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



  • While on vacation in Orlando, FL, I decided to drive to Tuscalossa and take the Mclass factory tour. It was worth the drive, the tour is 1 1/2 hours long, you get to see a Mclass built from beginning to end. They more so put it together versus building it since the parts come preassembled. For example the whole dash is sent to the factory presassembled minus the radio and steering wheel. They place and secure the whole dash in less than 35 seconds. From what I seen the headlights should fit pre 02 models. The new wheels look okay in real-life. The ml500 has chrome on the rear hatch, on the door handles, and has colored wheel caps, I didn't see chrome on the grill. Interesting facts: they build atleast 300 Mclass vehicles aday, the paint is water-based, the frame and the body is mounted and secured in about 15 seconds and must fit perfectly....
  • cavman2xcavman2x Posts: 26
    I have a silver 01 ML320 with 6500 mi(6 mos). There are alot (10+) of paint "nicks" all over the car. They are ONLY on the steel parts (not bumpers,mirrors)These are obviously being caused by pebbles on the roads.They are all around the size of a pencil point. The paint is gone right down to the primer-base. I have never taken this vehicle offroad and is driven mostly around town (Northern NJ)I have owned 4 new vehicles in the past 6 years and have never seen anything like this. It is almost like the paint isn't bonded well with the primer. I just came back from Myrtle Beach and there were 3 more with one being at the rear edge of a door handle well. I know this might sound petty to some but I have never experienced anything like this and was wondering if anyone else has the same problem. I am afraid what it will look like in 2 years.TIA G PS The vehicle drove great, forgot I was in an SUV.
  • While washing my ML430 I noticed 2 paint 'nicks' on the hood :( and can only assume that it came from pebbles or small rocks. They're about the size of a pencil point or just a bit bigger and I can see down to the metal! Pretty scary!!!
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    I have found that the hood deflector works very well in keeping stone chips on the hood. In 22+ months of ownership, there are zero paint chips on my ML's hood, knock on wood. The deflector also seems to do a good job at deflecting bugs and snow off the windshield. These days, the environmentally friendly water based paint that manufacturers are using are not as tough as the previous lead (?) based paint. As such, they are more prone to chips. Those invisible bras made of 3M Scotchcal material are also supposed to be quite good at preventing paint chips.


  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Thanks for your trip and factory report. Most interesting. Were you allowed to take any pictures inside the factory?

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  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    The ML's MCS unit is made by Alpine, as is the navigation system. All MLs from '00 onwards have the MCS. Other manufacturers, such as Honda, also use Alpine. The ML's system, however, is not DVD-based.
  • Nope, no photography allowed in the factory, on another note. They were selling the Mclass book for $2.50 (originally around $29.00) and I picked up an all metal ML55 model for $7.00 bucks (originally $38.00)...
  • gustavmgustavm Posts: 43
    <<The new does not offer a view to the new ML directly from the front page. However if you copy this url it will get you to it. Check out the "new for 02" section and the features tab.>>


    Thank you very much for this great link. I had been checking the site very often, anxiously and impatiently awaiting new information on the M-Class.

    -- Gustav
  • I just put on 4,000 miles on my ML320. I too had the final choices down to the MDX and the ML. The list I made came down to safety, third row seating, insurance cost and service departments. Safety: MB hands down. 3rd row: I believe the 3rd row seats in the MDX are completely inferior to the MB and are not to be used for a child above 40 lbs. Insurance: I save approx. $200 a year with the MB. My husband purchased a E430 earlier this year and the dealership/service department is top notch. I thought the Acura dealer was okay and no experience with the service department. The long wait and no dealing on price did not help with the choice. But if you check around to other dealers in other states, sometimes they get a vechicle that the person has changed their mind and they will deal (a little). I got $2400 off sticker with my ML320 . Black Opal, Metallic, Java Leather, M2, M1, M7, Bose sound system, sunroof, heated front seats. (MB dealer also hired my 15 year old son to wash cars on Saturdays) I understand the free car washes on Saturday here in Omaha are coming back due to popular demand.

    I never had a problem with the ML so far and love driving it. I went from a Nissan Quest Mini Van (liked it), but I really LOVE this SUV. Not too big, not too small and a lot of fun to drive.
    Good luck in your decision and I hope I helped.
  • johnnnycjohnnnyc Posts: 166
    I also considered the MDX's third row seating to be somewhat flimsy. As far as safety's concerned, I'd feel more comfortable in an MB than an MDX, but maybe that's just me.

    Seems like no one here bought the extended warranty though - is that confidence on the MB reliability, the fact that people change cars more often than the warranty cycle, or am I just a big worrywart wasting money on something that's more expensive than it's worth?

    I'd like to say I plan on keeping this vehicle 10 years - but I wonder if it's worthwhile to keep *ANY* vehicle that long anymore. Now, I'd have to convince my wife otherwise. She's all for keeping any car for the life of the vehicle.
  • I thought long and hard about the extended warranty. It came down to this...If, in 4/5 years I plan on trading my ML in for a different MB, the extended warranty I purchased could not be carried over to the new vehicle. I would have paid all that did seem to me to be a lot of $$$. If plan on keeping it for a long time, then I would do it. In 4/5 years I will have only 1 child left at home and will not need all the seats and will be heading into my mid-life crisis and will be looking at some hot sporty car!!! Ha Ha!!

    Also, other ML extras: Must have the floor mats, cargo net and car washing kit.
  • poxpox Posts: 11

    I was on vacation for a few days so I could not reply to your message last week. The name of the sales rep who worked with me at Smythe European in San Jose CA was Mike LeGear. He was great and I heartily recommend him.

    I forgot to mention in my earlier posting that when I was shopping for an ML, I also checked out Autobahn Motors in Belmont CA. They are much closer to where I live and so I went there first. But after three very frustrating visits there, I came to the conclusion that they did not care about customer satisfaction. The last time I went there, I had an appointment with one of the sales reps. Unfortunately, the sales rep was not at work and no one at Autobahn seemed to care (not even when I showed them a copy of the E-Mail that I had exchanged with the sales rep). I never heard back from the sales rep, so I decided to take my business elsewhere. Maybe they had a lot of business from the dot.commers at that time and figured that they could afford to be arrogant!

  • I thought long and hard about the extended warranty. It came down to this...If, in 4/5 years I plan on trading my ML in for a different MB, the extended warranty I purchased could not be carried over to the new vehicle. I would have paid all that did seem to me to be a lot of $$$. If plan on keeping it for a long time, then I would do it. In 4/5 years I will have only 1 child left at home and will not need all the seats and will be heading into my mid-life crisis and will be looking at some hot sporty car!!! Ha Ha!!

    Also, other ML extras: Must have the floor mats, cargo net and car washing kit.
  • suvlvrsuvlvr Posts: 7
    Great to hear from you pox, hope you had a good few days off. After getting a lot of heads up for the good folks on this board, I am getting ready to DO IT in the week after the Labor Day Weekend. Will go down the list I compiled (now with your entry added) and ask those dealers for one 'no negotiation' quote on the model and options I want and go from there. I am soooooo excited... Thanks again everyone for all the help.
  • Well after a week of waiting for a delivery date I got the call this morning. Unfortunately its a long wait. We are to pick up our 2002 ML320 on Mon 10/29/01 at the factory. Its better than waiting until the end of November which is when we were originally schedule to go.

    We ordered:
    Brilliant Silver/Ash
    Heated seats
    $42,389 Total
  • poxpox Posts: 11

    Do let us know when you have purchased your ML. I am especially curious to find out whether you were able to get a really good deal down in the Los Angeles area (as recommended in an earlier post). I know that it was impossible to get any kind of a deal a couple of years ago in the SF Bay area. But perhaps the slowing economy has changed things now.

    Good luck.

  • lamkenlamken Posts: 19
    If one is planning to keep the truck I would definitely buy the extended warranty. I just recently have my front ball joints, shocks and transfer case all replaced under extended warranty. I have ~54k miles on the truck. It would have cost me a bundle.
  • ml430s40ml430s40 Posts: 14
    I purchased the extended MB warranty during my purchase at the end of May. I bought it thinking I might keep the ML for more that 4 years and it is transferrable. I have had problems with my other cars/truck in the past and it has definitely paid for itself.

    My only regret is I could have waited up to one year to purchase it. I found this out on the MBUSA site. It is much better for you to make interest on the money then them.

    I paid 2550.00 for the premium warranty which extends it 4 additional years or 100K miles, which ever comes first. The transferrable clause also extends to the dealer/new owner during a trade in.

    If I do sell/trade the ML prior to the end, I would pro-rate the original cost of the extended warranty into the sell/trade-in price. If I were looking for a used ML (older that 4 years), I would definitely like to have warranty coverage.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    This was posted in the MB C-class discussion topic:
    wmsbnz "Mercedes-Benz C-class - Year 2000 and earlier" Aug 27, 2001 9:54am

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  • ml430s40ml430s40 Posts: 14
    Good post Drew! Many good post Drew!
    Confirms my recent understanding in that you have 12 months to purchase the warranty, you do not have to purchase the extended warranty from the original dealer, and that they do markup the price for their own profits. The contract does state you have 60 days to cancel for a full refund but mine is past. Hopefully others will read these post and make better decisions for themselves.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Yeah, my understanding is that the MBUSA extended warranty can be purchased within the first year of ownership only. The MB Canada extended warranty, however, can be purchased as long as the vehicle is within the new car warranty period of 4 years...there is something else to that though. MB Canada does allow you to purchase the extended warranty after the new car warranty is over, but they will have to inspect your vehicle before they approve this. If the vehicle is still within the new car warranty period, then an inspection is not necessary.

    I actually only found out of this right around the time my ML was a year old, or else I would've bought the extended warranty then :-)

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  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Is the extended warranty transferrable fully, in both the U.S. or Canada, or is it only transferrable to a private individual and not a reseller?

    E.g. the Acura extended warranty is only transferrable to private individuals, meaning if you sell the vehicle to an individual you can transfer it. But if a dealer is in between, it isn't transferrable. Rather artificial constraint but maybe they don't trust used car dealers.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Good question and I have no idea. I'll see if I can find out regarding the Canadian warranty, but perhaps someone else here could comment on the US warranty being transferable or not?
  • scott902scott902 Posts: 46
    Drew, I agree, since I installed the hood deflector, no more chips. However, if you get passed on the opposite side by a truck and it drops stones, or pebbles, you will get it that way or if from the side, and when your slowing down , any time the front wind is not with you but , I guess against you.

    Nothing is fool proof. But this device is certaintly a help in prevention.
  • johnnnycjohnnnyc Posts: 166
    So - just a couple of follow ups for you guys:

    1. Warranty

    Should I expect to pay around $2500 for the warranty, or can I haggle there? Also - if I have one year to buy - is the warranty always effective from the date of my vehicle purchase, or does it become effective the day I buy it (which, would get me a free year if I waited until the end of that one year grace period). My guess - effective date of vehicle purchase, which according to what I see would make my overall vehicle warranty 8yrs/100k miles.

    If it's transferrable with the vehicle - would be a nice touch for the resale value down the line.

    2. Navi system.

    Pushing my budget here, and thought about going for a ML320 w/M1,M2,M5,M7 and Bose. The wife figured since I'll qualify for a father's day gift next year, we could buy the Navi system then. Is it possible as a dealer installed option after the vehicle's been delivered? Does it conflict with the Bose in any way? Will the cost be prohibitive adding it after purchase as opposed to order time?

    3. ML320 vs. ML500

    Can't seem to judge from the posts - and I've been having a hard time arranging for a side-by-side test drive of the 6 and 8 (and admittedly, I'm an absent minded sort). Does anyone here with the 6 really regret not getting the 8? I know if I try both, I'll really, REALLY want the 8, but the 6 is more practical and should suit my mostly city driving fine.

    Also - outside of the added features (heated seats, navi, V8 engine) - any other advantages of ML500 - like different suspension or tires?

    Thanks for all the help - you guys ROCK.

  • mark156mark156 Posts: 2,006
    Just looked at the '02 ML500 with the sport package. This particular unit was sold but I wanted to check to see how the rear air worked.. I was pleasantly pleased on the force of air coming out of the vents. Rear vents are real improvement over the previous models. My salesman said it would take 3 months to get a special order unit. I got the sport package on my E430, I don't think I want it on the ML..... I like the standard fog lights better. 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
  • I have a 2001 ML320 loaded except for NAV and 3rd row, it is a lease. I am very happy with it as is my Wife. She is a very petite lady and finds the ML easy to handle.

    I have no regrets by getting the 6 and not the 8. I have other cars that are plenty fast, this is a light truck, the V6 is adequate for me, I'm not dragging anyone. I'm still impressed with how the V6 and 5 speed auto work well enough to scoot the 4600lbs 320 along, even at highway speeds, up very steep inclines and with a full load.

    I looked at an MDX as well, but, the Acura dealers around me are a bit too slick for my taste. A real turn off. The level of safety of the ML is better as well as the feel, drive them both over nasty roads and you'll see that the ML feels a bit stronger.

    As far as reliability, I think the real issues have been fit and finish in the interiors. Mine has had its share of issues, but so has my 1999 C class as well as a 97 Lexus I had.

    I only had one serious issue, it was in the first 72hrs, a failed transmission. Everything happened in the beginning and MB, not just the dealer but MB Corporate as well, was so fast and concerned with making me happy that it didn't really bother me. Lexus never reacted so well and I have no experience with Acura.

    When my 2001 ML Lease runs out I'll be looking to get another ML.

    Good luck with your search.
  • johnnnycjohnnnyc Posts: 166
    Wish the search engine on this forum worked better - I'm sure someone's already asked...

    Anyone know of a good NYC area dealer? Tri-state really, since I don't mind driving up to 10 hours away from NY. Seems like we're at the epicenter of dirtbag car salesman nirvana.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    You're looking in the wrong place, that's why :-). Allow me me to redirect you. There is a "Dealership service and experiences" discussion topic in the MB M-class owner's club area. You may want to check it out. There are also similar topics in the C-class and E-class owner's club areas. You may want to check those out as well. You can access them via this link to the main Mercedes-Benz Owner's club area.

    Here's your chance to talk to other MB owners live. Join our weekly MB Tuesday chat tomorrow evening at 6-7pm Pacific. Stay tuned to this topic around that time for the link to the chat. There are at least a couple of regular chat participants living in your area.

    No regrets from me for getting the V6 powered ML320 either. It has power to spare up the hills I drive and the speeds I drive at, and yet returns an acceptable fuel economy figure. If more power is needed for towing heavy loads up steep grades, low range can be utilised up to a maximum of 80 km/hr or 50 mph.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    between the ML320, ML430, and ML500.

    The V8 powered utes have slightly wider tires, but no differences in the suspension whatsoever. Wider tires aid handling a bit, but cause more rolling resistance, i.e. more drag.

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