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The list of stuff to watch out for on a 163

M-Class (W163) 1998-2005: ML 230, ML 320, ML 350, ML 400 CDI, ML 430, ML 500, ML 270 CDI

The list of stuff to watch out for on a 163

Old 12-21-2016, 07:01 PM
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I have a 2004 ML500 (I think it's a W163), and have had some of those issues. My big ones were

the radiator came apart at 75K and was replaced.

The Bose NAV system (which was terrible) went dark and was replaced with a Pioneer (there's a great write up on the forum how to do that). The fiber-optic connection system between the head unit, changer, and power amp is not industry-standard, so to replace the head unit, you have to rip out all the rest.

Both rear door regulators failed (I dunno why they're called "regulators" because they lock, unlock, window up/down, and child lock control, they don't regulate anything).

Additionally the driver's side mirror is now stationary.

Both HE power supplies under the headlamp failed.

The connector from the wiring harness to the cabin fan regulator melted and getting that replaced was hard.

The wire harness between the cabin fan and the fan regulator unit melted as well, and from MB you have to buy the complete fan assembly to get that wiring harness. Thank God for Pick and Pull.

The valve cover "gasket" failed and oil was dripping down onto the manifold. It's not really a gasket, it is some kind of sealer that's applied. A lot of the top end has to be taken apart to get that cover off. And removing the old sealer is quite difficult.

I get codes for both the O2 sensors, but the codes have the same time stamps and it's too hard to believe both sensors are intermittent and failing at exactly the same moment.

The coolant and radiator reservoir dashboard lites come on and go off randomly. I replaced the radiator reservoir sensor, and the lite is still intermittent, so it's something else, maybe the reference voltage generator from the "brain".

A couple of the tach lites are intermittent. I don't want to dissamble my dashboard to change the bulbs out.

The motor mounts broke and had to be replaced. I towed only one trailer ever, and it was a light tow.

Of course the MAF sensor failed, as did the accelerator pedal speed control module.

Both front and rear motor seals are leaking. They started leaking around 90K.

The driver's window is "thump thump thumping" as it is rolled down. It's silent on the way up. I'm sure the material that is used for the lower window seal is "grabbing" the glass.

The power steering reservoir cracked open and started to leak.

The tranny valve body was replaced. Still throwing codes occasionally.

Axel center housing seals were replaced.

The brakes scream in extreme pain when braking slowly in reverse. When hot, no problem. Backing out of my driveway in the AM wakes all the neighbors. Replacing the pads and disk did not fix the problem. Go figure.

While washing the car, my son climbed a ladder and rested one foot on the top of the rear bumper cover. It cracked (cheap as poo piece of plastic with a liner that does not strengthen the bumper cover) and the crack grew and grew.

And to Web: this is not a chrysler. MB is responsible for the Quality Control, the design validation test DVT), the PMT (Process maturity test) and the Beta test of the first production units. To say this is a chrysler is a cop-out. And unless you're one of the design engineers, it is impossible to tell if a chrysler sub made the parts for MB or not. I went to the dealer whose parts manager told me that they don't have a "where used" for any part number: you give them the VIN and they tell you which part to buy. In other words, they can't tell you if the power steering reservoir is the same on the ML320 as the ML500 without VINs of both cars. And I can personally verify and guarantee that the statement "Everything except the driveline in the MLs are American made" is false. Almost every part I replaced had "Made in Germany" stamped on it. Even the radiator that came out of the van.
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Old 01-07-2017, 07:59 AM
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W201 190D of 1989 former taxi; S211 E220CDI of 2005 - taxi; VW Eos 1.4 TSI Bluemotion of 2011
I'm thinking about buying a ML270CDI and I still have doubts, mainly because of the Low Range button. All the ones I've tryed, none works, or maybe I'm making something wrong. Even so, if anyone has repaired it, how much would the fix be?
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:16 AM
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w163 ML 270 cdi 2003.
The LOW RANGE button doesn't work on probably 95% of them...
I repaired the LOW RANGE on my 270 CDI about a month ago. The thing is, the small motor and the gears get rusty or something like that because people rarely use it. My friend took it off, tried to turn it with his hand and then he connected it to 12 V and it started working. Then he opened everything, cleaned it, put some lubricant and now it works. I presume mechanic shoul repair it for 30 EUR, not more.
But even without it, you can use the car completely, I pulled a car from the ditch in snow, the guy didn't have time to start the car and I forgot to release my handbrake, but he was out of the ditch in 2 seconds... Other people said that I pulled him out like a toy.
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Old 10-06-2017, 07:08 PM
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1999 ML320
Manhattan putes my ML into limp mode

I have a 1999 ML-320 in great shape. I love my ML! The problem is I can't drive it in New York City! When I get to what I think is a wireless hot spot,(time square) I get at least 10 faults on the dash and the car goes in to limp mode with no dash gauges working!
I was told that this is because of the wireless diagnosis system that Mercedes used to have. I believe either a Bluetooth or WiFi hub is sending signals to my car as I drive past it. It happens in the heart of the city without fail and on my trips to Cape Cod on the highway and I was told there is a filter
to stop the problem. If anyone has any advice for me I would be very grateful. There is nothing worse than having a car you can't drive as there are more places on the highway every year that are giving me this signal and I just got a high oil temp message as well as an anti lock break alarm.
My car is in Mint condition so I just need to solve this problem.
Thanks to all of you!
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:53 PM
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2000 ML320 w/3 row seating
Originally Posted by saturnstyl View Post
Back by popular demand, here it is:

I think the brake parts are identical. All ML320's and 350's use the same stuff as far as I know. It looks the same anyways. Some 430's may even have had the smaller brakes.
Forget the remote starter, it aint gonna happen with the whole transponder in the key thing.
You could add step tubes, but not mudflaps. You could also add running boards. Brush guard should fit too. Personally I would leave it alone, it looks pretty good as it is, not to mention the wieght factor. Sport package bumpers are heavy compared to regular ones.
Anything that went wrong with 98-99 ML's is still an issue with the '01 models. They were not substantially improved until '02 with the redesign.
The '01 will probably be a bit more reliable though.
Fuel pumps - make sure you got the updated version, check filter and lines to make sure they are updated.
Harmonic balancer- check it often. This has yet to be "fixed" on any year model.
D-pillar covers crack
Aux fan fuse blows- needs upgraded wiring harness and larger fuse.
Window switches - yer left front will go down and not come back up!
Defroster vent likes to pop out of dash, replacement is easy.
Door locks like to fail, jump up and down. replace latch to fix.
Oil consumption- check oil level regularly, use only mobil 1 0w40, change more often than required.
Trans connector leaks- new o-rings to fix- updated parts available.
Oil level sensor- make sure it works and doesn't flash low oil for no reason.
Transfer case shift motor - make sure low range light doesn't flash on start up.
Leaking canister shut off valves were still prevalent during '01.
Leaking washer fluid tank- still an issue to this day, even with updated parts.
Tail gate lock breaks, allows tailgate to open when locked. Replace outer handle assembly.
Sunroof wind deflectors break. Replacement kit available.
Catalytic converters break in half, or rattle. Replacement required. Must remove torsion bars and reset ride hieght after replacement.
Bubbling center console armrest- replace.
Seat side trim cracks, falls off - updated parts are stronger.
Tele aid- banner year for problems. Disconnect.
MCS unit- there are a number of problems. Updated part may fix.
Sunroof accordians fall off - glue back on.
Wind noise- test drive before you buy. Usually no fixing that.
Vehicle stalls when hot - crank position sensor failure. Replace.
Vehicle will not start - fuel pump.
Vehicle will start then immediately stall- replace keys or das module.
Self adaptations at limit, part load or idle, right or left bank or both - replace mass air sensor, intake duct seals, air filter.
Hesitation on acceleration- updated ME control unit will greatly reduce this issue, along with random misfires, runs like crap, etc.....
EGR fault codes- go ahead and replace the valve assembly and the EGR tube. Saves everyone a lot of trouble in the long run.
Lifter noise- replace all compensating elements, inspect cams and followers, replace as needed.
Vehicle won't start, already replaced fuel pump and or no voltage to pump. Check electrical connector on chassis near left rear wheel, and look for burnt connector under fuse box underhood.
SRS light illuminated- updated side bag connectors available, also seat occupied recognition sensor in right front seat has been a problem.
Seat heater does not heat evenly- replace heating pads, maybe seat cover?
Rear seats folded flat, now they are locked to the floor, can't get them up. - DONT EVER PUT ANYTHING UNDER YOUR SEATS. ANY OF THEM. Check to make sure there is nothing there before folding flat. Too many times the cables are broken or popped loose by a missing shoe or some doodad left under the rear seat.
Lower power steering hose blows off- recall in effect. Benz will cover this part for 10 years regardless of mileage. Install new hose and clamp.
Door insulation falls off, leaves gluey residue on windows and sunroof- remove, discard. Installing more just means it will fail again later. There are updated parts available, with mixed results. Its impossible to get all the glue off the door, and what happens when your new glue sticks to the old glue, which then fails?
Coolant flush every 3 years.
Brake flush every 2 years.
Air filter due at 60K
Fuel filter due at 60K
Spark plugs due at 100K
Dust filter and wiper blades part of B service.
Trans is filled for life, requires no service and there is no dipstick in the tube.
No recommended diff service interval either.
No recommended tranfer case service either.
Brake life varys widely by driver.
Tires last longer on ML's than anything else. Expect your 17" to wear faster.

Hope this is enough to keep you on top of things for a while. I probably forgot something along the way...... Enjoy your new vehicle!

***Keep in mind I just cut and pasted, No way am I retyping all this! It may not make perfect sense since it has been taken out of original context***
Stuff to watch for:
I can appreciate the items listed plus. I was wondering if CV joints make your list. I just haven't read much about them although it looks like it's on my to do list. As I can hear the ever familiar clicking from my front wheels when turning. Is this common as well. 2000 ML320 138,000 miles. Thanks for any feedback

Last edited by Robert Bryant; 04-15-2018 at 09:57 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:32 AM
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2005 ML 350

can somebody add to the list if the battery lights comes on on the dash, check for the belt and alternator. If the belt has not been replaced or alternator, replaced right away or it going to strand you on the side of the road.
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