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Premium Member
1999 S600 Sedan, 1999 S600 w/ 4-pl seating, 1995 S600 Coupe, 2-1992 600SEL's, 2002 ML55, 1998 SL600
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2,424 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Noticed a couple of bubbles of rust in the area of the rear license plate and the center of the driver's door tread/jamb.

Anyone else experience a rusting problem with their ML?
 

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1999 ML320 Elegance, BMW R1150RT, SAAB 9-3
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282 Posts
i had the same spots rust - and the fuel filler door too. had a body shop fix them 18 months ago (as i am planning on keeping my ml for a while - it only has 155000 km.)
 

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Super Moderator
99 ML430, 00 ML320, 05 E500 4matic Wagon
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22,135 Posts
Those are common places for the MLs. My rear hatch has it in the same spot as well
as the gas cap door. The driver's side doors seem to be more infested than the passenger
side. Luckily all surface rust at this point and having a part interest in a body shop I am
going to have it all fixed.
 

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1990 Unimog 1300L, 2004 ML350, 1999 SLK 230,
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579 Posts
Have exactly the same problems: rear hatch above license plate, driver's door and fuel filler door. Has anyone tried the electronic rust preventers?
 

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Premium Member
1999 S600 Sedan, 1999 S600 w/ 4-pl seating, 1995 S600 Coupe, 2-1992 600SEL's, 2002 ML55, 1998 SL600
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2,424 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Yo Noodles:

Got the part about the body shop business you're in, but what exactly are you having done? Is the rust through body panels or only surfaces that require a strip-down and respray?

And just as important: what causes the rust that I see on this car, that I don't see on my others? What's the difference? And is this endemic to the car/model?
 

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Super Moderator
99 ML430, 00 ML320, 05 E500 4matic Wagon
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22,135 Posts
I just invested a minimal amount to help the majority owner expand to a new buidling
and location. He also wanted a full service mechanical repair side of the business. The
big benefit for me is that I get work done at cost. Had an ATT truck back into the front
of the E500 and crack the bumper beyond repair. Got a new bumper and had it painted
and replaced with a perfect match. We use the Sikkens paint system in the shop. My
cost was $225 and that included labor. The parts were also not in that price. I bought
them wholesale from the dealer we have an account with. Normally replacement of the
bumper with painting is $600-900 dollars on a E500.

He did all the paint work on my track cars and it was a good move for him. So I am not
in the business as a worker. That being said I do have a lot experience with auto finish
processes.
I used to do all the work on keeping the track cars pretty after some rubbing and
minor on track incidents but needed a good painter and that is how the partnership
started.
The W163 is painted in AL as all of us know and is supposed to be the same process that
MB uses on their European made vehicles. So I am not really sure why they have the
issues. The fact that they seem to all have similar problem areas leads me to believe
the design of parts of the truck are the issue. Water and road salt not correctly draining
and building up in the problem areas. The underbody is in very good shape for a vehicle
that has seen 11 Wisconsin winters.
So yes I would say the problem areas are endemic to the model most likely
due to the design to production process being cut almost in half from the
old way MB used to design and then produce models. Also due to EPA rules
paint and clear coat is not nearly as durable as it used to be. The new ceramic
clear coats are really good and proving to be better than the old clear coats.
That will help the paint last a lot longer, but the W163s never got the ceramic
clear coat on them.

We live on horse farm as that is my wife's passion and drive it all over the fields and
pastures. So my plan is to fix the surface rust which is all it is at this point. No rust
perforation of the sheet metal yet. So the rear hatch will be prepped and re-spsrayed .
Same for the gas door. Also the hood as it is starting to bubble around the MB badge.
Traveling a lot I notice the areas of the country that use salt in the winter this rust
issue is far worse than other regions. I see MLs in the southwest that are high mileage
and well cared for and the paint looks fantastic after a decade and 200k miles. So I also
attribute the salt to being a big part of the problem.

The doors I have a special plan for. Because of the truck going through the fields and
pastures the lower portion below the rub strip is going to be prepped and then sprayed
with a rubber compound tinted to match the green of the truck. That is to protect the
lower door from minor scuffs and scratches that the tall grass and some weeds cause.
The material is almost like a spray on bed liner for a pickup truck.That will really make
it much tougher than the original finish. I have seen it done and when the color is done
correctly it really looks good and is very functional. It will also seal out any chemicals
and water/moisture and greatly prolong the life of the sheet metal.
I realize that is not a solution many owners would consider, but it does give it more of
a tough truck look that I find appealing. I plan to post pics in the spring with a before
and after of the work.

For owners that do not have the connection I have to a body shop I would
go with a quality higher end shop that has all of the newer matching systems,
booths and spraying equipment. It will cost 20-30% more, but is worth the
investment.
Also finding a shop that is using the ceramic clear coats would be a plus.
 
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