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

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  • I am looking to buy either 2002/2003 ML320/ML500 or Acura MDX. Any issues with ML or MDX or 2002 or 2003 models.
    Any cons or pro between 320/500 or MDX.
    What should I pay for these vehicle.

    I am seeing the prices ranging from $20K to $25K, 38K to 55K miles on them.
    Also which is the best Extended warranty available for these vehicles should i get that too and what should i pay for it.

    I am in chicago mkt and looking on Ebay and some local dealers.

    thanks.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Don't buy a 2002 MDX over a 2003 MDX. The 2001-2002 MDX's have an older automatic transmission design that has proven to be more problematic than it should be. They received a redesigned automatic transmission in 2003.

    Don't go older than a 2002 ML; the 2002's received the mid-model-cycle update and it was significant (e.g. side curtain airbags).

    Also, I forgot if the 2003 MDX's had side curtain airbags or not. They definitely weren't there for 2001 and 2002.
  • What are the good Extended Warranties available for 2002 ML500. Which are good companies to go with.
    I will be buying 2002 ML500 soon with ~45K miles. Can I get them from online or should I go with Dealer offered warranties.
  • hello,
    i have a 2003 ml500. its really something - my dealer had also told me that i should get my brakes done at 24000 miles. i took the tires off, they still have alot of life left on the pads.

    the problem i have is that the tires have alot of uneven wear, they already did alignments 3 times. they tell me the struts are fine. on these trucks tires only last around 15000 miles.
    i can't blv this. any ideas?

    another problem - alot of times ithe car would not start. i put the keyy in, turn it, nothing hpns. i turn it back and the car stoats fine.

    thanks.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    I just traded in my 2002 ML500 with 48,700 miles about six weeks ago for a 2006 Land Rover LR3 HSE. Anyway, my tires lasted for 38,000 miles and could have gone to 40,000 miles easy but I like to have "newer" tires for safety.

    The Mercedes place told me that same thing about my brakes and tried to replace my front brakes at 26,000 miles, I said no. I figured that's why there is a brake pad warning light. The dealership fooled me at 18,000 miles to replace the back pads. I was getting ready to go out of town on a driving trip so I let them change the pads.

    I drove the ML to about 44,000 on the original front pads (if I recall correctly) which gave me about 26,000 on the rear pads. I really believe the rear pads were fine at 18,000 miles. The brake light never came on. Since my local Mercedes shop tried to get me to replace my brakes to "profit-line" their pockets, I took the ML to a private shop and saved about $300 on a brake job. ($1,100, new rotors, pads, bleed and replace brake fluid, rotate tires)

    The only complaint that I had with my ML was it just rode so rough. I would have considered the new smoother-riding ML but they didn't offer a third seat anymore. Mercedes wants the customer to move up to the R-class which looks like a Pacifica van to me, and, at $70,000?

    The new Land Rover LR3 will seat seven and the rear area is huge! Also, the third seats fold completely flat and the ride is very nice.

    I think I was rather lucky with my ML500, as it had very few issues, just a couple of plastic pieces (rear cup holder broke, front plastic trim came loose). I did have uneven tire wear and probably was my fault as I didn't get an alignment for a longtime because I had no pulling and the vehicle drove straight as an arrow down the freeway. I had wear on the inside of the front tires. After I got the new tires at 38,000, I got regular alignments.

    Mark
  • Hi,
    I was looking for feedback on the ML55 when I saw your brake problems.
    Porterfield Racing brakes in Costa Mesa, Ca. has a full line of Carbon Kevlar brake pads. I have them full around on my 4runner. They are nearly dust free, quiet, rotor friendly, and have almost no heat fade period. They were designed for racing, but they have street compounds. They have a website, check them out.
    Gary.
  • FYI...As long as you are in motion it's *EASY* to steer a car with non-functional power steering. I had to do this before with the old clunker '98 ML (inherited because a dumptruck destroyed Morticia, my '98 Intrepid ES [a superior vehicle in every way to the early ML btw]). It is extremely difficult to steer while you're stopped or moving less than 3 mph.
  • Let me document, the history I have had with Benz, well just last five years, although going back 30 years my dad too was an MB owner of many classes. But in the last five years and due to the vast problems I have had with benz, I am throwing my hat in and going to the Japanese makers, particularly I am going to buy the Acura MDX. Shame on you MB for such poor quality.

    The last 5 years the MB cars I have owned and driven and their many problems:

    1. SLK230 2000 model - I bought this car brand new, after some months, some 10k miles the Supercharger started to miss-time, the convertible wouldn't close properly, the transmission started to slip and miss-time and cause abrupt shifting. NOTE: ALL MB cars have a transmission problem, bear with me I will reveal this here

    2. ML320 2002 model: this is my wife's car, endless problems, Power steering failure three times, many different sensors mal function, ABS failure twice, transmission failure and had to be replaced at 48k miles. NOTE: the replacement transmission had the same original problem of abrupt down shifting, evident in most benz models. My last visit to the dealer the car was in the shop for a whole emonth, at Smythe European in San Jose, CA. The list was so long, the also changed the catlytic Convertor it was cracked. Everytime I got the vehicle back something esle was broken. During this one month that my ML320 was in, I drove three loaner cars, next I explain my driving experience with the three loaner cars.

    3. Camry, loaner on week 1, great car, what can I say, we are dumb suckers for german Style, we are all bluffed. It is amazing. Smyth European of san Jose CA didnt have an MB to give out as a loaner, and everyone was really pissed at them. Anyhow, after a week, I came in to pickup my car for the original repairs, and saw the ABS light all on (not part of the original problem that the car was taken into the shop), next they gave me and ML350.

    4. For another week I wan in the ML350, this car was 2004 model, and it too had porblems with Transmission down shifting and abruptly shifting, MB will bluff you and say that this is normal, but to all the owners out there please be careful, and ask your MB dealr, to drain the transmission and see if there is graphite sludge because that is what they found with my car (the ML320 above) and they had to replace it. In my opinion the ML350, suposedly a better car than the ML320, also had the same transmission problems, if the downshifting is abrupt it just goes to show how weak of a tansmission design it is. At this point I was thinking maybe it is just me (well I know it is not). The dealer Smythe European called me and said they have to urgently come in and pickup the ML350 loaner, because it was sold and it was not supposed to have been loaned out, man I feel sorry for the guy that bought it, I had put some miles on it. Anyhow they (smyth european) came and brought a brand new (5k miles on it) E350, and took the ML350. For the next 2 weeks I was in the E350.

    5. E350 a real nice car, smoother and well performant, BUT it too had transmission abrupt downshifting and abrupt up shifting, although the problem is more prevelant in the downshifting. You can test this on your car, let say you have been driving for sometime on a highway and then you take your exist, and then slow down, say come to a traffic light and then you slow to a stop, lsiten in to the abrupt downshift, you feel the gears down shift and then you have to "extra-apply" the brakes. You have to test this when the car is normal operating hot temprature. This down shift indcates a failure in the transmission. This e-class shouldn't have this problem it is a brand new car, but of course the transmission on these vehicles is faulty and hence the downshifting.
    Anyhow, after a week of driving the e-class the dealer calls me and says my car is ready, I come in and they say there was a leaking oil to tansmission connector, they fixed it and fixed the abs lights, then I take the car and the abs lights are still on. So I am back in the e-class (E350 loaner) for another week, then I call them and ask them to look into the downshift, they call me back 3 days later and said we replaced the tansmission with a re-manufactured one, ie the casing is old, but the parts are new. I took delivery of the car (ML320) and guess what, I have more downshifting problems than in the past, and I complained to the dealer and they said we cant see anyhting wrong with it, I am secheduled to have an independent look into this.

    Mercedes benz, knows there is a real design fault with their transmission particulalry with ML and e-class, SLK. Note ML and E class are basically the same platform cars. However they shy away from making the offical announcement, you will drive it, and all the sudden at 51k the transmission goes out and guess what you will be left out in the cold. I can go on forever, I am angry and dissapointed at MB, it is a waste of money. When I was waiting for my car at the dealer (Smythe European of San Jose CA) I saw so many people come in, complain about sensor problems, one guy had an S class and the adviser said, oh it must be the water pressure cleaner caused some water to get into the sensor of the catylitic convertor, and we have just reset the computer and ignore the sensor warning. I guess another trick, how can they just ignore sensor warning, maybe they just didnt want to replace yet another Catalytic convertor.

    There is more to report, but I am fed up of writing, mark my word, you are bluffed into paying for a MB.
  • Went to back out of my garage today and the ML320 wouldnt budge..At first it felt like e-brake was on but I never use it in garage..Well I get the wife out there and see that my pass.side rear wheel is locked up...Could the caliper have just froze(rusted inside)? Iam in Park City and its cold but garage is not freezing...I havent used it for the last 2 days and have had no warning of brake drag....Can a caliper just go like that? Is there some way I can isolate this caliper so I can bring it to a shop? Any idea of what I can do? Never had any vehicle do this before...Thanks in advance...kevin

    PS ML320 98 97K miles..Had rear rotors and pads changed at 80k miles
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    All I can suggest is to remove the rear wheel and see if you can manually get the caliper to release from the disc. I'd check to see if it matters if the engine is running or not - there is some chance you've got some issue with the stability control system, or traction control system which brakes individual wheels under computer control to transfer torque and prevent skids.

    - Mark
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Hello Fast... I can understand your frustration but I have not heard of transmission problems in Mercedes cars/trucks. I have a 2000 E430 and have never had a transmission problem. I just traded in my 2002 ML500 with 48,700 miles and not one problem with the transmission. Before my "E", I had a 1991 560SEL... again no transmission problems in the 83,000 miles that I had it.

    My 2000 E430 has been a very good trouble free car in the 6.5 years that I have owned it (bought new). :)

    Granted, Mercedes-Benz have had their share of glitches, etc. but many owners have good cars. A friend of mine bought a used Mercedes SLK 320 and it runs like a champ. The top works perfectly as does the transmission.

    Good luck in the future in whatever you decide to drive. Mark :D
  • A major national newspaper would like to interview those who recently purchased a new Mercedes ML or a Lexus RX/400H. Please respond to jfallon@edmunds.com before Wednesday, March 1, 2006 with your daytime contact info and a few words about the model you chose.

    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • sgt_k1sgt_k1 Posts: 14
    Hi Mark, I agree with you on the 2002 ML500. I just got one and I think it's the nicest think I ever owned. What are your advices, and how can I keep my ML for a longer period? My ML500 is at 51,000 right now, didn't the owner before me did lots of maints at 48,000. Because I know most beople will do maints at 18k and 48k. My because I should wait up until I reach in the 7oKs zone....

    Thanks,

    Keit.
  • jhinscjhinsc Posts: 397
    Our 2000 ML320 has been mechanically trouble-free during it's nearly 70K miles. Just oil and filter changes so far. Yes, we've had the occasional jerky transmission shifting, but otherwise very trouble free mechanically. We just had a complete brake job performed, first time replacement in almost 70K miles. The dealer did try to get us to do it much earlier, but we waited until the brake light indicator told us it was time. We didn't have to the replace the rotors either.

    Note that I stated "mechanically". The trim and body problems have been way more problematic. The black trim on the doors have been replaced several times, the black glass trim around the hatch replaced, the steering wheel replaced due to the leather flaking off, the struts for the back hatch replaced, and now the roof rack is starting to peel it's outer layer.

    Since it been mechanically trouble-free, we're keeping ours until the wheel fall off, which will probably be many years down the road. Oil changes are still running at about 12k miles or so, and it will probably need it's 3rd set of tires in another 15k miles, so the upkeep costs are very low at this point. :shades:
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    I think with any car/suv, if you follow the regular maintenance schedule you shouldn't have too many problems. I kept my 2002 ML500 until 48,700 miles so I didn't have any huge maintenance issues. I replaced the tires and brakes and did the regular oil changes.

    Generally, I like to keep cars up to about 50,000 miles then trade.

    Mark
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    Looks like you have had pretty good luck with yours ML so keep on truck'in!

    Mark :D
  • sgt_k1sgt_k1 Posts: 14
    My rear tires are wearing off faster then my front. I took my ML500 for an aliment and the shop told me that only the front wheels can be adjustable. He said some cars are made like that, however, here said my rear wheels are not adjustable. My rear tires are wearing on the outside of the tire. Can you please give me some advices

    Thanks, Pres. Bush!
  • It could be a problem with the all wheel drive system giving too much power to the rear wheels.
  • sgt_k1sgt_k1 Posts: 14
    So do you think my AWD has a problem or its just something little...
  • smwls8smwls8 Posts: 103
    I have been away for at least a year, as I have been so content with the performance and service of my last 2 cars I had no need for Edmunds. Out of boredom on an early Sunday morning I snoop in here, mainly because of rumors of an ML diesel coming out. What was I thinking?

    How soon we forget. My last mercedes, a 1997 E320, was the deathnail to my relationship with mercedes benz. At 61,000, the car was BLOWING OIL out of the front main seal all over my garage floor. When I went back to HBL, Tysons, VA, the service advisor informed me someone must have put too much oil in the crankcase. The problem? They had just performed my 60K service($1800) less than 2 weeks prior, which included $500 for a mass air flow sensor, which had also "FAILED" at the 60K mark. I took the car to an independent shop and for a very reasonable $250 they replaced the main seal, which MBZ refused to rectify because the car was out of warranty.

    Unlike many others here, I did not let this experience send me across the Pacific to the land of the rising sun. Instead I bought my first BMW. After 9 years, I traded this car in on an 06 BMW. The 1997 BMW still had the original headlights, brakelights, window motors, and AC compressor, ALL sensors, etc. So much for the urban myth of BMW's and electrical problems. I did nothing but put gas and brakes in this car for 9 years.

    Now I am not saying BMW's are perfect. I am well aware of the nickasil blocks and the ZF transmission problems, but ask anyone who experienced those unfortunate incidents back in the 90's, and see how they were treated by BMW. New entire engines and transmissions installed by BMW at no cost to the customer. Why? Because BMW evidently still looks at a customer as a lifelong relationship. But it has been my experience, that instead of trying to build 15 different models and move 15 million units worldwide, they have concentrated on getting the small things right, and their marketshare and profitability have been rewarded as a result.

    Just my experience over the last 20 years...
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