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Used Mercedes GLE a good purchase if you choose carefully

2016 Mercedes GLE
2016 Mercedes GLE - Justin Pritchard

The Mercedes GLE is one of the German automaker’s most recognizable and popular utility-vehicle models and a machine that’s all about selection.

Offered in both standard crossover and crossover coupe body styles, the GLE and GLE coupe could be specified with various feature packages, equipment add-ons, drivetrains, and stand-alone options. 

Look for little less than the very latest in Mercedes technology and luxury on offer, with feature content including premium audio systems, massaging seats, voice command, high-output lighting, advanced camera support systems, air suspension, full multimedia connectivity, and more.

With generous room for four adults and their luggage, the GLE’s standard 4Matic AWD system helped make quick and confident work of driving in inclement weather. 

Engine options were numerous and included both diesel and gasoline power, V6 or V8 engines, and an available plug-in hybrid powered model. High-performing AMG variants were also on offer.

For this feature, we’ll focus on the most popular engine options, namely the conventional gas and diesel powerplants. For maximum mileage and torque, the diesel engine impresses. Hot-rod enthusiasts will like the available 430-horsepower V8, and the popular three-litre V6 turbo with 360 horsepower should prove sufficient for most.

Dirty gym bag odour

Because of mould-causing moisture buildup that’s possible in certain operational conditions, some owners have reported a foul smell coming from the air vents when the climate control fan is first engaged. Affected owners typically liken the odour to a dirty gym bag, or smelly boots. This indicates mould buildup within the climate control system, possibly caused by insufficient drying or drainage of moisture that forms as a normal part of system operation. If the climate control smells bad, a software update and/or deodorizing treatment by a dealer is typically sufficient to remedy the problem. Turning the AC off (but leaving the fan run) for the last few minutes of any drive can also help. 

Wonky parking brake

Test the GLE’s electronic, switch-activated parking brake several times on your test drive, after checking the owner’s manual for instructions on how to use it. A slight and momentary whirring or buzzing sound, approximately one second in length, is normal as the brake switches on and off. If the parking brake doesn’t operate as outlined in the owner’s manual, and especially if the parking brake doesn’t respond instantly to its switch, or seems to be dragging or sticking, plan to have the vehicle inspected by a technician at a Mercedes dealership before you buy. Another warning sign of parking brake trouble is a lurch or jerk when accelerating from a stop, just after the brake is released. Usually, parking brake problems can be solved with a simple electronic recalibration, and/or some lubrication. 

Fiddle with the fuel door

Your ears won't lie when you're test driving the Mercedes GLE. - Justin Pritchard
Your ears won't lie when you're test driving the Mercedes GLE. - Justin Pritchard

The GLE’s fuel door uses a push-to-click mechanism that’s tied into the vehicle’s central locking system. When unlocked, the fuel door should open after being pressed until a "click" is heard. The same action should close and latch the fuel door. With the vehicle locked, the fuel door should be locked closed, too. Confirm this is the case with the GLE you’re considering, noting that some owners have reported problems with failure of the release latch mechanism. Note that an emergency fuel door release cable can be used if the external latch fails, until a repair is made.

Open your ears

Spend a few minutes of your test drive driving the GLE down the roughest road you can find. You’ll use this road to coax potentially-problematic sounds out of the vehicle’s structure and suspension. While driving at a reasonable speed down a rougher road, note that any banging, popping, clunking or clanging sounds are a cue to have the vehicle inspected professionally before your purchase. Assume any such sounds relate to serious and pricey problems, until a professional confirms otherwise. Most owners have not reported issues, though some have experienced unwanted sounds as a result of improperly-installed bolts, worn suspension parts, and more. 

Air suspension 

While test-driving a used GLE, note that an excessively harsh ride, excessive bounding and bouncing over bumps, and displayed error messages relating to the suspension are key signs of trouble with the air suspension system, which can be pricey to repair outside of warranty. After checking instructions in the owner’s manual, be sure to run the suspension through its various height settings, being on the lookout for signs of trouble and warning messages. For added long-term satisfaction with the air suspension, be sure all applicable software updates have been applied to the vehicle you’re considering (ask your dealer for help), and be sure to strictly adhere to any maintenance and inspection requirements outlined in the owner’s manual. 

Consider this mandatory

The Mercedes GLE’s assortment of high-end features and electronics are connected and supervised by a complex computer brain buried deep within the vehicle. Upon request (and ideally before your purchase), dealer technicians can easily connect diagnostic equipment to this computer brain, to reveal potential problems with the vehicle that may not otherwise be apparent. This pre-purchase diagnostic scan is an excellent defence against buying a used GLE that might be concealing an upcoming headache and expense.

The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer-performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.


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