How Long Do Mercedes Benz GLE Last? (Solved & Explained)

The GLE is a mid-size luxury SUV and is one of Mercedes bestselling vehicles in the U.S.

Characterized by a bold yet elegant cabin, the GLE offers a feature-packed infotainment system, copious amounts of comfort and impressive driving characteristics.

If you’re thinking about picking one up as your next family SUV then you might be wondering about its average lifespan.

We’ll cover that in this article and much more, read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to how long the Mercedes Benz GLE lasts:

The Mercedes Benz GLE is a very reliable, mid-size SUV that can last between 200,000 to 250,000 miles when properly maintained and driven conservatively. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, this equates to 13 – 17 years of service before requiring uneconomical repairs or breaking down.

How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Mercedes Benz GLE?

The first GLE came out in 2016 as a mid-cycle refresh and rebranding of the Mercedes Benz M-class which had been in production since 1997. 

These older models have a good track record for durability, and you’ll still see first generation M-Class SUVs on the road today.

Its longevity becomes more apparent when you look up some of the older models on CarGurus, as many of them are listed for sale with over 150,000 miles on the odometer and some have almost 300,000 miles.

These SUVs are solid, well-built pieces of German engineering and there’s no question that they can withstand the test of time – a realistic expectation is 200,000 – 250,000 miles of service providing they’re looked after.

At these mileages there is a much greater chance of big-ticket items failing such as the engine or transmission – when this happens the costs of repairs may outweigh the cost of the vehicle.

You may experience reliability issues with electronic features when your GLE gets much older and this is common across most Mercedes vehicles – they are packed with tech and this means there’s more chance for something to go wrong.

Across owner forums there are many reports from satisfied owners who have cruised past 100k miles with relatively few issues and praise this vehicle for its superb handling.

Like any vehicle, the GLEs longevity will largely depend on the owner’s ability to follow the maintenance schedule and their driving habits.

The life expectancy of your GLE will be cut short if you avoid:

  • Using quality parts
  • Service appointments
  • Routine oil changes
  • Tire rotations
  • Driving smoothly
  • Towing within its limits

Does the Mercedes Benz GLE Rust Easily?

The Mercedes Benz GLE is rustproofed to a high standard and they are not known to rust easily. Its body panels are galvanized on both sides to protect against excessive corrosion which is then protected by high-quality paint. 

Some parts like the hood, axles, front wings and wheels are also made out of aluminum, which doesn’t rust at all.

Mercedes did have a significant rust problem from the late 90s to early 2000s when they switched to water-based paints, however between 2002 and 2004, they introduced galvanized panels which helped resolve the issue.

During our research we were unable to find any significant rust complaints about the GLE.

Rust is much more of an issue in humid climates, places where roads are aggressively salted during the winter and coastal regions due to salt in the air.

If you live in a higher-risk area, we recommend taking extra precautions, however additional rust-proofing on a new Mercedes is generally not advised due to the high standard of rust-proofing that takes place during the manufacturing process.

Tips to protect your Mercedes GLE from rust:

  • Regularly wash and dry your car: This includes its underside (especially during the winter) to remove the salt, dirt and grime that causes rust. We recommend having a detail shop wash everything underneath at the end of each winter.
  • Repair paint damage and scratches: Exposed metal will oxidize. If it’s beyond a DIY fix, speak to your local body repair shop.
  • Garage: Store your Mercedes GLE in a garage to protect it from harsh weather and bird droppings.
  • Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this give your Mercedes a nice shine, it also gives it a protective coating against rust.
  • Rustproofing: If you’re planning on keeping your Mercedes Benz GLE for a very long time, you might want to consider a rustproofing treatment; popular choices are Krown and Rust Check.
  • Ceramic Coating: A popular choice for those who want to add an extra layer of protection to the paint job.

If you’re shopping for a used Mercedes GLE, it’s important to look underneath for any excessive corrosion that could compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle.

What is High Mileage for a Mercedes Benz GLE?

A Mercedes Benz GLE or ML-series SUV with over 120,000 miles is considered high mileage. Although it may still have plenty of life left, there’s a good chance that some of the its electronic and mechanical parts will start needing repairs and these costs can quickly add up.

Buying one with over 120,000 miles won’t necessarily equate to a sour outcome.

A well-maintained GLE with 120,000 miles might be a better purchase than one with 80,000 miles that had lots of owners and led a rough life or was previously a rental car.

Keep in mind that maintenance costs on a used Mercedes-Benz can be much higher than that of a non-luxury brand and if you are buying from a private seller you will not get any warranty.

When buying a second-hand GLE, consider the following:

  1. Maintenance history. Check that the car was properly serviced and the owner can provide evidence of this.
  2. Get a second opinion. Take it to an independent auto repair shop or at least have it inspected by a mechanic you trust.
  3. Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarantee anything but it will provide a clearer picture of wear-and-tear. Ensure it has minimal damage, if any. Review the information to make sure if something happened such as engine- or transmission-related.
  4. Number of previous owners. As a general rule, less is better. More owners usually means more wear-and-tear. If one family owned it and drove the full mileage and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout their ownership.
  5. Electronics. Have a thorough check of the electronic systems and make sure they’re in good working order. On older Mercedes these tend to have a few niggles and issues.
  6. How long you are planning on keeping the car. If you’re planning on keeping the car for a long time, you should evaluate whether the short-term savings outweigh spending a bit extra on something more reliable.

How Long Do Mercedes Benz GLEs Last Compared to Similar Car Models?

Let’s compare the Mercedes Benz GLE to some of its rivals.

Mercedes Benz GLE vs. BMW X5

The BMW X5 has been in production since the late 1990s. It’s often regarded as one of the best SUVs in its class.

The BMW X5 is expected to last 150,000 – 200,000 miles or 10 – 13 years, slightly less than the GLE.

  • RepairPal gave the BMW X5 a below average reliability rating of 2/5 whereas the older Mercedes Benz ML350 got 3/5. The newer GLE doesn’t have a rating as of now.
  • Average annual maintenance costs for the X5 is estimated at $1,166 which is about the same as the GLE 350’s $1,194.
  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the 2019 BMW X5 4.3/5 stars for reliability while the 2019 GLE got 4.6/5 stars.
  • J.D. Power gave the 2019 BMW X5 a score of 66/100 for Quality and Reliability while the 2019 GLE got a significantly higher 83/100.

Over the past 20 or so years the Mercedes GLE and ML SUVs have had a much better track record for reliability compared to the BMW X5. 

If you’re thinking of keeping any of these two luxury SUVs past their warranty, you’ll probably have a better ownership experience with the Mercedes GLE.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do BMW X5 Last?

Mercedes Benz GLE vs. Audi Q7

The Q7 is Audi’s first SUV and was launched in 2006. It’s known for its sophisticated styling, well-built interior, and superb array of tech goodies.

You can expect the Audi Q7 to last 150,000 – 200,000 miles or 10 – 13 years before repairs become uneconomical, which is slightly less than the GLE.

  • RepairPal gave the Audi Q7 a reliability rating of 2.5/5 which is considered average for the luxury SUV class, while the Mercedes ML350 (the older version of the GLE) got a higher score of 3/5.
  • Average annual maintenance costs for the Q7 and the GLE are about the same at $1,185 and $1,194 respectively.
  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the 2019 Audi Q7 4.7/5 stars for reliability while the 2019 GLE got 4.6/5 stars.
  • J.D. Power gave the 2019 Audi Q7 a score of 75/100 for Quality and Reliability while the 2019 GLE got a significantly higher 83/100.

Overall, the GLE has a bit of an advantage over the Q7 when it comes to reliability however these SUVs are closely matched in terms of tech and performance and we’d advise taking both for a test drive.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Audi Q7 Last?

Mercedes Benz GLE vs. Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y was first released in 2020 as a more affordable SUV alternative to the flagship Model X.

Based on long-term owner reports of older Tesla Models, the Model Y will likely last 300,000 – 400,000 miles before its battery and drive unit need replacement.

  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Tesla Model Y and Mercedes GLE similar scores for reliability with both receiving 4.6/5 stars.
  • Consumer Reports gave both models a rating of 1/5 for reliability.
  • RepairPal and J.D. Power do not have any comparable data or ratings for the Model Y.

The Model Y has had widely reported build quality issues since its launch. 

However, you can reasonably expect its powertrain to last over 10 years since it’s less complicated than the Internal Combustion Engine of the GLE.

But once the battery and drive units reach the end of their life, they’ll have to be completely replaced.

The choice ultimately comes down to preference as some will prefer the better build quality and easier repair options of the GLE, while others will choose the lower running costs of the Tesla since it doesn’t need gas or regular oil changes.

Comparison Chart

Mercedes GLEBMW X5Audi Q7Tesla Model Y
Annual Repair Cost$1,194$1,166$1,185NA
Reliability Rating3/52/52.5/5NA
KBB Consumer Rating4.6/54.3/54.7/54.6/5
J.D. Power Rating83/10066/10075/100NA
Lifespan (miles)200k – 250k150k – 200k150k – 200k300k – 400k

Is the Mercedes Benz GLE Reliable?

Whilst not the most reliable luxury SUV, the GLE outpoints rivals from BMW and Audi. Its reliability is generally rated average to above average. Based on our research, we believe the GLE is a reasonably reliable vehicle and shouldn’t be too problematic or prone to expensive repairs if it’s properly taken care of and regularly serviced.

Here are some data points to further demonstrate the Mercedes GLE’s reliability:

  • RepairPal gave the Mercedes Benz ML 350, the previous version of the GLE, a very respectable reliability rating of 3/5 — much higher than Audi or BMW.
  • Kelley Blue Book gave the last generation of the Mercedes GLE — the 2019 model — a score of 4.9/5 for reliability.
  • J.D. Power gave the older GLE an 83/100 for Quality and Reliability, which is considered a ‘Great’ rating.
  • J.D. Power also ranked the previous generation GLE 3rd in the luxury SUV segment, while the latest GLE came in 7th.

Kelley Blue Book reliability ratings for the latest generation Mercedes GLE (2020 models and up) is scored at 3.7/5

Upon taking a closer look at the reviews, the complaints and low ratings stem from minor issues like wind noise, dealership problems, and dislike for the infotainment system. None of which actually makes the vehicle less reliable.

J.D. Power also gave the 2020 models a much lower Quality and Reliability score of 69/100, but this is also likely due to the relatively minor build quality issues that some owners have reported.

For more information on the Mercedes ML350 and its average lifespan, check out our article here.

The Best and Worst Years for the Mercedes Benz GLE

After being on the market for more than 25 years, the Mercedes Benz GLE and ML SUVs have had their share of good and bad years.

We took a look at the most popular models and variants to find out which ones have the best reliability.

Worst Model Year

According to CarComplaints, the 2016 GLE 350 is the worst model year. It had the most number of complaints and the most commonly reported complaints were related to exhaust system problems.

The worst Mercedes Benz GLE350 problems are:

  • ‘Moan noise’ when accelrating on the 2016 GLE350
  • Headlights too dim on the 2017 GLE350
  • Loud screeching from the emergency brake on the 2016 GLE350

Taking into account ML models, we consider the 2012 ML350 as the worst model year due to a higher number of engine and transmission complaints. 

However, these were only limited to oil and fluid leaks, and no major failures were reported.

Best Model Year

The best model year of the GLE is the latest generation starting from 2020 onwards as there have been very few issues reported so far.

The newer GLE models also come with EQ Boost, which is an electric-assist motor that significantly helps improve gas mileage.

It’s also the first GLE model (not including the older ML models) with third-row seats that allows seating for seven. 

Be sure to check out our article: Mercedes GLE in Snow & Winter Driving

Model Year and Number of Complaints

Model YearNo. of Complaints
20200 (Best year)
20190
20180
20172
201610
20150
20145
20133
20129 (Worst year)
20112
20105
20092
20081
20077
200612
20057
20044
20030
200213
200112
20008
19999
19983

What About Recalls for These Models?

The Mercedes Benz GLE / ML has had a total of 103 recalls since 2002. 

You can check if your Mercedes has been subject to a recall campaign by entering your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the Mercedes Benz Recall Information site.

It is important to note that recalls are manufacturing faults repaired at no charge to the consumer.

Here are the total number of recall campaigns for every model year of the Mercedes Benz GLE / ML:

  • 2021: 8
  • 2020: 25
  • 2019: 3
  • 2018: 6
  • 2017: 10
  • 2016: 16
  • 2015: 6
  • 2014: 3
  • 2013: 4
  • 2012: 3
  • 2011: 2
  • 2010: 1
  • 2009: 1
  • 2008: 2
  • 2007: 2
  • 2006: 2
  • 2005: 0
  • 2004: 0
  • 2003: 3
  • 2002: 6

Mercedes Benz GLE / ML Model Year List

First Generation:

  • 1998 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 1999 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2000 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2001 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2002 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2003 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2004 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2005 Mercedes Benz ML

Second Generation:

  • 2006 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2007 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2008 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2009 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2010 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2011 Mercedes Benz ML

Third Generation:

  • 2012 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2013 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2014 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2015 Mercedes Benz ML
  • 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE
  • 2017 Mercedes Benz GLE
  • 2018 Mercedes Benz GLE
  • 2019 Mercedes Benz GLE

Fourth Generation:

  • 2020 Mercedes Benz GLE
  • 2021 Mercedes Benz GLE

Are Mercedes GLEs Expensive to Maintain?

The maintenance cost on a Mercedes is usually higher than that of a non-luxury car brand, especially if you depend on the dealer to do all your repairs.

According to RepairPal:

The base model GLE 350 will run you about $1,185 in repair and maintenance costs per year, which is roughly on par with the annual upkeep estimated for its rivals from BMW and Audi.

However, it’s much higher than the average yearly maintenance costs for other mid-size luxury SUVs which is estimated at $807

According to CarEdge:

A Mercedes Benz GLE will run you roughly $14,738 in upkeep during its first 10 years. This beats the average maintenance and repair costs for all other luxury SUVs by $722.

How Long Do the Brakes Last?

Mercedes GLE brakes pads usually last between 30,000 – 70,000 miles, this can vary greatly depending on driving habits and driving conditions.

  • You can expect your brakes to wear out sooner if you frequently stop and accelerate in rush-hour traffic.
  • Brake pad replacement on a E350, which includes parts and labor, can cost anywhere between $150 – $300 per axle.
  • Full and complete stops from a high speed are the #1 cause of premature brake pad wear.
  • A sporty driving style will lead to faster deterioration of brakes, a slow and steady style will help them last longer.

How Long Do the Tires Last?

The Mercedes Benz GLE’s stock tires usually last around 30,000 to 50,000 miles or 2 to 3 years. However, these are just estimates and your tires can wear out much sooner than expected. This is dependent on various factors such as driving habits, climate, and road conditions. 

  • Rotate tires every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
  • If you have to drive on rough or flooded roads, or go off-roading, your tires will take more of a beating.
  • Check your tire pressures every few weeks to make sure they’re at the correct tire pressure.
  • Have a mechanic or tire shop check your wheel alignment every 6 months.

How Long Do Mercedes Benz GLE Engines Last?

The Mercedes Benz GLE engine should last 200,000 to 250,000 miles on average with proper maintenance.

All Mercedes Benz engines use timing chains that typically last the entire life of the vehicle vs. timing belts that need to be replaced every 60,000 miles.

The diesel engines used in the ML and GLE BlueTEC models are the same ones used in Mercedes Benz Sprinter and Dodge Freightliner vans that have been known to reach the 500,000-mile mark when used as commercial vehicles.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Audi Q8 Last?

How Long Do Mercedes Benz GLE Batteries Last?

The Mercedes GLE’s battery usually lasts between 3 – 5 years. A vehicle’s battery life varies depending on many different factors such as climate, driving habits, and battery type, among many others.

  • Keep your battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections, potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
  • Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging.
  • Storage: Keep your GLE stored indoors and away from extreme changes in temperature.
  • Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from build-up.

How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?

The Mercedes Benz GLE’s spark plugs need to be replaced every 60,000 miles and is part of the vehicle’s scheduled maintenance. 

Spark plugs are usually inspected every time you take it in for routine maintenance, and may be replaced earlier than expected if it’s necessary.

Signs of a fouled spark plug include:

  • Reduced gas mileage
  • Lack of acceleration
  • Rough idling
  • Hard starts
  • Engine misfires

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Mercedes GLC last?

What About Insurance Costs?

The average cost of full comprehensive coverage for a Mercedes Benz GLE is $1,648 per year or around $137 per month. 

In comparison, its rivals in the mid-size luxury SUV segment cost an average of $1,785 per year, which is $61 more expensive.

Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal for your GLE.

Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Mercedes Benz GLE

  1. Adopt smooth driving habits.
  2. Keep up to date with factory-recommended maintenance.
  3. Use quality parts and fluids.
  4. Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.
  5. Regularly wash your Mercedes Benz GLE to remove dirt and grime to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust developing.
  6. Check your GLE’s engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluid levels and top them up when required.
  7. Keep your GLE in a garage to help protect it from the elements.
  8. Read the owner’s manual to learn the location of important components, what your GLE needs and what quantity, and to understand the symbols and dashboard warning lights.

Resources

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