML55) 2005 and earlier

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Comments

  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    The ML'00s came from the factory with Mobil 1 synthetic in the crankcase--at least ML430s did--and I have the feeling that with just the modest break-in that the manual suggests, these engines and drivetrains may last forever. Even CR, that pretty much hates all SUVs and especially MBs gives the '00 and later MLs all red circles.

    The 320 is a fantastic engine--we have it in a C class--and, V8s do use more gas but if you run across a 430 in good shape, you might want to consider that it's proven itself well year after year at the Paris to Dakar races and compared to the V6s, the V8s have bigger brakes, tires and wheels, and GPS is standard.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I just got back from a 2K road trip in my 2000 ML320. This was my first time in a while to make a longer road trip without towing a trailer and I was impressed with the gas mileage - consistently 22+ with average 75-mph cruising speeds.

    But ... I think I may be coming down with the infamous fuel pump problem that seems to plague the 98-00 cars. Twice while climbing in the mountains in very hot weather (95+), the car would suddenly and dramatically begin to lose power, like it was running out of gas. One time I was at an exit with a gas station so I pulled over and filled up with gas, thinking maybe I had gotten bad gas at the previous stop. It run fine for another 100 miles or so and then did the same thing again just as I was cresting a pass. Backing out of the throttle seemed to cure it and the rest of the trip (600+ miles) it ran fine.

    Anybody else have these symptoms and did you get the fuel pump replaced? I'm going in for my last warranty service in a week and I doubt I can convince them to replace the problematic fuel pump without outright failure. But I've got several long trips planned this summer in hot weather so this behaviour is worrisome.

    - Mark
  • kullenbergkullenberg Posts: 283
    When the pump failed on my 99 ML 430, the engine just flat quit. No restart, no nothing! The dealer had to send a flat bed to fetch it.
    Cheers
    Pat
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    You probably won't have any problem getting it replaced if it is the same problem we had on a '00 ML430 about two years ago. The car cut out but started back up after waiting some period of time (during which time, the pump cooled down).

    We also got home fine after I slowed slowed down a bit. Also like you, we were in high heat, conditions and had been towing earlier and probably had the A/C on full blast.

    They'll test it and see that it is drawing too many amps (I think an internal filter gets plugged up, causing it to work too hard and overheat). In addition to replacing the pump, a change in the hose arrangement also is provided.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Hi Folks,

    On my 2002 ML500, I noticed that there was a buzzing sound coming from the rear drivers side wheel well. I'm assuming it's the fuel pump. I've had no problems but I noticed the buzzing noise on a hot day driving around.

    I also received a recall notice for the power steering hose clamp. Will schedule an appt. soon.

    I've got a question..... I tried to lock the drivers door with the "real" key (not the remote). It only locked the drivers door. Is that normal? If the remote key went dead, how are you supposed to lock all of the doors without opening the back door and reaching to hit the electric lock button?

    Thanks, Mark156
  • What kind of range should I expect from these things? I get 10 - 15 feet usually and every once in a while I might get it to unlock / lock from a greater distance. Compared to my van key, this thing is pathetic. Looking over the sales brochure, I had to LOL when I read how using the remote unlock at night lights up a shining lane of safety to guide you to your truck. Funny, as I have to be close enough to read the license plates under a new moon for the remote to work...

    Oh, I must mention my MPG on a recent 3500 mile trip. Averaged over 20 for most of the trip - a high of 21.9 between fill ups was also recorded. Not too shabby - better than my minivan ever did. And it kept us nice and cool - even in 105 degree heat on the plains.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,780

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  • cticctic Posts: 291
    Haven't posted here in donkey's years and when I come back, what do I see? The last post is exactly what I was going to post about.

    Went swimming on July 4. After 30 minutes in the water I feel something hard in my swim trunks. It's my remote which I forgot to take out! Oh no, I thought, and on a holiday weekend too! I expected to use the MB Roadside service for the first time, but when got to my ML, I pressed the button out of habit and it worked! Now don't try this at home, but it's nice to know you might not have to replace your remote if you get it wet.

    Apart from that, I'm still loving my ML. I love the smooth ride and the cargo capacity - but the ETS light has been coming on intermittently and you all know about the recall. Time to take it back to service again, grrr......

    To sum up my 4 years of ownership which can be applied to MB's in general: Very solidly built vehicles, the build ages better than Japanese vehicles, but lots of little (especially electrical) problems. An extended warranty is a must!

    Henry
    2000 ML320.
  • Like Henry, I have owned my 2000 ML320 for almost 4 enjoyable years. Only problems so far have been two(2) burned out headlamp bulbs and two(2) burned out instrument display bulbs. This is probably due to my policy of using daytime driving lamps for increased visibilty by other drivers. I started doing this several years ago after someone pulled out in front of me saying she never saw me.

    After 37,000 miles I still have original brake pads and tires look like they will go 50,000 miles (Dunlops). Vehicle gets my 21 mpg around town which is mixed city/highway driving and I get 25-26 mpg highway.

    When it comes to J D Powers surveys I sometimes feel that there is a different standard applied to Mercedes vehicles based upon most peoples feeling that this is THE premium vehicle and there should be NO (not even the very eensiest problem). You look at the complaints posted in the Business Week article. Brakes - yes Mercedes uses a softer pad that leaves more brake dust on the wheels and do not last as long. However, these pads provide better stopping power, fade resistance and longer rotor life. Chipping Paint - Yes it chips easier than the paint used to use (a premiun German brand) but due to environmental laws, these paints no longer can be used and ALL manufacturers are forced to use the new water based paints. This has been a complaint amoungst all brands but people feel Mercedes should be better. Complaints about interior design not meeting Mercedes class were a marketing decision that this would vehicle would be purchased for use as a truck and not a luxury vehicle. A marketing mistake, yes, but if you did not like it you were aware of it and did not have to buy it. Not everything Mercedes makes is a luxury vehicle. Look at all the Mercedes trucks you see running around Iraq and Afganistan.

    This last J D Powers survey was for "durability" and they chose after 3 years. Give me a break! Most Lexus/Infiniti owners are trading their cars in at this point. Look down the road 10 or even 15 years and see which cars really last and still look good. You will have trouble finding any asian vehicles around after 15 years and very few after 10 years. If you do, their design is outdated and they really show their age. If you need a part for your Mercedes after 25 years, they are still available over the counter. Try this with an asian brand.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Bob, very good post, especially on the styling of the old Mercedes. I've always felt that Mercedes age well. I still like the style of my '91 560SEL that I had; so elegant looking----no muss, no fuss.
    The Asian cars DO have a tendency to "look tired" (stylewise). Even the older Mercedes 300D series still look classy.

    (just my opinion) Mark
  • tomjavatomjava Posts: 136
    Bob,

    You're lucky to own realiable ML. It's the fact that ML is a lousy product. On-road okay, off-road so-so due to its limited suspension travel.

    By the way, Toyota Landcruisers not MB trucks are running around Baghdad and Kabul. Toyota Landcruiser is the official UN vehicle.

    FYI, I still own and drive 1989 300E (W124). Today MB is not used to be, I almost bought a ML but I didn't due to its poor quality.

    Right now, I am shopping for a Lexus RX330 for my spouse.
  • batuceperbatuceper Posts: 4
    I have a 2000 ML320 that will go out of warranty later this year.

    I want to purchase an extended warranty from reputable 3rd parties, and would appreciate any advice from people who have had prior experience with 3rd party extended warranties.

    Many thanks,
    Steve
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    Forget RX330's, how many of those Camrys on stilts do you think are going to be running around Baghdad and Kabul?

    Forget Baghdad and Kabul, that's like Beverly Hills compared with Africa where real explorers use the real thing, the Land Rover. I know that because I watch Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.

    Forget the new Landcruisers, these are luxury vehicles and prestige vehicles. Sometimes they're even gun platforms. The original Landcruiser was a copy of the LandRover. I still see 'em around, flat seats, barebones and no amenities (even no windows).

    Somebody else is going to chime in about the ML winning the DAKAR or whatever, but how many people here are going to go offroad? I use my ML 50% of the time as a work truck, hauls a crapload of stuff, goes off road and I can take it to the opera at night (if I knew where it was), betcha can't say that 'bout the RX.
  • tomjavatomjava Posts: 136
    You're right nobody driving luxury SUV for off-road. Luxury cross over is what the market buying. I bet the next ML will be a luxury cross-over based on sedan platform instead of truck.

    I only hope MB can back to its glory day in the 1980s. Due to DXC current financial problem, I highly doubt it.
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    Already seen next ML in automagazine. Will have regular and long wheelbase version. Will not be a sedan platform.

    Luxury cross-over is Infiniti and Nissan, yawn. MB going the other way.

    Glory days in the 80's? 80's MB was what my Grandfather drove. This is MB glory dayz.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    The MB mark is a lot of baggage for some to shoulder so they would never buy one, no matter how good they are. An "attitude" is involved that goes way beyond the actual car. The "attitude" part of the purchase isn't a factor for me but I can appreciate how it can influence opinions in different ways.

    We probably never would have purchased the German-made MB C320, which is the finest auto we've ever owned, if it hadn't been for our Bama-made '00 ML430 experiences and the terrific service we receive.

    A survey that amounts to little more than to inform a potential buyer that he or she may experience 3.2 instead of 2.8 "incidents" on average is not worth much weight compared to other variables to consider when purchasing a car. And, the opinions of a ML owner, for instance, whose family's needs justify a SUV--tow, snow, cargo and clearance, whether for bad roads or boat ramps--would be far more relevant to prospective ML buyers than the opinions of someone who wishes later he or she had gotten a sedan instead of a truck.

    Anonymous gripes to JD Powers are nearly irrelevant, particularly where abstruse attitudes color expectations and candor. More statistical information and analysis than is possible to gather or digest would be required to know what is really going on in the heads of responders.

    First, you have to consider that only certain people will even respond to such a survey or any survey. And owners of some makes who do respond may have 10 times more gripes than owners of other makes, more as a result of their personality than their cars.

    You would have to be able to weigh the gravity of the responses for there to be even a little relevance: black dust on the front ML wheels does not warrant any attention, especially when you consider that the same thing does not concern Porche or Audi owners who appreciate and demand more performance. And, MB's numbers will improve as DC continues to lower the average age of MB buyers--younger buyers are just more enthusiastic about their new car purchase than older buyers are about their tenth.

    As far as popular opinions among non-MB owners, much of their thoughts are the product of negative advertising they hear from competitors who feel that the surest way to their next sale is by appealing to qualified buyers, e.g., actual and prospective MB owners.

    For instance, if you ever see a seemingly objective "article" about MB "problems" that also contains very laudatory statements about a competitor's car, the article probably is, or is taken from, a press release that the competitor has created and disseminated for advertising purposes: it a is tactic that is known as guerilla marketing and when effective, can be much less expensive compared to more traditional advertising.

    This type of advertising can only be used effectively against the the holder of the more prestige mark and is only effective if the true source of and motives behind the information are disguised--sort of like negative political advertising.
  • chaddschadds Posts: 11
    I love my '99 ML 430. It has almost 60K. I'm on the second set of Grandtreks. I have to cross the fronts when rotating or the steering wheel goes way off center to drive straight. Nearing a rotation time the steering wheel starts to drift off center (10 and 4 instead of 9 and 3). I have mistakenly had the front end aligned three times. Has anyone had this experience? This has been on both sets of tires. Thanks.
  • benz747benz747 Posts: 91
    I own a C 240 (2002) and now looking for second car as ML 430, I have read couple of reviews, please advise me if I stick to same brand for SUV or look for an alternative

    00 ML 430 I am getting for $30 K which has 29 K miles on it

    thanks in advance
  • tomjavatomjava Posts: 136
    $30K is too much for FY00 ML430. You could buy FY02 ML500 around $36K. Currently, MB is giving away ML. Go to carsdirect.com, ML is selling for $3000 under invoice.

    As far as a used car, ML is definitely the best bargain.

    Good Luck.
  • benz747benz747 Posts: 91
    I own a C 240 (2002) and now looking for second car as ML 430, I have read couple of reviews, please advise me if I stick to same brand for SUV or look for an alternative

    00 ML 430 I am getting for $30 K which has 29 K miles on it

    thanks in advance
  • chumsaechumsae Posts: 61
    I considered buying an extended warranty, but
    opted out. The MB dealer offered two different
    non-MB warranties, with the better one (what is
    called an exclusionary warranty - these list what
    is NOT covered) at $3,400 for 100,000 miles/5 years from warranty inception. Here the mileage is odometer (total) miles. Warranty Gold offers
    an exclusionary warranty with 0 deductable for
    about $2,300 with the same terms, 100K/5 years.

    FYI - we have a 2000 ML320

    Two things made me decide "no" to the warranty:
    1) My experience with an MB SEC, an MB SL, a Saab 9000CD, a Saab 900, a Lexus LS400, and a Pathfinder, are that the 50K to 100K mileage
    band (which is what these warranties cover) have
    been the most trouble-free miles for each of these
    cars; we've had a few problems 0-to-50K, then more
    at about 120K and up, but nothing between 50K
    and 100K.
    2) On our car the engine internals are covered by
    the sludge warranty to 100K.
    I guess a third rationale is that our ML320 has
    been pretty reliable with just a few minor repairs
    all done under warranty and under 50K. Our bet
    is that we'll spend less in the next 50K miles
    one covered repairs than the cost of the warranty.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    I love my 1999 ML320. I have had the usual annoyances that other ML owners have had. But the good things about the truck far exceed what I dislike about MB.

    That being said Mercedes has no excuse for having such pathetic performances. Come on guys, forget glory, heritage, fame etc etc. Let's now live in denial. MERCEDES CLEARLY HAS QUALITY PROBLEMS to be ranked so low in the survery.

    I still love my ML
  • chumsaechumsae Posts: 61
    I don't want to belittle JD Powers, but I believe
    that a big part of their statistical analysis is,
    while disciplined, anomalous because their
    data collection neglects the human essence named
    by the two prior writers.

    Having had a few MBs, I don't expect Japanese-style reliability, but do have other expectations
    for the Mercedes. My guess is that some significant part of MB buyers assume because of the cost of these cars that they'll see top reliability. It's just not the case, but we can see how JD Powers surveys could easily have a negative bias towards Mercedes products.

    The ML likely has more bugs, and surely has a lower finish level than the sedans, but it's a
    well-equipt, exceptional performing, 4-wheeler for about $40,000. If I were paying $55,000 for
    an ML320, or $65,000 for an ML430, THEN I'd be unhappy with the package.
  • chumsaechumsae Posts: 61
    Your car is heavier than our ML320 but we are very happy with our Michelin Cross-Terrain
    tires (Sams Club $148/each). These have a 65,000
    warranty, are incredibly quiet, and handle
    perfectly. Our tire size is 255/65R16, and
    we inflate to 35lbs cold (tire rated to 42lbs).

    FYI: we removed the original Dunlops at 50K miles.

    The ML430, being heavier on the front, may require
    a stiffer sidewall (I've read some complaints on
    the Cross Terrain from Suburban owners). I'm
    sure Michelin can answer this question.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Calling into question JDP's methodology doesn't explain the precipitous decline in MB's ranking over the previous 13 years, going from #1 to #26 in overall quality. If you believe that their sampling methodology tends to be biased against MB, then you have to assume that this bias suddenly manifested itself in the last 13 years, which is unlikely.

    Further, these results are backed up by CR's numbers which also show reliabilty 80% less than average. I think CR is much better than JDP in assessing vehicle quality, but they both get similar results.

    Anecdotal data on various BBS's also support the conclusion that ML's have more than their share of issues. And the issues have clear patterns: fuel pumps, window lift switches, crashed MCS systems, premature brake wear, etc.

    There is just too much data saying exactly the same thing - ML's are well below average in total reliability.

    And I no longer believe that things are getting appreciably better over the years. When I bought my 2000, I was told by everyone that the problems were teething issues in the 98s and 99s, but a lot of the same issues have cropped up on the 2000s and now people are saying that the "problem years" are 98-01 and that the 02s and 03s are fine. I don't believe it. The reliability of the new ones is probably a bit better, but I don't think there has been any dramatic "turning of the corner". They're all subpar.

    Having said all this, all cars these days are pretty reliable and saying that ML's are 80% below average may only mean that you have 1.8 problems per year rather than 1.0 problems per year. And the basic systems of the ML seem pretty good - is is the electronics and accessories which seem to be the most problematic. I can deal with a failed window switch a lot better than dealing with a failed transmission.

    So my advice to anyone considering a ML is to assume you're going to be going to the dealer a few more times during warranty, that you're going to spend somewhat dollars out of warranty, and that you have a somehat bigger risk of having a complete lemon that will be a nightmare to own. If the vehicle's positives outweigh these negatives, go for it. But if the most important thing is to get a dead reliable SUV, for heaven's sake, get a Pilot/MDX or a Highlander/RX330 which I have little doubt are a lot more reliable.

    - Mark
  • To all of you who are considering an extended warranty you must first take a look at what these warranties are. They are basically an insurance policy where the company offering the warranty is betting that the required repairs will be less than what you are paying for the warranty and you are betting they will be more. The people who offer these warranties have some of the best data for repair costs of a given vehicle than nearly everyone else around and they price the warranty based on these average costs plus a profit. If you are ever shopping for a used car and really want to get a handle on how reliable and also the repair costs look at the cost of the extended warranty for that make/model. As an example, the Ford Taurus has one of the hightest warranty costs.

    When you buy an extended warranty, you are basically prepaying the repair costs giving up the investment return that you could receive if you kept the money yourself and letting the warranty provider invest the money for their additional profit.

    This, not to mention, everytime you need a warranty repair you need to negotiate with the warranty provider to see if they will cover the cost.

    Make your own decision but, for me, I do not need to purchase an extended warranty. If you are not convinced yet, ask the warranty provider if the money is refundable (prorated) if the car is totaled in a collision prior to the expiration of the warranty term.
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    I filled in a JD Powers survey when I bought a new car several years ago.

    The survey is pathetic. None of the questions are really meaningful, especially the ones which related to initial quality - since you've only had the car for a few days or a week you weren't really familiar with it or knew if something was wrong. Some of the questions were downright silly, some had no relevance. Some were of the "have you stopped beating your wife yet" kind - i.e. neither A nor B was what you wanted to answer.

    It was long, a booklet 10 pages or so doublesided. I got $1 for my troubles. The next JD Powers survey I get is going in the trash.
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    "But if the most important thing is to get a dead reliable SUV, for heaven's sake, get a Pilot/MDX or a Highlander/RX330 which I have little doubt are a lot more reliable."

    Do you have any statistics to back up your statement or is it pure speculation?

    As a person who has owned mainly Japanese vehicles previously I can safely say that Japanese vehicles have problems too. The service departments at Honda, Nissan etc are just as busy as MB.

    The only real trouble free vehicle I had was a basic 70's Toyota which ran 240,000+ miles with no breakdowns. And I mean basic: no air-con, power windows, power seats, power steering, in other words nothing to break - lol.

    With my MBs, the things which bring me back to service are those extraneous things: sensor this, sensor that, all those little lights in the dash. Sometimes I think that my car was a pure stripper with no power nothing I'd never need to bring it back.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    As I said in my earlier post, there are multiple sources that have data that indicates that the Pilot/MDX and Highlander/RX have relatively good frequency of repair records while the ML and X5 have relatively poor records.

    The most readily available source of such data is Consumer Reports ... look for the "Auto Issue" on any newsstand.

    Of course, the vehicles with the best records still break. That's why any single person's experience is anecdotal, although I think you can discern some trends by monitoring individual accounts of problems.

    - Mark
  • hermantamhermantam Posts: 14
    Last week, I traded-in my 2000 ML320 and bought a 2003 Acura MDX Touring with Navi and RES.

    In the past year, my ML turned into a complete nightmare - first started with the air mass sensor failure (twice), then the in-line fuel filter, followed by the infamous/common power window switch failure, the moonroof (a trim fell off), the transmission valve stuck, mysterious noise from the AC center vent, the power steering hose clamp recall, and the last one - the glove box cover hinge broke! It was unbelievable.

    With warranty expiration in sight (we put 47K miles on it), the local MB dealer in Omaha (which runs their newly acquired MB dealership like a Ford dealership) sent me a letter saying that they will provide "complimentary local transportation" (read "no loaner") for service after the warranty expires. After seeing the JD Power report, well, that's it for me. I opt out.

    My wife and I both have high demanding jobs, with a little one year old. We have no time for stopping by the MB service department every now and then (they don't open on Saturday!) Plus they charge $90/labor hour! (A brake job at 25K mile costed me $900.)

    With reliabiliy as the #1 requirement and a $40K-$45K budget, we shopped for the Japanese brands only. We considered the Lexus GX but the third row seat is a joke. The RX is gimmicky and buyers are old people... The dealer experience was so-so. Ended up I bought an MDX because that's a safe choice from a reliability standpoint, with a lot of nice features (DVD, Navi), at a very reasonable price (I paid $40K). Also the dealer treated me well.

    Looking back, ML is a well-designed vehicle with great off-road capability. I drove that in severe weather (rain, snow, icy road) and survived many incidences. I took that off road too and it rocked! But the build quality and reliability is simply horrible - I worried about another failure coming from god-know-where every day in the last three months I owed the vehicle.

    In conclusion, I have completed lost confidence in MB. Too bad the ML is our first and last Mercedes vehicle. We will never buy another Mercedes again.
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