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1999 ML320
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When you buy the filter use the one that is fleece not paper as it is the upgrade to the paper type. Also use the recommended 0 W 40 Mobil 1 motor oil you can get cheap at Walmart in the 5 qt jugs. As a technician for 38 yrs the only lifter noise additive I have ever seen actually work was from Napa I think it was called Valve Clean in a black bottle about 12 oz.
Now I will tell you what nobody else here has mentioned. Mercedes Benz mechanics will usually take the vehicle with a warmed up engine and drive it in low or second gear for up to 5 mins @ 4500-5000 rpm watching the temp gauge. If the temp starts to go past 100 stop the rev conditioning and drive the vehicle for a mile like normal. This usually purges the lifters and the noise will go away. If this dosnt work proceed with the oil change. And if possible refrain from using additives as it is not recommended. The reason for running the engine at such high revs is that your valve train rpm runs at 1/2 the engine rpm. So you have to rev it up to pump up the lifters and purge the lifter galley and lifters. I hope this works for you. If this and the oil change do not work you will need to inspect the camshaft and lifters. If you can identify the exact lifter making the noise you can get away with replacing the affected lifter only. Be sure to order the correct lifter as some models require a different part number for the intake and exhaust. Good Luck!
Great tip !

Thx
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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Got the same rattle. Tried an extended cruise (3 or 4 miles) at 4500-5000 r/m. Still rattling just as much as before.
I had valve covers off looking for sloppy rockers and FOUND NONE. While running with covers off, I pushed on rockers trying to quiet them, and could not identify any bad ones.
Run without accessory drive belt, same noise.
Is there a definitive way to ID the bad lifters? None were sloppy with covers off.
I mapped oil pressure versus temperature (see other posts). Rattle loudest at idle, around 600 rpm or whatever. Goes away at speed. Oil and filter look good, o-rings on filter spear seem OK. Never any oil pressure or level lights....
is there any definitive rocker/lifter test that can qualify the lifters as good? otherwise, I am thinking I have to assume some journal bearings somewhere? maybe the balance shaft (sound seems to come from center of engine, top end)?
Any help would be appreciated.
 

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02 ML320 06 ML500
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OXOO, could you please clear up what year ML you actually have. 02 or 03 ML320 doesn't quite do it. So please UPDATE YOUR PROFILE.
 

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Maybe it is not a lifter problem but a chain slap caused by a stretched chain.

There have been quite a few posts with the same problem and replacing the tensioner did not remedy the problem.

Get your hands on a mechanics stethoscope, remove the belt and listen to where the noise is the loudest, valve covers or the timing case cover.
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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chain seemed tight

I tried moving cams checking for both bearing slop and loose chain, also pried gently with screwdriver below camshaft chain wheel against chain to see if chain could deflect. Not a very good test, but it was not obviously loose.

118K miles. I'll add that to profile, too. It sat a while the family member diagnosed the cats, 'fake cat' resonators, quad O2 sensors etc.

Was clean and smooth under rocker covers. Rollers, lobes, etc looked good. I expected to find a super loose rocker or 3, but didn't. However, I didn't roll the engine over to get every trio of rockers to the loosest angle (TDC before power stroke) and then check.

The noise is always there, just much worse once warm. Barely noticiable at cold start (cold oil and system at high idle makes it unnoticeable).

If I carefully remove the chain tensioner, will I feel it ratcheting out as I remove it? if so, I could verify that it has at least some more clicks and is not at end of travel. I suspect that turning such a large piece of metal would make it impossible to detect if it indeed ratceheted out some more on removal. Just a thought.

I keep coming back to lifters because I just can't bring myself to believe anything else is wrong at such a low mileage. Bearings already on a thing running 8 quarts of synthetic all its life? (its a rattle, not a cyclic knock, anyway). Loose chain? would not suspect stretched at this age so failed tensioner? how? leaking oil and not ratcheting out enough? Even with a broken spring it would pump up and out.

I'll probably vacuum out some oil and try to get two quarts ATF in there at the low end of stick and run it a while like that. But I'll wait till the last minute and keep looking for ideas.

Looks like OP never solved it either?

I think I have seen this complaint 5 or 10 times at least but VegasBenzTech777 has proposed the ONLY solution I have seen acknowledged as working-and only one time. I figured over the months of searching I would find at least a few instances of the noise getting fixed, but only one so far. However, I have seen at least one of 'they replaced the lifters but its still noisy.'

So, I am on the fence now...have to go back to regular job to get money for german car parts. I'm considering several things:
1-wait for more commentary.
2-dose it heavy with ATF.
3-yank the rocker assy's and have a closer look.
4-put a microphone on it and watch sound versus engine position with an oscilloscope.
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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oh yeah

oh yeah...I'll have a good look at the harmonic damper on the crank sheave just in case.
 

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1998 E320 sedan
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0X00, OP's problem was solved, reread post 20!

I think you are overlooking a clue in the above post?

If you can get the oil annalized, if as you say there is no valve train noise when engine is cold.

What oil are you using? be specific


Patch

Also what temperature is the gauge showing?
 

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2003 E500 Sport; 2003 ML350 Inspiration; 2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate
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I read this post made earlier with some interest because my ML350 woke up the other day with exactly the same noise - did you put the seafoam in the gas tank or mix it with the engine oil?

When this started, I called my mechanic and he indicated it may be that the oil viscosity may be a bit low for the engine (0W-40 vs. 5W40 - engine has only 93k, a baby for an M112) - I plan to swap the oil out and put 5W40 in and check my filter install. However, before I do that, I thought I'd confirm the procedure....

Also, after a long chat my mechanic and I decided to throw some STP oil treatment in it to test the low viscosity theory (yeah I know - not recommended, but I plan to change the oil anyhow). The STP did help quite a bit - there is much less noise at start-up and the lifter noise goes away within a minute of start-up.
 

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2000 ML320 (x2)
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I read this post made earlier with some interest because my ML350 woke up the other day with exactly the same noise - did you put the seafoam in the gas tank or mix it with the engine oil?
Also, after a long chat my mechanic and I decided to throw some STP oil treatment in it to test the low viscosity theory (yeah I know - not recommended, but I plan to change the oil anyhow). The STP did help quite a bit - there is much less noise at start-up and the lifter noise goes away within a minute of start-up.
Interesting! Please keep us posted.
 

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2003 E500 Sport; 2003 ML350 Inspiration; 2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate
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The latest...

Well here's the update:

The last few times I've started it up, absolutely no noise. I called my mechanic this morning and he still believes it's viscosity related and indicated he always used 5W40 he got directly from Mercedes.

I also asked about the engine flush (seafoam or anything else) - he said it's okay, but was thinking that the lower viscosity oil may help clean it out a as well (because it's thinner and has detergents in it). He also said he's seen more of these engines with lifter noise.

My preferred theory: oil too thin for whatever reason, STP has helped or coated the components and quieted it down. Other theories: 1) some crap broke loose and wove it's way through the system, setting up at a place in the oil distribution system at a point that restricted flow to the lifters/valve train causing the clatter and 2) it was a little colder and wet here than it than it normally is when this started and the oil may have just marginally too viscous at start-up.

It's hard to say - a few years' ago, it looks like the previous owner let the car sit for awhile when gas prices were at $4 per gallon, so there may be more gunk in there. I bought the car at 83k last June and she just turned 94k last week, so we've been driving her quite a bit over the last 10 months - maybe something broke loose. I think I may look for a mild engine flush and follow the previously mentioned procedure to clean the old girl out. I will probably try the 0W40 one more time to try and duplicate the issue (and again add STP if the rattle comes back).

Hope this helps, although there's not much new info here.

And before I forget - GO DUKE!
 

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Well here's the update:

The last few times I've started it up, absolutely no noise. I called my mechanic this morning and he still believes it's viscosity related and indicated he always used 5W40 he got directly from Mercedes.

...

My preferred theory: oil too thin for whatever reason, STP has helped or coated the components and quieted it down. Other theories: 1) some crap broke loose and wove it's way through the system, setting up at a place in the oil distribution system at a point that restricted flow to the lifters/valve train causing the clatter and
I have been pondering this, and your theory actually makes sense why this would work. There's probably sludge restrictions in there that are preventing the flow of oil. The thicker oil at least sticks to the parts when it gets there, so it makes up for lack of flow.

So, clear the sludge out, or get the oil to stick once it gets there.

Oh yeah, and since you bought this used, you probably don't remember that when these came out, MB said they could run 10k miles on conventional oil (!). They later retracted and said synthetic should be used. So it's entirely possible that someone took care of the car per manufacturer's instructions, and there's still sludge in there from the original instructions.

Everything makes sense once again. Thanks!
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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update

update:

no headway made.
I ran some heavy percentage of ATF, changed oil. tried some 5-30 and also some 15-40 from another engine (rattletrap doesn't get new oil ever since the brand new 5-40 rotella didn't help).
currently has a heavy (90% of a bottle) of sea foam IN THE CRANKCASE.
every time I 'dosed with detergentor additive' I ran it low on oil to keep the concentration of the additive up. Usually, just touching the dipstick.
overall, no changes, or, more rattly if anything. currently full of oil pending next action. I try to run it every weekend and do some of the 'vegastech' rev treatment.
I got more filters thanks to RM European and will probably load it up with Walmart Supertech 15-40 as a next try.
after that, Maybe 15-50 mobil 1 or maybe give up. replacement engines are silly cheap. the junkyard lady laughed when she quoted me the price saying they can't give them away.
I pulled the tensioner out and gave it a good look over. I cleaned it and pumped new oil through, and some pb blaster too. seemed ok.
$55 tensioner?
if fail
$120 chain?
That's closing in on $200 and the whole engine that the yard tech claims to have heard run is less than $400. maybe I'll get a tensioner (and everything else) that way!
maybe part it out. Thank goodness I sold the Cayenne before it got to this. never get a german car!
 

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1998 E320 sedan
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Even if the engine was selling for 200.00 I wouldn't swap it over lifters.

They are easy to change, I would do them all, then you know what you have;)

And I might add it's time to stop rinsing the crankcase.

Patch
 

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2003 E500 Sport; 2003 ML350 Inspiration; 2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate
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If it's any consolation....

I'm with Patch's on doing the lifters - maybe get a good mechanic's opinion on the diagnosis/repair as well just in case there's not something more substantially wrong with the engine before you invest the money/time/effort. In general, I think the M112/M113 engines are pretty reliable and solid so repairs to keep them going are a good investment. The quoted junk yard price and the fact that they told you they "can't give them away" indicates a history of reliability. FWIW, my indy swears by the M112/113's, but won't recommend the M272/M273.

If it's any consolation, I just dropped my wife's Navigator off at the mechanic to have a 'tick' diagnosed/isolated (hoping it's an exhaust tick and not a lifter). If you want to read about a world of misery do an internet search for "Ford 5.4 problems." The 5.4 engine conceptual design is solid, but the component design is marginal (think of the accountants telling the engineer to "make it cheaper"). I don't have anywhere near the same level or magnitude of concerns with my M112/113 engines as I do with the well-maintained 92k 5.4L in our Lincoln.
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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knocking still

if anyone is still watching....
I threw a new Febi-Bilstein tensioner in...no help.

If I decide to do the lifters......

how can I identify the bad ones? I ran it with the covers off a long time ago and pushed hard with a hammer handle and my hands on each rocker, trying to change the sound or find sloppy rockers. I could not come to any conclusion except that a decent amount of oil got on my floor.

for lifters, rock auto, assuming they are cheap, $37+ for each intake and about $28 for each exhaust is $622. and there are plenty of videos online where people did this without fixing, both by themselves and through dealers. Will I need new torque-to-yeild rocker bridge screws? German cars full of these one-time-use screws.

RM Euro is much better for lifters. $12.66 and $9.93 for intake/exhaust respectively. Still over $200 and no assurance that it will fix it.

At this cost, I am more likely to take it all apart and see if any lifters don't look good when disassembled and under a microscope.

the only one consistent thing story internet offers about this problem is that it 'sounds like a Mercedes.'

anyone know how to identify the bad lifters? running with covers off and pushing on them didn't do it. I am considering connecting it to an oscilloscope and determining exactly when in the cycle the noise occurs (trigger on #1 ignition on one channel, audio microphone on the other channel).
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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a bit more:
also, with covers off, I turned engine until each set of rockers 'rocked' (as loose as they can possibly get-just like when adjusting valves on adjustable-lash rockers) and could not find any that were noticeably loose or much looser than others. All seemed pretty similar.

if there is a trick to finding the bad lifters, I would love to hear about it.

thanks!!!
 

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1998 E320 sedan
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Hey 0, I did half of my 3.2 not long ago now I have the other half in on the self but waiting for the time to get them done.
Here's what I can tell you, these lifters not just MB but from 85 on that I have serviced, can be tough to pin down. Sometimes the ports are coked, other time the springs are weak or broken and others are just worn, meaning they wont hold enough pressure so they "collapse" my suggestion is replace them all! I bought mine from a machine shop, I didn't pay much for the 1st set, the second set I got from Pellican (no I am not concerned about mixing brands).

Pull the rocker assembly off, then I used a large pair of bent-nose low down on the shank each lifter, using a flat thin glazing bar I pried up on the the pliers, they were easy enough to remove, these have a spring-locking ring so hard to get them moving up once they start though..... then I use assembly grease to install the new ones. Measure the thrust between each rocker they should be all the same, and I can't remember what that is but you can check my posts, if you find one way out, well....

Oil every thing up before during and after you re-install the rocker assembly.

I can tell you it made a difference with mine after completion, and that when I finally heard one load over on the other side, again they will all get changed.

Patch
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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THANKS, Patch!

I bought a used engine with 75K and took all lifters out and cleaned them, check the checkvalves and reassembled them. I put them all in last night. at first, the sound was different....rattly lifters...until it pumped up. now, still making the exact same noise as before. FYI, the 'dry lifter rattle was just like in the old days, very light ticking/clicking, not the heavy rattle of the current work. That valve lash sound went away as it pumped up, and once warm, the old sound was back.

If I listen close, I believe it is all coming from the driver side. One thing I forgot to try was to clean the oil passages through the rocker shafts (or just pour something down the tube and see if it comes out at each rocker/lifter.

I reused the cambridge screws after some thought...I decided that the 120-degrees of plastic deformation could probably happen several times before causing issues. On the RH side, all but one screw torqued up to 15ft lb, so I replaced that one with one from the other engine, then angled them about 45-degrees. On the other side, MANY (maybe 6 or 7 in the middle) just kept turning and wouldn't click. so I just left them alone after I figured they yielded about 90 to 120 degrees. If it ever stops rattling, I may replace them....but the only source I found was $2.6 and there's close to 30 of them....this POS isn't worth it! the whole engine was only $275 + core.

I just did oil and filter, currently 15W-40 super tech.

FYI, I couldn't identify any differences between an intake lifter and an exhaust lifter. they seem dimensionally identical and the springs 'feel' the same although I didn't measure the spring constant.

I may pop the LH side off again for one last-ditch effort to stop the mercedes-benz sound. If I cannot resolve it as lifters, then the next step is to swap engines (put the lifters back in the 75K engine, then do the swap).

The one thing I can say now is that the RH side of the engine sounds dead quiet. I tried the stethoscope and a bar to the ear. the bar works much better but not conclusive. if I had to guess, I would say front of LH side in the rocker cover.

I may try to stuff objects under cam chain wheel on LH side to avoid pulling the alternator again just to back off the tensioner. maybe some rags or tools carefully wedged into the sprocket holes or something to counter the chain pulling down. it's not that tight when not running anyway.

More notes: the used engine had really black oil residue. not a good sign. not clean like the oil that drains out of my cars. With the covers off the used engine, ALL 6 exhaust lifters were springy. I don't think the intakes were at all. on the rattley car I want to fix, NONE of the lifters are springy...they are all solid until I take them apart and let air in. the springs on the rattley exhaust DID NOT expand the lifter to let some air in...they are all solid, all 18....until I take them apart. The 'ball joint' on the lifter that touches the valve....all were very smooth on the used 75K engine. on the rattley engine, some WERE ROUGH. some would pivot like a hinge, in a line, instead of freely pivoting in two dimensions like the ones from the 75K engine. Others were just stiff ball joints. I am going to investigate all the lifters I pulled and inspect for damage. So far, I only checked a few by pulling apart and reassembling....those few felt exactly like the replacement, except for some having rough ball joints.
 

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'02 ML320 rattletrap at 118K miles
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UPDATE:
inspection of old lifters show damage. I noticed that the ones with the most messed up ball joints have dents around the ball joint shoulder. I noticed this when one intake lifter in particular the ball joint WOULD NOT move. as i looked, i saw the dented shoulder. three intake in a row are like this...like they got so loose that the got hammered around. I need to continue the review of all the lifters, but at least I found something wrong. unfortunately, I am unsure which side of the engine these mashed up ones came from. Or what allowed enough play for this to happen. if the valves were stuck down, it would not run well. if the cam bearings were shot, I (hope) i would have spotted it when the bridges were off. what else? bent rocker? rocker bearing so worn to allow this? I would (hope) I would have spotted that as I was re-liftering the bridge assemblies.


more later.
 
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