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



  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Side curtain airbags came out with the 2002 model. That year brought many changes (supposedly over 1,100 components were different). There was a mild facelift as well.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    The lower-profile and larger tires on the 430/500 do give up a little ride quality and off-road capabilities in return for crisper pavement handling. I think it all depends on whether you are interested in an SUV to drive aggressively on pavement or are more interested in utility out of the vehicle.

    My comment about the bigger wheels of the 430 not necessarily being desirable is based on John Lamm's M-Class book that states: "... the 255-65-16 tires are probably a bit larger than Mercedes' engineers woudl prefer. In Europe the M-Class has 225/75-16s, but Americans like bigger tires on their SUVs."

    Additional, Consumer Reports has stated in their reviews, "The V8-powered ML500 accelerates faster but rides less comfortably and is thirstier for premium fuel." They further conclude, "The Mercedes ML430 V8 is a very capable and well-rounded vehicle. Handling is secure, braking is good, and the interior is bigger than it appears. But we actually prefer the six-cylinder ML320, which handles better, offers more comfort, and costs about $7,000 less."

    If you want/need more power than the V6 provides, then certainly the 430/500 is the vehicle of choice. But don't fall into the trap of always thinking bigger is universally better.

    - Mark
  • smd5smd5 Posts: 18
    All - Your feedback has been awesome! The 320 sounds like a better bet for me. Can I get that book by John Lamm at any bookstore? Now all I have to do is find the right one and move my wife's E Class....

  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    It's available through both and B&N sometimes carry it. 963955/sr=8-8/ref=sr_8_8/104-2179217-4307144?v=glance&n=50784- 6

    If this doesn't work, but try a search by author for "John Lamm".

    The book is wonderful book on how the M-Class was developed, but it is highly pro-ML - it reads like a printed infomercial - it reminds me of the "Test Drives" that appear on the Speed Channel. If they haven't updated it, it is highly out of date as well as it appeared when the car first shipped and the version doesn't cover any of the changes or developments post the original 98/99 models. IOW, it's an interesting book but neither objective nor comprehensive. Great photography.

    - Mark
  • My 2004 ML350 didn't come with a navigation. I am trying to buy one from a dealer. From what I read so far, ML350's are all pre-wired and need ONLY one dvd navigation unit. It seems like it will only take a few min. to install. But not sure how much dealer would charge.

    Has anyone done this to newer ML350?

    Do you know the part # for the dvd unit?

    Do you think I can install it?
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    The price should be around $1k for a new DVD NAV drive. It's cheaper on eBay. Yes, the new MLs are prewired. You don't have to buy extra components.

    To install, you will need to buy a set of "keys" to pull out the MCS. You can buy them from eBay or the dealer. A pair of keys should be around $10-15. The install is very easy. Get your radio code handy, cuz you will need to disconnect the MCS power source. Once you pull out the MCS, open up the cover. There are 4 screws holding the top cover. Pop in the DVD drive, connect the cable, and push the MCS back to the slot. That's all.

    On the old MLs, it's necessary to version code the MCS to make it "talk". I was told that it's not necessary for new MLs. I'm not 100% sure on this. You may want to check with the dealer. Even without the version code, your NAV will still work. The only thing you miss is the voice guidence.
  • My 99 ML320 is having Power steering fluid leak from rack and pinoin system. I got an estimate for about $2000 for parts and labor. Can any one comment about this problem and cost? I know it is an old ML (if you call five years is old) but I really didn't expect this kind of problem from MB in such a short time frame. Thanks for the feedback.
  • OK. Thanks! I am gonna self-install this sucker(once I buy an unit). Anyone knows where to buy DVD-ROM, the map disc at a low cost?

    Thanks everyone!
  • Anyone seen this one? The Bose system in my 2000 ML55, "locks" up - stays on the same station - AM 680, won't turn off, won't adjust volume, won't change channel, won't switch to NAVI, TAPE, etc. The only way to fix is to pull fuse (its still good, not blown), restart car and enter radio code.

    Also, the BOSE system will just go completely off while in use, with the solution , again, pull the fuse (still a good fuse), re-start engine, re-enter security code for radio. A real pain. It seems to happen when I use the cruise control , but I cannot re-create the problem by trying to re-create it, it just happens randomly.

    The dealer, of course, typed out two sheets of the mechanics opinion, trying to convince me it was my problem, and the system was fine. Its happening with some frequency

  • bhana1bhana1 Posts: 12
    The TMV for 03 ML 500 with or without options is close to the invoice ( approx $200 more the the invoice). Does anyone know if this is before the rebates or after the rebates. Thanks in advance.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Are you talking about the $1K check from MB toward any MB car that was sent to MB owners around mid-year? If so, it's on top whatever bargain you can strike with your dealer--it's as good as cash toward your new ML500.
  • bhana1,

    Theoretically, if you can get the TMV price, plus the $2,000 MB marketing support, plus your $1,000 certificate, and use the 2.9% financing, you have yourself one hell of a deal.

    However, most 03 models are gone, so dealers may not be so motivated to make such a deal. I got $1,000 below invoice, plus my $1,000 certificate, plus the 2.9% financing. Maybe I could have done better...?
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    Have you check the clamp? There was a recall on MLs to replace the power steering clamp.
  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    I plan to replace my 1999 ML320 next year. I had more or less decided on the Toyota Landcruiser. That's until I had a look at the 2004 Dodge Durango.

    Once you get past the extremely aggressive front styling, I have just fallen in love with this truck. It looks like they have carried over some parts from the M class bin including the 5 speed auto, all wheel drive, and 4 Wheel ETS.

    To be honest this is the first time EVER I have considered a Dodge/Chrysler vehicle. I hated these brands, due to their poor quality.

    This what I like about the 2004 Durango.

    1. Looks (not so much the front, but side and rear).
    2. Good ground clearance.
    3. Full time AWD including center diff lock.
    4. Available side curtain air bags.
    5. Five speed auto.
    6. Towing capacity of about 7500 with the 4.7L V8
    8 7 Pass seating.
    9 Good cargo volume.
    10. Plenty of space inside.
    11. Powertrain Warranty 7 Year/ 100K miles including free towing within this period.
    12. All this for about 30 Grand.

    I would recomend having a look at this truck if you are planning to buy an SUV.
  • Thank you, kiiwii for your input. The recall service on clamp has been done. Unfortunately, the leak did come from rack and pinoin system. I read all the messages on the other message board. Now, I am very worried about the quality of ML model. There seems to be so many problems with MB. All my other cars are Japanese. I never had fear of spending $2000 here or $10,000 there on car repairement. Now, I do have this worry for MB. There is no recall on rack and pinoin system, right? Is $2K reasonable to replace that unit? Big thanks. I hope I did not discourage all you MB owners. I will definitely go back to Japanese next time.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    On the steering system repair, I'd shop around a little and get a 2nd opinion. You may be looking at a very conservative shop that simply wants to bolt in a completely new system. Other shops may be more creative in finding a cheaper solution.

    On whether to keep the truck, repairs like this do give one pause, but once a vehicle gets 5 or so years old, stuff like this can happen, no matter what the brand. It does seem to happen more with MB and the ML, but a Japanese SUV is no guarantee that five years down the road you won't be looking at a new transmission or blown a head gasket. Stuff happens. Spending a grand or two every few years on a major repair is part of the pleasure of owning an older car; it's still a lot cheaper than $750/month for a car payment.

    If you still like the car and it is otherwise in good shape, I'd fix it and soldier on, hoping for the best. But if you like a different car and/or want to return to the safety net of a warranty, I'd sell. IOW, make this repair cost part of the overall decision whether to change, but not the only reason.

    - Mark
  • Hello all:

    We have a '00 ML430 that is coming up on the end of the lease (thank goodness). We have had the vehicle since 2/00 and we will be turning it in with about 15,000 miles less than the allocated 15,000 mi/yr we so gladly paid for :(

    My question: Besides a good bath and vacuuming, any suggestions to avoid trouble when we turn it in? I plan on taking pictures of it at the very least. New tires went on last year, so it still has good rubber. It has had regular service by the leasing dealer, the last being at 49,600 last week.

    I've never leased before and have heard horror stories. Mercedes is holding a MSD of $7000 which I have every intention of getting back without deductions for nonsense.

    My thanks as always to those who care to reply.

  • I received a call last night from "Opinion Research Cpn " that asked a variety of questions about new technology and/or crossover vehicles, primarily what my interest would be in the new M-B crossover (GST?) in the 50-60k range. I told her none, based on the poor reliability and quality in my 2k ML 430, which I no longer have. (I don't mean this to be a flame).

    I guess M-B wants to gage the market before introducing their crossover. She also wanted to know what I had replaced the 430 with (Lexus) and why. later, ldf
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Try looking around Lease Questions - Ask Here. There's probably some older posts you can find with the Search This Discussion box.

    Steve, Host
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    About the only vehicles with worse repair records than MBs are going to be Dodges and Chryslers. I've known so many people with Dodges/Chrysler stranded on the roadside stories that I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole.

    All the things you like about the 2004 Durango can be had with some other SUV, and without the repair nightmares.
  • cticctic Posts: 291
    Take you ML to another dealer. They should just replace the whole unit.

    My dealer has been very good with fixes. My Bose unit CD control had problems with the go back switch. I thought they were just going to oil it or something, but they replaced the whole head unit. With a problem as serious as yours, they definitely should replace it, especially if you can demonstrate it in front of them.
  • I raised so much hell with Mb, they sent me a 3K check in 2000 for all the problems with my ML320. Ive 51k on it. The local dealer will not sell me another car, but will sell my wife
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    Hello Fourrunner, $2K seems to be quite a lot. What year is your ML? If I were you, I would check the blue book value of the car first. MLs depreciate quite fast. This is a good place to start thinking if you want to fix the steering or now. I usually take my cars to the dealer for repairs, but situations like this, you may want to consider checking with another MB dealer just to make sure it's necessary to spend $2K. Or, you can go to a local trustworthy private MB specialist. They may give you a better price than the dealer for the same fix. ...just make sure that they give you a written warranty after the fix. Hope it will turn out okay for you. Good luck.
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    There is one batch of the MLs have problems with MCS. I don't know the specific made period. The problem was caused by the MCS software. There was no recall. By checking the manufacture date, your dealer should be able to determine if the MCS has the defective software. The only fix that I have heard is replacing the entire unit.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    ..I thought there had been a recall on this? A clamp that goes lose or something? If related to that, they should fix it for free.
  • I installed a navigation to my 2 wk old 2004 ML350. The installation took less than 10 mins. I've never opened up MB cars before. I had to buy a pair of radio removal tools($7). Yes, everything was pre-wired. I had to hook up two plugs. In order to have the voice working, I have to have the navigation version coded by a dealer. I inserted a DVD-ROM, and it was start working flawlessly. I was impressed by the speed and the accurancy.

    2004 ML350 purchased on 10/31/2003 $2.4K below invoice.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Allnation, when you say "2.4K below invoice", do you mean below MSRP?

    Also, how much did the nav system cost? Was is a MB unit or an after market unit?

    Thanks, Mark156
    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
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Edmunds lists $1,000 and $2,000 incentives on an ML350. Dunno if they are in combination. No one should be paying above invoice; the supply is good, demand is flattened, and incentives exist. Been that way for a while.

    Even has a 2004 price $600 below invoice (in New York), and I bet one can beat that pretty easily.
  • I am thinking about buying a 2004 ML350, but after reading all the
    issues here on this site, I starting to have my dobuts about spending $40K and then to suffer through basic car problems. It seems the problems are more with the options then the car itself.

    Would any one of you still recommend the vehicle or would you buy something else?
  • We, personally, have enjoyed our '00 ML320. Not
    perfect, but well balanced for economy, utility, safety, off road, and on-road drive-ability.

    Some owners have had genuine horror stories with their ML, their dealer, MB USA, or all three. I also think that some owners have higher-than-practical expectations of an ML....
    At $40,000, an ML has the drive train of a $50,000 E320, PLUS all wheel drive. I wasn't expecting fit and finish as good as an E or S Class car at this bargain price.

    I suggest you get the latest Consumer Reports on
    cars (or any other reliable source) and see what they say. I know I looked just recently and saw that the ML was excellent in the drive train and
    a little weaker on the periphery - but not bad in
    anything. Consumer Reports is a more reliable
    way to gauge how ML's or any car does across many
    owners. Everything made falls into a bell curve
    and this means that some things are going to do
    poorly - but those poor experiences aren't a good predictor of what your experiences will be.

    Based on the good ratings in CU, I'd say if there's a problem it is with dealers and MB USA
    who have been slow to respond to customer concerns.
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