Advise on buying M-Class

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HorseTaxi

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Hi all, I'm considering buying an older M-Class and wondered if you lovely people could give me some advice on what to look out for. Currently own a Kia Sorento 2007 which has just been diagnosed with (expensive!) transmission issues, so looking at possibly binning it off and getting an M-Class. Key thing for me is I need to be towing horseboxes, so a higher payload (Sorento does 3500kg) is important and I don't have buckets of cash to keep it running, so ideally reliable. I'm looking at 2006-2009 models (budget is < £10k) and looking for help with:

1/ Know models/variants/years to avoid. Are autos & manuals as good as each other or problems with either? Do they become more reliable after certain years?
2/ What to check in service history/inspection - most examples I've seen of this age ate 60-80k miles, so is there anything that should have been replaced by then to check in history?

Other option was Jeep Grand Cherokee - appreciate the 2 are very different (M-Class seems more luxurious)

Thanks in advance!
 
I had an ML500 for a couple of years and it was a nice enough car and it was great for towing (7.5m caravan). Ours had the airmatic where it did need some levelling sensors but most don't have air suspension and have the metal coil springs instead. It was a nice enough place to be in when driving it as mine had literally every optional extras boxes ticked. Heated seats are a blessing and the full sat nav looks better IMO but is very dated (or it was in mine as a 2006 MY).

£10k would get you a nice one and the grand Edition models look better inside with the leather dash instead of the full on plastic wrapped normal clad ones. I guess the things to look out for would be the usual things like make sure ALL the electrics work as well as tyres (even wear) brakes and check previous MOT's for things like corrosion underneath with brake pipes. Also check it's had a gearbox service as while Merc say they're sealed they do a service kit. I can't recall how much that costs but somewhere in the region of £3/400. Th engines in these are in other models so if you say which one it is then some people with more experience of them might be able to comment about what to look out for. Mine was a petrol so I'm not clued on dervs.

There are some good specialists about but be aware that some will charge more than a main dealer. As you're in Reading you have a good one there called Star Motors, in Caversham. There's also another one close by, but the name escapes me.

Out of an ML or a Jeep, I'd go ML but that's personal preference. Also pretty sure the ML has a higher capacity for towing as well.
 
Had two , a 2007 320 cdi, then a 2011 model, . Preferred the first engine, No DPF but the second later model had more bells and whistles , either way the diesel v6 is a good engine , problems can be with swirl flaps and injector and turbo seals , mine however were both reliable except for ABS sensors needing replacement, they don’t like standing unused .
Auto gearbox needs servicing from memory every 5 years or 37500 miles ( check which gearbox fitted ) as long as you service it regularly they are good , never seen a manual and the v6 suits the auto box.
Look got the a grand Edition, very nice inside , never seen one with air suspension, but I would have bought one if I did , despite potentially higher maintenance cost.
just make sure it has a correct service history including gearbox .
I got my second one from Mercland in Nuneaton ( forum sponsors) and it was fault free for the 12 months I ran it .
I found it worth travelling to find a car with a good spec and good condition and service history no matter what model I have bought
 
A big fan of the 350CDI version, with the right spec an excellent all round vehicle.
History paramount goes without saying of course.
In my experience …... Jeep 😳😳😳
 
Thanks guys for taking the time to reply

As you're in Reading you have a good one there called Star Motors, in Caversham. There's also another one close by, but the name escapes me.

This is really useful - finding a good garage seems to be just as hard as finding the car in the 1st place!


swirl flaps and injector and turbo seals ,

They sound expensive :( Are there specific models that suffer from these issues, or is it worth getting them specifically checked on any vehicle I might end up with?

I've not see too many petrol models (without high mileage) so I'll probably aim for the 3.0 diesel. I've seen one on Autotrader - ML320, 2009, 45k on the clock for just under £10. Says it has FSH, so I may well go take a look at the weekend. Only thing putting me off is the lack of reviews for the garage (2!)

One more questions - probably a daft one, but are they permanent 4WD or is it switchable? The Sorento had a torque on demand system that I've read quite a few horror stories about and I've never felt it was that great tbh.
 
They’re permanent 4WD. I would stick to petrol models as it will probably keep repair and service costs lower albeit with greater fuel consumption/cost.

The W164 generation ML is a great car, and I have a real soft spot for them. They still look really good too, the styling has aged well. especially with a set of AMG wheels.
 
Star motors in Caversham are much loved by their clients.

Petrols are better but they're at a huge premium because of the petrol / diesel hoohaa.

You'll need to study the price difference.

Traditional logic is diesel for horse boxes but they are less reliable and it depends just what kind of towing you're doing. The more "occasional" it is, the less the difference matters. For long journeys, diesels great, for short: it's not so clever, in many different ways
 
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I'm 2 months into my first ML - albeit at the other end of the market to you (2008 320 CDi, 125k miles and £3,250 purchase price). In short, I love it.

I bought it knowing it had some issues hence the price (leaking gearbox sump, rotten rear brake back plates with a heath robinson repair on the handbrake mechanism) and my eyes were wide open about the potential of a 15 year old car to have issues. It had a decent history file, lots of main dealer and a well regarded local indy. It had a new battery, new rear discs and pads, new turbo (garret) and actuator so a lot of big and costly things ticked before I bought it (I suspect the previous owner got nervous after a chunk of money being spent and bailed out)

I have since had the brake back plates, rear wheel bearings, handrake cable, an upper link on the rear hub, gearbox sump and oil, new handrake shoes and cable all sorted. Its also had a PCV valve replaced, some fuel lines replaced, an oil and filter, fuel filter, pollen filters and air filters sorted by me. So now the car is a £5k car in reality. It needs a new throttle pedal (I suspect as its either a little sticky or the potentiometer is on it way) and it need a front brake flexi. All of the height sensor rods are sticky so they will need attention. But at that point I would say fully sorted (as much as a 15 year old car can be).

The good points - the looks (it has the AMG kit and wheels on it so looks like an ML 63) and subsequent presence. The interior is immaculate and looks like its done 25k not 125k. Great fun to drive for a big high car (its got airmatic so very smooth). Its load bay is massive and with the seats down its basically a van!. The car will cost me pretty much nothing in depreciation, so the cost to me is maintenance and that I don't mind.

The bad points - its thirsty (24-25mpg around and about, can just squeeze 30 on a long run on the motorway/dual carriageway). Its got a couple of bits of bubbling paintwork on the OSF wing base behind the wheel and a tiny bit on the NSR door jam base, but neither are through, just one to monitor. A few rubber fuel hoses started to weep, so that and brake lines (given the age of the car) will be an ongoing issue of age related perishing. I bought the car with 4 matching tyres with 5-7mm tread - but a brand I have never heard of (Nexen Roadian HP M&S) and they are the noisiest tyres I have ever experienced.

Apols, I realise that doesn't answer your question per say, but thought it may be helpful to share some of the issues which may occur based on age but not necessarily relevant because of the mileage difference

Wish you all the best in your search

IMG-20230122-WA0000~3.jpg
 
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I'm 2 months into my first ML - albeit at the other end of the market to you (2008 320 CDi, 125k miles and £3,250 purchase price). In short, I love it.

I bought it knowing it had some issues hence the price (leaking gearbox sump, rotten rear brake back plates with a heath robinson repair on the handbrake mechanism) and my eyes were wide open about the potential of a 15 year old car to have issues. It had a decent history file, lots of main dealer and a well regarded local indy. It had a new battery, new rear discs and pads, new turbo (garret) and actuator so a lot of big and costly things ticked before I bought it (I suspect the previous owner got nervous after a chunk of money being spent and bailed out)

I have since had the brake back plates, rear wheel bearings, handrake cable, an upper link on the rear hub, gearbox sump and oil, new handrake shoes and cable all sorted. Its also had a PCV valve replaced, some fuel lines replaced, an oil and filter, fuel filter, pollen filters and air filters sorted by me. So now the car is a £5k car in reality. It needs a new throttle pedal (I suspect as its either a little sticky or the potentiometer is on it way) and it need a front brake flexi. All of the height sensor rods are sticky so they will need attention. But at that point I would say fully sorted (as much as a 15 year old car can be).

The good points - the looks (it has the AMG kit and wheels on it so looks like an ML 63) and subsequent presence. The interior is immaculate and looks like its done 25k not 125k. Great fun to drive for a big high car (its got airmatic so very smooth). Its load bay is massive and with the seats down its basically a van!. The car will cost me pretty much nothing in depreciation, so the cost to me is maintenance and that I don't mind.

The bad points - its thirsty (24-25mpg around and about, can just squeeze 30 on a long run on the motorway/dual carriageway). Its got a couple of bits of bubbling paintwork on the OSF wing base behind the wheel and a tiny bit on the NSR door jam base, but neither are through, just one to monitor. A few rubber fuel hoses started to weep, so that and brake lines (given the age of the car) will be an ongoing issue of age related perishing. I bought the car with 4 matching tyres with 5-7mm tread - but a brand I have never heard of (Nexen Roadian HP M&S) and they are the noisiest tyres I have ever experienced.

Apols, I realise that doesn't answer your question per say, but thought it may be helpful to share some of the issues which may occur based on age but not necessarily relevant because of the mileage difference

Wish you all the best in your search

View attachment 138393
That’s a handsome car and rare to find one with the AMG kit. Lazurite Blue? Lovely colour.
 
That’s a handsome car and rare to find one with the AMG kit. Lazurite Blue? Lovely colour.
Not actually sure what colour it is to be honest, but as soon as I saw the car in the flesh, I was sold. I knew the car had issues, but it looks fab and the colour is tremendous. In some lights almost silver, in some very light blue metallic and in others can actually look quite blue. The body kit, bumpers, arches and wheels really make it. I suspect back in 2008 cost someone a few pennies!
 
I've not see too many petrol models (without high mileage) so I'll probably aim for the 3.0 diesel. I've seen one on Autotrader - ML320, 2009, 45k on the clock for just under £10. Says it has FSH, so I may well go take a look at the weekend. Only thing putting me off is the lack of reviews for the garage (2!)

Our 2007 Vito has the same 3.0 V6 diesel with automatic gearbox and that pulls a 1500 kg caravan with ease ... a heavier horsebox would be no problem. Having towed with manual gearboxes in the past I would also recommend the auto ... it's so much easier on a long run or (particularly) in stop/start traffic.

But. As already mentioned modern diesel engines are complicated things with lots of ancillary bits that can and do fail. In terms of breakdowns (I include going into 'limp mode' in that) it has been without doubt the least reliable vehicle I've ever owned (bought new, full MB dealer service history). Maybe we've been unlucky but AFAIK most of the issues have been pretty common e.g. temperature, pressure, crankshaft position and MAF sensors, EGR valve, etc. It also gets through glowplugs at a rate of knots (this started at 35k miles) - we previously had an Audi diesel and that still had all the original glowplugs when we sold it at 17 years / 120k miles.

So given the choice I would go for petrol.
 

At a quick glance, if it really does have FMBSH performed in line with the schedule, then that’s a good buy if it goes close to the current £16k bid wit 2 hours to go. They’re great cars, and the spec is good on that one.
 
Apols, I realise that doesn't answer your question per say

Nope, it's all useful info Paul - I'm building a list of things to check on any car I go an see so definitely worth knowing what to look out for.

Having towed with manual gearboxes in the past I would also recommend the auto

I've towed in the Sorento for the last couple of years (maybe once every month, so not too frequently) so definitely appreciate the ease of an auto! All the MLs do 3.5tonne which is one of the main reasons I'm looking at them.

As already mentioned modern diesel engines are complicated things with lots of ancillary bits that can and do fail

Don't I know it - had MAF, injectors, turbo AND EGR replaced on the Sorento over the last few years

Scanning auto trader, the petrol models are much rarer than diesels and an ungodly amount more expensive or higher mileage (£7k for a 2005 with 121k on it o_O)

I'm definitely not bothered about how many bells & whistles different models have - I need it to be more reliable than fancy (2 kids, 1 dog and a horsebox is the perfect combo to never have a tidy car!)

Again, thank you all for the replies, all very useful!
 
Also, I've read a few people saying the version that has the AdBlue technology is trouble - is that the BlueEffecieny or BlueTec variants?
 
I'm definitely not bothered about how many bells & whistles different models have - I need it to be more reliable than fancy (2 kids, 1 dog and a horsebox is the perfect combo to never have a tidy car!)

Haha 10 dogs, 2 horses and 1 kid here :D
 
Also, I've read a few people saying the version that has the AdBlue technology is trouble - is that the BlueEffecieny or BlueTec variants?
Correct. The adblue equipped cars (euro 6 from about 2015 onwards) can be miserable cars to own - not only is the system unreliable and the parts priced by D!ck Turpin (well over £2,000 just for the tank/sensor + two Nox sensors) but the parts are also in short supply AND the car will warn you that it will be immobilised in x hundred miles if a fault exists with the adblue supply (even if the only fault is actually a broken sensor) so you will be without a car pending availability of parts and a wallet emptying visit to the dealer.
No wonder that owners of the adblue cars are tempted to have the whole emissions system mapped out - rendering the car illegal to use in the process. It seems that this is a minor detail to some people.
Another reason why the petrol ones are so much more expensive - the non adblue diesels are euro 4 or 5 and have to pay in the CAZ / ULEZ and the CAZ / ULEZ compliant diesels have adblue fitted.
If it were me I would be looking for the best condition earlier ML that I could find pre adblue and pre DPF, or a petrol ML500.
 
I've had a 2011 ML500 (W164?) for 2 years here in UAE, obviously running the V8 in the UK would be ruinous but a couple of non engine related costs to consider.

Mine is the Grand Edition so has LED lights, it cost the equivalent of just over £200 for a rear light unit when a single bulb / element failed, had to change the whole unit.

Air Matic suspension - cost me the equivalent of just over £2k to change both front shock absorbers, replaced with MB remanufactured ones and not brand new units, they would have cost more.

Both jobs done at an independent MB place here, not main dealer.

That aside I love the car, relaxed and comfortable to drive but can be a bit of a 'hooligan' if you have a heavy right foot.....
 
The AirMatic suspension sounds expensive! Is it fitted to all M-Class models or are there only certain years/variants with it?
 
The AirMatic suspension sounds expensive! Is it fitted to all M-Class models or are there only certain years/variants with it?
Very very few have Airmatic.
 

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