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



  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    They're planning on a new SUV in 2005, so I doubt they'll do anything significant in 2004.

    Reliability has improved, but if your "300" is a RX300, it won't match that. MB still has a much higher percentage of electrical glitches. The data shows it improving from "awful" to "below average".

    I certainly wouldn't pay much attention to "fording depth" in my decision - at the depths where the ML might be slightly better than another SUV, you're putting yourself at huge risk.

    Personally, if I was buying a new mid-size SUV right now, I'd get either the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander, but the ML is still a very nice SUV.

    - Mark
  • sjmurray2sjmurray2 Posts: 65
    Anyone have experienc with this program? Good or bad?

  • I bought a ML350 in December (replacing my tried and true '89 Toy SR5 V6 ExtraCab PU) and since have piled up 5000+ miles. I took it cross country (from Denver to SW Ohio and back) and drove it nearly every day 100 miles round trip to a client's site in Cincinnati. Did I mention I got to experience everything from rain to near blizzard conditions on this trip? The truck was very sure footed - even with the standard tires. My brother-in-law got his Jeep GC stuck in the snow at the end of his driveway - I had no trouble at all.

    However (you knew that was coming didn't you??) at 1600 miles the check engine light popped on. Called MB they said not to worry - so I didn't. Got home and had it serviced and it turns out a wire had broken in a harness to a fuel sensor. they ordered a new harness and everything seems fine now. The dealer was very good about getting me in and out and I got a loaner car for each trip (once to find out the trouble - the other to install the harness).

    In addition, I mentioned when I dropped it off the first time that I thought the tranny was shifting a little erratically and they said they dropped the pan and cleaned out clogged screens with "flashing" material in them. While it seems to be much happier now, I wonder just what "flashing" material is...

    All in all, still a thumbs up from my point a view - especially now that I know the truck can handle pretty much anything nature can throw at it. Oh, it is available in Desert Silver / Java. That's what I have - I like it and I have 2 children - just put a light blanket on the seat and seatback and you should be able to prevent most disasters : )

  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Now that there are so many crossovers with most admitting the actual "utility" of a SUV is less important, I think MB's ML is more a husband's car; you'd probably prefer it to Hondas, MDXs, RXs and XCs. And, if your wife likes it too, sounds like a match made in heaven. The form-fitted canvas rear seat cover is a good option if you're worried about kids and leather.
  • djocksdjocks Posts: 124
    I am in the market to possibly lease an M-class. It is between the Lexus RX300 and the M-class.

    I am quoted $1005.00 out of pocket and $499 a month for the lexus. Can MB come under this or will it be more. I understand the M-class has more room but we do not need it. I just like the looks of the M-class a little more.

    Can any one help?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    There are so many variables in leasing that it virtually impossible to know if your deal can be matched or not. Price-wise, a ML350 runs a little more than the RX, comparably equipped, but I've heard that MB sales are way down, particularly of the C-class coupes and MLs. If there was time to go in and drive a hard bargain, now would be it. OTOH, if you're looking at an RX300, then you're looking at an obsolete model, so it should be heavily discounted also.

    I'd do your homework and get all the invoice prices off this site including any dealer incentives. Then go in and offer something near invoice and if they bite, then see what residual and lease factors they'll allow and what the payment might be. You really want to avoid going in and saying "can you do $x/month?" Salesman lick their chops when they get a customer that says this, because they can manipulate the deal by extending terms and adding capital charges to get any payment amount you want.

    And shopping for the lowest payment will sometimes unduly favor cars with an an artificially high residual - that's fine if you're sure you're going to turn the car in at the end of the lease, but if you shop for a lower upfront price and lower residual, you'll have better options to buy the car at the end of the lease.

    All these things are the reasons I don't lease - too much power in the hands of the dealer. If you buy the car, you have only a single number to negotiate and you can directly compare deals. Unless leases are subsidized, you'll typically get a lower total cost of ownership with buying.

    - Mark
  • djdjdjdj Posts: 111
    You picked the wrong day to bring up this question.

    $900 to replace the radio because Starmark doesn't consider the radio 'necessary'.

    It seems the Starmark warranty is crafted to cover things that last on Mercedes, rather than protect you on parts that are not reliable.

    The Starmark inspection also means little. When I got my Starmark'd car, the wipers didn't work right, the sensor for the oil level was broken and the dealer blew the repair and then the dealer repaired a number of other items they evidently didn't notice on their first inspection.

    The radio really kills me though. This is the 3rd radio in a 2000 ML320 with 58,000 miles. The SA says he'll ask MB if they'll 'help' with the cost.

    The ML is great to drive but it is the shop every six months for something. The power windows in the ML will break, its a given. When I complained my driver window switch broke, the SA told me "that's nothing, usually more than one break at a time". Nice consolation.

    To EDXIAN, I would recommend against buying a 1999. Supposedly the 2000 is better but I am seriously thinking of dumping this to avoid future big dollar repairs, so I would avoid a 1999.

    My brother-in-law had a 1999 ML for about 2 years before trading it in on a BMW X5 which he loves. Now I understand why.

    Consumer Reports just rated MB as the second worst quality car (above Cadillac) and specifically mentioned the M class and C class as the reasons why.

    The dealer gave me a C240 sedan as a loaner today which I loved (most of the their loaners are Altimas but I always get a Benz because the first month I owned the car they had it as much as I did) but MB quality scares me so much I'll get a 3 Series if I want a car like.

    If MB spent as much on quality control as they do on advertising, it would be a worthwhile automobile.
  • email77email77 Posts: 27
    I own a 1998 ML320, this is a piece junk, only this junk don't go in to the water. since the day one this SUV give me nothing but trouble. now when I start the car in the cold days, it give me a height pitch noise it last 2-3 min. I tried turn off the fan, it still there, it is not from the engine, I can't hear from outside, is anyone else have this problem? please help...
  • sl723sl723 Posts: 2

    The first time to own the MB ever, I bought 2000 ML320 in Nov.2002. On the day I picked up the turck from dealer and drove to home, the oil level light came up so I took it to the dealer to add some oil. It has been 4 month and drove for around 3500 miles, I noticed the oil level light again. When I took it to the dealer they've said that it is normal for MB to burn about 1 QT per every 1,000 miles. ??? Is this true??

    Anybody have same experience?
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    No, 1 QT of oil per 1,000 miles way is too much, I dont have to add any oil between oil changes, around 7,000 miles, I just cant go to the 10,000 recommended miles. Did you buy from an MBZ dealer? How many miles does the truck have?
  • The Oil burnout is a serious problem. I had the same issue on my '98 ML 320. There has been a class action lawsuit regarding this matter. The engine needs to be rebuilt due to excessive wear on the piston rings and valves which is leading to this problem. Mine happened at 49K miles and the dealer rebuilt the engine. MBZ has recognized the problem in the class action lawsuit and is rebuilding engines for free if the vehicle has not reached 150K miles. I do have a copy of all of this info that MBZ mailed to me incase you need it.
  • fembiefembie Posts: 4
    Any oil burning is definitely a problem. The Mercedes manual says oil should not have to be added between required oil changes. The oil level light on my 1999 ML-320 flashed on in Jan 2002 after a round trip of 2000 miles. The dealer has been conducting their so called "oil consumption test" for the past year. They are now on test 2 of part 2. This is related to the class action against Maercedes involving engine problems due to use of natural oil rather than synthetic oil in FSS equipped vehicles. Now my engine sounds like a beer truck hauling a full load up a steep hill & I am visiting my dealer on April 4 2003 about this. Just like a lot of you I like this "truck". It handles beautifully,it is sure footed in all kinds of bad weather, it looks good. Mercedes has made a big mistake by using cheap parts,(tires,brakes) and poor quality control. I am selling this 1999 ML-320 with 33,500 miles on it before the warranty expires in July 2003. It has the roof rack & towing package,brand new Michelin XC tires plus other
     goodies. Asking price $2600. I am located near Utica NY.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    "Any oil burning" is not necessarily a problem and I've never seen MB say that engines can't use oil between oil changes.

    Most mfgs publish max oil consumption figures that are quite high - in the range of qt/1K. At this level, I'd complain and they will usually do something, but once I was in the range of qt/3K, I'd just live with it. Oil consumption is an annoyance, but as long as it isn't excessive, it has nothing to do with how "good" the engine is or how reliable it will be. It's just one of those things that varies from engine to engine.

    The class action suit has to do with extended oil changes when non-synthetic was used. If you suffer a lubrication related failure and non-syn was used when serviced by MB, then they'll fix it up to (I recall) 100K.

    - Mark
  • fembiefembie Posts: 4
    I paid about $40,000 for this so called "high quality vehicle". I don't intend to carry a few quarts of oil in the back especially when I never had any oil related problems in Chevrolets, Fords,VW's - all costing much less than the ML-320.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Suit yourself, but having to carry a $4 qt of oil and put it the engine every four-months or so seems like a hell of a reason to reject an otherwise good car.

    My point: People get all excited about oil consumption, WAY out of proportion to the neglible expense/hassle. And it has virtually nothing to do with the overall quality of a vehicle. In fact, there is some evidence that engine features in more expensive Euro cars that promote long life and durability (e.g., Nikasil cylinder coatings) do tend to make break-in more difficult and somewhat increase the chances of higher oil consumption.

    But mostly a random noise thing across samples, whether it is Chevy, Ford, VW, or MB. The oil consumption you get with a new car is mostly a roll of the dice, with some minor influence on how the car was broken in. It has nothing to do with quality.

    - Mark
  • jfk430jfk430 Posts: 2

    My wife and family barely escaped serious injury several days ago when the power steering failed while on the freeway. Fortunately, she was on a straight freeway section, but the failure occurred during traffic and she changed several lanes involuntarily and ended up in the median. Vehicle is a 2001 ML-430 with 32.5K miles.

    After giving up on TeleAid (do they have more then one employee?), I tried to muscle the car home and was amazed at the difficulty in steering.

    When the steering fails - and it fails very fast - the car cannot be controlled by a 5'2", 90lb female!!! I can bench-press well into the 200's (even at my age) and I could not control the vehicle.

    I reported this to 800-Call-Merc the following morning as well as to my local dealer. While both were polite and apologetic, neither really seemed to be concerned about safety issue. I was astonished. My entire family could have been killed.

    Someone will be killed or seriously injured under this failure scenario. Don't let it be you or your family. I'm reporting it here for your safety.

    My wife said that she heard a noise like a high-performance motorcycle and was looking for it in the rear-view when the steering just "disappeared". Apparently, this was the power steering pump failing. You've got about three seconds after you hear that sound to get your life in order.

    I'm not comfortable trusting my family in an ML any more. The reliability of this vehicle has been abysmal. However, I draw the line with my family's safety. This is a severe safety flaw, and Mercedes does not appear to care. Someone else will own this car by the weekend.

    Be safe & good luck!

    Joel King
    San Antonio, Texas.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    You've had the infamous clamp failure. We've known about it for a good 6-8 months already on most of the ML forums. MB still hasn't issued a recall :-P
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Joel, sorry about your scare, but I'm skeptical that the ML has a power steering failure mode that is any worse than most cars.


    1. How did power steering failure cause your wife to involuntarily change lanes on a straight freeway section? Didn't the failure cause the steering to become very hard to turn? If so, I'm perplexed how the car started changing lanes involuntarily.

    2. How do you know you personally can't physically turn and control the car if the failure occurred while your wife was driving? Did you intentionally turn off the engine while in motion and check it yourself? If you attempted to turn it while the vehicle was stopped, then you're adding the static tire friction to the resistance which isn't representative of the effort required when the vehicle is moving.

    I agree that the ML has a poor reliability record and that the power steering clamps are a trouble spot. But I'm skeptical that that ML is any worse than other vehicles if the power steering fails.

    - Mark
  • fembiefembie Posts: 4
    Markjenn-Do you work for Mercedes-Benz?
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Others may disagree, but I just try and seek a balanced view about the car. I've posted some very critical things about the car too.

    We've had two owners come in and say that the ML is unsafe and say that any oil consumption is unacceptable. Their entitled to their opinions, but I think it useful to see if their positions are reasonable.

    My ML has had a few problems (mostly early on), but overall 45K miles later, it has been a pretty good vehicle. Of course, any one person's experiences are anecdotal.

    - Mark
  • kdenkden Posts: 2
    I purchased my 2002 ML in August and this has been a wonderful vehicle. I have yet to run into any problems. As of now the truck has 14K miles on it and has been serviced once for an oil changed. I guess I feel comfortable with the vehicle reliablity because I have 4yr/50K mile warranty and I also purchased the extended warranty for the extra year and 50K more miles. Has there been any problems with the 02 model? Again I drove this vehicle from Colorado to New Orleans in 24 hours of hard driving and this vehicle still has not given me a ounce of trouble. I hope that it is not setting me up for the fall.
  • sl723sl723 Posts: 2
    Yes, I bought from MS dealer, and it had 40k miles

    Mr.Pappu Rajesh can you be kind to mail me the copy-if you give me your e-mail address then I will send you my address.

    Thanks a lot!!
  • kiiwiikiiwii Posts: 318
    Kenyee is right. The power steering hose clamp is a common problem on MLs. When mine failed, MB sent a service truck to my place. The tech added the power steering fluid and replaced a new clamp. It took about 15 min to fix. The fluid made a big mess in the engine bay.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    A recall appears to be happening as we speak:

    Models: M CLASS
    Years: 1998-2003
    NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 03V121000
    Recall Date: MAR 26, 2003
    Potential Number Of Units Affected: 211000






    CONTACT MERCEDES-BENZ AT 1-800-367-6372.



    Registered owners should shortly be receiving notices from MB.

    - Mark
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Darn! If the notice had come just 1,500 miles sooner, I'd have it taken care of as of the last FSS at about 64K. I thought about mentioning it then, based on what I'd read on the user group a long time ago, but I just tightened'm up myself at that time.

    Others' experiences seemed to point to the fact that the problem for most was associated with starting the car after having sat idle in very cold weather. Probably the hose contracts somewhat in the cold and renders the clamp less effective.
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    I went out and tightened two clamps - one on the PS pump and the other on the radiator. There were no indications that either were about to slip off, but the clamps were not especially tight - I was easily able to turn them another turn or so. The clamps looked very cheap and cheezy for something using to clamp hydraulic fluid.

    I'm perplexed why there is only a single line (that I can see) from the PS pump to the radiator. Doesn't there have to be two? Is there one underneath that can only be seen from the bottom?

    - Mark
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    Drew published Andrew Ling's update about it October 2002. Here's the link:

    P.s., there is a clamp at the bottom and I think that is the one you want to check--the hose should be up against the radiator fitting.
  • cjgordoncjgordon Posts: 32
    One of my lines blew, or blew off, today. There's hydraulic (power steering) fluid everywhere under the hood. I understand that Mercedes will repair under terms of recall. Will they clean up the mess everywhere under the hood?
  • My email is
  • cjgordoncjgordon Posts: 32
    My service advisor told me this morning that there is no recall, only a service advisory. Thus, the hose problem is not covered if the vehicle is out of warranty. I though I had read something about a recall here a couple of days ago?
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