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Old 18th April 2012, 16:58   #1
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Angry Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Hello Everyone,
I would take this opportunity to write my personal review on my ownership experience of ML 350 CDI of about 1 year and 2 months. (Delivery Date : 19/02/2011)

I have taken every effort to write the issues that we have faced in chronological order since the ordering process. If anyone wishes to have more details please feel free to write to me.

Dealership: Benchmark Cars, Surat (Gujarat)
Order dt. 04-02-2011
Vehicle delivery dt. 19-02-2011

Vehicle Usage : 95% of the vehicle is driven on silky smooth 6 lane highway, 5% good city roads, never done offroading.

We have summarised each issue and classified discussions as below;
Issue : Nature of Problem
MB : Mercedes arguments, if any
DE : Dealership analysis/arguments
OO : Owner’s Opinion & arguments.

Issue 1 : Delivery - Car was delivered at our residence in Valsad in a shabby condition.
DE : It was driven all the way from Ahmedabad.
OO : Reason was well taken & accepted.
We have professional high pressure cleaning equipments for our vehicles. The stains were like salt stains normally seen on products shipped by sea and are not packed sea worthy. We could not remove it and ultimately the dealership used some chemical to get rid of it by 80%. It is now gone by repeated cleaning.
Notes :
The welcome kit kindness had a Mercedes pen as a memento which had paint peeling off on delivery!!
Fuel was close to empty

Issue 2 : Dealership sales lies:
The Manager at Surat dealership periodically updated us about shipment of our vehicle from Pune factory to Ahmedabad from time to time. That would mean the vehicle was shipped after the order dt. 04-02-2011 (This would be co-related with the service reminder km/time). When we received a copy of Manufacturer’s invoice bearing date of 31-12-2010 (required for RTO registration) we enquired about it. We believed in their explanation that MB does some stock allocation & does not ship until dealership has customer orders but still they invoice it!!
However, we learned the truth that the vehicle was billed & shipped on 31-12-2011 and was received by Benchmark @AHMD by 1st week of Jan, 2011 which was confirmed by their Service GM later during my Ahmedabad service visit.
There’s absolutely no reason seen to bring up this story!! Remember one lie makes you speak a 100 more!!

Issue 3 : The beginning of real problems. Approx ODO reading : 6000 kms
The SUV was fun to drive for about 5-6 months. Somtime in September 2011 I was on my way to Pune and found the vehicle very sluggish on engine & transmission response effecting its acceleration. The acceleration from 0 was slow but uniform but if accelerated from speeds of 40 to 80 it would be sluggish, jerky & behave unexpectedly.
During the same time a thumping noise was being heard from the front left suspension. On advise of surat dealership the vehicle was inspected on my trip at Pune dealership & they confirmed problems with Front LHS strut
DE: Dealership arranges to pick up the vehicle. Meets an accident on way to workshop. Paints the car, replaces the strut and delivers the vehicle in about 5-7 days during end of September 2011
OO: It is also learned that this part is among MB identified part and was always meant for replacement with a modified version. Why can’t MB be like other manufacturers to recall vehicles and resolve issues before they evolve? Is it about reputation that they fear for recalls! If so how good of a reputation do they sustain when customers face so many issues!!
The car was damaged on the front bumper and painted by Dealership at their cost.

Issue 4 : Speed Sensor failures / Front RHS Strut / Pedal sensor / Choked AC airflow / tyre complains – all this within a week of strut replacement
On an evening while returning from work, I started my ML to return home. To my despair the wheels were locked, car wouldn’t move nor accelerate with an unusual grinding noise. Turning the engine OFF & ON gave me the ABS/ESP error in the info display and then the vehicle would move but not beyond 30kmph. Dealership advised to slowly move it to my residence from where it was towed the next day.
DE : The error was with Rear RHS wheel speed sensor and they would be replacing all four sensors as this is again an identified issue by MB. I have a detailed scan report showing errors & work order copy which states all four sensors were replaced. (Documented)
They also replaced the front right strut which was broken. (Documented)
They also claimed to replace the pedal sensor (which restored acceleration) but couldn’t find it being mentioned in any document/report.
The vehicle was delivered after about 20 days.
OO : Frustrated, I was thinking as to what should be done to this vehicle!! Put it back at dealership & ask for total refund or file a law suit. However, I chose to ignore it with a hope!
The vehicle was delivered with alloy wheels damaged; one damage at the brim of the alloy while removing the tyre (for warranty check) and two more by their towing service which tied the vehicle by the alloy.

Issue 5: Again! Wheel Speed Sensor Failure in 2 days!!
Within two days of delivery after attending above issue another sensor failed while the car was at a speed of about 30kmph. The wheels locked, vehicle skidded, a biker bangs from the back, traffic jams and a missed accident! Fortunately I was close to my residence.
DE : This time I blasted at them & the work was decided to be carried at site (my residence) and that is when I learned that not all four sensors (as documented) were replaced at first instance but just the then faulty one. This time they replaced all four sensors but other problems arose. The technicians were waiting for me to return home and had not conducted any test drive until I returned. I took the first test drive by late evening & it was observed that the car would vibrate heavily especially on turning right or left which was agreed by technicians but it was too late to work on & also that they were not equipped to work on it. Next day it was towed again to Surat!!!
OO : They worked on the vibration issues but it was not completely solved & delivered the vehicle as they were closing for Diwali!! And assured they would resume work on it at Ahmedabad post diwali.

Issue 6: After the Diwali interlude my Herbie(ML) goes to Ahmedabad at their so called better equipped workshop for work on vibration issues/AC choke up/Damaged alloys
DE : Identified dry ball joint – lubricated it to solve vibrations/replaced brake calliper/Cleaned heavily choked AC filters/Painted alloys (we had asked for replacements).
There wasn’t total transparency to what work was carried at Ahmedabad. We received this info verbally.
MB : A MB representative attended us in Ahmedabad and during joint test trails we still were not satisfied with the vibration issues. It was minimised but not eliminated.
OO: We took the delivery half heartedly but on that day came a disclosure on the secret behind service reminder.
Car delivery date was 19/02/2011, PDI date was ~ 17/02/2011.
On delivery date when we asked about the service reminder @ < 10K kms we were given a very nicely built up answer.
“Sir the SUV’s are made in US, ships to India and Oil remains idle for sometime & ML has a very smart system to monitor quality of OIL so that kms you see is calculated by the system in realtime.”
ML has documented 15000kms/1year in their service manual which earlier was 10000kms/9months. This was done as competition was offering that service interval.
To disprove the smart OIL monitoring theory of the sales fellow; My ML showed up service reminder while it was in Ahmedabad and that was as per the old setting of 10000kms/9months and so the service reminder was in days. Eventually it crossed the 10k km mark and the reminder showed a delay in service by kms beyond 10k. So when the service due reminder is shown; it is kind of equated by 9 months & 10k kms & not by any unknown extra terrestrial smart system.
So the vehicle is actually built and tested for 10k kms / 9 months which is evident from the performance beyond 10k kms & other wear & tear like AC filter/ AIR filter.
We chose to service the vehicle at 15k kms only!!

Issue 7: Left tyres, front & rear wearing off at corners. See below Damaged Left Tyres and good conditioned RHS tyres.
DE : They would replace two tyres under warranty. India is facing some ISI mark issues on imported tyres and this matter stands pending till date.
OO : If my tyre goes bad my car remains idle for months without a tyre!!


**See Attached Images**
Normal good tyres on the RHS at the same time.


Issue 8: February 2012, Vehicle sent for service @ approx 14600kms/1yr / Repaint alloys due to paint peel off / solve all other issues/ estimated service time 3-4 days – time take 2 weeks. Herbie goes to Ahmedabad again!
Following is the complain list submitted by us during the scheduled visit.
1) Front RHS suspension thumping noise over bumps (pending from old complains)
We would request to reinstall both suspensions. Vibration from steering wheel started after replacement of RHS suspension. If required kindly replace.
2) Gear Slippage at low speed & cold start. Gear response is very slow during speeds upto 60. Your test vehicles are much more responsive. (pending from old complains).
3) Steering vibration & noise. Steering too hard to steer. (pending from old complains). Recent observation of steering bending on LHS by itself even on straight road.
4) Noise from centre arm rest.
5) LHS Rear alloy wheel which had chipped earlier & painted by you has again chipped off near the bolts when required to remove the tyre for puncture. Possible cause is the defect in alloy wheel itself as it has chipped off twice in your workshop or the extra paint near the hole. Traces of extra paint can be still seen near air nozzle.
6) Acceleration has dropped again considerably. However, unlike last complain engine reponse is still ok in terms of RPM. It feels like engine force is not completely transferred into power & something is holding back the vehicle from accelerating.
7) While accelerating grinding noise/unusual vibration can be felt on LHS front floor, hand grip, steering.
8) While braking gradually & gently vibrations can be felt on the foot paddle. Even on smooth road surface feedback of road is felt translated into vibrations & can be felt on brake pedal, steering area near control buttons and both hand grip esp. LHS. Check some friction when the car decelerates without braking from 30-0 kmph.
9) One of the two Xenon lamps provided with vehicle went missing during one of the service visit at Surat which needs to be fulfilled. Contact Surat advisor for any information on it.
10) Routine service of 15000 kms to be considered.
11) All tyres check & replacement under warranty over & above two tyres observed.

OO: The delivery was made at an odd hour at 11 PM by their driver. The car was deliberately inspected and observed a damage on front bumper, alloy paint re-work was horrible with 2 alloys damaged at corners.


Steering wheel had a tick-tock sound on every movement.

Front RHS Suspension noise still exists. To us, it is a noise which other three suspensions do not exhibit on bumpy operations. To MB dealership it is normal operational noise.

Side Foot Rail received in damanged condition.


The GOOD side is that after this service most of the problems were eliminated & driving was as good as before.

Issue 9 : A Major Problem – Engine Foundations
DE :The front suspension noise had never put us at ease so we got the vehicle checked at Mumbai dealership & they immediately found a leak from engine foundations.
All three foundations were replaced at Surat (2 engine, 1 Gearbox). However, I still find the front right suspension making an annoying thumping noise, which, to some is operational noise but if that was true it should be on all other suspensions!

To summarise :
MB and MB Dealerships have always been courteous and responsive. Problems have always been listened properly, looked into but not always with a solution.
Their courtesy or goodness doesn’t help a troubled customer like me in any way unless they look into solutions like vehicle replacement. All their solutions have proved temporary and it seems it would be a major headache for us after the vehicle moves out of warranty.

So from a customer’s perspective - do we deserve this?
We have spent a whopping amount to buy luxury & should this be defined as luxury in MB’s standard.
ML 350 CDI as they claim to be a true off roader fails miserably on good roads.
Today, out of the total 18k+ kms on the ODO, atleast 2000 kms have been for exclusive visits to service stations and at our cost! What about the mental agony we have gone through. We do need strong consumer laws in India just like the lemon law in the US giving complete product replacement for dissatisfaction of this level!
Attached Thumbnails
Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership-1.jpg  

Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership-4.jpg  

Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership-5.jpg  

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Old 18th April 2012, 18:08   #2
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

@Mitul: It is really sad to read such reports.

Did you escalate this to MB directly? I am sure they would send someone over to inspect the vehicle directly and provide satisfactory response.
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Old 18th April 2012, 18:12   #3
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

MB has been involved!
I asked them for a vehicle replacement...their answer was a "NO"
I asked them for extended warranty..their answer was still "NO"
They themselves are reluctant to take the liability of the vehicle after 3 years..which shows their level of confidence in their own product.
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Old 18th April 2012, 18:21   #4
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Sorry to hear about your experience. And it's not the first one in this forum.
Have you gone through the below thread? Maybe you can contact the thread-starter if you need help...

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...tion-rule.html
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Old 18th April 2012, 18:24   #5
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

I have also posted this thread on his thread! It seems that the manufacturing of our ML's relates to the same time/batch!
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Old 18th April 2012, 20:07   #6
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Feel bad for you Mitul. I thank God for keeping me away from Mercedes and putting sense in me to go in for BMW.
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Old 26th April 2012, 15:34   #7
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

No wonder they have lost their position to BMW and now to VW. Fact is they need to evolve considering the current market conditions. They have been here for ages, they must know by now what an Indian customer wants and expects from his luxury car and car maker. There is really no excuse for this kind of treatment for a luxury car owner.
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Old 26th April 2012, 16:19   #8
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Hi Mitul K.

Extremely sorry to hear this , this is much more than agony, this is MB ? sounds like some chinese cheap product. You have done a great job sharing this here. Hope this post becomes an eye opener to MB aspirant buyers , and they do not blow up their hard earned money. You are not alone , I have sen few other similar stories too.
I pray to God that you find some way to recover.

regards
Amol

Last edited by Technocrat : 27th April 2012 at 00:21. Reason: please avoid quoting long posts specially when they are on same page as it causes inconvenience to our mobile readers, thanks
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Old 26th April 2012, 19:38   #9
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

I am sorry to say this but the way you have written this post, looks like you not even once pressurized the concerned people. I would have kicked their butt if they even had done something minute. Yours is a expensive car, you dont deserve this treatment at all.
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Old 26th April 2012, 19:56   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Very sad to read this. Had it been in the US, the dealer and MB would have been taken to task. But, this is India. Be it MB or Rolls Royce, Indian attitude is same. In this country, you should be lucky to get a good product. If not, it will be a living nightmare.
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Old 26th April 2012, 22:12   #11
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitul.k View Post
Hello Everyone,
I would take this opportunity to write my personal review on my ownership experience of ML 350 CDI of about 1 year and 2 months. (Delivery Date : 19/02/2011)

I have taken every effort to write the issues that we have faced in chronological order since the ordering process. If anyone wishes to have more details please feel free to write to me.

This is RIDICULOUS !!!

Really felt bad to see this and read this.

Thoroughly unacceptable.
MB is hammering nails into its own coffin.
It is this very complacence and lack of actual effort that makes Top Giants like Nokia & MB who once ruled the roost - tumble down and then they are left to play 'catch-up' with the competition.

But, I must ask - did you happen to get in touch with any senior MB executive via any means of communication?
From what I read it looks like the standard issue - Dealership screws up and Company pays the price.
Just like Wasan Motors & Tata. 1 letter to Tata (they are eager to listen and help and wish to improve their reputation and everything falls into place).

So I would really like to know what and how was the response by MB officials.
Because their other German cousin - VW - has a HORRIBLE pompous arrogant attitude towards Indians (verified by 2 friends who faced major issues).
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Old 26th April 2012, 23:29   #12
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

I must say, BMW and Audi are way more responsive and understanding here in Blore (from my personal experience) Germans give extreme pleasure but also extreme pain when parts fail & you see the estimate sheets.

This is the list of parts & the costs replaced after warranty expired. (Goodwill warranty)

3 Series

E/G damper pulley - Rs 25,000 - 20,000 by BMW, rest towards labor charges by us
A/c evaporator coil - Rs. 55,000 - 50% by BMW

A6

- EG damper pulley & some other related sensor parts - R 45,000 - 100% by Audi

- Sunroof springs and some other parts where rainwater was entering cabin - 100% by Audi

- A/C compressor assembly - R 175,000 - 145,000 by Audi

And all this is without follow ups with the company, only dealer. Only problem i found is that Audi parts take weeks and months to arrive.

I am really shocked how shoddily you have been treated. You need to make a huge noise about this to MB India & Germany.
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Old 27th April 2012, 08:52   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitul.k
To summarise :
MB and MB Dealerships have always been courteous and responsive. Problems have always been listened properly, looked into but not always with a solution.
Their courtesy or goodness doesn’t help a troubled customer like me in any way unless they look into solutions like vehicle replacement. All their solutions have proved temporary and it seems it would be a major headache for us after the vehicle moves out of warranty.

So from a customer’s perspective - do we deserve this?
We have spent a whopping amount to buy luxury & should this be defined as luxury in MB’s standard.
ML 350 CDI as they claim to be a true off roader fails miserably on good roads.
Today, out of the total 18k+ kms on the ODO, atleast 2000 kms have been for exclusive visits to service stations and at our cost! What about the mental agony we have gone through. We do need strong consumer laws in India just like the lemon law in the US giving complete product replacement for dissatisfaction of this level!
My experience so far, with Benchmark Ahemdabad is good for my C class. In general, ML has always been notoriously famous for its high unreliability in Merc's line up. But I haven't seen any ML with so many issues, looks like you got a lemon, at the same time, I think that you haven't pushed dealer or MB at all for replacement. You should push MB directly for replacement and not extended warranty as this lemon is not at all safe for highway runs. Hope this does not happen to anyone but what if something fails at high speed on express way and you just can't move your vehicle. MB should take responsibility here and replace the car, period.
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Old 28th April 2012, 22:52   #14
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

I was under the impression that CKD and premiums do not have "lemons" and even if they have, its far from being noticed for the reason that these companies as well as their dealers are quite responsive and does not let their image go down.

I am amazed about the issues cited by you and the kind of response you received. I strongly suggest you take it up beyond dealer and reach out to MB. This is not done.

I remember having problems in a Honda CRV of one of my colleagues and he was given a fair resolution of the problem and a buy back was offered by Honda at the insured value of the vehicle (the previous model was discontinued). Beyond this, he was not compelled to buy a Honda but since he was happy from Honda, he was considered as a fresh buyer and was offered discounts on the new purchase. Although he incurred a total loss of about 2.5 Lac, but got a fresh new model of CRV.
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Old 29th April 2012, 14:06   #15
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Default Re: Mercedes ML350 CDI : 14 months of ownership

I remember someone posted on the Mahindra fb page when a BHPian had a problem with his Mahindra Thar. Mahindra responded to it, though i have no idea if the problem has been solved yet.


Lets see if Mercedes notices...
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