GRAB SOME POPCORN AND SET BACK AND ENJOY THE NON-FICTION STORY! It's a LONG read but full of information, fun and entertainment (I hope).
UGH! OK - preface, this is my first MB and my first diesel - I researched pretty reasonably but didn't do exhaustive research on the W164 2011 ML350 BlueTec - I do frequent towing but not heavy towing. I drive about 20k miles a year, I live in rural Kansas on a couple miles of gravel and my daily office is 11 miles from home. Finding diesel fuel has never been an issue, most fuel stations have diesel in my area.
P1) LOVE the ride, the fit, the finish, the looks
P2) towing ability is off the charts, the diesel flat gets it for towing and the brakes are massive compared to many 1/2 pickups - car weighs as much or more than most 1/2 trucks
P3) AWD is solid, Kansas ice/snow is just another day for it
P4) Fuel Economy is very solid - the increased cost of diesel vs gas is easily made - I did add a diesel tuner for additional 18% fuel MPG increase and better torque curve
P5) dumb pro but I really like the auto wipers - in the past auto wipers were pathetic and did stupid stuff these don't do dumb shit and work exactly when they are supposed to
P6) about 600 miles on a tank for fuel - I have seen 800 miles listed a couple times on extended open road driving and hope that the timing chain replacement will bring that back
N1) tongue weight is a little dismal at 300 pounds - be cautious when loading/towing trailers
N2) rear passenger leg room is ok - not awesome, not crappy (I'm 6'1" and rarely if ever set in the rear seats tho)
M-A-I-N-T-E-N-A-N-C-E - more specifically the COST of basic/preventative maintenance is stupid crazy - yea I do use a MB dealership
dumb shit that breaks / annoys me
C1) adblue (DEF) tank and or heater - known to fail - break open checkbook (my warranty covered a huge portion of it!)
C2) torque converter shutter - technically not "broke" but annoying as shit and will never fix itself - have not pushed issue with warranty company yet
C3) radio sucks - specifically no bluetooth connectivity to stream from cell phone; hands free talk works great tho
C4) Navigation is antiquated and updates are $200 and are a couple years old and that's as new as it gets folks - dumb old school T8 text entry HORRIBLE
C5) radio does stupid reset / update frequently and is like leaving the toothpaste cap off, not bad just flipping annoying and kills radio for a couple minutes
C6) radio is tied to analog clock on dash, I love the clock on dash, drop in replacement radio (about $500) fixes all the annoying radio things but leaves you no way to set the analog dash clock!
C7) backup cam has pretty damn good picture, too bad it takes what seems like forever from starting the vehicle before it's usable - start car, back out of garage and I'm down the driveway before the whole system is up and ready to give me visuals - UGH!
C8) backup cam has no audible or visual notification of objects yea you can see everything but no beeps or flashing warning indicators?!?!?
C9) MercedesMe is worthless with the W164 BlueTec - I mean you can unlock the vehicle from anywhere in the world but that's it - WTF!??!? I want remote START I don't have a need to unlock it from the office - I need to start the damn thing to warm up so I don't have to scrape ice after the work - NOPE not a factory option on the W164
C10) timing chain / timing chain tensioner issues - HUGE WTF MB has a Service Bulletin on it
Here's a story of a lovely Benz....... (you just realized that was a Brady Bunch reference and re-read that in the Brady Bunch theme tune)
I purchased my 2011 ML350 BlueTec with 57,000 miles on it from a luxury non MB dealer June 2017. They offered me some basic few k mile warranty for some [IMO] insane amount of money. I declined the warranty. I wasn't elated with the whole purchase process but will leave that out because it's dealer related. Wife driving our Tahoe and I in my new (to me) ML350 off to home we head (an hour away). I loose sight of the wife in the traffic and I'm about 15 minutes away from dealership and pull on off ramp to call her. CRAP she's ahead of me, I mash the accelerator to hit highway speeds on on-ramp...... stumble stumble cough cough... WTH!?!??! Let off accelerator and gently press down.... car seems to be accelerating slowly, mash a little harder and cough cough it stumbles. No lights on the dash but I'm leaving dark lines on the pavement behind me! I pull into the next exit ramp just a mile up the road and diesel fuel is spewing under the vehicle! What a fricken horrible way to buy a new (to me) vehicle! Wife had turned around and met up with me. I called the dealership, they sent a tow truck, once tow truck arrived we got in the Tahoe (that they didn't want as trade-in THANK GOD!) and headed home.
Non-MB dealership sent my MB to the MB dealership for repairs. Takes a week of hassling the salesman on where my vehicle was. 8 days out my vehicle is ready for me, they will happily bring it to me (remember I'm an hour plus away) but not until Monday. I told them I will be there Saturday morning at 9am. I arrived to a freshly washed vehicle super apologetic dealership and an apology they can only put 10 gallons of fuel in the tank (some crazy dealership rule!?!??!?!). I get the repair sheet, $600 in fuel line repairs (I didn't pay a dime).
I go to my local Ford dealership whom I have purchase numerous new and used vehicles from thru the years and purchase a 100k mile / 5 year more or less bumper to bumper warranty for about $2800! Now that seems fair!
I am very capable of doing my own mechanical and maintenance work but again my first MB and first diesel with a decent warranty I figure I'll pay the MB dealership to keep things in tip top shape.
First oil change visit, yep, you guessed it, $150 for the oil change... well knowing it's 9 quarts of full synthetic oil I'm not upset. Then there's a oh by the way there's several dollars here and there for replacement items, oil plug seal ring, just goofy "little things" that one would take for granted would be included. Oh yea, well it's ready for it's "service B" and that needs blah blah blah, UGH! Sticker shock but I understand the ounce of prevention reasoning, first maintenance, $680! Oh well, this thing is rocking and rolling like a dream, tows the boat like a champ, stops on a dime even with the jet boat in tow, I'm happy - I'm about 15k miles in ownership and a little lighter wallet for maintenance and coming up for the next scheduled maintenance visit.
Next service, $150 oil change PLUS [insert sales pitch of book replacement items] - <sigh> OK, $260, not *terrible* I guess. I know the next maintenance will be expensive due to transmission service recommendation.
Third prevent maintenance visit proves to be everything I expected, hang on to your hats boys, $2700. <sigh> I love my MB, it's doing everything I expect from it but this is getting harder to sell to the wife.
#4 scheduled maintenance visit, I dig my heels in, I need an oil change and I'm outta here, $241 and I'm on the road again, wooo hooo!
Cruising along and hey there Mr. dash notification notice what's this crap about???? I schedule appointment and it's the infamous AdBlue tank issue. Yea, MB has to know somethings up as EVERY DAMN ONE OF THESE has issues. Warranty covers a lot, oh BTW canister something leaking, both AdBlue tank and canister leaking warranty covered BUT warranty not covering the motor mounts that are damaged from the leaking canister. Total bill, $4,034, my portion is $937. UGH, I'm happy???? because I only have to pay $1k. I love my MB, I love my MB.... I keep telling myself.
Service #5 visit, digging heels in, oil change and outta there for $150. SCORE one for the chump with the open checkbook!
Around Jan 2019 notification of the blind spot sensors have came and went a time or two but is now staying on all the time. No biggie, I can wait until next service in a couple month. This brings ya up to a three weeks ago.... engine cycles longer than normal when starting and it's due for an oil change. Welp you guessed it more costly issues, specifically fuel pump issues, warranty paying majority of it but dealership *highly confident* timing chain is stretched. What? I'm at 110k miles, a baby in diesel terms. Yea, well, warranty will only pay everything for timing chain if it needs it and to verify it needs it I gotta commit to paying the tear down charges in the event it's NOT needed. Whew, I commit to $650 tear down and low and behold it does indeed need a new timing chain, whew, warranty paying 100%. Research leads me to if you have the 642 from 2010/2011 your lottery chances are pretty high it's gonna need a timing chain, apparently 110k is rather good for it too, many others have barely made it to 70k before they got hard starting and diesel rattle at startup. At this point I don't have my vehicle back yet and I know I'm up to $535 thus far for oil change and unpaid warranty portion of the fuel pump. Oh, you forgot the radar sensors for blind spot detection from January didn't ya?!?!?! Yea, well, that for whatever reason isn't covered by warranty - I'm still in negotiations with warranty company because it's a safety feature factory installed on the vehicle - and it's $2500 to have that fixed. At this juncture I have declined that repair. Again more research shows this too is a common component that fails due to it being inside the rear bumper cover and it gets moisture and road chemicals on it and it's connectors which aren't well sealed causing it to prematurely fail. MB says [with blinders on] we don't see anything causing the failure.
Somewhere in one of the early services I did have an exhaust leak, warranty paid for a small portion of it but most of it was deductible and replacement bolts not covered under warranty. I have all maintenance records saved I just didn't dig thru them to figure out which one it was.
Whew, what a 2 year actual real world experience. Parting words, GET SOME FORM OF DECENT EXTENDED WARRANTY IF AT ALL POSSIBLE
I did read somewhere if you can't afford to pay $70k for a new one, you shouldn't buy a used $16k one - maintenance doesn't get cheaper when a vehicle ages. There's some pretty good truth to that.
Yes you most certainly can utilize an indy shop and/or do a lot of the maintenance yourself and save a ton of money but that's a dwindling percentage of MB owners.
While I know I am paying a LOT more at the MB dealership I do get really good service. They are always on time when I have a scheduled appointment and my loaner vehicles have always been freaking nice. Every extended service I have had done I have had the loaner car for a couple weeks, one loaner was literally BRAND NEW, I mean like 40 miles on it. I returned it a couple weeks later with almost 2k miles on it! If I wait for the basic oil change, the waiting room has everything but beer and free meal service delivery from Panera Bread if you want it.
Bottom line, would I buy it again looking back? I just don't know.......