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



  • I know there are other threads for buying experiences for the ML350, but I can't believe how this thread only discusses problems with the ML.

    My Mom bought one of the first 98 ML's when they came out. Great vehicle at the time. She only drives 3k per year and has had few problems though both the gas gauge and trip odometer have recently stopped working over the past year. She really likes the ML otherwise and wants to see the new ML.

    I have to say, after hearing the complaints from people, and knowing about the ML's poor reliability history, I see no reason to even consider a new one, unless you lease one at an attractive rate. I don't know how other M-B vehicles are doing, reliability wise, but so much for "Built Like No Other" or whatever their slogan they used to use 15 years ago. What a sad downfall for one of the most prestigious brands in the world.
  • I was test driving a 2006 ML350 and it seems to me there is a possible issue with the steering-column mounted shifter.

    In most vehicles, you always need to press the clutch button or forcibly maneuver the shifter between the zig-zag notches whenever you are shifting from NEUTRAL TO REVERSE. The ML does not seem to require this. Just a firm tap on the shifter and it can go from DRIVE to NEUTRAL to REVERSE!

    I found this out as I was test driving. I inadvertantly up-tapped on the shifter thinking I was turning on the left-turn-indicator. And, guess what happened? The engine revved as the car got thrown into Neutral and then with a lurch stopped as it went into Reverse. Thankfully, the vehicle was only at 5mph so nothing else happened. During all this time, my foot was neither on the brake nor on the accelerator.

    Does this describe a true situation with the current MLs or did I miss something?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Most of these new high-tech cars with column-mounted shifters put the whole thing under computer control and thus, require certain conditions to be met before they'll shift. Thus, to get them out of park, you have to have your foot on the brake, to go from drive to reverse, you must be stoppped, etc.

    What might have happened is that you bumped the shifter from D to R and the system decided going into N was Okay. Then when you braked to a stop, it decided R was Okay since you were stopped with presumably your foot on the brake.

    I'm not a fan of these shifters either, but they're here to stay and I suspect you'd adapt to them. With the computers running things, I doubt there is a safety issue, but I certainly haven't driven one to see for myself.

    - Mark
  • I should have mentioned those numbers were both hand documented and calced as well as a visual on the on-board computers.
  • My '99 ML 320 had 57,000 miles and the original pads when I traded on the S.
  • I bought this SUV new and have kept up with the maintenance schedule. Since 30K miles I have had to add a quart of oil between scheduled oil changes. I am approaching 60K miles and I have had to add 2 quarts this time. Is this considered normal?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I suppose it depends on what your change intervals are. If you're running 10K-15K between changes, using a qt or two in this interval is well within normal bounds, although the trend line of it increasing is worrisome.

    Actually, MB considers anything up to about 1 qt/1K within normal bounds, although if you make a stink about it, they'll sometimes intervene before this. There are a lot of complaints about high oil consumption on this engine, although typically with the 98, 99, and 00 models. Some of this may be due to MB's bogus original recommendation to use conventional oil with the long change intervals recommended by the maintenance reminder system. This turned out to be bad idea and they settled a class action suit about this which gave owner's a 100K warranty. But by the 02 models, they were going with synthetic across the board so it's not applicable to your vehicle.

    - Mark
  • I drive a 2006 ML500 and absolutely love the vehicle. All of the improvements are awesome except for the ridiculous seatbelt warning chime. I can't tell you how annoying that incessant chiming is! I've been to the dealership and been told that Mercedes will not permit it to be disabled. PLEASE let me know if you have discovered any way to do so. It is driving us crazy!
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Sandcreek, if you buckle up, does it stop? I have not heard the new ML chime... my '02 ML500 was not a problem.

    If you buckle up before you start the car, it shouldn't make a noise at all.

    Mark :)
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    My Dad was an emergency room doc in the mid 70's. When he first started in the ER, he did a non-scientific poll. He asked every victim of a motor vehicle accident whether they were wearing their seatbelts. After 6 months, he gave up -- it was intuitively obvious when the patients came through the door whether or not they were wearing their belts. Those who were not wearing belts were badly injured. Those who came to get checked out "just for insurance reasons" and were fine had been wearing belts.
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    Hi! I just bought my wife a 2006 ML350 -- it comes pre-wired for a cell phone but... where do I get the phone to use with this car? Do I have to buy it from Mercedes? Who is the carrier?

    So far... this suv is a big improvement over my wife's previous one (2002 RX300). There's LOTS more room and it drives very smoothly with a powerful oomph. No complaints so far. I am crossing my fingers that this SUV will be as rock-solid reliability-wise as the Lexus......
  • "The ML does not seem to require this. Just a firm tap on the shifter and it can go from DRIVE to NEUTRAL to REVERSE! "

    Yes, as long as you are under 10 mph, the arrows on the shifter display allows you to shift to Park or Reverse even while the car is still moving. You don't need to have your foot on the brake to shift to Park or Reverse.

    If you are in Park, you must step on the brake to shift.

    You can also take the key out while the car is still moving. The automatic shifter will attempt to shift to park, but if the car is moving, all it does is grind the gears.

    These are minor compared to problems with the transmission jerking me around with hard downshifts several times a day.
  • mitch9mitch9 Posts: 3
    Contact AutoWireless Solutions at (800) 266-7746. On their website at This is the Mercedes "authorized" cell phone dealer and they show the phones that are compatible. The list has recently expanded. Before it had to be a "Mercedes" phone; now it appears you can use non-Mercedes specific phones such as the Motorola E815, which cost a bit less.
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    Thanks! I will certainly check them out. I just spoke to my dealer and the phone plus installation costs..... $2,700!!!!

    I'm in shock. For 3K I can buy a top-rated cell phone with cellular service for life!

    I was willing to pay up to 1K for a dealer-installed phone with warranty, etc... but 3K..... I just cannot bring myself to writing that check for a cell phone.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Gteach26, I totally agree, $2,700 is absolutely ridiculous! Just keep a cell phone in the car and get an ear piece of you don't want to hold it to your ear. Technology changes so fast that when it's time to trade your Mercedes in, that phone will be worthless.

    Good luck, Mark :D
  • Hello, all.

    I just bought a used, "dealer-driven" 2005 ML500 (12k miles) around Christmas from a respectable MB dealer. During the test drive, there was a very loud squeaking from the Brakes (usually only when I was coming to a complete stop.). At first the dealer gave me the song & dance about "build up" from the car sitting, etc. But I insisted on a brake inspection as part of the sale.

    The dealer inspected front & back pads/rotors and said "there was some scoring, but overall looked okay". But they offered to change the front pads/rotors for free in good faith, leaving the back as-is. Things were great for about 2 days, but now the consistent loud squeaking is back.

    We've gone about 500 miles since then and nothing had changed. I've tried car washes to clean the wheels, no luck. If this had been my old SUV, I would have sworn it was metal on metal sound of pads on a rotor. But overall the ML500 brakes great and I never hear the noise when just slowing down.

    Since this is my first ML500, is this normal?!? While my MB dealer tells me everything looks good, I've never heard any SUV ALWAYS SQUEAK SO LOUDLY when coming to a complete stop. Do I need a second opinion? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


    Chicago, IL
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    There's probably nothing functionally wrong with your brakes, but really loud squeal is very annoying. They may not have used the appropriate brake pads, springs, clips, and paste at the last brake job. Or, in an effort to minimize the cost of the job, they may have let excessively scored or too thin rotors pass spec when they should have been replaced. It's even remotely possible that everything was done right, but the brakes still squeal. This can be a vexxing problem.

    If you can get them to agree that the squeal is excessive, then you'll probably have little issue in getting them to take things apart and see if all the squeal reduction measures are in place.

    Or you can learn to live with it. It may go away on it's own. Pretty much up to you whether you want to go to the matt on an issue that is annoying but probably not serious.

    - Mark
  • I was comparing the X5 3.0 and MB ml350. I will repeat the test drive for both. How can I get the best price from the MB dealer. Should I ask for the invoice and lower the invoice price, and how much I should pay according to the invoice. Thanks :surprise: eciated.
  • ditto to Mark's comments -

    I have the same problem in my ML 320. I had Midas and BrakeMax check the rotors and break pads and both told me I have about 50-60% of pads left on the front wheels and about 70-80% on the rear. Sometimes the squeals or squeaks maybe due to the hot weather (I live in AZ) - BTW am going to see if my dealer can do something about it. I doubt it, but hey there's no harm in trying.
  • newcar17-

    Your answers are awaiting you at ==>
    This website is incredible and I don't want to spoil it for you, but you will learn all the tricks of the trade and how not to get ripped off as well as buy your new ML at invoice or even below invoice....make sure you are aware of the dealer holdback and any incentives currently being offered by MB - I hope that helps...let's know how you fare.

    Good Luck.....
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