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The Extraordinary Adventures at Vin Devers Mercedes in Toledo, Ohio


When my wife turned 50, I wanted to give her a special present that would help her forget that she is 50 years old, and, more importantly, that she has been married to me for half of those years.

I have a 1986 Mercedes 560 SEC that I drive every day. My son’s first car was a 1985 500 SEL with 245,000 miles on it. He recently traded up to a 1992 400E. These cars are lovely, solid, well-designed machines that we have grown to love.

I figured that I could never really justify buying a new Mercedes, but what the heck, my wife would love it and she deserves it.

We visited our local Mercedes dealership, Vin Devers (also the Dodge dealership) and started looking around. Keep in mind that my son and I are enthusiasts and are probably a little more knowledgeable about Mercedes heritage and reputation than the casual Mercedes tire-kicker.

We knew that the M Class W164 series had early quality problems, but we had read that the new MLs were better, and that the “quality plague� was much improved. We talked to a Salesman, a nice guy, who confirmed that those days are in the past, and that the new Mercedes are back to the old excellent quality standards. He’s a nice guy.

When buying a new Mercedes, I figured I should be able to get what I want – be able to outfit the vehicle with the options that I want. I want black, tan leather, matte birch veneer, Bose sound system, DVD Nav, bi-xenons, rear spoiler, and some other stuff.

There was the Special Lease Sale on at this time, featuring the 2005 ML350 Special Edition. Not a bad deal.

The Salesman at the dealership was nice, as I may have mentioned earlier, and he found a 2005 Special Edition in Black, Tan leather, the new matte birch wood, Bose radio, and some other stuff. I wanted bi-xenons, and the rear wing, and the Nav system. The Salesman said no problem, they could add all those things. What a nice guy.

So, we sign some stuff and they go about getting the car up from Cincinnati. They note that the ML will have about 100 miles on it, because it was used in a golf promotion thing, and was used for a weekend by one of the pro golfers. Oh, well, I guess that’s ok.

Our ML350 would arrive in about 4 days.

Three weeks later, our ML350 arrives. We race over to the dealership to look at it. It is beautiful.



The odometer reads 1,050 miles. A bit more than 100. The Salesman says that the paperwork has to say 500 miles, because any more miles than that and it is considered a used car. Please sign this paperwork. Oh, we will throw in free paint protection, a $400 value!

Remember the added options? Well, the rear wing is $650. The Bi-Xenon lights are $1,000. The Nav system is $2,500. I say go ahead with the lights and the wing.

I figured I will get a Nav module on Ebay for $600. Good idea, says the Salesman – because you can get the DVD map right here at the dealership – it’s only $150.

The Salesman says the lights and wing can be installed right away. Two weeks later, I drop off the ML for the work to be done. I show up at 4PM to pick it up. They are re-surfacing the blacktop, so there is kind of a lot of confusion, and a lot of customers waiting for their cars. I pay the tab, and put my name on a list of people waiting to have their car brought around, and go outside to look at the Silver E55 AMG in the lot. Three hours later, I notice the lights going off at the dealership. That can’t be good. One of the Dodge salesmen tells me that they are closing. Everyone else has left. He helps me find the ML in the back lot, and goes and finds the key. There is somebody’s jacket in the car, and the hood isn’t closed all the way. Hmmm…

Me and the Dodge guy juggle about 4-5 other cars and finally get the ML out of the lot.
I drive home. The new rear spoiler looks great. The bi-xenon lights are kind of odd. I have to wait till I get home to figure out what is up with the lights.

When I get home, I discover that the $1,000 bi-xenon lights are not bi-xenon. They installed a xenon conversion kit into the halogen lights – but here is the best part: the installer put the xenon bulbs in the high beam side of the lights. So I have REALLY bright high beams, and regular old halogen low beams. As a bonus, the installer cut a jagged hole in each light housing to run the xenon wiring, and left the ballast just flopping around free in the engine compartment, not tied down to anything. Deluxe!

I rewired the xenon lights to work in the low beam housing. I secured the ballasts to the wheel well. The salesman says “oh, I didn’t know you wanted BI-xenon lights…�. He’s a nice guy, though. The xenon lights have the “flickering light� problem – I take it in to have the computer re-programmed to recognize the xenon lights. I have to explain this to the dealership several times before they agree to do it.

I buy a DVD NAV module on E-Bay for $600. Install it myself, works great. Go buy the DVD map from the dealership. $365, not $150. Salesman says: “oh, I thought it was $150…�. He’s a nice guy, though.

The rear tail light is not working, for some reason. Wife takes car in for service. I ask her to get the oil changed. I don’t want to wait 14,000 miles to change the oil. They can check the tail light at the same time. Oh, and ask for the free paint protection that the Salesman promised us. Oh, and ask them why the inside of the headlights fogs up whenever it rains; it looks kind of bad on a new car. $110.00 to change the oil. They didn’t record it in the maintenance log, though. Tail light was a blown relay caused by husband who messed with the xenon lights. $110, not a warrantee item. The condensation is caused by the holes that were cut in the housing to install the xenon lights – not a warrantee item. Salesman: “oh, the paint protection is already on the car…�. Hmmm… He’s a nice guy.

When we get the ML home, the tail light still doesn’t work, of course. I take the tail light assembly apart and jiggle it. The light goes on and off. I tighten all the wiring harness connections. All fixed. I use RTV to seal the headlight assemblies after drying them out with a hair dryer. They haven’t fogged up since.
I don’t mention this to the Salesman. I am getting tired.

The brakes on the new ML have a tendency to squeal in a most annoying and hair-raising manner. My wife (this is her vehicle, remember) can’t stand it. She takes it in to the Dealership to ask them about it. While she waits for two hours, they inspect the brakes and tell her that the noise is because it has been so wet lately. The noise will go away when the brakes dry out.

Couple of weeks later, my wife goes back to the dealership because a traction control light is on. She complains about the brake squealing again. The Dealership replaces the steering position sensor. Warrantee item. The squealing brakes are caused by brake dust and rust. They clean the brake rotors. Should be no more problem.

Couple weeks later, my wife takes the Mercedes back to the dealership just to have the brakes fixed. She can’t stand it. She waits 4 hours while they inspect the brakes. They don’t give her a loaner car. The manager says that some squealing is normal, that all Mercedes brakes squeal, and that it is working as intended. In a loud voice, my shy little wife says: “But the brakes on my Pontiac Aztek never squealed!� The Dealership forgets to give her a free car wash, which as we all know, is one of the great benefits of owning a Mercedes.

Meanwhile, my son goes to the local Ford dealership to look at a new Mustang. He talks to a Salesman who is really nice, and tells my son that he can order one with any options, and he can get it in 4 days. I’m thinking, you know, all things being equal, you can buy two Mustangs for what a new Mercedes cost.


Best Regards,


Eolon
 

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Oh baby, feel for you wife Eolon. Welcome to the ML experience.

Probably the first mistake you made was not come here to ask our opinions. Well, that's over, you've got the truck. The brake squeal is a common V8 ML problem, in cold weather. Tell you wife not to bother taking it in, ML has no solution for that yet - using aftermarket pads and rotors has resolved thisa problem for everyone who's tried it.

Why the ehck did you even bother with the lights? Why not take it back and complain really hard that BiXenon retrofit kit is not really equivalent to a OEM BiXenon, especially after the installed it the wrong way.

I know you don't want to go through all the headache, but weren't all these items written down on the bill of sale by your nice sales guy? 1050 miles on the ODO is not 100 miles, and that's a used car, period!!! It should have been treated as such, with applicable discounts.

I still think you have a great truck but be careful - don't believe everything they tell you at the dealer. These trucks tend to develop some strange and unexpected problems. Whenever it happens, come here first and rant, we will advice, and usually our advice works. Now, trade cars with your wife as you wish her a happy belated 50th from all of us at benzworld.org.
 

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Sorry to hear of your plight but on the positive side, your ills are not car stoppers just a big PITA.
Let me strongly suggest that you purchase the MB extended warranty package for one added year. You can add the remaining two years later if you wish. You must purchase this during the first year of ownership and as the original owner. You friendly dealer has certified this as a new car so there should be no problem getting it. This will provide almost bumper to bumper coverage on non wear items and allow you to sleep at night.

As for the brakes, MINTEX pads produce far less dust than the OEMs and are quiet as long as brake paste is used on the backing plate. I don't have a noise problem on my 05 ML350SE but I hate the dust so I'll be swapping the pads for MINTEX shortly.
 

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The HID retrofit sounds a little suspicious - isn't that highly illegal. Will a standup (or any dealer) leave themselves open to the liability that comes with doing an illegal HID retrofit?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses, folks...


I think this is mostly a dealership problem. I guess I expected a Mercedes dealership to be "better" than just a run-of-the-mill dealership. These guys might as well be running a Kia dealership. Hell, for all I know, a Kia dealership might treat me a lot better - I've never been to a Kia dealership.

We still really like the ML, it just seems to be one thing after the other with the dealership. Yeah, I probably should have yelled louder about the lights, but as I said, I was tired and it was just easier to fix it and let it go.

If I have a lesson to impart to others, which I'm sure you already know, it's that you have to shop for a Dealer just as diligently as you shop for a car. There is a difference.

Thanks, and

Best Regards,


e
 

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shopping for a dealer is always a good idea

E.g., in Boston, there's a dealer that uses brand new cars for test drives because they found that beating the crap out of a single car was worse than using new ones a little bit each.

I went to a different dealer :)
 

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RE: shopping for a dealer is always a good idea

Im sorry to hear about your experience with this particular dealer. It seems to me that your sales associate took great advantage of you. If it would have been me they fooled, they would never hear the end of it.

Well ... the best of luck to you and your wife. I hope the ML doesnt give you anymore problems.
 

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I feel for you and your experience

eolon - 4/8/2005 12:36 PM

Thanks for the responses, folks...


I think this is mostly a dealership problem. I guess I expected a Mercedes dealership to be "better" than just a run-of-the-mill dealership. These guys might as well be running a Kia dealership. Hell, for all I know, a Kia dealership might treat me a lot better - I've never been to a Kia dealership.

We still really like the ML, it just seems to be one thing after the other with the dealership. Yeah, I probably should have yelled louder about the lights, but as I said, I was tired and it was just easier to fix it and let it go.

If I have a lesson to impart to others, which I'm sure you already know, it's that you have to shop for a Dealer just as diligently as you shop for a car. There is a difference.

Thanks, and

Best Regards,


e
It's sad that you just wanted to do this nice thing for your wife and the dealer did whatever he could just to get the sale. The salesman over-promised and under-delivered big time. I realize they are running a business and not a charity and unfortunatley your experience is shared with many car buyers every week--at any kind of dealer. It would be nice if the industry was more commoditized and less haggled [and haggard] negotiation. But as long as they can squeeze more money out of certain individual customers that's what they'll do. Car salespersons as a group are consistently ranked as the least respected "professionals" by the buying community. For good reason.

Ironically my first Mercedes purchase [my current ML430) was the best I have ever had. Also the service I have received since has been phenomonal--despite the high prices of course I'm totally satisfied with my ownership experience. I was fortunate to get one of the early MLs that did not have all of the issues that many of the owners here have voiced complaints about. I have 80K miles and she starts on the first try every time, runs great and has never left me stranded. Of course it is meticulously maintained but even so it has been the best car I have ever owned. I hope your future experiences with the ML are as great as mine. I wish you luck!

I like the W163 so much I'm going to get a used '05 ML500 in 2-3 years.
 

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CURRENT: 2011 SL550 FORMER: C300, ML350, CLK550 Cabriolet, C240, ML320, 300TD
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You mentioned that your experiences with your older MBZ models was that they were very sold and problem free. I would ask if you owned them since they were new? MBZ has always been known for making very durable vehicles with good long-term reliability records, but they have also been known to need many “adjustments� early in their life. It seems the ML is no exception. It does sound like a lot of your problems are with the dealer, though.

Personally, I’d threaten a lawsuit and even get an MBZ regional rep involved. The reason I believe you have a good case is for two reasons. One is the fact that they installed illegal, non-factory equipment on your vehicle. The other is they falsified an odometer statement. I think MBZ and the state authorities would be very interested to hear about this. I would bring this up with the dealership’s general manger. I suspect you will see some instant gratification. If not, then get a lawyer!

Oh, and just a few comments. Mileage has nothing to do with selling a car as “new� or “used�. As long as it has never been titled, it’s new. My dealership sold a 2004 ML500 with almost 12K miles on it as a new vehicle, although the buyer got a heck of a deal as it was considered a “demo� and the appropriate depreciation was deducted from the sales price.

I would hold the salesman to the #150 quote for the NAC DVD. That’s around their wholesale cost, and the least they can do is give you that concession. Not only that, in some states, when salesperson quotes a price, they MUST honor it. Check your local laws.

As for the headlights getting moisture in them, this is a somewhat common defect. I’d say about 1 in 20 cars has it to some degree. The dealer should take care of it, but they should also be installing actual MBZ bi-xenon lights in your truck, too! That would mean a replacement of the entire headlamp assemblies, at which time they could re-seal them for you with some silicon.

Finally, I will say that MBZ brakes do sometimes squeal. What are the symptoms? Do they do it constantly during braking or just with light pedal pressure? If it’s constant, then they should be replaced, as it’s probably a defective pad. If it’s only under light pedal pressure, then that is “normal� and will come and go with time. One solution to that is to go out in an empty, wet parking lot, get up some speed (as much as you feel comfortable with) and brake hard so the ABS activates. That sometimes “cleans� the pads so that the stray piece of metallic bedding that is causing the noise gets ground off.

- RODNEY
 

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You paid $1000 for some cheap HID conversion kit you can buy on ebay or any number of sites for $300 range and install yourself. You will be lucky if it lasts 2 years or more.

You should document everything and sue the dealership or at least take them to small claims court.

They have seriously stepped all over you and your family and wasted a serioius amount of time and cash

You got to get raw pit bull dog sometimes and get in someones face about this!, these stealers oops i mean dealers dont care, they just want our paychecks.
 

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eolon - 4/7/2005 5:42 PM

The Extraordinary Adventures at Vin Devers Mercedes in Toledo, Ohio

Eolon
Eolon,
I know you're probably too tired to deal with the dealer. But what they committed is a crime. And if you turn a blind eye to their crime, you are just opening the door for them to committ more crimes to more people in the future.

Do yourself, and a civic duty to others by first demanding to see the General Manager of the dealership with a complete documentation of the facts.

If they don't help resolve quickly, get the regional MB rep involved.

Again, I repeat, what they have done is a CRIMINAL offence.
 

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Vin Devers also does Audi

and they have managed to make me quite pissed as well.

here is a link to my post regarding my RS6

http://www2.rs6.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6658

Sorry but your experience is not unusual, but this is part of the reason that people have started to consider a Japanese car maker one of the premier Luxury Auomobiles...

I bet if you had asked people about luxury and service 15 years ago, that Toyota (Lexus) was not going to be on the list...

Oooh I hate the way those guys over at vin devers act...
 

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I looked at this thread quickly so pardon me if I missed a fact. Leased car? If so, MBUSA owns it and I would raise holy heck to get them involved. This is an outrageous dealer betrayal.

As we all know, in the US, dealers are independent agents of DMX and each has a lot of leeway in dealing with borderline fraud.

No loaner? Wrong dealer.

And like the earlier post, I agree that MB's have always tended to need some sorting out from new. New MB's aren't that; they truly feature some weak plastic and electrical bits that cause problems forever.

Consider telling your dealer to take the paint protector as an enema and get this thing back in the hands of DMX. Please.
 

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RE: I feel for you and your experience

LOCHS 2 - 4/8/2005 3:47 PM

Ironically my first Mercedes purchase [my current ML430) was the best I have ever had.

I like the W163 so much I'm going to get a used '05 ML500 in 2-3 years.
Funny. I have a 99 430 and feel exactly the same way.

I will also probably go for a used 05 ML500.

On another subject, how has your Kleeman experience been?

I am looking at a Kleeman set-up for my SL500.

My BMW M3 was done by Dinan ( a Vortech centrifugal SC with no intercooler) and I could not be happier with the reults.

Any tips?

[:)]
 

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so sorry this had to happen to you, I WOULD REPORT THIS STEALER I MEAN DEALER TO MBUSA.
AND HAVE THEM DELTED WITH.[:(!][:(!]
 
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