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Old 10-15-2015, 03:50 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by bono View Post
Interesting - do you have any more details on this? I doubt that this is the case, but would be interested to hear details.
It's true - I have seen the internal build schematic of the later ML, that showed a reinforcement in the lower chassis on each side, but only with the factory installed hitch. It appears to be a stout tube, pipe or brace with flanges for attaching, inserted within the frame-like welded structure below but welded to the unibody. Kind of like a reinforcement within a subframe. I couldn't tell from the diagram if it was for bending, torsional or tensile strength, but there it was.
I thought I had saved the diagram but I can't find it right now.

Sorry I can't produce it right now, but I'll try to find one for you.
Maybe a fellow forum reader can help us here....
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Old 10-15-2015, 04:15 AM   #212
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The later Mercedes have a stronger hitch, along the lines of the Touareg design. I don't think it will fall off completely like the older ones did. I have seen some twisted pretty severely but that is not unusual on most other brands. One however was bad enough that it pushed the bumper cover up so the tailgate would not open.

On Airstream's with lighter hitch weights like 23FB's and some of the earlier ones I am sure you are fine as long as you are using torsion bars with plenty of travel. That I have found Eaz-Lift bars have the largest range of motion.

There have been a couple of people out west who we have sent welded ball mounts to (welded ball mounts reduce the overhang and therefore the pressure on the receiver) who are towing 25FB's without the reinforce. They have relocated the batteries and removed the spare. They are also a little careful about how deep a dips they drive through. If they are going through something deep they remove the torsion bars. So far they have very little deflection on their hitches, no more than a domestic truck would have.

There is lots of conversation about load capacity we had a Touareg in a couple of weeks ago from the west. It had a Hensley with the wrong drop and the bars set wrong along with a 27FB. It measured 1200 pounds of hitch weight with the Hensley. The rear suspension was sitting on the stops so they were way overloaded on the rear suspension. They had towed several thousand miles in that state but no problems with bearings etc. We of coarse got them leveled out and the hitch bent back down and now they are fine.

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Old 10-15-2015, 04:27 AM   #213
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From a GL, but see the structures that insert into the chassis, forward from the hitch. (toward the bottom of this picture.) I think there are receiving structures within the chassis.
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Old 10-15-2015, 08:12 AM   #214
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Note that the 2015+ model year US version of the ML does not offer the 3.0L V6 anymore. The straight 4 does not have the tow rating for the larger Airstreams and would be over worked trying to tow a 30' model.

Basic avarice at Mercedes is forcing the choice for the GL model for $20,000 to $30,000 more in the base price and even then the 7,500 pound tow rating does NOT include anything over 25' in the recent wide body models..... The 27/28' models have a GVW of 7,600 pounds while the 25' models have a 7,300 pound GVW.
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:47 AM   #215
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One end of the hitch support arm gets bolted to a recess in hitch; the other end gets booted to a recess in unibody. This is besides the 8 bolts that connect the hitch to the unibody. Hence, the hitch unibody connection is very stout. In my opinion, this extra reinforcement (which is absent in other German SUVs) is why Mercedes allows the use of WDHs (unlike other German manufactures which specifically ban it). I read somewhere that VW saw signs of stress on the hitch unibody connection and then banned the use of WDH. Still, WDH or not, you would not find a unibody SUV that can handle more than 600-700 tongue weight. That's why body on frame vehicles exist.
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Old 10-15-2015, 01:09 PM   #216
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mikapen - thank you for the info. I am not a Mercedes expert, but might be interested in GL, if BMW X7 is not appealing when it is launched. So you are saying that the inserts are only available when you order towing package from the factory? Interesting.

rostam - many German SUV were tested and they handle more than 600-700 tongue weight. You are probably referring to official ratings.
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Old 10-15-2015, 02:13 PM   #217
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I had a WD Hitch specifically installed for my ML350; MB ordered the parts and handled the installation of the hitch which was rather technical because it actually bolts on in several places including somewhere around the rear axle. They did all of the 7-pin wiring and it does plug into an updated SAM unit that knows when the car is in tow mode. I have never seen it move above 165 in terms of temp. Mind you, they did recommend and I did switch out the cooling unit from 60Kw to 90Kw. I was a simple switch but rather costly. All told, I spent about $2,500 but that includes all parts and a Tekonsha P3 controller; I do have the tranny fluid changed every 3rd service just to be on the safe side (about every 30K). FYI: I purchased a CPO car which gives me unlimited miles on the warranty, I also added an additional 2-years to that, also with unlimited miles so I'm good until 2019. This year alone I've driven over 40K from FL to TX to MI to KY and all places in between. Hills, mountains, flats, cold and/or hot - made no difference and I averaged 18mpg at 65 MPH. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:41 PM   #218
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Still, WDH or not, you would not find a unibody SUV that can handle more than 600-700 tongue weight.
I believe that statement has been proven wrong many, many times when the vehicle is set up appropriately.
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:58 PM   #219
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This is not about "setup" (whatever that means). There is not a single unibody vehicle in the market with a 800# or more hitch rating. And most ban the use of WDH. 1000# hitches are readily available. Why wouldn't the manufacturers put them on their unibody vehicles? Well, for a substantial hitch, you need a frame to mount the hitch to. You also need a frame to do substantial weight distribution.
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Old 10-15-2015, 04:03 PM   #220
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Still, WDH or not, you would not find a unibody SUV that can handle more than 600-700 tongue weight. That's why body on frame vehicles exist.
Can-Am RV wrote me they they have set up over 210 Touareg TDI's for towing travel trailers of all sizes and 3,000 unibody vans over the years. They are a second generation Airstream dealer in business over 40 years. You have never even towed one.

Who should we believe?
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Old 10-15-2015, 04:16 PM   #221
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Can-Am RV wrote me they they have set up over 210 Touareg TDI's for towing travel trailers of all sizes and 3,000 unibody vans over the years. They are a second generation Airstream dealer in business over 40 years. You have never even towed one.

Who should we believe?
Doug, I must admit your troll like posts do not surprise me anymore. I'm signing off as the usual suspects have showed up and are driving this thread to a ban.
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Old 10-15-2015, 06:25 PM   #222
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Just think of all those choice sites you will have to pass up because your new mega-wheelbase won't maneuver!!!
Just kidding....
Hasn't happened yet, but maneuverability is definitely an issue when NOT towing. That's really the biggest benefit of having an ML: how the vehicle behaves (and the mileage it gets) when you aren't towing.

The more often you tow, the more having a more tow-oriented vehicle (closer in weight to the trailer, monster torque, engine brake(!!)) matters. If we weren't full-timing, I'd never have stopped using the ML. Even then it's a close thing; you give up a lot in general comfort for what you gain in towing comfort. On the balance it's worth it for us (especially with the extra storage), but I wouldn't presume to say what it's worth to others.
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:49 PM   #223
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Hasn't happened yet, but maneuverability is definitely an issue when NOT towing. That's really the biggest benefit of having an ML: how the vehicle behaves (and the mileage it gets) when you aren't towing.
Agree, and that is our greatest concern with anything long-wheelbase. We just left on another six month snowbird trip, many places to go and see along the way and near our destinations. We like to unhook and sightsee, explore the countryside, visit people, get groceries, go out on the town. Daily driving stuff. As well as maneuvering the Airstream itself.

A truck is handy to haul stuff but a bugger to get around in day to day. We get along well with a reg cab pickup now but am looking hard at a SUV next time. These threads are can be helpful, especially with a chance to learn from the experience of others.
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Old 10-16-2015, 12:21 AM   #224
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The biggest thing I think the Mercedes diesels would benefit from for towing would be an engine brake. That's been the biggest revelation for me when driving the Ram 2500.

It's rare for the massive torque to make a go / no-go difference (it has happened), although the general ease of pulling is notable and welcome. Crosswind resistance and overall stability when towing come into play fairly often. Raw payload capacity, sure. But the engine brake -- that's where it's at.
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