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



  • 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: 10,059
    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 Posts: 52,683
    '05 pricing info is up for the ML350 and ML 500. No updated editorial content... yet.


    Steve, Host
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    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.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    About 3 days back I replaced my stock tires (Dunlop SP5000 Sport) after 24k miles with the Michelin Cross Terrain SUV tires on my 2002 ML500. These are pretty expensive tires in the 275/55R17 stock size - they cost me $850.00 for a set of 4 tires (all inclusive). This is the tire for the M-Class. The ride has improved dramatically on the freeway at 60+ mph. The in-town ride (20-45 mph) is also much improved over the Dunlops but still could be better. I guess since the ML has a stiff suspension this is the best the tire can do. The stability of the vehicle, vibrations on freeway, road noise etc have much improved. I would recommend this in a heart beat.

    On a different note - took part in the C-Spot Drive Party held in Sacramento, CA on Sun 13th Jun. Drove 125 miles each way from San Jose, CA for the event. Had a blast - went around a race track in a C32AMG with a professional driver at the wheels. Man - do they go faassst. They were going 100+ mph and slamming on the brakes on turns - it was a lot of fun. Later went around driving C-Class sedans in a Slalom course. That was fun too. Happy Motoring !!

  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    Pardon my ignorance but what is an Adaptive Transmission ? I keep reading a lot about the Driver Adaptive Transmission in the ML's. How is it different than any other Automatic Transmission ? Is this the same as the ability to TouchShift gears up and down ? Can someone please explain ?

  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I don't know the gory details, but an adaptive transmission is one that adapts to how the car is being driven. For example, if the car tends to be driven gently, then it will shift earlier and shift more gently that it would if the car tends to be driven aggressively. The transmission has a "memory" and "learns" over time how the car is being driven.

    Most of the 5-speed autos shipping on cars these days are adaptive. It helps the car mfgs improve mileage and lower emissions. However, many dislike it because it adds another layer of computer control between the driver and the car that dulls responsiveness and makes the car's behaviour in any situation less predictable. Having said this, the MB automatics are some of the best at being reasonably responsive, much better than most Japanese cars IMHO.

    It has noting to do with Touchshift which is simply a way to manually select gears in an automatic tranmission.

    Hope this helps,

    - Mark
  • jstylejstyle Posts: 129
    Here it is testing. I don't know but it looks more Acura like... 8&n=158
  • annvicannvic Posts: 2
    Hello - Anyone own a 2001 ML 430? Any problems with it? We love ours, except for little glitches here and there such as the CD skipping, the ETS/ABS light came on last week, BOSE speakers are scratchy...anyone with ML problems? Please post...
  • annvicannvic Posts: 2
    Thank you for taking the time to post your info about the ML part replacements. We alsohad similar things happen such as the armrest...
  • Bummer - it appears they put the window switches on the door handle. I rather like them being in the center as I can steer and play with the transmission and adjust windows without having to switch hands. Not to mention the space issue of having switches where my knee usually is. But perhaps it will be OK. The dash looks a little on the plastic side - at least what I can see here. Anyone have any better pictures of the inside?

    I'm happy to see the diesel coming back to America - I've ridden in diesel powered MLs in Europe and I find them most agreeable. Plenty of power and a little cheaper to feed.
  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    For the last month or so I am frequently getting a Metal Grinding Noise when turning the Steering Wheel in either direction. This noise does not come always but is there sometimes. Haven't got the time to take it to the dealership - will do so after the 4th July weekend. Any ideas - is it the Steering Column or the Front Wheel Bearings or something ? Thanks for your help.

  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Just a quick note to those who have high-mileage MLs to be sure to check the integrity of your catalytic convertors prior to the 8-yr/80K emissions warranty expiration.

    At 61K, my 2000 ML320 developed a loud exhaust leak, diagnosed by my local garage as a failing weld on the driver's side cat. The MB dealer agreed and said the passenger side cat was failing also. Thankfully, they replaced both under the emissions warranty, one of the few things covered by it.

    If that truck had been out of warranty, the total cost would have exceeded $3K!

    - Mark
  • ghrothe3ghrothe3 Posts: 2
    Having just purchased an ’05 ML350 I was not impressed with the plain steel exhaust pipe.
    I have seen various aftermarket solutions to this ugliness costing as much as $120.00.

    My solution costs about $8 from Advanced (Discount) Auto Parts. It’s about 5” long, 2” in diameter (actually 2”X3.25” Oval), Chrome plated Stainless Steel, distributed by 3A Racing. I purchased their model number 62-1106 because that was the only carried by my local parts store. I have since gone to their website and discovered that they offer eight different tips.

    Installation Note: I removed the internal clamp with two screws that is supposed to secure the tip to your exhaust pipe. Then I simply drove the tip onto the exhaust pine with a scrap piece of wood and a hammer. The “springiness” of the oval is still holding after 500 miles. If it falls off I’ll buy another for $8 OR go shopping at the website above to choose a different tip.

    It’s amazing how something so simple as an exhaust tip can dress your truck!

  • tiger2dolltiger2doll Posts: 39
    Hi All,

    Last week got the vehicle back from the dealer. They kept it for 3 days to fix multiple issues. The car has 25k miles. Here's the list of items addressed :

    1) Intermittent Metal Grinding Noise when turning Steering Wheel - Dealer could not find any such problem. Claims to have inspected the Steering mechanism inside out. Asked me to bring back the car if noise comes back. I think its the Front Wheel or Drive Shaft Bearings. The noise comes (sometimes) when making full turns at low speeds like in a parking lot, driveway, etc. Can someone please tell me if its the bearings or something else ?

    2) Sticky Gas Pedal - Replaced the whole Gas Pedal assembly. Pedal feels much smoother now.

    3) Sunroof Rattles when driving with roof half open - The sunroof tray had a loose bolt. Tightened all tray bolts. No rattle anymore.

    4) Rattle from the back seat area - The back seat had a loose rivet. They replaced the rivet. No rattle anymore.

    5) Rough Ride with brand new Michelin Cross Terrain SUV Tires - Re balanced all 4 tires. Cost to me $100.00. Much better ride now - the tires cost me $900.00

    6) Engine Vibrates when in Park - Found Bad Ignition coils and spark plugs for Cylinder 2 & 5. Replaced plugs and coils for cyl 2 & 5. Still feel some vibration - is it the Harmonic Balancer or the MAF Sensor etc ? Please advise.

    7) Alarm goes off for no reason - Bad Glass Breakage Sensor causing alarm to go off. Replaced the sensor. Alarm hasn't gone off yet !!

    8) Transmission Hesitation sometimes - Updated the ECM software to latest version. No more hesitation.

    9) Dealer found acid leaking from Battery - Replaced Battery.

    10) Bose Radio switches from Stereo to Mono at random when playing FM - They found the antenna to be loose. Tightened the antenna - so far so good.

    Upgraded the NAV CD's to the latest version released in May 2004. Cost of all 10 CD's - $280.00. The new NAV CD's have a Firm ware Upgrade which has better NAV coverage. I have owned this vehicle for 14 mths with 18k miles driven (bought it used in May 03 with 7k miles). I have visited the dealer 10 times in the last year alone. Love the power and handling when there are no issues. Don't know what to do - keep it or sell it.

  • mercaramercara Posts: 291

    I've been participating on this forum for a couple of years now. I have noticed that some people are very happy with their cars and some people such as yourself have been unlucky to get the more badly built cars.

    My 1999 ML320 which has about 65K miles on it has been mostly trouble free. I have had the usual M-Class problems like power-window switch and shift control module replacement. I want to get a Toyota Landcruiser, but have not had a good reason to sell my ML and take the hit on the depreciation. It has been very reliable all these years.

    However, if I had the kind of problems you have been having, I would definitely sell it. Remember the longer you keep it, the more it depreciates and you take a bigger hit when you sell it. If you have a problem car, DO NOT KEEP IT beyond the warranty period, unless you own shares in Diamler Chrysler or their dealers.

    I have decided that when I have the first major problem with my 99ML 320, it will be Landcruiser time .
    The only gripe I have with Mercedes is their dealer network. Terrible dealers.. Arrogant to boot. They haven't realized that Lexus is the top selling luxury brand in North America.
  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    I've had my ML500 for 32 months, 29,200 miles, and it has been relatively trouble free. If I remember correctly, I had to have a windshield washer box replaced (defective from supplier), the bi-xenons adjusted downward, a cup holder replace in the back, a light bulb behind the speedometer replaced, an arm rest cover on the console (started to ripple) and an adjustment on the gas peddle (sticky) and finally, the dashboard at the windshield squeaked. I find those to be trivial annoyances.

    My ML is very powerful, strong air conditioning, excellent navigational system and my tires are wearing perfectly; looks like I could go to 40,000 pretty easy. The all wheel drive with traction control has gotten me though some rough icy conditions.

    Just my .02 worth, 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
  • Who here has the highest mileage on their ML320?
  • Hi All, just join this, and can't wait to post a message. I have a 2000 ML320 purchased in July 2003 with start mark warranty. Love the ride, however, had to visit dealer 5 times less than a year. 3 times now are the same problem, lock and elect system defective. I have contact a lemmon law att and will let them take a look if this SUV is a lemmon. Three times in a row the same problem came back. Anybody has a good advice or maybe having the same problem?

    Thanks a lot,

  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    67000 on my 1999 ML320.

    Few minor issues. Never been stranded or towed in 6 years.
  • brown38brown38 Posts: 7

    You appear to be very knowledgeable about the ML430. I have a 2000 ML430 and I bought it used through a friend who delivered it to me with 57000 miles. The shift delay on the trans seems to last a long time in the morning. I know that this is a built in feature to heat up the cats, but I have to wait until full temperature is reached even in the SC summer time with overnight temps in the 80's? The book says road speed should override this feature but nothing makes it shift other than 6000 rpm and 200 degrees on the temperature gage..... about a 10 minute ride at 55 mph? Is yours this lazy?????? Once it shifts out then it is perfect all day long???? The dealer says it is normal.
  • Just took the '03 ML350 in for a list of things to take care of:

    1) Transmission hesitation on downshifts (going around corners, etc.)

    2) Radio/CD/Tape going to high volume then dropping to nearly nill (only happened a few times over the past couple of months)

    3) Throttle cable sticking a bit

    4) Low Range light / ETS light staying on a couple of times recently

    Item 1 has been an issue since day 1. The valve body has been replaced once before and it was replaced again yesterday but this time things are working as expected! So, finally, after 24K miles it is running like I always thought it should : ) (And like every loaner ML I've driven) The hesitation was not much - say 0.5 second, but when going around a corner it would pretty much coast until it decided I really wanted to accelerate to merge with traffic.

    For Item 2 they did some kind of bypass to the Teleaid system which required the removal of the passenger seat to get to the wiring harness they needed to work with. Apparently the radio unit told them it had caused errors and the fix is know to MB - at least for my issue. Thought I'd mention it here for those with this issue.

    For Item 3 - did a clean and re-install and it seems better now.

    For Item 4 - found fault codes in the computer and they replaced the servo that puts the tranny in low range.

    So, all in all, I have things where I want them. Would have liked to have Item 1 fixed 22K miles ago - but I guess I'll take what I can get. The other items only occurred in the last 3-4 months so we'll see if the fixes are "done."

    This is really only the third visit to the MB dealer for non-scheduled service over the last 18 months - but still 3 more times than my Dodge Minivan required...
  • My ML350 will do this - but only for a few miles of driving. I notice it leaving the neighborhood - but when I get to the next traffic light (about 3 miles away at 50 mph) I don't. So this sounds - to me - excessive. But I'd suspect the tranny to be a bit different for the 500.

    Another thought... Do you notice this hesitation when slowing down and then speeding up (like going around a curve) no matter the temperature/length of time driving? If so, you might have the local MB shop reset your thresholds in the module that controls the tranny. Perhaps it has adapted to your friend's way of driving and it needs to learn from a new master : )
  • brown38brown38 Posts: 7
    Thanks for your response. It seems perfectly normal after the warm up period with no other issues. I am a mechanical engineer with years experience working on older vehicles, so maybe I am over reacting to this. I don't trust my local dealer after they tried to replace the rack and pinion when all I needed was to tighten the metal line, so I think I will take it else where for a second opinion. But after months of driving, the temperature seems to be the only variable.
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