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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I dunno about you guys, but if I was coming in cold to this forum not knowing anything about the ML but say, was considering buying one, I'd have the pants scared off me by reading all these posts.

I mean, just in the past two weeks (and probably any two week period) we see posts pertaining to a dazzling array of issues. As I said in another post, my other car is a G35. In 8 years it has had no major issues that made the car undriveable or even problematic for daily use, only a handful of tiny annoyances (squeaky radio faceplate, rear ashtray fell out, etc). And it is a first-year car (2003) while my ML is a second-year unit. ML has spent easily over 3 months at the dealer in its first four years.

Now I like my ML on a gut level as much as most of you do and not looking for an argument, but has there ever been a car in modern history whose owners have 'enjoyed' so many challenges? Fiats and Jaguars of a certain vintage excluded...
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
On the plus side of the ledger is definitely its incredible body strength/occupant protection abilities. It has seriously damaged the other car in 3 separate accidents over the years and only needed real repair once, and even that incident left its owner/driver/sole occupant completely unscathed.
 

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1998 ML320
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35 Posts
I am new to M-B and just purchased my ML about 1 month ago. Right now it's getting a new water pump installed. I thought these vehicles were reliable. Have I made a big and expensive mistake?
 

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2000 ML430
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209 Posts
Being honest, I have owned a Toyota Celica, Mazda MX-6, Mazda 323, and my ML430 for about a year each. The Japanese cars needed only regular things, nothing major, and not often, eg. spark plugs, wires - and they got more mileage than the Benz. The ML430 has needed: brakes and tires, (holy shit expensive but not the cars fault.)

However, the alternator, brake light switch, heated seat with the 'on fire' option, insane rattling that I can't find, radio stopped working properly, INSANELY expensive catalytic converter exploded, center support bearing, left rear door lock stopped working, sunroof wind deflector busted, trip computer broke for no reason, and weight recognition sensor in the passenger seat are not normal problems. And I even think I missed a few. I really think that is handles well and is safe... but lots of cars handle well and are safe. Unless things change, I would not buy another Mercedes.
 

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2000 ML430 SOLD, 2007 BMW 328i Coupe, 2014 BMW i3, 2019 Honda Odyssey
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2,982 Posts
I'm quite the opposite... My ML has been relatively routine, however I just had to replace a cracked axle on my other half's Acura with less than 100k miles on it. I don't know, but that just doesn't seem like a "common" thing to have happen on any German car. That's why I'm itching to dump her car for a BMW.

edit: Now, a few years back, I drove a leased '06 G35. The interior was improved over the '03, but still had squeaks and rattles, the plastic was falling off of things, the leather wore at an alarming rate, there was an untraceable mold smell from the a/c, and (anecdotally) it was a dent magnet. Great car, really great car, but it was the little things that make me partial to German cars.
 

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2004 SL500; 2003 E320; 2001 ML430 Sport; 1999 E320 Wagon
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404 Posts
Interesting list Paul12; I have had just about every one of those issues plus more (pealing wheel clear-coat, radio volume goes nuts on its own, driver window UP switch failure, etc) but with the exception of age related issues like the center bearing, MB made good on every issue under warranty. And the majority of issues came up while the car was under warranty many years ago now. I wonder if some of the new guys to this forum have purchased used cars from previous owners who never bothered to carry through with MB to have these annoyance 'warranty' issues fixed.

After getting the majority of the issues taken care of under warranty (thank GOD the cats were covered!), my ML430 has actually been very reliable. It's never left me stranded, but I have done a fair portion of preventative maintenance and early repairs based on experienced shared here in this forum that has likely extended my luck with it.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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157 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I am new to M-B and just purchased my ML about 1 month ago. Right now it's getting a new water pump installed. I thought these vehicles were reliable. Have I made a big and expensive mistake?
Who the heck knows? If you browsed this forum before buying then you went in with your peepers open. If not, then you may get lucky anyway... but maybe not.

As for 'reliable', I vaguely recall that Consumer Reports rated this car highly when it was new. It was even featured on the cover with the tagline: "Is this the future of all SUVs?" I kept that issue somewhere. But a few short years later it refused to endorse the ML due to reliability issues, which were among the lowest of all vehicles they rated.

If I had it to do over again and knowing what I know, I think I still might. The solidity on numerous trips with kids, the bit of status it afforded, and a fairly enjoyable driving experience for such a heavy vehicle are all points in its favor. I would like to nonetheless deliver a swift kick in the pants to the bean counters at M-B who no doubt contributed to its low QC.
 

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ML320,C230, F250, Bayliner, Mountain Bike, Fleetwood Motorhome etc...
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1,836 Posts
Just read my posts and you will see that I have the best 1998 ML 320 ever made. I have driven it hard, gone 4 wheeling regularly, had over size tires on it most of it's life. Towed my boat to a lake in the Sierras over 9000' several times with people and gear. Been on countless road trips, commuted in So Cal, I drive 80 mph all the time. It has never let me down. I have not had the problems others have had. I really like my ML. I honestly didn't think I would keep it this long... I have several other cars and trucks but my ML is my favorite... I'm glad I didn't find this forum before I bought it or I wouldn't have, I even thought I made a big mistake buying it after finding this forum. Guess not...
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
I dunno about you guys, but if I was coming in cold to this forum not knowing anything about the ML but say, was considering buying one, I'd have the pants scared off me by reading all these posts....
Like you say, I read the posts pre-purchase and I was afraid, very afraid.

So what did I do?

I purchased the most complicated and expensive to repair version!:D

I have had no regrets though - I love my ML55.

ML55 :sloppy: FAR888
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
I am new to M-B and just purchased my ML about 1 month ago. Right now it's getting a new water pump installed. I thought these vehicles were reliable. Have I made a big and expensive mistake?
YES, you probably have.:D

BUT this is no time for buyer's remorse.:crybaby2:

This Forum has an absolute treasure trove of information and there are not many defects of the truck which have not been experienced and SOLVED with the expert and FREE knowledge to hand on the Forum.

Chin up and enjoy the truck!:thumbsup:
 

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99 White ML320, 13 Audi S5,84 300ZX Turbo, 03 Audi A4, 03 Audi TT, 65 Ford Galaxie Conv
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474 Posts
Hope I don't bring bad car karma on my ML, but I guess I have the best one next to rudedude. Other than the transfer case, my problems have been small (window switches, ps res, and blend door motor). 190K and counting...

me :bowdown: my ML
 

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Black 2005 ML 500
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1,662 Posts
We all like our ML's. Unluckily the ML has never been a reliable vehicle. All the different reliability reports for more than 10 years has gathered the same conclusion from the available industry data.

Good news is that there have been improvements over the quality of the replacement parts over the last years. New part numbers, from Bosch, transmssion/valve plate, and other sensors, have improved designed/quality parts that seem to fail less often.

The bad news is that most of us have many parts that are prone to fail and quality issues. i.e. fuel pump sender, paint, axle bearings, transmission related parts, catalytic converters, AC activators, sludge damage, various engine sensors, coil packs, AAM, security devices, wheel and other ESP/BAS related sensors, trip computer, etc. Most of which has been an issue since the ML's roll out of the Mercedes dealers.

Mercedes has always been competing with Range Rover for the last positions in the reliability charts. There were various reliability charts, over several years, shown in several posts which I can't find anymore. I wonder if they have been removed from the forum?

Anyway, attached is one of the older reliability reports...

AC
 

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ML320 2002
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1,602 Posts
According to the chart above, the worst performing vehicle is in the SUV category in 19 out of 36 manufacturers. That's significant. If one is looking for a reliable SUV, there are not too many to choose from.
 

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2001 ML430 Sport bought in very nice shape despite 156K miles in August 2010
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540 Posts
My 1999 Toyota LandCruiser has been exceptionally reliable since new. Its had 217K miles of hard work, including towing a 5000# race car rig up and down the east coast season after season. Aside from consumables [brakes/filters/tires etc] the only items to have failed are:
- AC condenser, AC evaporator
- radiator
- rear muffler
- starter motor
- a few coil packs
It still drives as smooth and tight as ever.

The only thing that worries me about the ML is the telematics design, which might be more appropriate for a space shuttle than a street car [if it were more reliable].

The good news is that the knowledge and resources on thid forum are more than a match for anything the ML can throw at you. If you are a DIY type, you are in good shape for most problems that seem to arise.
 

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Premium Member
1999 S600 Sedan, 1999 S600 w/ 4-pl seating, 1995 S600 Coupe, 2-1992 600SEL's, 2002 ML55, 1998 SL600
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2,425 Posts
Here's my take on buying a used Mercedes:

You have to get the car almost to certified pre-owned condition, whether you buy it that way or you get it to that point early in your ownership.

Be very fussy about keeping it up. Get the small things repaired/replaced ASAP.

Once there, once in the very best condition you can get the vehicle, that will be your starting point of ownership, and that's how you should judge your investment, not merely what one pays for the car, but add in all that goes into it to get it to the very best shape you can.

From there, keeping the car up is relatively easy and you can go a million more miles, if you stick to the concept that small things left unaddressed will lead to cascading failures if you don't arrest the process as soon as you see it. Get the small things taken care of, that will avoid having to deal with the bigger things.

Simple strategy. May not be easy, but it's a simple concept to understand.
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
Well said Stryker.

There's nothing as expensive as a cheap Mercedes Benz.
 

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7 Posts
I agree. I do notice when reviewing posts on this forum however that from the facelift model they seem to be a lot less trouble.

I have a late 2004 270 cdi model that , touch wood, is perfect and although I have only owned it 3 months is proving to be one of the most useful and practical vehicles I have ever owned.

It appears from the full Merc. history to have been reliable for the previous owner apart from the air con which needed a new compressor a year ago.
 

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99 White ML320, 13 Audi S5,84 300ZX Turbo, 03 Audi A4, 03 Audi TT, 65 Ford Galaxie Conv
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474 Posts
Well said Stryker.

There's nothing as expensive as a cheap Mercedes Benz.
I would extend this to anything German with anything American a close second. Poorly maintained anything or abused anything is expensive.
 
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