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



  • absoluticabsolutic Posts: 29
    Mark thank you very much for your reply.
    I am aware that MB is introducing a 2006 ML early in 2005 with a different type of a body. My choices were limited by budget constraint, as one of my friends is a mb dealer and he would give me a rock-bottom lease deal in the same range that I was paying for my GC, plus I would get free maintanance with 2004 ML.. I don't think I would be able to get the same kind of a deal on the other SUVs you'd mentioned in your post; and the 2005 GC is months away. I also was not extremely impressed with 2006 ML spy photos; but I guess, as with any new MB shape, one needs time to get used to. Free maintanance is important as my understanding is that mb breaks and oil changes can be expensive.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Both are SUVs and that is saying something--even though Jeeps have had unibody construction since, what? 1986? they invented the class.

    With the solid axles and sticking with a short wheelbase, despite the opportunity to sacrifice some off-road utility for better highway comfort, Jeep stuck with the formula. And, the relatively light weight of the Jeep, together with the solid axles, sure gave us long-lasting tires on our first Jeep Cherokee.

    Our '99 JGC Lmtd had stalling problems; despite that, I like JGCs and everyone I know that has owned them does too.

    All that said, the ML is worth every penny extra. My take on it is that the V8 jeep goes for about what the ML V6 goes for.

    But, if you want superior braking, you want the ML500--it has larger brakes but it is the 275s on all four corners that provide the edge, despite the extra weight, especially on wet surfaces.

    If you go on the MSN website and read owners reviews of ML350s though, they get great reviews and a lot of 10s. MLs do take premium gas and if you're not keeping it, you probably do not care that the insides will look like new long after the Jeep is starting to show its age.

    MLs are pretty convenient with long intervals between the oil changes--they come standard with synthetic. And, the mileage I get in the ML500 is better than I ever got with the '99 JGC's 4.7L engine.

    Whatever someone thinks is best is all that counts but I wouldn't compare MLs to offerings like the MDX or Pilot and the ML is a great value. Crossover vehicles just cannot deliver what Jeep and the ML were born with: both were designed from the drawing board to the last wheelnut to be SUVs according to the traditional formula, e.g., they may not be the best at any single thing, but they do everything very well: from towing, driving offroad, or hauling cargo and people to daily commuting.

    Some could care less but I think a Jeep owner will appreciate the ML more than most. I'd look into the ML500 though if you want a shorter stopping distance
  • absoluticabsolutic Posts: 29
    I took a test drive of ML350 and I was a little disappointed after 6 years of driving GC. It is just different, the ride is a little more stiff and I hear vibrations coming from the steering wheel. This is very strange, because I took a drive of my friends' C240 immediately after and noticed no vibrations whatsoever, after all, mb thrives itself on having solid feel. Well I felt these little vibrations in ML. The ML is beautifully appointed inside definately better looking that my 2001 Lmtd GC. Unlike my GC, ML does not have volume/change stations/cds control on the steering wheel. Thus I decided to think a couple of days before deciding whether to go with ML350..
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    What has always impressed me about the ML has been the "solid feel" and the drivetrain. It sure sounds to me like you're driving an example that has a tire, wheel, or alignment issue. I'd try and drive another before deciding.

    Yes, I think the new ML will be moving towards a more car-like vehicle. The thing that has always impressed me about the ML has been its ability to straddle the ruggedness and utility of an traditional SUV with decent road manners and comfort. I don't know if the new vehicle will do as well with serving both needs. And in any event, I would NEVER buy the first year of a major redesign of the ML, not with the checkered history of the 98s and 99s produced in Alabama.

    I'd still encourage you to drive a 4Runner or GX470 just as a point of reference, which is a much newer design of a body-on-frame traditional SUV. Even with MB discounts, you may find the 4Runner to be in the ballpark on cost. The MB free maintenance is nice, but so is the rock-solid reliability of the Toyota vs. the sketchy reliability of the ML.

    As to upgrading from the ML350 to the ML500 for bigger brakes, those are darn expensive brakes, not to mention the sizeable fuel penalty. My bet is that the bigger brakes on the V8 are just about compensated for by the higher weight needed to stop. And several reviews of the ML have said that the V6 cars handle better with less weight in the nose. If you need the V8 for hauling, towing, or just like more effortless torque, then go for it, but not for the slightly bigger brakes.

    - Mark
  • chumsaechumsae Posts: 61
    I agree on the vibration - try another ML. Also, some have
    said that the smaller-engined ML320/350 has a little nicer
    handling balance than the quicker and more plush ML430/500 machines.

    Three years ago we tried the 4-Runner but thought it was
    less refined and more truckish than the ML; Maybe now the
    Toyota is improved.

    My ML is used in my business and I took advantage of the
    accellerated depreciation allowed for Gross Loaded Vehicle
    Weight of over 6,000lbs. Back then, 2000, the 4-Runner didn't
    qualify.... this is only useful if you use the truck for

    Also, back in 2000, the ML was the absolute safest SUV being
    offered, and still may be.

    I always got 18-22MPG on premium fuel - not bad for this kind of truck.

    In my opinion, if the ML form-factor works for you then it
    remains one of the best values in the $40,000 arena, in spite
    of all the newbies flooding in.

    Our other car is a Lexus LS400, and my eyes tear up when I think how
    good this car has been to us for 188,000 miles. My eyes also
    tear up when I realize how BORING this car is to drive!

    To me the GC isn't very close to the ML.
  • djdjdjdj Posts: 111
    I have 2000 ML320 with about 77K miles on it. About 10K miles ago I finally needed new tires. I loved the Dunlops it came off but they were backed ordered 3 months so I told the tire dealer (Conrad's) that I wanted something that was very quiet and smooth. He recommended the Goodyear Fortera and it is indeed a nice riding tire. It was fine through the winter and very quiet.

    I still have a love/hate relationship with the ML. Love to drive it, hate the amount of time it spends in the shop and the effort it takes to get the work done right. Two days and $400 to fix the tailgate lock and it jammed permanently shut within two days. I "vented" on the service writers and the next morning had a M-B loaner and their full attention (finally).

    The number of loaners I have had (previous ones were a Sentra and a Focus) has become something of joke at work (compared to the people with BMW and Lexus) and I can't say I'd ever by another Mercedes. After the radio died last year ($850) I replaced another of our cars with an Audi A4 without even considering the C class. I got a C class loaner this week which reinforced my decision about the Audi, much nicer.

    The Starmark warranty (which covers a very limited number of things) ends at 100K and I don't want to own this after that. No clue what to replace it with.
  • bfeng7bfeng7 Posts: 47
    Hi Folks,
    I was a participant way back when there were less than 700 msgs in this forum! Our ML has been pretty reliable, hence the absence.

    It's time to do brake rotors and pads on all 4 corners. Please let me know who you recommend for brake rotors, and what pads you all like best
    (currently on a set of Pagid - great, but dusty).

  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    Its the famous Coolant Leak again !!!! This is the 4th time in 12 mths that they are trying to fix the leak !! In the past the dealer has already replaced the Cap, Hoses and Clamps, etc - don't know what they are going to do - I am very upset with the whole issue. The damn thing is very unreliable. Its always something or the other every couple months.

    A friend of mine had a very horrible experience with the Spare Tire last weekend. His ML500 was packed with 2 adults, 2 kids and lots of luggage on a trip to Tahoe. On the way up they had a flat tire - AAA came to the rescue and replaced the tire. The BIG issue was how to carry the flat tire ?? The spare tire area cannot hold the regular full size tire and the boot was packed to the hilt with all the luggage !! Poor guy had to pay the tow truck guy $75.00 bucks to take the "Flat Tire" to the repair shop. They were stuck as they couldn't keep driving with the tiny spare - I fail to understand why does this rugged SUV not have a Full Size Spare Tire !!!! How much money must MB have saved - its such an inconvenience for the consumer. God forbid if you are ever in this situation - you become the laughing stock for people driving past. I will get rid of this piece of crap by end of this year when the new Sequoia comes out.

  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    The coolant leak sounds aggravating.

    The space-saver spare design is the same on most SUVs these days, and I'd certainly check the situation on the new Sequoia you're considering - it may be the same.

    Yes, they could give us a full-size spare, but then it would permanently consume extra space all the time, and the family never would have gotten their stuff into the vehicle to begin with.

    Almost all the time, you can change the flat and find someplace to carry the spare. I suspect some improvisation and re-packing could have done it in this case, but when someone calls AAA to change a flat, it sounds like they're not the sort who is very good at improvising.

    - Mark
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Well the dealer had to keep the vehicle for 2 nights to fix the leak - it was some other hose this time. They seem to have tightened the clamps or something like it. Keeping my fingres crossed that its fixed for good !! I have a 99 RX300 and have never had a coolant leak, nor was it ever there on my 98 Mazda MPV with 70k miles. I fail to understand whats wrong with MBZ - how can they mess up such simple stuff as the coolant hoses and clamps !! What are the factory workers in Alabama smoking before they come in to assemble these ML's ?? Anyway, I am reaching my point of no return with this vehicle - I'll give it till end of this year and then get rid of this POS vehicle, a disgrace for Mercedes by any standards. I guess there's a sucker born every second so there will be someone who will be salivating for these ML's when I decide to get rid of it.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Does anyoe know if this part fails on the V8 ML's also ? Or is it just related to the V6 version. Is there anyone with a MY02 or later ML500 who had this part failure ? What happens when the part fails - does the vehicle come to a sudden stop, does the engine catch fire ??
  • absoluticabsolutic Posts: 29
    I did test another and leased myself a 350. After driving it for 3 days, I like driving it better than my JGC. JGC has some features that I would miss: more confortable leather seats, audio controls on the steering wheel. Each time I get to a parking attendant I keep looking for a window up/down control on the door, and it takes me a couple of seconds to realize these controls are on the opposite side :-)

    One thing drives me nuts. This thing has a Boss CD-Changer with adoptive audio volume control. That is a not a novel feature, my 1986 Nissan Maxima had it I remember, and you could adjust its sensitivity. But I read and re-read the ML broshure and I cannot find how to turn this off. This drives me nuts: volume goes up and down constantly, especially if your windows are open. I keep adjusting the volume knob all the time. Any of you have this problem? How do you turn it off?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I understand the harmonic balancer failure problem to be present on both the V6s and V8s. Failure causes the engine to immediately being shaking and making nasty noises, most haven't felt like driving it that way. Worst case, the pieces of the balancer flail around and take out other systems like the radiator or belts, which of course, disables the car.

    It is easy to check and they typically show visable symptoms of failure well prior to failure. You basically run the motor while shining a flashlight down to the lower pulley on the engine front - if it see a wobble or anything not turning concentric, you need to have it checked.

    - Mark
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    This part is not unique to MB engines. I had it replaced on a '90 Jeep at about the 160K mile mark. That engine--4.0L, I6, cast iron block--probably was 20-year old technology at that time (except for the aluminum heads).

    Nothing had gone wrong with it but the service tech suggested replacement would be necessary soon. The fix gave me piece of mind as I was selling it but I wish I had known earlier as the engine ran much smoother at idle afterwards.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Thanks for the info . Some more questions - Whats the typical life of this part ? Does it fail around 50k miles or 80k or earlier ? Is this the case only with ML's or does it happen with the C, E, S, SL etc vehicles as well ? Is the new part better than the old one or its just a replacement with the old one which may again fail after x num of miles ?

    Apart from changing the tires what else can be done to improve the ride quality of my 2002ML500 ? The current tires are Dunlop SP Sport 5000's - does the word "Sport" mean they are meant for sporty (read Rough - feel every nook and cranny on the road) ride. I want to get a very soft and smooth ride from this vehicle - what are the options here ? On a recent visit to the dealer for Coolant Leak I got a 2004E320 Wagon as a loaner - it was a sweet car. Runs great and the ride was vey soft, could not feel the road and the bumps which were greatly amplified in my ML500. I was driving on the same road !! All help is greatly appreciated.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    MB has gone through a couple interations on the part nos although I've never seen anything definitive on what has changed. While the part has a relatively high failure rate, relatively high might mean one in ten fails within 100K miles, so nine of ten are fine. I've seldom heard of them failing in less than about 30K, and 50K-80K seems to be a common time when, if they're going to fail, they fail.

    While you could have it replaced pro-actively, MB won't likely pick up the charge and there is always some risk that you'll spend a not insignificant sum to remove a good one and replace it with a bad. Since the part typically gives some warning, I'd just monitor it. might provide some reviews that will tell you which replacement tires are likely to have a better ride. But you're barking up the wrong tree to expect a body/frame, truckish V8 SUV to ride anything like a a very refined, very smooth riding E320 wagon, no matter what tires you go with. ML's are basically light trucks and their ride, while not bad for a light truck, is never going to approach the ride of a luxury sedan.

    - Mark
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Speaking of which, we have a rep from tirerack right here in's Town Hall! You can find Connor here: Ask Connor at The Tire Rack

    tidester, host
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39

    Thanks for the info on the balancer - will continue to drive with fingres crossed. One ray of hope is that it is less likely to fail before the 50k mile mark.

    I guess you're right - I am not comparing Apples to Apples when comparing the ride quality of ML500 with E320. Over this weekend I test drove a lot of SUV's - Toyota Sequoia, Landcruiser, Lexus LX470, GX470, Acura MDX, ML500 and X5. The ML has the worst ride quality amongst all of these. The best was LX470 followed by Landcruiser. Even the Sequoia (which I think is essentially the Tundra Truck)had a much better and softer ride than the ML. I don't know what but something is definitely not right on my ML. Its just 2 yrs old with 23K miles on it !! I will replace the tires this week (another $1000.00 spent on this ML !!) with the Michelin Cross Terrains, get them balanced and wheels aligned. Hopefully this will make a difference.

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    '05 pricing info is up for the ML350 and ML 500. No updated editorial content... yet.


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  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 283
    Nope, u can't change it. It can only be done by the dealer with the MB laptop. I think it's called AAM or something.
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