Friday, January 21, 2011

So Mercedes Corporation Calls Me

So I write a "Dear John" to Mercedes explaining why I've been a customer (high-end, too, like 560 SEC, 500ML, etc) but can be one no longer because I'm paying top dollar for engineering garbage. I almost refer to Chryslers but edit that out.

And they call me. They are concerned that I've gotten an anomalous vehicle and want to inspect it. They refer me to . .  . my local dealership and the guy I've known there for, oh, 15 years. I call him, we schedule a time to inspect the car.

The day comes and he proceeds to very cursorily look over the weeping rust signs of the ML. Then he marches me all over the lot pointing out rust on OTHER high-end vehicles (including an AMG S600), saying ALL Mercedes have this problem. How long did I think I wanted to keep the car, etc.

He also tells me Mercedes is aware they have problems "but only in New England" and everyone thinks it's the new environmentally friendly "water-based paints we use now." I'm offered $200 "a panel" -- no explanation of what that is, and no conversation as he's clearly upset to even be on this topic -- and I have to get it inspected. He really wants me to use "this friend of mine" in a town that's about 50 miles from my house.

More to come.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

They move the seam but kept the passive seal.

Mercedes over the years moved the ML door seams from the roof (see below on our 2002 ML500):

And redesigned the seams to the sides (see below, 2006 model). They also recessed the doors slightly into the body shell, obviously hoping that would help with the water problem.
Side shot of 2006 ML500 - driver's side doors.

But they retained the rubber passive seal as the water barrier, rather than eliminating the presence of water in the door sills in the first place. Also, the rubber seal does not run the entirety of the door: on our 2002 there's a visible gap on the top of all 5 doors where water is let in. On the 2006, same story. This is just plain old incompetent engineering. You need to have respect for water: it's an amazing substance. And it does not belong in your car -- it should be kept outside the vehicle.

So, Mercedes creates the ML design -- a utility vehicle, for god's sake, for outdoor use -- that rusts from the inside out, recognize they have a problem. Instead of fixing the inherent design flaw, they try moving the seams around to make sure less water gets in. Brilliant.

Somewhere in some Mercedes conference room, after they finished high-five-ing each other over how awesome they each were in just being execs in the room, this executive group agreed that just making the Mercedes-Benz ML rust slower was an acceptable solution to their customer's predicament of buying and now owning shoddy, rusting out 7,000 lbs tanks. The real predicament here, Mercedes, is that we trusted you to live up to your reputation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So far every ML owner I've stopped has rust here.

Every ML owner I've stopped has rust starting here or water coming out here (so will have rust, because Mercedes didn't bother to water-proof this latch area). You're looking up into hatch handle, which you can't see except when door is raised. Not exposed to water (unless you dip the entire vehicle in a lake), as it's under a lip of steel trim. Enjoy! 

Note: it's putting out enough water it's rusted the screws
that keep the license plate fixed to the door!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Your first insight to seeing the ML's design flaw: get it wet

You can run it through the car wash (heaven forbid you wash your Mercedes Benz). I did the car wash when I started getting serious about understanding the Mercedes designed-in flaw to ensure the ML will rust.  So: wash the car.
1. Open all doors and tailgate.
2. See the water in all the interior spaces (inside the car). Especially note that the release latch on the tailgate will be wet -- water is coming out of that mechanism.
3. Note Mercedes is so aware of this design flaw they have put weep holes in all the doors and that water runs out of them. After a car wash. Note that the weep holes are placed facing the inside so they are actually making the problem worse.

More to come.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Here's a truly gross example of the Mercedes ML design flaw at work

This isn't the best photo -- taken on a walk-by across the street with my iPhone on a very heavy pedestrian traffic street -- because you can't see that this Mercedes ML is literally rusting from every orifice the SUV has: door handles, gas tank lid, tailgate handle, headlights, you name it. It looks like the water even rusted out the taillight brackets and screws and the folks duck-tapped it into place.

You can see the major rust areas ok but the full effect isn't there, like it is when you see this in the wilds. (I painted over the license plate, which also hides . . . even more rust examples!) This is a 320 so probably, what, with options, $40k or so new?

Hey Mercedes, I am, by the way, still waiting on that follow-up call on how you were going to help ME with my TWO ML 500s . . . Interesting that Mercedes made sure it was all phone calls and messages on their end, huh. Nothing in writing. However, I use a digital phone system so I will be posting a cryptic (but telling) voicemail or two your folks DID leave.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This week, some local examples

I want to make sure people take a look around and notice the Mercedes ML -- any model, from the underpowered 320 to the 500 -- and how it was designed to be, well, rusty. I say designed to be because I think the engineers were incompetent and we get product designed to rust. I say this is a design flaw and Mercedes should fix it proper (like Germany and the Uk require the company to do).

I was wandering around taking photos; I live in a rural setting, very small town but relatively well off so photos of MLs aren't easy but they aren't impossible. I think there are five MLs in all the adjacent towns.I got some okay shots so far: they show what I'm talking about, once you know what to look for. I'll have to wipe license plates and other identifying items. I missed taking the photo of the local ML that I really want to post because it went by and I didn't have camera in hand. It's a 320 that looks like it is weeping rust from every pore of its existence.

Just maybe, you'll start noticing this design flaw in MLs you see. Oh, and soon, I will also be posting the letter I wrote to Mercedes Corporate when I realized the dealership wasn't equipped to even respond to my questions.

And I'll tell the tale of what Mercedes corporate did from there: deep concern, phone calls, "active interest from our design and QA teams" and what happened next.

PS In the meantime, here's a picture of what's happening that causes that external rust. This is what I found when I looked down one day -- never really look at door seams, do you? -- on the rear right hand side door. Toddler generally sits in child's seat, so always was busy eyes up.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hmmm, now how can it be rusting up in there?!?

The rust comes from a major design flaw, that's how!

The handle space to lift the rear hatch is rusting out from water collecting inside the door. It has already shorted out the right hand side license plate light. This spot is not normally visible nor exposed to the elements (the hatch door is up in this photo). The rust is caused entirely by  Mercedes design flaw in the ML series and this flaw goes back to 1998 and has not been corrected: I have the same issue with our newest ML although it hasn't started rusting yet, there is water appearing.