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1999 ML320
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Discussion Starter #1
Our "good" car is a '99 ML320 with 244k miles on it (it's been a great vehicle for us for 4 years now). A couple of weeks ago, it started making a bad clicking noise upon taking off. An independent mechanic looked at it and he thinks the transfer case chain is slipping. After poking around further online, I feel confident he is correct. Right now, we can drive around and accelerate gently and I guess the chain is not slipping (at any rate it's not making the noise). Question: can we make any reliable predictions about what's going to happen if we don't do anything? Will it get a lot worse soon? What would be the worst case scenario? (We got the car for cheap so there are limits to how much we can invest in repairs for it. I understand there are people who have simply replaced the chain so this is one course of action I've been thinking about.) Thanks for any comments/guidance.
 

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2015 ML250 Bluetec | 2019 GLC 300 | Prev: | 2002 ML 500 Sport Edition :( | 2012 C250 | 1998 C230
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Our "good" car is a '99 ML320 with 244k miles on it (it's been a great vehicle for us for 4 years now). A couple of weeks ago, it started making a bad clicking noise upon taking off. An independent mechanic looked at it and he thinks the transfer case chain is slipping. After poking around further online, I feel confident he is correct. Right now, we can drive around and accelerate gently and I guess the chain is not slipping (at any rate it's not making the noise). Question: can we make any reliable predictions about what's going to happen if we don't do anything? Will it get a lot worse soon? What would be the worst case scenario? (We got the car for cheap so there are limits to how much we can invest in repairs for it. I understand there are people who have simply replaced the chain so this is one course of action I've been thinking about.) Thanks for any comments/guidance.
How about checking the TC fluid. Did your mechanic not look at that? When was the last time it was changed. Ever?

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Dallas, Texas
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We got the car for cheap so there are limits to how much we can invest in repairs for it. I understand there are people who have simply replaced the chain so this is one course of action I've been thinking about.
As in post above. Drain fluid trough fine paint filter. Examine contents. If it is black and chunky get used TC from bone yard.
 

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1999 ML320
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14 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thank you guys! Actually, the mechanic did change the TC fluid, and I know he said the old was very dirty, but I don't think he did a super-close analysis of it.
 

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Equal Opportunity Offender
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,190 Posts
A fluid change eliminates this issue 90% of the time. Do what Witek said. Look for chunks. If there aren’t any, change the fluid and then do again in about 3000 miles.
 

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Equal Opportunity Offender
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,190 Posts
Here is a link I posted back in 2007. The only difference is I think fluid recommended is a synthetic fluid which was not available at the time. It came with Dexron III in it.
 

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1999 ML320
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Discussion Starter #7
cmitch, thanks very much for these encouraging comments! I see from my receipt from mechanic that when he changed the fluid this past Tuesday, he apparently put in "Dexron IV." Would you suggest that I drain the fluid (again), examine it carefully, and then put in synthetic Dexron III ATF? (Or whatever your specific suggestion is for the fluid?)
 

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2000 ML55 sold? 2013 ML500,? 2017 C43 AMG,1929 Victory 6 roadster, 1927 Dodge 4 sedan, 1929 Dodge
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If all of the above doesn’t work I’m with witek. When mine started slipping I swapped it out with a good 2nd hand one. Pretty easy change over. Mine was bad accelerating out of a corner from a stop.
 
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