Last post on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:07 PM
You are in the Mercedes Benz M-Class
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Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG, SUV
Aug 04, 2003 (6:42 pm)
Hi,I am new to this board. I've been a buyer of Janpanese cars for the past 15yrs, but decided to give ML a try. My dad had a Mercedes 1979 240D, the worst vehicle I've ever seen.... Just bought a 2003 ML 350... drove 400 miles... no problems so far. My impression, I am not impressed, but not as bad as some reviews suggest. Positives.... steady ride at 80+ mph with no shakes on steering wheel, great bose audio. Negatives.... somewhat underpowered, brakes seem little soft.. lack of storage spaces... etc...
Regarding brakes... has anyone tried ceramic brake pads? Upgraded vented rotors? I fully expect I'll need new brakes/rotors with next two years based on what others are saying. Tire rack has OEM brake pad material brakes for $26/pair.... pretty cheap stuff. Ceramic brake pads are about twice that.... must be better.. Just trying to get educated.... If anyone can shed some light on ceramic and or kevlor brake pads vs OEM brake pads, would be appreciated...
#7099 of 8199 Response to callahann
Aug 06, 2003 (9:33 am)
Your ML seems to have much more than the usual share of complaints. A freind of mine in England was telling me that years ago, they would check the manufacture date of the cars and wouldn't buy it if it was made on a friday. That's because people went out to the pub and got pissed on thursday night and you can imagine putting together a vauxhal with a sever hang over. Some of the problems I have faced from the onese on your list are.
Fuse blown on aux cooling fans (twice).
Drivers side window switch died.
Transmission used to downshift hard. (Transmission control module replaced under warranty at about 40K miles. It would have cost me about 500 without warranty)
Besides that I have had no major problems in 58000 miles. It's a 1999 ML320
#7100 of 8199 The ongoing saga of the defective power steering hose clamp
Aug 08, 2003 (10:07 pm)
I bought a brand new 2003 ML 350 3 weeks ago. On my 4th day of ownership, I lost all power steering on my way to work and was leaving a trail of power steering fluid in the parking lot. I called the dealership (Phil Smart, Seattle, WA) and was instructed to call a towing company to have the vehicle brought back to the dealership. The next day my service advisor called me to inform me that the power steering hose clamp had failed (although it had been replaced by the dealership as part of the recall). They replaced the clamp (again). I drove the car for five days when the clamp broke again and I was forced to go through the same procedure. After being towed back to the Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz again, I was told by my advisor that this time they would replace the hose and the clamp. He was "baffled" by this repeated failure and claimed he had never experienced this before. He could offer me no explanation as to why this problem had reoccurred.
I called my MB salesman and told him I didn't want this vehicle back. I felt as though it was a lemon. Nor did I want a replacement vehicle. I either wanted my trade-in returned to me (as well as my down payment), or, if my trade-in had been sold, I wanted our down payment + the trade-in value of our vehicle in cash.
The operations manager contacted me and would not accommodate either of my requests. While he agreed to give me a new vehicle, I reiterated that I really didn't want another ML350, as there was no guarantee this problem would not happen with the second vehicle. He would not budge.
My original salesman delivered a new vehicle to me (a clone of my original ML 350). On my 7th day of ownership with the new vehicle, the power steering hose clamp failed for a third time. I have spoken with the operations manager and the general sales manager of Phil Smart. They will not accept the vehicle and return my money. The general sales manager's comment to me was "At some point, you have to realize that we sold you the vehicle, you bought the vehicle, it's your responsibility now. Buying a car is not like buying a suit. You can't return it just because you don't like it." The operations managers remark was "That's what warranties are for."
Both gentleman insisted that NO OTHER ML owners at their dealership have experienced as many problems with the hose clamp as I have.
Has anybody have a similar experience? My wife and I are so terrified the hose clamp will fail again one day while driving on the freeway, we want to do everything possible to return the vehicle to the dealership for a refund. Any suggestions?
#7101 of 8199 Power Steering Failure
Aug 08, 2003 (11:31 pm)
Well, the dealership has a point in that "returns" are not provided for in the warranty. Of course, they can do anything in the name of customer goodwill, but obviously giving you a refund is going too far for them.
Your legal recouse is lemon law proceedings, but the bar is higher than simply two failures of the same component. Basically there has to be in intractable problem that they can't fix in multiple attempts before you can go this route. I would read the brochure though and start keeping very careful records in case it comes to this.
Hose clamps are simply systems. Statistically, it would seem that there must be some common factor to cause these repeated failures - a bad batch of clamps, a bad fitting on the cooler or pump, something not secured properly that is causing unusual vibration or stress, or an incompetent service technician.
While there have been some drivers who have felt that this problem is a huge safety concern, my opinion is that this is being overly dramatic. All cars with power steering, including the ML, can be steered after failure of the power steering system. You have to use some muscle, but the car is completely controllable. So while this is a huge annoyance and breaking down on the freeway would be disconcerting, I don't think there is a good reason to be "terrified". Just drive the car normally and use whatever force you need to turn the wheel. In fact, if and when it breaks again, forget the tow, just drive the darn thing to the shop. If it burns out the power steering pump or something, tough, then can just replace it.
I think your best bet is to get it fixed and drive it. Perhaps, even take it to another dealership (e.g., Barrier) and have them take a look at it. I'm sure if you explained that situation, they'd bend over backwards to get your business. (I'm not saying that Smart or Barrier is better - just that something is fishy in the way Smart is doing the repair, so another set of eyes on this wouldn't hurt.)
And I'd get in the service person's face to explain what is happening. What is failing? Hose? Clamp? Fitting? Are all possible components that could be causing the repeated failure being replaced? Is something not secured properly that is causing an unusual vibration that is fatiguing the fitting or hose? IOW, I'd tell them to stop REPLACING and start FIXING. Or if they can't find what is wrong, then replace EVERYTHING - hoses, clamps, cooler, and power steering pump.
I'd give up on the refund angle. Ain't gonna happen unless you can get over the lemon law bar.
#7102 of 8199 Power Steering
Aug 10, 2003 (4:55 am)
Markjenn, I just received my recall notice for my 2002 ML500 (18,000 miles). I had heard in the past that there was a problem with the hose clamp. So, thinking that it might happen to me, I rolled the ML out of the garage, as it rolled down the driveway without the motor running (small down slope), I tried turning the steering wheel. It was SO difficult I could barely turn it. There is no way you can steer this vehicle without power steering. I'm not a power weight lifter but I'm in good physical health and have good strength, I could not steer this vehicle! As the vehicle reached the street it began to slow down so maybe that made it harder than if the ML was going down the street. Even when I park the ML in a tight turn situations (like parallel parking) the power steering is a little hard to turn. That is the only thing on this Mercedes that I don't like, my E430 is very easy in all situations. I know that the ML500 has large tires so maybe that's the reason for little extra effort in tight parking.
#7103 of 8199 Power steering
Aug 10, 2003 (5:27 pm)
I'd turn the ignition to off (but not to lock!) while rolling at 25-mph or so to get a truer feel of the effort required if the power steering should fail. I think the issue is that the effort rise is so dramatic that most drivers react to the change in effort (which seems huge), rather than the absolute effort (which is manageable).
All vehicles are required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to be steerable if the power steering is not working (which will happen if the engine stalls) so I don't know what to tell you if you say that you can't phsically do it. I'd probably advise you to get a different car and maybe even one without power steering - I wouldn't want to drive a car where steering control was quetionable whenver the engine stalled.
#7104 of 8199 window switch finally failed - question
Aug 11, 2003 (11:21 am)
Well, I've been waiting for this to happen, and it finally did. I had to use some force on the driver's side window switch to get the window to close. It's going in for service next week, but does anybody know if they will replace the switch with an updated model, or will they basically replace it with the same switch that will eventually fail as well?
#7105 of 8199 P/S Clamp ... anyone else?
Aug 11, 2003 (6:48 pm)
I tightened up the clamp on our '00 ML430 a ways back when I'd read on the group that the hose could come off under pressure. I also took the truck in for the recall.
It seems like most persons who experienced the problem were in colder climes and the car had just been started and was cold.
Anyway, we never had problems. We recently traded the truck in great shape with about 72K miles on it for a '03 ML500. We had a tow hitch installed from the beginning and I noticed on the work order that the dealer had taken care of performing the p/s recall. We now have over 2,000 miles on the "500."
I just looked at the clamp and there is no way that the replaced clamp will ever blow off. The hose is still pushed firmly against the stop with a slight bulge and the clamp is wide and tight and looks very much to me like it clearly is there to stay.
#7106 of 8199 Window Switches
Aug 11, 2003 (7:33 pm)
According to this site,
a new switch part number became available Oct '01. Presumably, it has been improved.
On this site there is also a DIY instructions on rebending the contacts to extend the life of the problematic switches. But if I went to all the trouble to get in there, I'd replace the switch.
#7107 of 8199 Clamp Failure on Power Steering
Aug 12, 2003 (9:32 am)
It is true. You CAN NOT steer the ML if you have a power steering failure. My clamp to the power steering failed on my 2000 ML320 with 25000 miles (lucky in failed in the parking lot of my office building where I work--my office is 1/4 mile from the local MB dealer). I attempted to drive out of my parking lot to the dealer and could not steer the vehicle at all. I felt wierd calling road side assistance since I am only 1/4 mile from the dealership. The service tech told me NOT to attempt to drive the vehicle since it is virtually impossible to steer the vehicle with out the power steering working (he fixed it in my parking lot with a next day visit to the dealership for a more permanent fix). I am not ARNOLD (the next CA Gov.?) but I work out often and pump some heavy iron.