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Old 05-31-2013, 05:59 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
I'm keen to understand all of the hitch reinforcement talk with the GL. I recently bought a 2008 GL320 with the intention of towing my '73 Globetrotter, so trailer weight and hitch weight should not be a problem with the factory setup. I bought my vehicle used, and the PO didn't get the hitch installed as an option. I understand it is a ~$500 option, but to buy one from the dealer and have it installed gets you close to $2000!!!!

Anyway, a week or so back, I bought what is supposed to be the latest and greatest official Mercedes factory hitch from a dealer that does business online. I don't think the hitch looks particularly beefy--will post pictures of it when I get back to the house. I have seen pics of a hitch off of a 2007 that looks a lot beefier--and I understand these are the ones that were subject to the "recall."

I have read a lot about folks having welding done on their GL hitches to "beef them up," but still wonder what is the basis for this beefing. Do they not believe the hitch is rated to what Mercedes claims? Do they just think it "looks" wimpy? My concern is that a factory hitch may have been welded into an assembly, and then the whole assembly heat treated to relieve stresses/establish uniform metal characteristics. If you start arbitrarily welding away on it, you are wrecking the temper of the metal in some areas.

If you are looking to beef up the hitch to get you a greater than 600 lb tongue weight, then I question whether you have simply chosen the wrong vehicle for the size of your trailer. You might be able to remanufacture your hitch to bear 1000 lbs of hitch weight, but the vehicle wasn't engineered to deal with that weight. Ya, ya, I know that there are people pulling semi-trailers with Minis, but just be cause you can make it work, doesn't mean that you should.

I also saw reference to the air suspension on the GL above. My understanding is that if your hitch electronics are properly installed, the trailer electronics are routed through the rear SAM module, and the truck knows there is a trailer in tow and 1) disables the air suspension, and 2) adjusts the stability parameters. Again, overloading the hitch seems risky as the effects on stability controls are unknown, and an option to use air leveling should not exist if things are wired properly.
Attached are some photos of the hitch on our 2012 GL. Looks very different than the recalled hitch on older GLs (I had seen those in a Benz forum).
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:10 AM   #16
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Is the Merceds GL unibody construction? I like towing with a body on frame vehicle better simply because there is less noise transferred from the trailer coupling to the passenger cabin. Towing with my Nissan Pathfinder is a noisy experience because the passenger compartment seems to amplify the sounds of the trailer coupler jiggling around on bumpy road surfaces. I have tried wedging small pieces of rubber between the shank and receiver. This just muffles the noise a little bit. I guess you don't hear the noise as much on body on frame construction vehicles is that the receiver is mounted to the frame and the body is mounted on rubber or some form of isolator.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:14 AM   #17
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Mine is strictly anecdotal.

I towed my 2011 23 FB with an '08 320 Bluetec for a couple of months, then traded for a 2011 MB 450.

IMO, the hitch was not the issue. BUT, I slowly realized the subtle differences in the shifting of the transmission 1 1/2 year later. AND my wife agreed. Granted, the Ozarks geography we live in requires a lot of uphill towing.

Now this might be specific to the particular vehicle I owned at the time, but I would caution against anything larger than a 23 FB and the GL, even with the hitch rebuilt.

Most SUVs are not designed to tow heavy duty payloads.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #18
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Rostam--Yes, the hitch I just bought looks like the one you have installed--not like the earlier model.

M. Hony--Yes, the GL is a unibody construction. I've heard arguments both ways as to whether a body on frame design is better for four-wheeling and/or towing. Or whether a unibody is better because of its overall stiffness. Suffice to say, the GL is a stiff body, and my purchase of it was focused on getting a good sized SUV with a diesel engine so that I could get 25 mpg on the highway for the 95%n of the time it won't be towing, and still get decent towing performance when I have a trailer hooked to it.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:27 AM   #19
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I am glad people on here are finally starting to realize that towing with these new downsized suv is not the way to go. Emperiorr andy will eventually get someone hurt or killed overloading these suv and telling people they can tow with no problems. If DOT ever starts enforcing laws on the general public like they do on us that tow for a living they would make alot of money off of people that are more worried about comfort and status than safety in their tow vehicles.
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:48 AM   #20
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I agree--and I would add that I bought the GL320 as an upgrade to my previous tow vehicle which had a max capacity of 5000 lbs and 500 lbs tongue weight. The GL will be more than adequate with its 7500 lb capacity to tow my 21 ft long '73 GT. I think the vehicle is a good balance of functionality, utility, and capability, unaltered, and without exceeded published specs. I would not advocate buying one with the thought in mind of exceeding what it is designed for. It is the right tool for the job, but you have to consider the job.

I did not buy the vehicle for "status." The Domestic and Japanese automakers have absolutely missed the boat by not offering a good sized SUV with a diesel engine in the US market. I waited to buy a new vehicle for almost two years on the rumor that the Dodge Durango would be offered with a diesel engine, but the latest I have heard is that that plan is scrapped, and that Dodge will likely abandon that line. So if I want three rows of seats, a diesel engine, and reasonable gas mileage, my choices are made by Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. If I give up the third row of seats, I can get a VW Tuareg, Mercedes ML, Audi, or BMW. Recently, Jeep started offering the Grand Cherokee with a Diesel engine, but the price tag of the new Jeep is well above what I paid for my lightly used Mercedes, I give up the third row of seats, and the Cherokee is built on a Mercedes ML platform anyway.
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:59 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by murreywalker View Post
I slowly realized the subtle differences in the shifting of the transmission 1 1/2 year later. AND my wife agreed.
That may have been the transmission learning new shift points from the load. If you drove it for a while in a dramatically different style without a trailer, it would do the same thing.

I towed our 20' Safari with an '05 ML500 and was very happy. It did, over time, torque the hitch so it angled slightly upwards. It was easily compensated for by adjusting they WD hitch. But I think the reinforcement they put in eliminates that.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:02 PM   #22
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the Cherokee is built on a Mercedes ML platform anyway.
As is the Durango, which is what I got as a replacement for my ML500. I wanted the room, not the 3rd seat, so it stays down all the time.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:15 PM   #23
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I am glad people on here are finally starting to realize that towing with these new downsized suv is not the way to go. Emperiorr andy will eventually get someone hurt or killed overloading these suv and telling people they can tow with no problems. If DOT ever starts enforcing laws on the general public like they do on us that tow for a living they would make alot of money off of people that are more worried about comfort and status than safety in their tow vehicles.
One problem is that sometimes people plan based on the advertised "towing capacity", which is meaningless. E.g. VW Touareg (BTW, a very capable vehicle and is used here just for illustration purposes only) has a 7700# towing capacity. Assuming 770# is on the tongue and the gas/DEF tanks are full, you are only left with 150# of payload for a driver -- that's it. I doubt most people want to tow a camper just by themselves. They usually have family members/gears/etc. Reality is that payload, tongue weight, and front/rear axle weight ratings will limit the towing capacity way before the maximum towing capacity is reached.

Besides, the maximum towing capacity of cars/trucks is not being measured in an objective way, and many times is inflated by car companies for marketing purposes (hence things like the 80% rule to counter that). Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), came up with a test plan to objectively determine the max towing capacity of cars/trucks. One of the tests was that a car/truck should be able to do a 0 to 60 with max towing capacity in less than 30 seconds. Another test, they have to go up a mountainous road with AC on and with a specific speed without overheating, and other tests. Toyota accepted the standard (kudos to them), and revised its towing capacities (Sequoia's tow rating dropped from 10000# to 7400#). GM agreed to implement the standard as well, but backed away when Ford did not implement the standard (BTW, Ford, GM and Chrysler all had input on how the tests should be designed). The reason the big three did not accept the standard is that they know their cars/truck will be down rated and nobody wants to be the first. So I would take the towing capacity of the big three cars/trucks with a grain of salt.

I think MB is very conservative with their tow ratings; they are not advertising their cars/trucks as tow vehicles, hence they advertise the "actual" tow rating. I know of several people on a Benz forum that have maxed the tongue weight/payload/axle ratings/tow rating and the truck still performed.
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:22 PM   #24
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Mercedes GL320 towing ROCKS

[QUOTE=rostam;1306647]Attached are some photos of the hitch on our 2012 GL. Looks very different than the recalled hitch on older GLs (I had seen those in a Benz forum).[/QUOTE

I agree we just had the local Portland oregon MB dealer install a new factory hitch. We are Towing a 2015 Airstream sig 23. The diesel combined with that amazing heavy Mercedes factory hitch pulled like a dream. So check this out. I have a 2001 dodge ram 2500 diesel with bigger exhaust and cold air intake,larger higher output fuel pump. I towed the same Airstream trailer and drove the same route to the beach. On the steep hill passes the Mercedes Gl320 kicked the Dodges butt! The Gl had more power and of course a superior ride,comfort and handling. SOLD SOLD SOLD BABY! I am using a Curt pro anti sway and weight distribution hitch as well as the Tekonsha Prodigy RF wireless brake controller. Todd
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:18 PM   #25
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Towing a big airstream with GL350

Many folks in the MB world are towing large air streams with 900+ lb tongue weights, etc. Does anyone know the max tongue weight allowed on the current GL350? Rear axle GAWR? I don't see it on the MB site in the specs-, just the 7500lb towing capacity.
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:24 PM   #26
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The 2011 was 700 lbs.

I've said this before, but...

The hitch can be reinforced by Can Am, but no one has told me where other components, such as the tranny can be beefed up to accommodate the heavier rigs.

I feel my 2011's transmission suffered by towing our old 23FC.

Of course this is IMHO only.

Good luck!
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