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Mercedes Benz ML class:

ML230, ML320, ML350, ML430, ML500, ML270 CDI, ML55 AMG, ML350, ML500, ML63 AMG. (W163, W164)

Kelly writes:
My 2000 ML430 caught fire today. At first glance, there seem to be no obvious reason for it. Everything appeared normal except for the material on the inside of the hood smoldered and smoked until cut out and submerged in water. The car was just serviced three weeks ago and no sensors went off to alert me to a problem. Mercedes appears to have no idea how this could have happened. Has anyone else had a similar experience? If so, how did you handle it, That wants us to go through our insurance company. Now we are left wondering what good is $2700 extended warranty.

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Tim writes:
I bought my brand new '00 ML430 in October '99 with some reservations over the ML's bad press. However I reasoned that by '00 models problem areas should have ssssurely been cleared up. Sadly within the first few thousand miles things started to fail / break. Fairly trivial things at first, like the remote entry keys - they failed 6 times before the AAM was replaced. Then more serious items like alternator, battery, MAF, O2 sensors, Cat's, MCS naviagtion unit, cooling fans, powers seats, fuel pump, door locks and so on. After about 2 years of patience, 26 warranty failures and two roadside break downs I contacted MB USA to see if they'd offer me an extended warranty by way of reparation (sp?)for the all the inconvenieces and to determine if they were prepared to standby thier product. Again Its sad to say their local rep was less than helpful - in fact verging on outright rude. Corporate wasn't any better. Now after 4 years and 51,000 miles our 'quality' SUV has accumulated 32 warranty repairs and still to this day has several minor issues I've had to learn to live with. For these reasons, and many others to detailed to describe here, this will be my first and last MB product. MB really needs to get its act together, listen to its custmers and act in a customer friendly way.

David writes:
Mercedes sold me on reliability and dependability before I bought the car. Well after I paid using my HARD working money I figured out that it's NOT reliable and NON-dependable. The last few months was very miserable.
1. Imagine having your window switch failed in a snowstorm with the window down after trying to wipe something off my side mirror. I had to drive 3 hours before getting home (March 2003, repair = $450). Second time replacing the switch in 2- years.
2. While driving to Lake Tahoe, my Harmonic balance burst (July 2003, repair = $1300)
3. Fuel injector sensor, Cam shaft sensor, Crank shaft sensor all failed at once and the car loss power on a 7-mile long bridge (August 2003, repair = $1250)
4. Transmission failed (September 2003, repair = $6000).
From 1998 to 2003 models, ML-320 is known to have problems with their window switch. Still NO recall on these switch because customer are willing to pay for it.
My service manager at Pleasanton, CA MB dealer mentioned that it rear to have Harmonic balance go out. You would think then that MB of America would accept the responsibility - NOT. There is no point to continue with my sad story. I think you get the picture. At no time did my service center show any compassion. I finally got rid of my headache and scared two of my friends into terminating their lease on their E430.

Joel writes:
Purchased a 2001 ML-430 new and suffered through ownership for two years. I really wanted to like this vehicle. It was comfortable, solid, and a real joy to drive. However, with regards to reliability and safety, it was the worst vehicle I have owned and the worst vehicle experience of anyone I know. The car stranded my family (small children) on multiple occasions, hours from Mercedes so-called roadside assistance. Each problem was different - fuel, electrical, mechanical. When the power steering failed and almost killed my family - I dumped the car at a significant loss. Never again will I own or trust Mercedes. Never again will I trust my family's safefy to this brand. Be very careful and do you homework before owning this brand.

Chad writes:
My Ownership Experience... Well I don't have the time to commit to document my whole experience. I feel like I have alreasdy wasted too much of my life on this car and it's problems, but I would like to share my last (and by last I mean last, AND final) problem.

Just went to the dealer to look into a rattling noise from under the car on my 2000 Lorinser Ed. ML430 (62$K off the lot). It turns out I have a broken right catalytic converter and a crack in the other (what a perfect fit to go along with my brake job that lasted < 20k, bad window switch, gummy crap all over the the window from the sound deadening glue, & sunroof making popping noises!!! yea!) My car has 85000 miles and the cut off on warranty is 80k. The dealer started me off with a 2200$ quote and then when I got in I negotiated down to 1800 for both cats & labor, and all the while they adamantly denied that broken cats are a typical problem. Then when I finally caved in and just said FIX IT! they went to order me the new cats, they told me that the 750$ cats are not produced anymore and have been replaced with a new part #. (gee, I wonder why...?) BUT this new part number is "better", well why would it need to be "better" if nothing is wrong with the first? Any how, the new part is 1500$ PER SIDE!!!! NEW QUOTE 3550$ for both w/ labor! and it's on back order in the US and in Germany! If that doesn't say RECALL what the heck does? Oh, and they found a leak too but can't find where it's coming from. F this car! I am done! I am having the cats welded at a local exhaust shop for 135$ and I am trading it in asap. I have owned multiple VW's, Audi a6, S4, Volvo 850, s60 t-5, and never ever ever ever ever had 1/10 of the issues I have had with my ML in one year. I love this car, but it's just not worth it anymore... this is my first and last MB. I bought this car because of Mercedes's image of cars that run forever with proper maintance and superior build quality. Now I will be luck to get any money out of the car beacuse everyone knows the brutal image that mercedes has created for it self with the ML's and there never ending problems and lack of reliability. Good luck to you all who still have yours.

Boris writes:
I am in the process of launching a lawsuit to replace my 00 ML55 on the basis of safety, the power steering failed 3 times on the road (In addition to all kinds of other problems). I am in Toronto, Canada. Was wondering if you have any suggestions on the best to way of getting my vehicle changed or if there are any lawyers that you might recommend. The car was bought on April 2000. It has 55000km on it.

Stevino writes:
1998 ML320: I did purchase it used, but I was excited because I had purchased the "1998 MotorTrend Truck of the Year", and also have had continual problems with it. The list includes: bad AAM, which when you replace you have to order new keys at $150 a piece. Then the keys "lose thier program" which apprarently they cannot be reprogrammed so another $300 for two new keys. Our Harmonic Dampener/Balancer went bad, one of the accessory pullies (which means a new belt) also went bad. It leaks transimission fluid, uses/loses about a quart of oil every 2k miles. The door locks "actuator" has gone out several times, brake pads need to be replaced every 20k miles, headlight bulbs also have to be replaced about the same 20k miles. Replaced the MAF sensor twice (because of a check engine light), replaced the Cranshaft position sensor, had new spark plugs intalled for the second time this year. I won't even start on the cheap interior and its plastic parts that break off in your hand, doors that don't lock and windows that won't roll back up. But we have decided to keep it. We keep it because the depreciation on the stupid vehicle is so bad we owe $5k more than any dealer will give us on trade! The whole situation is fustrating.

Bill writes:
2002 ML320: The alarm began to go off at random after three days of ownership. Three trips to the dealer could not fix it. We filed a lemon law suit against MBUSA & the Dealer, and after 16 months of delay tactics by Mercedes-Benz, settled the case. The people at MBUSA are the most arrogant people I've ever dealt with. They will not admit that they produce defective products. Please, take my advice, buy anything other than a Mercedes-Benz. They have taken poor customer service to an art form!

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Joe writes:
So after 6 BMW's I decided it was time for a change. I got an 2003 ML350 (on the cusp of the '04's) from Mercedes-Benz Canada. The first promise of delivery was off because the car was damaged, the second turned out to be a demo... the third one the salesman didn't show for the delivery appointment. I guess four times is a charm only after the sales manager said that they would sue me if I didn't take delivery. Charming fellow with, in my view, no integrity.

Then it took them over a year to mail me a cheque for a small overpayment that I made because the model delivered wasn't exactly what I ordered.

The first problem was the radio/nav module. The little cursor wand didn't work. They "fixed" it. Next day - same problem. They ordered a new radio... okay a reconditioned one. It took them two days to replace it. The "new" one would not dim at night so it was like sitting in a dark room with a TV on. I brought it back and I was told it was fine. This last service I was told that the previous unit was the wrong model and they replaced it with another one. Again, it took them two days to replace it. It still doesn't work on the auto dim setting but at least the manual setting works. When they called me back in to fix it this time, I said no thanks.

The M-B service is never on time and never complete. Yes, I have had problems with my BMW's but the dealer always offers to pick up the car and re-deliver it. The work has always been done on time with a decent explanation. I have had both German and US made BMW's.

I have learned that in my view, M-B does not understand customer service. I am done with them when my lease is up...

By the way, anyone having problems with filling the gas tank. Mine is a royal pain because it keeps shutting off the pump even on the slowest flow setting...

Jeff writes:
I bought a new Mercedes Benz ML 430 SUV. After 20880 miles the brake and brake pad warning lights went off. The dealer said I need to replace front and back pads and rotors and it is not covered under warranty. This is ridiculous. (I also have had to have the electronic console in front replaced once since I got the car.) I feel ripped off, as the dealer tells me that this is "normal." My BMW has 50K miles and I haven't even had to replace the pads. This is not normal and this is unacceptable. If they had told me that every 20K miles I would have to replace the pads and rotors, I would not have bought the car.

Roger writes:
I have a 1998 ML320 which I bought new. Instead of starting with the smaller problems I'll jump right in and focus on my recent nightmare; the transmission and transfer case! My SUV WAS running fine, under NORMAL driving conditions, then suddenly there was a strange clanking sound. I immediately called around to find an open dealership that would accept my vehicle for a weekend repair. Only one dealer could get me in so I started driving there only to completely have the ML break down, I got to the dealer by tow truck. On Monday afternoon the service advisor told me that a bearing literally EXPLODED, spewing metal shavings everywhere, probably into both the transmission and transfer case. The "standard operating procedure" is to replace both units. I decided to get a second opinion from a transmission repair franchise. The transmission repair shop actually cost me more than the dealer because it actually needed more work than just replacing both high dollar components. After everything has been done the GRAND total is $8600, NICE! I NOW have a 2000 model transmission along with a tranny cooler, a rebuilt transfer case, a new torque converter, and that's about it. The total for labor came to $935 which I thought was fair and I also bought a 5 year UNLIMITED MILEAGE warranty so that I won't have to pay again. Now for the smaller issues: The drivers side window got stuck midway open but the dealer fixed it with no charge, and quickly I might add! The rear door locks would "bounce" meaning that when I used the remote to unlock the doors, the rear door locks would open and close rapidly about 4-5 times and then I couldn't get them to lock. This problem happened to EACH rear door TWICE! Also, the rear seat lights have been fixed twice because they wouldn't turn off, the third time I just took the bulbs out. My moon roof has broken twice and now I just leave it closed. All in all I wasn't really bothered by the small problems but the $8600 bill is painful. I just started a secure job, with considerably less money than I made with my "iffy" job, so the ML dying during my first week gives me a warm feeling all over. I've been told that the 1998 transmission is commonly known to have major problems, the mistakes were supposedly fixed for the 2000 model, but Mercedes-Benz still wouldn't recall the 1998 vehicles because the problem usually shows up AFTER the warrantly period runs out. At the moment I have 109,000 miles on my ML, I was expecting the vehicle to last much longer based on Mercedes reputation. I no longer have that delusion!

Jeff writes:
I am grateful to those people who created this website. It really has opened my eyes to the reality of owning a Mercedes-Benz. At first, I never would have thought that Mercedes' reputation would be that bad. Now, after reading all the comments of my fellow Mercedes-Benz car owners, I found out that I am not alone in this horrible mistake, which is, buying a Mercedes.

I bought a 1999 ML 320 with money that I worked really hard for. I have a big family and buying such an expensive car is a huge decision. I bought the ML with excitement, knowing that I will have the most luxurious and reliable SUV in the world. My excitement was short lived. After a few months of purchasing my ML, it had problem similar to the ones described by other buyers. DEFECTIVE WINDOW SWITCH, this happened twice; TRANSMISSION FLUID LEAK, POWER STEERING LEAK, to name a few. Without the warranty, I would have paid a few thousands of dollars for parts and labor.

Recently, I had a problem with my EXHAUST CATALYST and the dealer is charging me $1,250 to $3,000 depending on which side of the vehicle. This is unbelievable! Moreover, my service advisor didn't even fully explain the problem. He basically told me that as long I pay the amount they can fix it. That is not what customer service is all about. Mercedes-Benz needs to redefine their definition of "customer service."

By the way, for those of you who are living in California and having problems with their catalytic converter PLEASE READ: I found out that for certain years and models, catalytic converter defects are covered under the CALIFORNIA EMISSION LAW. Please check with your dealer about this. This will save you a few thousands of dollar$.


I did mine and I think I'm getting a Lexus.

Wilmina writes:
We have been leasing our ML320 from Fletcher Jones Newport Beach for 2years and 7 months ...and we have had two major breakdowns, and about 7 incidents of some kind of failure on window switches, gas gauge, some brake lamps, some gas door inoperable, some coolant signal after it had been in their service department for 5 days. This month of November, we have been unable to use our car for almost 2 weeks since it has been in and out of the service department. The two major breakdowns... 1. While vacationing in Big bear, California on our last day, just when our family had packed up our car, with our two young children, the steering wheel did not work. We were advised that this was a recall item but we got the letter for it a week later.(2) My husband and my two kids were stuck on the toll road from 6-9 pm last November 6,2003, I was out of town and they were enroute to Las Vegas.This time, it was a computer breakdown, and the engine just died. If I were the one driving that car I am positive that I would panic and not know what to do...paying the premiuim price for a car that does not deliver its strong engineering .reputation. I had faxed a letter to the Vice president for MBenz marketing and have not received any acknowledgement whatsoever. I am very disappointed and very frustrated... And, I am leasing this would think that they would simply offer me a new car without any problems...they did but, attached to it is a down payment of $6000 and a high monthly payment...what a price for leasing a mercedes benz lemon!!!

Steve writes:
My Ownership Experience of a 99 ML430. First week out of the dealership at Anaheim Hills, the truck decides to shift gears on its own, downshifting on the freeway. Crazy and dangerous. The dealer fixes this calling it a defective part in the shifting gears. From this point on, little things keep on happening. The door locks don't work...another dealer visit. Then the fuel gauge doesn't work....another dealer visit. Then the driver's side window won't come back up....this is all within the first two years....and under warranty. This was supposedly fixed by Fletcher Jones. Now, the same thing happens again......The car has less than 30K miles on it....and more dealer repairs than a domestic lemon. This is the worst built car I've seen since Dodge cars in the early 1980's....... It really doesn't matter about the dealership as much as Mercedes Benz itself. Headlamp covers in rear are "made in mexico." I am very surprised at the problems I am seeing. I am telling everyone I know to buy a japanese car because you just can't beat the quality. If you have to have a german car, then Mercedes is definitely not it....

Edward writes:
I made the foolish mistake of purchasing a 98 ML320.I felt very secure about buying it from the mercedes benz dealership and that's where I went wrong. This is the worst vehicle that I have ever owned.It was in the shop about 7 times in the first six months.The horn would blow at will, the ETS and ABS both messed up, the window got stuck in freezing weather, O2 senor went bad,keeps blowing headlight bulbs,had to have the engine rebuild because of excessive oil consumption,passenger side door leaks air, side airbags on the doors leaks air,lights on ac control comes on at will, can't fill the gas tank properly,and etc. I was told by the salesman about how this was a STARMARK CERTIFIDE VEHICLE and all I can say is that if I was Mercedes Benz I would be ASHAMED of this engineering disaster. Now when I see certifide on a vehicle I just wonder who certifide the certifider.I am currently suing the dealership and who knows how long I will have to wait for any satisfaction.

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Anonymous writes:
I am now looking into my own issue with Fletcher Jones -- which was what brought me to your site... We leased a 2000 E320... we traded in a 2 1/2 month old ML on it -- because after driving the ML for 2 months, we felt it was a piece of junk. Rather than purchasing, the finance manager suggested a lease and told us how safe it was and MB was the only company that offered a flexible lease. At any time, we could get out of the lease for $300.

OK, call us naive. Should have checked on this first. Everyone I spoke with told me that they just out and out lied and that is not possible. I asked a lot of questions and did NOT misunderstand what he said. I DO wonder how many others they have told this one to.

Everything that has gone wrong with my car continues to go wrong with my car -- and they cannot fix it. Twice a year, I bring it in for faulty brake lamps and a rear window that will not close.

My ONLY suggestion to anyone who already has dealt with Fletcher Jones -- if you can utilze the service at MB of Laguna Niguel, they are nicer at least. And -- you will drive away with a new model MB while your car is being repaired.

Sandy writes:
Where do I begin, as I have been reading other people's experience, I realize that most of the problems I experience are common. It is beyond me that Mercedes would allow such problems in their vechicles. I do my part by telling everyone I know that the car is a piece of crap. I have a ML500 '02, other than the window problem, the rattling, the humming, the radiator hose going twice, the engine coming on about once a month, the empty light blinking, the horrible ride, sliding on the snow (which is why I got a truck in the first place, to avoid slidding), my personal favorite is this:

I had to put the back seat down to load up some things, when I went to put it back down it wouldn't go back up. I was leaving for a road trip so I quickly ran to the dealer to see what they can do. The service department was closed and the sales people would do nothing for me. I called roadside assistance and waited 40 minutes, they never came. The sales people told me I could call roadside assistance from anywhere and they would help. So when I got to Vermont I called and they told me that they can't do anything other than tow my car 1 1/2 away to look at it. Needless to say this was no solution. When I got back to New York, I called again, someone came and looked at my car and told me I had to take it to the dealer. After a few days (and no loaner) they told me it would take 2 weeks to get a part in. I went and picked up my car and went to the dealership I bought it from. The whole time I asked to cut the seatbelt, which they wouldn't do. At my dealership they offered to cut the seatbelt and I said fine and that's when they discovered that a little know was preventing the seat belt from letting the seat go back up. So for that it took 3 roadside assistance calls and 3 trips to dealerships. That is ridiculous. Thanks for wasting my time Mercedes.

Jan writes:
In 98 my husband and I purchased a ML320 and an E-320. The ML has been a headache and has had a new engine, and numerous other repairs, poor paint, over all poor realiability. Now, we learn that our E class needs a new AC replacement with an almost $2000 price tag. We waited a long time to get what we thought were great cars????

Abdul writes:
My Ownership Experience is sucks, I bought a ML 430 used, I believe I had every single possible problem you can think off, very noisy, engine idle rough when it's on the N, at least 10 times they have changed the air sensor to fix that, but yet not fixed, and now it's out of warranty, windows went bad, I had to take it to the dealer 3 times, Rusnak Pasadena did a very bad job, so I had to take it to Pensky to fix window, trans had a problem, guy at Rusnak wanted to charge me because he believed there wasn't any problem at all, I am just making it up, then they found the problem, they had the car for all most a week, engine mount been changed, gas pump has been changed, MB quality is worse than Hyundai cars in my opinion. I called the customer care at MB, they are good for nothing, absolutely nothing, I wish JD power rate them as worse customer service in the history. When drive over 90 miles per hour windows start making wired noise, I had the car in the deal for 21 days for noise that was coming from under the car, I tool it to the deal at least 5 times. Now MB listen to this I had a 4 runner and I drove it about 15K miles, not even I went to the dealer, maybe its time you learn something about quality from Toyota. I would not buy another mercedes, they are the worse when it comes to the fine quality, you would expect from i guess any car who charge so much.

Anonymous writes:
My Ownership Experience with the 2000 ML320 Mercedes has been absolutely horrible! It's been one problem after the other. When I compare this car to our BMW that has over 200K miles on it I get disgusted! Below are the problems that I've had:
1) Bubbling in the compartment between the passenger and driver seat (replaced 3 times)
2) Crack in right catalytic converter (converter need replacing for $750)
3) The famous aspirator motor
4) O2 sensor was replaced
5) Front and rear brake pads were replaced at about 20K miles
6) Sunroof broke
So much has happened that I can't even remember it all. I will NEVER purchase another Mercedes all because of my experience with the ML.

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