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



  • joeindenverjoeindenver Posts: 31
    I guess I don't have the same experience with snow that Rough Rider does : ) The first winter I had the ML350 the Dunlops did just fine in nearly everything winter threw at them. But then there was less than 1000 miles on the ML when "winter" started and about 5000 miles when winter ended. This past winter with about 15000 miles on the tires the performance was not nearly so good. In fact, turns in even small amounts of snow at nearly any speed would cause the front tires to simply slide. That is, I'd be turning the wheel but the truck would still be going straight. Even ran over a small curb once - but I got the wheels square to the curb before hitting so no damage to front end : ) and I was only going about 5 mph at the time.

    So later this summer (or perhaps fall) I'll be trying out the XTs. Although I too do like the dry handling of the 5000's - they seem to hold the road well and are responsive. But they do sing a bit at speed and when one is driving sometimes 1000 miles a day that gets annoying...
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    That's a disappointing review, especially considering the write-up at Tirerack, e.g.,

    "Large shoulder blocks separated by open shoulder grooves and independent intermediate tread blocks are used to balance dry cornering and handling with wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. Full-face, cross-cut sipes are engineered into the tread patterns of all sizes to provide more biting edges for slush and snow traction, and an exclusive high performance all-season tread compound (patent pending) is used to blend traction, treadwear, and rolling resistance to meet a wide range of driving and weather conditions," and,

    "On the road, the SP Sport 5000 was praised for its ride and noise comfort where it was rated the best of the tires tested."

    With all of this, there is a trade-off, as you'd expect, according to the reviewer, and in the above test, it was the fact that the SP5000 was the fastest wearing tire.

    It is interesting to read owners' reviews: one said they wore so badly on his E320 that they needed replacement in 10,000 miles whereas a ML500 owner says wear is normal (he's at 37K) but gripes about noise. Another ML500 owner whose rig was stretched into a 10-passenger limo says they are great in the snow.

    Many others approve of the snow handling whereas an owner of a Ford Victoria said,"Below average wet traction and intolerable snow traction."

    Then, there was the Porsche driver who said, "Tire noise, comfort and wet traction are the worst. Snow traction for performance tires are great."

    I'd say this tire must have a split personality--maybe dependent on the amount of inflation. The recommended inflation for the ML500 is pretty high. Also, I'm at about 18K and the tires look as though they easily will go to 40K or more, just like the original Dunlop tires that came on our '00 ML430.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hey guys,

    Anybody have any info on the "Radio fluctuation from Stereo to Mono at random" problem ? Am I the only one who is having this problem ? Please post your thoughts & experiences on the same. I am sick of this premium Bose radio having these issues. When it works - its great. Can I take it to an Authorized Bose Service Center - will they refer me back to the dealer. Anybody tried this ?

  • joeindenverjoeindenver Posts: 31
    Mac320 - I'm pretty good about keeping them inflated as per spec - perhaps that is the problem as you suggest. I did not try to vary the pressure in the tires this past winter. Too bad I didn't think of that sooner, but then, it has snowed here in June before so I might still get the chance <g>

    As far as treadwear I'm probably about half way on the tires - which is in line with the 320 rating. This too could be contributing to the seemingly poorer performance this past winter. The side blocks might be a bit more rounded these days.

    Although I had to laugh at what the Porsche driver said - and that drive may be accurate. I've had "performance" tires (not the Dunlops) on my other cars and not been able to drive at all on the snow - might as well had put toboggens on all four corners - that might have been safer, actually... So that driver's "great" might be my "ok" if you get my meaning.

    But tires are really one of the most important aspects of any vehicle we drive. They define how the car responds to the road as they are the only parts of the vehicle that is actual contact with the road. So it is important to find the tire that works for one's particular needs as I'm sure the OEM tire is chosen to appeal to the widest possible market. My market at 6000+ feet and sometime lots of powder snow is a bit different than the person driving the same tires in say, LA or even Ohio where snow tends to be wetter and heavier.

    Now it's back to work so I can make some money to pay for my new set of tires : )
  • joeindenverjoeindenver Posts: 31
    I've recently had the radio do that surge thing others have described - but it did it only once but it did scare the heck out of me. Nothing like driving late at night with the radio playing some nice tunes softly in the background only to instantly go to concert level. Perhaps MB installed something that thought I was going to sleep and this is actually a feature?

    BTW, how can you tell it's going from Stereo to Mono at random? Is there anyway to test for signal strength? Perhaps with a portable radio of some kind sitting on the dash? Maybe this is not such a random issue. Just a thought...
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    I have had terrible experiences with my MB dealer in Manhattan. I was looking through and saw this survery of dealers. MB Dealers are crap.

    Check this JD Power Survey. amp;tf=/advice/bestworst/csi/dsi_table.tmpl
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    and it was a rating on what dealers thought of the manufacturer, not what owners thought of their dealer.

    But, I take it you're dissatisfied with your dealer. We are lucky in our area: free washes, free detail once per year, free MB loaners with A and B services.

    As for JD Power ratings, I don't believe they capture a true picture of the driving experience. What you're getting there is what a Lexus owner, for instance, thinks of his Lexus (usually over a very short period), not what the same Lexus owner would think of your MB, and vice versa.

    What would a JD Power ranking say about this site? And what if it were comparatively low . . . it still wouldn't make sense for me to start reading a VW site just because it got a higher ranking from JD Power.

    Here's a real power test: take 10 new car buyers that are willing to spend $50-60K on a luxury automobile. With their money, you purchase 5 Lexus 430s and 5 E500s. Each driver spends the same amount of time driving each car. Then they pick the car they want. If 5 choose one while 5 choose the other, it's even. If more than 5 want one of the cars, you start lowering the price of the least favored and raising the price of the most favored until it's 5-and-5. My guess is that you end up with the E-500 having a higher price than the Lexus 430, just like it is right now without an elaborate testing method, and the 5 Lexus 430 owners would have fewer gripes about their cars, because all of them either liked it better outright, or they were motivated to buy it because they thought it was a better car for the money.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291

    So your agreement is that if you pay a higher price, you should have more reason to be dissatisfied..

    Point taken.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    I'm guessing there's also something else going on, e.g., having made the decision, the person views his satisfaction with the thing he has chosen through a different lens that supports the choice that was made.

    For instance, what if someone considers whether to go to Europe on a two week vacation, to places he's never been before, or pack the family off to Lake Big Tree park?

    Even if you assume money is no object, if he decides to go to the park, he will probably think how nice it was this time of year and not just because he saved tens of thousands, whereas, if he did go on that European vacation, he'd probably have lots to gripe about, e.g., tiny hotels and showers, food, airports . . . he wouldn't even think about how long the drive to the park would have been, or the fact there were no showers or hotels there at all.

    Plus, there's something not quite right with the rating methodology to begin with. You'd do better drawing condlusions only from perfectly satisfied owners than the way they do it now.

    What if owners reported 1.4 "problems" per 100 for one item and 2.8 "problems" per hundred for another?

    In the first example, the 1.4 "problems" could be 14 people out of 1,000 with a single problem each.

    The second example could be 28 in 1,000 with one problem, or it could be 14 with two problems each, or it could be 7 people with 4 problems each, all of which were handled in a single visit to the dealer.

    So, not only is there no analysis as to what actually constitutes a "problem" with these different owners, you also cannot determine the relative inconvenience to the owner of such problems, or if that would even matter because there is no analysis at all of the 972 to 986 owners that did not report a problem at all.

    For example, assuming you are offered two meals, e.g, sushi or steak, and neither has a "problem," might you not be a lot more satisfied with one meal over the other even if both are the same price?

    Might you not prefer one meal over the other even if there was a difference in the price?

    Might you not gripe about how well the steak was cooked, for instance, even if you'd take it, as it was delivered, over the sushi?

    This "testing" is the ultimate power trip and to the extent that decisions are made based only on test results, then such tests are the ultimate example of the tail wagging the dog. It's like the guy who loves his new telescope, which CR rates as best because it is cheaper and easier to use, but the other guy who picked a lower rated telescope is the only one who can actually see Uranus.
  • babalulubabalulu Posts: 8
    We have a 99 ML320 and I have read in the manual that the ESP will work up to speeds of 35 mph or so. Our lease expires soon and I am wondering if the newer ML 350's have an improved version of the ESP, specifically does it work at all speeds like PSM (Porsche) or X-Drive (BMW)?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Are you sure you're reading the manual correctly? I've never heard of a stability control/ESP system that doesn't work above a certain speed.

    The specific scenario they are designed to prevent is a spin after a quick lane change manuever at highways speeds. Many of these systems have lower speed cutoffs where they are disabled BELOW a certain speed, but I've never heard of a cutoff above a certain speed. You may be looking at a different system such as the electronic traction control system or break assist system.

    I have a 2000 and don't recall anything about this. Of course, I didn't read the manual cover-to-cover.

    And I think X-Drive is BMW's AWD system, not a stability system. PSM IS a skid-control/stability system.

    - Mark
  • smazzy4smazzy4 Posts: 16
    Thanks for your insightful comments!
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    You're talking about the 4-ETS system that assists traction in off-road conditions up to 35 mph.

    ESP is on all of the time, even at low speeds when 4-ETS is on, but especially at high speed. I have read that when you disable ESP (using the switch, you never are really completely disabling the system.

    My guess is that all of German car makers are using the same system, but with their own trade name on it. And, chances are, the system was developed jointly between Bosch and MB and MB makes a few bucks on every system sold.
  • babalulubabalulu Posts: 8
    Thanks for the info on the ESP. I would like also to know of anyones subjective opinion on the differences between these models in terms of ride quality, feel, build, etc. We like our 99 ML 320 and its lease is up soon and we are considering a new ML350. We can't wait for the new ML to be released in January '05. We need the car sooner than that. Still, 5 years of constant improvements must be obvious on the latest ML. But there are so many other new players in town. What is your opinion?
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 283
    ESP works up to speed of 55 MPH. You will still have about 15% of ESP capability if you switch it off.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    I feel the SP5000 tires do have a rough ride compared to Michelin XTs. Over the weekend I was riding in my friends ML320 with Michelins and the ride was a world apart. I will switch to Mich XT's soon. I live in the SF Bayarea and the roads here are OK - with all the construction on all the freeways its a rough ride.

    I observed an interesting thing on the FM radio issue - I was not getting the fluctuation on CD. While fiddling with the system I noticed that the Sound setting for CD was set to "Standard" vs "Ambience" for Radio !! I changed the Radio Sound setting to "Standard" and viola No FM fluctuation. I have had this on for about a week and have kept my fingres crossed. The MCS Quick Tips booklet does not show this feature - looks like its a Bose feature not available on the standard MBZ radio. You get to this setting by pressing the "Adj" button.

  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Where did you get that information--55 MPH? If the system didn't react at freeway speeds to sudden swerves do to obstacles in the road or dangerous situations caused by other drivers, it wouldn't be of much use. It is designed to act faster than a race car drive can react.

    It has been pointed out that ESP comes from the aerospace industry--a yaw velocity sensor resembling those on aircraft and space vehicles, i.e., "the vehicle is brought under control in a fraction of a second . . . The main ESP control device is comprised of two computers with 56 KB of memory apiece. By comparison, ABS requires only a quarter of that. ESP uses this computer capacity to constantly monitor individual system components. For instance, the crucial sensor that reads wheel speeds is itself checked at 20-millisecond intervals . . ."
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I've never heard that ESP doesn't function at higher speeds.

    There is a lot of confusion about ABS, ESP, EBD, ETS, etc. We're talking about the yaw/skid control system here which monitors speed, steering wheel position, and how quickly the car is turning. By doing so it can detect understeer and oversteer. It cuts engine power and brakes individual wheels to prevent a skid.

    - Mark
  • absoluticabsolutic Posts: 29
    I've had grand cherokees for the past 6 years. my lease for 2001 Grand Cherokee lmtd is almost over and I am probably getting the 2004 ML350.
    Questions: Motortrend rated ML350 skidpad at 0.75. I am not sure what the skidpad rating is on my Grand Cherokee, but those of you that owned or driven both, is ML350 more stable at corners?

    Also I keep reading about the terrible mileage on ML350, but my Grand Cherokee (mostly street driving) shows 12.4 mpg so it is pretty bad. Would I realistically get better mileage than 12.4 on the ML? After all, a 6-cylinder engine should eat less gas than my present 8-cylinders.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    0.75 skidpad is about average for SUVs, maybe a little higher than average - some get into the 0.7 range. I doubt a ML350 would skidpad much better than a Grand Cherokee as the vehicle type and the tires generally set the upper limits here, which are essentially the same for these two vehicles.

    Skidpad numbers are only one small aspect of handling, and most folks would think the overall handling of ML would be better than a GC, but I doubt it will feel like night/day. The ML has a more sophisticated suspension, better dampers, a more sophisticated driveline, and probably a little more tighter structure. But a mid-sized body-on-frame SUV is only going to handle so well. If you really want better SUV handling, you've got to go with something like an X5, MDX, or other more car-oriented SUV.

    I have a ML320 and get 16 or so around town, and 20 on the road. Not too bad. I would think the ML would do a bit better than the GC, but again, not night/day.

    I assume you're aware that we're about a year or so away from a new ML being released which will be bigger and more car-like. While the ML is a nice SUV, it is getting very long-in-the-tooth and it wouldn't be my first choice for a new SUV bought today. I'd get a Pilot/MDX for a unibody SUV or a 4Runner/GX470 for a body-on-frame SUV. If you wanted a Euro SUV, I'd look at both the VW Toureg or Volvo XC90 ahead of the ML.

    - Mark
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