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to even check that it will be 250 dollars and your car still might not work with this new key
as Deplore predicted, threatening you with big bills so you walk away, amazing

AAM recognizes the key? What key # is it on now? Is the immobilizer ring functioning?
did MB confirm the first 2 things weren't a problem?
my understanding is someone with a decent scan tool can determine if the 3 things suggested above are ok within minutes (unless all are dependent on that keyring working, maybe it is). If anything doesn't work, we obviously don't know if was broken before or after they had possession of the car
update: if you bought the new key from them, I'm thinking all these 3 things should work, given you know it was working before (possible but IMO little chance it suddenly stopped working in between the time you lost the key and the time they got the vehicle)
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Update: MB guy just called and said "It is NOT the key because the key starts the car but the car shuts off after every start." He said they are bringing in a special tech to dx the problem with car, this will be just the beginning cost. He cannot even estimate how much of a fix this can be.
I told him my son only needs this car for one more year and it's not worth much. We just really need a key. He's not interested in my personal life. I asked him if he's seen this happen to a 1998 before and he said "I've seen all types of key problems." "This could be a 1000 dollar fix."
I'm super bummed, I know you guys are mechanics yourselves but I am really stuck here. I mean, I don't even know where to tow this car to to even try to sell it for parts or a PNO car. I'm hoping for a miracle at this point and that the tech finds a cheap fix. This is a big MB dealership :(
 

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Update: MB guy just called and said "It is NOT the key because the key starts the car but the car shuts off after every start." He said they are bringing in a special tech to dx the problem with car, this will be just the beginning cost. He cannot even estimate how much of a fix this can be.
I told him my son only needs this car for one more year and it's not worth much. We just really need a key. He's not interested in my personal life. I asked him if he's seen this happen to a 1998 before and he said "I've seen all types of key problems." "This could be a 1000 dollar fix."
I'm super bummed, I know you guys are mechanics yourselves but I am really stuck here. I mean, I don't even know where to tow this car to to even try to sell it for parts or a PNO car. I'm hoping for a miracle at this point and that the tech finds a cheap fix. This is a big MB dealership :(
You need this to confirm what he's babbling (respectfully)
 

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good luck, I hope they help you out and find the cheapest solution to get your 98 back on the road again, not sure if there is any other option other than mb dealership if its keys related
 

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Discussion Starter #25

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I don’t know what’s wrong with the techs at this dealership. The MB diagnostic system is very sophisticated, it should be throwing up some sort of error code or indication of the problem.

My first guess with a problem like you’ve described is the fuel system. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tow bounced it around enough to dislodge some crud and partially block the fuel pump/filter/lines/etc. Enough fuel seeps by when it’s off to get things moving, but it runs out of capacity and starves quickly when runnng.
 

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I don’t know what’s wrong with the techs at this dealership. The MB diagnostic system is very sophisticated, it should be throwing up some sort of error code or indication of the problem.

My first guess with a problem like you’ve described is the fuel system. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tow bounced it around enough to dislodge some crud and partially block the fuel pump/filter/lines/etc. Enough fuel seeps by when it’s off to get things moving, but it runs out of capacity and starves quickly when runnng.
Yes but if it's an key authorization issue (like this is key #9, when only 8 are possible) then the cut off time should be uniform each time it dies.

Were it junk dislodged by tow, most likely not, would probably sputter & choke unpredictably.

Bananna Benz, I'll pray right now for your situation & your son for solutions to this dilemma.

Seriously I will - God cares about EVERYTHING we bring to him !

Having a working car in 2020 means a lot to a young persons future.

I have 3 teen daughters 15-19 so I know.

I myself have a 2002 ML500 not running. I'm close to a solution but its been down 4 months.
Thankfully not our only running vehicle.

Once a solution is found - assuming you keep the ML, may I suggest you get 3 identical Valet keys (should be possible) and use 1 as main key, 1 as spare kept in secure spot at home and 1 to put in a Hide-A-Key on the ML.

Please update us when able & God bless you all

David in Texas
 

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2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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Unless the stealer 'disabled' the slot.
 

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2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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I'm with khomer on this. It is most likely new key is your issue. It is coded wrong OR AAM/DAS has been replaced. The immobilizer can be bypassed and a new ignition system installed but I would be unwilling to spend the money it would take on a 2002 much less than a 1998. I am sorry to say but unless stealer is willing to fix key issue, your car is totaled.
 

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Re: 'the MB guy just called and said "It is NOT the key because the key starts the car but the car shuts off after every start."'

I don't remember for certain, but I believe that with the 98-99 MLs the RFID chip in the key is checked immediately after the engine starts, not before. So if you have a key that fits the lock and allows you to turn it to the start position, the engine will always start. Then, if the RFID chip is successfully authenticated the engine will continue running. If not, the engine will immediately shut down.

I have a 98 ML320, and its behavior follows that pattern exactly. One of my keys has a failed RFID chip. Once in awhile I accidentally pick up the key with the bad chip and try to use it. When I do, this is what happens: (1) I insert the key and turn the ignition to the start position; (2) The engine starts successfully (completely normal startup noises and behavior); (3) The engine runs just long enough to know (hear) for sure that it has actually started, then it immediately shuts down as if the ignition had been turned off.

There are two points I wanted to make about this behavior. One, there is no doubt that the engine has successfully started and then shuts itself off. I doubt that it runs for much more than a second (if that long) before shutting down, but it is long enough to hear easily what is going on. Two, the behavior is very consistent each time this happens. The engine always runs the same very brief time before shutting off. And you can perform this quick test without any other equipment.

If your car exhibits the same behavior, then the cause is probably a either bad chip in the key or a problem with the immobilizer coil, or as Witek said, "vehicle had engine control module and AAM replaced in the past. So now its VIN number is mismatched with ECM/AAM". The behavior would probably be the same in any of those cases.

And 2000 E 320 White Wagon has good advice: "Once a solution is found - assuming you keep the ML, may I suggest you get 3 identical Valet keys (should be possible) and use 1 as main key, 1 as spare kept in secure spot at home and 1 to put in a Hide-A-Key on the ML." (I bought 4 of them, while they are still available, just to be safe.)
 

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I don't remember for certain, but I believe that with the 98-99 MLs the RFID chip in the key is checked immediately after the engine starts, not before. So if you have a key that fits the lock and allows you to turn it to the start position, the engine will always start. Then, if the RFID chip is successfully authenticated the engine will continue running. If not, the engine will immediately shut down.
Chip is authenticated when key is turned to position 2. Visual confirmation is one short blink of alarm LED.
 

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Thanks, Witek. I should know better than to trust my memory. Do 98-99 MLs differ from later years with respect to when/how the authentication is acted upon? (i.e., shutting down after successful start vs not being allowed to start at all)
 

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lots of videos of same thing on youtube

also this guys was able to start after moving the keyring around but took few tries, on his other video he was able to fix by replacing the ring DIY
 

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They all work the same. Later models display "Start Error" on odometer.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
FINAL UPDATE: :(
It's over. Worst case scenario. MB said the AAM in car is not working no matter what. He can see it's broken/been tampered with.? There are 2 1998 AAMs in America that will cost 1100 dollars BUT that still might not fix this "key problem" because he can't dx it because AAM doesn't work.
He is nice enough to ask sales department if they want to buy it for scraps OR tomorrow he will give me numbers on people who will come tow it away for money... Like I said I know y'all are dudes that probably don't care about my personal feelings but I'm so super upset. This car was so beautiful and it was all I could afford and he lost the key... Anyway thanks for helping....
 

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FINAL UPDATE: :(
It's over. Worst case scenario. MB said the AAM in car is not working no matter what. He can see it's broken/been tampered with.? There are 2 1998 AAMs in America that will cost 1100 dollars BUT that still might not fix this "key problem" because he can't dx it because AAM doesn't work.
He is nice enough to ask sales department if they want to buy it for scraps OR tomorrow he will give me numbers on people who will come tow it away for money... Like I said I know y'all are dudes that probably don't care about my personal feelings but I'm so super upset. This car was so beautiful and it was all I could afford and he lost the key... Anyway thanks for helping....
Sorry to hear this news.
The next car you son gets, imhumbleO, extra set of spare keys always.....
let him buy it on his dime.
Their $, their loss.
 

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was hoping it was a better outcome. sorry to hear this.

just out of curiosity, did anyone really do anything to the car in between you lost the key and handing it over the MB? I find it strange AAM stopped working in that short time - how long (?).

I guess you will never really know if its not working unless someone you trust plugs in their own diagnostic tool, if not you'll just have to trust the dealer's findings/story.
 

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FINAL UPDATE: :(
It's over. Worst case scenario. MB said the AAM in car is not working no matter what. He can see it's broken/been tampered with.? There are 2 1998 AAMs in America that will cost 1100 dollars BUT that still might not fix this "key problem" because he can't dx it because AAM doesn't work.
He is nice enough to ask sales department if they want to buy it for scraps OR tomorrow he will give me numbers on people who will come tow it away for money... Like I said I know y'all are dudes that probably don't care about my personal feelings but I'm so super upset. This car was so beautiful and it was all I could afford and he lost the key... Anyway thanks for helping....
Bummer. Both financial and technical.

You are loosing vehicle and we will never know what went wrong. Since you are paying for key ordered at least compare VIN on bag key came in to actual vehicle VIN
 
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I wish you the best, but chalk this one up to bad luck and move on. The early ML’s should be avoided at all costs because of this type of problem, and because for the same money you can get a 10+ year newer car that people can actually fix. There are plenty of ML lovers who will praise it, but we only have one life and there are better things to spend it on than fighting a unicorn has-been.
 
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