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



  • taskishtaskish Posts: 1
       Since the past couple of days I have been searching for a used ML320. I am impressed by the safety features that comes this SUV, but going through some of the posts in this forum, I am really worried, regarding quality of the components used, and the frequent visits to the Service station to get things fixed.
       I found a seller who has a nice Silver 2001 ML320 in very good condition, with 40K miles on it. The test drive went well, has a good ride. But my question is, is it worth the risk buying this car, when it is 10K miles shy of its factory warranty expiring?
       All, please find time to help me clear my confusion.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Taskish, there is no clear-cut answer here. There is absolutely no doubt that a 2001 ML is likely to give you more problems than a 2001 Pathfinder, 4Runner, or MDX. All the info we have says this. But you have a little bit of the warranty to protect you and you can always throw money at the issue with an extended warranty.

    I'd use this as a litmus test. Assume you're going to have three problems with the car in the first six-months ... based on ML trends, let's assume the a CEL comes on and requires a sensor fix (under warranty), the sunroof makes an awful noise (fixed under warranty), and the brake pads are going to need replacing ($225). If this idea really bothers you, then get a Japanese with a better record (RX300 and the MDX come to mind immediately). But if this doesn't sound like a huge deal and you can accept it as part of owning a nice SUV, go for the ML.

    - Mark
  • rollsrolls Posts: 5
    For anyone considering a used ML, I have a 2002 ML500, leased it new, already have about 30k in about 20 months. Had a couple problems, but the most annoying has been the damn automatic volume adjustment for the radio. It automatically compensates for surrounding noise(e.g. if you open the window). Well it would go from being barely audible to very loud, and would happen with both the Bose stereo and the navigation voice. Long story short, after repeated trips to the dealer, and they did shut off the auto feature, it still does it. Terribly annoying, enough so that sometimes I just shut the radio off. BTW, the nav does a fairly good job, but doesn't always choose the quickest route. I wouldn't pay extra fo it, but on the 500 it came standard. On a good note, my car doesn't seem to be eating up its brakes as I guess they are prone to do. Mine are original, working fine, tires are original too. Another plus, I average over 21 mpg, doing a lot of highway driving at 70 mph+(this is better than my V6 Audi A4)!
        Plusses: safe, room enough for 4 comfortably, wonderful power, good fuel economy for an SUV, invites jealousy.
        Minuses: ride quality sub-par, some squeeks from dash, stereo sucks, overall quality not what you'd expect for $51k.
        My humble opinion: I don't plan on keeping it past warranty, would consider another, wish it was built in Germany, not Alabama.
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    Can anyone recommend where I can buy an extended warranty for my ML? It's past the 12 month 12,000 mile mark, so I will need an after market one. TIA, H
  • I really got disgusted by the shots I would take when I mentioned all the problems I was having with my 2000 ML430. It looks like the tone has changed since then, so I'll give it a try again. I came here looking to see if others were having the same issues, or if mine was an isolated case. As a reintroduction, below is a chonology (by miles) of my issues I have had. I would welcome any comments of others who have had similar problems and what they were able to do to resolve them. Some of mine are common based on what I have read, the differentials, xfr case, and tranny don't seem to be so common.

    Miles (est) Problems
    0 Trailer hitch installed, wiring kit improperly installed, trailer lights won’t work.
    1000 Grill guard didn’t fit, had to slot holes (self installed because parts not there as promised and didn’t want to drive 2 hours back to dealer.
    1000 Sold wrong phone, only worked analog, was not aware until too late for dealer to exchange.
    1000 Phone installed, gps cable left disconnected, had to take back.
    10000 Arm rest dimpled, replaced.
    15000 Driver side window switch failed
    18000 Auxiliary cooling fan motor failed
    20000 Arm rest dimpled, replaced
    22000 Fuel pump failed, had to have hauled in
    24000 Brake light switch failed (ETS, no cruise, etc)
    26000 Rear brakes worn out
    31000 Transfer case making noise, changed out after several attempts to convince dealer
    32000 Front differential making noise, dealer changed out differential
    34000 Door locks failed, replaced module
    45000 Shifter bushings worn out, replaced
    45000 Noise and small leak in rear differential, dealer says will replace later even if out of warranty if it gets worse.
    50000 End of warranty work.
    51000 Power steering hose blew off at oil cooler connection, I repaired in parking lot.
    52000 CD player quit working.
    54000 Lower dash lights out.
    55000 Arm rest dimpled, dealer won’t replace out of warranty even though 2 previous replacements.
    60000 O2 sensor causing check engine light to come on. Dealer replaced $395.
    60000 B service done, $400 even though our understanding was the oil change was free for as long as we owned the car (original salesman represented this).
    60000 Dealer won’t honor earlier promise to repair rear differential.
    62500 A/C auxiliary fan out again, found blown fuse, ok for now.
    63000 Drivers’ window switch bad again, window will not go up.
    63000 Transmission hesitating when shifted into gear from park.
  • Greetings,

    Does anyone know where to buy OEM brakes pads for 2000 ML320? What's the brand Mercedes use as their OEM pads for ML320? Galfer USA or Textar? (Jurid or Pagid?)Please post the websites ASAP. Thanks!

  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I have heard that both Jurid and Pagid are the OEM pads.

    My fronts are going to need replacing soon with new rotors and I plan on ordering from these guys:

    - Mark
  • Hi,I am new to this board. I've been a buyer of Janpanese cars for the past 15yrs, but decided to give ML a try. My dad had a Mercedes 1979 240D, the worst vehicle I've ever seen.... Just bought a 2003 ML 350... drove 400 miles... no problems so far. My impression, I am not impressed, but not as bad as some reviews suggest. Positives.... steady ride at 80+ mph with no shakes on steering wheel, great bose audio. Negatives.... somewhat underpowered, brakes seem little soft.. lack of storage spaces... etc...

    Regarding brakes... has anyone tried ceramic brake pads? Upgraded vented rotors? I fully expect I'll need new brakes/rotors with next two years based on what others are saying. Tire rack has OEM brake pad material brakes for $26/pair.... pretty cheap stuff. Ceramic brake pads are about twice that.... must be better.. Just trying to get educated.... If anyone can shed some light on ceramic and or kevlor brake pads vs OEM brake pads, would be appreciated...
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    Your ML seems to have much more than the usual share of complaints. A freind of mine in England was telling me that years ago, they would check the manufacture date of the cars and wouldn't buy it if it was made on a friday. That's because people went out to the pub and got pissed on thursday night and you can imagine putting together a vauxhal with a sever hang over. Some of the problems I have faced from the onese on your list are.

    Fuse blown on aux cooling fans (twice).
    Drivers side window switch died.
    Transmission used to downshift hard. (Transmission control module replaced under warranty at about 40K miles. It would have cost me about 500 without warranty)

    Besides that I have had no major problems in 58000 miles. It's a 1999 ML320
  • I bought a brand new 2003 ML 350 3 weeks ago. On my 4th day of ownership, I lost all power steering on my way to work and was leaving a trail of power steering fluid in the parking lot. I called the dealership (Phil Smart, Seattle, WA) and was instructed to call a towing company to have the vehicle brought back to the dealership. The next day my service advisor called me to inform me that the power steering hose clamp had failed (although it had been replaced by the dealership as part of the recall). They replaced the clamp (again). I drove the car for five days when the clamp broke again and I was forced to go through the same procedure. After being towed back to the Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz again, I was told by my advisor that this time they would replace the hose and the clamp. He was "baffled" by this repeated failure and claimed he had never experienced this before. He could offer me no explanation as to why this problem had reoccurred.

    I called my MB salesman and told him I didn't want this vehicle back. I felt as though it was a lemon. Nor did I want a replacement vehicle. I either wanted my trade-in returned to me (as well as my down payment), or, if my trade-in had been sold, I wanted our down payment + the trade-in value of our vehicle in cash.

    The operations manager contacted me and would not accommodate either of my requests. While he agreed to give me a new vehicle, I reiterated that I really didn't want another ML350, as there was no guarantee this problem would not happen with the second vehicle. He would not budge.

    My original salesman delivered a new vehicle to me (a clone of my original ML 350). On my 7th day of ownership with the new vehicle, the power steering hose clamp failed for a third time. I have spoken with the operations manager and the general sales manager of Phil Smart. They will not accept the vehicle and return my money. The general sales manager's comment to me was "At some point, you have to realize that we sold you the vehicle, you bought the vehicle, it's your responsibility now. Buying a car is not like buying a suit. You can't return it just because you don't like it." The operations managers remark was "That's what warranties are for."

    Both gentleman insisted that NO OTHER ML owners at their dealership have experienced as many problems with the hose clamp as I have.

    Has anybody have a similar experience? My wife and I are so terrified the hose clamp will fail again one day while driving on the freeway, we want to do everything possible to return the vehicle to the dealership for a refund. Any suggestions?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Well, the dealership has a point in that "returns" are not provided for in the warranty. Of course, they can do anything in the name of customer goodwill, but obviously giving you a refund is going too far for them.

    Your legal recouse is lemon law proceedings, but the bar is higher than simply two failures of the same component. Basically there has to be in intractable problem that they can't fix in multiple attempts before you can go this route. I would read the brochure though and start keeping very careful records in case it comes to this.

    Hose clamps are simply systems. Statistically, it would seem that there must be some common factor to cause these repeated failures - a bad batch of clamps, a bad fitting on the cooler or pump, something not secured properly that is causing unusual vibration or stress, or an incompetent service technician.

    While there have been some drivers who have felt that this problem is a huge safety concern, my opinion is that this is being overly dramatic. All cars with power steering, including the ML, can be steered after failure of the power steering system. You have to use some muscle, but the car is completely controllable. So while this is a huge annoyance and breaking down on the freeway would be disconcerting, I don't think there is a good reason to be "terrified". Just drive the car normally and use whatever force you need to turn the wheel. In fact, if and when it breaks again, forget the tow, just drive the darn thing to the shop. If it burns out the power steering pump or something, tough, then can just replace it.

    I think your best bet is to get it fixed and drive it. Perhaps, even take it to another dealership (e.g., Barrier) and have them take a look at it. I'm sure if you explained that situation, they'd bend over backwards to get your business. (I'm not saying that Smart or Barrier is better - just that something is fishy in the way Smart is doing the repair, so another set of eyes on this wouldn't hurt.)

    And I'd get in the service person's face to explain what is happening. What is failing? Hose? Clamp? Fitting? Are all possible components that could be causing the repeated failure being replaced? Is something not secured properly that is causing an unusual vibration that is fatiguing the fitting or hose? IOW, I'd tell them to stop REPLACING and start FIXING. Or if they can't find what is wrong, then replace EVERYTHING - hoses, clamps, cooler, and power steering pump.

    I'd give up on the refund angle. Ain't gonna happen unless you can get over the lemon law bar.

    - Mark
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Markjenn, I just received my recall notice for my 2002 ML500 (18,000 miles). I had heard in the past that there was a problem with the hose clamp. So, thinking that it might happen to me, I rolled the ML out of the garage, as it rolled down the driveway without the motor running (small down slope), I tried turning the steering wheel. It was SO difficult I could barely turn it. There is no way you can steer this vehicle without power steering. I'm not a power weight lifter but I'm in good physical health and have good strength, I could not steer this vehicle! As the vehicle reached the street it began to slow down so maybe that made it harder than if the ML was going down the street. Even when I park the ML in a tight turn situations (like parallel parking) the power steering is a little hard to turn. That is the only thing on this Mercedes that I don't like, my E430 is very easy in all situations. I know that the ML500 has large tires so maybe that's the reason for little extra effort in tight parking.

    2010 Land Rover LR4, 2013 Honda CR-V, 2009 Bentley GTC, 1990 MB 500SL, 2001 MB S500, 2007 Lincoln TC, 1964 RR Silver Cloud III, 1995 MB E320 Cab., 2015 Prevost Liberty Coach
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I'd turn the ignition to off (but not to lock!) while rolling at 25-mph or so to get a truer feel of the effort required if the power steering should fail. I think the issue is that the effort rise is so dramatic that most drivers react to the change in effort (which seems huge), rather than the absolute effort (which is manageable).

    All vehicles are required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to be steerable if the power steering is not working (which will happen if the engine stalls) so I don't know what to tell you if you say that you can't phsically do it. I'd probably advise you to get a different car and maybe even one without power steering - I wouldn't want to drive a car where steering control was quetionable whenver the engine stalled.

    - Mark
  • rich96rich96 Posts: 37
    Well, I've been waiting for this to happen, and it finally did. I had to use some force on the driver's side window switch to get the window to close. It's going in for service next week, but does anybody know if they will replace the switch with an updated model, or will they basically replace it with the same switch that will eventually fail as well?
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    I tightened up the clamp on our '00 ML430 a ways back when I'd read on the group that the hose could come off under pressure. I also took the truck in for the recall.

    It seems like most persons who experienced the problem were in colder climes and the car had just been started and was cold.

    Anyway, we never had problems. We recently traded the truck in great shape with about 72K miles on it for a '03 ML500. We had a tow hitch installed from the beginning and I noticed on the work order that the dealer had taken care of performing the p/s recall. We now have over 2,000 miles on the "500."

    I just looked at the clamp and there is no way that the replaced clamp will ever blow off. The hose is still pushed firmly against the stop with a slight bulge and the clamp is wide and tight and looks very much to me like it clearly is there to stay.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    According to this site,

    a new switch part number became available Oct '01. Presumably, it has been improved.

    On this site there is also a DIY instructions on rebending the contacts to extend the life of the problematic switches. But if I went to all the trouble to get in there, I'd replace the switch.

    - Mark
  • It is true. You CAN NOT steer the ML if you have a power steering failure. My clamp to the power steering failed on my 2000 ML320 with 25000 miles (lucky in failed in the parking lot of my office building where I work--my office is 1/4 mile from the local MB dealer). I attempted to drive out of my parking lot to the dealer and could not steer the vehicle at all. I felt wierd calling road side assistance since I am only 1/4 mile from the dealership. The service tech told me NOT to attempt to drive the vehicle since it is virtually impossible to steer the vehicle with out the power steering working (he fixed it in my parking lot with a next day visit to the dealership for a more permanent fix). I am not ARNOLD (the next CA Gov.?) but I work out often and pump some heavy iron.
  • I also have a 2000 ML 320 with 37,000 miles. So far the power steering clamp has not failed and I have been waiting for the next FSS servicing to take it in for the Recall Notice. What I would like to know is how did the clamp fail? Did it break or did it just become loose and the power steering hose slip off?
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Markjeen, you must be the next power weight lifter champion if you could steer the ML without power steering. It was amazing to me how difficult it was as "mtrauman" stated.

    I'm thinking of trading the ML for a larger SUV. I've been looking at the Lincoln Navigator but will decide at the end of the year if I want that particular vehicle. The ML is OK but just "OK" in my opinion. I've enjoyed it but would like a "fold flat" third seat and the power liftgate on the Lincoln is something I would like.

    Just my .02. Mark
    2010 Land Rover LR4, 2013 Honda CR-V, 2009 Bentley GTC, 1990 MB 500SL, 2001 MB S500, 2007 Lincoln TC, 1964 RR Silver Cloud III, 1995 MB E320 Cab., 2015 Prevost Liberty Coach
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I wonder if some of you who think you can't steer your ML without power steering are judging the effort by how hard it is to steer at a dead stop, or worse yet, while the steering column is locked.

    To confirm that the ML is steerable with reasonable effort without power steering, I did some tests this evening with my 2000 ML320. I got on a deserted road with a downhill grade and coasted down the hill at about 25-mph with the transmission in neutral and the ignition off.

    The steering is definitely stiff, but I would be surprised if any normal strength man or woman would have any trouble whatsoever steering the vehicle. At one point, I coasted into a park entrance and did some sharp turns at low speed in the parking lot. As the vehicle's speed decreased, the steering did become stiffer (as you'd expect), but it only got really difficult to turn as the vehicle was coasting to a stop.

    My other car is a Lexus sedan and I did the same test. It steers with slightly less effort, but the difference is not significant. You'd expect this as it is a lighter car with smaller tires.

    If you haven't done this test, I suggest you do to assure yourself that the vehicle is steerable if the power steering would fail. Specifically:

    1. Find a deserted road or parking lot, perferrable downhill a bit so your speed doesn't bleed off so quicky after you turn the engine off.
    2. Accelerate the vehicle to about 25 mph.
    3. Let off the accelerator and place the transmission in neutral.
    4. Turn the ignition off by turning the key ONE NOTCH CCW. (Warning: Do not turn the key to the LOCK position.) The engine will stall.
    5. The steering will become stiffer, but you should easily be able to steer the car.

    Warning: If you do this test, be careful restarting the car while it is rolling. On mine, you have to turn the key one more click CCW to allow you to turn it CW to engage the starter. When you do this, you're only one click from the LOCK position. To be safe, you might just want to let the car coast to a stop before restarting.

    - Mark
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Mark, I did let my ML roll down the driveway with the ignition in the "unlock" position and almost had to stand up to turn the wheel. I did get it to turn but I would never want to be caught in the situation where it stopped working. I was going a little slower than you, maybe 10 mph. I'll check it again when I get a chance. I keep that vehicle at my other home and will not be there for another month.

    Maybe the extra weight of the 5.0 liter engine vs. the 3.2 liter makes the difference in our experiments. Also, my tires are really wide which will add in extra weight.

    2010 Land Rover LR4, 2013 Honda CR-V, 2009 Bentley GTC, 1990 MB 500SL, 2001 MB S500, 2007 Lincoln TC, 1964 RR Silver Cloud III, 1995 MB E320 Cab., 2015 Prevost Liberty Coach
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Mark, yes the extra weight and width of the ML430 tires will make the problem worse. But I think at a little higher speeds, you'll find the problem manageable - at least I hope so.

    - Mark
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Mark, mine would be just a little heavier than the 430 becaue mine is a 500, just a teensy weensy bit bigger.. :o)

    2010 Land Rover LR4, 2013 Honda CR-V, 2009 Bentley GTC, 1990 MB 500SL, 2001 MB S500, 2007 Lincoln TC, 1964 RR Silver Cloud III, 1995 MB E320 Cab., 2015 Prevost Liberty Coach
  • cassiricassiri Posts: 40
    Has anyone had experience re-installing the front windows after they have fallen out of the channels? I have had both front windows drop out of the channels, and the lift assembly arm that closes the window. I have tried to reinsert the windows myself, but can't get them to seat into the aluminum lift assembly channel properly. Any tips would be appreciated.
  • gowtamgowtam Posts: 1
    Does a 2000 ML320 really need premium gas? Have any of you tried a regular (87 Octane)? Thanks in advance for sharing info.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    In addition to less hp and less torque at the same rpm, and decreased range per tank--and maybe dirtier oil in 10K--if you mean does it hurt the engine . . . then, I don't think so because the electronics are smart enough to prevent knocking by changing the timing.

    It probably is less of an issue when driving on the flats, unloaded in 70 degree weather, but I'd use the octane the engine was designed for when towing, or driving in high heat with the A/C on, or driving with a lot of cargo, or driving up steep hills, or at high altitudes.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I'm in the camp that using lower octane fuel in an engine that requires high octane will do absolutely nothing except reduce resistance to engine knock. IOW, higher octane fuels are not cleaner, are not more powerful, and do not get better mileage. They just make your engine less susceptible to engine knock.

    Now the ML does have knock sensors, so I don't think you can damage the engine by running lower octane fuel. But it will reduce peak engine power under high stress conditions. So if you are comfortable with turning your 215-hp ML into a 180-hp ML, feel free to use regular. But it always seemed like strange economy to pay extra for a high performance engine and feed it fuel that turns it into a low-performance engine. And the V6 ML is not exactly blessed with a surplus of power, so if you drive at high speeds, tow, or have a lead foot off the line, you're likely using most if not all of the power it has.

    C&D had a report about a year ago on using lower octane fuels in cars that require higher octane. Their conclusion: You'll reduce performance by about what you save, approximately 10-15%.

    - Mark
  • I want to borrow my brother-in-law's roof carrier that he used on his old Dodge Mini van. Can anyone direct me to a "Basic Carrier" other than the $286 on from Mercedes for my ML-350.


  • #noname#noname Posts: 58
    I looked at the cheaper alternatives on roof carriers and after driving cross country about 3 times a year (about 3000 miles round-trip each time) for the last 5-6 years, I've seen my share of folks who purchased the cheaper carriers on the side of the road picking up the pieces. More often I've seen carriers being bent by high speed wind which can't be good for them and probably lead to the scenes of the poor folks picking up the pieces.

    I use a Thule rack and cargo carrier (13 cu ft.) and have put this thing through at least 27K miles of use. It has never leaked or failed despite heavy downpours, high wind (80MPH + 30 MPH sustained headwinds across Kansas) and sub-zero cold, and 100+ heat. Cost was something like $400.00 (on sale at REI) for the whole setup. Cheap compared to buying a cheap one and then buying a better one when the cheap one fails.

    One last thought, there are some decent "soft" roof top "bags" that might do what you're looking to do too - might try LL Bean, REI, or Lands End for some ideas here. Here's a link to REI's racks: p;stat=side_18

    They are having a sale on the Thule stuff right now if you prefer the hard case carriers but they also list the Sherpak products which might be more to your liking and these are apparently pretty reliable (although I'd wonder about pliablity in cold weather applications - especially when driving though snow, freezing rain, and the like). These kinds of products were not really available 5 years ago, so I don't know as much about them. You might also want to make sure they don't produce too much wind noise. You might buy one and then pack it up like you might use it and then drive it at various speeds to see what the noise is like as well as how hard it is to load and unload. Nothing more irritating than driving 10 hours with a constant whistle in your ear or finding out it is hard to load/unload : )

    Happy motoring...
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    always follow the owner's manual! your ML is designed to burn premium gas. don't be cheap. you may save few pennies today and need to spend thousands to repair the damage years later.

    both my colleague and i believed high and low octane work the same 'til we tried. i didn't feel anything at the beginning when i used 87. few weeks later, the engine started to make some sort of whisper noise during acceleration. yeap, switched back to 92 right away. thank god that fixed the problem after few tanks of 92. my colleague experienced exactly the same thing.
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