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



  • shelbyt1shelbyt1 Posts: 1
    I'm interested in the 2001 M320 but have heard the usual horror stories about reliability. Can anyone shed any light on this topic? What sort of problems? Serious, or just irritating?
  • dt77dt77 Posts: 232
    hmm...Service A done !yay.
    I acutally took the one side of the brake pads back hehe..pretty cool ...
    One side consisted of 2 pads. I will post pic soon...Each of them also had this metal type plate on them ...after wiping of all that brake dust, i saw a MB star and a b ------ word...
    saw a logo before that and coudn't make out the rest.. br____ ? looks up brembo's site and boom. logos match. hehe. didn't know my ml used brembos ..

  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    I just wonder where you heard this horror stories, I was not aware we had a reliability problem either. I have been a reader in this topic for over a year and you can check for your self, the ML topic has been the most prolific in edmunds that I know off, with thousands of postings there is a long wealth of information available, I would say that 99% percent of the complaints I have read are minor trim and fit related, I have a 99 430ML and in two years I had no problems. To me, I said it many times, an unreliable vehicle is one that has more than average chances of not delivering you from point A to point B, certainly that is not the case with ML, in all this time I only remember one instance of a driver being unable to go, it was due to defective fuel pump, which some of the older ones had problems with and has been corrected.
    Horror stories, I have read in other topics like the Expedition, Jeeps, Navigators, Suburbans, engines replaced, transmissions replaced, brake problems, steering problems, uncurable vibrations in fairly new and low milleage vehicles.

    In fairness to the ML I have to say is a truck that handles like a car, since it has a heavy ladder frame, it definitely has that Mercedes feel with that precisse steering, very capable, and if you plan to tow, it has a deep reduction gear that is very convenient in difficult situations.
  • mlx52mlx52 Posts: 72
    I am the owner of 2001 ML 320. In the beginning I experienced a few minor rattles and squeaks, that the dealer was able to fix without too much trouble. Other than this car has been great and I'm not exaggerating. Before I owned the M-Class I owned a Chrysler Town and Country, which was, as people say "soulless", but the M-Class is a joy to drive. I often find myself taking the longer way to get somewhere, just because I love driving in the car. I never really saw the joy of driving until I bought this car and now Mercedes has won a customer for life, just because of the driving feel and excitement it invokes! As thor8 said the steering feel of the car is like no other and the sophistication of the 4wd system, snow wise, is superior to any other car out there.

  • dt77dt77 Posts: 232
    Hi, does anyone know what other cars have these ?
    As far as my research goes the following have them:

    1. Mercedes CL
    2. Porchse 991 Turbo
    3. VW Passat Sport [optional]

    Anyone know any good resources that would be helpful ? Appreciate it.Thanx.

  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    That seems to be it....the MB CL-class, the Porsche 911 Turbo, and the VW Passat (optional). Bob did mention that his brother's 911 was retrofitted with Bi-Xenon Litronics as well. I'll try to dig up the specs and post it on Photopoint. I thought they were up, but it appears that Photopoint ate up most of my earlier uploads. :-(

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  • Hi,
    I'm the prospective owner of a MC-lass car in Germany. Can anyone tell me whether there is an option to get TV reception via the Command system?
    Thanks, Matthias
  • cdiccdic Posts: 36
    Seems to me that a lot of the reliability issues and questions are being brought up by non-owners or perhaps perspective buyers. Where are they getting their info? I have seen a few posts by people having trouble from day one, but who could be surprised by that? Cars are so complicated these days, and the M-Class is by no means an exception here. Considering the large number of vehicle manufactured, statistically one would expect a percentage of 'lemons'. I am a relatively new owner, but I have been limited to complaining to my dealer about such serious things as brake squeek and slow windows. On the other hand, I do see a high percentage of '98 models on the used market. Perhaps this continues to contribute to whatever bad press we may be suffering. I am more than pleased with my ML. Limited wheel artriculation aside, recent weather conditions here in the northeast have helped me realize the benifits of the traction control system far beyond my expectations. I like it.
  • bob259bob259 Posts: 280
    dt77: If Drew still has it I sent him a whole article on the Porsche Litronic system. My brothers Porsche has it and he loves it. If Drew doesn't still have it I'll find it and re scan it.
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    When I bougth my ML430 I bougth it at face value, meaning I did not go around reserching the vehicle and comparing statistics,etc. A few months later I started reading a few reports in car magazines, I remember reading things like, completely unreliable, terrible quality, is at the bottom of our list, etc. I thought, may, what have I done. As time went by and reading here at Edmunds I started realizing that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, If I started reading those articles before my purchase I probably would not have bougth my ML, I think that was irresponsable journalism, they should have instead reported accurately, what specific is wrong with the vehicle, like mostly trim and fit, instead of giving the impression that is nothing but a piece of junk and also completely worthless off the road. That is the notion that persists to this day.

    I am one of the few that took the tour at the alabama plant, being from an egineering background I quickly understood, the engine and drive train comes from germany, the rest, all of it, has been sub out to U.S manufactures, for instance the body panels are stamped by a company in Ohio if I remember correctly, in their own dies and then shipped to the plant to be assembled, the dash and all the instrumentation is made by Delphi, and then as a complete unit is shiped to the plant and so it goes for every component, but at the assembly line is where things get to me a little fussy, is so highly automated and modular that there is hardly any human intervention, is fast and efficient but I saw very little checking afterwards in other words complete trust in that the component was installed properly, for instance I saw how the complete door panel and window assembly went into the door in seconds, it seemed to me that some checking had to be done to make sure all, is fit and snug and is not the customer the one that hears the the litle squick or rattle on the window, to my eyes, it was to much trust on automation.
  • gpvsgpvs Posts: 214
    I think most of the prospective buyers are reading the Consumer Reports and as far as I remember, CR mentions that ML has some reliability issues. (CR Special Issue for Sport Utility) They're saying that were it not for the continued reliability problems, they would've chosen it as one of their recommended SUV's.
  • tariktarik Posts: 344
    There is an option for TV reception in COMAND systems, but I would think that your German dealer knows more about this issue. Here in the US it most definitely not available for liability reasons. Warum schreibst du nicht einmal an MB's Kundencenter: Folge dort der Länderauswahl (ich glaube den Fernseher im ML gibt es nur in D) und beschreibe deine Anfrage.

    Good luck,

  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    Gpvs, That is a perfect example, "continued reliability problems" I remember that one, I will repond with a question, what do you all understand for an "unreliable vehicle". My understanding is that the vehicle is so undependable that there is a good chance, it will not deliver you from one point to another or somewhere in between it will quit. If that is not the definition, then, what do we call a vehicle that behaves in that way?..... Unruly?

    We all know that the ML's are not spilling their guts on the road in masses, I had vehicles that rattled, things feel off, the dash rotted, windows did not work, the radio burnt out, but the thing cranked every day and never quit on me, I certainly could not call it unreliable, I could call it anything but that.

    I have read other forums, and read things like, at 5000 miles my tranny went out, the dealer installed a new one and now is giving me problems again, someone else will intercede with me too, and another, I had the same problem, etc, How about calling that unreliable, surpringly the magazines are silent in that area, lumping the ML in the bottom of the pile is definitely wrong, I know there are some definite dogs out there that are more deserving, the ML is a technical beauty way ahead of the pack.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    When I went to test drive the MDX, I bumped into a co-worker I had not seen for 8 yrs. He was shopping for a replacement for a minivan and wanted 7 passenger seating. I asked if they had looked at the ML and his wife said their friends had one and it had too many problems. I asked which year it was and it was a 1998, but could not convince them that the 2000 and up were much different. I'm not sure what they ended up getting, but I'm sure it wasn't an ML because they wouldn't even consider it...
  • markml55markml55 Posts: 6
    my turbo has bi-xenon headlights ,this means they use the xenon bulb for both high and low beam, the light is routed via a system of lenses and an electro-mechanical trap door which opens up to let the light out when you pull the stalk, it also has the anti-blindness leveling feature, which I am almost sure my 01 ML55 does not. The turbo lights I was told cost over 5k a pair, they will not fit a non-turbo unless you change the fenders and front end and do extensive rewiring and body work .
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    It does have it. There are two sensors on the axles and motors on the lens capsules. We've been trying to figure out how to retrofit the autolevel system on the m-class list for a while (you can retrofit the Xenon capsules to the ML320 and ML430).
  • dt77dt77 Posts: 232
    I actually have quite an extensive article on the bi-xenons from SAE's magazine. It actually features the one on the Porsche. I'm writing a little paper on this - kinda touching on the advancements of automotive lighting. I might get into LED for tail lights. At this point, I can't seem to find out which car was the first to have bi-xenons? CL or porsche ? ( a reliable source would be nice)

    Mark, regarding the auotleveling, if your ML55 came with xenons from the factory (i'm sure it did), you should have autoleveling on it. It's required by law here in the states.

  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    No, autoleveling is not required in North America, but it is in Europe. That's how manufacturers like Acura/Infiniti/etc. manage to get away with offering HID lights at lower prices/standard equipment versus MB and other German auto manufacturers. MB bundles all of their factory HID Xenon equipped systems with heated headlamp washing systems, as well as autoleveling. This is why the cost is higher...for safety.

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  • markml55markml55 Posts: 6
    on the Porsche if you retrofit the litronic headlights on a 996 or 993 then you lose the autoleveling because the sensors and wiring harness are missing.The bi-xenon has only a single bulb for high and low beam,litronics have a halogen high beam,they are totally different then bi-xenon,the coolest thing about the bi-xenon is the washers,they are like miniature pressure washers and they squirt innocent bystanders! Many people have retrofit xenon
    headlights from 2000 ML55,or from european ML55 and lost the leveling. It looks to me that the 2000 ML55 lights are completly different from the 2001 ML55 lights there is not even the inner space for the integral fog light ,it is a different assembly and I see no motors in it,and I definately have never seen it level itself. So does anyone have proof that 2001 ML55's have leveling ? Thank you
  • thor3thor3 Posts: 120
    None of the ML55's (2000 or 2001)have the inner space for integral fog lights. The units are very different from the rest of the ML line. The adjustment motor is not big... it mounts to the housing assy... It does not stand out but you should be able to identify it. If you are not technically inclined then maybe someone with an ML55 could post a picture for you.
  • tryva1tryva1 Posts: 2
    The most recent Consumer Reports rates the reliabiliy of the ML much worse than average, (even the 2000) and it is not a "recommended" buy. When you look at the specific areas of rating for reliability, the ML gets a full red circle or half red circle (much better than average, and better than average) for all but two areas, and in these two areas, electrical and hardware, the ML is rated average. How CR then rates the ML much worse than average is beyond me....
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    You have to go back several pages in that issue, where CR explains how the various individual categories are weighted, and what constitutes "average." And of course they weigh past years (where there were plenty of half-black/full-black dots) in an attempt to predict trends that may not be fully revealed by more recent data.

    It does seem strange, and not very intuitive, but to be fair, CR applies it pretty uniformly to all vehicles.

    Nevertheless, the trend is definitely improving, even with their data.
  • dleungnycdleungnyc Posts: 41
    Saw this post earlier, why would the diesel engine will develop problems couple years down the road? Thanks in advance.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    The new high efficiency/cleaner engines you can get in Europe need better processed diesel fuel. The fuel we have is crappy. Our great politicians (Feinstein in CA e.g.) are trying to mandate 5mpg better economy for SUVs which will force SUVs to be lighter/weake/smaller. The simple solution would be to mandate better diesel sooner so we can bring the Euro engines over, but that's too easy a solution for them to approve ;-)

    At any rate, the US is supposed to get better diesel fuel by 2009/2010. Most US car makers don't have a decent diesel engine.
  • A quick note!

    This forum is very important...

    The reason, the owners will always tell the truth! When I was researching for my Ml this area allowed me to walk in to the show room and know the vehicle better than the sales person in two our of three dealers.

    The third dealer is the one I purchased my Y2K ML 320.

    Stabled in Central Florida, our Ml has over 20K miles and has worked with out fault.

    My chief complaint is that MB should not have tried to get in to the cell phone business and should have made a unit that many cell phones could have adapted to for the hands free system to work.

    If your looking to by a ML - review this board often and ask questions.

  • lqa1273lqa1273 Posts: 3
    I am researching my next car purchase and was very shocked to find that the ML320 does not have Child safety locks to keep kids from opening to door while the car is in motion.

    Anyone know why they left this feature out?
    A salesman I spoke with said NO MB has child locks? Is this true? He also said that the door handles need more pressure to open then a child can apply(This seem like a complete lie to me).

    Can someone that has children shed some light on this. This COULD literally leave the ML off my shopping list.
  • dleungnycdleungnyc Posts: 41
    I was wondering about that, because I have seen couple late model diesel power E class around NYC lately. And if the M class comes in a diesel model, that would be my first choice over the gas powered one.
  • gpvsgpvs Posts: 214
    I think some folks have retrofitted their ML's with the child door locks. I believe it was discussed here before, maybe some folks have a better idea whether it's part of the newer models or maybe MB will install them for free. I have a 00 ml and it does not have the child door locks. I don't believe the door handles require more pressure to open.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    Old diesels work fine (e.g., the old MB diesels like the 300D and the VW TDI engines). However, the new common rail (CDI in MB speak) will develop leaky cylinders in a few years from our fuel. FWIW, I would also have gotten the 270CDI; from what Euro owners have said, the copious torque moves the ML like it was a toy ;-)

    The locks are retrofittable for roughly $150 in parts and $150 in labor. What's puzzling is that they are standard equipment in Australia...just not in the US. MB also has a fire extinguisher option in Euro countries, but not here.
  • dleungnycdleungnyc Posts: 41
    Heh, if the 270CDI pulls so well, can't imagine what a 400CDI with twin turbo will be like. Hmm, maybe I should move to Europe.
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