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2001 ML320
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am an owner of 2001 ML320.

I went to the north houston MB dealer last Thursday.

A guy that took care of me there really pissed off. I would like to tell you about my story and find a possible solution about it.

I paid a visit there simply to repair my key which would not ignite the engine after my wife took the key off the car at the steering lock. My guess was that if I bring my car to the dealer and the mechanic reprogram the car so that the car can recognize my key again. But the guy told me that I had to buy a new key saying some stuffs that I couldn't understand. I trusted him because he is the person that represents the MB. Plus, he suggested me to go through the regular inspection service which is 960 dollars saying that my car would be under critical condition. I was really wondering about the necessity of that kind of overrated service, but I trusted him again and decided to take the service.

My first problem starts from the point that he would rent me the car for free, which was actually the reason why I decided to trust him and take the inspection service. I asked him if it would be OK for me to return the car on Saturday. He said "Sure." I left my car in the dealership and drove the car that I rented back to my place which is 100 miles away from the dealership (The guy knew that I live in the distant place). In the next morning, the guy called me and said to me couple of problems that my car had. He let me know the price of each repair, but those were too overrated (i.e. replacing front tires is $1,000 with $60/hour of labor) at least to me. Thus, I told him that I would fix those problems at a local mechanic. After I said this to him, I guess he changed his attitude. He suddenly told me that the car rental was for only one day. So I had to drive my rental car for two hours to houston on friday to avoid the additional car rental fee. Even so, I would appreciate him for giving me one day rental if I didn't know that he charged me with "Shop Supply" which was $38.00 that I never bought or used. My guess is that this $38.00 is simply a different name for the car rental on my bill. My conclusion on this matter is that he lied from the first place to get me into taking this $960 car inspection service.

I would have just forget about this if he didn't call me tonight and gave another intolerable words to me. On my second visit to Houston, I told him that I would buy the key according to his advice, and he told me that he would mail me the key. So, I just came back. Tonight, he called me and I have to pay another visit to the 100mile-distant dealership so that the car can be programmed to accept the new key.

He just keeps lying to me, and I can't trust him any more.

One thing that I am wondering is if I have to buy a new key. The key that I have now (the old one) works fine with unlocking and locking the car except for the ignition. I guess this is simply the matter of program of the car. Not the key.

Anyhow, I want to let this know to his supervisor or something. If you guys know what I should do with this matter, please advise me.

Thanks,
 

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C9H9N Offensive Odor Exuder
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,468 Posts
He is telling you the truth about the key. Your AAM has to be programmed in the car to recognize the key. As for your old remote working, if the key pads are not worn out, a good locksmith can unpin the old key blade and install the new one. If you unfold your key part way, you will see a tiny roll pin that can be pressed out. This releases the key blade for removal and the new one can be installed in place. If it were me, however, I would opt for the reprogram and use the new remote.

As for your other problems, sorry about that but that is status quo when dealing with MB dealers. They are almost all like that. The only dealer I've had nothing but pleasant experience with is Crown Automotive in Birmingham, AL. The SA/Service manager, J.W. Johnson is a super guy and has always answered my questions to my satisfaction. It was the Houston dealer that installed my Video/entertainment system and they made a mess of it. They put the system behind the carpet on the passenger floor foot well! It was supposed to be installed under the glove box.
Good luck.
 

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98ML320
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Isn't everything 100 miles apart in Texas?

Kidding aside, I think it's unfortunately buyer beware and although his attitude sucks & he jerked you around, he also did tell you everything up front and left it to you to choose to allow it or not. So you can complain about poor attitude but there's probably not much else that can happen to give you any satisfaction. Usually issues like bad attitude start from the top.

Take your key (since only a dealer can do this service) and take the rest of your business someplace else. They obviously don't appreciate your hard earned money so give it to someone that does appreciate it.

Just to put in another point of view, I've had great dealer experiences at several different dealers. Perhaps it's helpful that Benz dealers are literally a dime a dozen in this area and the competition keeps them honest. (more or less)...
 

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2002 ML 500, 1994 Ford Explorer donated to Doctors without Borders
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If it makes you feel any better, you may have inadvertently fried your key so that it's not recognized by the car. In that case, he didn't lie to you about needing a new key. What Cmitch said about the key is true though, but since you're going to pay anyway, you may as well have a new key.
 

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1922 Ford T no OBD, no ECU, no SCN
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I bought ML with second key not working and SA told me that the key "just died".
I am not too good in electronic, but how non-active chip in the key can die?
Well over $200 for new key and programming seems to be a good business.
I bought to date 2 MB in Texas and 1 in Louisiana very cheap. The reason -the service there were screwing up customer on big thousand of $ and the cars were still mess.
In CA you can find single street with 5 MB shops.
 

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2001 MB ML320 and 2005 Acura TSX
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53 Posts
The way MB dealers are screwing their customers in service can not be good to MB in the long run, can it?
 

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98ML320
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It's called Monopoly power. But yes, not good in the long run except to those who don't care about money, then they don't care what they get charged.
 

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2001 ML320
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Thanks!

Thanks guys.

First of all, thanks a lot for you guys' exceptionally kind warm words! I truely appreciate that.

It is good to know that I have to buy the key anyway, and also about the fact that most service representatives of MB would try rip anybody off, not only me.

I guess I will just forget about it, and take this as a good experience.
 

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I don't understand why they'd need the vehicle to program the key - unless it depends on model year. I had new keys for both my 01 E and my 05 ML and in both cases the new keys came pre-programmed. It was as simple as plug'n play.

Replacing front tires for $1000 is a new one. What the hell kind of tires would they use?

Next time you run into issues, get here or to any of the other Ml forums and ask for opinions first. You'd be pleasantly surprised.
 

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C9H9N Offensive Odor Exuder
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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I think on the 98 -2001 MLs, the vehicle must be present to program keys. The 98 and 99 had the All Activity Module (AAM) integrated with the computer but I believe it was separated in 2000. All the AAM's have 8 slots for programming 8 keys. Each board in a key matches the board/slot in the AAM. I don't actually think it's the key that's dying but that particular slot (It quits recognizing the key). These particular models came with only 8 keys and once they're gone, they're GONE and the AAM has to be replaced. It's a real boner to own one that all 8 keys have been used up. My 99 ML430 has had 5 keys to my knowledge.
 

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'03 ML350
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211 Posts
i had a similar issue with one of the keys when my battery died. i'm not sure it's the same but the thing is i tried to jump the car and the aam does not recognize the key and give me 'start error' in the lcd after the battery died. so the dealer guy told me to get the second key and try to start it and it works fine. after that i tried the 1st key again and it works again. so if you have the extra key, try that and see what happened.
 

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cmitch said:
I think on the 98 -2001 MLs, the vehicle must be present to program keys.
The ignition keys are all coming programmed from the manufacturer (that's why it takes so long to get them).
It is the door remote, that needs to be programmed with the car. From what I've been told pre-2000 remotes are user programmable, when later models require dealer's computer. I argue with SA about the charges, but he insisted it takes 1/2 hr to program a remote, so they charged me $150 for programming 2 remotes.
Washed my car for free :)
 

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C9H9N Offensive Odor Exuder
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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Kajtek1 said:
The ignition keys are all coming programmed from the manufacturer (that's why it takes so long to get them).
It is the door remote, that needs to be programmed with the car. From what I've been told pre-2000 remotes are user programmable, when later models require dealer's computer. I argue with SA about the charges, but he insisted it takes 1/2 hr to program a remote, so they charged me $150 for programming 2 remotes.
Washed my car for free :)
A new key for a 98-99 are definitely not user programmable. The dealer did mine for free and it took him less than 15 minutes. It looked liked they plugged some hand held tool into the computer to do it, something like an OBDII scanner but I wasn't close enough to see what they did. The only thing the user can do is resync the keys if the battery in the key goes out. The dealer is actually turning on the AAM slot to recognize the key. When your ML was made, they had 8 keys cut for it. The buyer got 2 and the other 6 were stored in their parts warehouse.
 

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C9H9N Offensive Odor Exuder
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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lastprodigy said:
sorta OT, what is the function of the black cover with the key symbol over the keyhole in the door?
It is a keyhole plug. You can remove it to unlock the car manually.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
2002 ML320, 2003 A160, 2002 ML500, 2018 GLS350d
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lastprodigy said:
sorta OT, what is the function of the black cover with the key symbol over the keyhole in the door?
It helps to keep dirt and water out of the keyhole, which you only need to use if your remote dies. The key symbol gives you a clue about what's under it, as well as reminding you where it goes if you find it loose in your garage. Clever people, those MB designers.

Mine didn't come with one, but it's the cheapest accessory you can buy for your ML.
 

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2002 ML320, 2003 A160, 2002 ML500, 2018 GLS350d
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dekaykim said:
I paid a visit there simply to repair my key which would not ignite the engine after my wife took the key off the car at the steering lock.
Can you please explain what your wife did to kill the key?
 

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2001 ML320
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What dealership was this? If you're in that area, try Star Motors. One of their salesguys writes a good newletter: Curt's Newsletter. No free rentals, but it sounds like they don't jerk you around...
 

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2001 ML320
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What my wife did

She turned the key to turn off the engine. Then she found that the car's tire direction is not straight, so she turn the steering wheel to correct it, which enabled the steering lock. Then she took the key off the key hole. That's what happened according to her.
 
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