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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Everyone, my first post so go easy on me :surrender:

I've been lurking here trying to learn as much as possible from you and I truly have. Fabbrisd1 is a great source of information and an asset to the board, Thank you!

Here is my particular situation:

I'm replacing a 12 year old GMC Yukon XL that has been absolutely great, but it's time to downsize a little.

I'm looking at diesel SUVs because I tow a race car on a flat trailer and I want good mileage and plenty of grunt to get up and down the Grapevine. To put it in perspective, the nearest track is 2 hours away (each way) and the farthest is 10-12 hours away, with others sprinkled in between.

I've looked at the BMW X5, MB ML350BT, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. My wife liked the X5 best, but I didn't like the 6000 lbs. towing capacity. The Porsche just didn't have enough room and the MB seemed to have the most cargo capacity, 2nd highest towing capacity behind the Porsche's 7716 lbs., but the most torque. The interior of the MB is also nicely done.

My question is what do I need to know about a diesel so I go into this thing eyes wide open?

My biggest concern is fuel quality. It appears there is a winter blend of diesel that gels in cold weather? Do I have to worry about this with fueling stations in my home town of San Diego where the weather never drops below 50 degrees? Is the fuel quality better at a truck stop like Flying J than at the corner market? Is there a top tier fuel grade for diesels like there are with gasolines?

I've read that AdBlue or similar product is easily accessible at truck stops that you can pump right into your tank like gas? (I know that it's not mixed with gas).

I'm kind of a DIY guy, is the fuel filter and other normal maintenance items easily replaced? Is the oil that is recommended hard to find for these vehicles or it is necessary to go into the dealer for every little thing?

Thank you and I look forward to your responses.
 

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2000 ML430 SOLD, 2007 BMW 328i Coupe, 2014 BMW i3, 2019 Honda Odyssey
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Having been raised in a family that buys nothing but diesels, I have learned to love the grunty torque they offer, something that I feel can only be duplicated by the V8. You may like that for towing.

As for fuel and cold, I can't say that's ever been an issue here in Florida, but I don't hear too many people complaining about it.


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2011 E-350 Coupe
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Replaced both the 2002 MB Wagon (gas) and 2002 Silverado H.D. (diesel) with a 2012 ML-350 BlueTEC. It's mostly the wifes daily driver that occasionally does double duty towing towing, and freed up a garage space. Have used diesel fuels from a bunch of different vendors for over 20 years and so far, no problems. IIRC the fuel filter is good for 20,000 miles. T
 

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1999 E55, 2001 E320, 1990 560 SEC, 2004 ML350, 2001 ML55, 1995 S500, 1998 SL500, 2010 E550 Sport zoo
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For your towing requirement the ML350 BlueTec is a good choice.

1) There are year-end-end-of-generation dealer discounts on new 2012 GL350 BlueTech if larger 3 row capacity is better for you .. like area of $10K+.

2) AdBlue is actually urea DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) which needs top off about 12,000 miles. DEF is available generic formula cheap - you buy 1 qt Mercedes AdBlue, put it in, the cut off the bottom of the bottle to use to move your generic DEF into the tank.

3) Check the tires you will be getting with your BlueTech since RunFlat tires are defintely not my favorite and have $400 cost + each for replacement, which with the softer rubber on Run Flats very most that can be coaxed out of the

4) "Winter Blend" is by area, any concern you just get the right disel additive for those winter runs over the hills/"mountains"

5) Admirably the Mercedes factory hitch includes stability control - quite advanced - however it's up to you if you feel more secure adding a brake controller - and at this point correctly installing a brake controller for a 2013 can be a dicey taks since most ships haven't happened yet.

Keep the beat !
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Tony that looks like a Featherlite 3110 14' trailer with a 928. I have the same one with a tire rack. DE is a 996, for race 944 Spec. Interesting that I'm in the same boat with you about 6 months ahead of me. This will be wife's main DD, but my toy hauler.

Fabris, I drove the GL, but didn't like truck like ride as compared to the ML, but those are serious types of discounts!

I knew the X5 came standard with run flats, but never read anything about MB having run flats. Not a fan and my next SUV must have a spare given how much I drive.

The ML has to have factory installed tow package as I've read that the LED rear lights on a lot of SUVs today have problems "marrying up to the trailer" lights.

I'm a little confused, are you saying that a brake controller is not needed with a factory installed kit? With the Grapevine, you really need the trailer brakes to slow the load down.
 

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Diesel fuel is prone to contamination, especially when it sits in underground tanks for long periods--condensate and sediment can really mess up your engine. The MB fuel filter is excellent, though.

Anyway, get your diesel from major brand stations that pump a lot of it.

There are additives that prevent gelling in cold weather, so add some if you are driving up to, say, Mt. Baldy in wintertime. The special cold weather blend formulated to prevent gelling is regularly pumped only in northern climes.

Mercedes does not recommend an additive, but there are many brands available that have been used by diesel-driving folks for decades with no problems. I routinely add Stanadyne Performance Formula, which improves cetane, lubricity (important now that diesel is ultra low sulphur) and resistance to cold weather gelling.
 

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2009 ML320 Bluetec, 2013 Tesla Model S 85
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2) AdBlue is actually urea DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) which needs top off about 12,000 miles. DEF is available generic formula cheap - you buy 1 qt Mercedes AdBlue, put it in, the cut off the bottom of the bottle to use to move your generic DEF into the tank.
The M-B bottle is only a quart? The AdBlue tank is 7 gallons. No wonder at the dealer its priced like gold with labor charge to match.

Update: 2009 owner's manual states, "... fill the AdBlue® tank with approximately 1 gal (3.79 l) AdBlue® (corresponds to approximately 2 refill containers AdBlue®) ..." so each is close to 2 quarts.

Peak brand BlueDEF is available at AutoZone in 2.5 gallon package for $15. Said to meet all relevant API specs and the ISO 22241 M-B cites.

3) Check the tires you will be getting with your BlueTech since RunFlat tires are defintely not my favorite and have $400 cost + each for replacement, which with the softer rubber on Run Flats very most that can be coaxed out of the
If its Bluetec then its runflat. :(

However, shopping at TireRack it appears RF is about $100 per tire and there are now RF tires with comparable life to conventional. Not sure how much extra to mount. Apparently modern RF's use the same rims as conventional tires as my used ML320BT came with conventional tires on the OE rims.

4) "Winter Blend" is by area, any concern you just get the right disel additive for those winter runs over the hills/"mountains"
You have to be in a very warm area not to get winter blend. Most get it anyway and there is a noticeable hit on MPG.

5) Admirably the Mercedes factory hitch includes stability control -
The hitch does not, its in the ESP.

quite advanced - however it's up to you if you feel more secure adding a brake controller - and at this point correctly installing a brake controller for a 2013 can be a dicey taks since most ships haven't happened yet.
There is no way a trailer brake controller is optional for towing a race car. Most states require trailer brakes for 3000 lb trailers, California is 1500 lbs.

Is sad for as advanced of a vehicle the M-class, yet doesn't come with a built-in integrated trailer brake controller the way Fords of this towing capacity do.
 

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My biggest concern is fuel quality. It appears there is a winter blend of diesel that gels in cold weather? Do I have to worry about this with fueling stations in my home town of San Diego where the weather never drops below 50 degrees? Is the fuel quality better at a truck stop like Flying J than at the corner market? Is there a top tier fuel grade for diesels like there are with gasolines?
ULSD is the most important parameter. You shouldn't be able to find anything but ULSD in the USA but for occasional stations selling Off-Road Diesel which contains a dye. The dye is very persistent and hard to flush out. Any presence warrants a fine starting at $1000.

I've read that AdBlue or similar product is easily accessible at truck stops that you can pump right into your tank like gas? (I know that it's not mixed with gas).
Its in most auto parts stores, typically $15 for 2.5 gallons. Your 7 gallon AdBlue tank is supposed to go at least 10,000 miles before getting low enough to start warning you. Otherwise my 2009 doesn't seem to have a gauge to indicate just how much is left.

I'm kind of a DIY guy, is the fuel filter and other normal maintenance items easily replaced? Is the oil that is recommended hard to find for these vehicles or it is necessary to go into the dealer for every little thing?
The 229.51 spec oil isn't available at Walmart, or most auto parts stores. When I asked at my dealer's parts counter the glib answer was "about $8/quart in the little bottles but $7/quart bulk" suggesting $7/quart if I bring my own bottles. Interestingly enough there was a mostly empty 5 quart Mobil-1 bottle out in the reception garage with cleaning supplies used for last minute prep of customer's cars. 5 quart Mobil-1 is only available at Walmart.

Another source is Amsoil. They claim to have a compatible oil but a caution about Amsoil is that they don't always submit their product for certification, they self-certify. Amsoil is not listed as a tested and approved oil by M-B: Approved 229.51 motor oils. MSRP on the Amsoil is just over $10/quart.
 

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If its Bluetec then its runflat. :(

However, shopping at TireRack it appears RF is about $100 per tire and there are now RF tires with comparable life to conventional. Not sure how much extra to mount. Apparently modern RF's use the same rims as conventional tires as my used ML320BT came with conventional tires on the OE rims.

.
The 2012+ Bluetec has a spare tire. I doubt it is equipped with run flats.
 

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The 2012+ Bluetec has a spare tire. I doubt it is equipped with run flats.
Test drove a 2012 ML350 Bluetec earlier this year and caught the salesman in several other mistakes and apparently missed this one. Was told "no spare" and didn't dig through the back to see for myself. Thought it very strange the AdBlue filler was moved from under the back to inside the fuel door on the outside and yet they didn't find room to put a spare?
 

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For Alabam's calrification..

1) MB shop uses pump tank on Ad Blue, and on the indiv bottle I called "qt" yes I guess is 2 qts.. whatever - the point in one empty bottle can be used to facilitate a refill using generic, cut the bottom off then use with the special fill connecotr built into the bottle like a funnel. Yes - all DEF is the same, MB AdBlue no different.

2) When buying BlueTec always check yourself if it has RunFlat's or not - RunFlats give a whole different feel to handling as compared to reg All Seasons. No, regardless of what your, Tire Rack, or the tire manufacturers say - the best RunFlat has a treadlife 1/2 of the better rated All-Seasons..

3) When the factory hitch is installed, the factory also installs a different rear SAM module... if you put a aftermarket hitch on a 12/13 ML you would have to buy and change the SAM, which also requires system recoding with Star..

4) I have no comment on adding a added brake controller on top of the factory hitch system - it should be fairly straight forward. However adding a aftermarket hitch (putting the SAM aside) there is a electrical isolation issue for the circuit for the rear wiring that needs to be addresses. My comment on might be dicey has to do with adding a controller on top of a aftermarket install. I am sorry if I was unclear.

Keep the beat !
 

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3) When the factory hitch is installed, the factory also installs a different rear SAM module... if you put a aftermarket hitch on a 12/13 ML you would have to buy and change the SAM, which also requires system recoding with Star..

4) I have no comment on adding a added brake controller on top of the factory hitch system - it should be fairly straight forward. However adding a aftermarket hitch (putting the SAM aside) there is a electrical isolation issue for the circuit for the rear wiring that needs to be addresses. My comment on might be dicey has to do with adding a controller on top of a aftermarket install. I am sorry if I was unclear.
I fully agree. The rear SAM informs the ESP software that a trailer is present. The cost to properly install a trailer hitch on ML after the fact is over $2000.

First time I hitched my little trailer a message appeared on the console saying something to the effect that I had a burned out bulb on the trailer. I was surprised. But it was correct.

A trailer brake controller is something different than the lighting interface. There is a brake wire on the 7-conductor plug that the TBC modulates to apply trailer brakes depending on how you are braking the tow vehicle. Sadly M-B doesn't integrate one of these into the system the way the lights are integrated. Aftermarket they are only $100 to $300. But there should be an open connector under the dash on factory hitch equipped models for a quick installation.
 

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Trailer brake conroller

Added a trailer brake controller to our 12 BlueTEC. Brake controller IIRC was approx $ 75, and it took my local mechanic under an hour minutes ($ 75) to spice it in. Total cost installed $ 150. T
 

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Added a trailer brake controller to our 12 BlueTEC. Brake controller IIRC was approx $ 75, and it took my local mechanic under an hour minutes ($ 75) to spice it in. Total cost installed $ 150. T
Thanks for the picture! I haven't decided where to mount mine. It seems there is more space on the left away from my knees but tradition is to put it on the right where right hand used to shift can also be used to manually apply the trailer brakes. Thats where Ford puts it nicely integrated in the dash where it belongs.
 

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N4, I am 6'4" tall and the tb conroller does not get in my way. By mounting on the right, the manual,slide type override button is accessable and you really don't notice it when entering the cabin. I don't think MB thought this through. Towing capacity is 7,200 lbs and I can't see towing anything over 1,500 lbs without a tb controller. The MB hitch option should have had an add on tb controler built into the dash as you say. T
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Cool Tony. What brand is your brake controller. That's the first thing I've got to get when I get my new ML.

BTW, my situation is similar to yours. Wife will DD the ML and I'll use it to tow. In fact, looks like you have the Featherlite 3110 and a 928. I've got a Featherlite as well with tire rack and 996 and 944 Spec race car. Glad you've had good results.
 

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Drawtite

Google "Drawtite Acutuator II" Just spotted one for $ 61.99 at RV wholesalers. Was plug-n-play in my Chevy p-up. Transfered it over to the ML where it took a little splicing in. Works perfect. Where ru located ? T
 

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All 2012 ML's per the MB website, claim to have Trailer Stability Assist standard, factory hitch or not. (Still opt for the factory hitch) The T.S.A. is a nice feature, but nothing beats a quality sway control hitch with weight distribution. You will thank me here when that semi passes you at 80MPH on that narrow road.

With towing your race car, do more research on tongue weight. The Mercedes ratings are low in this area. (As well as several other truck and SUV manufactures, that's why no one really advertises it.) Make sure you don't exceed the rating. (There's another reason for that WD hitch again.)

The receivers on the 2012's are made now by a different company and are a much better quality than before. The hitch and ball are now included, and they are tucked away in a foam box next to the spare tire. I will envy you on that.

Brakes on the trailer are pretty much required above a certain weight, and your combo would most likely exceed that. Search the forum/internet, someone installed a wireless brake controller that was simple to hook up and didn't need to splice into the MB system. May be an option for you?

Been driving diesels since 2004, (Dodge Ram) and my ML since '07. Had a gel/no start issue once when outside temps were -30F or so, and I seriously think I had bad (watered down) fuel. Since then, I buy at popular stations that move a lot of fuel, and use Power Service additive. Never had an issue since, even at repeat temps. Also, when the temps do plummet, the MB heating system is unreal. 4 minutes flat and the entire cabin is warm. At 8 minutes, passengers will start to complain of heat.:D
Not that you will ever see that in So CAL.
 

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Dude, Unofrtunately the "standard" specs are a little misleading - it is correct that trailer stability control is "standard" - however ONLY when the factory hitch is installed with the correct SAM module... and that hitch can only be installed at the factory, and not as a dealer add-on...
 
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