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Old 12-28-2011, 03:18 PM   #15
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2007 Model Year

murreywalker-

I was a little concerned about the new technology when buying our used ML. The April Consumer Reports shows that the '07 model year has the best reliability. Don't know if they lump the Gasser (ML350) and Diesel (ML320) versions together.

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65CV, I had a '08 GL320, and you're right. The maintenance costs are pretty much in line with the other lineup of GLs.

However when the BluTec350 came upon the scene, for whatever reason, the periodics are all of a sudden much more than the 320.

At least that's what the service manager at the MB dealership in Springfield, MO says.

I recently went in for a "D" service on my 450. It was almost $500. That's when he said, the same service on the 350 was almost double.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:56 PM   #16
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OK, quick reply. All of this info is out on the web if you want to dig around a bit.

1) Under Federal law, DIY service does not invalidate warranty. Google "Moss Magnuson Act" if you want to know more.

2) You need to get a definition of "Service D" before you understand the full implications of gas vs. Bluetec diesel in terms of service costs.

3) If you put more than 600 lbs on the factory receiver it will crack. It's only a matter of time. See the placard on the receiver. I know of at least four Airstream owners who have had the exact same receiver failure. I was one of them. Another guy was carrying a tongue weight of only 500 lbs but the extra force exerted by his weight distributing hitch was enough to break the receiver anyway.

Andy T works on these things every day. How many towing customers does the Merc tech have? You can decide for yourself who to believe.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:03 PM   #17
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65Cv, I would like to think Consumer Reports can and would differentiate between the two, but I don't have the foggiest.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:18 PM   #18
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There seems to be a large discrepency in the reported / estimated service costs for the M-B Turbodiesels. Not only here, but on M-B forums, too. I have seen the top service quoted to range from $299 to $798.

My recommendation to the original poster is to go to the service department and ask them specific questions and don't take a WAG for an answer. Ask them "if i bring my car in for the XX,000 mile service, what will it cost?" Get every service. That is the only way you can get a handle on what the local dealer will charge.

Odds are it will cost less than a 3/4 Ton Turboodiesel domestic truck.
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Old 12-30-2011, 01:11 PM   #19
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I have been following the Touareg TDI (JFScheck) and the Mercedes ML and GL (rluhr) discussions. The 2011, 2012 Touareg TDI with 225 HP, 406 lb. torque, and normal tires had the edge over the Mercedes products until the 2012 redesign of the ML350 Bluetec.

The GL350 Bluetec will be redesigned for 2013 but has as a standard feature the air suspension which I do not feel is a good feature for weight distribution hitches (comments welcome). The Touareg does not have air suspension and on the ML350 the air suspension is optional.

For 2012, the ML350 diesel ADBLUE tank was moved from the spare tire location and the fill tube is next to the diesel fill tube. So normal tires with a compact spare like the Touareg. The diesel engine was improved and now has 240 HP and 455 lb. torque making it the king of suv diesels. Sorry Touareg.

Now there are two good choices for towing smaller Airstreams. Of course the hitch on either vehicle needs to go straight to Andy for reinforcement. If my thoughts on air suspension are not valid, then the 2013 GL350 Bluetec will be a third choice. The Touareg and ML350 are basically the same size with the GL350 being larger with three rows of seats. The ML350 is rated for towing 7200 pounds with the Touareg and GL350 at 7700 pounds.

The ML350 has a seven speed tranny and the Touareg has an eight speed tranny both of which get good reviews for towing. Of course the massive torque helps the most.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:18 PM   #20
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Rumor has it that the 2013 Grand Cherokee will get a diesel stateside (they're currently sold in Europe where a non-diesel SUV would be DOA.) 237hp, 406 lb-ft torque (although the quoted numbers online are all over the place.) I'm waiting for that; it has a stouter hitch than the Benz, fewer of the 2" ball/no-weight-distribution restrictions that the Germans seem to like to throw in the manual's fine print, more dealers in rural areas, and probably $5k less than a Treg.

I've towed with a HEMI-powered Grand Cherokee with a weight-distribution hitch and air suspension. Didn't really find it to be a problem.

Tom
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:57 PM   #21
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@pattonsr: Good comments. Here's my take:

1) Air suspension on a Merc ML or GL does not affect weight distribution at all. You might have heard advice about "pulling a fuse" etc to disable the air suspension. On a car like an ML or GL with full air suspension, that makes no sense because you can't drive it that way. If you disable the air suspension the car will throw an error light and may settle to the ground.

Hitch up with the engine OFF and with no unusual load in the car. You'll see the rear sag under the tongue weight, just like any conventionally sprung car. You can measure the corners, like hitch manufacturers recommend, to get an approximate setting for the weight distribution bars.

The car will level up when you turn it on, no matter what, so the only way to be sure that you are distributing the tongue weight properly is to weigh the car before and after hitching. Compare the axle weights to fine-tune the hitch adjustments. But yes, you can easily distribute the tongue weight just like on any other tow vehicle -- I have the CAT scale receipts to prove it.

2) A compact spare would be welcome when you are driving solo, but it's still no better than run-flat tires if you are towing. Whether compact spare or run-flat, the tire will not have the capacity to carry the added weight from a trailer for very long. You still need a plan to deal with a flat tire when towing. I suggest at a minimum you carry a tire plugging kit and know how to use it.

A few random notes for Merc owners:

Our GL320 has 55,000 miles on it as of today, about 80% of which has been towing our 30-foot Safari bunkhouse. My goal is 250k miles, which I'll hit in about 9 years at current rates.

The handling is superb. I like the way it sticks to the ground on bumpy roads, when conventional trucks are bouncing in the air. But I like it even more when I'm driving solo on a winding country road...

Because of the relatively short wheelbases of the ML and GL, owners should consider a Hensley for long trailers.

Beware MB techs when it comes to towing questions. Most of them don't have a clue. Almost three years ago I went to the dealership to have my Prodigy brake controller hooked up. MB publishes a technical bulletin (T-B-31.19/07d) describing exactly how to do it with a simple pin kit ($15). The tech decided he wanted to do it his way, which involved removing the front seats, the center console, and wiring directly to the battery. He felt it was "safer." The estimate was $1200. I laughed and then went to another service center to get it installed the MB-approved way for $100. They are great cars and can be great tow vehicles, but don't expect much support from the dealership.

If you have LED taillights on the Airstream, the trailer's brakes and lights will not work. You'll need an adapter cable available from VW dealers, part # ZVW 808 004. It's about $40. Alternatively you can have an incandescent bulb wired in to the circuit to eliminate the problem. That's what we did.

@murreywalker: Looking at the 2009 maintenance recommendations, the only differences in routine service for the diesel versus gas models are:

--every 20k miles the diesel needs a fuel filter replacement (about $100 installed)
--the gas model needs spark plugs at 80k miles
--diesel models require Adblue top offs every 10k miles (and complete evacuation/refill every 20k miles) See my prior post on that subject.

Otherwise everything is the same. So I think the service tech you talked to has some 'splaining to do. What changed with the GL/ML350 models that would alter the service program that much?
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:50 PM   #22
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rluhr,

Sounds like AIRMATIC for the mb is ok for towing. An ON&OFFROAD package will be available next year in the US for the ML. The setting for AIRMATIC and the power train will accommodate six transmission modes. There is a Trailer mode which optimizes acceleration, maneuvering and braking with a trailer. I assume all of the good stuff for the 2012 ML will be available with the 2013 GL redesign.

I do not like Run Flat tires. Expensive and harder to find. I agree the spare is only for limp home mode without a trailer.

With the heavy use of LED lights on the 2012 ML, I would wager that the tail light out problem has gone away with LED trailers. But as you say, the adapter cable will solve the problem if it still exists.

In my prior post, I said the GL350 is rated for 7700 pounds towing. The correct number is 7500 pounds.

Barry
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:54 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rluhr View Post
@pattonsr: Good comments. Here's my take:

1) Air suspension on a Merc ML or GL does not affect weight distribution at all. You might have heard advice about "pulling a fuse" etc to disable the air suspension. On a car like an ML or GL with full air suspension, that makes no sense because you can't drive it that way. If you disable the air suspension the car will throw an error light and may settle to the ground.

Hitch up with the engine OFF and with no unusual load in the car. You'll see the rear sag under the tongue weight, just like any conventionally sprung car. You can measure the corners, like hitch manufacturers recommend, to get an approximate setting for the weight distribution bars.

The car will level up when you turn it on, no matter what, so the only way to be sure that you are distributing the tongue weight properly is to weigh the car before and after hitching. Compare the axle weights to fine-tune the hitch adjustments. But yes, you can easily distribute the tongue weight just like on any other tow vehicle -- I have the CAT scale receipts to prove it.

(snip)
rluhr: Do you know if your comments apply to the 2011/2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the air suspension? I took delivery of a 2012 JGC just prior to departing for 5 months in AZ for the winter. I only had time for one trip with my 20' Argosy, and still did not have the hitch ball height set right, but I really did not have any load being carried by the spring bars on that trip. When I put the trailer on the ball, then used the tongue jack to raise the rear enough to put the spring bars in, then drop the tongue jack (my usual practice once I have decided how many links to "hang" from previous experience) the auto leveling took over and took all the weight off the spring bars.

Again, I have not had experience with this new system enough to understand it, but any words of wisdom would be appreciated, if the MB and the JGC have the same air suspension.

Are there any threads that have been posted on the JGC with air suspension, and how to hook up with spring bars? I have not seen any yet, but may have missed something. Anyone??
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:51 PM   #24
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I towed with a 2011 GC V8 with the air suspension. Did just the same thing you did, had the same thing happen. I'll admit to not fussing with it much since I had borrowed the Jeep from the office - but it rode and handled well.

I wish there was some more specific info in the manual about how to do this procedure, but no such luck. Rich's comments make sense for making sure the set-up is right - use weights at a scale to fine tune the number of links used.

Tom
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:02 PM   #25
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Great engine. I've the same 3.0 Bluetec CRD in my 08 Grand Cherokee (7200 lb tow capacity) and love it towing our '11 FC23FB (6500 lbs loaded). Tracks like a train with the Equal-i-zer hitch. Pulls like a champ over the highest mountain passes, and engine braking by downshifting the QuadraDrive II is very effective - really saves the brakes. Average 17 mpg towing 8500 miles this year. Now that I'm past warranty, I order my Mobil 1 ESP online and use my favorite lube shop for fluid changes - just make sure that they follow the Mercedes procedures re: wait times during oil change.
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:29 PM   #26
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OK, looks like there's some confusion over the air suspension issue, so I'll try to clarify.

First off, I don't know if this applies to the Jeep. I'm speaking only of my experience with the Merc GL with AIRMATIC suspension.

Your goal is to have correct weight distribution when the vehicle is level, because that's where it is going to end up once the air suspension kicks in.

So, you must start with a level trailer and level Merc, on level ground. The ball must be at the correct height for the trailer. The car must be OFF so the air suspension won't adjust while you are hitching up.

If all that is good, then you can attach the trailer using the procedure outlined by the hitch manufacturer. Typically this involves measuring the four corners of the vehicle, then hitching up, then re-measuring the drop at all four corners to estimate how much tension you need on the torsion bars. The point is to keep the car level, even as it settles from the weight of the trailer.

If you follow the procedure you should end up pretty close to where you need to be -- in other words, with approximately equal drop at all four corners of the car. Then you can start the engine and watch the air suspension raise the car back up and make any minor leveling adjustments.

Since the car was level before you started the engine, and remains level as the air suspension kicks in, you should lose little or no tension on the torsion bars. If that's the case, you can tow over to the local truck stop and get weighed on the CAT scale. (You did remember to weigh the car before hitching up, for comparison, right?)

@pattonsr: I wish the off-road package was available when I bought my car, but it was special order only at that time and I couldn't wait. There have been a rare few times when I would have liked to have had Low Range (when off-roading), although I have to say the AWD system is fantastic.

I believe the "trailer mode" existed in the 2009 GL models as well, although MB wasn't very vocal about that. It's buried in the Owners Manual. Mercs don't have a "tow/haul" or "overdrive" setting, because the computer figures out that you've got a heavy load and adjusts automatically. Mine has an "offroad" button that is suggested for towing heavy loads but in practice the only difference I find is that it costs me some fuel economy.

By the way, at highway speeds the Mercs with AIRMATIC normally lower the car about an inch for better fuel economy, but the car is smart enough to recognize when it is towing a trailer, and so it locks out the suspension lower/raise modes that normally are available.

Note that it is difficult to achieve the 7500 lb tow rating on the factory hitch. The hitch is placarded at 600 lbs tongue weight, which means 8% at the full tow rating of 7500. Many Airstreams carry 10-12% tongue weight, which is why some Merc owners end up modifying the hitch. For example, I was shocked when my 1977 Argosy 24 weighed in at 800 lbs on the tongue. A friend's 1965 Safari 23 is 650 lbs (measured with tongue scale). It's good practice to actually weigh the tongue -- don't go by published estimates.

@jamujoe: I found the best price for Mobil 1 ESP from the dealer of all places. Seriously, I never would have expected that!
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:55 PM   #27
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I am considering a 2012 ML350 Bluetec as possible tow vehicle for a 25FB International. Does anyone have experience with this combination? Are the hitch receivers on the 2012 ML350 an improved design over previous models or would you advise after-market reinforcement?

Thank you for any advice you may be able to provide
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Old 01-02-2012, 01:48 PM   #28
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Tallgrass, my guess is the hitch receiver on the 2012 is the same as its predecessors. It says on the label, 600 lbs is the maximum.

Your trailer, I think has a hitch weight of over 800 lbs.

If you find someone in KC who's knowledgable enough to understand the dynamics, I would appreciate the contact.

If you haven't read rulhr's blog, you should. And, of course, all of the post on this thread.
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