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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
113,680 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML320 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2001 Mercedes-Benz ML320 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Aug 152016


  • 150,000 miles


On more than one occasion, my 2001 merc Benz ML320 came to a complete stop and dramatically pulled to the right while I was driving at various speeds. The first time happened as I was making a right turn from a stand still. The second time happened as I was traveling at approximately 35-40 mph. Finally, the last two times occurred while I was on the highway traveling at approximately 65-70 mph. In all instances, the front brakes absolutely locked and my vehicle came to an approximately complete stop while pulling the steering to the right. Each event was a very frightening episode. Although I kept trying to accelerate, the brakes would not allow it. I had just enough momentum so that I could veer to the safety of the safety lane. The events all happened within a two (2) week period...far, far too frequent for comfort. In all occasions, I was fortunate to not get rammed by the vehicles traveling behind me. Now that I have done a little research I am really disappointed that Mercedes seems to be aware of the issue but has not taken this issue more seriously as it seems to not have been an isolated issue but rather one that has been consistent among fellow ml 320 vehicle owners. Lastly, I've only owned this truck for a two week period, and it has terrified me in this short time.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #27

Jul 292016


  • 130,000 miles
While driving at 40 mph unintended brake application causing loss of control. This has happened numerous times under different speeds and condition. It has happened on curves and straight road conditions. This has been happening since May 2016 at least 15 to 20 times.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #26

Jul 282016


  • 81,755 miles
Vehicle came to a dead stop when brakes suddenly applied automatically while driving in a straight line at 40mph in heavy freeway traffic. Very difficult to get vehicle off road onto shoulder. Esp/bas light came and remained on until ignition turned off. Now no warning light nor diagnostic code detected. Brake pedal sensor replaced by mb dealer on month ago. An extremely dangerous situation.

- Redl;Ands, CA, USA

problem #25

Apr 082016

ML320 6-cyl

  • 112,750 miles


While driving at 50 mph, vehicle lights started flashing (warning for esp and ABS) and the vehicle slowed dramatically and pulled to the right... I got to the side of the road and assumed I had a blow out... but all tires were fine and no issues... turned off vehicle and drove about 13 miles then turned vehicle off for 10 -15 minutes came out and got in vehicle... when I started to go... orange triangle was still on and if I even touched brakes they all locked up and would even squeal when even touching brake petal. It was 79 degrees, dry on a highway that was a smooth road, in traffic and was almost hit. Updated 05/11/16

- Dallas, OR, USA

problem #24

Jun 022014


  • 185,000 miles
Same story as I've seen thousands of times on the internet and you claim not enough occurrences! I'm on the interstate, going 70 mph. Weather is good, traffic is light (thank god!) and my breaks slam on. The ABS system kicks in, so I'm able to get over to the shoulder before being rear ended. The triangle warning lamp is lit and the bas / esp lamp is lit. I try turning the car off and back on, lights go out, I move forward, get up to about 20 mph and the breaks slam on again. I shut the car off for about 15 minutes while I got out and was investigating the tires and breaks. Get back in, start the vehicle and drive another 45 minutes. Get into town, driving about 25 mph and they slam on again. I'm able to limp home with the ABS going on and off. I park it for the night. Next day I do some research and see there are thousands of similar complaints. Follow one of the suggestions and disconnect my battery. Fixed the issue for about 4 months before it happened again. This time I was in the passing lane going around an 18 wheeler with traffic behind me. Me and my 8 year old was almost killed along with other drivers. This is a life threatening issue that you can't ignore. It has happened 4 or 5 times in the two years I've owned the vehicle.

- Newburgh, IN, USA

problem #23

Dec 172014

ML320 4WD 6-cyl

  • 118,832 miles
This is a sequel report to my ODI 10664733 of 12/16/2014. Two incidents are identical. The earlier incident happened at odometer reading 118,714; this second incident happened at 118,832, 118 miles later. I was on I-280 southbound approx. 53 miles South of sf. Around 1pm, a sudden extraordinarily forceful braking " the Mercedes owner?S manual calls this maximum braking capability power boost which exceeds driver?S manual braking style ? the ?brake assist system bas? happened again without driver?S command. I was going steady at 65 mph, absolutely no braking. The traffic was light and the road was dry. The car swerved slightly with a large braking noise and came down to near holt. I could steer the car to the right side emergency area by traveling perhaps 15 feet while the bas was firmly in force. This is counter to the NHTSA action PE07007 reference attributed to Mercedes as the esp electrical faults duration being 0.3 seconds or less. My experience indicates this is incorrect. It lasted as long as I was trying to move the car. When the bas activated, the esp alarm signal and the bas/esp light came on. Turned off the engine for a few minutes and restarted. The bas/eps light came back on but the car behaved normally otherwise. Drove back to sf without further incidence. Were the traffic heavy and the road were wet and slippery, my Mercedes ML320 would have been rear-ended at highway speeds and would have lost control on the wet road. I firmly believe that this is a serious safety issue Mercedes must address with the definitive solution. I am willing to avail my vehicle for field testing. PE07007 cites ?the low complaint rate" through 2007 led to closing ODI investigation. A quick website research indicates there are a considerable number of bas incidents posted since 2007 on various private forums and blogs but these drivers may not have reported to NHTSA.

- San Fransisco, CA, USA

problem #22

Dec 162014

ML320 6-cyl

  • 118,714 miles


I was on calif hwy1 northbound approx 20 miles South of sf, doing 45mph, around 1:00pm. All of a sudden, brakes were activated in a fierce force, which brought the vehicle to a complete stop within a second or two traveling two to three feet. I felt all the four wheels were locked firm. I did not even touch the brakes. My car swerved slightly but did not lose control. The road was dry. There was no traffic and no vehicle behind me or to my sides. As I steered the car to the shoulder area of the highway, I noticed the esp/bas lamp was on. I turned off the engine and restarted a minute later. The esp/bas lamp came back on. I was lucky that the traffic was light and the road was dry. Drove back home without another incidence.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #21

Nov 022014

ML320 6-cyl

  • 78,500 miles
When driving on a local street between 25 and 30 mph, the car suddenly applied strong braking force by itself (my foot was not even on the brake pedal at that time). During that instance, the car also went out of steer. Fortunately, the car behind me was able to avoid me without rear ended into my car. I was thinking if the same thing happened on a freeway, me and my family could have got killed.

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #20

Dec 062013

ML320 6-cyl

  • 134,850 miles
I am having safety issues with my 2001 Mercedes Benz ml 320 with a esp bas light coming on and locking front brake causing the ABS to come on and stop SUV. To avoid an accident and almost getting rear ended with my kids in car. Contacted Mercedes dealer and cant guarantee what problem is already changed brake light switch 2 times said it could be ABS pump {800} or wheel speed sensors {1200} or yaw sensor, ignition switch, maybe even computer but said they could not guarantee to fix this problem. Mercedes Benz should have a recall on this issue it has been going on for years some one is going to get killed. Spoke to Benz at corporate and they only say bring it to the dealer who does not know how to fix this problem. Hope I can get a answer to this situation.

- Middleburg, FL, USA

problem #19

Sep 032013

ML320 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I almost got killed today!!! I was driving my merz ML320 when I felt the car vibrate, heard a noise as if something was stuck, the car slowed down all by itself and then felt the car pull to the right violently and into the right lane of a big truck barely missing him. The driver of that truck blew his horn at me and there was nothing I could do. My ABS/esp light came on along with the triangle brake light. At first, it sounded as if I blew a right front tire because that is how it sounded. I had no control of the wheel or brakes. The car just slowed down and pulled right. Very dangerous situation and had both my sons with me. The pulling of the car into the next lane is very dangerous. I sat there for 10 mins in shock before trying to start the car. The ABS/esp light is still on. I drove very slowly home avoiding the freeway. I am calling Mercedes tomorrow. What just happened? someone could be killed when a car locks up and driver has no control.

- Allen, TX, USA

problem #18

Apr 272013

ML320 6-cyl

  • 108,258 miles


I was driving straight on an interstate highway at 70mph with my foot on the gas pedal. All of a sudden the vehicle started to totally apply the brakes all by itself and lunged to a stop. The car behind me barely missed hitting the rear of my vehicle. I turned off the engine and restarted and and was able to drive to the side of the highway. Fearful to continue driving, I then called a tow service to take my vehicle to the nearest dealership. A few days later, they called me and said one of the sensors for the ABS/esp system had failed (yaw rate sensor - dtc C1120) and caused the problem. The repair cost would be about $900. I could not believe that a component of a so called safety system could fail rendering the system so that it can in itself cause an extremely dangerous situation. Fortunately in my case there were no injuries but different circumstances could have been just the opposite. The ase master certified technition who takes care of my car stated that this was a known type of failure (defect) of my model Mercedes. Mercedes Benz refused to cover this repair for me and does not have a solution to prevent this from happenning again on my vehicle or any of the other thousands that they have sold. We all put faith in these safety system that Mercedes manufactures but once the warranty expires we all are forced to live with the concequences of defective designs. I was told that when a component in a safety system fails the system is supposed to turn on a warning light and turn it self off. Not like in my case the failed sensor caused the ABS/esp system to randomly turn on the brakes. With all of the crazy computerized systems in the modern cars I am now nervous about blindly trusting them with my life.

- Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #17

Mar 222013


  • 63,000 miles
While I am driving I noted it is hard to accelerate and yellow hazard light came on an di heard noise and car will not move. I waited few minutes I noticed the bas/esp came on and I resume driving. This happen several times, I noticed when the temperature reach between 85-90, if the bas;esp will not come on, you can hear something stuck on the brake and it does not move. First the dealer in Chicago change it and it does not help so I ask another mechanic shop and they replace the brake light. I still had the brake replaced by the Mercedes dealer.. the situation is much better than before but very scary. I could not drive too long or maybe dangerous in the expressway. Someone on the internet told it is the yaw sensor rate should be replaced. I change mine such new battery, gas pump, .new radiator, new oil change. If someone in your office will come and I will show how my car is acting strangely with the bas/esp. How come the bas/esp must light on and you can drive without a problem. If the bas/esp will not on, it does not move or accelerate. Why"????" please mandatory that diagnostic test by the dealer should be free and charge to Mercedes.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #16

Jan 102013

ML320 6-cyl

  • 10 miles
Bas/esp came on again had a 2001 Mercedes ml 320 ( bought this new in 2001) 63K miles, bas/esp on acting strangely. First it was replaced by Mercedes dealer in Illinois the brake light switch on but then latter it comes again. Before the panel dash board bas/esp came on, it seems the wheel locked and car is not moving and latter on it bas/exp light on so it is okay to drive the car. What I did I went to the local shop and they replaced again the new brake light switch on (replaced by Mercedes dealer in 10/10/12) into new one original parts. I noticed sometimes that the bas/esp is on after 90 temperature and stay on until you shut down the car engine. Someone told that in the mb forum that yaw rate sensor is the one that cause the problem of the bas/esp on. I wonder how national transportation safety board is doing should recall that aside replacement of bas/esp, yaw rate sensor, esp module and ABS relay should be recall also and replace no charge to the driver plus free diagnostic. I bring to Mercedes dealer in Chicago in 0ct. 2012 to recall bas/esp, yet after a day it came on and repeated again even today. This is very dangerous especially when you are driving in the expressway. NHTSA should do the recall sooner before it is too late.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #15

Oct 012012

ML320 6-cyl

  • 215,000 miles
While driving on freeway in moderate traffic the car suddenly without any warning violently applied uneven power to different wheels, brake and sped up. Originally I thought we were having an earthquake as I was trying to regain control over car. After about 15 seconds as I slowed car resumed normal operation. About 10 miles later the action repeated making me fear a crash or roll over as I was fighting to regain control and exit freeway. Luckily I was able to exit and gain control. Ended up having car towed 175 miles home. Mechanic at dealership now says it was a defective yaw sensor designed to work in conjunction with the esp to prevent a roll over. However the defective sensor easily could have caused a roll over or a crash with a less experienced and physically strong driver. Indeed, had my wife been driving I do not know whether she could have controlled the vehicle. Had there been one of the many 18 wheelers immediately next to me I do not know whether I could have avoided a collision. After the fact in review on google I noted many very similar complaints for the same 2001 mbz ML320. I believe there should be a recall before there is death or serious injury.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #14

May 142012

ML320 6-cyl

  • 182,000 miles
On or about May 14, 2012, while I was driving on the freeway at full freeway speed, the vehicle suddenly self-initiated a continuous brake activation without me pressing on the brakes or taking any other action. The vehicle's sudden, unexpected and sustained braking action resulted in a near-collision with a semi-truck traveling behind me which the truck-driver was fortunately just able to prevent. I steered the vehicle to the freeway shoulder as the un-commanded braking action brought the vehicle to a stop. The incident was extremely frightening for me, and it was only sheer luck that I was not seriously injured or killed. After I had the vehicle towed to Mercedes Benz of laguna niguel, their service department determined that the electronic stability program ("esp") control module and yaw rate sensor had failed and need to be replaced. The vehicle is presently in an inoperable condition. Reviewing the NHTSA website, this appears to be related to NHTSA (campaign # PE07007).

- Dana Point, CA, USA

problem #13

Jan 032012

ML320 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
At about 10 to 25 miles per hours my car suddenly and unexpectedly brakes and changes direction by itself without pressing any pedal.

- Weston, FL, USA

problem #12

Jul 312011

ML320 6-cyl

  • 169,000 miles
2001 Mercedes Benz ML320 without warning the vehicle applies full braking power (without the driver touching the brake pedal) at highway speeds and does not release until the vehicle stops completely. When the event happens, it is violent and sudden and it is very difficult to maintain control of the vehicle. It is very difficult to keep the vehicle in one lane of traffic, making the driver feel like he has to keep the vehicle from going into a spin. Oddly enough, it's the safety system (bas/esp) that causes the problem. Mb dealer replaced the aam computer and returned the vehicle but we still had the same issues of the brakes lockup on the highway. Now the dealer does not really have any repair options besides replacing all the system components at a very high price. The problem manifests itself at different times and intervals. Sometimes it may go weeks without a lockup and then other times it may happen every time you drive the vehicle. Once an event happens the bas/esp light comes on and the vehicle will drive normally with the safety system disengaged. However, once the car is turned off and restarted, the system resets, the bas/esp light does not light up and then it's anyone's guess when it will happen again.

- Leawood, KS, USA

problem #11

Aug 212010


  • 109,470 miles
My son and daughter were driving my 2001 Mercedes ML320 (109,470 miles) down the interstate in charleston, SC on a clear, calm sat. Afternoon at 70 mph, when the vehicle braked without warning, practically throwing them into the dashboard. Esp/bas code was lit. My son was able to maneuver the vehicle to the shoulder, and it was towed to an independent shop. A brake inspection was done, and there seemed to be a problem with the emergency brake cable, which was corrected. I had had new brakes put on front and back a week before. No codes were lit on the dashboard. Three days later the same thing happened when my daughter was driving it, luckily at a slow speed, and it did it again. This time I had it towed to baker motor co., the Mercedes dealer in charleston. The diagnosis was that the back left brake pad was not bolted on tightly, and that the yaw sensor needed to be replaced, at a cost of $1254. I asked if the vehicle was still showing the code for that and the service advisor said it was not, so I was hopeful that the loose brake pad had been the problem, and I declined the yaw replacement. I asked him if the vehicle seemed ok, and he said that he would not allow his technician to take it out for a test drive, because it was too dangerous but he could drive it in the parking lot. I had no problems again until Feb. 12, 2011, when, again, on a sunny, calm sat. Afternoon, I was making a left turn and the vehicle came to a screeching halt with the esp/bas code showing. It was towed to the dick dyer Mercedes, where the yaw defect was diagnosed again. I did some internet research, googling "yaw sensor" and was quite surprised to learn that many others have reported the exact problem, going back several years. I understand that the part would not be under warranty, but shouldn't Mercedes have warned their owners about this very dangerous situation?

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #10

Aug 202001


  • 140,000 miles
2001 Mercedes ML320 brakes would activate themselves at all speeds. Esp/bas light would come on and triangle warning light would illuminate. This happened several times at 70+ mph locking both back wheels almost causing the vehicle to go out of control.

- Bluffton, SC, USA

problem #9

Jun 082010


  • 150,000 miles
My name is [xxx] and I just had a small accident on June 08th, 2010 in phoenix AZ. It involved my 2001 Mercedes Benz ML320. Facts: On June 8th, 2010 I was traveling at approximately 50 mph on the freeway (hov lane) when the front right wheel locked. The brakes just engaged without warning and or me activating them. Luckily I the person behind me was able to swerve to avoid me but still clipped the left side of my rear bumper. I believe I'm lucky I did not caused or sustained any serious injury. I took the car to a local Mercedes Benz dealer for service and they told me it could be many things wrong. Mb knows about the problem with the mb ML320's year 1998-2001. The gentlemen @ mb told me that but they will not take any responsibility. He instructed me not to drive the vehicle in the current condition. I asked if mb knows about the problem why not issued a recall and fix the problem" the answer was, not enough accidents or incidents to issued the recall. In other words, they are waiting for someone to get seriously injured or killed to change the system that was set in place to avoid this problems and make us and cars safer. My question is to you ODI, what can you do to assist me" information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- El Mirage, AZ, USA

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