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PROSPECTIVE BUYERS: Before buying a GL, know itís not all good news

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GL Class (X164) 2007-2012: GL320CDI, GL420CDI, GL450, GL550

PROSPECTIVE BUYERS: Before buying a GL, know itís not all good news

 
Old 05-23-2017, 12:57 PM
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2009 GL320 (92,000), 1997 F-250 Diesel (245,000), 2017 Subaru Legacy (500), 2006 Prius (365000)
PROSPECTIVE BUYERS: Before buying a GL, know itís not all good news

This is the post I wish I had seen 5 months ago before buying the worst vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Now I’m going to sound a bit like a whiner and I don’t mean to bash on the GLs that some of you love, but honestly, had I known any of this prior, I would have never bought a 90,000 mile 2009 GL320 for $16000.

This is, by far, the worst vehicle/most disappointing vehicle I have ever owned. And probably the most disappointing vehicle I’ve driven in the past 20 years - certainly the worst in its class.

In the few short months that we’ve owned it, it seems like far too many things have broken, or gone bad. This is not what I would have expected from a German luxury brand. I purposefully stayed away from American 7 seaters intentionally and was hoping for some quality. I’m embarrassed to be driving a Mercedes, knowing how blah and crappy this rig really is. And, I’m tired of folks at work thinking it’s fancy when they don’t realize their Subarus, Toyotas, and Mazdas are vastly superior.

My grandpa spent decades teaching me to never buy a Chrysler unless you want to be disappointed. I guess my reaction to this turd should have been expected.

Unknown problems that came with the vehicle when I bought it:
• All 4 struts shot. This is one of the worst riding vehicles I’ve ever been in. Rides like a heavy flat bottom boat. Carfax shows that the struts were replaced at 30,000 miles.
• Sunroof leaks and has wind noise.
• Bushings shot in the rear.
• Headlights yellow and low quality – just like all Chryslers of that era.
• Fog lights shot.
• Didn’t come with a hitch. This is my fault because I knew it before buying, but I had no idea what a challenge it would be to get a factory hitch for less than $1000 all in. I settled for a Curt 3500lb hitch for $300.

Broken since Jan (It’s May now):
• Side mirror LED flew apart at the carwash
• Windshield washer tube separated
• Rear seat lock failed
• Urea heater failed
• Urea pump failed
• Rack and pinion started leaking
• Ashtray drawer broke yesterday for no reason and won’t stay closed. This was the last straw, and really set me off – hence this post.

Pros:
• Extra seats in the event that you actually need them.
• 24mpg diesel is marginally acceptable, though my 450hp F250 gets 17mpg and is far more enjoyable to drive.
• The SD card option for the radio is really nice.
• The radio also has HD capability, and I’ve found some enjoyable stations.
• Quiet interior

Cons:
• Even if this vehicle was in perfect condition, it would still be a complete bore to drive. It is completely void of personality and character. Driving it is about as thrilling as being a passenger in your neighbor’s car you don’t give a damn about.
• The Navigation literally isn’t worth your time. It’s a complete joke.
• The ride is terrible. I have a clapped out 2005 Prius with 360,000 miles with original struts and you cannot imagine how much better it rides than this MB.
• Weekly or biweekly failure of some component on the car
• The struts are $1000 at the cheapest.
• Almost completely void of interior luxury or technology. The cheapest new cars will exceed in this category compared to the GL.
• Unnecessary complications due to the style of engineering. As an example, changing the air filters will leave you flabbergasted.
• Chrysler era quality. I think things may have improved after Chrysler left the equation.

Hopefully this helps someone out who is wondering what it’s like to purchase one of these. If you are the type who takes your vehicle in for repairs, and does not do the work yourself, I would strongly advise that you reconsider. Keep in mind that there is no pride, no prestige, and no sense of elevated quality with these rigs.

I have buyer’s remorse, and yes, I’m bitter about this thing. What a shame.
This post really makes me feel like a whiner, but dern-it I sure wish I would have seen a post like this before buying a GL. That's a fact.

Last edited by TravisT; 05-23-2017 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 05-23-2017, 03:42 PM
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Sounds like you need to put yours up for sale today. Your "cons" list is your own fault except for the parts failures. Spending any decent amount of time on your part to research and test drive multiple GL's would have told you that the 350 is the slowest, navigation/technology in general are behind, and ride quality depends on the mileage of the struts. Same goes for all the "unknown" problems". You can't complain buying something with existing problems b/c you either didn't see them or didn't get a PPI done by an professional. 24 mpg is good btw for any 3-row SUV designed 10 years ago. It's also 40% better than your F250.

Last edited by mefferso; 05-23-2017 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:02 PM
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The diesel versions definitely seem less reliable than their gasser counterparts.

Not a Chrysler. MB owned Chrysler but not the other way around. There was no up sharing from Chrysler to MB. No one to blame but MB for issues. The Chrysler side was sold to an investment group in 2007.

Your car had a slew of issues when you purchase so no one to blame but yourself for not having it checked out before purchasing.

You can get struts much cheaper with a lifetime warranty through Arnott. They all fail including the Arnott's at less than 100k miles.

My 450 has been ultra reliable less a few minor issues and has over 200k miles. I've owned since new. Love the truck and is the best vehicle I've ever owned. Mine rides great since the struts are all good and the car is maintained.

Last edited by BlownV8; 05-23-2017 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by BlownV8 View Post
The diesel versions definitely seem less reliable than their gasser counterparts.
That's why they hold value better than gassers...
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:44 PM
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No doubt I could have made better choices with which vehicle to purchase had I obtained more data points prior. I did, however, post several questions on this forum and others looking for advice and reviews - most all of which were very positive.

I also became knowledgeable about what to look for, and what the common failures are (struts, power steering, etc.). It's just unfortunate that this one arrived with so many issues. So, why would did I buy it? Well, I had three objectives that led us to the GL320. Since we live in Colorado, and altitude has an effect on our rigs when we tow, I wanted something turbo charged, 7 passengers, and a decent towing capacity. Diesel would be a plus. So the GL320 rose to the top.

But, here in Colorado we only had one used GL320 one show up in 4 months. I drove it. A lot. I also drove an R320, and an ML320 on the same day. The GL had the best ride.

After that we searched for 3 months nation wide. Spoke to countless dealers, and facetimed with many. We ended up buying this one from out of state, so, no I wasn't able to really get to know it.

Originally Posted by mefferso View Post
Sounds like you need to put yours up for sale today. Your "cons" list is your own fault except for the parts failures.
I guess that's possible if most people consider my Cons as Pros.
Originally Posted by mefferso View Post
It's also 40% better than your F250.
Yeah. That's not a very good comparison, to be honest, because the truck is almost 100% custom and is a ton of fun to drive. The GL gets miles per gallon, but the truck gets smiles per gallon.

I know folks love these things. I'm hoping that I can get there too.

When I ordered the struts from RMT, I had already called Arnott and found that the RMT were less expensive.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:47 PM
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a2j, your signature is very telling!
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by TravisT View Post
This is the post I wish I had seen 5 months ago before buying the worst vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Now I’m going to sound a bit like a whiner and I don’t mean to bash on the GLs that some of you love, but honestly, had I known any of this prior, I would have never bought a 90,000 mile 2009 GL320 for $16000.

This is, by far, the worst vehicle/most disappointing vehicle I have ever owned. And probably the most disappointing vehicle I’ve driven in the past 20 years - certainly the worst in its class.

In the few short months that we’ve owned it, it seems like far too many things have broken, or gone bad. This is not what I would have expected from a German luxury brand. I purposefully stayed away from American 7 seaters intentionally and was hoping for some quality. I’m embarrassed to be driving a Mercedes, knowing how blah and crappy this rig really is. And, I’m tired of folks at work thinking it’s fancy when they don’t realize their Subarus, Toyotas, and Mazdas are vastly superior.

My grandpa spent decades teaching me to never buy a Chrysler unless you want to be disappointed. I guess my reaction to this turd should have been expected.

Unknown problems that came with the vehicle when I bought it:
• All 4 struts shot. This is one of the worst riding vehicles I’ve ever been in. Rides like a heavy flat bottom boat. Carfax shows that the struts were replaced at 30,000 miles.
• Sunroof leaks and has wind noise.
• Bushings shot in the rear.
• Headlights yellow and low quality – just like all Chryslers of that era.
• Fog lights shot.
• Didn’t come with a hitch. This is my fault because I knew it before buying, but I had no idea what a challenge it would be to get a factory hitch for less than $1000 all in. I settled for a Curt 3500lb hitch for $300.

Broken since Jan (It’s May now):
• Side mirror LED flew apart at the carwash
• Windshield washer tube separated
• Rear seat lock failed
• Urea heater failed
• Urea pump failed
• Rack and pinion started leaking
• Ashtray drawer broke yesterday for no reason and won’t stay closed. This was the last straw, and really set me off – hence this post.

Pros:
• Extra seats in the event that you actually need them.
• 24mpg diesel is marginally acceptable, though my 450hp F250 gets 17mpg and is far more enjoyable to drive.
• The SD card option for the radio is really nice.
• The radio also has HD capability, and I’ve found some enjoyable stations.
• Quiet interior

Cons:
• Even if this vehicle was in perfect condition, it would still be a complete bore to drive. It is completely void of personality and character. Driving it is about as thrilling as being a passenger in your neighbor’s car you don’t give a damn about.
• The Navigation literally isn’t worth your time. It’s a complete joke.
• The ride is terrible. I have a clapped out 2005 Prius with 360,000 miles with original struts and you cannot imagine how much better it rides than this MB.
• Weekly or biweekly failure of some component on the car
• The struts are $1000 at the cheapest.
• Almost completely void of interior luxury or technology. The cheapest new cars will exceed in this category compared to the GL.
• Unnecessary complications due to the style of engineering. As an example, changing the air filters will leave you flabbergasted.
• Chrysler era quality. I think things may have improved after Chrysler left the equation.

Hopefully this helps someone out who is wondering what it’s like to purchase one of these. If you are the type who takes your vehicle in for repairs, and does not do the work yourself, I would strongly advise that you reconsider. Keep in mind that there is no pride, no prestige, and no sense of elevated quality with these rigs.

I have buyer’s remorse, and yes, I’m bitter about this thing. What a shame.
This post really makes me feel like a whiner, but dern-it I sure wish I would have seen a post like this before buying a GL. That's a fact.
It seems that you are trying to stir people away from buying a Mercedes. My brother has had his GL450 for 4 years now with no issues. Besides one of the shocks going bad which he replaced for $600 (labor included). There is no denying you bought a bad apple, but it seems here you are all at fault for not doing your homework on studying the car in general or inspecting the car properly before buying. Besides, you did buy one at the bottom of the market. And yes a Mercedes GL is fencier than all of your coroworkers' Toyotas and other economy cars. There is so much tech in these cars and therefore the more there is to go wrong with them. You can't pay $16k for a $65k+ MSRP vehicle and expect nothing to go wrong with it. The car you bought was designed between 2004-2006, you can't expect it's tech or standards of interior to be on par with the vehicels that come out today. And as far as the drive being a bore, well, you did buy a beluga with a diesel 6 cylinder, how do you expect that kind of drive to be any fun?

Last edited by tasho3; 05-23-2017 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TravisT View Post
a2j, your signature is very telling!
Little over $2000 in repairs and hours of personal time for 100k miles of driving. Not much different from any other vehicle. Your original post does not make much sense to me.
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Old 05-23-2017, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tasho3 View Post
It seems that you are trying to stir people away from buying a Mercedes. My brother has had his GL450 for 4 years now with no issues. Besides one of the shocks going bad which he replaced for $600 (labor included). There is no denying you bought a bad apple, but it seems here you are all at fault for not doing your homework on studying the car in general or inspecting the car properly before buying. Besides, you did buy one at the bottom of the market. And yes a Mercedes GL is fencier than all of your coroworkers' Toyotas and other economy cars. There is so much tech in these cars and therefore the more there is to go wrong with them. You can't pay $16k for a $65k+ MSRP vehicle and expect nothing to go wrong with it. The car you bought was designed between 2004-2006, you can't expect it's tech or standards of interior to be on par with the vehicels that come out today. And as far as the drive being a bore, well, you did buy a beluga with a diesel 6 cylinder, how do you expect that kind of drive to be any fun?

True, true. Live and learn I guess!

a2j: I am so overbooked and busy that minor inconveniences like the ashtray door not staying closed are a but problem, logistically, for me. It may take me months to find time to fix it. If I had the problems you had in that short of a time, i'd likely feel like I wasn't able to catch up.
It's my fault though. I just have too much stuff to maintain, and I can't keep up. I also have too much ability to design, fix, build, and repair anything and that keeps me from paying other people to do work I can just do myself.
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Old 05-23-2017, 06:54 PM
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Hey Op, you forgot one thing:
engine seizures
Look couple posts under yours
Ha! Gotta love benz's
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:16 PM
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Well who wants to eat crow? This is the welcome home the GL gave me today. Another day, another problem, I guess. Today's saga includes a spewing strut. Similar to last month when the hood strut did the same thing. But hey these rigs are superb
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Old 05-23-2017, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by a2j View Post
That's why they hold value better than gassers...
On the 320's/350' GL's, they shouldn't hold their value better. There are far too many very expensive issues on the diesel. Those looking for high fuel economy with the ignorance of all the diesel's issues keeps the value of the 320/350 much higher than it should ever be. Reading about all the failures on the GL diesels would lead me to tell all to stay away.

Right engine in the wrong application. The short trips to and from the grocery store, shopping malls, school and home, I believe, are the bane of the engine and is causing the excessive timing chain wear, turbo seal failures, sludge build up, and failed engines.
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Old 05-24-2017, 08:50 AM
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Op, from your post it appears you bought the wrong (for you) vehicle. An 09 with 90k for sub $20k is generally a DIY special. Plenty of parts, not an overlycomplicated vehicle and repairs on the easy side. But the dealer will eat you alive if you go there.

You should have read the forum- most of what you experience has been documented here along with what it takes to remedy.
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Old 05-24-2017, 08:51 AM
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All I can say is I am glad I bought an 08 320cdi

i was not going to have a vehicle with no spare tire but rather a urea tank with more things to go wrong with. at that time both gas and diesel was above $3

i have not been let down so far. I have almost 150k. Other then suspension I have not had any disappointment
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Old 05-24-2017, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by alx View Post
Op, from your post it appears you bought the wrong (for you) vehicle. An 09 with 90k for sub $20k is generally a DIY special. Plenty of parts, not an overlycomplicated vehicle and repairs on the easy side. But the dealer will eat you alive if you go there.

You should have read the forum- most of what you experience has been documented here along with what it takes to remedy.

Originally Posted by smiledr996s View Post
All I can say is I am glad I bought an 08 320cdi

i was not going to have a vehicle with no spare tire but rather a urea tank with more things to go wrong with. at that time both gas and diesel was above $3

i have not been let down so far. I have almost 150k. Other then suspension I have not had any disappointment
I support this message.
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Old 05-24-2017, 02:57 PM
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Did you get any service records before buying.

I shopped the crap out of mine before buying, passing up a 1/2 dozen porly maintained examples.
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Old 05-24-2017, 03:29 PM
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Believe me, I can fix, build, fabricate, or repair anything. Ive built complete engines from small blocks, and bought totaled vehicles from insurance auctions and brought them back on the road. I'm not really scared to get my hands dirty. My reaction to this vehicle is based on how it compares to other vehicles I've owned that are much older, and have been far more abused than this one.

Originally Posted by N_Jay View Post
Did you get any service records before buying.

I shopped the crap out of mine before buying, passing up a 1/2 dozen porly maintained examples.

Yeah I did, and that's where this one is interesting. It was originally owned by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services California as a "Manufacturers Vehicle". I has a sticker in the engine compartment that states that it's a test vehicle for California Tier 3, Bin 30 emissions testing.

At 10,311 miles it was bought by MB of Houston and a **** ton of repairs were replaced:
Brake fluid
Filters
Control arm bushings
Rear struts (at 10,000 miles!!!)
Paint sealant applied
Seats repaired
EGR feedback sensor
Outside air sensor replaced
ECM reprogrammed

All this at 10,000 miles (SMH)

Then sold and maintained by MB through 30000 miles.

Then who knows what happened from there until I bought it.

But hey, it might be a lemon. I'm just trying to stay in front of the cascading failures.
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Old 05-24-2017, 03:41 PM
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So it was beat to death by people who did not care about it for the first 10K miles. (Probably never serviced since it has a 10K service window).
The 20K as a used MB, and then how many more probably with bob the gas station guy taking care of it.

Yes, MBs are higher maintenance than a Japanese car.

But there are REALLY high maintenance when you are doing catch up.

I doubt it was a lemon as much as abused and not maintained.
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Old 05-24-2017, 04:39 PM
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i had a 2008 ML320 i totalled
did not have airmatic
it was a great truck for me

a few repairs but nothing i would consider out of the ordinary

replaced it with a 2008 GL320 and i LOVE this truck
i researched both these vehicles extensively before buying and researched the available used options across the country before buying


actually flew to florida to pick up one truck and backed out of the deal when i got there, rented a car drove to georgia and bought a different one

i drive 60, 000 miles a year and stay on top of or ahead of any possible issues on all 3 of my cars/trucks

i put 50,000 miles on the ML and have put almost 40,000 on the GL

it seems you have to like these trucks and they have to be kind of like a hobby

either being able to do it yourself or have an excellent independent mechanic is a must

if within 200 miles of my mechanic mine will be towed back to him, will only use the dealer if desperate and out of town


i dont know what to think about all the complaints about the airmatic
you replace it once with arnott and never pay again.... i wish all my cars were like this

really wish my 2006 E320 had airmatic

do none of you guys replace your shocks every 50,000- 60,000 miles or so? i thought this was standard across the board on all cars

i do have 3 cars for one person and it is easy for me to park one and use another, sure that makes a difference but i dont find either of my mercedes to be bad to maintain/repair and i love driving them

all this being said i dont know that i would own mercedes without my excellent mechanic
big shoutout to monsoon automotive in tucson, az
he is great with these cars, really knows what he is doing
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Old 05-24-2017, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by clvincent View Post
I actually flew to florida to pick up one truck and backed out of the deal when i got there, rented a car drove to georgia and bought a different one
When was that?

I flew to FL and also turned down a 2008 GL320. (Jan 2013)
It was midnight blue and had about 92K miles.
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Old 05-24-2017, 07:07 PM
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You all are wrong, at one point your GL WILL FAIL SOMETHING ... these are ticking time bom*s, you like it or not
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Old 05-24-2017, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 007_e350 View Post
You all are wrong, at one point your GL WILL FAIL SOMETHING ... these are ticking time bom*s, you like it or not
As are all cars. The more complex, the more likely.

They are far from perfect, but most of the disaster stories are due to poor maintenance.
Including poor (and over-expensive) dealer provided maintenance.
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Old 05-24-2017, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by N_Jay
As are all cars. The more complex, the more likely.

They are far from perfect, but most of the disaster stories are due to poor maintenance.
Including poor (and over-expensive) dealer provided maintenance.
Exactly! I started to work on my GL after extended warranty expired. The car was serviced by the dealer all of its life and disappointed to find broken clips that holding wires, incorrect clamps used and other obvious small short cuts from the servicing tech.

Even the transmission have different levels of service/flush as an example. You assume that a true full flush was performed with price charged by the dealer but will never know.
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:21 PM
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I don't like to pile on when a rant gets going, so I'll try to be balanced here.
I agree the OP neglected to do his homework, though he didn't just jump at a pretty little number in a showroom window. He took a few months to search, and then banking on the Mercedes rep as great car builders, he assumed his test drive of one car would provide similar performance in another of same model/year.
But in his defense, if you buy a GL350 or 320 CDI because of Merdedes rep for quality, or because of your memories of how indesctructable the old TDIs were, then you are going to be bitterly disappointed, and likely to never trust Mercedes again. Some of the problems are common to all the GLs, but the really galling stuff is the low mileage failure and "regular" maintenance of everything in the 642 engine when installed the GL. That is in addition to the usual GL failures like airmatic leaks, rear latch failure, and $400 battery replacement, Just inexcusable.
Maybe 2012 and beyond they solved some problems, I don't know. But 2010-2011 would be recalled if only we morons didn't keep paying for more repairs since we've already replaced/repaired everthing, and this has to be the last gremlin, what else could go wrong?
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Old 05-25-2017, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by 007_e350 View Post
You all are wrong, at one point your GL WILL FAIL SOMETHING ... these are ticking time bom*s, you like it or not

lol, not sure what to think about this post

all cars are ticking time bombs , they all break

i have honestly posted on 2 mercedes forums that i dont think these care are for everybody
think you have to want to work on it yourself, have time to do it or a really good indie

but so far mine have not been major problems




jay the one i looked at in florida a couple of years ago was white
guy said it was in great shape and it was trashed by my standards
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