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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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The 2002 ML55’s original carpet was worn and stained enough that I rather despaired of ever cleaning it sufficiently to really look good. Recently, a 2002 ML320 showed up at the junkyard (the infamous weird option car) with a very nice carpet. I was swapping them out last night after giving the new carpet a hood scrub to remove the few stains and dirt spots it did have, and found this wonderful legacy of the disconnected drain hose:
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Hood Bicycle tire


In addition to the lake under the floor structure, while the carpet itself was dry, the padding was dripping wet. I ended up having to tear it out in pieces because it was so heavy. Fortunately there were no signs of fresh water intrusion.
 

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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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Well, bloody hell. It has been raining, at times really hard, all day. I went out to see if the drain tube was working right, as it did in testing, and there is some moisture trickling down the inside wall by the fuse panel in the passenger footwell. I wasn’t able to see if the hose is still connected properly, but the volume of water does not appear to be anywhere close to what I’d expect from a disconnected drain hose. Assuming that the hose is still connected to the elbow, what else could be allowing water intrusion there? I’m having trouble thinking of anything.
 

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W163 and General M Gremlin
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9,130 Posts
Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Remove the A pillar cover and check if any evidence of water intrusion on the backside of the A pillar cover itself. If so, water from above coming either from the drain hose connection at the sunroof corner drains, or windshield glass / A pillar interface (very remote chance of this).

Have you checked the cowl drains outside under the screen guard, just below the bottom of the windshield on the ps?

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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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I may run outside in a little while to check the A pillar trim. I haven’t checked the cowl drains.

I also just ordered a 50’ roll of Gates Safety Stripe heater hose, 1/2” ID, 3/4” OD, to replace that passenger side drain hose and any others in the two MLs that may have shrunk.
 

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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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I pondered ways of improving the connection between the elbow and the hose. Generally, flexible rubber to flexible rubber isn’t the most secure way of doing things. I was going to get some 3/4” OD PVC so the elbow would have something solid to grab onto, but I couldn’t find any compatible 1/2” hose barb fittings to interface with the PVC. I did find some 3/4” to 1/2” brass hose barb adapters and stainless steel hose clamps, in addition to the huge roll of 1/2” ID - 3/4” OD Gates heater hose I ordered: 50’ should be enough to do all eight drain hoses between the two W163s if necessary. The ID of the 1/2” section of the brass hose barb adapter is about 7/16”, so it is a slight bottleneck, but I doubt that it will cause much trouble.

The brass hose barbs grab nicely to both the elbow and the hose. Trying to figure out how to run the hoses with the clamps installed was a challenge. No matter what I did, the hose/elbow assembly would not feed down from the top of the dash. Eventually, I fed the old hose down from the top until it passed the drain hole and stuck out where I could grab it, taped it to the new hose, and carefully pulled the assembly up until the elbow was aligned with the hole and I could pull it through and seat it.

I also had to made a junkyard run mid-project. When I fixed the passenger side drain the first time, I noticed that the elbow grommet had taken a fold. When I was removing the driver side elbow, the grommet tore and left material behind on the metal. As it turns out, this was a bit lucky. I pulled the fenders from the ‘05 SE that I’ve been plundering for parts for a while, and took those elbows. As it turns out, sometime between ‘02 and ‘05, Mercedes tweaked the design of the elbow. The old version had the larger diameter flange of the grommet on the inside of the footwell panel. The later version had the larger diameter flange on the outside. It should both provide a better seal against water running down from the cowl drain, and be less prone to falling inward.

Getting the upper ends of the hose back in place was a PITA, as the barbed ends flare outward, and run close to the side curtain air bags. The new hose is very slightly larger in diameter than the old hose, which made getting it to slide over a barbed fitting while turning a corner even more challenging. Eventually I got it done, and both are secured with hose clamps. If anything keeps leaking now, I’m going to lose my mind.

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(The original passenger side elbow is on the right. One of the creases in the outer flange that was likely the source of my continued seepage is visible facing directly at the camera. The contrast between the design of the grommet section of the elbow used from ‘98 until at least this ‘02 was built and the ‘05 elbow on the left is pretty evident.)
 

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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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It’s been raining all afternoon and into the early evening here. No downpours, but a pretty steady shower. Both front sunroof drains are dripping (I haven’t put the fenders back on yet) and the side wall of the footwell in front of the fuse panel, where it was noticeably wet after the last rains - bone dry. That last rainy night was constant downpours, but I’m pretty confident overall that this job is sorted.
 

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1998 Franken-ML, 2002 ML55
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We’ve had some torrential downpours the past two days. It looks like everything is staying dry. I think I can recommend the brass barb fitting and hose clamp method of repair.
 
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