Replaced fuel guage 4 times, power steering hoses, rear compartment lights, numerous attempts to fix rattles failed. This car is a failure.
I purchased a 2002 ML 500 about a 1 1/2 year ago. The car online has 21000 miles on it and now the brakes ALREADY wore out badly. I can hear the loud noise when the brake hit the rotor. I called the dealer this morning and 4 pads cost $300 (just for parts, no labor). If I remember correcty, under normal driving the pads should last you approximately, 40,000 miles. Terrible terrible.
I agree that the quality of new Benzes has declined over the past decade, in fact a car dealer once told me that the only car manufacturer which could guarantee decently long-lasting bodywork was BMW (and new Citroens and Peugeots).
Mercedes-Benz began a cost-cutting programme (I think) in the mid 1990s. Under the previous system engineers designed a new car and presented it to the accountants to be priced. Now, the accountants say 'this car should cost £X'000, go and design it.' This accounts for the drop in quality of the recent Mercs.
Re. the Chrysler issues the facts are the other way round. Mercedes Benz bought Chrysler (thinly disguised as a merger) and to my knowledge the US company has been rather a weight round the German's necks, rather like the Rover and BMW debacle.
I am a United Kingdom owner of a ML320, which I bought new in September 2000. Due to the adverse comments I had heard about the build quality of the first ML's made in Alabama, I waited until I could get one built in Europe (Austria I believe). The ride, comfort, space and 'drive-ability' is very good, which you ought to expect for a 4x4 vehicle that cost £37,000 new in the UK. That's about US$65,000. However the mechanical & repair problems I have experienced put me off ever buying another one.
In fact given the long list of faults that I have now read affect this model, I suppose I should almost feel lucky... except I don't. For your info the car has now done 45k miles, and here are my experiences with it.
Brake pads having to be changed at less than 10K miles. It is a heavy car, and I realise that such wear is very much dependant on individual driving style, but if it is a heavy vehicle then it should have pads to cope with the extra weight in the first place. Now on to fourth set of pads, and probably have to replace brake disks at next pad change.
All 4 tyres originally supplied from new needed changing at 24,000 miles.
Lumpy running traced to faulty high tension lead. £16 for replacement lead, £220 just to diagnose this as the problem in the MB dealership!
Second period of lumpy running, occurred and again it was another faulty high tension lead. This time I just about avoided another diagnosis charge, having told MB that I thought it could be the same problem, but it did not stop them attempting to charge me a second diagnosis fee!
Biggest shock came in March 2005 at just 39,000 miles, when I was told I had a hairline crack in both catalytic converters. Estimate to repair was around £3200! MB refused/would not weld the cracks, but were quite happy to try and flog me two new cats, and 4 new lamda units. They subsequently offered to reduce this by 25%, but quite frankly this was still remained an enormous potential charge regardless. Anyway, I discovered with a bit of research how COMMON this cat problem is on the ML's. No doubt MB is more than aware of the high failure rates of their ML cats, but were not prepared to correct at a more reasonable charge.
To cut this saga short, after a lot of looking I was lucky enough to find an independant garage that does stainless steel welding and they fixed them both for the princely sum of just £90!. Amazing.
Currently in Nov 05, I have discovered the power steering to be giving a loud 'groaning' sound when turning the steering wheel, and this is the case when stationary or moving. A brief inspection by myself shows evidence of an oil leak from what I presume is a component of the power steering. My past experience has taught me to go nowhere near a MB dealership to get this fixed!
Fuel consumption is obviously compromised in a heavy 4x4, however I would have hoped to have better than 16 miles per gallon that I have measured over 1000 miles of urban driving which is invariably in quite free flowing traffic, rather than stop start.
In summary I echo many of the negative sentiments I have read regarding the reliability of this car, so much so when I get to replace the ML it will almost certainly mean going Japanese with a 4x4 Lexus. We used to have a Toyota RAV4, and it did not need a single repair in 5 years.
We have had our 2000 ML320 and have not seen anything remotely similar to these outlandish comments.
Just normal maintenance and service.
I think this model attracted a lot of non-Mercedes customers with this popular model. Some of which are not accustomed to the stern maintenance requirements these vehicles demand.
Either that or these comments are from some very jealous competitors!
I can't believe all the things that have gone wrong with my ml320 Air pump $1200 some kind of valve $120 the next day another valve $120.Then went to get the brakes done cost me another $1000 (we had to fix something when we were doing the brakes).For such a good car it feels like its not worth time and effort to keep fixing it.
I call my 2000 ML320 the X-mas car. Every month a new light comes on. I think Mercedes makes more money in repair than they do in sales. I have had enough after 3 years. I have a large stack of blue repair sheets. My 2000 Honda Civic EX has never lets me down. When I go to that cheap little car I know I am going where I need to go. The ML is very nice looking and gets an A+ for comfort, however not reliable at all. I think I am going for an All wheel drive Lexus. No more Mercedes for me. It's not just the cost, it's about having a good car. A car that spends more time on the road than in the shop. I know a guy with a 2003 E500. He has had 1 problem after the next. My dad had a 380SL. That was the hot car of its day, however it spent more time sitting and waiting for repair than on the road. He gave it away free to a mechanic. People that like to waste time and money should own a Mercedes. I told my mom to get a 1998 E320, she got a 1998 Lexus GS300. I am glad she did not listen to me now.
We are busy with other daily challenges; car is the least thing that we want to be worried about so we pay big $$ for a M-B, even used.
I used to lease an E320, the automatic temperature control went out with no A/C in the hot summer with only 30K miles; I thought that was an isolated case.
Then I bought a ML 320 (year 2000) model from a M-B Dealer in '05, for its "reputation". The car had its problems from the start, like the pooping noise from sunroof, malfunctioning CD changer, leaked sound dampening fluid on the side window, and long brake travel. These are poor design problems that I could live with. It was that cracking debacle of the catalytic converter really drove me mad since the cracking incident took place on a steep slope on our family trip to Yosemite. The SUV sounded like it was going to roll off the cliff any minute... Guess how would you trust your entire family to this piece of crap!