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Registered
2003 ML 350
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188 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!

I have been following the forum and I would like to ask for some help.

I have a 2003 ML350. I am the original owner and has been servicing it at the local dealer. I have a bit over 40K but those are almost all city miles, stop-and-go and never had any major issues with the car. Last year they replaced the steering wheel reservoir along with the fluid and also last year I got the breaks completely replaced: both pads and rotors (although it was costly).

This week the battery died completely overnight. I suggested my wife that I just go and buy a battery and replace it myself. My wife said that since she is hearing a minor squeaking noise sometimes as she turns the steering wheel to take it back to the dealer and let them check it out. This turned out to be a major mistake.

I took the vehicle in and asked the battery to be replaced along with the negative cable since it was corroded. Also noted to test drive the vehicle and see what might cause the squeaking noise and possibly lubricate the column but told them not to do any major job. After 24 hours of no response from the service advisor I finally was able to reach him. He told me that the steering wheel needs major repair and estimated it to $1600 and that they have not replaced the battery yet! I told him not to touch the vehicle any further but he told me I have to pay for the $200 fee for the diagnosis anyways and he might as well put in a new battery with no additional labor cost. I agreed.

We went to pick up the vehicle. The battery was indeed replaced and I could start the car but the technician did it the way that the radio and computer got reset (did not bother connecting a second battery while working on it :mad:). The original papers are somewhere in the attic and I don’t have the original security code for the radio so it does not work now. When I started the vehicle I also noticed that now the parking-break light and the ESP safety light are constantly on and now the steering wheel have an about 3-5 mm movement in any direction. I asked the advisor to come out and take a look. I showed him that the parking-break switch was just hanging out from the console and asked them to put it back. I asked him why the ESP light is on and why the column is moving. He told me that some part is worn out and has to be replaced along with the sensor. Now I explained him that the column had no movement ever before and the light was off when I took the car in. We also own a 2006 Honda minivan with twice as many miles and its steering wheel sits rock solid, I cannot move the column in any direction at all.

Now if anyone can help figuring out what the hell did they do to my car I would appreciate it. I am also wondering if the dealer can find out the original security code for the radio or I am screwed unless I find the papers that came with the car almost 10 years ago.

I scheduled a service appointment with another local dealer who has a better track record with servicing my vehicles!

- Can the dealer find the original security code for the radio?
- What could the repairman possible do to the steering wheel column that cause the ESP light to be on and the steering wheel column to move about 3-5 mm. This also causes the column to rattle every time you drive through a bump. The advisor’s explanation was: a certain part is worn out (after 40K miles!) and the steering wheel column is loose. It makes the sensor to not properly read the column movement and causing the light to be on. Again the light was off and the steering wheel had no movement before they touched the vehicle.
 

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Registered
2004 ML350, 1999 C230K, 1991 300SEL
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502 Posts
The ESP light could be the steering angle sensor. You must calibrate it after replacing the battery; try turning the steering wheel lock to lock and see if the light goes away.

I had a steering wheel wobble (3-5 mm) as you said about a year ago. I had to replace the entire steering column at a cost of about $1000 unfortunately. The light is on because the steering angle sensor is loose in the column. This may or may not be your issue; make sure your steering wheel is locked.
 

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Registered
1999 Ml430
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351 Posts
Don't know if it helps you but first check the lever at the left side of the steering wheel under the stalk.
There is a smaller lever that lets you adjust the steering wheel hight if you press it down, adjust the wheel and then make sure that you push the lever all the way up again.
I am pretty sure that the mechanic was to lazy to turn the steering wheel all the way to each side until it stops, that should get rid of the ESP light.
Search here there are very easy steps telling you what to do after the battery was disconnected.
None of my business but why are taking your MB to the dealer?? Cant you find a good independent who doesn't steal you blind like the stealer..
Update your profile with you location maybe someone knows a mechanic in your area.
Your stealer can get you the radio code with your VIN#... I mailed myself the code in an email and saved it in a folder called ML radio code and Vin, easier the looking for paperwork
 

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Premium Member
05 500
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6,512 Posts
You have been had - that's the straight talk, assuming that your version of the situation is the truth (please don't take that personal because I am on your side). To start with, make sure the new shop knows everything that has been going on. Yes, depending on the issue, and based on the history of these vehicles, the steering wheel problem you have may be major work - but that's really not the issue. Have your independent shop check the vehicle and do whatever you need to do. I don't believe anyone here can tell you what they did to your truck, but it is clear that they are quite willing to sucking the $$$ out of you and giving you excuses.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
2002 ML320, 2003 A160, 2002 ML500, 2018 GLS350d
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4,405 Posts
This dodgy workshop advice is standard procedure worldwide.

In the index of your owner's manual, look up "Battery, vehicle, Reconnecting" to find instructions on basic programming and steering angle sensor reactivation. But first check that your steering wheel height-adjustment is locked as described by Wiley430. If your owner's manual was sent to the attic to make space in your glovebox, you can download one.

Anytime the battery ground cable is disconnected, the electronics must be reset. The mechanic failed to do this. Plugging in a second battery is not the proper way to avoid CODE appearing on your radio. Call any dealer to retrieve your code. You must quote your VIN which appears on your truck in 2 places.

It's time to find a new dealer service department. Might as well be one offering "free" loaner cars, lunch & car wash.

The treatment you received is worth a letter of complaint to the service manager, and if the response is poor, a letter to his boss.
 

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Registered
2003 ML 350
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188 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for the help!

Unfortunately the ESP light is still on after trying to reset it and the steering column is still loose after checking the adjusting lever several times. These symptoms were NOT there before leaving the vehicle at the service. I scheduled an appointment with another local dealer which is about 10 miles away and I am planning to ask them to evaluate the problem again and if it is in fact the steering wheel column I will ask them to return the defective part to me and I’ll figure out if I’ll write a complaint to MB and / or ask an attorney if something can be done. This vehicle has 40K miles in it and was always a second car my wife used mostly in town with almost no highway miles. It is unreasonable that a vehicle that was designed for somewhat off-road use the steering wheel column needs major repair.

The dealer gave me the radio code and I did all the steps described in the “what to do after battery disconnect” topic.

I am in a Houston suburb in Texas. Repair shops and mechanics come and go rapidly and they don’t know their customers well anyway so I don’t really have anyone independent I can fully trust to check the vehicle out.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
2002 ML320, 2003 A160, 2002 ML500, 2018 GLS350d
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4,405 Posts
If the ESP light wasn't on before the "service", it's probably related to the steering angle sensor. I imagine that when you called to stop the job, the steering column was in pieces and the mechanic just threw it back together. That might have something to do with the parking brake handle hanging out. The new dealer will read the codes and sort it.
 
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