Electronic Keys

One of the keys for my 1998 MB ML-320 is not working properly. It will lock and unlock the car, turn on the radio, light the dash lights, and turn the engine over.

The rub: the engine will run, less than 3 seconds, then it will shut down.

The other key works as expected, ie. the engine, once started, continues to run.

Question: Is there a fix? How do I get a new key? (The nearest “authorized” dealer is 6 hours away on the interstate)

Insight, suggestions, and help will all be greatly appreciated.


The chip inside your bad key is either defective or lost it’s programming. It is not being read by the cars security system as a valid key and therefore the car starts and then shuts off.

You can get new “chipped” keys via ebay and at many hardware stores. The important part is knowing how to program the key. I’ve bought chipped keys for Toyota’s and following the provided instructions the worked fine. Some cars require a locksmith or a dealer to program the key. A new key from MB dealer will cost a lot, for a Toyota the dealer wanted about $60. I bought the key for about $10 on ebay and got it cut at a hardware store for another $2.

Any locksmith who does automotive keys should be able to fix you up.

On your NEXT car, you should avoid worthless “features” like this. They provide little if any security and can cause all kinds if problems…

On the ‘next car’ subject, herein lies the most major reason not to buy certain vehicles in my small town ; serviceablity.
Many great brands out THERE, but limited choices HERE , makes many brands a very poor ownership experience. When buying the next one , new or used, researching the SERVICE over the life of ownership will be a big key to the COST of ownership.

Uncle Turbo,
Thanks. I was afraid that would be my answer. The MB Key is a self contained key with a blade that has a solid center, and mirror image cuts on each side to set the tumblers. The key “Blade” pops out with the push of a button on the device.

Sadly, I suspect I will have to bite the bullet, drive to the dealer, and anti up for a dealer programmed key.

I appreciate your prompt respnse.

Daunted Dauntless


See reply to Caddyman. My wife’s car is a '99 Yukon that we wouldn’t trade for love or money. It’s got great road manners, gets in xs of 20 mpg overall, (in town and road), climbs trees, plows through snow, etc. It is also infinitely fixable. The other thing is, we know the owners. Even if the dealer charges me handsomely for a new key, the total cost of my MB, which I also wouldn’t trade for the world, bought as a 6 yo Star Mark, is still acceptable.

Thanks for the input.

D. Dave


Thanks for your input. I suspect my problem goes beyond “any locksmith”.

As an aside, I followed the “prompts” on Car Talk to the following URL: originalkeyless.com. Searched their site for MB M-Class 1998, and got a window that announced that they would be “adding” these products to their line, and that gave me an opporturnity to add this offer to my “basket”. The price quoted in this window was $1,000.00. This is a bit pricey even for owners of 10 year old Benz SUVs.

For $1K I can drive to the dealer.

Anyway, I appreciate your input.