If you are looking to buy a used Mercedes-Benz, here is a list of the most common ML problems. The Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (W163) built from 1998 to 2005 has a reputation for not being a reliable car. At the same time, there are many owners who have put over 200k or even over 300k miles on this SUV.
Problems such as door lock actuators or plastic trim that brakes easily are issues that disappoint owners. We have worked on and owned several W163s and have put together a list of common problems for you. MLs have the M112 engine found in the ML320 and the M113 engine found in the ML430, ML350, and ML500. The 722.6 gearbox installed in the ML is one of the most reliable transmissions produced.
ML Common Problems
- ABS/ETS/ESP lights. Needs replacement of ABS pump. Easy DIY, follow these instructions.
- Transmission O-ring. Follow these DIY instructions if you need to repair yours.
- The transmission is stuck in gear, limp mode. Learn how to troubleshoot transmission limp mode.
- Transfer cases have been known to fail and in many cases require replacement. Low-range light flashing.
- Power steering problems. Will need a power steering pump replacement.
- Door lock actuators also tend to be prone to failure.
- Plastic trim inside the car break easily.
- Window regulator.
- Fuel pump.
- Oxygen sensors.
- The alternator may need replacement between 130k and 170k miles.
- Wiper motors.
- A/C Blender motors.
- Catalytic converters at over 100k miles.
- Keyless remote entry.
- Mass airflow sensor. How to replace MAF yourself.
- Engine misfires. Typically caused by a clogged catalytic converter or bad MAF.
- Window switch.
- The radio says WAIT. Usually, because you have entered the wrong code too many times.
- Crankshaft position sensor
- Break the light switch. Stuck in gear or trigger the ABS/ESP light to illuminate. How to replace the brake light switch.
These are not catastrophic problems, but the repair costs will add up quickly if you can’t repair a few of the issues yourself. Owing a used Mercedes-Benz could put a dent in your pocket, especially if you have to go to the dealer for every single repair.
The list may seem long but many ML owners have put over 200k miles on their cars with only regular maintenance. The transmission and the engine on the ML are bulletproof if you only do regular maintenance. The ML W163 had several changes made over the years. Mercedes-Benz improved some designs and address several of the problems on the list above. The later models had fewer problems compared to the first few years of production, specifically the 1998 and 1999 model years.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Mercedes-Benz ML, especially ML430 and ML500 are great trucks for towing.
Picture M-Class, W163.
Troubleshooting Mercedes-Benz ML Problems
ML vehicles even the W163 have between 20 to 30 different control modules. To truly troubleshoot ML vehicles as the dealer can, you need a good scanner that can read fault codes from all these systems like the YOUCANIC full system scanner.