really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,344 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2001 Mercedes-Benz ML320 Owner Comments

problem #9

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 #8

Feb 182012


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Mercedes Benz ML320. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked when it caught on fire. The fire started from under the dashboard on the passenger side. The fire department appeared on the scene after the fire was extinguished. The vehicle was examined by the fire department and towed to a dealer. There were no injuries. The dealer inspected the vehicle and stated that the origin of the fire was due to an electrical shortage. The vehicle was destroyed and an insurance company was notified. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- North Cross, GA, USA

problem #7

Jun 102009


  • 97,950 miles
My 2001 Mercedes ML320 SUV developed a defect in the ignition switch, whereby the key came out while the car was not in the park position. In June 2009, the car was parked in my driveway and ignition turned off. I didn't realize that the key came out when the car was in neutral instead of park. After a while the car rolled backwards and hit a neighbors car and the garage door opposite my driveway. I reported the incident to Mercedes and the dealer said that the defect cannot be covered free by the manufacturer as the car was out of warranty. I paid almost $1000 to get the ignition switch defect fixed.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #6

Feb 282005

ML320 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


Safety system failure, including braking assist, seat belts, air bags and tel-aide due to computer chip failure. Caused two accidents after which customer paid to have vehicle reviewed bumper to bumper and the failing chip was replaced. During this time, the dash warning lights did not illuminate to warn of the failure which the vehicle computer documented 15 times in a six-month period (between the two accidents). Approximately eight months later, the warning light on the dash illuminated again. Do not know how many times system had failed since it was 'fixed.' Traded in vehicle for safety purposes.

- Fishers, IN, USA

problem #5

Feb 202001

ML320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles
Since the car was purchased it continues to hesitate and stall out giving a "start error" on the instrument panel. Had confirmed by the service manager, gerry griffith (car purchased in indianapolis, recent move to Alabama), that the model M-class has problems with this issue. Just had to spend $1000+ on a "fix" and the problem has been ongoing since the beginning of purchasing the car. Detailed service records are not given to the customer only a brief synopsis and all work is not included in that report, I.e., the actual testing codes, etc.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #4

Feb 282005

ML320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
Just as reported in consumer reports, electrical systems failed on this vehicle causing all safety systems (ie., brake assist, safety belts, air bags) to fail. The problem caused two accidents last year when the 4,400 lb. Vehicle could not stop. Other electrical systems are also failing. Further, the rear gate latch was not locking and the dealer never verbally told us when we picked up the vehicle from being serviced, nor did they ever ask if we wanted it fixed. We just found out about this. One would expect more from a Mercedes product. After the truck was "fixed" twice, we then paid to have it gone over ($300) and found the problem with the safety systems which had been noted as being fixed previously. It was a $100 stop switch. Meanwhile, we will pay higher insurance rates for the next three years. Mercedes usa should have recalled these vehicles for the electrical problems, but they just brushed it under the rug. I thought we were buying a quality product. I guess not.

- Fishers, IN, USA

problem #3

Sep 242003


  • miles


While driving at 20 mph, the vehicle caught on fire, smoke and flames came from the dashboard. The dealer replaced all electrical components, but the vehicle still had electrical problems. The electrical system burned out while driving. The lights came on constantly, the air bag light would state the air bag was off, the alarm would go off constantly in the driveway, when the brakes were off, the vehicle beeped. The dealer claimed they were unable to find anything wrong.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #2

Jan 162003

ML320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,025 miles
Intermittently while driving dashboard warning lights come on and stay on, then all the gauges stop working. Dealership replaced gear selector, but the problem still exists. Please refer to ODI# 10022912(the exact info) the instrument cluster also flashed and beeped. The speedometer/tachometer activated and then shut down, then restored themselves after 20 minutes. In addition to the initial gear selector shift assembly needed replacement at the consumer's expense. Twenty failures occurred within 500 miles. The bas/esp control module as well as a new battery at no cost. The consumer had not taken the vehicle back to the dealer after the 3rd failure due to them not being able to find the problem. The vehicle would stop on the highway.

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #1

Jan 152003

ML320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,025 miles
The defect stated in recall 03 V 121 000 for the power steering hose clamp happened while the consumer was waiting to be notified. The consumer experienced the following: The entire instrument cluster lit up and flashed and beeped, lost the speedometer, tachometer, gas/gas temperature gauge, and the vehicle had gone into second gear and did come out for some time(discovered it was in limp-home mode). The service dealer advised the consumer that the problem was the gear selector. The instrument cluster lights had gone off, except for the bas/brake assist system light, the gauges, speedometer, and tachometer had resumed. There was an incident where half of instrument cluster display on the left lit up, although the vehicle continued to run. The service dealer thought the problem may have been the battery. During a rainstorm, the entire instrument panel lit up, the tachometer, speedometer, and the gas gauge stopped and the instrument panel kept beeping intermittently but did not go into limp mode. There was a crack in one of the D-pillars, and the rear hatch lock did not work. The ignition lock seemed loose since the gear shift assembly had been replaced, the windshield washer reservoir leaked. The bas/esp control module had been changed, but the problem persisted. The consumer was told the vehicle needed a new battery. The brake pad wear light displayed, the power steering had failed again. The consumer was advised the vehicle needed front and rear brakes then was told that it was a clamp problem. Also the driver's window switch hesitated. The safety recall notice that related to the failure of the hose clamp for the power steering fluid which apparently caused the complete loss of power steering in the vehicle as well as damage to the hydraulic fluid pump which resulted in repairs performed on the vehicle. The consumer requested full reimbursement for the charges related to the repairs. Recall# 03V121000

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

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