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1999 ML320
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Today was the first ~90 degree day this year. As I was driving my 99 ML320 and braked to turn, the car stopped and it wont start after that. I tried several times but the ignition was not even making a clicking noise. The Temprature gauge was close to red at that moment. After about half hour or so when the car cooled down a bit, I tried again and it started. Although this time the power steering was not working. Also the battery charge indicator light (battery symbol) statys on and does not go off.

I would really appreciate any suggestions on what may be wrong with the vehicle. I really dont have the money to spend at the dealer. Could this be a DIY fix?
 

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Dallas, Texas
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6,985 Posts
Today was the first ~90 degree day this year. As I was driving my 99 ML320 and braked to turn, the car stopped and it wont start after that. I tried several times but the ignition was not even making a clicking noise. The Temprature gauge was close to red at that moment. After about half hour or so when the car cooled down a bit, I tried again and it started. Although this time the power steering was not working. Also the battery charge indicator light (battery symbol) statys on and does not go off.

I would really appreciate any suggestions on what may be wrong with the vehicle. I really dont have the money to spend at the dealer. Could this be a DIY fix?
Sounds like engine has lost drive belt. Open hood and take a look.
 

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2000 ML55
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565 Posts
OK guys, we need to explain why we're so quick to jump at the drive belt, here. Or else this guy doesn't learn anything. The drive belt does 3 major things.

1) It turns your alternator (generator). When the belt died, the generator no loger turned, and your battery light came on to let you know.

2) It turns your power steering pump. When the belt died, you found it hard to steer.

3) (AND MOST IMPORTANTLY) It turns your water pump, which forces coolant to flow through your engine. When it died, it caused the vehicle to overheat.

This is not opinion talking here. This is simple logic. Get the vehicle (TOW THE VEHICLE) to a shop. Do not attempt to drive it, as you will certainly bring about its demise.

As for your comment about almost cooking the engine, mclass, he couldn't do anything about it. Once the water stopped flowing, the temp would have shot up within 10 seconds of engine running, i.e. when he tried to start it up after it killed on him. If he was smart and shut the vehicle down right away, he's likely OK. Please note that he DIDN'T say anything about the pressure relief valve blowing.
 

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2000 ML55
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565 Posts
Oh, crap. Just noticed that it was Witek who gave the cursory "belt-check" reply...

Sorry, dude. Didn't mean to step on your toes with the whole "educational" spin. I have a feeling, however, that if this guy doesn't have a feel for what happened, it is in doubt as to his ability to remedy the situation as well...
 

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1999 ML320
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Oh, crap. Just noticed that it was Witek who gave the cursory "belt-check" reply...

Sorry, dude. Didn't mean to step on your toes with the whole "educational" spin. I have a feeling, however, that if this guy doesn't have a feel for what happened, it is in doubt as to his ability to remedy the situation as well...
Thanks guys. You are right on all counts. Not only do I not know much about cars at all but I opened the hood this morning and the drive belt is indeed broken.

UNFORTUNATELY, after a few hours of waiting, I did drive it for less than 5 miles without the power steering to bring it back. Do you think I caused major damage to it in doing that. wish I knew any better. Feeling really crappy about it now. Now should I just take to a dealer or will a local mechanic be able to fix it? I am in the Boston area and any suggestion of repair shops would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Dallas, Texas
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Thanks guys. You are right on all counts. Not only do I not know much about cars at all but I opened the hood this morning and the drive belt is indeed broken.

UNFORTUNATELY, after a few hours of waiting, I did drive it for less than 5 miles without the power steering to bring it back. Do you think I caused major damage to it in doing that. wish I knew any better. Feeling really crappy about it now. Now should I just take to a dealer or will a local mechanic be able to fix it? I am in the Boston area and any suggestion of repair shops would be greatly appreciated.
Belt rarely brakes on its own unless neglected. Usually something else fails and causes it to get tangled up. Tensioner pulley being most common.

As far as driving with no belt unless engine was cooking and spewing coolant from expansion tank you are fine.
 

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2004 ML350
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381 Posts
Thanks guys. You are right on all counts. Not only do I not know much about cars at all but I opened the hood this morning and the drive belt is indeed broken.

UNFORTUNATELY, after a few hours of waiting, I did drive it for less than 5 miles without the power steering to bring it back. Do you think I caused major damage to it in doing that. wish I knew any better. Feeling really crappy about it now. Now should I just take to a dealer or will a local mechanic be able to fix it? I am in the Boston area and any suggestion of repair shops would be greatly appreciated.
Nothing will happen to the car as long as you dont let it overheat and you also gonna need a new battery
 

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1999 ML320
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for the help. I'm amazed at how quickly you pointed out the exact issue.

Please advise on whether this is something that only a dealer can handle (which is usually very expensive) or can I take it to a local shop?
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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As far as I know ML computer will not allow the engine to overheat and it will kill it before it happens. That's why you couldn't start it for about an hour.
I've been driving cars with broken belts for miles avoiding overheating. You just have to drive it like grandma and each time you go downhill you turn the engine off for cooling.
Also turning the interior heater to max will cool the engine quite a bit. Assuming you have a good battery for all those operations.
 

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1999 ML320
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone. Based on experience, can anyone point out about how much it would cost to get the belt replaced?
 

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02 ML320 06 ML500
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16,926 Posts
The price of the belt is approx. $60-75 with one hour labor charge. If you need a belt tensioner ($240) or idler pulley ($30), which you probably do, add that cost and another 1/2 hr. labor.

Please update your profile in USER CP to include the year and model of your truck.
 

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It was fun while it lasted
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,137 Posts
As far as I know ML computer will not allow the engine to overheat and it will kill it before it happens. That's why you couldn't start it for about an hour.
I've been driving cars with broken belts for miles avoiding overheating. You just have to drive it like grandma and each time you go downhill you turn the engine off for cooling.
Also turning the interior heater to max will cool the engine quite a bit. Assuming you have a good battery for all those operations.
Generally, you are right. But, if your engine gets hot enough to shut off, the cooling fans will quit working and the temperature inside the engine will spike, which could damage the heads.
 

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'99 ML430 and '01 SLK320
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118 Posts
mirayl, if you go to an independant have them check the water pump bearing as well. I had the same issue last winter but on the coldest day in Minnesota, wind chills -40. It turned out the belt tensioner bearing went and along with the cold weather caused the belt to break. While in there my mechanic found a bad bearing in the water pump and replaced the water pump as well, easy to check while the belt is off. The good news was no problems with overheating at those temps.
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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Generally, you are right. But, if your engine gets hot enough to shut off, the cooling fans will quit working and the temperature inside the engine will spike, which could damage the heads.
ML has small electric pump recirculating the coolant after shut down to avoid temperature spikes.
I don't know exactly how the emergency program works and those who experienced the situation didn't know how to interpret it, but I have full faith in German Engineering.
 

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1999 ML320
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
This forum rocks!! Truly appreciate all the help here. Have an appointment with a local shop for tomorrow. I have already told him to check the tensioner and the water pump. Will report tomorrow and what he finds.
 

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02 ML320 06 ML500
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16,926 Posts
ML has small electric pump recirculating the coolant after shut down to avoid temperature spikes.
I don't know exactly how the emergency program works and those who experienced the situation didn't know how to interpret it, but I have full faith in German Engineering.
So what you are saying is that NO Ml has ever over heated and sustained damage to its engine? The recirc. pump is an aid, not a guardian angel.
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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Have never heard about ML having overheating damage. It come chaotic on this topic, but the computer shuts off the engine before any heat damage and recirculating pump routinely prevents heat spikes.
Engine protection isn't a new thing. My 1972 conversion has it. I actually had to disable it, since the shut down become the most sensitive temperature sensor on the engine and was killing it in the mountains. I have 2 more gauges confirming that I am not boiling yet.
 

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1999 ML320
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Discussion Starter #20
Turned out that it was the idler pulley. The idler pulley apparently has a big plastic part around the metal bearing which broke and that caused the belt to slip out. My mechanic replaced it with a new one. Grand total including parts and labor - $100.51.
I am so releived!! Thanks again to everyone on the valuable advise.
 
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