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



  • 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.
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    I was reading a few of the last posts and noticed someone saying in Africa, Afghanistan etc, the real vehicles doing the work are Toyotas, Land cruisers etc.

    Click on the link and see who is doing the REAL HEAVY work in Africa, scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    I too would like to slam JD Power and hide my head in the sand. I mean, that would be the most logical thing to do considering that I already plonked down a tidy sum on my ML and have to justify my decision.

    Even if the data is skewed, their questionaire is junk, whatever!!!. How is it that some of the other premium brands remain winners. Do they know something about the survey mercedes doesn't know? Does JD Powers have a hidden agenda to ruin Mercedes? I dont' think so.

    Some people have posted that we expect more because of the brand. Of-course we do, Why would I spend the extra money if I thought I was getting the same quality as a chevy, chrysler or kia.

    Like I have said before, I am not a Mercedez hater. I love my ML and will definitely consider the new ML when I am ready to replace mine. But, I am not afraid to face the truth. Mercedez should start paying attention to quality if they want to remain a premium brand.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    I was looking at the future SUV Models and the new Dodge Durango looks erily like the ML. Check this edmunds photo. EHICLE/2004/Dodge/100122259/023363-T.jpg

    I remember reading some where that Merc/Chrysler is looking for more synergies in it's product range and that the next gen Mitsubushi Montero, Jeep Grand Cherokee and ML would share the same platform. Looking at the new Dodge Durango it seems like Dodge has been looking at the Mercedes parts bin too. Hmm.........

    Well atleast Chrysler/Dodge was placed well above Mercedes in the reliability survey. (Sorry folks, couldn't resist)
  • normjulznormjulz Posts: 1
    I am trying to decide b/w the x5 3.0 and ml320 with basically the same features. x5 has 43k miles and no extended warranty @ $33K. ml has 34k miles and dealer extends warranty to 12/05 or 100k miles whichever is first and cost is $30k. I am leaning towards the ml to be the better deal overall. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thanks, norm
  • tomjavatomjava Posts: 136
    $30k for FY01 ML320? You'd offer it for $24K or lower for mint condition.

    Good Luck.
  • What I was referring to in my post was the Mercedes "military" vehicles used in Iraq. I was not referring to cars or SUV's. My only point was that Mercedes does not just manufacture luxury vehicles. They have experience in commercial trucks and economy cars (A Class). The initial ML SUV was not designed as a "luxury" vehicle and was only upgraded after consumers who never use their vehicles "off-road" showed a demand for it.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    Well, it depends on what you are looking for in an "SUV". The X5 is pure "S=Sport". There is absolutely no U=Utility in it. Have you seen the cargo space. You'd be lucky if you can squeese two Laptop bags in there.

    The ML320 has some "Sport" and great "Utility" value. Then again, you have to worry about quality issues. The X5 will probably keeps it's value much better than MLs.

    I shudder to think of what I would get if I where to put up my 1999 ML320 for Sale. I would most likely end up running it to the ground.
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 283
    Both are excellent. ML is SUV -> sport utility vehicle. X5 is SAV -> sport active vehicle. You can find more info from dealers. SAV is a bit less off-road capable.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    For the record, the X5's reliability ratings are even lower than the ML's. Some of this may be due to the X5 being a more recent design so its stats are more heavily weighted by the typical terrible first year or two of a new design.

    But both are pretty bad. (I'm typing this after just getting a call from the dealer saying that they have decided to replace my 2000 ML320 transmission with 49K miles on it after I complained about a relatively minor hesitation in downshifting, something that felt to me like a faulty kickdown switch. I'm not feeling very chipper about taking this otherwise nice SUV outside the safe harbor of a warranty.)

    - Mark
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    I have a 2002 ML500 with 10k miles on it. I took it to the dealer for the FIRST ever service on this vehicle. He performed an A service. But the service docs from MBZ mention that on a new vehicle the First Service to be performed is a B service. I brought it to the attention of the Service Advisor - he spoke to the Shop Foreman. Foreman mentioned that they always do A then B then A and so on. The Maint Schedule on Edmunds also mentions that the B service should be performed first on a new vehicle. Any thoughts ??

    Thanks & regards,
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