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1998 C280 Sport w/ MANY mods, 1991 SL500 w/ MANY mods, 1999 ML430 stock for now :'(
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So given that I'm totally new to the ML, I'd like to hear from some of you "vets" on your ML's winter performance, as I'll be taking my sisters in mine from Vancouver down to LA this Xmas, and there's some mountain passes that are quite hilly and snowy.

I did take my ML430 up to a local ski area last night, but didn't want to push my luck.

So what are the limitations you've faced with your ML's? I also noticed while studying the owner's manual that the 4-ETS traction control only works up to 80km/h? What happens after that? And with the Low Range, when have you had to use it to get unstuck and up to what speed did you use it?

Thanks in advance for the input guys! If everything seems okay, I won't have to freak out and trade this in for an Audi... Already too attached to my ProjectML =P
 

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05 ML500 SE
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1,482 Posts
tires are everything..

The rubber compound and how it behaves below freezing.
The tread pattern and whether they can bite in.
The width matters too with narrower tires cutting in better than wide.

With 20" wheels and summer tires it will be downright scary. With the right tires it will be dreamy. The ML is generally very good in the snow. I installed these and abso-fricken-lutely luv em. They are good on the highway but have a mildly offroad tread pattern.. very versatile in a lot of mixed driving scenarios. I also went from stock 275/55/17 (29" diameter) to 265/65/17 (30.7") for a slight upsizing. Did I mention I like the tires? :D

Arguably the best scenario would be 18-20" wheels with sticky summer compound for the street. and 16" dedicated winter tires for the snow.

I couldnt afford that so I went with the swiss army knife of tires on my stock 17" wheels.

My ML does really great in the snow.. However my X3 with traction control switched off was way more fun in snowy deserted parking lots.
 

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2007 ML 500, 2008 ML 550, 2011 ML 63 AMG
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363 Posts
PDX nailed it, the 3 most important things for winter driving are, tires, tires, and tires, in that order.

I have Michelin X-Ice's on my ML, my buddy has the same truck with all seasons on it, I routinely drive in 12" - 24" of snow, no issue at all, his is nearly unmanageable if there's enough snow the road is white instead of grey.

As for the ETS thing, if the conditions are so bad that it's an issue, you shouldn't be doing 80+ km/h anyways.
 

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2007 BMW X3
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472 Posts
Ditto....

Having owned Jeeps and Subaru, the ML is by far the best vehicle I have ever experience in the snow and ice. Bad tires will just run the BAS/ESP to death.

Click off the ESP have a load of fun, click the switch again with full control. Not to mention the heavy construction of the ML and safety. My wife gets upset with me the way I drive, but I feel totally safe in the ML. That's why I bought the ML, safety.

You can buy a Japanese vehicle with good performance, but the Germans are and have been leading the way regarding AWD and safety.

Mein twei euros.....
 

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Ml270 CDI 2002, All stock bits and bobs, just engine remap to boost bhp.
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9 Posts
Driving control 4x4

I have to say the old ML (nicknamed rocky balboa) is beating the snow hands down, in Ireland we have about a foot at the moment and it's like driving on a normal road, no slip, no stress, best thing I ever bought except when it doesn't start ha ha !:)
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
Being that it is eternally 30+ degrees centigrade in the shade where I am....

....what is this snow/winter of which you guys speak?:D
 

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1990 190E 2.6,.... 1998 ML320, 2005 ML500SE
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3,103 Posts
As others have stated, except FAR888 who rubs it in every year, tires are everything when it comes to snow. The best snow vehicles I have owned were my 1983 and 1985 full size Ford Broncos. Next comes my ML320 which is very good in the snow. My ML500 is just barely OK in the snow, too much power an too wide tires. All my vehicles have had Michelin X-Terrain tires but all have had different sizes except the 2 Broncos which ran the same size. Wide tires are a big problem when driving in the snow.

Farid, your missing some good times by not experiencing driving in snow and just experiencing the snow in general.

Mike
 

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2007 ML 500, 2008 ML 550, 2011 ML 63 AMG
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363 Posts
My ML500 is just barely OK in the snow, too much power an too wide tires.


Farid, your missing some good times by not experiencing driving in snow and just experiencing the snow in general.

Mike
Mike, again, that's the tire choice only, my ML500 with 235/65R-17's (Michelin X-Ice) on it is nearly unstoppable in winter.

The only time I had an issue was when the truck hit a snow drift across the driveway, the snow was hard-packed from the wind blowing it in, then had warmed up as the temperature rose. The truck was literally resting on it's belly pan and the tires couldn't reach the ground to hook up. If I had been going just a little faster I would have gotten through though.



Don't worry about Farid BTW, he's just trying to get even with us because we have premium fuel when all he has is mediocre regular available. :D
 

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05 500
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6,512 Posts
...
So what are the limitations you've faced with your ML's? ...=P
The W163 is quite capable in heavy snow but like it was pointed out earlier tires and wheel make a huge difference. Don't believe you may not get stuck - I did last winter and we discussed it here to point out some possible limitations of this vehicle. There's plenty of useful information on the following thread if you take some time to go through all the responses:http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w163-m-class/1499856-wow-we-got-pounded-ml-too.html
 

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05 ML500 SE
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1999 ML 430
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394 Posts
This is my 36th winter in Alaska.

I've driven the frigid, dry snow, snow pack, and ice of the interior, the heat glazed icy intersections of Anchorage, and the heavy, wet snow, slush, and ice in Juneau. Most of that time I had 2wd sedans, rwd back in the '70s, fwd since, with a rwd Porsche and a couple of VWs thrown in. Along the way I've had two 4wds and now the ML 430 awd. The only times I've ever been stuck in daily driving were in the 4wds. I've been hit three times in those years and two of the three were 4wd. The problem with 4wd is for the inexperienced driver they give a false sense of confidence and for the more experienced drive perhaps too much daring. Basically, a 4wd will take you further from help before it gets stuck too.

Two things are important: as many have said, you have to have suitable tires and you have to have some skill with driving in low traction conditions. Not all "all-weather" radials are created equal. You really need an open, blocky tread with lots of room to push water out when you're driving in wet snow, the kind you're most likely to see in the OR and CA passes. The ribs that help give tires good dry highway mileage are terrible on any ice and snow; you might as well have drag slicks on that part of the tread. IIRC, in most of the mountain areas on I-5, they require either M+S rated tires or chains in snowy conditions. If you don't have them, I don't know that I'd buy a set for one trip so long as you have good AW radials. I'd just throw a set of chains in the back; they're a PITA, but they're really handy for ocassional snow.

The other factor is skill. You have to be very gentle in low traction, but not so gentle that you lose momentum. You can't plow or push snow very far in a 4wd/Awd vehicle. If you get in snow deeper than your ground clearance, you're going to have trouble. You can bust through a drift or a berm, but you can't just keep driving very far in snow deeper than your ground clearance; you WILL get high-centered and your tires will just be spinning in little arcs of packed snow, and yes, even in snow you can heat them up and you'll have steam coming off your tires as you melt snow and just make it worse. The cure for getting stuck like that is a couple strips of old carpet four of five feet long; they'll get you moving again. Kitty litter works pretty well for traction on ice. So, if I were making your trip and I didn't have primo AW radials or M+S rated tires with the mountain symbol on them, I'd probably just buy a set of chains and put some strips of carpet in the back. A shovel is handy too.

This is my first winter in ANC with the ML and it seems to get around pretty well even on the freezing rain covered streets we had a week or so ago. Freezing rain is by far the worst driving condition you'll encounter. And finally, the one thing 4wd/awd drivers often forget and which gets them in real trouble is that their fine snow vehicle may go real well, but it doesn't stop any better than any other vehicle and since they're often much heavier, they don't stop well at all. The only remedy for that is to watch your speed and keep a safe distance from anything you don't want to hit or as boaters say about docking, don't approach anything any faster than you want to hit it.
 

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2002 ML55 AMG, 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Limited, 1999 C280
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4,714 Posts
Very good comeback buddy....

....Don't worry about Farid BTW, he's just trying to get even with us because we have premium fuel when all he has is mediocre regular available. :D
:yelrotflmao::yelrotflmao::yelrotflmao:

That had me rolling about my office floor in laughter....and you know, there may be a touch of truth in what you say...I envy you guys with your excellent roads, premium fuel, diagnostic facilities, easy availability of parts and mechanical expertise...I could go on...:crybaby2:
 

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1998 C280 Sport w/ MANY mods, 1991 SL500 w/ MANY mods, 1999 ML430 stock for now :'(
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I've driven the frigid, dry snow, snow pack, and ice of the interior, the heat glazed icy intersections of Anchorage, and the heavy, wet snow, slush, and ice in Juneau. Most of that time I had 2wd sedans, rwd back in the '70s, fwd since, with a rwd Porsche and a couple of VWs thrown in. Along the way I've had two 4wds and now the ML 430 awd.

You really need an open, blocky tread with lots of room to push water out when you're driving in wet snow, the kind you're most likely to see in the OR and CA passes. The ribs that help give tires good dry highway mileage are terrible on any ice and snow; you might as well have drag slicks on that part of the tread. IIRC, in most of the mountain areas on I-5, they require either M+S rated tires or chains in snowy conditions.
Thanks everyone for the info! And Black3... I guess it's true what they say about how Inuit have 40+ words for "snow"! I didn't even consider the different types of snow I'd have to be driving in!

Luckily my car came with some Michelin Cross-Terrain SUV M+S with about 80% Tread left, so they should do the trick for my roadtrip... then switch them out for my 22's come springtime =D

Reason I asked in the first place is because when I was researching potential 4WD/AWD cars, I was worried about getting a "reactive" system vs a proactive awd system like Audi's Quattro. Since the 4-ETS is somewhat reactionary as it comes into effect by braking after sensing wheel slip, I was afraid there would be jerking as the brakes correct wheelspin, like what's found in those part-time 4wd systems when the rear/front axle engages. But from the sounds of it, no worries about that! Much more comfortable with my purchase now. Thanks again everyone!
 

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1999 ML320 Elegance, BMW R1150RT, SAAB 9-3
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282 Posts
re; I guess it's true what they say about how Inuit have 40+ words for "snow"! I didn't even consider the different types of snow I'd have to be driving in!

Guess again!:
wikipedia says:
"It is a popular urban legend that the Inuit or Eskimos have an unusually large number of words for snow. In reality, the Eskimo-Aleut languages have about the same number of distinct word roots referring to snow as English does"

the cross terrains are great in the snow - enjoy (i have them too but mine are getting to 'end of life')
 

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03 ML350
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245 Posts
...Reason I asked in the first place is because when I was researching potential 4WD/AWD cars, I was worried about getting a "reactive" system vs a proactive awd system like Audi's Quattro. Since the 4-ETS is somewhat reactionary as it comes into effect by braking after sensing wheel slip, I was afraid there would be jerking as the brakes correct wheelspin, like what's found in those part-time 4wd systems when the rear/front axle engages. But from the sounds of it, no worries about that! Much more comfortable with my purchase now. Thanks again everyone!
I'd say the quattro system is technically inferior to open diff awd in the most critical winter driving situations - negotiating slippery corners at speed. Since torsen differentials present more resistance to opposite shafts to turning different speeds they induce wheelspin and loss of traction and stability in cornering situation. It may not be as pronounced as as old-fashioned part-time or limited slip diffs but it exists nonetheless.

The only thing proactive about quattro is resistance to slipping under acceleration. For a rally driver that might be worth the tradeoff. But the most dangerous condition the average motorist faces is finding themselves entering a corner near the limit of traction when riding it through without accelerating or braking is the best course of action.
 
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