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1998 ML320
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The original slide frame on my 98 ML320 was in very corroded condition (I’m not sure why, the frame just has regular surface rust), but I picked up a replacement and just got around to cleaning it up. I noticed that almost all of the plastic parts changed from 98 to whatever later year donated the new slide. The original plate under the tire shielded the complete tire, while the later part was significantly cut down to extend just beyond the metal part of the slide. The upper retaining plate originally had a deep dish shape with a short retaining shaft assembly, while the newer part had a much shallower dish and a longer retainer.

The changes to the upper retainer make sense, the redesign traps far less moisture and debris. The lower plate I’m less sure of. The earlier design would shield the tire better from road/trail debris, while the revision seems like it would be less prone to trapping moisture and debris against the tire.

Does anyone have any information on why Mercedes changed those parts? I’m mostly trying to decide which lower plate to use when putting it all back together. I need to wire brush and paint the inside of the rim first, as the paint was coming off in big flakes.

If requested, I’ll get some photos in the daylight tomorrow.

I tried to search for information, but almost every thread I found dealt with either the full-size external tire carrier or the ML55 style internal tire carrier.
 

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2003 ml500, 2004 ml350
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1,532 Posts
A photo is worth...

But the one thing I do know is earlier models had 16” rims later 17”

I don’t know if the rim on the spare changed or the tire size

But maybe that has something to do with it.

Our 04 350 did not have one at all I can not remember what year I pulled the replacement from.
 

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1998 ML320
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Comparison photos of the retaining parts and shields. The dirty parts on the left are the originals from my ‘98.

71F21950-BAD4-4873-BC57-BF9651292489.jpeg

AEC859A1-3CCE-427E-9B38-C10B1266D452.jpeg

I also cannot figure out what the tape that separated the rim and plastic shield is made of.
 

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1998 ML320
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
A bit of junkyard investigation shows that the larger shield continued through 2001, while the shallower dish and longer lock were already in use at that point.
 

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1998 ML320
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109 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Still wonder why, cost savings material wise?
The facelift-era shield is quite a bit smaller in terms of area, and would make more efficient use of the material, which was presumably supplied in sheets. On the other hand, Mercedes doesn’t pinch pennies with quite the aggressiveness of other brands. Debris being trapped between the tire and shield would seem like a sufficient reason for the change, but if that was the problem, I’m not sure why they didn’t change it with the upper retainer and lock.

Another interesting bit of assembly simplification/ cost savings: the 1998 lock cam on the underside of the slide was held on by machine screws and Nylock nuts. The post-facelift version had three posts molded in where the nuts had been, and used plastic thread screws to hold it in place. I have no idea when the change occurred.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a factory-installed Nylock nut anywhere in a car, with the possible exception of a shock mount. It seems like an expensive way of attaching such a simple part, in both material and labor.
 
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